March 26th, 2008

Slackness Chat @ UPenn

Tomorrow I’m participating in a symposium convened by the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m humbled and excited to be a part of the conversation. Check the lineup —

Thursday, March 27th

12noon – 2:00 pm

Smut/Slackness in Caribbean Music

Carolyn Cooper
University of the West Indies

Shannon Dudley
University of Washington

Wayne Marshall
Brandeis University

Raquel Rivera
Hunter College

Moderated by
Timothy Rommen
Assistant Professor of Music

Class of 1955 Conference Room ( Room 241)
2nd Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
3420 Walnut Street

Free and open to the public

Not only is it an honor and a thrill to be a part of such a panel, it’s a wonderfully sanctioned opportunity to do something I rarely feel comfortable doing in an academic setting: explore the seamier side of the Jamaican YouTubosphere and the wider world of sex/slackness/smut(?) inna JA and the diaspora.

If I can pull it together, I plan to touch on the structural slackness that enables someone like Mavado to claim, casually, as part of his gangsta bonafides that “gal yuh pussy tight” —

— but more to the point, I’d like to examine the recent appearance of the “titty wine.” Far duttier than the “dutty wine,” the dance calls for the gyal dem to rub their breasts dem in an alluring manner, which many, many women seem more than happy to do (and to broadcast to the world!). Apparently concocted in Jamaican Brooklyn, the “titty wine” is promoted as a dance that “gone global” and indeed it seems to be catching on across the dancehall diaspora (e.g., Trini represent). Adding a layer of curiosity, the movement seems to be spearheaded by a JA-BK mastermind (check the intro) and two aspiring dancehall queens from farin, a Canadian and an Estonian to be precise (!).

Despite that I find the term “smut” somewhat confusing/foreign/etic as applied to a Jamaican context, some of these clips definitely walk the line of u-know-it-when-u-see-it. Indeed, several clips could strongly benefit from the simple but powerful bootyclipse critique (especially the one weh take place inna the kitchen). E.g.,

It is encouraging, however, to see that the “titty wine” seems to have spurred some interesting and even civil debate around the question of respect/rawness in dancehall. Who knew that a YouTube comment thread could be so reasonable? Check this exchange —

At any rate, I’ve still got to shape up my remarks for tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to the ensuing discussion. I’ll let you know how it goes. For now, allow me to close with an apropos pic I snapped when in Kingston last summer —




  • 1. rupture  |  March 27th, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    woah- the bootyclipse critique/rmx is mindblowing! elegant.

    makes me think of those (Matmos?) videos which are gay porn but just the set-up parts, ie guys jogging in woods, crusing in supermarkets, etc, not an ounce of sex or lasciviousness, just the mundane/awesome production values and ersatz acting.

    also a bit like Edward Hopper, ambient demotic wistfulness & vacated sensuality.

  • 2. ripley  |  March 27th, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Interesting, the last word on that comment thread you posted is Momo, the Canadian winner of the Dancehall Queen competition last summer (possibly someone posting as her, but it looks like her YouTube ID or it’s a fan posing as her). The diplomatic answer makes me think it’s more likely her. Man, Kingston abuzz with controversy after she won that!

    I’m very curious about the panel! Please post your thoughts afterwards! Is it going to be recorded, by any chance? it should go online too!

  • 3. wayneandwax  |  March 28th, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Yeah, that’s definitely the real Momo, who, incidentally, is the Canadian named above and who can be seen titty wining in a variety of videos posted at her own YouTube channel.

    It was a very interesting discussion yesterday. I hope to share some reflections soon. I’m afraid it wasn’t recorded.

    & great citations/connections, Jace. The bootyclipse project also reminds me of Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario cloudscape hack as well as the Red vs. Blue machinima — drawing our attention to the background, the quiet moments, the in-between and banal.

  • 4. Pete Murdertone  |  March 28th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    wots merino?

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  March 28th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    hi pete,

    i’m pretty sure “merino” refers to those mesh shirts (also known as “marinas”). sorta a “no shirt, no shoes” policy. pretty funny to see that alongside drugs and weapons, though. perhaps a class thing, too: excluding a certain set.


  • 6. » R&hellip  |  May 21st, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    […] been meaning to share my reflections on the smut/slackness symposium I participated in @ Penn for some time now, but, well, you know how the end of the semester can go. […]

  • 7. Paula  |  August 28th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Interesting Sign
    No weapon
    No drugs
    About Merino
    Marono sweater or tee shirts?

  • 8. w&w  |  August 29th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I think “MERINO” here refers to a mesh merino (which I’ve also heard called a “marina”) — those ubiquitous t-shirts/tanktops worn by Jamaican men. My suspicion is that the banning of such clothing has to do with a certain policing around class, but I could be wrong.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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