The Root's ?uestlove on the invisibilizing of Black culture... "...you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against?" [more inside]
December 4th, 1928, in a New Orleans park: two boys dance while another plays a homemade drum kit.
"Barely a week goes by without some old white man castigating the yoof of today on the shallowness/stupidity/etc. of their taste in music, art and culture in general. It’s a narrative as old as culture itself — adults throwing up their hands in despair because Kids These Days just don’t get it." But, contrarily, "there’s a subset of music criticism these days that seems to view the taste and aesthetic of teens (and teenage girls, in particular) as weirdly sacred. It’s a sort of creepy offshoot of poptimism, one that starts from an unrealistically monolithic view of teen culture — not all teens like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, after all — and is, in its own way, as deeply patronizing as claiming from on high that teens have no taste." -- Flavorwire's Tom Hawking on Critical Assumptions about Teen Culture.
Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" appeared in Esquire Magazine in April 1966. Sinatra had turned down interview requests from Esquire for years and refused to be interviewed for the profile. Rather than give up, Talese spent the three months following and observing the man and interviewing any members of his entourage who were willing to speak -- and the final story was published without Sinatra's cooperation or blessing. In 2003, editors pronounced it the best article the magazine had ever published. Nieman Storyboard interviewed Talese last month about the piece and has annotated it with his comments. [more inside]
The Trans 100 is a list curated by We Happy Trans based on nominations of 100 key trans people breaking ground in American culture, arts, social justice, and politics. [more inside]
A treasure trove of Brazil from the conflict between Natives and farmers to Music inspired by the bandit Lampião.
Discover writers (with a metafilter hat tip); Scary Lullabies e muito mais.
Discover writers (with a metafilter hat tip); Scary Lullabies e muito mais.
No Doubt (mostly Gwen) are certainly not new to the world of pissing people off by appropriating their culture. Now Native Americans have taken issue with No Doubt's latest video, the band has apologized and pulled the offending clip. Native American writers such as Lisa Charleyboy lay out their issues with the depiction.
"...it should be made clear that Tehran in the ’70s was not an equivalent to New Orleans, Chicago or Detroit. There was no funk haven per se, but within the Iranian pop world some tracks did appear, and those records are a rare treasure trove for funk aficionados." — Searching for Iran’s lost funk [more inside]
Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
Nick Cave's Soundsuits: Calling up echoes of wild beasts, Carnival dancers, maskers and shamans, the "soundsuits" made of a wild diversity of materials by visual artist and dancer Nick Cave have life beyond the gallery. They're designed to be used in performances and 'invasions,' creating a sense of mystery, playfulness and joyful moments of community.
"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."
Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
A girl upon the shore did ask a favour of the sea;For nearly 20 years, Newfoundland group Great Big Sea have been creating acoustic Celtic folk-rock covers and interpretations of traditional Newfoundland and Labrador sea shanties, folk, fishing and party songs, which draw from the island's rich 500-year-old multicultural (Irish, English, Scottish and French) heritage. [more inside]
"Return my blue eyed sailor boy safely back to me.
Forgive me if I ask too much, I will not ask for more,
but I shall weep until he sleeps safe upon the shore."
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
The Atlantic explores whether Michael Jackson's contributions, like those of other black artists, are minimized because of his skin color.
A decade after the death of renowned folklorist Alan Lomax, his vision of a "global jukebox" is being realized: his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February. NYT article here.
This is a story of a young man named Chotu Lohar* from a small nondescript village in one of the poorest states of India. He dropped out of school to work in the iron mines. Music on a radio was the only entertainment available in his house but last year he came to national notice on a reality show called Dance India Dance - where although his untutored enthusiasm and energy captured attention - he was unable to make the cut. His passion, on the other hand, caught the interest** of the show's producers who took him under their wing and a year later, he's just made the shortlist for this year's show. [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
Beyond Digital is a collaborative project between eight members who have come together to explore the culture and music of Morocco, which is often poorly represented online to the world at large, thus "beyond digital." The team put together a 9 minute "behind-the-scenes" look at their work, or you skip the preview and jump into their YouTube channel, articles on The Fader, and more on their website. Highlights: a collection of Moroccan percussion loops, a photo essay on Morocco's changing culture, and a collaboration between Moroccan musician Hassan Wargui (Imanaren) and Nettle, a "band project" by DJ/rupture. [more inside]
American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music is a currently traveling Smithsonian exhibition exploring the wide range of Latino artists and influences which have shaped American pop music genres since WWII, from Alice Bag to Flaco Jimenez to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Joan Baez. The website is rich with maps, interviews, videos, and music samples.
