Wednesday, August 26, 2009


A while back I posted about ghettoradio, an ngo who make mini documentaries on "ghetto culture" and host radio in different parts of Africa. They have a new piece called "The Ivory Tower vs. The Streets". Its a few interviews of mostly nairobi students about what it means to have a hiphop academia, their opinions of researchers, what research might look like, who can talk for hiphop, how involved do you have to be to write about a culture.

Again, I'm not a fan of the title and some of the assumptions in how its framed, and I still think 'ghetto' is a pretty poor description of urban africa or african hiphop - not only because it can be offensive but because of its limited applicability. That said, its def interesting and everyones making cool points. It also makes me stoked to visit fam there soon, any ideas on whats up around Nairobi or midwestern Kenya let me know. All three parts are below.


I also recently emailed folks @ Nomadic Wax about their new Democracy in Burundi mixtape. "The concept for the ‘Democracy in Burundi’ was born after journalist-turned-politician, Alexis Sinduhije, was illegally incarcerated in November 2008. In response, emcees from Nomadic Wax have collaborated with presidential hopeful Sinduhije’s political party, the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD), to present this mixtape."

Previously, they profiled hiphops influence in senegalese politics suggesting hiphop was a tool to demand / organize greater accountibility from Wade. This time, they are actively promoting a politician, which I was curious about:

what is the point of this mixtape? ... Do funds given to nomadic wax help suppport alexis financially? Is his mixtape something that will be spread around in burundi, actually used as part of his campaign?

Initially, the mixtape project was focused on gathering interest and focus on Alexis' imprisonment and the elections in Burundi. In addition, through using different rappers from across the continent, it was an effort to get youth (who make up large percentages of the population in most african countries) interested and involved, across border lines.

The project, as it moved forward, worked in helping achieve the first goal. Alexis was released. Since then, it has become a good tool for gathering both local and international interest in his campaign. No other campaigns have pan-african hip hop mixtapes in their campaign arsenal/toolkit. ... We translated the press release into swahili, french, and kirundi and those materials have been used on the ground in Burundi by the campaign (some thing we at nomadic wax aren't involved in).
As the mixtape is a free download, no money has been made off of it or will be made off of it. None of the artists were paid- they donated their time to the cause, as did the music producers, and the graphic designers, and the translators.

<a href="">Democracy in Burundi Mixtape by Nomadic Wax</a>

I don't really know enough about Burundi to comment on this. Kinda weird, but Nomadic Wax seem like good peoplez.


For lovers of floral prints, race/gender examinations and nyc art, youre in luck. Kehinde Wiley has a show 'Black Light' sept 3-26 @ grand street - check out the slideshow here. Yinka Shonibare's show just moved to Newark <3.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

c deuxième gaou ki est niata ohhahh

This is my fav track from a mix picked up in lil senegal, in the porn/luggage selling place across from africa kine. Its a little old school sounding, afrobeat meets zouglou with badass lyrics. I always thought it was interesting that Magic System considered themselves zouglou, despite being the biggest group involved in the popularization of Coupe-Decale. Their older work is clearly zouglou, tho it often blends, zouglou less choppy/dancey on the more lyrically driven side of things.

Magic System - Premiere Gaou

musings on place/space:

Magic System - Un Gaou a Paris

Yode et Siro - Quel est mon pays?

What do you thinkkkkk / Trolls & Baiting

blah, Im trying to hash a lot of things out here. As much as 'ghettotech' grows on me as a scene, it certainly involves a lot of reckoning, doesnt it?

I want to avoid a common attack theme tho, which often raise issues as 'gotcha' moments proving the supposed huge racism/sexism of those spoiled hipster kids.[here,here,etc] Hipster audiences might have complicated and jarring relations and our fair share of delusional bigots, but I'm not convinced its so much more complicated and fraught than race relations in America as a whole. It also ignores the mixed backgrounds, huges #s of PoCs, women amoung them.

Mad Decent in particular seem especially prone to this attack, in part becuase they seem most inclined to be pressing buttons and putting out outragous marketing. (and :.?) they are also the biggest and thus attract the most conversation/heat. Them & Radioclit certainly jar me the most.

I think there is certainly a difference between something snarky / cheeky / hitorical / self-referencial like these:

which highlight ideas of orientalism and audience and seem to draw the conversation out vs. take it to this level:

Which seems, at least to me & please tell me how you all feel, as just offensive, the only sort of convo i see coming out of it would be some old ish on 'irony'.

Mad Decents recentish post here shows they certainly feeling some hate. 'Pon the Floor's youtube has tons of comments, mostly in the range of - cool / WTF / disturbing / LOL / ugly bitches / crazy / gross / awesome. Confuzed people wondering : a joke? a parody of islanders? 'setting us back'? AIDS/Nggr comments!? One of those vids that attracts the worst of the internet..

I'm sort of surprised 'Pon de Floor' got it more than 'Hold the Line', in which 2 whitey + jewish guy make a vid of a macho black dude fighting vampires, having babes around his throne & saving them from switchbladed fat darker girl, inna space. All this makes me uncomfortable! and I'm certainly not the only one:

Comments @ Vimeo + Youtube
Comments @ TheFader
Comments @ Couch Sessions
Hipster Runofff
Passion of the Weiss Messageboards

I wanna try to link to as many convos on this as possible, feel free to add any...

A comment at mad decent states:

mad decent, you’ve played me for a fool. I followed the buzz for over a year now. downloaded the leaks. went to the shows. I bought the album with real cash money. I preordered that shit and hyped it just like I hyped every mix with diplo’s name on it since I first heard AEIOU, relaxed to Florida, and played the annie mac and essential mixes out.

