injustice

Those of you who read these pages no that I am not a fan of Justice’s cock rock techno.  This article accompanied by photo evidence (above) catching Justice playing “live” with an un-plugged MIDI controller is just too funny to pass up.  As someone who has done real live electronic music back in my Team Shadetek days I know how difficult this is to do and do well, so on one level I’m sympathetic, on the other level, you shouldn’t lie to your fans guys.  I stopped doing live electronics when my music took a turn towards hiphop, dancehall and grime and I didn’t think that any of the live improvisation I would do would improve the music.  Since then my show has been me DJing tracks from a laptop, sometimes with effects.  I play lots of un-released new dubs of mine that no one else has and make up my set list as I go along.  I figure that’s worth the price of admission.  You get to hear my music, mixed and selected by me and get a peek into my present sound, IE the future since it always takes so long to get records or CDs out.  I have a new project (more on that soon) that might be appropriate to a live format and so am I actually considering going into loop djing mode (breaking down the tracks into parts and re-constructing live) for that, probably using ableton live, but we’ll see.  However, you will NEVER see me on stage with an un-plugged MIDI controller making faces and pretending to do things that I’m not.  Thanks to Dan @ Dubspot for the link.

The Police ¨Roxanne¨, as performed by Microsoft´s weirdly great new software – you sing an acapella, it ´composes´the music.  i heart presets!! [more @ pitchfork]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypycpKQxXR0&eurl=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/download/148560-wtf-van-halen-the-police-the-cars-oasis-the-doobie-brothers-microsoft-so&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Image
…here’s a jam for everyone who woke up this morning afternoon with a headache. “when the wine is in the wit is out / rasta don’t drink wine”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Heptones – Mistry Babylon

Lee Perry produced Mistry Babylon and this next tune, a classic piece of smoky studio genius, wet with echo and reverb. Debra Keese’s gorgeous vocals and lyrics get me every time.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Shadows – Brother Noah

Although her vocals are present for much of the tune, Brother Noah is a dub version. Here’s the original for comparision/completists:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Debra Keese – Travelling

I guess Lee Perry is one of the most famous crazy old black men around. Maga Bo was riding his bike on the beach in Rio de Janeiro and looked up — Lee Perry stood there in full regalia, talking to some German girls. He wasn’t in town for a concert or anything, he was just hanging out on Copacabana as if it were the most natural thing in the world and it probably was.

Most of the crazy old black men I see are on the subway, with plastic bags and newspaper scraps. Unthinkably alone. Sometimes with no shoes, sometimes with as many accesories and bonkers sartorial flair as Scratch, The Upsetter, himself.

theupsetter

Chris Sattinger, aka Timeblind has made his mix I posted about recently, which is now titled “Flora Mix”, downloadable here. The title makes me think it’s intended as a compliment to his previous Fauna Mix.

He’s also re-designed his home on the web, crucial-systems.com. From our conversations when he was recently in New York I am hoping we can expect a whole raft of new tunes from him soon. Lord knows he has them. Let’s hope his insanely high standards can allow a few to escape from his Berlin studio.

His Ghostification EP may or may not still be available thanks to the friendly folks at Soot Records.

Friend of Dutty Artz and always fascinating Timeblind has a new dubstep mix up on Samurai FM.

Dubstep, dub reggae, sheets of noise, 4×4 beats and… stuff

As with everything he does, it is deeeeeeeeeeeeeep. I recommend.

Dive in.

(scroll to bottom of that page to stream the mix, no direct link)

GIF at top is from Timeblinds myspace, I have no idea either.

NEW YORK—According to an alarming new study published Monday in The Journal Of Applied Behavioral Science, the time-honored American activity of swaggering, an extremely arrogant manner of walking, has dropped by nearly 90 percent since 2007.

From The Onion article

For extra laughs –


Cindy McCain Claims She’s “Just Like Any Other Female Human”


Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans


12-Year-Old Boy Scouts Volunteer To Give Women Breast Exams

Did you notice how cool Barack was in the last debate? Have you notice how much gray hair has popped out of Barack’s head over the course of his campaign? Is Barack able to be himself? Can you really even get angry while in fear of being angry?

In that same/last debate, did you also notice how John McCain was blinking about a hundred thousand times a minute? Did you see the bulge in his neck? He was visibly upset, and you can tell by the way he was interrupting Barack and by his jagged responses.  Did you also notice in the second debate when McCain referred to Obama as “that one”? All Barack could do was just smile (and you know that somewhere in his bones, he would like to say that “this is some BS”.)

