Wednesday, October 31, 2007

P-Noid on all hallow's eve, hollow as the barrel of the pistol up my sleeve

Yup, I was born far from the 5th ward but from what I understand this video tells me that If I had grown up there I wouldn't have had to dress up for it to be halloween, or even wait until the end of october.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bamboo Banga'd

So I finally got down to Strictly Business and this EPMD is on some strictly funky shit. Those rolling loops are so slippery that when EPMD comes in slurring like the best night out ever, you almost drown in the slobber. Between this and Mr. Scarface is Back I think I have wide enough proof that the whole old school preferentiality is a blind seeing-eye dog. It's like it doesn't matter if your block is being shot up or your party's being rocked, as long as you geet dooown. On that note, though, I wholeheartedly support The Cool Kids in whatever warped nostalgia they're dropping on hip hop. There were plenty of problems with the sound, like the beats being louder than the dirge-like power outages that play over them, but Mikey and Chuck are on some Buckaroo Banzai extra-dimensional time warp that synthesizes whatever you had no idea you needed from a rap show. That opening disclaimer that it's like the Beastie Boys reborn in Black is almost self-sabotage because the pretension in bringing '88 back is far more palatable than "I got more stories than JD got Salinger."
And so then MIA came back with the power, power, and in groundbreaking feminist logistics upended the Studio A soundsystem when it tried to take over the reigns of harnessing that power. It was as if the aural quality was built on the choice laid out in Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival and they went with hegemonic roar. Where the MIA's calls to the people began and the sirens directing them to the bomb shelter ended were one wondrous blur. But after the cool kids declared the concept of rocking a show to be so old, MIA came out in a wheelchair with some methamphetamines saying "fuck placebos!" Missing the string section for Jimmy or having the speakers do Neal Pert on your eardrums were almost worth it when you were upfront watching MIA grind like the snake 'fore the legs were cut off, the audience at a biblical beck and call. And her hypewoman? Dayumn! I don't know who the female rapper they brought out in place of the Wilcannia Mob, but I've never seen limb contortions like those. All three of them were whipping the crowd with lassos aimed right at the knees, like Trina devouring some nerve-shattered video boy with her sexual appetite.
Did you know you could Double Dutch using a person as a jump rope?
I think her third world populism was self-sabotaged by the opening video in which a bald Asian called for a complete overthrow of the government in favor of the minority, as if the majority doesn't get duped by elections, but it still tapped a basic tenet of the inability of representative democracy to represent the world town, because the world town can represent itself, thank you.
Capping it off I made my out during the encore, caught Pg-13 rocking out at the bar and realized the sound people had it wrong because way in the back of the club that part of the rainforest destroyed to make way for soy production was rocking the climate like it's inhabitants didn't have to fight for their homes. For ten minutes that soundclash gelled like the inner bone of a cattle.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"I don't want any gay people hanging around me while I'm killing kids."

Reconsidering a long stasis born out of disillusionment of the neutralized persuasion (hyping is hard) I dug through videos I posted on facebook before I realized it wasn't a blog and the only thing it had in common with one is that aside from compromising photos, they both go virtually unviewed. At least in my case because I'm a shitty hype man. Self-deprecating invitations to hate just won't cut it!
So down at the bottom was this old Bill Hicks video. When I first heard him I could only kind of see what the reverence was about because the radical politics were buried underneath a miasma of self-righteous loathing, which is probably the cumulative effect of playing a sex-deprived lefty to faceless, unresponsive crowds in the deep south.
This video, though, cuts right to why endless panel reconfigurations on Bill Maher are just clearing out the room for lame punchlines and ironic non-discussions in Vice are only distractions from the final black hole they're seeking to be swallowed up in. Unfortunately, I don't know if Bill Hicks would have been a good panelist as in interviews he gave before his death he was generally withholding and less firebrand than on stage. But for some reason this is still an issue, and if only for two minutes he could come back and at no given time just drop a fire in the hole like this one next time there's a serious non-discussion about decorative technical aspects on whether or not gays should be allowed in the military, or someone has to invariably belt out a disclaimer in which they assure the audience that they support the troops before making a genuine criticism, that would be great.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Larve, fuh real

I have a dwindling interest in (read: a spiraling black hole of fear from) post-modern deconstruction of the world as something that needs constant pseudo-scientific experiments on figurative sense deprivation and (unwittingly) paranoiac reinterpretations of perception and memory, as it reeks not of institutional insanity but institutional comfort that breeds insanity. I'm not going to pretend that everything is definite but it's a lot harder to deny you can feel something when you have a rubber truncheon being lobbed at the soles of your feet in some secret European prison cell.

