Saturday, May 26, 2007

hip-hop as dance music

A few ideas I've been kicking around as I study for an exam on the relationship between IP and creativity ..

My program has a field exam that you design yourself, so I built a little reading list and worked on some questions, and here I am writing about it which is part of studying. no it is, actually, because the exam is me explaining the key ideas on these issues, and I found myself wanting to practice explaining. But I will give more backstory here than I would in an exam.

I was invited to join the Writers Block, with hip-hop academic luminaries (I feel quite the satellite, or comet maybe).

I'm honored to have been invited to participate, and after reading and talking a bit with people in the scene, I've started to wonder: who is talking about hip-hop as dance music?

Being mostly an instrumentals-focused dj myself, and a dj who focusing on dancing, I'm interested in this.. where is meaning, when people are dancing? because it seems like most of the attention on hip-hop is on the MCs, and on sort of professionalized dancing like b-boying/b-girling.. but what about the fact that hip-hop is the default party music in the US? is that not considered what hip-hop is about?

why is that?

It's important. Most of the hip-hop scholarship I've read focuses on authors - on vocalists and producers. And on trying to define almost anything valuable in hip-hop as "legitimate" authorship. This (authorship/originality) is is the way you need to frame yourself if you want to claim copyright ownership - but how much does it really describe what's important about the experience of the music?

I think we need to look at the whole social environment of music, which includes the people sometimes called the "audience." Again, I'll put forward: the difference between "audience" and "artist" or between "reception" and "production" is a difference that's drawn partly in order to gain status, to parcel out rights. I don't think it's a coincidence that that is how copyright works - by assigning rights mostly based on which category you fit into.

fans, dancers, audiences - these folks make the music as much as the folks called "artists." I don't just mean that someone we see in a club dancing madly may go home and make music inspired by that experience later. Although that is certainly true and important. While artists obviously love other people's music and draw on it. Again, true and important.

But beyond that, the experience of dancing madly to hip-hop (or whatever) is part of what creates the music as it is experienced, and what gives it value and meaning. If fostering musical creativity is important (what (c) law people often care about), or if understanding what hip-hop is about is important, then fans, audiences, the so-called "receivers" need to get their due attention here.

The distinction between "author" and "consumer" is only interesting in terms of what it can get you in our current system. Culture is socially produced and all the elements are necessary. So the "audience" for hiphop, including dancers, and the way hip-hop works on, in and for the body, should not be left out of our story or our analysis.

Monday, May 21, 2007

a seriously amazing musical week

so, yeah. Pretty much every night from Wednesday to Saturday is incredible music.

it's Kush Arora's record release party at Surya Dub on Saturday night. Come on out and celebrate the beginning of summer! We have amazing guests upstairs and down, plenty of space for dancing.

Juakali is a hell of a vocalist, great energy and great vibe. And I've been listening to Badawi for nigh on 10 years.. ho lee moly I am happy to have two places to check out his sounds... Surya Dub will be for the dancing crew! come on out and show support. We 've had a bit of bad timing with Coachella and other big festivals that have made the crowds smaller (although still enthusiastic) recently, and we want to start out the summer with a bangarang

Earlier in the week we're super super lucky to have two nights withe Kode9 . Man, I am so excited about this. He is simply one of the most interesting producers associated with dubstep, and a heck of an entertainer as well.

Wednesday: Pole, Kode9 and Kid Kameleon

Thursday: Kode9 and Badawi

Both of these at a secret location in SF, check the websites on the day of for info, or prepay for tickets and have the info emailed to you on the day of.

these shows are small small, and emphasis is on the sound quality. $12 presale, $15 on the door, but really worth it.

And then Friday, Pinch and Distance dubsteppers extraordinaire at some place called Jelly's.

Good thing I've got a field exam next Monday. I'll be out at one of these and eating my heart out for the rest.

Friday, May 11, 2007

good stuff

Well, I finished what was hopefully my last law exam, ever, yesterday. And that's what kept me from posting about the "Is There Liberation After Hip-Hop" panel and after-party on Tuesday night.