Anger is a natural emotion, but if you are black, Latino, a person of color, there’s no space in these United States for you to be angry.  It has taken me years to understand that as a black person, it is not acceptable to be angry in America.  People will be terrified of you, but this is not about me, (I am still angry and trying to realize the difference between proactive anger and reaction anger) this is about Brother Barack.

I pray that Our Beloved Brother Barack has some outlet.  I pray that he and Sister Michelle have some private conversations about black stress and internalized racism.  Black stress and internalized racism can lead to heart attacks and high blood pressure. I hear that he’s smoking again, that can only accelerate the process.

*
J. Edgar Hoover (FBI Director for a very long time) constantly referred to black people, specifically civil rights leaders (including MLK) as communists or socialists. In the last few days, McCain’s criticisms of Obama’s economic/tax policies of “spreading the wealth” as socialism echo those old attacks and accusations of black leaders.  That is racist and hypocritical, after McCain voted for the use of government funds to bail out Wall St.

*

Here’s what inspired this post… Brand new DB!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


David Banner – When You Hear What I Got To Say


David Banner talks Election ’08 with DJ Hyphen from DJ Hyphen on Vimeo.

*

Tim Wise should not be one of the few white people in America who talk consistently about white privilege, but he is.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UJlNRODZHA[/youtube]

Let’s welcome Taliesin – DA representative and low end theoretician with a pair of strong, intriguing mixes floating around.  In this extensive post, Tally adjusts his critical lens to explore and scope out a wide range of issues– sampling, copyright, archiving, media, ethics, race, iconoclasm, racism, white privilege, hypocrisy… It’s tremendous, you should just read.  – Lamin

*

Moby’s 1999 album Play has sold ten million copies worldwide. I bought one myself from Barnes and Noble in the Spring of 2008 to better elucidate some questions I’d been floating about iconoclasm, music and sampling in the age of mechanical/digital reproduction . I hoped to use the album as a focal point for addressing these issues. As a material piece of cultural history Play is nothing extraordinary. Standard jewel case, eight page full color insert, two-color CD label. Photography from British fashion and documentary photographer Corinne Day. Five short essays on fundamentalism, veganism and Christianity. The usual list of production credits and sample clearances.

cover for Play
Copyright, sampling and intellectual property rights ownership are registers fraught with complexity in an age of digital representation and reproduction. As soon as a work of “art” is entirely represented by a series of knowable electrical signals or an infinitely reproducible code, questions of ownership are put into crisis. I have left leaning views regarding information and its inherent desire to be “free,” the laughably (unless you got an RIAA summons) inept response of the record industries to piracy, and my total lack of moral qualms in downloading the work of artists without paying them for the bits of information. What is interesting about Moby’s album Play is not how his work fits into mediascapes of rampant sharing and copyleft issues (although its ad revenue points to new/old models) , but the work itself as a package. By package I mean how the work is presented, its content, and how it is represented by secondary sources that make content out of commentary on, or inclusions of segments of the work itself.

Play appeared as a logical focal point for exploration of sampling and cultural appropriation because it is a work of art authored by a white man that heavily samples the work of black men and women. Sampling in music is about removal, reference, negation and recontextualization. To sample is both a technical act and part of a greater relationship between sound, ownership and authorship. From a technical standpoint sampling is the process of copying sound from one medium and reapplying it to another. Sound is a unique medium because it is ethereal and can only ever can be said to truly exist in the space between the source and the listener. Except for rare instances, sampling never causes the physical destruction of the original sound source. It is for this reason that from a material perspective, sampling does not immediately seem to fit under the auspices of iconoclasm. Musical artworks, however, are
constituted physically in their storage medium and in the sphere of social production. In the relationship between re-contextualized sound and authorship there are iconolastic possibilities traditionally reserved for the analysis of visual arts.

Protestant Post Iconoclasm Church Interior

The important questions to ask about Play revolve around the representation of the individual southern rural black voices sampled by Moby and how these voices and any assets they provide to the work as a whole are represented and addressed by what I am calling the “whole package” of the album. On one end of the spectrum appears the possibility of total cultural appropriation in the most negative sense. Moby, white electronic musician, strips black voices of their context, reaps huge material benefits and critical acclaim without acknowledging his cultural theft and the continuation of racist legacies in American music. OR Moby, white electronic musician, brings to light lost recordings of black cultural history, audiences reconsider their historical critical musical timelines, consumers seek out and support sampled artists and their estates bringing a huge influx of funds to ensure the continued support of rural arts. These simplified possible outcomes depend on how Moby and his label understand the meaning of the voices of southern blacks to be recorded, sampled, and released as part of a greater whole, Play , that is coded as white cultural output. Before Play can be placed on this theoretical gradient, a closer inspection of the material reality of the sample sources of the album must be completed.