My only question now: is the white vampire character our latest example of familiar and played hipster irony, or simply autobiography?

all this major lazer / racism talk distracts us from the misogyny of your project / record label / white boyz club.

yes, diplo, switch, et al. are carnivorous cultural tourists.

yes, major lazer is a perverse retro-futurist blackface project.

yes, ‘Pon De Floor’ video makes a all-too cartoonish and historically-entrenched spectacle of black sexuality and reproductive parts.

But are we surprised?

diplo, switch, et al. have made y’alls careers exploiting the creativity and musical genius of brown and black women (and children).

And the diplo jock-riders at fader and pitchfork have been too busy praising white male deejays while muting the sweat and brilliance of the brown and black women at the mike.

(Please revisit M.I.A.’s interview before Kala dropped.)

Face it, mad decent, you wouldn’t be shit if it weren’t for the sweat and talent of black and brown women. And how do you thank these females that made you so dope?

You shove camera up their skirts in Rio and call it a Documentary-on-Blast.

You plaster images of bare-breasted black women to promote your ‘Mid-Summer Bash’ a couple of weeks ago.

And you mask a blackface project behind anonymous black hype men and rump-shaking teenagers. Hipster gods diplo and switch lay in the cut at shows in three-piece suits like cowards, hiding behind homoerotic [?] cartoons of a muscular black Jamaican minstrel they spent their careers impersonating.

And now hipster gods diplo and switch are mum and out of sight, anonymous behind the pussy lips on an unsigned video that doesn’t even credit vbyz kartel. But why would he want his name on that garbage anyway? diplo and switch obviously don’t.

Forget the nonsense questioning whether it would be okay for a black or West Indian man to make this garbage. Black male artists have been catching hell for years, and rightfully so, for their misogyny. Ask Tricia Rose. Ask Patricia Hill Collins. Its also an insult to the West Indian dancehall culture you are trying to ‘spread,’ ‘praise,’ appropriate, digest, and regurgitate to say that it is essentially misogynist, authentically exploitative of women, women’s labor, and women’s bodies. And even if it were: this is your album, and it doesn’t belong to an amorphous foreign, exotic, and fictional ‘culture.’

Own your shit, mad decent. Take responsibility for your product.

I agree with some, certainly not all of the sentiment there. Its interesting b/c it seems exactly like the sort of comment they were aiming to get on that post. Esp when they post nonsense like this, proudly attaching this video.

Its as if
a. they really believe they are somehow responsible for crazy dancehall videos shown on TV.
b. its a good thing that a clearly creepy 'look at this shocking behavior' video is representing daggering & "our main dude Skeritt Boy" throws a large table at some young woman. Like they see themselves as heroes in some grand controversy.

And thats where i get frustrated. Because it seems like 'trying to stir up controversy' clouds out 'trying to stir up a conversation'.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

(iridescent lilac)

I was shopping for nailpolish online @ sephora at 2am (shut up) when I came across THIS product labeling.

This made my brain a little explody:

* Its crazy how much sense the colors make. Of course reggaeton is copper, bellydancing a plummier purple while discos a bit brighter. Of course hip-hop is electric hot pink (what other color would it be?), tecktonik is a day-glowier hip lighter pink shade. Of course zouk is cloudless sky tropical aqua, pop is shiny tangerine. Genres as aesthetics, brands, easily recognizable, lifestyles, the tribes we fall into, with even our own entire color schemes.

* Sephora is hipper than I thought or Nuwhirled is hipper than I thought. Actually, Sephora is French, so its a color palatte of whats maybe cool to listen to in Paris? Granted theres no like, cumbia colored nail polish, but still. I'm curious if this is exactly aimed at hipsterish girl fucks like me who get a kick out of zouk nail polish or diaspora chicas. Whose $$ talks?

* Errr, I actually like the colors of the genres of music I like more. My favorite colors are not just my favorite colors, but the product of some giant marketing scheme aimed exactly at me and my assumed intrests and experiences. Geez, I had no idea i was that obvious.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Butts and Accordians

I'm happy to see funana filtering onto everyones radars, it almost makes up for your non-zouk loving-ness, you heartless souls. Funana featured recently on Uproot Andy's new mix and got a full out assortment by Radioclit. It makes sense, as cumbia surprised me in its popularity, introducing err 'folkier' sounds to a fast beat loving scene. So funana with its hyper accordians seems a natural "new genre" to embrace, opened up as well by new connections made to the lusosphere with funana's popularity in Angola & Senegal.

Whats cool is that the hipster pattern is moving pretty much in line with diaspora intrests. At least in the francophone world bloggery, ive seen increasing intrest and mention of funana, from messageboards to kaysha. My guess This is due as well to lusosphere love and kuduru crossing borders, but probably more so from its proximity in sound and dance to zouks enourmous global popularity.

It all begins to feel full circle, as funana looks and feels like one of the folkier genres embraced so far. Of course, our understanding of folk should have been one of the ways we imagine these genres, as wayne raises so elequently here. What is global ghettotech is also folk music, although its bleeps and beats distracted me. I certainly don't know enough about funk carioca to make a point there. I'm not sure how it applies to my understanding of zouk or coupe-decale, genres so multi-country and globally consumed I'm less inclined to see it as folk, although I'm sure one could make an argument. I'm curious if i'm more inclined to see local-er genres like funana or mbalax as folk b/c of how they sound and feel to me vs. how they function.

So full circles. What seemed to me a grab for globalized tech as hipsters got bored of freakfolk, or white-ish underground rap, or whatever y'all listened to, seems more nuanced, like ears are bigger now after hipster mad global dashes. from freak folk to freak folk. cept this time its happier. cuz its the recession. and we need butts and accordians.

ps. can we discuss packaging like this at some point?