Don’t read Spanish? Let Google help, w/ unintended hilarity! —
Who did not think in Santa, they do not say me that more of some 24 of December they did not watch after the window hoping to see a sleigh, that her fiancÃ¨e did not believe to him when she said to you: only with you it had be so puta or who did not believe to him to the television and thought that an excrement deodorant could obtain a girl to you, please, if until I continue it buying. And who did not believe Dolphin to him, good, we if, we passed long nights posteando its video when just tapeworm 5 thousand visits, soon we raised blog, burst the network, in one week of posteos we could cause that Twin Towers see more than 250 thousand people it, now nor speak, armed the tour and he went to Chile, salio in TV, presses and until in China, we passed the more nights raising videos of Dolphin that taking care of our girls, and was worth the trouble, we obtained that Dolphin has the more tributes that Madonna and that finally somebody in the world can know of an Ecuadorian artist. We managed what we wanted, to give to this boy but great country him a space in the globalizado world and by mainly, to amuse itself. But the diversion finished, no longer we create in Dolphin, is an enormous pain but thus it is the life, it is to believe and to let believe. Of goodbye they want them to leave with another Ecuadorian artist who seemed to us amused, I also wait for you likes. Good bye.
Of course, this all simply begs the question: where do we go now to find the latest homenajes to “Torres Gemelas”? Searching YouTube for Delfin, of course, leads to innumerable copies of the original video, various clips of actual dolphins (doing the darnedest things, wouldntchaknow), and, yes, a few homages. But there’s no filter quite like that blogspot.
If the real Delfin Quishpe knew what was good for him, he’d get that blog going again — and release a new video! Until then, we have Ecuadorian Behind-the-Music-style specials to keep us warm.
After running my “Zunguzung” paper through the ringer at EMP the week before, I’ll be offering a slightly different (and no doubt revised) version at the annual US meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (or “yaspum,” as we say it). The conference takes place at Northeastern University from April 26-29; a preliminary conference program (w/ abstracts) is available here (my own paper’s panel is on Saturday, April 28, from 10:15 – 12:00pm, in Room 346).
In addition to the paper on Saturday, I’ll also be participating in a forum — from 1:30 – 3:15 in Room 346 — of “hip-hop ethnomusicologists” (or are we simply ethnomusicologists who study hip-hop? I prefer the former) discussing EgoTrip’s/VH1’s The White Rapper Show. Bringing together Joe Schloss, Cheryl Keyes, Kyra Gaunt, Timothy Mangin, Miles White, and yours truly, it promises to be a lively conversation. Hallelujah hollaback —
Back from Seattle, which was a blast (see below). Off to Boston tomorrow. Gonna be in the Bean (and the Bridge) for a spell, presenting a revised version of the Zunguzung tale I told this past weekend, weighing in on the White Rapper Show alongside some hip-hop(-studying) ethnomusicologists, and delivering what have become my annual lectures on Caribbean music in Orlando Patterson’s “Caribbean Societies” class. I’m also DJing an organic farm benefit. Tony Rebel anyone?
But, yeah, EMP was quite a delight. The conference had an energy and levity that I really appreciated, especially in contrast to the music conferences I’m used to. (It also had far superior soundsystems — crucial!) And of course, it was great to be in the same place as so many of my favorite music writers, critics, and scholars. Too much to say really, and too little time. But thanks to Elizabeth Mendez Berry for revisiting her “Love Hurts” piece (and noting that, contrary to what her editors decided, it’s not love that hurts); to Ned Sublette for being a righteous mofo and calling for impeachment and insurrection prior to delivering a diatribe on what New Orleans means (look out for his next book); to Joshua Clover for engagingly discussing 1989, “1989,” Jesus Jones, and “nerf humanism,” to name a few; to Charles Hughes for plumbing the soul-country crossover; and, among many many more, to Sasha Frere Jones, for calling attention to the role Soundscan has played in Billboard’s charts, changing the number of #1 songs from, say, 33 in 1988, to 12 in 2001 and pushing us into r&b hegemony. Sasha read the #1 hits from 2004 and 2005 as poetry, which was quite effective and went something like —
Anyhow, you get the picture, even if this is inaccurate and doesn’t capture Sasha’s emotive inflection.