Play
contains the following cleared (i.e. acknowledged/payed for) samples:

Bessy Jones “Sometimes

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Spoony G and The Treacherous Three “Love Rap

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Bill Landford & the Landfordaires “Run on For a Long Time

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Vera Hall “Trouble So Hard

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Boy Blue “Joe Lee’s Rock

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The black voices that Moby appropriates for Play come almost entirely from the work of folklorist Alan Lomax. Lomax is a white man who is best known for his work traveling rural America and recording traditional American culture. His work yielded more than 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of motion picture film, and 2,450 videotapes. Lomax was (according to the organization that bears his name) “A believer in democracy for all local and ethnic cultures and their right to be represented equally in the media and the schools – a principle he called ‘cultural equity.”

The mission of the Association for Cultural Equity he founded is stated on their website as follows:

Alan Lomax hoped that cultural equity, the right of every culture to express and develop its distinctive heritage, would become one of the fundamental principles of human rights. ACE’s mission is to facilitate cultural equity through cultural feedback, the lifelong goal that inspired Alan Lomax’s career and for which the Library of Congress called him a Living Legend. Cultural feedback is an approach to research and public use that provides equity for the people whose music and oral traditions were until recently unrecorded and unrecognized. Cultural equity is the end result of collecting, archiving, repatriating and revitalizing the full range and diversity of the expressive traditions of the world’s people — stories, music, dance, cooking, costume. ACE’s mission is realized through a configuration of innovative projects that creatively use and expand upon Alan Lomax’s collected works and research on music and other forms of expressive culture including:

* The digitization of and free
access to a vast majority of Alan Lomax’s musical and scholarly files in an evolving website which is open to the public.

*The commercial distribution
of sound and video recordings from the Lomax collection linked to the payment of royalties to the original performers or their descendants.

*The repatriation of media
collections to libraries established in the areas where they were collected.

* A pilot project for cultural
feedback based on Lomax’s work in the Caribbean.

* A revisited performance style
research paradigm testing old and new hypotheses and including new statistical
techniques and breakthroughs in evolutionary anthropology.

While Moby shouts out “The Lomaxes” (Allen’s father recorded and brought (mostly black) cowboy songs among other things into American lore) in his liner notes, it’s questionable whether Moby really honors
the tenants of cultural equity (saving deep explorations of Lomax’s project for a later date) in his presentation of the disembodied black voices on/in Play.

The initial recontextualization of black cultural experience, by Lomax, performs a dual role of preservation and destruction. By recording traditional American folksongs, Lomax ensures that they are not lost to time. This is a function that recording always carries. Recording however, always misrepresents, or at least alters, that which it claims or can appear to be an exact reproduction of. The recorded vibrations of air pressure that we discuss as sound is always situated in a specific cultural, historical, geographical, temporal moment that is entirely lost no matter how much documentation a folklorist or other archivist attempts to complete. In this way the work of preservation comes into
question. Is there something wrong if gorgeous and haunting recordings of southern gospel traditionals are consumed as Play delivers them by an affluent audience without reflection (what ever the fuck that means) on the complex and violent history of slavery, oppression and racism from which they emerge? I believe there is.

When important parts of history are stripped from culture and expropriated for pure aesthetic value something valuable and essential is lost. The Lomax archives are important because they also spur interest in rediscovering a history that is often white washed in American public education. Because the
media is already awash with racial caricatures and rehashed minstrelsy, preservationists should not be the prime targets of criticisms about media representation. The power of these recordings speaks strongly about their historical position, and I imagine for many inspire a deep exploration of
American identity and history.

Moby’s work provides a different type of mediation however, from that of Allen Lomax and other archivists. While Lomax did indeed choose when and what to record, it is the really the technology of the
recording apparatus, in Lomax’s case 1/8” tape, that provides the essential link between the original sound and the listener. Moby’s mediation, the loading of an entire song, a complete hymnal, into ProTools (or equivalent DAW) and violently puncturing it through editing is a different kind of act. I agree with departed ethnomusicologist and cultural historian Tim Haslett when he
writes:

White Americans are actually terrified of Black
music’s aesthetic, political, and affective power. It is as if they understand
that for Black people, including artists, music is not a recreational activity,
it is a way of life and often a means of survival. It has to arrive via a white
mediator in order to be absorbed without damaging whiteness. This mediation
process is evident in the… success of the electronic artist, Moby.

