Archive for August, 2008

Doggystyle forms a feminist

August 29, 2008

Latoya Peterson has a brilliant guest post this week over at Feministe about feminism, misogyny, and hip hop. She writes:

“Stupid,” he taunted me from across the room. “You need to stop looking all dumb and learn to start acting like a girl. You need to look like this!”

He walked over, and shoved the CD cover in my face.

Yes, the infamous Doggystyle cover.

The implication – that I was to emulate the sexualized bitch (literally!) depicted on the cover, reduced to a pair of shapely haunches for the pleasure of the males in my surrounding area – made me shake with disgust. To this day, I have never listened to Doggystyle in full, nor have I allowed a copy of the CD to stay in my line of sight.

Sometimes I wonder how different I would be today if my parents hadn’t shielded me so from pop culture images. (Really, I probably hadn’t ever seen that Doggystyle cover until a couple of years ago.)



August 21, 2008

Interesting stuff today over at the Pretty Much Amazing! blog. I’m not ready to say that any of this is “pretty much amazing,” but did think it was worth pointing out:

  1. You can download “Golden Age,” a preview track from TV On the Radio’s Dear Science, which comes out on September 23. It took me a few listens to get to this point, but I do like it!
  2. Check out a Vampire Weekend cover of “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac. (You probably won’t particularly enjoy it unless you’re already a Vampire Weekend fan.)
  3. I’m not as crazy about this band, but there’s one song from Bloc Party’s new album too.

New record label in post-Katrina New Orleans

August 14, 2008

I was reading the latest issue of GOOD Magazine, and came across the story of Kim Roberts, a resident of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward who lived through Hurricane Katrina. She had happened to buy an old video camera off the street one week before the hurricane hit; so she recorded her experiences surviving the storm. Now, her footage is going to be part of a documentary called Trouble the Water, which opens next week in New York and L.A.

Before Katrina, Kim was an aspiring rap artist. Since, she has started her own record company called Born Hustler Records and put out an album under the name Black Kold Madina. Her music (and her developing rap career) are also included in the documentary. Click here to check out Born Hustler Records and Black Kold Madina.

As the anniversary of Katrina is coming up, I’ll be sure to post more soon about some of the musical linkages.

M.I.A., DeLon, and the Tamil Tigers

August 8, 2008

I heard from Sepia Mutiny’s post about M.I.A. getting “dissed” by DeLon, a new rapper of Sri Lankan descent. DeLon took M.I.A.’s most popular song, “Paper Planes,” called out her politics and support of the Tamil Tigers, and shows the “terrorist” side of that group. (You can see the disturbing video here.)

I don’t know enough about the situation in Sri Lanka to really make judgments. But DeLon’s video bothered me because he is employing exactly the same strategy that the Bush administration does: creating a dichotomy of good and evil, and using the word “terrorist” like it’s not subjective.

That said, I have always been a bit skeptical of M.I.A’s politics. Is she just projecting an irresistible (lucrative) image, or is she actually doing anything? When I went to her show at McCarren Pool in June, it made me a bit uncomfortable to be dancing around with a bunch of hipsters in Brooklyn while she has images of children from developing countries flashing across the back of the stage as her visual aids.

That’s part of the brilliance of M.I.A.’s whole persona. Her music, and the visual effects in her shows, and even her voice, are so flashy and noisy and chaotic. But I mean that in the best way possible. She seems to represent our generation of media-saturated, globalized, de-sensitized minds. And she is somehow able to shout over all the noise.

After the show, I was filled with energy for at least 24 hours. But it wasn’t noisy and aimless energy, like the energy the concert seemed to evoke. It was productive and creative and even peaceful energy; I remember I felt like writing all day after waking up the next morning. And that could be one small example of how art can make a difference. Of course she’s not going to change the plight of poor people by singing about it to a bunch of hipsters. But I do think there was something remarkable about that energy.

Going back to the “diss” I was initially talking about: It seems obvious that DeLon is doing this as a publicity stunt too. I guess that’s kind of the point of both politics and the music industry, though.

Maybe they can make peace and do a song together?

Does anyone still listen to the radio?

August 7, 2008

I hope the answer is yes.

I’m looking for more good, independent radio stations. The only ones I listen to are:

What are some others?

(Since most have playlists and even live streaming online nowadays, I guess it doesn’t matter where they’re based!)

What I’ve been listening to this week:

August 5, 2008

Invincible – Shapeshifters – Invincible is a female MC from the Detroit area. “Sledgehammer!” and “Deuce / Ypsi” are my favorite songs so far.

K’naan – The Dusty Foot Philosopher – K’naan is like a more folksy, rootsy Eminem from Somalia. So far I like “Smile,” “Soobax,” and “What’s Hardcore?”

M.I.A. – Arular and Kala – I just haven’t been able to get enough of M.I.A. in the past several months. I have several favorite songs, but I’ll mention “Galang,” “Fire, Fire,” “Bird Flu,” and “Amazon.”

My summer anthem: the Mister Softee song

August 4, 2008

Ever since moving to NYC, I’ve had the Mister Softee ice cream truck song stuck in my head. The trucks are only around for a few months of the year, but they’re so omnipresent during the summer (and that song is so damn repetitive and loud) that I find myself singing it even in the middle of winter. Apparently it drove Mayor Bloomberg nuts; and Michael Hearst disliked it so much that he composed 13 original songs that he thinks the trucks should play instead. (Doesn’t Track 1, aptly named “Ice Cream!”, sound like it could be a Sufjan Stevens song?) The Mister Softee song used to drive me nuts too, but this year—my third summer here—I think I’ve started to embrace it.

So I was pretty excited to find out today that the sheet music and lyrics are on the Mister Softee website. I didn’t even know it had lyrics. It’s my lucky day!

If you can’t sing and play it yourself, here’s a video of some guy singing it. (He says he’s Mister Softee himself, but I thought Mister Softee was the ugly cone-head man.)

If copyrights allowed it, I bet the Mister Softee tune—mixed with a hot beat—would make the perfect backdrop for a catchy NYC hip hop anthem. It pretty much already is playing in the background of everything I do, though, so I guess it wouldn’t make too much of a difference.