June 26th, 2008

Not Too Sha3bi?

Thx to my man Motaz, an Egyptian/Cairovian musician and activist currently residing in Cambridge, for pointing me to Jennifer Peterson’s excellent article —

     Sampling Folklore: The re-popularization of Sufi inshad in Egyptian dance music

— which not only, beyond some linkthink, merits a post of its own here (for a few reasons), but inspires some further thinking re: the whole whirled debate we’ve been having (which I’ll get to in a moment).

First, what I like about the article: the content. Peterson offers a richly contextualized (if awkwardly “scare-quoted”) portrait of the mulid remix scene — a Cairo-based circuit of bedroom production and street/soundsystem dance which reanimates the Sufi inshad tradition for an urban youth audience. I confess to knowing relatively little about sha’bi (alt., sha3bi / shaabi / shabbi / cha3bi / etc.) or baladi, though I’ve always got my ears perked & eyes peeled for any kind of musical-cultural phenom that brings together computers, giant stacks of speakers, time-honored traditions, and street dance.

Not only does Peterson offer a fascinating history and contemporary account of mulid/inshad and its relationship to pop/dance music in Egypt, she bolsters her account with some great audio and video examples — something that music journals are pretty (remarkably) slow to do in their migration online. Props to Arab Media & Society for supporting such a multimedia, widely accessible form of publication. They will be a better read and referenced and respected journal for doing so. (Though, I have to confess that my own jury’s out on whether their “peer-reviewed” commitment is retrograde or not — I understand what they mean, and I’m sure it’s useful for certain academics competing for status and resources, but I’d argue that “peer-review” on the internet is another thing entirely.)

Check the article for the examples, which are better encountered in the context of Peterson’s narrative. But do permit me to embed a couple awesome clips of mulid-related dancing —

What strikes my admittedly outsider eyes most about these is the presence of familiar figures — dance moves that would look more recognizable if the guy in the green were wielding a glowstick rather than a knife: sufi trance meets psy-trance…

This mulid remix scene is undeniably, as the practitioners themselves dub it, “haaaaaardcooooore” (gaaaaaaaaaaamid) and would hence seem to fit rather well into the global g-tech constellation, the ruffneck “nu world” music that constitutes a recurring concern on this here blog and others on the ‘osphere. And yet, I’ll be surprised to see mulid remixes, or sha3bi more generally, start to turn up with any frequency on hipster muxtapes.

I’m not sure exactly why that is, though I have a nagging feeling it has to do with race. It’s conspicuous that so many of the genres that have found favor among the bloggers and DJs and tastemakers and downloaders associated with this nu-whirl biz — funk carioca, kuduro, cumbia, reggaeton, dancehall, kwaito, coupe decale — are marked, implicitly or explicitly, as black. They’re either Afrodiasporic (“New World” innit) or straight-up African (of course, extricating the two is downright impossible at this point — see, e.g., kwaito). And this is something I was trying to get at with my “coinage” of “global ghettotech” — i.e., that race as much as class is a prevailing dimension of our engagement with these genres.

That’s not problematic in itself, I hasten to add, for aligning oneself / identifying with the struggles and triumphs of the black poor of the world is an obvious thing to do. But all this talk of “global,” of “world,” starts to seem like a crock when we look at the actual genres that accrue cachet. Where are the Asian, Middle Eastern, or even European standard bearers for the global proles, if that’s what we’re repping? (Or are we repping something else?) Sure, we may talk from time to time of Belgian jumpstyle or Malaysian shuffle, but when we look at the mp3s we share and play in our DJ sets and radio shows, the skewed representation is clear. So what’s the deal? Is it merely a matter of New World blackness retaining a certain resonance (for a variety of reasons, some more insidious)? Or is there a special sort of xenophobia operating here? Or both or neither? I’m more curious than rhetorical on this point.

After reading Peterson’s article I wrote to Jace/Rupture, who offers one of the more longstanding examples — among the usual suspects — of a DJ/blogger/middlemang based in the US/Europe digging for and sharing and grappling with and spinning/mixing/mashing Arab music. Considering the uptake that his cumbia blogging has received, I wondered how his forays into Maghrebi territory compared, online or in da club. His reply —

i would love it if when i
blog/play maghrebi + berber stuff it rcvd a similar blogospherical
echo as w/ the cumbia/etc … but it simply hasnt happened

Which is basically what I expected him to say.

