Marcus Strickland’s B.A.M. (Black American Music) FAQ

For info of what this in reference to please click here »

*From here on out the word ‘Jazz’ will be referred to as ‘J***’.

I have started up a BAM FAQ.  So far I have 8 questions and answers.  This will of course expand immensely and be edited over time.  Your comments and contributions are greatly encouraged and appreciated. If you have a question that you feel should be added to the FAQ please start it with ‘Q:’. If you have an answer that you feel should be added start it with ‘A:’ and let me know to which question you are answering. Check it…

  1. Q: Why do Nicholas Payton’s words bother me, even though they shouldn’t?
      A: The alarm on an alarm clock sounds abrasive so that it can wake us up. He has been saying the same thing in “normal” ways for a long time, but no one really listened until now. over 100,000 views and growing. Click here ». Step one: get their attention – achieved! BAM!
  2. Q: We have come to embrace the word J*** positively, why do we have to go through the trouble of changing the name?
      A: The problem is that as long as Black American’s brand of music (BAM) is labeled J*** it is severely clouded and muddled with other music that does not contain sonic elements that are essential to our brand. By calling our brand BAM we create much needed clarity of what our brand is, and playing BAM at J*** venues is not a problem at all. So, labeling our brand of music BAM would be the main solution to this problem. Changing the name would not only command acknowledgment of our musicʼs creators, but also make a more distinctive label that notes the difference between BAM and other variants of it. Thus, creating a much more acute marketing strategy for everyone who sells and buys BAM. BAM!
  3. Q: European harmony has been admittedly used in the creation of J***, why not acknowledge that in the title of BAM?
      A: By acknowledging our music as BAM we do not deny the use of any other cultures’ findings as ingredients. However we are simply acknowledging that without our rhythm, our own harmonies (which is frequently overlooked), cleverness, creativity and built-in emotions of our culture European harmonies would never sound the way they do in BAM if it were not for the existence of Blacks such as Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, etc… Please note that the Kalimba is the predecessor of the piano, and made by Africans. The tomato plant originates from South America, yet it is greatly used in Italian Cuisine. I do not dare ask Italians to change their label of cuisine because no one makes their cuisine as good as them. Furthermore, no one used the ingredients like the Italians before they started making their cuisine… One more thing, sound frequencies existed before man. In a V-I harmonic progression it is the relationship between certain sound frequencies that makes harmony progress – these relations existed before man too. All man has done is label harmonic progressions and use them as tools to make music. Europeans did not invent harmony, however they have made some of the most extensive studies and documentation of harmony! BAM!
  4. Q: If we acknowledge the music as BAM, wouldnʼt we have to change the names of J*** venues on a large scale all at once? How do we go about that?
      A: R&B, Funk, Hip-Hop, Soul, etc… are all billed at J*** Festivals across the world and furthermore they are all billed as headliners. Anybody who seriously questioned the hypocrisy of that has received the answer ʻ$$ʼ. Why canʼt BAM be played at J*** venues across the world? How does this relate to ʻ$$ʼ? With a more acute label for the music BAM will capitalize more because the audience has a greater sense of what they are spending their ʻ$$ʼ on. This is actually the same answer that J*** supporters use to validate the need for their label of the music. If BAMers feel the need, we could pursue legislation to change venuesʼ use of the word J***. But that wouldnʼt really be necessary, the many variations of J*** can fit quite comfortably under the title J*** – just donʼt call our music J***. One other thing: R&B, Funk, Hip-Hop, Soul, etc… are all sub genres of BAM. BAM!
  5. Q: Why is it important for BAM to be cool?
      A: The youth represent the part of our world that is most acceptable of and likely to change.  The very existence of BAM and its vitality is based on its relation to the youth.  What makes BAM cool to the youth?  Things that are radical are most considered to be cool.  Why? Because the radical option is an option to the constraints of hierarchy.  It gives each new generation purpose through a task.  That task is to find a new way to think and act about issues that concern them the most.  R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Funk, etc… have maintained their radical edge, but the sub genre of BAM that is currently labeled J*** has not been significantly radical for a long time.  This mainly has to do with the significant acceptance of its label J***, and all the political, social and economic contraints that come along with it. That is why there is an ever-growing gap between J*** and the youth.  Being cool (radical) is important, and lucrative. BAM!
  6. Q: Is this really about black and white?
      A: Actually this whole matter is about Blacks exercising the right to name the music their ancestors have created. It is the right of any human to name something they have created – legislation such as trademarks and copyrights enforce this right. BAM!
  7. Q: Is the disapproval of the word J*** the idealism of one man?
      A: The great Duke Ellington himself has notably disapproved of the word J***. He wanted to call our music “Negro Music”, which itself contains an outdated word. In addition Miles Davis, Max Roach click here », Charlie Mingus, and Gary Bartz are also vital musicians who did/do not approve of the word J***. The disapproval of the word J*** is the idealism of many vital Black American musicians. To check out an interesting article from Ebony Magazine (Aug 1969) concerning this issue click here » BAM!
  8. Q: Weren’t some of the earliest J*** musicians Creoles? Does their white ancestry have no part in the creation of J*** in its earliest forms? Or are the Black or Afro-American/Afro-Caribbean roots the only ones that apply here?
      A: Creoles are a mixture just like Brazilians are a mixture. Brazilian Music is not called “Brazilian/Portuguese/African Music”, it’s simply called Brazilian Music. J*** came from the Blues, and the Blues came out of the Black American experience in America. The emotions from that experience were expressed through a brand of harmony labeled ‘Blue Notes’. Many other elements such as syncopated rhythms, call and response, etc… came from the Black American experience as well. Blacks, whether creole, 90% African, 10% African, etc… were all considered and treated like sub-humans prior to the Civil Rights movement – we are all products of that experience. Creoles are Black Americans, and Black Americans created J***. BAM!


