So, I know it seems like it’s been a quiet year here at W&W. It’s true that posts dropped off precipitously once things warmed up in May and I found myself outside with the kids a lot more often than at my laptop. My tweets and flicks have never really slowed — to the contrary actually, being easier outlets — but since my postdoc at MIT finished up, full-time daddy duty and part-time employment have clearly taken a toll on the frequency of my blogging.
I want to remedy that in 2012, since this remains one of the most fulfilling spaces/practices in my life. I’m a little sad that the conversation here has been gutted by, in addition to my own pauses, the dispersions of RSS, Twitter & FB, etc. But c’est la vie. I want to thank all of you who still stop by occasionally and tell me that you’ve missed me. I’ve missed you too, and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Anyway, to show I haven’t been a total slouch and since I never make actual end-of-year lists (despite plenty of kind invitations) and since many might have missed a gem or two buried under Beat Research announcements (which are sometimes jewels themselves), I figured I’d take this opportunity to be a bit of a self-linking jerk and put together a list of my own favorite bloggy/art/media work of the last year.
Hope you find some things worth revisiting — or checking for the first time. 2011 may have been slow here at W&W, but it hardly lacked for excitement. 2012 looms large. See you on the other side!
The first isn’t technically from 2011 but a late entry from 2010 that may have been missed by some already drawn deep into last year’s holidaze. It traces Bangladesh’s “Banana Boat” sample for Lil Wayne’s “6 Foot 7 Foot” to Harry Belafonte’s own complex engagements with the song. A classic tale of tangled musical borrowings and the meanings they make.
I <3 Dembow Dominicano. The way DR producers and audiences have held the torch aloft for the mid-90s proto-reggaeton style pioneered by Playero and The Noise collective is one piece of evidence that reggaeton hasn't at all run out of gasolina. So much more to say about this exciting scene, especially if Venus ever gets me the DR dembow playlist she’s promised.
It’s not that I have so much to say about this as much as I still find it a totally fascinating example of how hip-hop (and US gangster style more generally) can travel and take shapes so obviously recognizable and yet so utterly foreign. Sin duda, Movimiento Alterado deserves a place in the rich story of hip-hop / African-American style in Mexico.
The first of several multimedia works I produced this year, this beat-matched YouTube collage realizes a longstanding dream of setting as many renditions of the pasodoble/bullfight classic, “España Cañi,” to the remarkably consonant, revved up riffs of Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” Muchas gracias otra vez a NWLA.tv for the encouragement to get this made!
A troika of posts on SoundCloud and some clownings thereon serve to extend the anxiety of my “Platform Politricks” post from Dec 2010. With the help of a couple illustrative mashups and a great number of embeds, these posts examine both the remarkable activity and collateral damage facilitated by increasingly popular “platforms” for socially-networked media-sharing at a moment when cut-n-paste creativity is more commonplace than ever but so are the blunt tools of copyright.
St.Paddy’s Day gave me reason to realize another funny little musical experiment I’d been considering. Noting that the signature rhythm of the hot new dance music from Mexico, tribal guarachera, has a lot in common with traditional Irish jams, I couldn’t resist a little timely juxtaposition — and to connect them to some interesting Mexican-Irish lore.
My first contribution to the awesome & insurgent Cluster Mag, edited by Max Pearl & co., this little megamix bumps its way through an overview of how very pliant and popular a tune can be. Obviously, I find audible genealogies utterly mesmerizing, and this buoyant melody makes the voyage a dream, not at all unlike rowing a boat gently downstream.
An examination of Colombia’s choque dance craze — and by extension, debates about race and sexuality and nation raised by spectacular copulative dance more generally — this was maybe my all-time fave post of the year, and perhaps the most praised around the net as well. It’s also another example of how reggaeton rages on, global and local as ever. I love this dance so much, and its oddly kindred relation to disco’s “bump,” that I couldn’t resist using my 2nd contribution to Cluster Mag to follow up with a funny but edifying montage, namely —
A directly related item to the last couple, of course, is my recent attempt to sketch out a brief history of perreo in order to provide context for a review of some recent headline grabbing versions of the form. Read and see how 16th century Spanish clergy, 1930s West Indian editorialists in Costa Rica, post-millennial Puerto Rican senators, and 2009’s Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica all agree to be aghast at the sexy socializing/socialization of “kids these days.”
Last but not nearly least, I’m thrilled to share by the end of this year a project long in the making. Boston Pirate Party is a radio-sourced follow-up to the Boston Mashacre and Smashacre, and it is accompanied, over at Cluster Mag, by a short essay reflecting on the significance of Boston’s community radio renaissance (if it can even be said that such an utterly local radio scene ever existed here before). If a Caribbean-centered soundscape seems implausible for this town with such a rep for whiteness and the segregation that produces it, do let me lend you my ears. Here’s hoping that Boston might yet seem as open & lively as the airwaves suggest.