Raz Mesinai is a longtime homie of the Dutty Artz crew and is one of those crazy, iconoclastic and stubbornly original musicians that defy easy classification. He’s been making spacy, sometimes terrifying, blunted bass music since before your mom ever started listening to Dubstep. He posted this piece on his Tumblr the other day and I got a real kick out of it and thought I’d share it here.
MY WORK by Raz Mesinai
My work cleans up after itself as well as after the messes I make.
My work doesn’t want to be ‘current’, because that would mean that eventually it wouldn’t be.
My work picks up chicks for me, and then forces me to break up with them.
LV & Joshua Idehen – “Melt”
from LV & Joshua Idehen‘s album Routes, an album which came out on Keysound Recordings a few months ago. I’ve listened to the album countless times, played some tracks on the radio, and at parties prior to the unrest in London. I highly recommend it. It’s an impressive, imaginative, muscular, and fun album. On “Melt” Idehen, a Londoner of Nigerian heritage talks about growing up in London on top of a ridiculously good kwaito-informed funky jam provided by LV (very impressive vocal cut ‘n past & repeat action.) So much is said in such little time (youth, class, perseverance,…) & so much understood even when the words aren’t clear!
I am listening to this song which Lamin shared, some friends remixing another. It is filled with dusk-tones, close and fading, sunset a challenge to both darkness and light and at the same time I learn that a poet I’d read and knew in passing, has passed away. A friend who knew Akilah better sent some of us an excerpt of her speaking about grief.
And once again, we’re left with beautiful words and tones that linger but can never stay. In a sense, this is why we share it.
Grief is a complicated emotion but also an inadequate word in many ways. Maybe it isn’t so much that the term fails to encompass a range of emotional states, but I think also death itself, as an event, as a limit, as a field of investigation, is too many things at once.It’s solid and it’s slippery. For me what I’m doing in A Toast is using language to walk through that field to find out about love, the collapsible body, what it means to be human, all of that. Also, I think that I am trying to transcribe rapture. I mean that in the ecstatic sense of the word. . . . I am in a state of seeking. Grief is a part of that seeking, but so is redemption and anger, the forgivable and the unforgivable, this ecstasy of being in a kind of light, the simple astonishment of the impermanence of absence. This book is dedicated to my brother who died when I was very young, and he was very young, 28 years younger than I am now, so in some ways he has passed into myth for me, which is another kind of symbolic being-ness. It’s also dedicated to my son who died when he was 20, so there is that grappling with the loss of the body who has come through my body, a kind of intimacy that is almost indescribable. And it is also dedicated to my mother, who is still alive and kicking at 74, and the recognition of myself as the beloved body too, who has passed through another beloved. So there is this elegiac intent here as well. I am trying to trace the mystery of the bodylife, a term I’m borrowing from Cherríe Moraga. So there’s hope in these poems of course.
Just over a week ago, as I settled onto a couch in MC Doca’s living room, a Globo News reporter announced that funk MCs had been sent to prison for apologizing crime. A YouTube video of MC Ticão and MC Frank singing about how FB, the dono (owner) of the recently police-invaded Morro de Alemão was hiding out in rival faction Rocinha. The report next showed an armed blond police woman–with heavy makeup and perfect hair–shouting and banging on an apartment door. The camera revealed two shirtless, tattooed MCs, Frank and Ticão, who are brothers, blinking away sleep. Cut to a table with a watch, a ring, and a few chains. “The police encountered various gold chains” the reporter intoned. Tremendously successful MCs with gold chains?!? How incriminating!
MC Smith, MC Max, and MC Didô had also been imprisoned. They also lived in the two communities recently occupied by the police: Morro de Alemão and Villa Cruzeiro. The deputy accused the MCs of using the Internet to share music making “apologizing” crime and criminals, forming a gang (with the other MCs), associating with traffickers, and doing “marketing” (yes, she used the English word) for drugs and criminal factions.
