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<nettime> the strange mess of paul's global hip-hop eulogy digest [butt,
nettime's_gang on Sat, 11 Jan 2003 22:19:37 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> the strange mess of paul's global hip-hop eulogy digest [butt, townsend, mcgee]


Danny Butt <db {AT} dannybutt.net>
     Re: <nettime> Paul's story & hip-hop digest
Keith Townsend Obadike <keith {AT} blacknetart.com>
     the strange mess of hip-hop and global culture
Art McGee <amcgee {AT} freeshell.org>
     Re: A Eulogy to Hip Hop

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Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 17:20:30 +1300
Subject: Re: <nettime> Paul's story & hip-hop digest
From: Danny Butt <db {AT} dannybutt.net>

I think Paul's anecdote highlights a couple of key issues in this discussion
and its relevance for nettime generally.

The first is about perspective on the object of discussion, and the
disconnect between theory and practice. While I agree with Coco's focus on
the importance of racialised commodification in the mainstreaming of
hip-hop, I would question her assertion that it is the best way of
describing the *proliferation and diversification* of contemporary hip-hop,
or that commodification is necessarily emblematic of hip-hop culture at a
production level in the way that Bennu suggested.

As Paul notes and many other posters have implied, hip-hop is a grass-roots
phenomenon. From my perspective, Paul's anecdote indicates the limitations
of textual analysis of products and/or trying to assert particular
capitalist dynamics across the culture as a whole. Some level of insider
perspective is needed to understand and affect the dynamics and politics of
production, and I would suggest that some level of overall accountability to
those maintaining the culture is needed for anyone trying to shift it.
(Again, Bennu's piece basically says "I'm not prepared to be accountable to
hip-hop anymore". To which hip-hop can only say, "Uh, OK, thanks for coming"
and continue on its merry way.)

[FWIW, my own participation in the culture is primarily as a supervisor of
students working in the field and organiser of events - my own musical
practice lies in other areas... so a particular perspective quite different
from those DJing, emceeing, breaking or writing.]

The second is about the continuing importance of race in contemporary
politics, which (like gender) is an experiential reality whose political
dimensions exceed discourses about equality, noborders, class politics or
solidarity. Coco pointed out last year how nettime rarely deals with issues
of race and how this limits its ability to adequately engage large parts of
the non-white world (if I am summarising correctly here). There seems to be
a tendency, particularly among groups dominated by white guys, to think of
identity politics as something that happened in US universities during the
late 80s and we don't need to think about it any more. Yet the reader's
letters on the hilarious http://blackpeopleloveus.com site that elnor
forwarded vividly illustrate the continuing power and importance of racial
politics. I think of the important things about the proliferation of
hip-hop, and one of the main reasons I listen to and support it, is that its
political content is integrated with a narrative form that is explicitly
experiential and concrete, which in my view is precisely what tactical media
is about. So I think anyone interested in the politics of contemporary
culture can learn a lot from hip-hop.

[Armond White touches on both these themes when he suggests that hip-hop is
not racially exclusive but ethnically and culturally specific (a point I
think Paul's story illustrates well). This is a key issue in understanding
the difference between (say) Eminem/Marky Mark (or locally in NZ, P-Money)
and Vanilla Ice or other manufactured white rappers. While the industry
combs the clubs looking for a "Feminem", the ideology of "authenticity" and
"skillz" that marks hip-hop makes manufacture of a new star a particularly
tough challenge for major label producers. It also shows how an abstract
sense of how racial "logics" become disoriented and somewhat deconstructed -
though never diminished - through the *actual* participation of various
racial groups in the culture.]

Also, on the issues of hip-hop and the academy, a good article in the
Village Voice:

Foucault's Turntable
Hip-Hop Scholars Bumrush the Academy

http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0302/hsu.php

Choice quote from Todd Boyd:

"This sort of competition has always informed black culture; let's bring it
to the academy. Take the best and the brightest‹ Cornel West, Skip Gates,
Noam Chomsky ‹ take 'em all, give 'em a mic, put 'em on a stage, and let's
go at it. I guarantee you that when the conversation is over, people will be
thinking and talking about Doctor Boyd. Like Nas, all I need is one mic."

Best,

Danny

-- 
http://www.dannybutt.net

Paul D. Miller wrote on 10/1/03 5:37 AM:

> communications down...you know how it goes...  Coco - your points in your
 <...>

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Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 03:49:05 -0800 (PST)
From: Keith Townsend Obadike <keith {AT} blacknetart.com>
Subject: the strange mess of hip-hop and global culture

"I tend to think of everything in terms of
blurs, and don't necessarily see any distinction
between race, class, social hierarchy, and sound as a
signifier and emblem of how culture functions in the
age of cybernetic replication."  Paul Miller


Paul,


I think that the fluid, anachronistic and hybrid
nature of hip-hop music is the essential beauty of the
form. But questions of who appropriated/created what
sound when and for what purpose is how we understand
the meaning of a sound. I would argue that in fact too
many people tend to "think in blurs." Take what
Maroussia Lévesque says

"Hip hop is not about being black or latino and
working class."


Perhaps an inability on the part of some to see the
distinctions between constructs like race and class
and trace their specific histories and the histories
of the sounds associated with them is what is at issue
in some of the misreadings of Pierre Bennu’s piece.
While race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and
political orientation obviously intersect in many
interesting ways in music, it is precisely the work of
teasing out these intersections that allows us to get
at what is at stake in cultural production, marketing
and consumption.

Keith Obadike

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Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 12:01:50 +0000 (UTC)
From: Art McGee <amcgee {AT} freeshell.org>
Subject: Re: A Eulogy to Hip Hop

---------- Forwarded message ----------
date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 16:31:04 EST
from: ericaqueens {AT} aol.com
subject: Censorship of Black Music On New York Airwaves

National Leadership Alliance
593 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11238

Press Release

January 7, 2003

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Maxine Hunter, 212-862-9120, Sistas' Place, 718-398-1766

Public Hearing Set To Expose Censorship of Black Music On
New York Airwaves

Bob Law, of the National Leadership Alliance announced today
that on Tuesday, January 14th, 2003, Chuck D of the rap
group Public Enemy, R&B stars Ray Goodman and Brown, and
Gerald Alston are among the Rappers, R&B and Pop Music stars
who will appear before a Community Tribunal charging that
New York radio stations, as well as BET and MTV, are
deliberately censoring Black Music by refusing to play music
that they say is too Black, not raw enough, too positive, or
that the performers are too old!

To date, a growing number of Rap Artists, as well as R&B and
Pop Music stars, are lining up to appear before a panel of
City Council members, Educators and Ministers, to expose a
record industry practice and a radio programming policy that
literally forces performers to do lurid, negative, and even
violent lyrics, or have their music ignored by New York, as
well as national program directors.

"This policy has a devastating effect on the Black community
that goes well beyond the selling of music," says Law, whose
National Leadership Alliance, along with the December 12th
Movement & The Code Foundation, are the driving forces
behind the community tribunal. "We are dealing with people,
Law continues, who have decided to own our intellectual
property, and thereby control the ideas that inform and
influence so many in our community, particularly Black
Youth."

Many of the city's Black organizations have been asked to
send representatives to the hearing to learn first hand why
there is so much negativity on the airwaves.

The public hearing is set for:

Tuesday, January 14, 2003 -- 6:00pm
Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church
126th Street & Madison Avenue
Harlem, New York, USA

-30-

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