Archive for the 'music' Category

Who are the Young Lords?

Apparently we are supposed to believe that there are now two answers to that question. One of those answers is really pissing me off this morning. I’ll let you guess which one.

members of the Young Lords

Answer #1:
The Young Lords Party, also known as the Young Lords Organization, was a primarily stateside-based Puerto Rican organization dedicated to liberation, independence, and justice for Puerto Ricans both in the States and on the island and for all oppressed people. They were inspired by and worked parallel to organizations like the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, and the American Indian Movement. Like those organizations, they were targeted by COINTELPRO and the other powers that be which, along with internal conflict and political shifts, lead to the organization’s disintegration in the mid-1970s. They continue to remain an important, revolutionary and inspirational movement for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos living in the United States. You can find out more about the Young Lords at Palante.org and YoungLords.info.

Members of the paler, apolitical Young Lords

Answer #2:
The Young Lords are some white guys who decided to form an indie rock band in NYC a few years ago and apparently couldn’t be bothered to find out whether they were ripping off the name of an entire political movement that most certainly does not belong to them. One might argue that words are words and no one can claim to own the name “Young Lords,” but how would it look if some white dudes decided to name their band the Black Panthers? That would probably be less likely to happen since more people know about the Black Panthers, but come on, people – we live in the age of Google (which, sadly, now has the MySpace page for this stupid band ranked above pages about the actual Young Lords in search results.) It is tremendously easy to look things up. I can’t help but think that they probably did look it up before they took up the name themselves and just didn’t give a fuck, but even if they could claim the innocence of ignorance then, I’m sure that one of them has Googled their band name since. For a band whose bio claims that their “sound pays homage to the past,” they’re displaying a remarkable amount of ahistoricity, ignorance and disrespect.

So fuck Answer #2 and their unremarkable music. In the end, they’ll likely just be another of a long string of interchangeable white bands, and Answer #1 will be the only one that actually still matters.

Puerto Rico en mi corazon

SieteNueve to Daddy Yankee: “Quedate Callao!”

Y’all might’ve caught wind of how Daddy Yankee took a real pendejo turn in endorsing John McCain for president. That was an annoying “WTF?!?” moment for me, but not terribly heartbreaking; sure, I’ve enjoyed breaking it down on the dancefloor to “Gasolina” and “Rompe,” but I never really looked to Daddy Yankee for political fulfillment or anything like that. So I’m not going to shed any tears over this, though I am probably gonna take his songs out of my house party wannabe iTunes DJ lineup and maybe replace him with some Calle 13 or something (check out “Querido FBI” and “Pal’ Norte” for some of their politics.)

Well, today my friend and fellow blogger Cyborg Yoryie clued me in to an awesome response to Daddy Yankee, this from Puerto Rican rapper SieteNueve. Not only is this an awesome response politically, but it’s also a hot track and serves as my introduction to another awesome politically conscious Puerto Rican hip hop artist. You can download the track for free at SieteNueve’s MySpace page.

ETA: “Quedate Callao!” translates to “Stay quiet!” or “Stay shut up!” Here I’d like to think it translates more forcefully to STFU…

i <3 radiohead

Jon Hicks' cover art

(cover art by Jon Hicks)

Radiohead has been one of my favorite bands since I first adopted “Paranoid Android*” as my anthem of teenage angst back in 1997. But with In Rainbows, they’ve gone and outdone themselves, at least in my esteem. (I have this sneaking suspicion that the phrase “outdone themselves” usually has a negative connotation, but I’m certainly feeling completely positive about them.) Not only have they put out an album that looks to be very good (though I’m still not convinced it beats OK Computer or Hail To The Thief), but they’ve also chosen to distribute it themselves, over the internet, for whatever price one deems fit. Including no price at all. Really. I paid $13 myself, thinking it worth at least the cost of an iTunes album, plus a little more to show my love. I can’t find the article, but I did read about one person who paid a whopping 100 euros for it – guess he has more love and/or cash for them than I do! Anyhow, I paid my 9 euros and change, got the confirmation, downloaded, and have been enjoying it since.

Radiohead’s bold move definitely pleased the anti-big-business, anti-RIAA, open source loving and tech geek in me. They did so even if they didn’t exactly mean to make some huge statement; this is what guitarist Johnny Greenwood had to say about the band’s motivations for releasing the record in this manner:

Just getting it out quickly. It was kind of an experiment as well; we were just doing it for ourselves and that was all. People are making a big thing about it being against the industry or trying to change things for people but it’s really not what motivated us to do it. It’s more about feeling like it was right for us and feeling bored of what we were doing before.

