Friday morning. What a lovely series of rap video treats in my RSS feed. First up Joell Ortiz, one of the finest with a fantastic a capella.
Stalley and Curren$y with “Hammer and vogues.” I don’t love the silly sexist chorus on this tune, but the rest is pretty legitimate.
Fridays belong to Killa Kyleon. I’m feeling the black T and Raiders cap (a nod of respect for this NWA instro). Waiting patiently for T.R.I.L.L. from Killa K.
There is something wonderful about enjoying rap music these days. For every tune that covers the predictable territory (guns, sex, drugs), there is another song that references Jason Seigel, teenage mutant ninja turtles, and is essentially about self-doubt. If you don’t know Gerald Walker, now you know.
And of course, the news that Brother Ali went to jail to help #occupy a soon-to-be-repossessed home.
Props go out to Minneapolis artist Brother Ali for getting himself arrested a couple of weeks ago. No Ali wasn’t doing the Chris brown/ Drake number and tossing bottles in a club. He got arrested for standing up and helping Occupy a House that was scheduled to be foreclosed on by greedy bankers. That’s who we need to be tossing bottles at. bankers who have made record profits and yet still insist on fraudulently foreclosing on homes.
In this recent case, the Cruz family in Minneapolis attempted to make a payment online, which the bank refused. This triggered the bank to impose a two month fine, which the family couldn’t pay which then led to foreclosing proceedings. Such tactic are not unusual and in this particular case, lots of folks came out to help the family keep their home. One of them was Brother Ali who wound up being charged with trespassing when he refused to walk away and let the bankers keep the house.
I don’t have any particular expectations that an entertainment medium like rap music should be political.
All music speaks to the politics, ideology and identity of the forces that create them. In 2012 hip hop is a particular series of almost mockable ultra-capitalist tropes. It makes sense that right wing pundits would continue to amplify moral panic out of rap music because most of music and imagery is created to be increasingly outrageous.
The fun part is that twenty years of cultural saturation has shared the tools to make rap music with millions of young people. Quite a few of them grew up and made rap music. Some of them currently make excellent rap music.
The people who make rap music have a certain investment in the art form. Stalley’s new video “Live at Blossom’s” from the Savage Journey to the American Dream mixtape is a good example of the internal reflection about materialism, violence and sexism in hip hop.
Edward Said would call this kind of poetic monologue autocritical. To encourage the listener to layer their own political awareness against books, movies, videos, songs, and unpack the politics represented in the media artifact.
Killer Mike’s rant rap is always excellent. You can basically buy anything he has put out or download any of his mixtapes and you’ll get something quite entertaining from it. Here Killer Mike represents his deep seated loathing for the Reagan era in “Big Beast,” a horror movie/jacker/gore fest. Assists from Bun B, T.I. and El-P in this almost ten-minute mini-movie. Not safe for work.
You could argue that the cannibalism of T.I. and Killer Mike is a thinly veiled mockery of consumers of violent hip hop. David Banner makes those arguments explicit, calling out rap music in a particularly dramatic fashion. Enjoy “Malcolm X” for that critical perspective on hip hop.
Stalley released his savage journey to the american dream mixtape this weekend. No doubt, there will be juicy videos and promos with caustic imagery. But for now, just enjoy “Route 21,” a simple song about driving and, well, being.
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