Not long after my last post went public, a savvy searcher quickly proved that what I thought was fairly ungooglable (at least without knowing Arabic) was, in fact, waiting for me on eBay. And beyond simply locating & IDing the music/CD in question, this kind commenter hit Arabkidsmusic paydirt.
First, I want to take back my description of the CD itself (pictured here) as “clutterred”; scans of the jewelcase reveal heretofore unimagined photoshop riches–
And the seller pointed to other visually alluring CDs that I now want to hear, including one clearly ‘shopped by the same artiste —
And one which departs significantly in visual style, but is no less tempting —
Plus, the seller decorates with nifty gifs to boot —
Taken altogether, even with my lack of Arabic, I find the whole ensemble to offer a rather fascinating snapshot of some of the various and sundry artifacts gathered around music culture today.
But the best part of all is that it turns out, not too surprisingly, that the tracks I shared yesterday are fairly popular songs by Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram, who — though we must keep in mind that its a bot’s list — has a YouTube channel with 13,000+ videos on it.
I’m not too surprised to learn it was Lebanese, since Boston and Cambridge and especially neighboring Watertown have a relatively large Lebanese (and more generally, Armenian-via-other-places) community. This is why we are so fortunately rich in hummus and other goodies. (Hands down, IMO, Eastern Lamejun beats any other hummus in the Greater Boston area, but I digress…)
The songs I posted yesterday appear, in the same “medley” fashion, in a rather fantastic (and apparently “big budget”) video, which the eBay site links to as a “preview.” They were released in 2007 on an album for kids after Ajram “discovered,” according to the Wiki page, that young people were a substantial part of her audience.
Here’s the must-see video, which, if the beginning gets too cutesy-pedantic you might fast-fwd to 1:20 or so to see Ajram-as-Tinkerbell descending into a city of children-dressed-like-adults:
My daughters, incidentally, really enjoyed this — the visuals as well as the music, though I have to admit I liked it a bit more when I could imagine reggaetoneros in the mix.
At any rate, while perusing the Wikipedia page for Shakhbat Shakhabit, I was slightly surprised to see what seemed like an obvious bit of moralist editorial —
The album & video were the most notable and successful work for children at the time, following a huge wave of works directed to children. The reason for this could be the fact that it was purely meant for children, unlike children works by other singers that included sexual content for adults.
This didn’t seem surprising, exactly. There’s plenty of oddly salacious stuff that gets marketed to children (and their parents) in the US too, of course. Still, “sexual content” seemed a bit strong. But then, in my ensuing random walk (or rabbithole spelunk) on YouTube, I turned up a few things that, in the immortal words of Arsenio Hall (or Freedom Williams), make you say hmmmm, e.g.–
But there’s a lot of fun stuff to be seen too — and lots of songs about telephones maybe? — such as the following, which is awesomely jarring in its treble-culturized teeveediation, but also depicts a roomful of kids having a lot of fun dancing to some classic rhythms:
Anyway, I’ll stop there for now & leave you to your own funky spelunks, but I’m glad to solve this mystery — thx mystery commenter! — and to have found another YouTube musical wormhole to wiggle through.
We found the CD above a few blocks from home as we were walking up Concord Ave last month. It was badly scratched, probably the reason for its unceremonious discard — and no doubt compounded by however long it had been kicking it by the curb. All the same, it was awfully alluring. I immediately twitpic’d it, tweeting to g0d that it might play, and stuck it in my pocket.
Back home, I couldn’t get much further than the second track (though, notably, it fared better in my car system than my computer), but fortunately Track 1 was a whopping 15 minutes and several songs long. The contents, though still pretty mysterious to me, are about as awesome as I had imagined they might be, considering the crazed white baby, intense pink, and unauthorized Tinkerbell cluttering the cover.
