I'ma rob me a person...
- Illinoise: I bought this Sufjan Steven’s CD “Illinoise” this weekend because I heard “Chicago” on the radio a few times and I fucking love it. This dude kills. Cop that shit.
- Wayne: One Year Down, Eternity to go!: The wonderful blogger Wayne from wayne&wax celebrated his One Year Wedding Anniversary recently, proving himself to be much more than just
- Reef Review: In a fit of extreme journalistic immorality, my dude Drew Lazor/Trapper Juan wrote a nice review of Reef’s new record, saying nice things about Reef and complimenting my beats. Thanks, dude. Sorry for publicly exposing your lack of journalistic integrity and/or ethics, but somebody’s gotta watch the watch-dog!
- White Tizzle and Bizzle: White T’s and Belts was hella fun. Bo, Dan, and I did our thing (on woodgrain turntables no less) and the place was packed even though it was raining like a muuuug. Thanks to urryone that came out. You can see some early night pics here, but it’s worth reiterating that they were EARLY. Bkellz took these pics before 12:15 and shit didn’t get poppin’ until 12:30 or so. Come next time, you folls!
- Pornography Task Force: Well, the FBI’s newly created
- Ed Wade: Speaking of “valuing the wrong things,” Phillies GM for 8 years Ed Wade has FINALLY been canned. Philly’s “Premier Radio Sports Talk Personality” Howard Eskin seems to think that Wade’s firing was in no small part due to something like 1/3 of the season ticket holders writing letters to Dave Montgomery saying that they would not be purchase season tickets next year if Wade returned while countless other non-season ticket purchasers wrote similar letters expressing their disdain. I applaud the fans’ desire to make their voices heard, but why is it that folks are more willing to write a letter to get a GM of a baseball team fired, but would never sit down and write a letter to a congressman about something that might actually AFFECT them. Of course, I’m greatly simplifying the dynamics of what it means to be “human” with this brief rant, but it’s still slightly frustrating. Oh well. Go buy some Eskin fur from the King of Bling.
- Derrida Loves Dipset: On a messageboard recently, I was asked to elaborate when I said “I still think Dipset... is much more political than someone like Talib Kweli will ever be.” Well, here’s my verbose explication in my famous small font that Aaron loves:
The whole “Dipset is more political than some anonymous conscious rapper” idea I support is based on the simple fact that I don’t think that it’s really all that possible to be political in content anymore and that one can only be successfully “political” in “form” and/or performance. There are several reasons why I feel this way. First of all, I’m not convinced people pay much attention to “content” nor do I think people learn very much from “content.” As far as conscious hip-hop goes, folks like Mos Def and Talib Kweli are relatively effectless (and hence “apolitical”) because their whole existence as “conscious” is based on their content—it’s based on what they rap about, not at all about how they rap. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that in anyway and, to be sure, I actually like quite a bit of each of their stuff. But, that being said, I don’t think anyone who listens to Mos Def and Kweli were really that affected by the “messages” in their song. After all, look at the barrage of “conscious” songs we heard before the last election? Eminem’s “Mosh,” Jada’s “Why,” Sage Francis and his whole catalog of anti-Bush songs, not to mention the Dixie Chicks, Green Day (who’s Anti-Bush album won a motherfucking Grammy for God’s sake), etc, etc. And, what was the sum-total of all this “conscious” stuff? All this “political” art? Bush wins by a larger margin then before.
I tend to think that most people that gravitate towards conscious rappers aren’t compelled to do so in some way nor are they particularly convinced by their messages; they are simply listening to stuff they agree with, and patting themselves on the back for agreeing with this shit. Again, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but if the point of conscious rap is “revolution” or “social change,” then I think folks like Mos Def and Kweli need to re-evaluate their approach if they want to make some sort of lasting change.