On the other hand, when a rapper drops his game and pens an ode to his wife it's like a tangible link to reality that drops irony on his ouevre harder than a hipster with a pompadour for a coiffure.

Case in point: Juvenile. Juvenile of Back That Azz Up fame. Juvenile who once "reached back and stuck" a "bitch" who then pressed charges and when she brought her pa woulda stuck him too if he wasn't behind bars (in a song of course, quotes from "I Got That Fire") then in an odd choice of chronological retelling, bit "the titties" during sex and busted "a nut on her leg" (in a SONG, of COURSE). Yeah, that's coarse, but when he breaks down you start to understand the distant non-relationship between what's moving your Azz on the dancefloor and what happened before it hit the mic in the studio and all the channels it passed before it made it on tv and into your stereo.

bell hooks, a black feminist activist and writer, brilliantly sends up the industry that scapegoats it for society's misogyny on the one hand but profits off of it on the other, while also displaying how sexism in rap is not a vacuum but part of a much larger sexist continuum.
Misogyny and Gangsta Rap - Who Will Take the Blame is excellent in that respect but evades dissecting the nuances in Gangsta Rap that put holes in the facades of violent machismo. The examples I use couldn't have possible been foreseen as it was written in '94, but there were plenty back then as well.

Exhibit A: Last year's Reality Check, an album that for the large part is a post-Katrina reconfiguration of the crack game in New Orleans (where Juvenile lost his home in the 9th ward to hurricane damage) told with beats whose stark bombast swoop under his growl with the menace of a furnace blast. While his hustler status is repeatedly assuaged with stick-up kid swagger it's with a frightening older man's weathered interpolation of survival of the fittest, a nihilistic defense of bottom barrel gangsterism aware that the only point of it's existence is to fade out. These can easily be pointed out as gangsta rap cliches but these are attitudes only reinforced when the government sends in blackwater as the most immediate response to a natural disaster in order to make sure shops aren't broken into in desperation from lack of supplies by shooting shoplifters on site. Even before that, 9th ward probably shows you things you never wanted to see but have to live with.

I'm getting off the point, since that's not a large part of the album there's also a sizeable portion of club jams luridly appraising female attributes (i.e. Loose Booty) and vivid detailing of what Juvenile and his crew are going to do to them. It's all bullshit though. He doesn't just have a baby-mama he ducks and covers from, he has a wife and family to feed. He knows that, and in between all the shooting and fucking lifts his chin up and lets you know that he wants you to know too.

Really it's between him and his wife but it's one of the most heartening invitations to peek in on a genuinely touching domestic set-up:
I Know You Know does just that. He assures his wife it's her he's about, he's not a baller with an uncontrollable wad that needs to be blown on every fly girl that comes up in the game, not even one. In sweet terms that are unintelligble without a lyric sheet he assures her and reassures her on how he holds it down because he's got a wife that loves him and a family to feed. All that's for the money! But not money for money's sake, money for "us". Sorry, my heart swells when I read something like that.

Sometimes though, a line like the one about sticking a bitch isn't just a construct, and is really just a depressing and frightening glimpse of male dominance and how the fact that women can get out the vote doesn't broadside traditional institutions of patriarchal condescension and violence.
Love Hurts - Rap's Black Eye is a painful, necessary and extremely unfortunate indication of that.
Ever hear Me and My Bitch by Notorious B.I.G.? Putting aside the term bitch for a moment that is one of the sweetest declarations of love I've ever heard (I'm not a female so I can't swoon on behalf of the ladies, but I'll put a stake in this and show you the lyrics, for the run-up of a takedown on a hilariously flawed attempt at getting miffed on behalf of the minge click here) that almost makes bitch as soothing as boo (in the romantic sense, not the scary one). He puts his manhood on the line by starting off with

"When I met you I admit my first thoughts was to trick
You look so good huh, I suck on your daddy's dick."

Do you know how much clout you have to have on the streets to get away with that? I don't, but I imagine a lot. Even when admitting to cheating he recounts her taking his toothbrush and scrubbing the toilet with it. And when he envisions their future together he does it like this
"And then we lie together, cry together, I swear to God I hope we fuckin die together." It makes me want to cry! But then there's another line that always cold-cocked me figuratively in the possible indication that it represented a cold-cocking that was much less of a cringe than something to be frightfully scared of. "You talk slick I beat you right." Apparently Faith Evans, who was with Big at the time, and the article attests to this, used to walk around with Jackie O glasses to cover her bruises. She's currently spokesperson for battered women in Harlem.

