"There's a huge gap between what you can do when you've got unlimited access to broadband in your home and what you can do when your only access is through the public library, where there are often time limits on how long you can work, when there are already federally mandated filters blocking access to certain sites, when there are limits on your ability to store and upload material, and so forth. We call this the participation gap…"
'While there has been strong growth, African-American adults still lag far behind their peers in other ethnic groups. This growth has been primarily driven by women, creating a notable gender gap that isn’t found in other ethnic user populations. Also, the African-American Internet population is younger, has more modest incomes and a higher proportion of users without college diplomas. When African-Americans go online, looking for information that is beneficial to their lives, like searching for a new job or place to live, is especially popular. Entertainment features online are also popular, which is most likely a result of the relative youthfulness of the African-American Internet population. Because of the relative inexperience of the average African-American user, the Web has not been fully integrated into his or her daily life. African-Americans are less likely to use the Internet on a daily basis and also spend less time online than their peers.'
ted swedenburg on the hipster-kufiya connection, w/ a sharp critique of that adbusters piece: "I'm not sure that the kufiya hipster signifies the end of Western civ either. Hipsters or bohos or whatever you want to call them were wearing kufiyas for style reasons back in the early to mid-eighties. And hip youth culture as now being about 'consuming cool rather that creating it' (Haddow)–this isn't particularly new either. It's all well and good to critique hipsters wearing uniforms, not knowing the provenance or politics of their kufiya gear, and fooling themselves about the subversiveness of their style and attitude. But it's not the end of the world."
this has been going around :: need to read, obv [update!: read it; here’s my new tag over @ delicious: an anti-hipster screed by what seems to be a self-hating hipster :: still, a spot-on critique in many regards, tho i agree w/ ted swedenburg that the rise of the homogenous hipster hardly heralds the end of western civ (esp since there’s no such thing)]
hank shocklee is my hero, for real :: here he talks about dubstep (and offers up his own d-step mixx), his west indian heritage, the reggae album he's working on with his bro (!!), film scoring, and the state of hip-hop and music industry (and laziness) :: dude doesn't mince words :: e.g., re: playing it safe in pop music, "You not only have to be middle of the road in terms of your content, but also your consciousness. If you project any status outside of that, your pop status is struck off. The pop culture business is monitored all the way round. Look at hip hop – it’s not saying anything any more. Hip hop used to be the voice of people. Who are the stars and what are they really talking about? I’m quite sure Lil Wayne is just as much of a rebel as he wants to be. He’s a rebel in every other aspect of his life – why is he not on record? Jay Z is a big icon, but at the same time, why are his records so safe?" (h/t earplug)
video doc on bleaching (creams) in jamaica :: a sad story, bearing witness to the enduring legacies of colonial hierarchies of value :: tho i'm not sure the phenom is as recent as this makes it out to be, and what's up with that chintzy garageband one-drop soundtrack :: bad man nuh bleach with cream
i'll have to write more about this subject sometime (i.e., archiving hip-hop), but IMO cornell has taken a BIG step in the right direction with its recent acquisitions :: it's all about ephemeral (material) culture and oral history :: if harvard had it's shit together and cared more about the contents of their archive than the architecture of their offices, their (non-existent) hip-hop "archive" would be moving in this direction :: e.g., who is working to secure/digitize/archive the enormous record collections of pioneers like herc, flash, and bambaataa? can someone do this PLEASE before they get broken up and sold on ebay? this stuff matters much much more than $chmancy conferences /end rant
holy moly! a very persuasively argued account/critique of "zombie feminism" :: "_Deadgirl_ is such a striking entry in the zombie feminism genre because it's just so damn literal. You've got a naked girl, strapped to a bed in a mental institution, being raped by a bunch of teenaged guys. Clearly a situation in need of a feminist zombie intervention if I ever saw one. If you were to boil the message of this film down to one basic point (which you probably shouldn't), it would be that men shouldn't rape women because those women might turn out to be superpowered zombies who want to eat your you-know-what. … Our vengeful zombie's refusal to be raped and ruined is symbolic enough to provide social commentary, but grody enough to keep you entertained." :: (h/t billtron)
DJ noodles rounds up a couple dozen "a milli" versions here (available for DL and streaming) :: notably, these are all "freestyles" by established MCs :: it'd be nice to hear the various global/underground versions in the mix too, like those 3 israeli versions i linked to a while back
awesome essay by susanne vega (who's now blogging for the nyt?!) on the proliferation of "tom's diner" versions — and the song's role in the creation of mpeg-level-3!! :: to her credit, she loved em — "Suddenly, with the remix of “Tom’s Diner,” that world that I had grown up in and struggled with had accepted me and my music in a way I couldn’t have predicted and couldn’t control. Other versions came flooding in from all over the world. People made them up and mailed me cassettes. I loved one by Michigan & Smiley, a kind of reggae improvisation. And Nikki D, a young black woman from Los Angeles with a gold tooth, changed it into a song about teenage pregnancy — that was another one of my favorites."