The thing about the Dips is that they truly are “a movement.” Of course, they don’t appear to be rapping about anything especially provocative and even voice some pretty reprehensible homophobic and misogynistic notions, but they’ve really found a way to attract a large listenership through being unequivocally likable. I think Cam’ron and Juelz Santana are really the two reasons people like the Dips (Jim Jones and Freeky and even JR Writer are just side-acts that happen to compliment King-Cam and Prince-Santana pretty well, but I don’t think anybody would be paying much attention to the rest of the Dips if they didn’t come with the approval of Cam and Juelz) and, while people probably like them for a variety of different reasons, I think there are certain things they do in their music that we can all agree are extremely likable and effective.
For all intents and purposes, Cam basically invented that rhyming a word with the same word shit that is all but overdone at this point. That rhyming a word with the same word/homonym thing is basically why I came up with the “Derrida loves Dipset” shirt. I really have no idea if Derrida would actually like Dipset (somehow however, I doubt it), but I do think that some of the things that Cam and Juelz do with language perform some Derridean notions by drawing attention to the complicated and “free interplay” of signifiers and signifieds (what better way to call attention to the arbitrary nature and structure-less structure of language than to use the same words over and over again to mean vastly different things? i.e. JR Writer’s “I ran with coppers/You ran with the coppers/ Platinum, while your ass ran with the copper”). Of course, I don’t honestly think that most of Harlem likes Cam because he’s a clever performance of Derridean concepts nor do I think Cam is aware of Derrida’s existence (while I wouldn’t be surprised if he was), but the fact remains that there’s something sort’ve exciting and fun about hearing these dudes spit this somewhat ridiculous, clever word-play shit with such a confident swagger (and that excitement and fun itself performs Derrida’s faith in the deconstructive spirit. While lots of people criticized deconstruction and the poststructuralists [and, in turn, postmodernity] as something that tragically de-centered everything, leaving it baseless, folks like Derrida and Jameson give you a feeling of excitement about the possibilities and potentialities of this baseless, groundless, and fundamentally structure-less world). Anyway, I’m getting a bit off track here, but the point is that the Dips are exciting, fun, and creative music and I think they’re single-handedly responsible for showing a lot of people (me included) that mainstream rap isn’t as simple and shitty as us underground dorks thought.
The Dips successfully introduced a new way of looking at mainstream rap music. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the blogosphere recently went Dipset crazy. I think there was something undeniably likable about the Dipset swagger and performance that attracted a lot of folks that were previously pretty anti-mainstream rap. But, Dipset’s greatest achievement was introducing a whole new set of aesthetic standards to people that weren’t aware of these standards. It was like “Holy shit! I like this! Maybe I [i]shouldn’t[/u], but fuck it! I do!” and with that realization came some basic questions and some re-evaluating. There was something in the Dip swagger and performance that really changed the way a lot of (probably mostly white) people looked at rap music and what’s so remarkable about it is that the Dips did it on their own terms, without comprising themselves, but by bringing the listener over to their side.
I remember reading a review quote on the back of Don DeLillo’s “Underworld” where the writer of the review was praising the book. He said something along the lines of the following: “This book is a great book, and all great books teach you how to read them as you are reading it.” This is how I feel about Dipset. They didn’t have to get Jon Brion to play on their albums, nor did they have to rap about “conscious” stuff to get white people to listen—they simply rapped and did so in such a provocative, fun, and interesting way that it simultaneously taught their listener that what they were doing was good.
I don’t doubt that some of this is a time & place sort’ve thing where this type of aesthetic transformation/acceptance was bound to happen sooner or later (i.e. if it weren’t the Dips, eventually someone like Young Jeezy would’ve come along and done something similar), but, as you will undoubtedly read in any biography of any great revolutionary figure that they too were only as successful as their time & place allowed them to be.
Anyway, I’m kinda rambling now, but the point is, I think Dipset is great because they transformed a whole lot of folks aesthetic standards instead of transforming their own in order to market themselves to a larger audience or something. The Dips did what they do in an uncompromising, unapologetic manner and wound up teaching a whole lot of white folks out there the main lesson of rap music: that the “how” (form/style/performance) is greater than the “what” (content/intent/message). That’s way more political than Mos Def and Talib Kweli and the like have ever been… and likely will ever be.