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Though he‘s opinionated about mindfulness in music and the lack of diversity in mainstream radio, when talk turns to the artistry and history in black music, Trinidad comes off as genuinely visionary. Born in upstate New York, he spent his childhood growing up in Inglewood and listening to KDAY during hip-hop’s early years, when he and his school friends would have amateur MC battles with cardboard mics, create beats with their lips, and rub sandpaper against tether balls to get the shoo-shoo effect. At home he‘d rifle through his parents’ record crates, studying the likes of Grover Washington Jr., Dinah Washington and James Brown. It was this kind of foundation that shaped Trinidad‘s take on the state of black music today, and where it’s headed.
”I look at black music -- soul music -- and where it came from,“ says Trinidad. ”You‘re looking at African slaves who were taken from what they knew and split apart, to the point that they lost their minds; split apart so that no one understood each other, because they were from different tribes and spoke different languages. To me, soul music is all that pain, all that communication that came with the Negro spiritual, and having to hide the fact that you were communicating at times with another slave when you weren’t supposed to or else you were gonna get whipped, hung or killed. Soul music to me is all those issues, all that pain, all that grief and suffering and hope which make up the spirit that has over and over been so resilient -- though pop culture and the commercial market has got a lot of people‘s spirits dead.“
Intent on doing his share to resurrect souls, Trinidad is working on a Web-site project called ”2000 Black,“ which he describes as a jukebox with just one long black-music mix tape; Web heads will be able to access it along with a syndicated radio program and a virtual black-history rare-facts library. The site’s kickoff night on June 24 was marked with an event titled ”Jack, Jill and the King,“ featuring hip-hop band Jack Herrara, soul singer Jill Scott and DJ King Britt.
George Clinton talks wicked madness about P-Funk while somewhere in Parliament‘s hazy orchestra of horns and percussion a jazzy R&B groove raises its doped-up head and Clinton’s Parliament adjourns for the big sax sound of the Average White Band‘s ”Cut the Cake.“ ”Ah, that set was exhausting,“ breathes a mellowed-out Trinidad after the track’s finish. ”I‘m serious -- I think all the funk is gone for the night.“
But no sooner than the words leave his mouth, Philip Bailey screeches out of nowhere, and EWF’s ”Fantasy“ rises into the sky. The scent of barbecue ribs, the sound of laughter and the slap of dominoes on a card table curl from the radio. Garth Trinidad‘s soul healing is at work again.