The enormous power of Moby’s mediation is made clear in the commercial success of the licensing of the album’s songs for commercial purposes. The tracks have been licensed hundreds of times. Reviewers
of the album describe it as being “visceral”, “a spiritual epiphany,”
and having “uniquely affecting soul.”

Somehow Moby has tamed the crude and deep emotions of the Southern negro and created a music with all of the potent signifiers of hip (synth pads!!! safe minorities !!! bass beats!!!) and none of the burden of the lived experience of black folk. Can you imagine hundreds of advertisements that feature painfully honest and striped imagery of racism, rural poverty, death and god? Yet the potent themes are exactly what the vocals manage to do (for some) once run through and controlled by Moby’s studio. Once these words enter into the editing environment they loose their original context and retain only a vague hint of soulfulness, genuine lived experience, and foreign danger. These attributes provide an erotic thrill to Moby and his global audience when they are allowed intimate access to, and total control over the lives of blacks. When the harsh realities of the antebellum south that refuse aestheticization and corporate branding (lynching, prison slavery, endemic poverty, jim crow, and the limitation at every possible
turn of life success chance possibilities for blacks and natives…) emerge as the clear underpinning of the “soul” that is so beloved by white audiences, escape always and must be a mere eject button away. Play provides whites with the ability to imagine occupying the space of the other, the church hall, the front stoop, the chain gang without even breaking a sweat, much less addressing the continued legacy of slavery in America.

Looking back at Moby’s earlier career choices, Play appears on a continuum of artistic decisions that
consistently utilize reduced notions of blackness for emotional effect. An early 90’s track under his pseudonym Barrcuda “Party Time” also utilizes disembodied black voices. A black male voice shouts at various intervals “Its Party Time!” while a gospel choir moans “Ahhhhs” in the background. Another pseudonym of Moby’s, Voodoo Child, is also problematic. Evoking the tribal and crazy dangerous world of Voodoo practice (or Jimi), Voodoo Child is of course merely Richard Hall, middle class white man raised in Darien, Connecticut.

It appears that Moby is also aware of this position of privelege. In an interview he says, “The only way dance music culture has been accepted in the U.S. is when white people have done it. I’m white, so I can’t really complain, but the roots of dance music are gay, black and Latino. It’s weird that I’ve gotten a lot of attention when there are so many gay, black and Latino house producers from New York who never got any attention.”

Why then doesn’t Moby focus more the debt he owes to black artists, both those he samples and those whose legacy of electronic music he mines? I think what borders on iconoclasm may lie in the way samples are addressed in the total package of Play. There are no links to the sample sources on his website or that of his label. The liner notes don’t mention the cd comps (where the samples come from maybe these already are troubled), merely the artists and track titles. The artists whose voices he employs, already magnetically bound on tape are divested of all agency, even the freedom to sing the entirety of a song. Play doesn’t qualify as inconclastic because it didn’t break boundaries or cause a sensation, it merely continues plodding along appropriating and aesthetisizing the experience of black Americans, polishing them up and selling them off without looking back.

I think that Republican’s and Democrats alike are having a similar moment today upon learning of John McCain’s vice-presidential announcement this morning. Who? What? Why? Her name is Sara Palin and she has been the governor of Alaska for a year and eight months. Before that she was mayor of a town of less than 10,000 which although she calls herself a ‘fiscal conservative’ (do these even exist anymore?) she left with $20 million in debt. McCain’s response to Obama’s wonderfully eloquent acceptance speech stomping him and the Repugnant-cans is to throw what’s being described by red and blue alike as a political hail-mary pass. But I ask: “At what? To where?” I think he just took the ball and threw it as long and far as he could down the field, in the wrong direction. While Republican’s were saying things like “Who?” and “I don’t know, I’ve never met her” this afternoon when asked for comment the rest of us were getting a crash course on a vice-presidential nominee we had never heard of.