I’m not sure quite what to make of it, but as someone who likes to make a lot — perhaps even make a living — on making mountains of meaning from molehills of music, I wonder what the world would be like (sound like?) if we could embrace the sha3bi remix scene like we embrace lots of other remix scenes. Could we, in doing so, remix our ideas about Muslim societies and cultural practices? Remix our foreign policy? Remix ourselves?

If it would prove persuasive, I’d say that Muslim is the new black, but I’d hardly be the first.

23 Comments

  • 1. richard  |  June 27th, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Awesome post, Wayne. Tagging along to your speculations, I’ve quietly wondered to myself about ways in which Latin American musical culture is held at a distance/supressed and poorly appropriated in American pop circles. Yes, there are Latinos active in pop music and there have been some occasional blips on the U.S. cultural radar screen (Reggeaton, and maybe salsa here and there…), but I think about how Latinos (esp. Mexicans and Central Amiericans) are too close to or too much for the U.S. to be sufficiently ‘other’ or exotic for the tastes of early adopters. (I pretty obviously have xenophobic fears prompted by ‘debates’ over immigration in mind.)

    My other question, what roles do capitalist markets and marketing play in fetishizing and strip-mining musical traditions as a whole? I would say they are pretty insidious roles, but that’s my mere opinion.

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  June 27th, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    The narrative about Latin music in the US tends to focus on periodic “booms” — from the days when middle-class mainstreamers danced to mambo and rumba and samba in their parlors to Ricky Martin to reggaeton. On the other hand, as authors such as John Storm Roberts and Ned Sublette argue (and demonstrate, to my satisfaction), the musical DNA of the US is thoroughly mixed up with that of Latin America — from jazz’s “Spanish tinge” to the Bo Diddley beat (and onward to crunk, etc.).

    But I know what you’re saying. And I think there is plenty of evidence to affirm a theory of Latinos’ liminal otherness in the US (to fall into some academispeak). It definitely has something to do with the way Latinos scramble our binary notion of race here.

    Interestingly, I think reggaeton is pretty marginal in the “nu world” circuit for precisely these reasons. It’s notable that the bloggers most likely to discuss/hype reggaeton (e.g., Masala, Ghetto Bassquake) are based outside the US. Too close for comfort.

    & no avoiding the market in all of this — its effect is both insidious and pervasive. New forms of difference = new exchange value.

  • 3. richard  |  June 27th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I definitely get what you’re saying. Musically, there is definitely a good deal of cross-pollination going on between musical traditions and idioms. Semiotically and culturally, though, that’s where music and its exhibition become more abrasive. It’s the point at which it becomes difficult for markets to integrate cultural differences unless they are contained in a marketable and consumable fashion, which is where the exchange value kicks in.

    Prior to exchange value, there’s that whole messy question of exhibition value, which somehow hadn’t caught on (I think) in critical theory-influenced circles. It’s the currency that hipsters and avant-gardes of all stripes trade in, which capital extracts exchange value from. It’s that whole, “…check this out!!!” element associated with passing along something special or interesting and to be a part of that distribution.

    I just started hearing about the whole ‘nu world’ thing through a friend of mine. Do French nu world people pick up the music of Algerians or North Africans in their country, or Germans with Turks?

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  June 27th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    >Do French nu world people pick up the music of Algerians or North Africans
    >in their country, or Germans with Turks?

    Great question — and I guess that’s a prevailing concern of mine (what I’m thinking about recently as ‘neighborhood’), since, for me, a lot of this nu-world biz is about hearing our post-colonial selves, coming to terms with the legacies of imperialism, etc.

    The answer, tho, is yes and no. We could look at various examples: nu-worlders in London engage with bhangra; in France with coupe decale; and it’s worth noting that /rupture’s engagement with Maghrebi music was deeply informed by the time he spent in Spain. I don’t know much about Germans embracing Turkish pop/club music (in part b/c I don’t know of any German blogs in this vein) or French w/ Algerian rai, etc., though it’s worth noting that among hip-hoppers in both places there’s plenty of integration, multiethnic crews and such, and a fair amount of sampling various “homeland” sounds for beats.