It’s just interesting to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth now. I thought it was an interesting thing to ask people to do and compare it to whatever else in their lives they value or don’t value.

Fittingly, there’s some open source cover art creation going on over at Jon Hicks’ blog, as the official cover art has not yet been released. The cover art up top is Jon’s design.

* To listen to OGG files (and play just about any other audio or video file you can find), get the open source, totally free VLC player.

Congress jumps on the hip-hop scolding bandwagon

In today’s news: the House of Representative held a hearing titled “From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images.”

I love hip-hop, yet I see the flaws in some of the music and culture, especially the corporately approved and pushed brand of hip-hop music and culture that dominates the scene. As a queer woman of color, there’s plenty of times when I’m nodding my head or dancing to a good beat only to find myself cringing at some sexist or homophobic lyrics.

But singling out hip-hop for scolding like this in a congressional hearing? Ridiculous. First off, while some hip-hop artists might be particularly direct in voicing their sexism and homophobia through their lyrics, hip-hop is certainly not the only offender when it comes to such things. Pop culture and entertainment is riddled with sexism, homophobia, transphobia and racism. Maybe it’s not as blatant as “the ‘B,’ ‘H’ and ‘N’ words,” as the AP article lists them, but it’s most certainly there. I don’t think I could watch TV for half an hour without seeing at least a few instances of such things, and I don’t think that subtlety or, say, being packaged as cheesy, harmless sitcom jokes makes oppressive imagery any less harmful or negative. Gentler, kinder isms are still isms, and may perhaps do more harm than the blatant stuff because, for most people, it’s totally acceptable, nothing to bat an eye at. Hip-hop though? Apparently a whole congressional session is needed to talk about dynamics that play out in every facet of American culture, just dished out by less convenient whipping boys.

Also – doesn’t Congress have anything better to do than wring their hands over hip-hop? If they’re so concerned about sexism and racism and violence, why are they worrying over symptoms instead of trying to deal with root causes and systemic injustice? Actually, it’s rather shrewd of them to make a big show over things like this while allowing the factors contributing to these larger, systemic problems to continue unhindered. As rapper and producer Levell Crump said during the hearings, “change the situation in [his] neighborhood and maybe [he'll] get better … If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities.”

Then there’s the title of and inspiration for the hearing. From the article:

”From Imus to Industry: The business of stereotypes and degrading images” was the title of the hearing, referring to former radio host Don Imus, who lost his job after making derogatory comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. The Imus incident has sparked debate within the music industry about black artists using offensive, misogynist and violent language.

This is what’s pissed me off about much of the reaction to the Imus incident. Virulent white asshole says something sexist and racist, and … Black artists come under fire? Folks start hollering for the banning of the n-word in Black communities? What is this, some twisted version of that anti-drugs commercial from the 80s, but this time with white folks saying “I learned it by watching you on BET!” when they spout the same racist and sexist bullshit that white people themselves came up with in the first place? PLEASE. This reminded me of an excellent Democracy Now! interview with Michael Eric Dyson that aired during the Imus brouhaha, during which he was asked to respond to the NAACP’s funeral for the n-word:

I think that there are many more issues that the NAACP should be focused on: structural inequality, social injustice, this war in Iraq, the imperial presidency, which has subverted the democracy of the country… I don’t think Don Imus can blame hip-hop for his problems. First of all, the demonization of black women is much older than Snoop Dogg. This is a history in America that is racist, that sees black women as oversexed, because they had to deal with the oversexed organs of their black men.

Word. It’s just incredibly frustrating to watch Congress spending time on something like this when white culture and the white power structure is riddled with prejudice and discrimination that has done and continues to do far more material damage than hip-hop ever could.

so long, s-k.

sleater-kinney

Sleater-Kinney is my favorite band. (Which I’m sure comes as a major shock to people who seem to think that I hate all white folks and all things white.) And, after eleven years, it seems like they’re breaking up.

This is a sad, sad day, my friends.

Of course, I slacked on getting my tickets to the NYC show and I totally missed out. I actually tried to buy tickets a few weeks ago, but the damned TicketWeb website wasn’t working. Fuckers! I did, however, manage to get tickets to the Philly show, so even though the trip will be a bit of a pain in the ass, I’ll be seeing them. I’ll also probably try to get on line outside of the NYC show hours early with the slim hope that, somehow, a few tickets might free up. It could happen.

If anyone has any spare tickets for the NYC show that they’d like to sell (at a reasonable price) to me, I’d be a very happy brown butch.