Palin as Miss Wasilla, Alaska in 1984

The fact that nobody seemed to know anything about her, including those on her own side, seems like pretty strong evidence that McCain watched Barack Obama’s speech and convention last night, shit in his Depends, and desperately reached for the wildest wild card that he could play in order to first: draw attention away from a speech that pundits are calling masterful, brilliant, tough, confident and Republicans are comparing to Ronald Reagan (crazy, I know) and second: to frantically try to claim the mantle of change in an election where he is being portrayed as the incumbent in an environment deeply hostile to the current regime.

This leads me to ask: no, seriously, what was he thinking? Was he thinking that he would be able to swing some of the disgruntled Hillary supporters because his new running mate has a vagina? If this is the idea, not only will it not work but I can see it triggering a terrific backlash. First of all, Palin is the opposite of Clinton on policy positions. As someone who is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-environment (she’s against polar bears for god’s sake, didn’t she see those cute Coke commercials?) and vetoed solar, wind and coal initiatives as governor she is basically an evil anti-Clinton mirror twin from Bizarro World. Further she is a 44 year old former beauty queen political lightweight with zero, repeat, zero experience on the national scene. She is as far from Hillary as you can get and still be a female politician. The message I read from this from McCain to Hill’s supporters is: you’re women, she’s one of you, you’re all so blind and stupid that you won’t care that she’s diametrically opposed to everything Hillary fought for for years and years and endured terrible humiliation to get to, vote McCain. You might as well spray them with mace. Bonus negative million points: Hillary will be SO MAD about this that she is going to be back in this campaign spitting acid and SWINGING. So, way to go McCain. You did, I think, the only thing possible to motivate Clinton to campaign as hard as she possibly can for the man who beat her in the primaries.

Next: Age is officially on the table. The fact that McCain could, on his seventy second birthday, nominate a woman who is so deeply, clearly, dangerously unprepared to step in as commander in chief should he succumb to a fifth bout with cancer just illustrates to both sides how much McCain is willing to risk our national security and stop at nothing to win an election. And he accused Obama of being willing to lose a war to win an election? Are you kidding?

Lastly, McCain just picked up the experience stick he’s been beating Obama with all summer, really one of his few legitimate claims, no one can take away the fact that he’s been in Washington for 26 years, and broke it over his own head. By nominating a VP who is both younger, less experienced and also less known than Obama he’s effectively neutralized that argument for himself and his surrogates. The upside for him is that should he be elected he’s pulled an effective Bush-ist move in that absolutely no one will dare to assasinate him for fear that this woman will be running the country.

PS: to those of you are thinking: what is wrong with Matt Shadetek, why is he only talking about politics and writing these weird ranty essays and not talking about music? Well, sorry, this is what I’m thinking about right now and I’ll be damned if I can’t rant about in on my own blog. This is mainly because I feel so strongly that America needs to dump the Republicans and put Obama in the White House that I literally cannot shut up about it.

Oh and PPS: Fuck Daddy Yankee for endorsing McCain (another giant WTF?!?! with a biillion explanation points and question marks) and respect to Fat Joe for dissing him.  What a jackass!

I’m really hoping this is McCain’s “Macaca” moment. Interviewed and asked how many houses he owned: “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”

Mannnnn. I can tell you exactly how much I’ve got in the bank right now (not enough), and how many houses I own: none. I also don’t have a staff to keep track of these things for me, I just remember. For someone who’s supposed to be running the country and keeping track of a lot more information than that, this is not a good look for the McCain campaign. David Gergen has been quoted again and again as saying “Obama needs a game-changer” due to the fact that he is not further ahead in the polls. This might be it.

Obama’s hitting hard on it now, something I’m happy to see since a lot of Democrats have opted not to fight dirty in these kind of fights in the past and some would argue lost because of it (Kerry’s swift boating anyone?) and I personally want a candidate that is gonna take it to the Republicans with two fists and throw mud, rocks and whatever else is handy in order to WIN. Let’s hope Obama and his surrogate’s stay on message with this one and just keep beating McCain with this right up to November. I don’t really see a lot of outs for the McCain people either, aside from attacking back, which they’re trying, using the same elitist celebrity tactics they’ve been on but I really doubt they can get much traction against this. Oh, and the number did come out, it’s not “More than four” (wtf kind of answer is that?!?!) it’s actually SEVEN, including houses on both coasts and more places in between. If you live in a swing state like Ohio, Florida or Virginia be sure to let as many people as you can know about this one.

For the two videos click through to watch the Obama commercial and remarks.