One final highlight that I must mention, tho: Dr. Joe Twist offered an ably demonstrated story about the transition from uprocking to b-boying, framing the move to the floor as analogous to the shift from funk to hip-hop and excavating more of hip-hop’s Latin roots. Breaks beget breaking, or something like that. (Look out for that book, too!) Meantime, check the technique —
Finally, to top off the weekend in Seattle (which I should note, contrary to legend, aside from a lil drizzle, was warm and sunny almost the entire time), I met up with Filastine at about 1am on Saturday night, post-Matos’s-post-conference party, and he took me to an all-night underground speakeasy type of thing, complete with cabaret and craps tables. It was something else. Lots of kids dressed to the nines, pretending it was the 20s, wading through warehouse puddles in their finery. The proprietors asked me to DJ, and lucky enough I still had my laptop with me. I was happy to take people into the wee hours, spinning across some crunk genealogies from about 4 to just after 6am. We capped the long night w/ some breakadawn couscous and (what Filastine called) “Indian Space Food” for breakfast. After grabbing a little sleep and some dim sum, it was back to the airport. And, now, I’d better wrap up this post, so I can head back to the airport once again.
From April 19-22, I’ll be participating in this year’s EMP conference in Seattle, an annual convergence of music writers (journalists and academics alike). My own presentation is on that ol “Zunguzung” meme and will follow the zigzagging melody from Yellowman to Jin, with plenty of stops along the way, examining how such a musical figure articulates with time, place, and cultural politics (see abstract).
The panel I’m on runs from 2:15 to 4:00pm on Friday, April 20. I’m looking fwd to being in the same room as these heavy (mostly rap®gae-centric) musical thinkers —
>> Localizing Hip-Hop
Moderator: Ken Wissoker
Venue: Demo Lab
Dave Stelfox & Erin MacLeod, “Screwing up the world”: Hip Hop Slows Down And Makes Do In Houston, Texas
Stacey Campbell & James Dooley, Keeping it Real From the Rez to the Hood: Aboriginal Hip Hop Identity and Resistance
Wayne Marshall, Follow Me Now: The Zig-Zagging Zunguzung Meme
Rob Kenner, Murderation: Dancehall Reggae and the “Boom Boom Bye” Backlash
Lots of other good panels lined up too. Maybe I’ll see you there —
Off to Seattle tomorrow to participate in this. I’ll be following what I’ve been calling the “Zunguzung Meme” from Kingston to Brooklyn to San Juan and back (w/ several stops along the way).
That ol’ Yellowman melody sure seeps into some interesting (and often seminal) performances, telling the intertwined stories of hip-hop and reggae (and reggaeton [and religious rock?]) in an intensely audible fashion. I won’t be able to touch on all the occurrences I’ve catalogued to date, e.g. —
1982 – Yellowman, “Zunguzungunguzunguzeng” (see also, Live at Aces version, w/ Fathead)
1984 – Frankie Paul, “Alesha”
1984 – Toyan, “Hot Bubble Gum”
1985 – Super Cat, “Boops”
1987 – BDP, “Remix For P Is Free”
1987 – Sublime, “Roots of Creation”
1988 – BDP, “Tcha Tcha”
1993 – K7, “Zunga Zeng”
1993 – KRS-One, “P Is Still Free”
1993 – Buju Banton, “Big It Up”
1994 – Bounty Killer, “Kill Or Be Killed”
1995 – Buju Banton, “Man a Look Yu”
1995 – Junior M.A.F.I.A. (ft. Biggie Smalls), “Player’s Anthem”
1996 – Tupac, “Hit ‘Em Up”
1998 – Black Star, “Definition”
1998 – Notty Man, “Sentencia de Muerte”
2000 – dead prez, “It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop”
2001 – Nejo, track 14 (DJ Joe’s Fatal Fantassy 1)
2003 – Joe Budden, “Pump It Up”
2004 – Jin, “Learn Chinese”
2005 – DJ /rupture (Filastine + dead prez), “Judas Goat” + “It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop (acapella)”
2006 – POD, featuring Matisyahu, “Roots in Stereo”
2007 – Blue Team (The White Rapper Show), “One Night Stand” (see ep.4)
— but I’m gonna do my best to gesture to the breadth and depth of all these musical migrations, and to think about what various instantiations might tell us about the way such a traveling tune informs meaning-making processes and cultural-political projects, from conscious invocations to subconscious rehearsals (esp as King Yellow’s catchy contour disappears into hip-hop lexicon).