    This is what I find so compelling about reggaeton and cumbia catching on among the cool kids — of various stripes and colors — in US metropoles. The US really needs to come to terms with its Spanish/Latin side, and I have a lot of faith in the power of music to reshape our sense of self/other, here/there. Anything too celebratory along these lines, however, is, I suspect, quite premature.

  • 5. wayneandwax.com » 8&hellip  |  June 27th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    […] indeed, acoustic — mulid street performance than the soundsystem-propelled events portrayed in Jennifer Peterson’s article. According to the uploader, this depicts “men whoop[ing] it up on the streets of Al Hussein […]

  • 6. richard  |  June 27th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Funny you mentioned Rupture’s engagement with Maghrebi music. I was almost going to mention Spaniards and Morrocans as another example.

    At any rate, this is completely fascinating, especially the notion that music factors into the way we construct our world and sense of location. I hope that we can think of culture in such a way that opens up those vistas about what it means to be human wherever and whatever signs of humanity are discovered.

    Speaking of neighborhoods and locations: Boston/Cambridge could use soundsystems rolling down Mass Ave. and other major thoroughfares in the summer time…huge block parties to bring other neighborhoods to our neighborhoods.

  • 7. Caro  |  June 27th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Wayne and Richard, ah yes, where do Latinos fit in? The US perception of race and Latins’ own perception of their race has a lot to do with this.

    Musically and historically, you have several instances of Latin American countries picking one genre as the “national” representative and then re-raci(nat)ing it. This happened to merengue during the Trujillo dictatorship; its late 19th C and early 20th C innovations to make it more synchretic, less contradanza, were written off as “national” rather than “blackening.” You still have some Dominican so-called critics denying that the rhythmic base of merengue is Afro-diasporic, and current dismissal of merengue de calle has this intertwined class and race disdain.

    In the US context, you have such a complete and consistent erasure of Latinos in favor of Blacks — because here Blacks have been assigned the position of the sole source of cool — and because of lots of Latinos’ own Afro-Latin cultural connections — that even when you build an argument musically — playing samples one next to the other — your average American discounts the “Latin” element and only hears the “Black” (in the “Afro-Cuban” formulation, the connection to African-American jazz is perceived to happen more through the Afro than the Cuban). The folks who organized the American Sabor exhibit in Seattle did a great job of making sound modules that traced influence and transformation clearly.

    In a way, this begs the question, what exactly is the “Latin tinge” anyway? At which point does something tip into a clearly marked “Latin” influence? How much agency/credit do Latins get for transforming whichever musical forms — traditional, modern, electronic, “foreign” — they use?

    The rise of cumbia is curious. If I’d ever played cumbias at a house party any time before last year, only the Latins would have been excited. And even in NY, where you end up soaked in merengue and bachata and reggaeton whether you like it or not (I could say the same of reggae/dancehall and shaabi and bhangra, depending where you move) I’ll never hear those musics mixed in to non-Latin house parties soundtracks unless the hosts are “hip” music people and/or spend a lot of time hanging with Latins. To be fair, though, outside of hip hop and maybe dancehall (which here in NY are pretty universal dance musics), you’ll not hear baile funk or any modern African dance musics in Latin parties unless, again, you’re talking about “music” people.

    Which reminds me, it’s time to have a backyard dance party. Visit Brooklyn, it’ll be fun, I promise!

  • 8. DJ Rut-Pure  |  June 27th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    lots (but hardly all) Arabic music is non 4/4, or the beat pattern is 4/4 but doesnt play well with afrodiasporic riddims. this means that, from the DJ’s perspective, the rise of cumbia makes mountains of sense, because it is a steady 4/4 beat, around 90-11o bpm much of the time — PERFECT for slapping a rap accapella on top or mixing with hiphop/reggae beats.

    (Which is why its even more surprising that there are so many new school cumbia mashup which totally get the vocal timing wrong, but that’s another story)

    of course, the dearth of, er, hipster arab beats in the US has much to do with demographics. In places like London or even Sydney, there are plenty of house-araby club nights (more or the house side, but nevertheless bolstered by the 4/4 friendly baladi rhythm, amongst others, sometimes blending in with the gay scene — there’s a particular, hugely popular arab-gay-housey night in Oz that im thinking of, i have their CD, cant remember name..

