The High Highs - Flowers Bloom
Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era
This is so incredible. The relationship between humans and music is incredible and instances like this remind me of its miraculousness. I am not well versed in evolutionary physiology so I don’t know whether our ability to connect to music has developed through the ages or was inherent from the beginning. But what I do know is that it undeniably exists. This video proved this notion further and made me teary.
Washed Out - Flower Anthem
Washed Out recently released this video to accompany their Daytrotter Session, featuring Feel It All Around, Amor Fati, and You’ll See It. The stripped down versions of their songs are just as magnificent as the original ones, almost taking on a new character.
"Man, if you’re gay we can be friends. If you’re straight, we can be friends…I really don’t give a fuck and I don’t think anyone should care about what another man’s preference is…As long as you’re a great person and, y’know, you don’t bother me and make me uncomfortable, then let’s be friends, dude."
"[Hip-hop] needs to stop being so close-minded because that will just cause the genre to fail. Look at pop. Pop doesn’t discriminate against people. Look at Lady Gaga, y’know what I mean? Who the fuck makes the rules for hip-hop? Who the fuck dictates who’s cool and who’s not?"
- A$AP Rocky talks to Spinner about homophobia within the hip-hop sphere.
I think it’s great that there is a growing rejection of homophobia within the new wave of hip hop. But I am still curious about whether there will ever be a rejection of misogyny…
OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS MUSIC CONSUMERS AND WHY SUPPORTING CHRIS BROWN MAKES NO SENSE
This topic has been widely written and argued about all across the buzzing hype universe of the Internet, but I feel like adding my own two cents to The Side Of All That Is Good And Right will be fulfilling.
My main concern is something I’ve talked about before on this blog, which is today’s evolving pop culture and the disgusting, unfortunate way it has of making horrible things acceptable. This sort of appropriation is one of the embodiments of moral decay that I’m seeing more and more with each passing year… (Twerking. Every Top 40 hit is about fucking. Etc.) More talented artists are acting in truly upsetting ways. Finding out that an artist you like is in some way a jerk is something I hate. But anyway-
Chris Brown is a smug little bastard. I’m not surprised that a stupid twerp with a load of money and an obscenely inflated ego went ahead and resorted to being violent with his girlfriend. Even once I got past the initial shock of exactly how badly Chris Brown beat Rihanna while driving, two things remain completely beyond me:
1. A significant portion of the public/music television viewers accept him- nay- SUPPORT him even still.
2. Even after constant arrogant responses when asked about the incident, Brown shows little to no perceivable remorse, and is still somehow given an unprecedented amount of airtime during the Grammys.
I won’t even get into the boiling pot of repulsiveness and sadness that is Brown’s emptyheaded female following. That is a whole realm of banter on misogyny and women’s roles that I could go on about another time. The point here is that I just keep shaking my head at television and computer screens, screaming in my head “HOW IS THIS ALL OKAY? WHEN DID THIS BECOME SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE?”
That is the problem. But as fans, followers, and supporters of music artists, we do have power. The Grammys are and probably always have been a tool of molding culture. Regardless, I think with the power to be vocal and informed that the Internet age gives us, we are capable of dictating what we want to see and hear. Accepting the moral rot that can sometimes result from the flux of pop culture is not unavoidable. I just hope everyone can open their eyes and realize this.
In some dark, impossibly crowded venue filled with a screaming, diverse crowd, 22 year old Brandon McCartney stands on stage in his usual garb- the tight tee, a multitude of tattoos, metal glinting across his top row of teeth. The crowd of hipsters, twenty-somethings of all ages and races, and your everyday eccentrics are here to witness the spectacle that is Lil B.
"Lil B regularly interrupts the performance to pass his mic to the crowd, who jokingly promise their loved ones as sexual sacrifices. He ‘knights’ them in return. He brags about wearing the same pants everyday. He signs iPhones. He plays the mic across his abdomen like it’s a jugband washboard and then consoles his less fit followers: ‘It’s okay if you don’t have abs.’ He also raps a little, but not as much or as loudly as the kids in the crowd do. Equal parts musical performance, surrealist comedy act, motivational speech, celebrity meet-and-greet and dance party- this is the warped reality of Lil B, a.k.a The Based God, hip-hop’s most eccentric, vulgar, prolific, endearing, and divisive new artist." (Source)
Even though I don’t exactly have Lil B on my iPod, I will say that rap music and pop culture are both some of my vices and favorite things to analyze in this blog. So, I can’t help writing about Lil B since he is something of a new wave hip-hop icon.