One way of many to tell the story, this mini-mega-mix connects lots of sonic dots:
(disclaimer: the tracks are of varying quality, as sometimes all I’ve got to work with is crappy vinyl or crappy compression, but you get the gist all the same; thanks to the kindcollectors & selectors out there who helped me source some of these)
Sometimes cultural politics bleeds directly into, er, political politics, or politics qua politics, or electoral / “party” politics. E.g., watch how Cutty Ranks meks the meme big up Michael Manley & move the crowd at a mid-80s PNP rally. In such a socially and musically compelling context, wouldn’t you “put up your hand”?
Nuff to say. 20 minutes to say it. 6 million ways. Guess I’ll have to choose one.
Maybe see you in Seattle? Otherwise, more soon come —
Pictured above is a shot of Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones by visual artist Miguel Luciano, as featured in a show opening this Sunday, April 15, at Bard College. I’ve been an admirer of Luciano’s arresting approach since Raquel Rivera (who brought this latest project to my attn) sent me a digital dossier of his work to consider for inclusion in Reading Reggaeton. I was quite struck by his Pure Plantainum series — “playful and painful” really says it — and I almost immediately felt that we should put Plátano Pride (see below) on the cover, as it suggests so many poignant readings itself. Critical and empathetic, cartoonish and complex, the image seems to shine a funhouse mirror back at reggaeton’s blinblineo —
Miguel Luciano transforms the image of the plantain or platano from a stereotype to an icon in his Pure Plantinum series. He explores this complex symbol of Caribbean culture, embedded with layered references to race and class, through associations with the exploitation of field laborers, and its pejorative use as slang for Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants. An actual green plantain was cast in metal and plated with precious platinum, the giant-sized pendant hangs on a platinum chain and is displayed here as a precious object. It was also photographed in the window of King of Platinum, a store in Harlem, where it is presented as an emblematic token of respect. An object imbued with value in the context of today’s hyper-materialism.
For me, it hurts to look at Filiberto–icon of armed struggle for Puerto Rican independence assasinated in 2005 by the F.B.I.–emblazoned all over these sneakers. I find this piece to be an insightful and deeply disturbing commentary on our consumption-obsessed lives, particularly painful in the context of Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship to the United States.
And Miguel says this:
The Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones are a customized pair of Nike sneakers that pay tribute to the assassinated leader of the Macheteros, a clandestine group of Puerto Rican nationalists who’ve campaigned for independence in Puerto Rico since the 1970’s. Filiberto Ojeda was brutally assassinated by the F.B.I. on September 23, 2005 and has since been revered by many as the “Puerto Rican Che Guevara”. A pair of Nike sneakers become an unlikely vehicle of veneration for the fallen leader that both complicate and question how nationalism and resistance are embodied within today’s colonial consumerist society. Nevertheless, they engage alternative strategies towards reconstructing symbols of resistance from the objects of material desire, while questioning the commodification of Revolution. The Machetero Air Force Ones transform Nike’s Swoosh logo into a ready-made Machete symbol, as the mantra of Nike’s “goddess of victory” gives way to “hasta la victoria siempre”.
& Calle 13 says this (pues, not about the sneakers, but about the assassination of Ojeda):
& just to underscore the connection to (corporate) colonialism, I leave you with one more provocative, painful piece by Luciano (more here, here, and here; interviews here and here) —
Incidentally/apropros! — if you’ve checked the “play” page recently, you might have noticed that I will be presenting next week @ EMP in Seattle. Kicking off the panel I’m on will be none other than Erin MacLeod and Dave Stelfox, talking about, u guessed it, screw(ed) music.