Also, while I’m talking about the election, which I’ve been following avidly, I’d just like to point out how quickly Obama’s organization has responded to this. McCain slipped up yesterday, I got this ad in an email from the campaign today. Talk about rapid response. McCain can’t rapidly respond to a question about his own financial life. If you want evidence of who will be a better head of the executive branch of our government look at how Obama is executing strategy for his campaign. A short list: A) record number of small, non-special interest donations due to excellent internet fund-raising B) volunteers on the ground in fifty states opening fights in places McCain thought he was safe and bleeding his already poorly organized resources C) the rapid and pointed response to this opportunity. Contrast this to Hillary’s campaign which was top-down, rife with infighting and only stayed afloat due to her own cash injections which she’s now taking a huge loss on and (sorry Clintonites) but you see who is ready to lead on day one.

‘The Construction of the Tower of Babel’, by Hendrick III van Cleve, 16th Century, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo. Click for bigger version, it’s a nice painting. Taken from Giornale Nuovo.

Hi everybody, I’ve been away off in real life (What a fucked up place to spend extended periods of time) but just wanted to stick my neck in and say a few words, and probably piss off a bunch of my friends. The goal of writing these polemical attack posts is to sort of kick the tires on our musical activities and cultural practices and to make sure that everyone is really thinking hard about why and how they’re doing what they’re doing. If you feel this as an attack on you or your music, I’d love to hear your response here in public so we can all learn something.

Gex recently posted up the Stereotyp affiliated Kubu mixtape which has some cool beats on it, below, I like the bass on the second track especially. Then Ty responded by saying “looks like Stereotyp… oh great, another Teutonic ‘barefoot baile’ advocate, what the world needs is more white european & american dudes “keeping it real” & getting sexy by going native.” And I LOLed and started writing a comment but decided to turn it into a post as it got longer and longer. Full disclosure: I am probably one of these sexy white guys that Ty is aiming at, not sure if my involvement in ukg and dancehall qualifies me but anywayyyy.

Here’s my point, more or less: I think it’s lame to use vocals in your music that are in a language you don’t really understand. That said, this is not a direct shot at Stereotyp, maybe he speaks Portuguese or whatever language the people are speaking on his mix, I actually don’t know. In vocal music, especially rap, the vibe and energy of a tune is SO MUCH about the lyrical content that putting vocals on tunes that you, or perhaps more importantly a major chunk of your audience don’t understand is just weird to me. I feel that you are using these people and their words as an idea, or a reference or a signifier in a way that’s totally disconnected from their artistic intentions.

If you, the producer can’t understand all the layers of what they’re saying and the audience can’t either then the words are just rhythmic or melodic noise, a kind of cultural texture. I feel like when it’s melodic singing then it makes a bit more sense because at least the people who don’t understand have some purely formal things to grab hold of, and melody is a kind of unconscious language of emotion and therefore there is some kind of non-verbal communication possible. But rap? Rap is words and rhythm, it’s word music.

As someone who listens to quite a lot of word music I’d argue that in the success of any given artist in any of these scenes (rap, dancehall, grime etc) the words they use, the things they say, their message, their attitude, their swagger, and their lyrical content is much more important than the formal qualities of flow or rhythm. In grime and dancehall the thing that will trigger a rewind is an artist saying something, something specific that has tremendous resonance with the audience. How they say it is important and necessary but WHAT they say is what gets them a forward. Especially in dancehall where a lot of it comes down to clashing and beefing the thing that will win a contest is some particularly clever well-timed and somehow true insult. The flow and pattern is necessary but secondary, it’s a vehicle for the message. So when the message is behind a language barrier the order is reversed – flow is in front and the message is behind, or gone.

A lot of fans will say, “Oh I don’t understand, I don’t care what they’re saying I’m just dancing along” but I actually think in taking that position you’re sort of marginalizing these people and their opportunity for artistic expression. It reduces them to being ‘the sexy and exotic other’ that we don’t understand, and don’t care to understand because we think “oh they’re probably just saying ‘dance, party, fuck’ or something like that, and that’s what we’re doing”. But what about when they’re not saying that? What about when Buju Banton is singing about shooting gays in the head over that nice easy party beat? And you’re dancing along obliviously, and because you and everyone else who doesn’t pay attention dances along then the DJ says “see look, that song always works, I’m gonna return to it” and that message gets repeated and repeated into the world. Whether you like to dance to ‘Boom Bye Bye’ or not (nastiness aside, it’s a good song) in this young new global underground dance whatever scene we’re in I think that we really need to make sure that if we’re gonna engage in a style that we’re doing it on all levels, not just formal (wow this beat pattern is great, I’m gonna put my euro synth bass on it and call it ‘global-fusion’) but on the levels of slang, culture, meaning, people, relationships, beef and history. And some may say: “But it’s too much work to learn all these languages, and I’m on the other side of the world and blee blah bleh” well then I’d say either make some friends who can teach you or maybe you should focus in on something that you can understand and try to develop some depth in it. Basically, not being a tourist is hard work but I think, worth it.

cotorra

COTORRA

[ko-toh-rrah]

1) Castillian word for parrot.