Rap music, to me, seems to be in a constant state of flux. Currently there has been a boom in the New Wave of hip-hop, a lot of it stemming from the Bay Area in Cali (Lil B himself, Kreayshawn), overall L.A scene (Odd Future), places like Detroit (Danny Brown, Black Milk, Big Sean), and even good old Harlem (thank god for Asap Rocky… listen to him).
Different as these acts are, the new wave has developed the ability to bridge the gaps between itself, steadily changing up the Top-40, “racks on racks on racks” style of rap that reigns today. Lil B turns up the controversy the most with his absurdity. He coined the term ‘SWAG’ that we all hear thrown around so much. He claims to have created the “Based genre”. He named his most recent album ‘I’m Gay’, you guys. Between the majority of a shocked audience, the others just didn’t know what to make of it. Upon death threats, hesitation from GLAAD, and being asked about the shenanigan, Lil B claimed he is hoping to be an "ally" of the gay community. Whether that is the truth or whether he is just on the self-promotion train is for all of us to judge ourselves (after all, the effort to curb homophobia is supposedly made but misogyny, for example, remains pervasive)
Lil B is also an example of a newborn generation of rappers whose fame derives from the internet- mostly the YouTube community. Speaking simply by technical musical standards, B’s music can easily be deemed awful and headache-inducing. But among the thriving cult following that are his fans, his material is an otherworldly arena of sonic mischief. His web grazing followers add to his persona as a holy rap icon. They see the Based movement as a non-mainstream club they’d like to be in on. Others though, continue to be confused and put off by B’s arrogance and insanity.
This is completely understandable. Not everyone is able to or feels like putting up with what is essentially mindlessness, vulgarity, and a complete stripping of previous doctrines of rap music. So why am I choosing to write about him? Because hip-hop has undergone cycles of changes throughout its existence. I have begun to believe that monotony is the adversary of rap music. Lil B is the paragon of the change that must occur after the scene gets stale. It may just be that whether we like Lil B doesn’t matter- he is the embodiment of rap’s fluctuation.
And I’m sorry Drake, but I’ve been bored for a while now…
“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often […] we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” - President John F. Kennedy
I can’t remember an artist who has ever qualified for such a vehement and vocal rebuke from Hipster twenty-somethings as Lana Del Rey. Following, a disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live, Del Rey’s it-girl status disintegrated. But neither that performance nor the all-around shoddy production that Born to Die turned out to be, can totally account for the seething fervor that this artist has elicited.
But I think I can.
“[the name] Lana Del Rey came from a series of managers and lawyers over the last 5 years who wanted a name that they thought better fit the sound of the music.”
Asked to react to this in the Pitchfork feature, Del Rey deflected and talked about Elvis. Confronted with other roadblocks to her authenticity—a working relationship with producer, David Kahne, having a successful father—Del Rey deftly slalomed and came off as an untapped virtuoso: naive but a virgin-no-more. In the cited interview, she told tales of trailer parks, church choirs and a Romance with the decay of Coney Island.
And we the Hipsters ate it all up. Her first shows sold out in days; before long, Sound Cloud was teaming with remixes and mashups.
We had found her: the creation myth incarnate. Upon arriving in civilization from the unadulterated noble savagery of lower-income Christian America, Del Rey osmosed. She impeccably curated blank walls with art, while leaving the lace-print contact paper stuck to the windows.
As the true tale of Del Rey’s past came to light—daughter of a successful investor, graduate of an expensive boarding school, product of the mainstream music business—the Hipster diaspora shuddered; twitter, blogs, comments, last.fm profiles: wiped clean of any indications of positive inclinations. But this virtuosity-exposed-as-trickery was not only disappointing but dangerous to the entire hipster self-conception. Del Rey, who had come to justify the idealized narrative of blank-slate to impeccable-yet-organic self-creation, had been exposed as a fraud. This is the stereotype of a Hipster: acting aloof, original and poor—all the while hyper-aware, carbon-copied and parent-subsidized.
All of us, whether we like it or not, are products of our upbringing and own deliberate choices. Sure, Born to Die is not a great album and the stories of Lizzie Grant and Lana Del Rey diverge. But this whole chapter is less about the trickery of a pop star and more about being blinded by and ultimately called out in our own half-told self-conceptions.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clear out my M. Ward shelf.
Bibio - Saint Christopher