great post by rachel (as usual) wrt the use of 'ghetto' wrt africa and the depiction thereof in recent film(s) :: "Ok so I'm super amused by a dutch (ngo?) called ghettoradio which posts videos and radio from the 'ghettos' of Africa. Theres something really problematic about what they are doing, namely totally aestheticising the poverty of others, so I was surprised to enjoy them." :: rather than employ any of the fraught terms in the subject of her blogpost, rachel finally decides to "just go with 'informal settlements found in cities in the developing world, most which lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services.' which = ~ 50-90% of most urban populations. Thus, not a minority with its own subculture but most people in cities, whose music culture often dominates national radio."
early 2006 interview w/ kode9 in which he discusses "halfstep" drum'n'bass as well as some of the diffs btwn dubstep & dnb aesthetics, pharmacologies :: "For me there’s a strain of drum and bass that—without being influenced by dubstep—clearly has the same elements … that steppy subby sound, and the Amit kind of more halfstep stuff… I know people like Amit and Klute come to dubstep nights and they like the sound … if dubstep can have an influence on drum and bass, it might help pull the speed down a little bit and just focus things more around the subbass again as opposed to those kind of midrange distorted basslines which kind of took over everything and please an audience who are on lots of pills and speed. Thats not really the vibe of a dubstep night; you know it’s mostly a skunk, mostly a weed smoking audience as opposed to people on uppers."
jaydabbler offers up 'a mix of "half-step" Drum and bass, heavily influenced by dubstep (or the other way around, hard to say)' :: interesting concept, novel way to engage with dubstep (influence) from w/in d'n'b, esp given the former's creeping influence on / eclipsing of the latter :: if you dig the rhythms/feels of dubstep, but prefer 180bpm to 140, this is 4 u!
I’d like bring something from the comments into full view here, as it has sparked a lotta thought for me in recent days. Let’s begin w/ Brian’s response to my note about Assassin’s “Dem Nuh Want Nuh Gal” (an anti-gay anthem) ascending to the #1 on the JA charts —
Assassin – is telling gay people to run away better than threatening to find and kill them? I dunno, but somehow it’s not as scary to me as Mavado’s “Dem a Fag” on the Self Defense Riddim.
These songs aside, there is SO MUCH gay style goin on/being integrated into Dancehall (Ravers Clavers, I’m looking at you guys in particular)
to which I replied,
Wow, they’re practically vogueing in that first one. (And is that Elephant Man employing a Ricky Blaze chant? That’d be interesting. To my knowledge, stuff doesn’t typically travel that way. YouTube diaspora boomerang!)
[ok, now watching the second one…]
Ah, I see that you were pointing out the vogue style. Unmistakable, for sure.
I’m pretty curious about the current cultural politics in JA (and the JA diaspora, but there I’d expect a little more, er, deviation from the norm — not to get all Foucaultian) around what gets marked (often aptly) as “gay” style. As I mentioned back here,
a friend told me recently that while in JA this spring, his friend — an ol rasta chap — remarked about the recent trend toward tight pants, oversized belt buckles, and ‘metro’ fashion among young men, “me never know jamaica would have so much gay”
And there’s no question that part of the perception in JA — not among the “tight pants bwoy” who, presumably (and I can’t say for sure since I haven’t asked), don’t think of their style as queer — is that this effete affect is an imported, yankee, babylonian ting.
From what I can glean via YouTube, there’s some interesting friction a gwaan right now between Jamaican (/JA-American) youth who have embraced rockstar/nerdcore (racial?) crossdressing and those who reject it as battyboy bizness. Take, for example, the video you and Kevin embedded recently —
The top comment currently is by some dude (calling himself “MrJama1ca” no less!) who says/threatens —
my yuth f u come a see breeze wid dem handicappp dancing deh u will dead
& I love how the guy dancing (and the owner of the YouTube channel posting this video), 225MILO, replies —
OH GEEZ MAN!! thanks fi di advice i was bout to go over there with ma handicap moves too lol…..