If we’re listening for the presence of Jamaica in hip-hop (and hence in NY/US/worlwide), we could attend to such a thing on any number of levels: 1) the occasional 3+3+2; 2) the influence of dub engineering on hip-hop mix aesthetics (e.g., echo, layering, lowend); 3) double-time, flip-tongue, fast-chat flows; 4) accents, cliches, Rasta mantras, and various textual/lyrical references (incl cover songs and interpolated hooks); 5) actual allusions via musical motifs, sampled and sung (a la the Zunguzung meme) —
Another way to get at such a thing would be to take stock of the specific reggae records that have become staples in the crates of hip-hop DJs — the sorts of sides one hears, almost as a matter of course, at hip-hop events across the US. With the exception of the odd Bob Marley joint, these records are mostly dancehall reggae, esp from the early 90s and around the turn of millennium (see, e.g., this tracklist). This alternate oeuvre offers an interesting representation of reggae, departing significantly from the core repertory for, say, reggae selectors (in the US or elsewhere, bashment or roots). In that sense, given the difference with respect to what might be thought of as a more authoritative position on reggae, hip-hop’s reggae selects a special slice of the genre — and speaks volumes about hip-hop.
It also says a lot about canons. What makes the reggae selector’s reggae canon, for example, any more legitimate (or revealing about reggae’s character) than the hip-hop DJ’s reggae canon? What might hip-hop’s take on reggae tell us not only about hip-hop but about reggae? What would we lose by overlooking hip-hop’s “counter canon,” if you will? I’m not crazy about the term — or about perpetuating canonization — but what I like about the idea of the “counter canon” is the way it decenters canon’s commonplace claim to truth about greatness, calling attn instead to the role of perspective, to (contextual) differences in aesthetic values, to the subjective rather than objective nature of what comes to define a genre.
I’m not prepared to offer an in-depth treatise on hip-hop’s reggae “counter canon” on this humble blog at the moment, but I bring all of this up in order to throw it out there — I suspect there are parallels to other dialectical if asymmetrically interpenetrating formations (to coin a phrase), and I’d love to hear some ideas along those lines — and because last night’s gig proved no exception.
Typically Zebo, Hess, and Chump tend to keep it pretty hip-hop-centric on Monday nights, if with the occasional dip into reggae, bmore, and general clubb eclectica. For my guest visit, tho, they decided to devote the night to reggae. Although I was impressed with the range and depth of the reggae selections they pulled out, including plenty of tracks I’d never heard, I was also happy to hear lots of the classics I figured I would hear (and which I therefore left out of my own set — for the most part — lest I be scooped): Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam,” Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote,” Mad Cobra’s “Flex,” Shabba Ranks’s “Ting-a-Ling,” and so on.
Toward the end of my set, which otherwise mixed 80s digi dancehall (via Jammy’s, Tubby’s, Winston Riley, George Phang) and a fair number of early 90s classics (Super Cat, Cutty Ranks, Buju, Shabba), I started dropping in some more recent reggae/hip-hop remixes, which perhaps point to another (emerging) area of activity in all of this overlap. If nothing else, they offer yet another way to play reggae to a hip-hop crowd, familiar acapella as anchor.
During one mini-set within my set — jugglin riddimcentric as reggae mixes often do — I dropped a number of tracks on Dave Kelly‘s relatively recent Stage Show riddim. If the dancehall tracks themselves weren’t already replete with references to contemporary hip-hop (check Cham’s verse, e.g.), I segue into a couple remixes putting hip-hop pellas ‘pon top. So after the official voicings by Cham, Assassin, and Spice & Pinchers, you’ll hear Ross Hawg — whose been cooking up a slew (stew?) of specials along these lines — walking it out, followed by DJ C mekking you know why we ot, as Junior Reed puts it. At the end of the segment I couldn’t resist dropping a DJ Funk-produced juke remix (via) of that ubiquitous Mims track, which lasts almost as long as the preceding dancehall/hip-hop medley. Sound for thought —
I’ll be joining Zebo, Hess, and Chump over at Lava, the newly (re)opened audio lounge @ 1270 N Milwaukee Ave, to drop a series of sizzling selections from across the reggae spectrum. Should be a vibes, seen —