  1. nicholaspayton

    Beautiful. BAM!

  2. Not to take away from the recoginition of BAM’s original culture but Q: Isn’t changing the label placating the problem?

    • Alejandro, the problem is that as long as our brand of music (BAM) is labeled J*** it is severely clouded and muddled with other music that does not contain sonic elements that are essential to our brand. By calling our brand BAM we create much needed clarity of what our brand is, and playing BAM at J*** venues is not a problem at all. So, labeling our music BAM would not placate this problem – it would be the main solution to this problem. BAM!!

      • Thank you for your informative response, I could not agree with you and BAM more. The unfair medium in which music is marketed, to buyers, concertgoers etc. is what I was addressing. It is as if one has to label themselves in order to be legitimized by a system that excludes uniqueness and inheritance until vetted or watered down.

  3. jazzy_K

    Marcus, since in your answer to question 4 you allow use of term jazz, how are we, jazz fans, going to differentiate what is jazz, and what is BAM? If I properly understood, by stating that whites created term jazz, you are suggesting that jazz term is used for jazz music played by white musicians, and when the same type of music is played by African-Americans, then BAM word should be used? Have I understood this correctly? And, if positive, how are we to define jazz inspired and preformed by other races and jazz inspired by ethnic music not of a black origin?

    • jazzy_k, Black Americans created a brand of music that has several essential elements: blues, swing, improvisation, etc… But the word J*** was used by whites (around 1912) to describe this brand of music, and eventually became the significantly accepted label for the music. The word J*** has been found disdainful to many mainly because of the history of the word – please look this up if you haven’t already. The J*** word is not from the creators of the music and does not acknowledge who created the music. Black Americans have the right to name their music and if we call it BAM anybody who plays or listens to it shows acknowledgement of the music’s creators by calling it what the creators call it. This is why it is important for Black Americans to claim the name of the music they created. Non-blacks can play BAM, non-blacks can listen to BAM, nobody is excluded. If a non-black does not want to call the music they play BAM and/or prefers to call it J*** that’s fine too. All that BAMmers ask is to acknowledge their own brand of music as BAM. Hope this answers your question. BAM!!!

  4. Pingback: Racism in America, Nicholas Payton, jazz - Page 2 - MacNN Forums

  5. jazzgitbox

    I will offer these three pieces to help in the illustration. Thanks Bro. Marcus. BAM!

    3Just because it’s called an “English Muffin”, doesn’t
    mean “only for England or those who speak English”. EVERYONE can play, purchase and enjoy them if they SO DESIRE. However, if you have an inherent and subconscious aversion to the mere term “English”, YOU will probably feel better simply calling it “TOAST”.


    The term JAZZ was not created by whites, It was created by black pianists, one of whom adopted the term as all that “jass”, then coined Jazz later. Jelly Roll Morton used jass and jazz in his terminology long before it came to Harlem in the 1920’s. Someone else needs to do history homework, or at least ask a Professor, whether black or white who is knowledgable.