Appropriately, the opening is epic. I keep wanting it to break into an 808 State jam, and I keep wishing I had an inkling of what they were saying. Since the first two songs really run together, this first chunk I’m sharing is a good 8+ minutes:
At about 8:30 into Track 1, there’s an amazingly reggaetony riff and vocal (which I’m sorely tempted to sample), but from there, rhythmically-speaking anyway, the track heads more into saidi than dembow territory:
I can only really approach this at a fairly superficial level of sound & image, sorry to say, since I can’t read or understand the language at all. Any help with that, or with finding other (and less scratched) recordings like this one would be much appreciated. Decent kids cocktail is hard to come by these days!
The young Moroccan at the music stand didnâ€™t get that I was looking for vinyl. Iâ€™ve searched for records all around the world, and been shot the same puzzled looks and second-guesses many times before. â€śCD?â€ť he asked in accented English. â€śNo, the old ones,â€ť I countered, approximating twelve inches with my hands. â€śYou know: big, black.â€ť
He uttered a groan and tossed his head, returning his attention to a rack of small discs with photocopied covers that apparently deserved a careful rearranging.
â€śEveryone threw those away,â€ť he said with his back to me. â€śBullshit,â€ť I thought.
Wherever I dig, I refuse to think that these stubborn digitalists donâ€™t know at least one old neighborhood jazz cat or a parent or grandparent who held onto their clunky plastic music platters.
Sam’s own stubbornness eventually leads him to a trove of sorts c/o Gam Boujemaa, a longtime record collector & seller in Casablanca. A stockpile of vinyl, yes, but great stories too — telling tales about how vinyl from all over the world ended up in one little shop in western Morocco. For anyone who caught Boima’s provocative post last week about the neo-colonialism of digging for records in Africa, no doubt some sentiments in Sam’s piece will seem familiar, irksome even. (Check the rather interesting and contentious debate which has erupted in the comments! Fresh wounds all around.)
Given the trenchant questions Boima raises, I need to note how much I appreciate the nuance and ironies in Sam’s narrative. For all the notes of romance and curiosity that animate his search, he also shows the digger of today — i.e., guys like Sam — to be following, if in a sort of reverse, the steps of diggers before him — guys like Gam — with their own desires to transform themselves, by collecting just the right things, into something else, other, cosmopolitan, cool:
Gam Boujemaa sold newspapers on the street until he turned twenty. By that time, it was 1964, and he had heard enough jazz and seen enough Marlon Brando movies to know he wanted to own a leather jacket and sell the dayâ€™s best music to a cosmopolitan clientele.
The city was, and still is, a world away from Fez and Marrakech, the ancient trading hubs of the Moroccan interior where the smells of mint, olives, and live animals pervade all commerce. Casablanca had an Atlantic orientation that brought the Beatles and Otis Redding to Gamâ€™s attention, and to his record storeâ€™s shelves years before his countrymen in the Atlas Mountains could know that rock and roll or R&B even existed. â€¦
With between thirty and forty thousand records lining the shelves of his store on Boulevard de Paris, Gam isnâ€™t the explorer he used to be. Some locals bring him their old collections, but his main business is selling to foreigners. French, British, Dutch, and Turkish collectors dominate his clientele nowadays, but the store recalls the time just after Moroccan independence from France when Gamâ€™s excitement brought the newest sounds from overseas to his shop.
For example, between 1966 and 1970, Gam added thousands of Bollywood film 45s to his stock. Then, in 1970, he turned the storeâ€™s name into its own music label. He released records by popular singer Naima Samih, and drafted the folk-influenced troupe Jil Jilala to his imprint.
I like that Sam calls Gam an explorer. There’s a sense of commonality there, of certain shared notions and practices, despite their differences. And I like that the portrait Sam offers of Gam complicates too easy a reading of how either of their activities fit into an imperial/colonial order. But I’ll leave further analysis to the hive mind for now.