The panel was A-Mazing:
Jeff Chang, Total Chaos editor
Jerry Quickley, performance poet
Malkia Cyril, director of Youth Media Council
Troy Nkrumah, chair of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention
Rosa Clemente, hip-hop activist
Moderated by: Davey D of Hard Knock Radio (94.1 FM KPFA)

I was particularly impressed with Malkia Cyril's breaking down of the role of the market in shaping hip-hop the same way it does the news, and discussing hip-hop as a medium, not a movement, but a medium that can be used to inspire a movement, and can be used by a movement to further its aims.

Rosa Clemente was powerful as well. When she talked about her view of hip-hop nowadays as essentially a black man's game, for black men's empowerment and voice, and that she was okay with that so long as people didn't try to pretend otherwise "and if you want to make it something more than that, we can talk" it was a refreshing thing to hear. Although somewhat separate from the idea of how empowerment and voice are defined (which she and everyone else also questioned in some interesting ways).

The questions from the audience afterwards... well not as thrilling as they could be. A few nice ones, a few "look at me!" type questions. But overall very very high quality of discussion going on.

Ad the after party was chill, but nice. I was distracted a little by the looming law exam I had to take the following morning. So I mostly chilled with DJ Tomas and the Wiretap crew. And some friends came out who were great to see. I played all the "other" music since folks were repping classic hip-hop and soul for the most part. My crates aren't deep enough to have classics in those genres that everyone else isn't going to have. But I felt sure that most people hadn't heard Mapaputsi and Maga Bo and Filastine and Funkstorung and Disrupt and hey-o-hansen and well I played some Neptunes instrumentals and other sounds from near and far. I think it went well.

Nice vibes at the Guerilla Cafe yesterday evening as well. thanks to all who dropped by..
An all-vinyl set, this time, of rocksteady (how can two years have produced so much good music), ska and dub. highlights were, Ken Boothe singing "Ain't No Sunshine" and The Fabulous Paragons singing "When the Lights are Low" and Tommy McCook and his band doing "Caltone Special." Man, that's some great sounds.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

ripley in the Writers Block- Tues. night in SF

the Writers Block is not the part of the prison I'll be in when they come to take radical bloggers away, no indeed! It's a cadre of djs-writers in the Bay Area that include Davey D, Jeff Chang, and other author/djs.

I'm still waiting for my first piece (on research as surveillance in ethnomusicology) to come out, but I've been invited to take part in the gig and in the Writers Block. All this despite my protests after the Chron article about my not "being hiphop" or "living hiphop" - that said I will mix it up with some hip-hop while pushing the boundaries as I so love to do.

The event will have us alongside DJ Tomas and other luminaries, like Dj Mei-Lwun who produced the best mashup of the past 5 years.

the event is the after-party for a panel discussion on Hip-Hop: the discussion is at the Yerba Buena Center and the party is at the Otis Lounge.

The panel:

It's been nearly three years since the first National Hip-Hop Political Convention was convened in Newark, New Jersey. The purpose: create a national hip hop agenda for political change. But in the wake of 9-11 and the Bush Administration's "War Without End," does hip-hop really have the power to create change on the civic and federal level?

A Free forum on Hip-Hop Politics featuring:

Jeff Chang, Total Chaos editor
Jerry Quickley, performance poet
Malkia Cyril, director of Youth Media Council
Troy Nkrumah, chair of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention
Rosa Clemente, hip-hop activist
Moderated by: Davey D of Hard Knock Radio (94.1 FM KPFA)

FREE Forum Discussion :::
Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street at 3rd Street, San Francisco
Plus, FREE Reception after

Meet the Total Chaos and the Hip Hop Theatre Festival crew, as WireTap
Magazine and Media Alliance welcomes them to the Bay Area with a FREE

DJ Mei-lwun
DJ Tomas

+ Writers Bloc DJs
Weyland Southon
Adam Mansbach
Tuesday, May 8, 9 p.m. to Midnight
OTIS, 25 Maiden Lane at Kearny Street, San Francisco

Hip Hop Theater Festival in the Bay Area May 8-20

Total Chaos:

WireTap Magazine:

Media Alliance: