If you didn’t know, I started a bi-monthly podcast called The Jam!
Check out Episode 1 with my friend Desmond Marzette. Desmond is currently the Global Director of Advertising for Jordan. He has done work with Nike and various other great ad campaigns, including being the namesake of Lil Dez in the Lebron vs Kobe ad campaigns. He is also a DJ, and my good friend!
Finally, there’s proof. Something I always felt I saw happening. Something many people have commented on in various ways, perceiving, but not quite able to articulate. Probably part of the reason why a lot of films are starting to feel redundant, why the music is so repetitive, why you probably can’t name four contemporary pioneers of visual art right now…
Intelligence can be marked in various ways. Some have emotional intelligence, meaning they can perceive emotions well or how to manipulate the emotions of others around them. Some have a spatial intelligence, which would make them a great architect or artist. Some have academic intelligence. Some are creatively intelligent, meaning they are good at taking one thing and creating something new or improving it. It could mean a whole range of things. For all these kinds of intelligence there is usually some kind of test that is associated. We most know of IQ tests or SATs. Well then there’s the Torrance test. The article goes into some detail on the test and so forth, but here are the most striking parts of what the article says about the decline of creativity over the years…
…there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.
Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”
It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.
The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly…
A large part of the reason why I created this site is because I wanted to use the arts as a way of communicating the idea of “creative intelligence”. It’s my belief that in order to be a great artist/entertainer, you have to have some kind of creative intelligence in order to move what you’re doing forward. Of course, there are plenty of musicians who can play instruments, but do not have the creativity to improvise a piece. Many people who are artists can copy a picture, but probably can’t create something out of their own head without a direct reference in front of them. But that’s what, to me, means they are not ARTISTS in the sense of it being their path of life. The life of a person who produces a product based on their creativity.
Leonardo to Picasso. Stravinsky to Stevie. Hitchcock to Spielberg. Some of these folks have an ability to take a medium to the next level. That’s the kind of thinking I am talking about. Someone that can take one piece of an idea (like the Torrance test does in it’s drawing section) and being able to expand on it to create something different. It’s a quality of leadership. It’s problem solving.
So when we hear music, see movies, or other things that make you say “I’ve seen that before” and we feel that it’s copying something else, it’s probably because the person behind it was not entirely creatively intelligent. But the folks who have a deep following and fan base, that have set the trends, that have changed the game, were creatively intelligent. Kanye West. Heath Ledger. You name it. They take the art to the next level that inspire us. They are leaders.
It’s not enough for a person to get a mic, pro tools, and a computer program to make beats, and then call yourself a music artist. Sure you can do it, or imitate others. But come up with something on your own, that’s honest, and catches fire like Prince? That takes another level of thinking.
I’ve seen a lot of people suddenly take up cameras and call themselves photographers. People who jump in front of that camera and call themselves models. Folks who buy the cheapest Flip Mino and want to make music videos. But compare the work of an amateur to that of the creative intelligent person with the natural knack and learned skill? You can’t compete.
So before someone jumps up and calls themselves an artist, I ask, are they creative? And as the article says you don’t necessarily have to be in the arts. A business person can be creative. Anyone can use a creative mind in any field, it’s just that we usually recognize efforts of creativity in musicians and storytellers.
And who are the culprits when it comes to the fall of creative intelligence? Well we can definitely point toward the American school system. We measure achievement by how well you can do on academic tests. Your grade is reflection of your ability to learn. But plenty of people in leadership positions didn’t do well in school. Along with that, how many of us learn how to create the solutions to problems? We learn the process and get the answer. But how often are we asked to create the process itself?
And furthermore, we have a society that doesn’t really reward creative thinking…at least, not until the thought has been proven to work. Imagine someone coming up with the idea for an iPhone in 1978? A computer, a camera, AND a phone all in one? Yeah right. How is that going to happen? We doubt imaginations that don’t seem immediately practical. A seed of doubt can kill an idea. So we place a lot of doubt on “out the box” thinkers. So then they also doubt their own intelligence. But the ones that truly believe in their idea, and prove others wrong? We praise them later, especially once they make millions of dollars.
I can go into a whole rant on the industries (i.e. film, music, television, radio, etc) that take “creative” works and market them. Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t dumb. It may take a while for others to catch on, but when they notice a remade film disguised as being “new”, a song that follows the exact same format as another one, people begin to catch on. And when they notice their pockets being drained by nothing but the same product, that’s when the pirating happens. And yes, the industry wants things “proven” to work, so they tell artists to copy the creative minds. It’s a very interesting cycle that happens in every business, but we treat it with a different regard when it comes to art. We think of art as needing to have some kind of unique mind behind it. I don’t care if my socks are the exact same, but the art I enjoy? Some of it needs to be original and unique to me.
It’s no wonder that a lot of younger people now are listening to older music. They feel the creativity and honesty in it. People are going back to older things trying to figure out where to go next. Leadership is dropping. A lot of people sense it happening.
I saw this video a while ago and couldn’t wait for the right post to put it up. I think you all should check out the WHOLE LECTURE HERE.
Today’s musing comes at the request of the homegirl @Bellametaphor from Rawemag. I told her this story and the advice along with it, and she said I should do a post on it.
Aside from making music and doing this site, I’m a tutor. Mainly in math.
Math is usually a lot of people’s weakest subject. It was mine too until college. College was when I finally understood the process of thinking in math. Math has a certain flow of logic to it. I never liked math because I didn’t understand the logic and it was rarely explained in a way I could relate. Usually we’re given a formula, and told to just do it; but, when it comes to Algebra, there is a larger frame of thought that needs to be understood so that you can get through other forms of math.