2) A motor-mouthed chickenhead.

3) Dominican slang for game, rap, the things one says to seduce.

see also labia or en ingles runnin’ gums

 

*****************************************************************************************************

 

Sigue El Mambo

This posting is in large part a response to Wayne&Wax‘s post on smut/slackness in dancehall music. Beat-junkie that I am, I have a far better memory for artist, title, label, BPM than lyrics. Still, I make it a priority to assess my selections and make sure that the music I play reflects my ideology. If I am to have the luxury of playing for rooms full of people I choose to at least attempt to balance fun and reason. If I really don’t agree with the content of a tune, it’s not getting air on my shift. I make it a point not to dance when I hear ‘Boom Bye Bye’ out. My own silent protests. You might remember me as the kid in class that opted not to pledge the flag but this isn’t me on soapbox-pulpit. I’m sure some of things I play and approve aren’t in someone else’s bag for various reasons. There’s plenty of fun bad-man, gun, and audio-porn dance tunes that the powers-that-be will stamp an advisory warning on and DJs will bang out this year.

But if we are to have real discourse on raw international music that promotes sexuality or violence and whether or not cautions should be taken toward audience, I think the following is a great tune to dissect.

A while back DJ/Rupture threw up a tune from Omega on the Mudd Up and mentioned this Mambo Violento movement out of the Dominican Republic. Although Omega’s band goes by the same name, Mambo Violento as a genre, is street-merengue defined mostly by hyper-rhythms, braggadocio and sexual innuendo. My first exposure to the sound was sitting in the backseat of a Dominican gypsy cab speeding home from a gig. Beyond the 200+ gabber-like BPMs what caught my ear about the compilation the driver was playing was the flagrant raunchiness of the lyrics.

Perreo is one thing but this was a whole new level of slackness in latin music. Here’s a really minimal sounding tune called ‘La Menor’ (The Minor) by El Sujeto that reminds me more of Detroit Grand Pubahs than any merengue derivative. In the tune, you’ll hear El Sujeto hitting on an underage girl, whose refrain “Es que soy menor, Es que yo no doy” translates into I’m a minor, I don’t put out. He spends the rest of the tune dando le cotorra and letting her know that her age won’t be a problem. My inner-feminist and pedophile radar blipped. Its now flagged as a don’t-play tune worth keeping in the collection for the when they book me to play at Playboy Mansion someday-

[display_podcast]

At first listen, I really liked the minimal aspect of the tune as it was recorded. It sounds like it was made low-budget shitty and smells of dirty minimal electro ala Peaches, with a side of mangu. The strange keys at the intro and the guido-like hi-hat that comes in, all so left-field from their origin yet the roots still visible at surface level. Lyrically, my concern was that the chorus was talking about having sex with a minor which falls outside my personal comfort zone. Until you find yourself in a room sitting and conversing with a questionable couple and are forced to clarify where you draw that line for yourself, I think one could easily live without processing the gravity of this. The tune isn’t insanely offensive and talks mostly about the same old: Watch the bling, I’ve got an SUV, I’m not taking any back-chat so go tell your parents I’m gonna take you back to the cabin and beat the punnany.

Take a second and picture that in the context of an adult saying it to a fourteen or fifteen year old.

In a live performance of the same tune below El Sujeto and the band bring it back to the realm of merengue, but the first thing that I notice is the LACK of back-up dancers in micro-skirts that is common in a lot of videos for the genre. The girl’s chorus from the original is also being carried by a trio of three male back up singers. All male back up singers is normal but scantily-clad women are usually in the budget for these types of performances. I could be wrong here but my intuition tells me that though there’s a chance this was filmed on a morning show with some level of humility what’s likely is the artist knows this tune is on the wire and he balanced his stage act to compensate. If thats the case, respek mi doopz, balance is good.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0ZFXQLcEI[/youtube]

 

Behind the stage persona, I bet this guy too loves and respects his momma.