    • According to researcher George A. Thompson and sent courtesy of etymologist Professor Gerald Cohen: The word does not appear to have been invented by African Americans and is not from New Orleans. It seems to have originated among white people (European Americans), and the earliest printed uses of it are in California baseball writing, where it means “lively, energetic.”  (Note: The word still has this meaning, as in “Let’s j*** this up”!) The earliest one yet found was in 1912

      Earliest record of the word J***

      Other sources say the first use of the word “J***” was from the Vaudeville team of William and George Demarest of “Our Three Sons” – 1910

      I have yet to find sources that say black pianists or Jelly “Roll” Morton coined the word. If you have sources that say otherwise please share that information with me – my only intent is to provide the information as best as I can. I am not a historian, but I hold proven evidence above all else.

      Thanks for sharing! BAM!

  7. Todd Gilles

    Nicholas Payton says that no one has ever refuted anything he has every written in any ‘cogent’ way. Here is a great list of things presented in knock-out fashion:

    And I’m not just talking about the grammar errors and typos that this guy points out (which are hilarious btw) but some of the points where Payton makes bland sweeping statements about terms, or other races, etc. Actually Payton does this a lot, and never sources anything. Yet if anyone doesn’t agree with him, they’re either racist or victims of a ‘colonialist’ mindset, especially white people. As if many many white people don’t also have the mental fortitude to know about these things (colonialism, or colonialist mindsets) he talks about, just because we are not black. As if all whites are robots and can’t use critical thinking. As if there were never any white people who suffered for black causes to help them try and attain equality in the US.

    Ultimately what Payton needs to realize is that whites and blacks in or outside of Jazz or BAM or whatever it is, need to live, learn and work together to form that ideal and egalitarian society people like Dr. Martin Luther King aspired to, and maintaining racial divides and using racial terminology when labeling things is only just that– divisive. As the brilliant black american evolutionary biologist Joseph L. Graves proved in his amazing read ‘The Emperors New Clothes,’ ‘separate human races do not exist empirically.’ Payton’s angry posts are not inviting anyone in, and his blanket, sweeping statements about other races, mainly the white race, are just unfactual when applied to the ENTIRE race, and not to mention his definition, or should I say ‘opinion’ of racism and how blacks can not be racist.
    According to his definition ‘racism = power’ and since blacks are not in power anywhere in the world (wrong again he sees things only through US binoculars) they can’t be racist. Let’s look at modern day Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe and his majority black government have been documented as sanctioning racist acts against white citizen farmers there ( In this country, black people are in power, and they are committing acts of hate, violence and discrimination against whites, therefore according to Payton’s definition this would indicate racism, which also defeats his ‘opinion’ that blacks can’t be racist. And keep in mind one might say ‘well the whites were never welcomed in zimbabwe to begin with so they got what they deserved’ To that I say I agree it’s terrible that britain colonized zimbabwe in the way they did (but humans of all colors have been colonizing humans of all colors since the agricultural revolution), but the fact is still that blacks are in power there in that particular country, and they are committing racist acts against white people. Therefore according to Payton’s definition on racism, blacks can be racist. From reading Payton’s posts, and the fact that he assigns certain inherent traits across the board to the white race and then because of that engages in using discriminating language towards whites based on his prejudices he is in fact a racist himself, for this is the true definition of racism, look it up in any of the world’s dictionaries from china to africa to the US. But everyone knows this, I shouldn’t have had to explain all of that. Sure, Payton plays music with white people, but like many people he’s racist when he chooses to be.

    And furthermore his view of race and racism in the US is only one view of all the problems humans cause to other humans on the planet with respects to race. This is not to at all downplay the oppression black americans face or have faced. But for example, look how many black slave owners own black slaves in africa today, yes 2012, the number is estimated to be in the millions (, And they apply the exact same physical torture that the colonial powers that enslaved his ancestors in the US did. This is something you don’t often hear black americans even knowing about. Talk to someone from Africa, especially west africa where the black on black slave trade is still alive and well, and they’ll tell you american blacks have it easy! Check out what’s going on in Niger for example:
    He thinks, and I quote, “America is the window to the world” This is a ridiculous thing to say, and an opinion that only someone from the US would say, and a very arrogant opinion as well. Poll the people of the rest of the world, and we’ll easily find that a general consensus is that america is an imperialistic brick wall if anything. The world is not ‘looking’ to the US for anything anymore except trying to dodge its bombs. In fact, for Payton to actually say this is actually something that one might hear from George Bush, a true colonialist thinker if there ever was one!