Next the report announced that MC Galo of Rocinha had been arrested in a traffic blitz in Leblon. He had an arrest warrant for marijuana possession from 1998 and for singing “proibidão” (“very prohibited” music). The police evidence? A YouTube video of Galo singing in Leandro HBL’s and Diplo’s Favela on Blast. None of the press using the clips contacted Leandro to ask permission. And whenever Leandro has used Globo’s footage, he’s had to pay. A lot.
The video, which Globo used, is Galo’s top hit on YouTube. The clip, they chose, compares the hard life of the MC to the hard life of a drug-seller. It’s not, even “proibidão.” So, why did Globo weave Galo–who had been arrested a day earlier–into the story? Perhaps to build sentiment against Rocinha, a community speculated as a target for police invasion and “pacification.”
Predictably, none of the reports look at the roots of “forbidden” funk–which refer to drugs, violence, and criminal factions. A common story among funkeiros goes that in the mid-nineties when the various judges prohibited bailes funk in clubs, typically in working class suburbs, the parties and the music moved into favelas. Farther away from police repression, some bailes began to be financed bycriminal factions. At the same time funk’s base in Miami Bass & freestyle evolved into the Candomblé- and samba-influenced tamborzão beat.
I visited the MCs in prison yesterday along with MC Leonardo, the president of APAFUNK, and DJ Marlboro, who’s credited with recording the first “funk carioca” album in 1989. We met with the MCs in a classroom above the underground prison. After one guard allowed us to enter with cameras and voice recorders, another returned to confiscate the camera and voice recorder of two human rights reporters. I hid my point-and-shoot camera. Until the guard came back shouting, “The meeting is over! Stop singing. No cameras!”
When asked if he ever expected to be jailed for his songs, MC Smith responded, “This is a political game that’s happening in Brazil now, so yes…. Ivete Sangalo lives in Bahia. And what’s that? Carnaval, carnaval ‘fora da epoca’ [out-of-season, all the time] and she sings about what happens. And I live in a community that was taken over by the state… one of the most dangerous in the world. And I live in a community with a high risk of violence, a criminal base, high rates of prostitution. And therefore I’ll sing what I live. And what I think. This is freedom of expression. Not only me, but for Max, Ticão, Frank, Didô.”
When will the criminalization of funk carioca stop? People point out how City of God is “proibidão” that was Oscar-nominated. Yet, funk suffers prejudice unlike high-class art. After the police invaded Vila Cruzeiro and Morro de Alemão and failed to capture “bandits,” it seems that they chose easier targets: MCs with “proibidão” videos on YouTube.
merry xxxmas. the shortest day and a menstral moon mark the end of a year of global slowdown. a screwtape for you and you alone. words from tom mccarthy whose new book is fattening stockings even as this robot types. cross posted to worDtheCat…
So there’s this thing called the Internet but here at Dutty Artz we are mostly focused on bodies. Preferably sweaty ones. What moves them, what brings them together or forces them apart, trying to create spaces where we can melt our boundaries or learn useful ways of navigating each other and The World Around Us, which is part Mr + Mrs Internet but part walls and metal and dirt and apartments and streets and jet fuel and mostly plastic products which is why we’re doing a ZINE. To spread this talk into a physical format, the kind of thing you can leave behind or fold up and take with you, because everything circulates differently offline — call it distributional aesthetics — and nowadays it’s not knowledge so much as vectors of connection, context, and collapse, plus or minus corporate sponsorship and/or access to potable water. Like I tweeted: the future will be bad. but its music will be good. #CrisisManagement.
The zine will be out in time for Kwanzaa/Christmas/Reyes/Hanukka and if you’d like to submit a piece of “content” for it, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your “content” is, like, physical, email us and we’ll send a passenger pigeon to pick it up.
Guidelines? Nope. But there is a theme. And that theme is PIRACY. Or maybe it’s a method. There is a deadline for submissions: 4 weeks from now. End of November.
I am kinda occupying the editor position and Taliesin is kinda occupying the graphic designer position & that’s about all for now. The Dutty Artz Zine will be available as a PDF for our disembodied massive but the physical thing will come with an audio CD containing some of the best music you’ve ever heard. But this is not about the music. It’s about killing trees & inking up the world. Xerox sponsors, holler.