Quincy Jones sat in the Tenafly, New Jersey den of 16-year-old vocal student Lesley Gore, playing demo after demo, looking for the right song to cut for her first record. Out of over 200 tapes, Jones and Gore had moved only one to the "maybe" pile, and so that song, It's My Party, was recorded on March 30, 1963 in a Manhattan studio. After the session Mercury president Irving Green warned Gore not to get her hopes up, but Gore gratefully told him that it had been a great experience anyway, and it was okay if he didn't want to release it. However, later that evening Jones learned that Phil Spector had just recorded "It's My Party" for The Crystals, so Jones rushed back to the studio to press 100 test copies of the single and immediately mailed them to key radio stations across the country. [more inside]
Yuja Wang (official site / wikipedia) is a 24-year old, Chinese virtuoso classical pianist who became an overnight sensation in 2007 when she filled in after piano legend Martha Argerich, cancelled a performance with the Boston symphony. Since then, Ms. Wang has become a superstar in her own right, hailed by critics for her precise, passionate performances and lightning-fast technique. But after a recent appearance on-stage in a short red dress and high heels led to a critic's complaint about her outfit, others are now weighing in on whether it is appropriate for a female classical musician to wear revealing clothing. [more inside]
Part 3 of the Everything is a Remix video series has been released, by New York filmmaker Kirby Ferguson. Previously on MeFi. See the entire series on Vimeo: Parts One, Two and Three. (YouTube versions and transcripts inside.) Official Site. [more inside]
Scene and heard: Electro champeta | Champeta.net | I came across this dream collection of picós pictures on Africolombia's blog. Picós are these huge, powerful, customized, hand painted, highly fetishized sound systems from the Colombian Carribean Coast (Barranquilla, Cartagena, Palenque de San Basilio...). | Sound Systems, World Beat, and Diasporan Identity in Cartagena, Colombia [pdf] | Techno Tribal guarachero | Bonus cool link: Brazilian Dual Mix Dance Free Step. [more inside]
HUH. Magazine is a media platform with the latest, most relevant news from the worlds of art, fashion, design, music and film. Recent features include: Harvest by Haroshi: Skate and Destroy, artworks created with old worn, or snapped, skateboard decks | Disassembly, capturing relics of our past in a unique, dismantled and exposed form | Murakami at Versailles, knee-deep in controversy since its inception | and Darren's Great Big Camera, a short documentary about a camera that shoots on 14" x 36" negatives and measures 6ft. in length.
The AV Club feature Gateways to Geekery is all about the best places to start on some of pop culture's most complex and nuanced artists and genres, including Randy Newman, The Who, Monty Python, steampunk, Sherlock Holmes and 90 others. [more inside]
Born in the border city of Tijuana, Nortec is an audio and visual style that digitally alters the local music and images to make something unique. The sound of Nortec takes the acoustic sounds of norteño (sample) and banda (sample), cut up and re-arranged into something new, with influences from electronic music broadcast by San Diego radio stations. Before too long, the Nortec sound would leak back north, and create divergent paths. More sounds and stories below the break. [more inside]
Blues Houseparty is a fun, entertaining and highly recommended 57 minute documentary that takes us into a Virginia houseparty of 1989, where the assembled Piedmont blues and gospel musicians and their friends pick guitars, sing, dance and engagingly reminisce on the houseparties of old. Amidst hearty laughs, barbecue and general good times, the guests recount personal memories of fun and rowdiness, corn liquor, 500-pound hogs, the devil's music and the Lord's music. There's a whole lot of cultural history on display here, a slice of black American life that is all but gone now. The mood is infectious, to say the least, and the music just keeps getting better and better throughout the film. The next best thing to being there!
The Congolese Sape is a photoessay by Héctor Mediaville on Sapeurs, a male subculture in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is defined by its haute couture clothes. Blogger Eccentric Yoruba wrote a post for steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana on Sapeurs which was crossposted to Racialicious detailing the history of the movement and linking it to dandyism in general and explaining its political significance in the 70s, when it was championed by music legend Papa Wemba (live footage from the 90s and 70s).
