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<nettime> re: Bennu's piece
Mendi Obadike on Wed, 8 Jan 2003 22:37:32 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> re: Bennu's piece

Greetings all. I've never posted here before, but do read from time to time. I
appreciate all the discussion on Pierre Bennu's piece. I want to add that it's
important to realize that Bennu is not just writing as a former listener of
hip-hop or not even just as an artist,  as a filmmaker - painter - DJ (all of
which he is), but as a black man of that generation which is sometimes called
the hip-hop generation. Perhaps because he and Jamyla Bennu are my friends and
I have both danced to Pierre's mixes in public and sat on his floor and
listening to his albums, I know that, whatever he may feel about "hip-hop" (as
a signifier) he is also a lover of hip-hop (as a collection of aesthetic
forms). But I think I also know these things because I can read the signs. 

Sure, you could say "ho hum, your generation is over" or "what is this essay
supposed to do but be a minority perspective" if you believe that hip-hop is
just some songs some people like and some people don't. But "Fuck Hip-hop"
isn't just a way of saying "I don't like the kids' music anymore" or "What
happened to the good old days?" I understand it as a way of voicing the
frustrations of the many many many living breathing black artist-intellectuals
who desire to speak through the forms which, in addition to being in some ways
aesthetically attractive to us, define us in the eyes of so many AND of
refusing to get caught by a stray bullet. But maybe I am presuming to speak for
him, which I probably shouldn't do. 

Speaking for myself, I know I want control over my own representation. I want
hip-hop but I don't want hip-hop. So what, right? But it's not just a question
of what I like, it's also what gets associated with me or with my people's
music. "The consumption of racialized spectacle," as Coco Fusco wrote,  "often
functions as a substitute for [interpersonal or inter-group race relations]"
and that has real impact on our lives and the reading our or work. It's
important to realize that some of us are just listening to the music we like
and some of us had better duck when an industry head decides to make an image
in the medium because whatever happens in it is read on our bodies and our art.
At many turns, I find it hard to (all at once) distance myself from what is
hurtful about the way many industry players (of different races, in all
positions) are playing (with) hip-hop, love my self fiercely and loudly, make
art that is influenced by the other art I find attractive, and allow myself to
be represented by forms that, while still moving, are often and perhaps
inextricably woven with ideas which are against me. But as a woman I am allowed
less authority with which to represent hip-hop and therefore carry less of the
burden of the violence and wastefulness which hip-hop has come to represent in
the media. I haven't always needed to articulate my distance from hip-hop in
the way Bennu and other black men in my generation do because not all of what
is thrust upon them is thrust upon me.   I'll end by saying that I read the
statement as a claim to power, a rejection of what hates us, and an affirmation
of Bennu's selfhood. But saying "Fuck Hip-Hop" is not a dismissal of the music,
it is the impassioned goodbye of one who, loving the sinking ship, nevertheless
chooses to swim.  

 nettime-l-digest <owner-nettime-l-digest {AT} bbs.thing.net> wrote: 

However I still think Bennu's piece did not display contemporary familiarity
with the field he was talking about, and this limits its uses for critique.
(I'm not saying he doesn't have that familiarity, but it's not much in
evidence in the article). I'm really not sure how Bennu's article is
supposed to do anything other than reflect a certain feeling that a
well-defined minority of hip-hop listeners will hold. (I guess that makes it
hip-hop in the sense that I can see all that groups heads nodding - "yeah,
damn right!" :). But I don't think it's going to change the minds of anyone.
As much for methodology as content, I'd prefer someone like Oliver Wang's
take. He supports true hip-hop as critically as any other journalist out
there (even venturing into areas like Spin to do it), rather than running it
down.  check it out y'all if yr interested... (his mixtapes are also sweet)

. . .

     Carl Guderian <carlg {AT} vermilion-sands.com>                                       

If Bennu's had it with hip-hop, then good. The sooner intellectuals write off
hip-hop, the better. Then it can be itself, for better or worse.

(occasionally DJ REX84)

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