In college, I had some very negative associations with the music of NWA, as I was being schooled about sexism and homophobia by people who helped me grow up. I had some antagonists down the hall in my dorm who blasted NWA and Eazy-E, and musical tastes set people apart a bit more then than now. I remember clearly freaking out about the first Gulf War, which shifted from Desert Shield to Desert Storm just a day or two after my second semester of college started in January 1991. I have vague recollections of the Rodney King tape on the news in the lounge down the hall – March 3, 1991.
It’s 25 years, 5 months, and 9 days since Rodney King was beaten by police. It took watching Straight Outta Compton tonight for me to really understand the gravity of those numbers.
And still, we need #blacklivesmatter . Still, we have reports weekly of police overreach and worse. Still, people can’t, won’t, or don’t admit that these problems exist. And now, we see those who want power fanning these flames because a race war is a known factor, but a class war would upend their system. Is it 2016 or 1956 or 1864?
“Son, do you know what I’m stopping you for?”
“‘Cause I’m young, and I’m black, and my hat’s real low?”
So I want to know – you guys from Darrow Hall who blasted NWA – are you still down with Ice Cube and E? And from the late 1990s – all you guys who blasted Rage Against the Machine – still got a bullet in your head? How is it people can hear the passion in those lyrics every day for years and yet still we’re here, now, 25 years later?
“Fuck Tha Police”
“Some of those that run Forces are the same that burn crosses.
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.”
These aren’t idle threats or glorifications of violence – they’re calls to action. They’re depictions – though abstractions – of perceptions of reality that I can’t really get my head around because they will never. happen. to. me. They’re Picasso’s Guernica. They’re To Kill a Mockingbird. They’re The Bluest Eye. They’re “The Star Spangled Banner.” Don’t Tread on Me, indeed. Anybody seen Abraham, Martin, or John? How about Freddie, Jamar, and Sandra?
How can we backslide this far? Sadly, I’m actually more afraid that it’s not a backslide – we just never made the progress I thought we made.
So… she finally made it to the States, but this is something of a surprise. The amount of Korean is nice. The posturing is almost camp, though – so I’m not sure how seriously it’ll be taken. It feels very foreign, still – and very produced/constructed. (“Hello Bitches” was produced by K-Pop cornerstone TEDDY in a style reminiscent of Lex Luger.)
I’m wondering where this is headed. The video is directed and produced by Parris Goebel, which is interesting and kind of cool. The song has almost 7 million listens on Spotify as of today, and charted on Spotify at number 1 for awhile. The song currently has a 5 star average rating from 285 users on iTunes. Her American debut album will be produced by Scooter Braun.
K-PopStarz lavishes the praise on a bit heavily.
New album due soon… but how soon?
For free on SoundCloud:
Cruskin is a band from France that I learned about through an unsolicited message on Last.fm. They’re interesting, but maybe not interesting enough? I’m not sure. They do a pretty straight cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries, and Sabrina does a pretty impressive Dolores O’Riordan impression… in fact, much of their music sounds a bit like if Dolores were singing for, say, Kill Hannah.
The cover reminds me of the Ataris cover of “Boys of Summer” – pretty straight-ahead, increased tempo, a bit of an attitude, but not enough to alienate people who know the original.
I think their logo is in a bad font. I’m interested, and will keep an eye open for more of their stuff.
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I was staying with my grandparents and watching MTV when I first encountered a song that stuck with me and confused me. It was probably 1982, and the song was still charting. “1999” confounded me because I’d never seen a band as diverse; I’d never seen a band have 3 singers; and I’d never encountered such an eclectic image within a single unit.
I probably became a Prince fan that day, but it was a seed that took awhile to germinate. By the time Purple Rain dominated the airwaves, though, I was one of the faithful. I got the vinyl soundtrack album for either Christmas or my birthday. I got the vinyl of 1999 shortly thereafter. I bought the purple vinyl single of “Purple Rain” and encountered the first song I hid from my parents – the B-side to “Let’s Go Crazy,” the thoroughly decadent and scandalous “Erotic City.” I think I bought that record on a Sunday after church, so it was especially corrupt… though I had already encountered “Lady Cab Driver” and “Little Red Corvette.”
The library brought me Prince’s other albums, and though punk rock, metal, industrial, and the like distracted me during the late 80s and early 90s, I knew Prince was the epitome of what it meant to be a rock star. I knew he could shred. I knew he was a poet. I knew he was a musical genius who played all the instruments and instinctively found the groove and never looked back.
When David Bowie passed away earlier this year, I couldn’t truly relate to all the people who registered a sense of loss. I didn’t feel that way about Bowie – my own interest in his music wavering between absolute love for “Under Pressure” (mostly because of my appreciation for Queen from the time I could walk) to annoyance at some of the poppier moments of his 80’s ouvre, to a perplexed interest in the potential behind Tin Machine. I understood, though, that he meant something to many of my friends, and I sympathized with their mourning.
Last week, I understood what they felt.
Prince was Bowie to me. Prince was transgression made flesh. He was exactly NOT Catholic in 1983. His masculinity wasn’t aggro, wasn’t wholesome, wasn’t white, but was transgressive. Prince was funk when all I had had was Motown and AM radio. Prince was rock when all I had had was Doo-Wop and pop. Prince was sex when all I understood was that it was bad to do certain things, or even to talk about them. Prince redefined spirituality and faith, because he could be bad and sexy and transgressive and still sing about “the afterworld – a world of never-ending happiness” and write a song called “God.”
When I learned, later, that Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “The Glamorous Life” and “When You Were Mine,” I started to really understand the scope of his songwriting genius. When I finally got to see him on the 2004ever tour, it was one of the most gratifying moments of my life, even in the nosebleed seats.
Prince’s untimely passing struck me in the gut. It took days of seeing posts and sharing links and videos on Facebook and watching tributes for it to start to sink in. Finally, two or three days later, I was able to cry. I was crying for me, really – Prince doesn’t need my tears.
“I guess he’s better off than he was before,
A whole lot better off than the fools he left here”
Just watched this documentary about the earliest days of The Descendents, their evolution into one of my favorite bands ever – ALL! – the return of Milo, the ever-changing line-up, and the life of Bill Stevenson (drummer for both bands and Black Flag, producer of albums by Rise Against and others).
Check out the site for the movie: Filmage
or watch it online:
FADER has an article on CL from 2NE1 and her move to crossover into American pop/hip-hop. She’s fortunate that she’s quadrilingual and that English is one of those languages. It doesn’t hurt to be friends with Skrillex, Diplo, and will.i.am, either.
Let’s hope she’s got something exciting with that challenging song that her production team hates…