I am looking forward to seeing Ben Kweller and Tim Fite at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale on August 11. I got some media passes from my friends at Epitaph after I did the story on Fite last month for Skope Magazine. If you haven’t checked it out in print you’re in luck, I have this posted on my portfolio.
Here is a feature I wrote on Fite in the July/August Skope.
Tim Fite is thoughtful in his choice of words and precise in his message of social justice. This theme permeates his music in lyrics that deal directly with the imbalances and social injustices that exist today.
He grew up on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, “in the woods”. In limbo between the surrounding metropolises, he started listening to hip-hop. It was music he could identify with, “It was mostly from a political perspective because I considered all other forms of music thieved, exploited, and turned to shit by racist America.” He eventually warmed up to other forms of music, especially certain flavors of country music. It was on his second album Gone Ain’t Gone that he successfully melded these two disparate sounds; hip-hop and blues-tinged country found a suitable and cathartic common ground on that album. Fite’s latest effort is more reliant on samples, beats, and a distinctly urban sound. Throughout his works, his conscious lyrics spill out in a twisted twang, a unique vocal delivery in stark contrast to his urban roots.
According to Fite, the imbalances of society effect music and creativity. His mission is to refute that system. He gave his last album away for free. It is available on his website for download with absolutely no strings attached. The theme of this album Over the Counter Culture is anti-consumerist. He takes his message seriously, so much so that in order to really bring this home he decided to sever the work’s connection to money. He relates his decision, “Money is the beginning of all problems. No money. If it’s free, it’s really free. If there’s one thing that’s shackling everybody at this point, it’s commerce. It’s our need to spend and to be spent.”
The album is full of overt sampling and that is part of his message: sampling other melodies gives the work a whole new life. He is not shy about stealing beats, parts of songs, or entire songs if it benefits his work, “I don’t feel the rules of the system with the way people are credited are fair. I don’t think they are right. I think that they’re put in place to keep some mutha fuckas getting rich and some mutha fuckas not and to limit our creativity.”
His goal is to stir things up, and encourage the break down of the current system that he views as misguided. “The more we steal and the more we cheat back at the system; some day change will occur and people will start wanting to give money directly back to the song makers for their songs.”
Hip-hop serves as a perfect example of the abuses of the music industry. Fite is passionately at odds with the current status quo. “The thing that is so upsetting about hip-hop is that it was the voice of the change and was the voice of social consciousness. Then it was commodified, bastardized, and turned into a mockery of itself for people that don’t give a shit about anything but making money.”
I will post some photos and words on the show soon so look out for that.Peace