Instead, let’s let the music speak a little too, if thru Sam’s filter. Here’s the mix Sam made to accompany the Wax Poetics piece, featuring records he picked up in Casablanca and Fez, & liberated from its streaming-only status by yours truly and DownloadHelper:
Complicating things further, Sam offers up another “hand-dug” (his term) gem — this one “exclusive” to W&W — for our listening and debating pleasures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it brings us into contact with another hot-spot for contemporary cool-vinyl hunters: Amazonian cumbia. Although he turned up the following track in Lima, it’s by Costa Rican soloist and bandleader Alfredo Barrantes, who found such success in Ecuador he became known as “EL PILOTO DE LOS EXITOS” (THE PILOT OF HITS). Note the telltale snaps’n’crackles at the outset:
Incidentally, if you dig sounds like these, we’ve got a real treat coming up in a couple of weeks: on Oct 4, alongside El G and the Frikstailers, representing the digital cumbia of the ZZK collective (!!!), we’ve also got Michael Pigott of Mass Tropicas, a label based in Western Massachusetts specializing in ethically-licensed high quality vinyl reissues of obscure Amazonian cumbia. I’ll be posting in greater detail about that in the coming weeks. But be sure to put Oct 4 on your calendars. It’s gonna be cumbiariffic!
Finally, if you’re looking for a sense of what he might sound like in the mix, here’s a relatively recent and wide-ranging set c/o Balagan:
[Ok, here's another oldie-but-goodie from the Riddim Meth0d vaults. Plenty of readers are no doubt familiar with this post/mashup, especially since I've revisited the issue. In the time since I wrote it (almost 5 years ago!), I've also had the strange fortune of submitting a brief report -- about the significance of "Big Pimpin" to Jay's and Timbo's respective oeuvres -- to the lawyers working for the heirs to Baligh Hamdi's copyrights. (For the record, while I don't want to contribute to bad legal precedent, I'm generally ok with taking some of the money that explodes outward as rich people sue rich people, as long as I get to tell the truth as I see/hear it. Also, this likely won't go to trial.) This example also finds its way into a chapter I'm contributing to a forthcoming book on Pop-Culture Tools for the Music Classroom. Finally, I want to thank the lovely humanitarians at archive.org for preserving the post and -- more importantly -- the comments on it. I'm happy & relieved to recover the comment thread from the initial RM post, which I will paste in at the bottom of this re-post. It's hard to lose conversations to the e-ther, even little ones. For the record, this was initially published on 19 September 2005.]
riffing off pace’s east-meets-west blend and continuing my experiments with mashes of musically-related songs, i offer up an orientalist oddity: jay z’s “big pimpin’,” as produced by timbaland, mixed with abdel-halim hafez’s “khosara,” the song that provided timbo with the inspiration for the slinky, flute-propelled loop that undergirds j-hova’s jam.
although there was some controversy about the similarity between “pimpin'” and “khosara” (including talk of a lawsuit), timbaland apparently escaped penalty, at least at present, because in this case he replayed – i.e., re-recorded – the two-bar section (rather than digitally sampling it), and the sense appears to be that the underlying composition was not original and/or substantial enough to be infringed in this case. you will hear in the four-bars that begin my mashup that timbaland’s beat bears a very strong resemblance to the original. [note from 2010: i have since changed my opinion on the question of whether this features a sample or not, based on irrefutable evidence.]
this is not an unambiguous case. because the music in question is a short loop and it is re-recorded rather than sampled, it seems reasonable for timbo to get off the hook. of course, not only is the musical reference a clearly recognizable one, the two-bar phrase in question is an important part of the original, serving as an intro and as a recurring riff (notably, returning after the vocal section). at the same time, the fact that, according to this article, label owner magdi el-amroussi would have denied timbo the ability to use this fragment – “Because he’s changed the composition” – also seems to argue for timbaland’s right to do it. despite that timbo and jay used the flute loop to craft a somewhat crass (if catchy) song about pimpin’, the world would be worse off with such arbitrary, authoritarian restrictions on derivative works, whether the so-called owner of the copyright is disney or a seemingly stodgy label owner.
