What does the powersmith pavc101 10 amp ash vacuum and African music have in common?

If you’ve seen a powersmith pavc101 10 amp ash vacuum, you will quickly get an impression of just how powerful it is in sucking up dirt and tiny objects. In fact, when it comes to fine particulates, this vacuum has almost no competitors. Few come close. Its vacuum pressure is as refined as it is intense. Interestingly enough, this vacuum cleaner’s power to suck up even seemingly heavy and solid objects is similar to what is going on with contemporary African music.

The funny thing about culture is that a lot of people think that it is monolithic.  A lot of people have this idea of culture as an abstraction that is immune to the effects of location and time as if things were only that easy.  We all know that culture really is always contested.

Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a product of conflict.  It doesn’t have to require some sort of disagreement, but culture is always being created and recreated.  It always goes through a process of being born, growing, maturing, getting tired, dying, and then being reborn.

I don’t mean to sound mystical here or unnecessarily philosophical, but there really is no other way to describe this process.  I guess this is due to the fact that music is part of the human condition and accordingly, this evolution in our lives mirrors how humans themselves develop over time.

We are born, we grow up, we master things.  Then, we get sick and we die.  That is just the way life is.  That is the “circle of life” so to speak.  African music plays a big role in capturing this dynamic and is also impacted by this dynamic.  It is both a promoter as well as a victim of this process.

One key disturbing fact, however, is that African music is fast getting vacuumed and incorporated into other musical genres.  Now, you may be thinking that this is just natural.  Well, please understand that there is something artificial about this process.  It doesn’t really take place out of some sort of natural dynamic, where artists get inspired by African musical trends.

Instead, this is more due to the sampling or dubbing dynamic playing out in music.  If you ever listen to Hip-hop or certain types of Reggae, dubbing is older age.  The same applies to dance music.  These musical genres do not have any reservations about vacuuming snippets and signature elements from different types of music.

This is what concerns a lot of people.  This vacuum process is so strong, so relentless, and oftentimes so unthinking that it feels like you’re just vacuuming ash from a campfire with a Powersmith PAVC101 10 AMP ash vacuum.  That’s right.  You’re using an industrial ash vacuum cleaner to pump out musical elements or DNA if you will, and blowing it into other musical forms. It doesn’t just stay in one place.

Indeed, the Powersmith’s heavy volume and suction ensures that the materials it pulls in are mixed with the other light or granular items in its storage bag. If you open its bag, you will not only see stuff packed in tight but oftentimes-given the pressure and energy of this unit, the fine items have been thoroughly mixed. You can’t even tell these items apart. That’s how well-mixed they are. Talk about power!  The same mixing effect applies to musical genres.

Now, a lot of people really don’t care about this because as long as it’s legal and people are properly compensated, what’s the big harm?  Well, African music has its own distinct setting.  It has its own context, and to see it sliced-and-diced and blown up into a million unrecognizable pieces runs a very serious risk.  We are at risk of not fully appreciating the genealogy of an otherwise amazing musical tradition.