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  June 28th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Good points, Rup, though it seems like NYC has its share of ppl from the Middle East, so I don’t quite understand why it would still sound so different from, say, London or Sydney. It may just be a matter of numbers still.

    As for musical relationships, it’s definitely true that a lot of the Maghrebi pop you’ve shared over the years tends to be in 6/8 or 12/8 (which is precisely the kind of 4-beat structure that would mix awkwardly with most Afrodiasporic rhythms, which tend toward duple structures, at least in pop/secular music — aside from the occasional throw-back JA riddim, borrowing the 12/8 from ska via jazz&blues).

    On the other hand, a great number of Arab pop tracks employ rhythms that do mix well with other 4/4 genres. A lot of tracks, for instance, employ either the malfouf/malfuf rhythm (e.g.), which essentially overlaps perfectly with dancehall’s 3+3+2 — as I tried to trace out in Another Crunk Genealogy. (You’ll note that in that clip, the first rhythm, the ayoub, is very close to reggaeton.) Or, for that matter, the maqsoum/maqsum (e.g.), which accents different beats — if still under a 4/4 pulse — and perhaps reminds most of us of the classic “bellydance” beat.

    (Thanks to Pete Locket for the examples!)

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  June 28th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    And, Caro, a backyard BBQ sounds great. Let’s set a date! I’ll bring some jerk fish and a full iPod ;)

  • 11. Guillaume / Masala  |  June 30th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Interesting points here as always!

    I’m 100% with Jace on that. I totally think it’s a 4/4 issue. The only time I heard djs here playing Maghrebi music it was either on a 4/4 beat or in a vaguely reference of some kind of alternative to US politics. Like in: we’re going to play arabic music because somehow it’s going to stress our anti-capitalistic anti-US administration political position.

    Arab Pop tracks that you’re mentionning are usually too “pop” for the kind of people we’re talking here. Unless they are into the whole ironic world music appreciation thing (let’s listen to “bad” music from others, it will be “fun”). I feel like Fnaire might one of the only counter-exemple of the integration of maghrebi Hiph-hop in the nu-world blogosphere. Which says quite a bit on our taste.

    RE/ French – Maghrebi. I feel it’s very integrated with mainstream french HH now. The biggest rap bands like 113, I AM, or Mafia K’1 Fri or using samples or even verse in arab. There’s no distance here. But then again, this tracks aren’t that much dj friendly but fit quite well on a radio show. There’s also a big movement of french black african re-discovery going on right now. See MOKOBE – Mon Afrique

    RE/ Nu World bloggers focusing on “African descent music”. True in general, even though on our side at Masala, we try as much as possible to keep up on all the bhangra releases. I would say that the whole eastern european thing speaks against this statement as well. It might be just a matter of trends.

    RE/ Shabbi music. Wait for Sub. Frequencies to do a release and we’ll see what happen…

    It feels good to read you again Mr. Marshall, I must admit I haven’t visit in (too?) long time. And once again, excuse this approximative english ;)

  • 12. theantisuck / Rachel  |  June 30th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I bet if they were a street gang, holding guns & wearing kiffeyehs people would eat it up.

    back when i was runnin my mouth, complaining about bizzarro distorted concepts of african music you quoted me (theantisuck) here : http://wayneandwax.com/?p=333

    You responded by saying some non legit points** as well as legit points like we don’t have to listen to whats popular, shouldnt worry too much about heisenbergian effects, and are coming from our own american, hip hop informed perspective.

    “Where are the Asian, Middle Eastern, or even European standard bearers for the global proles, if that’s what we’re repping?” global proles? I dont feel like thats what youre repping, as your stated bloggy intrest is ‘american’ music, even in its broadest sense.

    Ghettotech is music that is identifiably both ghetto (poor, urban, [hopefully black?]) and tech (what you called ““hip-hop logic” as well as the audibility of certain technologies and a set of sonic priorities weighted toward the low-end & the polyrhythmic”)

    I feel like itd be hard to find Asian, Middle Eastern and Euro musics that fit entirely into that category. low-fi, urban, poor, sure. But they are just not engaged in the same intense dialouge with hip-hop as the americas and africa. I think those musics come from a totally different soundscape than that ol time triangular trade route of bodies/culture. Also not black. Race is probably an issue here.