what i like about this mash, as with the “code of the beats” experiment, is that one gets to hear more of the original, which is great in its own right, and thus one understands the sonic inspiration at work here. at the same time, hearing the source alongside the “derivative” track offers new ways of hearing the originals. in this case, one gets to hear how timbo’s interpretation changes the original: rather than a recurring motif, the flute loop now undergirds the entire composition, moving its emphasis toward rhythmic repetition and bass frequencies. similarly, rather than supporting some southern-fried, slap-a-bitch rap, timbaland’s breezy beat, enhanced by additional winds and strings, instead accompanies the mournful, melismatic singing of abdel-halim hafez, the “king of arabic music.”
although timbo’s beat has always had me open, i gotta admit that jay’s lyrics (and those of his cohorts) tend to put me off. frankly, they make me cringe. as much as i can see the attraction of expanding the pimp-metaphor (as with the hustler, badman, etc.) and of playing the role – at bottom, it is a position of power, par excellence perhaps – i just can’t get with the misogyny when it comes down to it. similar to oliver, i have a hard time recuperating exploitation. so, rather than playing any of the verses, or even the chorus, what i have done here is to “dub in” a few of the phrases in jay’s verse that seemed more “positive” or at least could be interpreted that way. “love ‘em” (without the “leave ‘em”) seems about as good as it gets, though i found some others, too.
after putting the phrases together, i was struck that the line “take ‘em out the hood, keep ‘em lookin’ good” suggests quite another set of meanings when heard in the context of egyptian music: one can either hear jay-z critiquing conservative islam’s call for women to wear veils – recalling vybz kartel’s “you nuh haffi hide your face like bin laden gal” – or one can hear him assailing the american-style torture interrogation techniques so symbolized by hooded abu ghraib prisoners.
and despite its appearance before 9/11, “big pimpin'” does tap into our historical moment nonetheless, sitting alongside a host of other orientalist beats in hip-hop, dancehall, and various electronic genres. the resonance of middle eastern music in the world’s (urban, popular) musics has been building for some time, reflecting centuries of history of interaction, not to mention a contemporary and increasingly visible and audible cultural presence in the US.
even so, representations of middle-easterners and islam in the US (and, say, UK) remain as stereotyped and distorted as the “eastern” musical figures in contemporary popular music. the article in al-ahram notes that the hip-hop press completely conflated various asian/orientalist signifiers when trying to describe the egyptian sound of “big pimpin'”:
The identity of the composer of the song, though, has been lost within the crazy machinations of the hip-hop world. A review of the song on MTV describes it as “Bollywood-wigged NOLA bounce stutter-stepping,” ignoring its Egyptian roots. Another review describes the beat as featuring “Z droppin big willie rhymes over a swaying, South-Seas flavoured groove that’s a happy musical marriage of Brooklyn and Bali.”
so it is also my hope that a mashup of this sort can serve to bring a little more awareness to the actual music whose ghosts and caricatures today haunt mainstream radio and the global underground alike. the hafez original could serve as a window into a wonderful world of truly amazing music, which, really, should only further justify the existence of timbaland’s homage. (let’s face it: they’re not exactly competing in the same market; one’s existence does not diminish the other – on the contrary, they enrich each other’s resonance.)
i recommend tracking down the original recording of “khosara” – never mind various live versions – and giving the song a listen. it certainly holds up on its own. (i’m sayin’, how do you think it came into timbaland’s hands?) in fact, given that the infringement suit seems like a non-issue, and considering that so many of us really dig the same sounds that inspired timbo and jay-z, it would be dandy if hafez found new listeners by virtue of timbo “putting him on.” you can find one version of “khosara” on CD here (and listen to a real-audio file of the whole thing), and you can hear much, much more from him here. enchanting stuff, no doubt. listen to this alongside some um kulthum, and you’ll get a good sense of mid-20th century egyptian popular music.
