Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Munchi turns down $50,000 from Azealia Banks/Diplo/Interscope on principle

Edited to add one thing (for all the new visitors). Hi. This is a personal blog. I wrote this up quickly because I thought Munchi's actions were worthy of note and signal boosting, and I wanted to list a few interesting things about it. If you want examples of more formal writing you can look here (Viewpoint Magazine on music and radical politics), here (in Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts article on copyright and free jazz improvisation), here (A post for DC public interest IP lobbying group Public Knowledge on Odetta and folk traditions). For examples of other blogs by people who mix scholarship/musicianship/activism/art/ try Wayne, DeniseAram, AliLuis, Anne, the crunkfeministcollective.

The dance music producer Munchi, who is a Dominican-Dutch producer born and raised in Rotterdam, was collaborating with Azealia Banks/Diplo on some tracks. However,  it looks like someone in that team repeatedly leaked his tracks even after he asked them not to. This means that they repeatedly included his work without his permission and publicized his name on things without asking him first. For the an upcoming video of his track Esta Noche featuring Banks, when he publicly reminded them he hadn't consented to their using the song, they eventually offered him $50,000 to use the track, which was double what they had originally offered. He turned it down.

His summary of the situation:
"What is childish is the fact that I got disrespected 11 times in total and still they thought it was ok to just give me a sum of money for my integrity. You get buyed off for their disrespect and call it a day. Each time they told me something and put out something that was not discussed. In the end trying to blame me for something she put up in error by stating that this release could not be out today since I think she is in the Illuminati. I had to do this after the great amount of patience I've shown. The Interscope problem solver dude was actually pretty cool, I never talked to Azealia or her management, every time they would get me in contact with someone higher in Interscope. This is Interscope we are talking about. What's up with this bitchshit. I am supposed to say "Oh, I'll have to accept Azealia's behaviour since she is an artist and can do whatever she wants." Not happening. The reason why I did not reply to any of the Tweets is simple: I cannot blame the crowd for their ignorance in this situation. 1 thing that you do have to know is that I will always try to be straigt up and be real with it. I tried, but got disrespected every single time."
 Photo by Corinne Haxton
While I may not use the same language as Munchi, I respect the essence of  his response. I don't know if the disrespect is coming from Banks or Diplo or some combination of them, but it's not often we see someone turn down that kind of money publicly, on principle. That alone deserves a signal boost - with all the tv shows and stories we see of people who are so desperate they will do anything for money it's nice to see someone turning it down.

Looking at the comments on the hiphopdx article, some of the most depressing criticisms of Munchi are that he is a nobody and thus he should just shut up and be thankful to take the money. This argument is pretty sad: so, less famous people deserve to be disrespected by famous people and should be grateful if they get a check afterwards? Money outweighs insults --and that the insulter, or some bystander gets to decide the rate? These comments announce a pretty sad world-view from the commenter, including a pretty low image of themselves, if they see themselves as less-famous people too. If I were them I'd be embarrassed.

On the issue of fame, Munchi is a big name in some electronic dance music circles (including many of the awesome ones that I like to hang out/play with) although I don't think he makes a ton of money. But he has the kind of indie/underground cred that Diplo has made a career out of collaborating with/exploiting. So Munchi's music was a smart choice for Banks, whoever made the link. It really does look like business as usual with respect to Diplo, since it's a pattern he's engaged with many times before. If so, even with all his money (Blackberry sponsorship,  label support, etc), he apparently still can't afford to respect less famous (less rich, less white) artists on their own terms. Or doesn't care to. Or else it's Banks that can't or doesn't care to.

I am sick of talking about Diplo, he's just business as usual. In a way, it's nothing new here, we all know the debates, I hope. (Business as usual being global colonial capitalism where the powerful exploit the less powerful.) For me, the point is that everyone who works collaboratively with other humans, especially when there are differentials in power, should think about how they collaborate and not act like exploitative jerks --this depends partly on what your position, i.e. if you have a lot of money it's on you to make an extra effort on behalf of people who have less, if for no other reason than you can definitely afford to. But seriously, if an artist specifically says they don't want something to be done with their stuff what good reason is there to do it anyway (there might be one in some cases, but that still requires thinking about it).

Apparently Banks is ok with this behavior whether it came from her or not. Her response on twitter was not impressive: glossing over the real issue and make fun of Munchi's language. It's not like she isn't capable of understanding what Munchi is mad about. However, she doesn't mention that and instead pretends it's about something stylistic. I'd be curious to hear more sides of it but so far it seems like a familiar story, I'm just sad to see Banks behaving this way.

Munchi gives away a lot of his music for free, which I appreciate. But looks like he doesn't want to contribute his name and his sound to people who don't respect him. I like Munchi's work, and he has shown some interesting depth on issues in the past (especially for a young cisguy in the electronic dance music scene). Sure it's probably easier for him to stand on principle than someone in a more vulnerable position, but from what I see of the situation I like the spine he's showing here.