    My orig point in that quote is that as somebody who just loves african pop music, I love a lot of ghettotech music and the scenes occasionally awesome reflective engagement but find its limited scope frustrating. when I try to go to most clubs or music shops its arggg all marketed into that ol world music/nu whirled music ideas of african music. I wish there was a 3rd way audience dance/club scene that embraced global beats w/o always being ghettoed or downtempoed. But I dont think we are at a point where its easy to get direct engagement yet, so these scopes and ranges, i think, still matter. not b/c of a of a few blogs influncing a music scene far away, but perhaps in terms of u.s. distribution.

    RE/ French – Maghrebi. In Paris, I feel like the nuwhirled scene isnt very big, not like they are big here either. I just feel like theres less hipster intrests than in the uk/cananda/us. It seems more old world music roots/downtempoish see: http://www.parisdjs.com/ Every music store has a rai section, so its not really hip in the same way that it could be here. If you can’t discover it, I think its less fun to blog about / dj. However coupe decale / rai / etc is well known, on the TV all the time. So while immigrant artists are enjoying far bigger success than they usually do here, I think intrest in them is less than It would be here? The mix of rai / coupe decale/ banlieue rap here is crazy sweet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7DBc4U8MFQ but if it was here on our tvs, itd prolly not be cool anymore. like reggaeton? or maybe its too pop anyway? i dunno. I dont understand these things.

    I agree w/ Guillaume to check out Mokobe’s Mon Afrique – prolly one of my fav recent releases. & hes not just sayin “There’s also a big movement of french black african re-discovery going on right now”. Even the times picked that up : http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/arts/17abroad.html

    [***sweet but boring?! zouk, sure. But heeyyyy mbalax is incedibly grating w/insano vocals and hyper rythems and keyboards – sour enough but just not in a bass heavy hip-hop kinda way. /end rant]

  • 13. Birdseed  |  June 30th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I think the reality is probably a bit different on this side of the Atlantic. There’s plenty of Arab interaction going on here, especially on something like Re:Orient Club which is one of Sweden’s oldest and best-respected foreign-culture-music institutions.

    Still, I also feel that this particular kind of music won’t hit off as well as many others might, but for a different reason: It exists and persists within a system of interpretation that isn’t ours and that we can’t very easily impose our own on top of. If I get cynical about it, which I sometimes do, it feels like a lot of DJs want their music (cf. the tourism debate) to be an empty slate, possibly anonymous, that his story-telling skills can draw the interpretation out of. This is just too submerged in history, interpretation and re-interpretation to function like that…

  • 14. carlos  |  July 1st, 2008 at 3:24 am

    rachel, that track/video you link is f***in’ SICK, wow! i especially like the (global ghettotech-emblematic?) wigglin’ antennae image.

    i also kinda sympathize with the frustrations underlying the last two comments here, maybe for different (unrelated?) reasons. i sometimes secretly (that is, en persona) refer to ‘global ghettotech’ as just ‘glocalization’ because i think that’s more focused on the process (as is most of the really great, critical discussion we can at this point call characteristic of the ‘scene’) of how these sounds get to our (djs, bloggers, consumers, listeners) ears, namely that filtering / selection process that, given our prevalent tastes in bass / space / hip hop / crunkness, ultimately tells us more about where we’re at and what we’re curious about than it does about exactly what’s going on in The World (2 big 4 bridges?), which i think is where the arab-as-anticapitalist thing can be so offensive (see jihadcore : http://wayneandwax.com/?p=143).

    runonembedandonandonabandonanabandonandonandon

  • 15. wayneandwax  |  July 1st, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I don’t recommend using “global ghettotech” — it can cause headaches and heart palpitations.

    I have to admit also that I’m not a fan of “glocal” — mainly b/c it’s just awfully awkward — but also b/c I think it distracts us from the reality that the global is always already local and vice versa.