a word on technique: i have pitched the hafez recording up slightly in order to match the timbo version (since the latter had the more compelling, bumping center, which i would rather not distort). when the hafez makes harmonic changes, however, i shift the timbaland up in pitch to match it (which, yeah, sometimes sounds a little weird – but this is all kind of weird to begin with, no?). i have simply replayed the first vocal section of the hafez after the jay-z-quoting dubby section in order to give the track’s form a kind of roundness. because the hafez original is substantially longer than i imagine most people’s attention spans are, i decided to excise the rest of it. (when i tried out an earlier mix of these at a boston-based college-bar, it was clear that heads were not ready. it nearly caused a riot on dance floor, and not in a good way. but i insisted on making it through at least one round of hafez’s singing before bringing back the jay-z. the manager thought i had lost it. i quit that gig shortly thereafter. when i played the same sequence at beat research, where there also happened to be some egyptians in the house, people went bananas for it.)
one final note: i’ve added some additional, locally-inflected percussion here. having added this mash into my set at the boston bounce party a couple weeks ago, i already had the two tracks arranged with some bounce-y beats underneath (i.e., all the percussion that enters after the first eight bars). i decided to leave the beats in because they give the track some nice extra drive (if obscuring some of the halftime feel of the jay-z) and because i’ve been enjoying this odd beantown groove lately. “big pimpin'” and “khosara,” both with tempos in the mid-130s, were well suited to a boston bounce refix. it’s kind of a funny tempo, i think – unsettling with its constant question, “too fast or too slow?” – but between grime, garage, b-more, techno, soca, electro, and the occasional uptempo hip-hop or dancehall oddity, among others, beats in the 130-140 bpm range seem all the rage of late. at any rate, what’s another node in the network? shit’s messy enough to begin with. i think that’s why it sounds so good.
At a time when the arts community at Brandeis is feeling rightly beleaguered, it brings me no little satisfaction to know that we will be putting on a rather art-ful residency later this month, sponsoring the US premiere of such an exciting, provocative, and relevant group as Nettle. It brings added satisfaction that we’ve been able to pull this off at all, especially since we thought we had to call it off back in October. We have some dedicated fundraisers and generous donors to thank for that.
For those who don’t know, Nettle is the brainchild of Jace Clayton (aka DJ /Rupture), someone who is no stranger to readers of this blog. He started the group when living as an ex-pat in Barcelona along with several other ex-pats (from Scotland & Morocco), all of them speaking second or third languages in order to converse with each other. There’s a lot to like about the group, starting with their unique sound but branching out into the myriad questions their collaboration seems to pose about cultural & social life in our contemporary, globalized cities.
Jace has quite a way with words, though, so I’ll let him tell you more himself (via) —
Nettle originated in my fascination with the concept of an album heavily influenced by Middle Eastern ideas, but not necessarily at the audible level. I was unsatisfied with the narrative poles of electronic music â€” loop-based dance pieces or abstract/ambient pieces without storytelling force. A suite of rigorous modal improvisation in Arabic music called taqasims offered the solution: I knew and loved their internal play between free-flowing improv and strict technical guidelines. I spent a year or two translating these ideas into pieces for samplers and laptop. Two albums later I still wasn’t satisfied: one-way cultural flows aren’t good enough. I wanted community, two-way translations, the squeal of a feedback loop.
Earlier this year I was commissioned by a British arts council to transform Nettle into a proper live ensemble. Violin, oud, percussion, electronics, realtime sampling. I’d been involved in Barcelona’s Moroccan music community for a while, but the Nettle project has upped the intensity of collaboration. A few days ago, Nettle’s violin and oud player, Abdelaziz Hak, brought up taqasims to explain his response to a beat I’d prepared for him.
I broke into a silly grin.
This is working. We’re starting to get under each other’s skin.
When I met Judy Eissenberg last year and she told me about the MusicUnitesUS program & how she was inspired to start it in the wake of 9/11 as a way of embracing and exploring cultural difference, I almost immediately thought of Nettle.