Pen and Pixel are well known for the outlandish covers they created for Southern rap labels Rap-A-Lot and No Limit. It's been about 12 years since their heyday, so people are now looking back at the artistry present under the surface of these covers. [more inside]
I maintain that only an encyclopedic-archaeological turn can save an aging person's attachment to popular culture from descending into ridiculousness. Against Eighties Music by Justin E.H. Smith
New Orleans Bounce music is here. But, it's always been here, in the projects (nsfw), on the streets (gratuitous).
The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. You may know them from such projects as How to build a fake Google Street View car, public domain donor stickers, internet famous class, the first rap video to end with a download source code link, or their numerous firefox add-ons (such as China Channel, Tourettes Machine, or Back to the future). FAT members have been hard at work standardizing various open source graffiti-related software packages, including Graffiti Analysis, Laser Tag, Fat Tag Deluxe and EyeWriter [previously] to be GML (Graffiti Markup Language) compliant. Fuck Google. Fuck Twitter. FuckFlickr. Fuck SXSW. Fuck 3D. FAT Lab is Kanye shades for the open source movement.
A future history of the CD revival. In response to a piece on cassette culture (previously), music writer Tom Ewing reports from the 2020s' revival of interest in the compact disc format, and the interplays between hazy memories of growing up in the '00s, reaction against networked "social playlists", and a fetishisation of both the "glossy, uneasy sheen" of the CD sound and the constraints in working with physical artefacts.
Weaponizing Mozart - "How Britain is using classical music as a form of social control".
Veteran Australian pop satirist New Waver, best known for covers of pop songs rewritten from a pessimistically neo-Darwinian point of view, has a new album out. Titled Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody, it looks at the subjects of gentrification, the explosion of revivalist styles in "hip" music, contemporary white-collar culture, the ideology of the "creative class" in the post-industrial age and the resulting oversupply of cultural products, through the medium of cover songs and musical montage. The album is free for dowloading from New Waver's web site; there is a more detailed explanation here, and a video for the song "Hey Dude" (which explains the dynamics of gentrification through the medium of a Beatles cover) here.
You dig this Canto para Shango? Well then, you might want to peruse more of the Cuban folkloric and popular music and dance on offer at Boogalu Productions. Check out the top video on their YouTube channel for a dizzying display of the varieties of musical expression emanating from today's Cuba.
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans premieres Thursday, January 29 on PBS. Faubourg Tremé is considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Trailer for Faubourg Tremé
Corey Arcangel is perhaps the internet's most infamous hack, masher-upper, digi/net artist. His work stands for a growing culture of artists who run wildly through animated GIF landscapes populated with corrupted data-compressed bunny rabbits and tinny, MIDI renditions of Savage Garden ballads. As the Lisson Gallery, London, opens its archives to Arcangel's curatorial eye, could digi/net art be set to infect the real, fleshy world, like a rampant Conficker Worm? Has YouTube become the truest reflection of our anthropological selves? Are we destined to roam the int3erw£bs like the mythic beasts of yore, hoping, in time, that digi art can free us from the confines of this fleshy void? [...previously]
Michael Jackson penned and recorded lots of songs, many of which remain unreleased. Perhaps the most infamous, and rarest recording, is his version of Behind the Mask. Legend has it that upon hearing Yellow Magic Orchestra's original track, somewhen around 1979, Quincy Jones fell in love with the track, and he and Michael worked together on their own version. Jackson wrote new lyrics for it - adding to those of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Chris Mosdell - and eventually recorded it during his Off The Wall sessions. For unknown reasons the track never made the final cut of, arguably, Jones' and Jackson's greatest work. Not long afterwards Greg Phillinganes, Jackson's keyboard player, released his own version of the song, which was later taken up and re-recorded by Eric Clapton for his 1986, Phil Collins produced album, August. The track has since been recorded/remixed by Human League, Senor Coconut, Orbital and others. Does an original Jones/Jackson recording of the song even exist? Perhaps, as the world continues to mourn the star's sad death, someone will finally allow us a listen.
Brad Elterman's gallery of (mostly) celebrity photos from the 1970s, including Robert Plant, Matt Dillon, and the tale of Jackie O and the tape. Some shots may be NSFW. [via]
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