    And as long as we’re parsing the terms here, I think that “proles” is perhaps too freighted in certain ways to express what I mean above, and I thank Rachel for calling me on it b/c I certainly don’t want to get away from race/racialization in this discussion, nor do I mean to get too far from my focus on “American music in the broadest sense” (though that qualifying clause is my way of attempting to avoid pigeonholes). When I say “in the broadest sense,” I don’t simply mean that I am interested in American music in a hemispheric way (as opposed to just US stuff), for am I also very concerned with the global circulation of American/New-World music, esp as it symbolizes and expresses&advances US imperialism (and exported racial ideologies) and/or resistance to it via, crucially, an embrace of the cultural politics of (New World) blackness.

    One way that I see/hear the “embrace of a cultural politics of blackness” is in “global” hip-hop, techno, reggae, etc. In this sense when I say “global proles,” I’m referring more to the worldwide network of people who symbolically align themselves with each other as part of a (usually racialized) global underclass than to a generalized working-class formation per se. Because, yes, it is the sound(s) of blackness that animates so much of this cultural politics and rightly attracts the attention of metropolitan bloggers and DJs and producers and audiences who seek a little symbolic alignment of their own. (Great point about distro, btw.)

    So many great comments here — thanks, y’all — but I don’t want to drone on in an attempt to answer them all (or stifle further comment), so I’ll just end by saying, wrt Birdseed’s question about music as an empty slate, that while there is certainly something to that, esp w/ global gobbledigook (ie, music w/ unintelligible lyrics), it’s worth bearing in mind that all music is, in a sense, an empty slate — or, at least, we should recognize that we impose various interpretations on things regardless of whether we understand the language of the lyrics. I don’t think that’s a bad thing in itself, but it certainly can be problematic when only applied to “other” music.

  • 16. wayneandwax.com » D&hellip  |  July 1st, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    […] to posting about Miti Miti, and since Geko Jones (notably, while making reference to the duo) and others have been wondering aloud again about the practice of global gobbledicrunk, while Kevin’s […]

  • 17. wayneandwax  |  July 1st, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    For Rachel: one more bit toward clarification wrt the relationship between “ghettotech” and “proles” —

    You (interestingly) change the wording on your blog so that rather than “global proles” being what I’m (not) repping, it’s instead what ghettotech is not repping.

    And I’m with you insofar as I was using a Marxist term and I’m not really trying to suggest that ghettotech can be aligned at all easily with any sort of resistance or opposition to or subversion of capitalism. But insofar as “prole” music — which is to say, working-class music — such as ghettotech in Detroit (to return to the specific sense of the term) or ghettohouse/juke in Chicago or dancehall in Kingston or funk in Rio (or shuffle in Melbourne?) … insofar as any and all of these are concerned with bodily pleasures & with some degree of escaping/transcending the quotidian, I would say that it’s not inappropriate to stress their class dimensions. Of course, again to be clear, that shouldn’t happen at the expense of an analysis of the role that race plays too.

  • 18. ripley  |  July 1st, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    great discussion here, as usual

    I’d like to explore Wayne’s point that music is always something of an empty slate, because I think I get what he means, in terms of people’s ability and wilingness to project their own responses onto music. And I don’t think that is a bad thing (although those repsonses can be worth interrogating)

    but I also think some of that is really about musical actions on/in the body. Not that the body is an empty slate (or the mind-body connection is), but more that responding to music as DANCE music is to some extent its own phenomenon. I wouldn’t say that people’s physical response to music is the same as their intellectual response. Maybe that’s party of what;s being hinted in the last comment, regarding pleasure and transcendence?

    Of course dancing cannot be separated from the political concerns people raise here, but still, music’s connection to dancing bodies has been under-analyzed and under-theorized, as far as I can tell.

  • 19. theantisuck / Rachel  |  July 1st, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    yeah i was editing it to make it less long and full of typos and i think i thought it would make more sense that way? It is interesting i did that. I wasnt really thinking about it but its forced me to figure out what i meant.

    I do hear you that ghettotech is generally prole music, tho not prole music for everyone? I think that might be my point when bringing up popularity and ‘what people are really listening to’ hence my emphasis on things like zouk and mbalax being music of the people as well, esp as escapist dance tunes even tho they dont fit our idea of what prole music should be ie gritty,bass/HH heavy. My opinions may be distorted as im generally quite anglo-francosphere limited & from senegal where domestic rap music was often harsh and political. Galsene is not something the average uneducated person seemed to identify with vs mbalax which most people loved.