Whereas MUUS residencies in the past have offered an opportunity for intercultural exchange, bringing representatives of some ‘non-Western’ society to share their traditions with the Brandeis community, what is wonderful about Nettle is that the group already embodies that process of encounter and exchange. What especially attracts me to the group’s sound and spirit is their eschewal of easy fusion cliches, choosing instead to embrace moments where they “get under each other’s skin,” as Jace puts it.
Electronic beats rumbling beneath folk and pop idioms from North Africa and avant-garde cello, Nettle represents the sound of New Spain, but they also, to my ears anyhow, offer pregnant musical metaphors for our ‘Nu World,’ to put a zeitgeisty spin on it: they seem to revel in the cultural ruptures — and spaces — created by today’s rapid circulation of people and media, in which some things have an easier time crossing borders than others. (On that point, INSHALLAH that Abdel & Khalid don’t get tripped up by customs agents, even in the age of Obama.)
I’m further delighted to report that Nettle will be joined by their occasional percussionist (aka Filastine!) and visual artist Daniel Perlin (aka DJ N-RON!) who will be providing realtime visual accompaniment. It’s gonna be quite a show.
If you’re in the Boston area (or not!), you’re welcome to attend any of the on-campus events, which, aside from the concert Saturday night, are all free and open to the public. I expect tickets for the concert to go quickly, so you may want to snap some up ASAP. I’ll be giving a brief talk in the Rose Art Museum directly prior to the concert, exploring the ways music expresses selfhood and neighborhood in our globalized, if perhaps not quite (yet?) cosmopolitan, cities.
“Arab Money” may not have musical legs to stand on (remains to be seen — I think it’s still climbing up urban radio playlists), but it sure is the talk of the virtual water cooler. Most of my posts and comments on the song & its fallout have been distillations of email conversations with awesome thinkers (thx, esp to Kevin, Rachel, Marisol, Elliott, Jace).
Yesterday, Ted “Kufiya Spotting” Swedenburg started another “Arab Money” email convo, this time mostly among Middle East-studying anthropologists / poli-scientists. One of whom responded —
hard to get really worked up about this — for one, it’s just really bad hip hop. I mean, really weak. I guess the question is whether was this a deliberate attempt to draw attention by a washed-up has-been, or just something the guy was having fun with and never considered the repercussions? From what little I’ve seen from Busta Rhymes on this, it looks like the latter (and the goofiness of the video would support that reading)… but if it’s the former, a calculated outrage, should we get outraged?
to which I replied —
I think [redacted] is right to suspect Busta of the “latter” rather than calculated outrage. His response has certainly seemed to affirm such an interpretation. And, yeah, it’s a pretty weak slice of hip-hop too (though has received a good amount of uptake on urban radio). At the same time, it’s not exactly an either/or question — what Busta has put together here is quite a piece of aestheticized ignorance, the same kind of ignorance that supports Manichean wars on terror and harassment of Arabs here in the US.
In what ways is this song similar to/different from valorizations of the Italian mafia in hip-hop?
to which, I responded with this —
Good question about comparing “Arab Money” to valorizations of the Italian mafia in hip-hop. I can think of a number of important differences, however — some aesthetic, some structural:
1) Italian-Americans long ago “became white” in this country, so the kind of “representational violence” done by a song full of cartoonish stereotypes has less power to demonize/dehumanize them than it does Arabs or Muslims at this rather fraught moment in history. (Of course, one could argue that the cartoonish stereotypes of “Arab Money” easily enough descend into absurdity, though I can’t say how common a mode of reception that actually is.)