But on the other hand it's not always an indication of what goes on outside the studio. Check Willie Dee from the Geto Boys. The Geto Boys are even more notorious than 2 Live Crew, because where 2 Live Crew got their aesthetic from porn, Geto Boys got it from slasher films informing a gruesome spectacle of raping and killing that while raking in millions at the box office only got petitions on the radio and subpeonas in court. It was all a construct though, a self-consciously knowing construct, with the slasher films as a defense and the label horrorcore as a reassurance.

Willie Dee's solo outings were more political and sexual without the slasher ineffectual. Known for songs like Bald Headed Hoes (in which he goes to capital hill and demands they be killed) in real life he's a community activist. He was the national spokesperson for Women In Trouble, a houston based organization devoted to rehabiliting victims of rape and battery and reintegrating them into school and the workforce and helping them get on with life. They even made a lifetime movie out of it! Minus Willie Dee, of course, but still!

In the end, shit's complicated, but it's worth figuring out those complications instead of swearing them off as deplorable and amoral because they might be onto a sociological definition of reality untouchable by p.c. theoretical work, y'know?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Blackwater, there were six of us but now we are five..."

Why is it that when a scandal like the Blackwater hooplah breaks out it's always in an uproar over one isolated incident that may or may not raise a larger question about the legitimacy of the entire operation and not a systematic problem whose most recent send-up of humanity is only a reiteration of the nihilistic mockery that came before it (see: Iran-Contra)? To their credit, and not to go fringe-lauding by saying only the radical press had anything about this back when it could have been stopped early, the New York Times already covered this in 2004! Sure, it was relegated to the editorial section, but the upshot is the art of persuasion (yet the author (a Mother Jones contributor, no less!) does end on a sympathetic tone to the private-sector almost in spite of the information he laid out beforehand...):
"Need An Army? Just Pick Up The Phone"
It does bring up an important point, though, that Blackwater recycles soldiers from previous dictatorships (oh, U.S. sponsored! ;D) and when they get down to business they've gotten down to it before.
And to move even further away from fringe-lauding while using the fringe for the purpose of lauding, Newsweek broke out a story about the Pentagon considering Iraqi guns for hire and calling it the "Salvador Option" in January 2005 that's probably going to go unmentioned in the most recent breakdown. Here it is going mentioned in Democracy Now (links and all) in an interview with Allan Nairn, who broke the story on the original Salvadoran Death Squads:
Is the U.S. Organizing Salvador-Style Death Squads in Iraq?
On the note of Salvador-Style Death Squads, please go here!
School of the Americas Watch
And if this blog ever gets read, we (you, possible readers and I) can carpool up to the protest vigil on November 15-18 and prove "Solitarity" wrong!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Subpeona for Maroon 5

Can someone tell me why Maroon 5 aren't up on capitol hill defending misogynistic posturing in rock music, or in their case white filtered funk-lite/boys with instruments doing time as boy band replacement music? Has anyone seen this video?

All the deplorable amoral rap video cliches are on full display, if not distorted and made far more bizarre. Owning a woman by shooting her lovers on the side despite later appearances bumping uglies with a bevy of equally scant-clothed females, random acts of criminal violence, and macho posturing on behalf of patriarchal (buzz word!) cool. Wtf? (p.s. I don't know why, but my mom loves this song and made no objections to the video, also wtf?)
Why does David Banner have to go up to capitol hill and risk imploding lungs on behalf of rap, along with Michael Eric Dyson and Master P?
Though Master P was mostly likely there on behalf of a business proposition and his soundscans, offering to clean up his language. He may have apologized to women for using the b-word but now expects them to do their part and help fund his next appearance on a reality show publicly indexing lavish displays of celebrity wealth.
David Banner on the other hand is legit. You don't get a Visionary Award by the National Black Caucus of the State Legislature for post-Katrina aid work by merely going on tv and saying something about it (though that's entirely welcome, too).
Basically he went up to D.C. and brought to life what he had already eloquently penned here:
Michael Eric Dyson is legit, too.
Here's him pulling apart Bill Maher's mug-plenty punchlines as replacement for serious political discourse, also on behalf of hip-hop. Unfortunately he cites Common as a positive counter-point to misogyny in hip hop when way back when it was Common doing the "got more hoes than Spellman" bit. That's a cap-off though, the rest is wonderful!


Of it, I am well. As should be every other typographically burdened thunder-cruncher whose biggest fear is that the CIA will punish them in a secret european prison cell by forcing their arthritis-ridden freedom fighters to plunk out blasphemy.