Right now I’m tutoring a 6th grader in Pre-Algebra. Last week me and the kid were working on some problems. I showed him a few times the process of attacking the problems. When I gave him one to do on his own, he went straight to guessing the answer. In his mind, if he took a guess and got it right, then regardless of anything else, it’s the right answer. And once you have the right answer, you’re done! That’s how most people think because of how we’re tested. If I put the right answer, I get points. What I did in-between doesn’t matter.
His guesses for the answer were close, but weren’t correct. He didn’t employ the process I gave him.
So I told him this:
“What you’re doing is trying to find the answer. Focus on the process, not the answer.“
Often times we’re just trying to find “the right answer” in life instead of knowing what the right process is. We’re rarely told that our instincts or what we feel is the right thing to do, IS the right answer. Worse than that, we’re never told that it’s OK to be wrong sometimes, as long as we go back and understand the process to get it right.
But my advice to the boy still applies when it comes to making art.
I’m seeing a lot of people trying to find the answer, but not trusting the process. There are a lot of people wanting to be models but not taking professional pictures. Rappers wanting to rap, but not studying the craft. Singers wanting to sing and thinking auto-tune will save them. Creating music, writing a script, painting…all of those have certain processes. But most people are aiming for the answer- fame and money.
Focus hard on the process, and you can get to the answer.
Jay Smooth at illdoctrine came right on time with this video. Enjoy!
Most of my musings may be criticisms. They are an analysis of things going on. Problems I see. But I want to take some time to show appreciation for some great artists and great music out there.
One of the things I love to do is watch YouTube videos and read people’s comments. It really helps share the wonder of the music. Here are some great songs and some comments I ran across, that I think illustrate the timelessness of them and put some of the things in words I couldn’t express.
Redman- Time 4 some Aksion
Boogers4dinner- “I know this sounds crazy but me and my friends went to the basketball court years back when this rap came out, and I just seen the video seconds before I left the house. I was in a zone when I went to the basketball court. I was on fire. That song was in my head the whole time! They said they never seen me play that well before. This song was in my head the whole time! I was in a zone for real! LOL I didn’t miss a shot that day.”
Superjigga2004- “What gets me all the time is when the song is about to close and suddenly he goes into another lyrical burst. Almost 20 yrs later and I still keep falling for it!”
SOS Band- No One’s Gonna Love you-
trackmanllm09- i luv this group im nineteen and my generation is terrible in music our music is not sincere its just whateva looks cool this is the type of song that you leave on repeat when your at home
J-Davey- Mr. Mister
madhatter536- my hormones ache just looking at her. I have a pool.
WilliamLevi09- Im so irritated that J*DaVeY isn’t as big as they should be! Ive been listening to them for year now and I cant stop singing their music. They need to seriously blow up in the industry asap. I want to see them on tv more often! C’mon J*DaVeY please come out with a new cd and tell BET, MTV, MTV2, VH1, etc. and radio stations all over to play your music! I freakin love you guys! I love all your music, ALL of it!
Rhaegar1- BET, MTV, MTV2, VH1, etc. and radio stations dont play good music thats why J*Davey not on there
Brittany Bosco- Blues for Blue/ Black & White
risas323- Dis is WHaT i CaLl MuZik
Cocomo08- Me too! Love this chick! I need to get this EP again because my computer crashed and away went my music. So sad.
Common- I Used to Love H.E.R.
Fetcha200- Wow I don’t even like Hip-Hop/Rap.
I’m more of a hard rock/blues/acoustic type of guy
but this shit surprised me.
Mad respect for this artist/song
and I mean it.
Yasenifah- my english university prof used this song in teaching us about a form of poetry… deep shit common
JawbolingWoW- it took me awhile to understand this video.. and now i understand it.. i thought he was talking about a girl but it turns it he was talking about Hip-Hop.. this song really makes me sad thats why i love it.
calm1like- LOL i learned this song in english class last year for grade 12 in the poetry unit… just goes to show how amazing this song is
MisterDynamite- I just got this CD yesterday and I must say that this was one of the best purchases I ever made. Most CDs usually have one or two good songs, but on this CD, every song is great.
LVipez- he has an aura wen he sings
kinda like dilla on his production
J Dilla- La La La
FRESHCOOLAIDE- This song sounds like love, and freedom.
Phlexxon- Feels like the sky looks right now in Compton – fresh and alive
joecrow24- do you know where it can be purchased?
Jayedoubleneye – Where can i buy this ?!?!
Miles Davis- So What
2424reservoirdog – I am a fan of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, but i love Miles Davis. Any fan of any musical genre should be able to appreciate his greatness.
JazznBlues85 – Kind of Blue is a true masterpiece. So full of melody, not a single note is out of place, it is what every album of any genre should aspire to be. These guys sing with their instruments, they talk also. Long live music!
alisesay- this is the first time n this real jazz song n artist ive ever listened to, nuff respect to the blues n jazz that started the foundation for soul funk n hip hop RIP MILES DAVIS sorry it took so long for man like me to discover your music
TheBee38- Classic class. You know he had a rare condition where he saw colours and shapes when he heard music. Colour to sounds, amazing eh? Wish I suffered this, i’d take it as a blessing.
StormZephyr – My God. I didn’t even know about Miles Davis until last week. It was like stepping out a familiar door into empty space, losing your footing and going into free-float in endless void.
BrzNinja – I’ve been just recently listening to Jazz, but this kind of music made me think in a way I never have. I closed my eyes and got into a deep trance. I forgot all my problems, and by the end of the song, I finally said… “So what?”