2) Hip-hop’s valorizations of the mafia, mostly borrowed from Hollywood depictions, may similarly revel in stereotypes, but in the main they are positive, strong caricatures rather than the smorgasbord of references that Busta packs into “Arab Money,” many of which have to do with his own power to consume Middle Eastern commodities (“I got Middle East women and Middle East bread”). And sure, Busta’s point, as repeated in defensive interviews, is that — and we may or may not take offence — “Arabs” are good about working hard and saving and keeping money “in the family,” which may all be construed as positive values, but I think we can all see how this folds into some rather familiar Semitic stereotypes, while ignoring the very real poverty afflicting Arab societies.
3) The US has been waging war against Arab societies and harassing/surveilling Arab citizens. It’s been a while since we went to war with Italy and blanketly demonized Italian-Americans as mafiosos. (As an Italian-American myself, not to mention a lifelong hip-hop fan/practitioner/scholar, I’m something of a connoisseur of these Godfather/Goodfella images.)
any other opinions out there? (academic pedigree / Italian ancestry not required)
cool click-thru piece by ethnoid bill boyer on the ipod & ipod shuffle & capitalism, subjectivity, etc. etc. :: "As a recovering liberal individualist who once unquestioningly subscribed to the epistemological framework posited by a Western, visually constructed notion of subjectivity, I am wary of any activity that unknowingly contributes to the perpetuation of that framework as universal. In many ways the consumption of the iPod parallels my road trip, and I want to question the unreflexive relationship to technology and society that I see iPod users demonstrating in the streets and subways of New York City and elsewhere."
jamaica-born heavy D released a reggae album, and it's pretty good actually :: of course, i've known heavy could rock a reggae beat since he told us all, "me is a man not in a hurry / me like me chicken and me goat well curry"
a nice riff on this year's hate-it-or-love-it technology — "Autotune makes people angry because it threatens some of the myths we have about musicality: that itâ€™s a special talent, that only exceptional people have it and everyone else lacks it, that thereâ€™s something noble and admirable in the lifetime of discipline it requires. When Lil Wayne goes into a recording studio, smokes a blunt or three and freestyles a track off the top of his head, it calls our European-descended assumptions about romantic musical heroism into question."
as has been pointed out, this video is tres cool (and it's even cooler that the maker released the source code) :: what was striking to me tho, natch, is how jay reps the BK inna JA accent during the first verse — that sort of thing is pretty unremarkable at this point, which is, in its own right, remarkable
the story of the iron sheik :: 'An Iranian impersonating an Arab dressed as a Turk, he was part pirate, part djinn, all man. The WWF that Vaziri joined was in the midst of reinventing itself under the leadership of Vince McMahon Jr, wrestling's very own Hugh Hefner. Where professional wrestling had generally involved a patchwork affair of small-time regional clubs, each with its own stars and champions, McMahon imagined wrestling as a form of "sports entertainment," with a nationwide audience. The typical WWF storyline was not unlike a soap opera, with its share of jealousies, domestic abuse, and torturously elaborate yet clumsily choreographed narratives. Through its scripted performances, professional wrestling evoked the circus, the variety show, and the high-camp musical at once.'
i'm with jay smooth, the term 'hipster rap' signifies little, so i don't know what to call this — i think "new cool" says it pretty well actually (h/t harry allen, who’s officially agnostic on the hipster question) :: also, this is the second time today that i've landed @ complex & i gotta say that i like the steelo w/ these mixtapes as both DLable and imeemable
the inescapable comparison btwn Chinese Democracy and 808s & Heartbreak has rockists, popists, and pop-rockists alike all aflutter :: here sĂ±r reynolds weighs in wrt the foregrounded sound of tech in each, 'Most intriguingly, the records have something else in common: a sound that draws your attention to the technological artifice of recording. The difference is that "Chinese Democracy" is the victim of its means of production, whereas "808s & Heartbreak" turns the digital denaturing of sound into a positive aesthetic. Rose strives for majesty and produces a monstrosity, while West turns damaged sound into beauty.'
"How the RIAA is attempting to enforce exorbitant fines on one file sharer, and the efforts of one law professor to take them down. … David Weinberger interviews Charlie Nesson and Joel Tennenbaum about their lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America."