    I think the whole thing is about generating buzz for album sales. Notice on his blog site, what is right there looking at you the entire time you read his post? His ‘bitches’ album pic, with a working link to click on the album and buy it. Seems to me he’s using his BAM as a marketing tool to sell his album, which is the same thing he’s accusing all whites of doing to jazz when they supposedly stole it from blacks!

    I’d like to find one single white person in the WORLD (not just the US) who if asked what ‘Jazz’ is, who DIDN’T describe it as a music created by Black American musicians. Nobody is arguing with him on that. Why rebrand it to include a race in the name? So if musicians switch to BAM, they now have to say ‘I’m a Black American Musician Musician”? And white people are not afraid to let blacks take ownership in something as he goes on about. As far as I’m concerned, blacks own Jazz as it is! All my heroes in jazz are black (if you can’t tell by now, I’m white..)

    Yet Payton is going around the world accepting money from promoters (majority of them white) who work their butts off to put him on their stage and pay him very well to celebrate what they call jazz, and he’s telling us that the word jazz is the same as nigger? Yet he’s still doing the gigs? Can we honestly think that a black person would go to a festival that said “international nigger festival” and take money from some white promoter? Jazz is not the same as nigger. And let’s face it, nigger is known as a derogatory term around the world, no matter if some blacks are cool to use it with each other or when talking about themselves, etc.

    There are some recent postings on other blog sites of in depth interviews by Nicholas where here is dropping the jazz word left and right, like the recent one on ted panken’s blog from 2001. he’s using the jazz word as if there is nothing wrong with it. He’s using it affectionately when describing the things he’s talking about. Yet now he’s equating it with the word ‘nigger’ All I can think of here is that Nicholas has obviously changed his ‘view’ on the word Jazz since then. So, then, how is it not possible that the world at large or america (since that’s what he rants about most), has not changed their opinion on the word jazz, since it was according to him a derogatory term from the outset? How come Nicholas can change, but other people can’t? If whites, or some whites I should say, did use jazz as a derogatory word against blacks, then I would argue that that has changed across the board since then (and both white and black musicians are also agreeing with me if you look around the net), and it is not at all a bad term towards blacks anymore, but a celebration of all they have given the world with this music. Words’ meanings change over time. If anything, this could be celebrated by blacks as a victory, that they have taken a word that was derogatory towards them and turned it around on the world and made it to mean a celebration of their music. I mean that’s one way to look at it isn’t it? Because the simple fact is that the word jazz is only used by people in a good or endearing way, and I’m talking gernerally speaking. I realize jazz musicians have been moaning about it, what it means, and all of that since the outset. And yes, some prominent musicians hate it. But many black icons of this music love it! I personally think it’s a lousy way to collectively describe all the different sub genres that evolved in this music since the original blacks invented it back in the day, but equating it to the same level as a ‘nigger’ I’m sorry, but are we in third grade here? now on his site he is putting j*** yet he freely uses pretty much every other profanity under the sun. On one hand he says the word jazz labels musicians as poor and drug addicts, etc, yet he’s using all this horrible language perpetuating that exact myth that jazz musicians are losers who use bad language?! Who’s the one painting a bad picture about musicians? There’s another conundrum if you ask me.

    Point is, is Payton’s contradicting himself all over the place and has a one dimensional view of the world. He does make some good points in this BAM debate, but ultimately he’s being very divisive and he’s does harbor racist views of white people. He’s proven that, and I don’t think he or anyone else who think jazz is the same as nigger could be playing at ‘jazz’ clubs and actually go through with it. He’s defining everything through his own experience, and forcing that as fact for all of the world, and things don’t work like that. Plus, the world is way bigger than that, and full of a lot of people of all races who would like to get beyond all of this.

    Not to mention I believe fully he’s doing all of this to get buzz and sell records!

    I say don’t buy it and stop playing into his game! If you want to own his music (and I have every one of his records cause I do agree he’s amazing as a musician) own it cause you’re a fan of his music, not because of all the angry and divisive posts he’s currently making public.