    I also lived in indonesia for a while and I remember there was a small fun reggae scene (something i think youd dig, but as in jamaica and that great ‘brown boy’ rant that chica sent in it seems more of a lefty educated class interest, as well as hard to distinguish from a tourist attraction) but generally the prole music, and i think this is true in many parts of asia, is romantic pop ballads which people looooved and sung along to and had a really strong response/connection swept up in melody not beats. Clubs are $$$ and dance is less a part of poor urban culture.

    Which is why i was saying you werent really reppin global ‘prole’ music (esp in regards to your question about asian, middle eastern and euro music) but a more specific triangle trade articulation of prole music that engages you/us on centain deep levels. Im saying this although i know how broad ‘american’ music can go. Hip hop logic is hugely influencial even in those regions and pretty much any country you look at will prolly have an interesting ghettotech relevent scene.

    i guess i should be clear that when I critique ghettotech’s influence on 3rd&4th world music distribution/intrest ie marketed as ghetto im not trying to ignore the role of class but critiqueing it as a sort of narrow (and often/easily decontextualized) aesthetic. As a girrrl it also kinda comes off as gendered/rockist, which i guess is the whole point – ghettotech as being important to the angry poor urban male? i dunno, so many issues here and i must. stop. typing.

  • 20. wayneandwax.com » S&hellip  |  July 2nd, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    […] enjoying the discussion on that sha3bi post — please help keep it going if ur so inclined. This post is mainly a way of bringing that […]

  • 21. Tech weh yuself « I&hellip  |  December 18th, 2008 at 12:49 am

    […] @ Wayneandwax.com has, as usual, written a really interesting post on chabbi and how it might/ might not fit into the ‘ghettotech’ […]

  • 22. links for 2009-07-30 : W.&hellip  |  July 30th, 2009 at 3:01 am

    […] wayneandwax.com » Not Too Sha3bi? Electronic Music Scene in Egypt and wider Arab World. (tags: music interesting beats) July 30, 2009 | Filed Under WebSurfing  […]

  • 23. Boebis  |  August 16th, 2010 at 4:01 am

    It seems obvious to me that if DJ likes kwaito, cumbia, coupé décalé… has nothing (or almost nothing) to do with race but with musical links. US popular music comes from west African influences, so do all dancing latin or french speaking American musics… The common point with all the afro-influenced musics is not the 4/4 (European musics are often in 4/4 with no groove in it) but the mix of 3/4 and 4/4 which make the groove that appeal the American listeners. A bit difficult to explain that in english but I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.

    But even with the rhythms, musical scales and harmony differences that make grooving sounds from Europe, Asia or north Africa more difficult, there are plenty of grooving sounds from there… It’s just that Americans are curious about music from former English speaking colonies and in the North and South America, and Africa. That’s why you can fin Bhangra on the hipsters playlist but nothing of German, Japanese or north African young sounds …

    And most of European listeners are just following American trends. They won’t listen to other European countries music, just international pop and their own national music. The only musical common point between Europeans are American musics.

    It’s all about historical interests, nothing to do with race. It has always been easier in France to listen to music from French speaking Africa. You go to a chicha café in France, you’ll listen only modern arab music sung in French or arab. You listen to French rap, you may hear an arab influence, like in this song, one of the most famous in the past years…(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JaTztqeUDs).

    But for example, French rap is not hype in France, it has a middle class image. So French DJ won’t put French rap in their “globalghetto” mix, nore they will put coupé décalé or zouk. They are popular but not hype. But American rap is very hype in France… like cumbia villera may be hype in New York but was not in Argentina because of the middle class-low educated image, like baile funk in Brazil or chicha in Peru.

    What I try to say is that, hype listeners that claim to listen to every music fresh young and new is just completely false, but it’s not only the fault of their lack of curiosity, but also the fault of local hype DJs that don’t promote their own popular musics.

    Hope you’ve read all this unclear message in my bad English ;-)

Wayne&Wax

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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