I think it’s pretty clear who wins that one.
Interestingly, a quick search shows that there’s been some anxiety around this fashion turn in JA dance circles for a little while now, judging by this piece in the Gleaner from last summer.
And as I’ve noted before, this anxiety about tight pants style has also motivated some rudeboy/crunky protests in the diaspora (i.e., Brooklyn) as well. To wit (?) —
What is of most interest to me in all of this is, to put it clunkily: the increasing and vividly/video-ly mediated exchange between yard and foreign, JA and BK(etc.), and the way that Jamaican and black (youth) cultural politics have been changing as a result of this greater degree of (digital) cultural production and p2p exchange. Jamaican (countercultural) style, at least since independence, has been very much animated by cosmopolitan/metropolitan movements and strivings. It’s not surprising that as black (American) youth culture has embraced rockstar/nerdcore/racially-transgressive style — often marked by what might be labeled “metrosexual” fashion — so have Jamaican youth in Brooklyn and Kingston alike, an ambivalent development for many observers/participants but nothing truly beyond the pale as far as JA-appropriations of foreign steez go (just check 70s reggae photos for tight clothes that put today’s fashions to shame).
The fact that Elephant Man — no sloucher when it comes to homophobic calls-to-arms — can now chant along to hip BK catchphrases while dudes in tight white pants essentially vogue for the camera is, well, interesting to say the least. But that’s kinda the price of an omnivorous (if distinct) approach to global/metro culture. Note as well that the first guy dancing in the video to which Brian points not only sports a white-n-blue mohawk, but, in a nod to recent hip-hop/metro trends (as one of my Palestinian/Arab-Israeli students pointed out last week), a kufiya as well.
To make one more connection, if a bit of a stretch (pants?), how easy would it be to distinguish one of these super-stylee Ravers Clavers from, say, this Nawlins Sissy Bouncer?
And though some of us might be tempted to dismiss, as with kufiyas and jihadi-chic, such fashion statements with cynicism, I think that would be a mistake. There’s something subtle and important about these (semi-ironic) performances of selfhood (and nationhood?), something that undercuts essentialist orthodoxies and embraces more fluid, fun notions of the art of the possible. This is pretty clearly evident in another set of comments around that “handicapp” video embedded above —
Low him indeed !
Moreover, as Rachel notes in a follow-up to my and Brian’s musings, change is in the air. The anti-tight-pants brigade are fighting an uphill battle, alongside racists and sexists and other policemen —
those comments remind me o the gay riotz in mexico. the haterz cant fight it tho, gays are sneakin up on yall.
and though Rachel is clearly being a bit cheeky here — they were “emo riots”, not “gay” riots; let’s not validate the haterz’ perspective — I agree that there are obvious parallels a gwaan, and not only in this hemisphere. Rachel brings West Africa into the convo too —
even mbalax videos of late seem to be more female gazey
Fresh back from Granada, El Canyonazo and Gnotes will present their findings from a Fulbright-sponsored research project into the multicultural roots of Andalusian music.
sez ñ —
We’ll be using the Akai MPC to recreate a thousand years of musical confluences produced by Andalusian ida y vuelta, re-imagined through the prism of hip-hop. With Flamenco and Arab music as the main characters, the story features interjections from India, North Africa and Latina America, plus breakbeats that go Boom Boom Bap.
here’s a taste, no “samples” on this one, just jammin w/ musicians inna andalucia —
here’s another, from a freestilo session —
rachel makes an interesting point about parallel discussions happening in other places on the network — "It's really fun when I find discussions in the comments on various African music sites engaging similar questions as the folks at wayneandwax.com and dutty artz." :: this needn't be an elitist convo, no? should i learn french then? (but of course!)
new yorkers! — don't miss miguel luciano's latest, "pimp my piragua," at corono plaza :: "Pimp my Piragua is a multi-media, mobile public art work that combines tropical nostalgia and urban fantasies in a hyper-modified street vendor’s pushcart. Piraguas are cups of shaved ice dowsed in tropical flavors that you can buy from push carts on hot summer days. They are nostalgic symbols of the tropics, recreated by transplanted Latino communities throughout New York. In Pimp my Piragua, a humble pushcart gets remade into a lowrider fantasy-mobile that commemorates the innovations of Latino street vendors while questioning materialist fantasies of attainment."