  8. Todd Gilles

    i’m fully aware you’ll never post that comment, but i only wanted you to read it anyway. it’s live around the internet anyway. stop being so divisive. Jazz is a celebration of black music, and we thank and love you all for it. stop labeling with racial terms, the world needs to move beyond that. whenever u label something with a race, you acknowledge there are different races. there is no biological evidence for race. we are all homosapiens. egalitarian rules!

  9. Todd Gilles

    ps. if you hate the word jazz so much, why is it all over your site, including your own description as ‘jazz saxophonist”
    why are you involving yourself with this playground business? you should have not given in to nicholas from your original facebook comment that he went after you for in public. it’s made you look really weak. your comment was amazing… and rational. now you’re being divisive. BAM! (had to)

  10. Alright Todd, here is my answer! I am not Nicholas Payton, so any questions you have for him will need to be answered by him. However, when I first posted on FB in reply to Nicholas’ piece I was disarming the phrase “J*** is dead”. I understood he was using that as a metaphor for the actual word, but didn’t understand why he used it as a metaphor. I saw immediately that not everyone would get it. But, it wasn’t until I actually talked to him on the phone that I actually understood more about what this fuss was about. Nicholas has white people in his band, and his whole sax section is female. He is also friends with people of all colors. These are just plain facts. He does say many provocative things about race, and many other subjects. And all these facts add up to one complex person among many other complex people.

    However, I will tell you what I got from this: this behavior is after trying to say the same thing over and over again in many different ways and not getting the desired results. It was tried in many ways until it struck the goal, that being to get attention. The information in this is that there is a whole lot of hypocrisy going on in the J*** community – the festivals are not headlined by J*** musicians, the people who celebrate and profit from their culture’s findings in the idiom are mostly everybody except the ones who created it, the ethnicity that created it doesn’t support it, etc… This is something I and many others knew well before even talking to Nick. The information, the history of the word J***, the many parallels b/w how the word itself is both confining & highly manipulatable by those in power and how that can be interpreted as oppression, the disappointed discussions of musicians (of many races) behind closed doors, the new generation of youth who have no clue what the true version of this idiom is due to the adulterated misinterpretations of the idiom in mass media, etc… all existed before Nick started posting, and before I questioned Nick publicly on Facebook. So when I called Nick on the phone we talked about these issues that already existed man to man. We came to find that we have a lot of common ground in wanting this music to be truthfully represented in media, turnouts and demographic.

    I noticed a flaw in my actions when posting on Facebook, that being “liking” an accusation towards Nick of racism. I apologized both on the phone and publicly on Facebook for this. This is in no way a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Only real men can admit their flaws.

    All of this transpired in early Dec. and it is about to be Feb., and no I have not yet had the chance to censor my whole website. That is my business, and you have no judgement over my business. Neither do you have an accurate account of what happened. You are not me or Nick, and your spent energy towards trying to be the judge of our integrity yielded a far miss of the goal. Point out typos, and perceived contradictions all you want – it won’t achieve the goal because you can’t destroy what I or Nick have paid dearly for through hard work and dedication. I have stated my personal purpose in the information on this blog, and many other places. Just read and you will see what my motives are, your interpretation of it is irrelevant to the actual information.


  11. whoa.whoa – you can name it because you are Black? All those inventors you mention are long dead; you are no physically or spiritually closer to them than I, a white male, am. I know more about this musical tradiition, anyway then you do – ever heard of Arizona Dranes? Will Marion Cook? Bessie johnson? Williie Mae Ford? Frank Hutchisen? Bozie Sturdivant? Frank Profit? Ben Harney? Barbecue Bob? and a thousand others. Do your work first, THEN take possession of the music. Until then, it’s mine as much as yours.

    • Haha, Allen!! First, thanks for not going under an alias – your bravery is much appreciated. Second, I never claimed possession of this music nor claimed it so because I am black. Instead of affixing your own ideas of me to my words how about reading the actual words on this page. You don’t even know me or what I know, how dare you claim you know more without that information. Besides, that is totally irrelevant to what I am saying here. I never personally attacked Allen Lowe I simply said this music should be called what it is Black American Music. Many of the great innovators of this music, which doesn’t include you or me, wanted to change the name for the many reasons I have illustrated here. They deserve to change the name much more so than some random baseball commentator who had absolutely nothing to do with this music. Black American refers to a culture that was built from the ashes of a something meant to destroy my people. By the way, I took a listen to your music and it is far more peaceful than your unwarranted attack. Peace & Light! #BAM

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