The cultural age of sexual consent varies greatly from city to town to pueblo. Your position on this is as irrelevant as my position on this tune. Thats your opinion bruv, next caller….. It makes no difference if you think its right or not, we’re two thousand plus miles and several income brackets away from that truth.

Tell a single mother in the Dominican Republic that letting her 15 year old find a husband is a bad idea when she has 4 other kids to take care of and a 24oz can of powdered milk costs 240 pesos ($1 = 33 pesos). No mother wants their daughter to marry a skeevy guy but in villages where a college education and opportunity are hurdled by real-world hunger, the decisions people make are about essentially about survival. The main concern is that said daughter finds a provider, gets married and moves out, thus continuing the cycle. There is a great deal of room for improvement of worldwide cultural norms and we could do a whole separate post on that issue, but it’s a digression from the point I’m driving at. Don’t be that fool out there playing ignan’t shit and putting on dampers.

It seems that the IN thing right now is collecting and playing out international ghetto music, and little thought seems paid to the content and meaning of the songs. I’m all about getting peoples hands up, dancing and making out at a party but if you insist on co-opting cultures please do try and have some idea of what is being said in the tune. If you don’t know anyone who speaks Portuguese, try asking your friend that speaks Spanish to break down that kuduro song for you. There is a a great depth of cross-cultural significance to be found in Tego’s lyric “los negros se entienden.”

I grew up on the island and in later years, seeing first-hand the decisions friends and family made in terms of relationships I have been forced to internally process similar issues. For instance, the story of my cousin who at age 18 dated a younger girl, moved into her mom’s house, broke up with the girl and started dating her mom in the same house where they sold ganja to feed the family and a horse. Imagine my face as he’s explaining all this sitting next to both these women and factor in his older brother dating the teenage girl before he did. He had to explain it three times for my brain to process that in rural parts of the world and even rural America, stories like this pop up far more often than some would think.

Here’s a great rendition of that same tale as captured in a Perico Ripiao recorded by Luis Quintero y su conjunto Alma Cibaena so many years ago

Luis Quintero – La Mama y La Hija

If you’re searching for more current latinoid stuff check out recent gene-pool mutation Miti Miti based in Harlem for even weirder minimal merengue business.

 

The upcoming Nas album which was to be titled Nigger has been stripped of a name. The project will now be simply untitled, and this came after Wal-Mart and other retailers voiced their concerns about carrying a project with such a provocative title, and we’re all a little poorer for it.

The first track below is one of the best sounding leaked songs from the album. Nas is a lyricist writing a verbal book with a lot of truth in it (unadulterated, wisecracking truths—but there’s also history, struggle, conflict, duality and so much more!) DJ Toomp’s production, which we are now all too familiar with (after Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, T.I.’s “What You Know”, Jeezy’s “I Luv It” et c) adds a certain sparkle with some lush, uplifting strings, and the message floats on top perfectly.

Nas – N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master)

This second track is also a raw portrayal of truth, but this is rougher and may be a little too much to take (I know someone who hates this song with a passion.) Nas is in one of the most defiant moments of his career, and embracing the fire? (remember Hate Me Now?)

Nas – Be A Nigger Too

They like to strangle niggers, blame a nigger, shootin’ niggers, hang a nigger still you wanna be a nigger too!

Nasir and wife Kelis at the 2008 Grammys:

Yes, he’s one of the most articulate emcees on the mic, but his failure to communicate these grand ideas that, at least on the surface, appear to be profound is also part of the problem. I’m not saying that it was going to be easy to put such ideas/substance into concrete form or to sell that particular title to his record label (especially after people from his community dismissed the idea from the onset and threatened his employer’s bottom line) but still Nas should have stuck to his guns on this one.

Who says late-capitalism isn’t violent? Look what they’re doing to these women! Or at least their photos. When real just isn’t real enough, go on then, go on then draw for the Photoshop. Some of these are just snarky nerdery about clone tools and bad compositing but some are just… EEK. Like this one:

she's not smiling enough

How did that get past the many layers of corporate approval and get published into the world? The only conclusion I can draw is that these people are on drugs. This was another favorite of mine. Body issues anyone? Seriously, you just need to diet more, go to the gym instead of sleeping and get all of your internal organs removed by someone with a Wacom tablet.

she still looks fat

she still looks fat

And now that I think about it? What is she doing? Standing next to a couch tipped on its end? Sexxxxxxy. Many more at Photoshop Disasters.