"The Commonwealth is based on the delegation of power, and not of rights. It acquires a monopoly on killing and provides in exchange a conditional guarantee against being killed. Security is provided by the law, which is a direct emanation from the power monopoly of the state (and is not established by man according to human standards of right and wrong). And as this law flows directly from absolute power, it represents absolute necessity in the eyes of the individual who lives under it. In regard to the law of the state – that is, the accumulated power of society as monopolized by the state – there is no question of right or wrong, but only absolute obedience, the blind conformism of bourgeois society."
the newyorktimes finally gets up-to-the-times and offers a profile of "di genius" stephen mcgregor :: the article does little to illuminate what makes his sound distinctive, and misuses the term "juggling," but good to see the grey goose with an ear to the ground
siva takes on the myth of all "kids these days" being "digital natives" fluent in info/communication technologies (as well as the general problem of generalizing and generation-alizing) :: i have to admit that his account rings true with my own experiences teaching undergrads, plenty of whom still claim (and show themselves) to be technologically illiterate in various ways :: and his class/ist critique is well worth considering, 'But Palfrey and Gasser did not need to render young people exotic to make their points. The concept of "born digital" flattens out the needs and experiences of young people into a uniform wish list of policies that conveniently matches the agenda of digital enthusiasts and entrepreneurs of all ages. Indeed, it is interesting that Palfrey and Gasser deny that their subjects constitute a "generation," conceding in their introduction that they are describing only the challenges of privileged young people.'
a persuasive critique of accounts of modernity & their implicit exclusions: '…it bugs me that Berman’s modernists and his (implied) non-modernists seem to inhabit the same space of “modernity” only the former “chooses” to be at home in it: presuming a choice where there’s actually an economic rationality to make the choice for you is the sort of myth that keeps the whole capitalist carnival ride going merrily round and round. But while Berman can safely imagine a purely urban space of modernity, he can do so only by carefully forgetting that there is no urban modernity without its dark double, that economically, politically, even conceptually, urban modernity cannot exist without its inverse. And by happening to fail to mention it, he participates in exactly the conceptual process of making it disappear from view.'
great post (as usual) over @ zunguzungu, moving from palin (implicitly) on the bush doctrine, to Abdul JonMohamed on Richard Wright, to DFW on kafka, to some sudanese kid on the US killing machine, to this kicker of a conclusion: "And it makes me imbue this upcoming election with a symbolism that raises the stakes so far above and beyond their already frighteningly high level that it makes me wonder if the gods are just fucking with us. Seriously, are we living in a didactic morality play? Are we _really_ presented with the choice between a person whose identity is defined by his time as a bomber in an American war of imperial aggression and a guy with a “Muslim” name who wears centuries of America’s violent racial oppression on his skin? Are you fucking serious?"
"There is an essential moral difference between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin; just as (in a comparison that Zizek, to his credit, does not shy from), there was an essential moral difference between Stalin and Hitler. Zizek condemns the currently fashionable habit of lumping Stalin and Hitler together as totalitarian dictators. The difference, as in the Presidential race today, has to do with hypocrisy. Stalin professed support for human rights like free speech, for self-determination, for peace, and for harmony and equality among individuals and peoples regardless of race, ethnicity, etc. … Of course, in fact Stalin was a megalomaniacal tyrant who ruled arbitrarily, violated all of these ideals, and put millions of people to death; but Zizek is entirely right to suggest that such hypocrisy is morally superior, and far to be preferred, to Hitler’s overtly racist and anti-democratic ideology — which he unhypocritically put into practice."
nice piece by jace on digital/analog africa, copy and aura :: "Digital Africa is exemplified by the trio of expat Africans who run New York City’s bootleg CD-r mixtape industry. Contemporary vinyl production continues, but it caters to specialist markets: DJs, audiophiles, collectors. Nowadays the most obscure group (or an unaffiliated fan) maintains a page on Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace site. If a band is unGoogleable, then it effectively doesn’t exist. If it is Googleable, then it’s only a click away, whether you’re on Azerbaijani dial-up or squinting at a Blackberry in east London." :: "Fela’s axiom – the notion that the golden age in music is always now – may trouble collectors. But those who locate their golden years in 1970s’ West Africa are in luck: 2008 is a great year for it."