Here's more of Munchi's music on Soundcloud

And a video I like especially because it has his mom in it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Speaking at Olin College, MA tomorrow (Tuesday) Sept 25

Just coming down after the amazing experience of working behind the scenes at the Beyond The Block festival this saturday. That experience was me and my comrades (dare I call'em) working out one of the other ways to engage politically with music, practicing what I tried to preach in my piece on protest music I wrote for Viewpoint magazine.

I'm on my way to Boston next, to give a talk at an engineering college. Full info below.

Technology & Culture Seminar Series

Larisa MannWho: Dr. Larisa K.Mann, legal ethnographer, journalist, public speaker and award-winning DJ
What: When the wrong side is the right side : the harms of digital inclusion
When/Where: Tuesdeay, September 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm – Olin College, Academic Center, Rm 126 (iCal)
Topic Abstract: The “digital divide” sounds like a terrible thing to be on the wrong side of. Lacking access to technology and information does seem to put you at a disadvantage compared to others who have greater access. Being invisible and uncountable also seems a weak position from which to struggle towards success. But what dictates the terms of participation in these brave new networks of participation and self-expression? Can remaining disconnected from or invisible to networked technology and information management systems be a wiser choice? While these days Anonymous and the Darknet are perhaps the most familiar (and threatening) examples of strategic advantages to invisibility, there are other examples that connect these questions to ongoing struggles within our society and beyond. Whether designing a system to meet the needs of a particular community or deciding on the default definition of privacy, we need to take account of the costs as well as benefits of connection. We don’t design in a vacuum: so we need to look at the context for the technology to understand its effects.
In this talk, I’ll draw on two examples. First, looking at Jamaican musical practices in Kingston, Jamaica, I’ll describe how their remaining outside of and invisible to global institutions allowed them cultural and economic independence. Next, I’ll discuss how the cultural practices of an Australian Aboriginal community required that designers challenge their own assumptions about quality and efficiency. Overall I will discuss how the goals like “solving the digital divide” or “better search and archiving of materials” can place vulnerable people and communities at risk.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

And.. MONDAY the 17th

I'm super happy to be invited to take over the decks for the amazing MPEACH while she is touring in Venezuela with Geko Jones.

Candelation is a monday monthly at the ever-delightful Bembe. This is seriously the nicest bar in Williamsburg - it's comfortable, softly lit, there are couches along the side, people make a dancefloor down the middle when the party gets hopping. The bartenders are friendly and the bar is well-stocked with the kinds of tasty tropical juices that make this nondrinker very happy, as well as those who like mixed drinks with names not in English. I'm there from 10pm-4am so come through any time and soak up the vibe!

I just got confirmation of the show recently and so I whipped up a little flyer, extremely low budget but it conveys the relevant info.

Friday, September 14, 2012

TONIGHT (Friday the 14th)

I'm super excited for my gig tonight. Joro Boro and I have had many an awesome conversation, and have played at the same events before, but this is his latest monthly party and I've enjoyed every one I went to, so I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Also, we picked a theme which allows me to bring out some music I've been messing with but haven't felt was right for the many other awesome gigs I have been playing. I just reunited with my vinyl record collection, among which are about 500 jungle records which I have been saying hello to, bemusing my neighbors.

Jungle is popping up again in some of the new bass music sounds and sets, epsecially that post-dubstep whatever (amens lurked around in dubstep for a while, but both the ravey and percussive side opened up more space). I've never stopped dropping jungle in my sets, but it's true that the bpms and the atmospheric, epic and gothic aspects of some of the night musics I'm hearing are perfectly set up for jungle. The rise of footwork (coming out of or alongside Juke) only makes this more clear - with the Philip D Kick jungle/footwork remixes last year making things more explicit. I love them, but they also reminded me that the originals are still totally amazing. So, tonight:

Juke & Jungle at BASTRDZM,
Casa Mezcal (Lower East Side) we are rocking the basement and it's FREE
86 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002

RSVP here

and be ready for some extreme sounds..

More on music, politics, why white activists often fail at connecting the two

I wrote a thing for Viewpoint magazine extending some of the issues Thanu (Dj Ushka) Yakupitiyag and I raised in the workshop “radical organizing from the dancefloor” at the Allied Media Conference

Links to InciteFierceleonineantiheroinerevolutionarycriesinfrontantcenter, some of the many many people, especially queer women of color, who have been having these conversations for a while. Points made in my piece have been made by them, and many others, in relation to twerking, dancehall, club music, nightlife etc. I add to it my own experiences and what I learned during my research and time spent in Jamaica learning from people there about what musicking meant and did for them.

Re-using the title from my old mix was too good to resist (although I wish I could have made a new mix especially for this, maybe next time), anyway, here it is: To the party members, thanks to Viewpoint for giving me the platform.