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.

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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."
Munchi!
 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.

21 comments:

  1. Diplo didn't get any money from the blackberry ad. He did it never to pay a phonebill.

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    1. Let's call that $1200 per year (rounded). That would be considered a monetary gain (money).

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  2. In the case of Diplo, I feel like he is too often credited as being exploitative when really it seems (from interviews he's been giving for years) that he is more exploratory in his nature and interested in exposing new music. It's not like Diplo takes songs and doesn't give credit. He always gives credit and promotes the artist. Yeah, he's business, but its a mutual thing. If you go into business with Diplo, you know what your getting into (which isn't a bad thing). Otherwise, I agree 100%.

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    1. Diplo has been known for ripping artists off without crediting them. Please see exhibit a.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M93Aji4MJBk

      I wonder if Diplo would have done this had Ludachrist's other projects (Kill the Noise / Bro Safari) had the clout they do today?

      Everyone appears to be cool with one another now which is fine with me. I guess certain acts can be overlooked whenever you have the chance to put out tracks on Mad Decent (the Wal-Mart of dance music IMO).

      Biggups to Munchi for having standards.

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    2. You obviously don't know SHIT about Diplo. He's had a rep for ripping people off for years & not giving them credit. He straight up stole Knick from Evol Intent (aka Ludachrist)'s mashup of Major Lazer & the theme from Beverky Hills Cop & put it on DJ Hero as his work. Knick (who I know) sent him a message basically saying "yeah I realize this was a mashup & I don't either of these songs, I don't want any money, but could you at least give me the credit for my own stuff?" & Diplo wrote him back saying, "Nah man. I fucked you. Welcome to the music biz..." #truestory

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  3. What does Diplo have to do with this at all?? This is obviously between Munchi and Azealia. Blaming Diplo is soooo easy though isn't it? Never miss an opportunity Ripley, keep it up!

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    1. I don't miss chances to talk about things that matter to me, ethical behavior among creative people being high on the list, so you're totally right about that.

      For example, when a lot of people were writing about the "Mad Drums" riddim with the Banks vocal, and using it as an example to diss Diplo, I stayed out of it, I didn't diss Diplo, and also spoke up to say there wasn't enough info about what was going on for me to find much suspicious. Because in that case, I hadn't learned that anyone had actually been actively disrespected. So in that case, I didn't bring his name in.

      As far as what he might have to do with it, you aren't reading carefully.
      The first line: they were working together on these tracks. As far as I can tell, it looks like a creative project between Banks and Diplo. If not, I expect to not see his name or face near any of these tracks in the future, and I will happily admit to being wrong.

      But I'm actually careful and explicit, the other times I mention him, to say "I don't know if the disrespect is coming from Banks or Diplo or some combination"
      and "Munchi's music was a smart choice for Banks, whoever made the link"

      I do say it seems consistent with things he's done in the past, because that's true.

      Most of this post is about Munchi - I only mention the other guy a couple times, all but one time linked with Banks because I don't know who did what. But I'm sure he's happy to have the anonymous commenter army backing him up againt mean ol' me!

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    2. I don't see Munchi mentioning Diplo at all in his summary of the situation, so why would you? To me it just seems like a stretch to bring him into this and makes it look like you are crying wolf, that's all. And btw, it's the "anonymous CISGUY commenter army," get our name right!!

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    3. I have twice explained why, it has to do with the context of what's happening, both in terms of who is involved in production, money, and management, and in terms of the history.
      If that isn't convincing enough for you, fair enough. There's a lot of people writing wayyy harsher stuff than this about him, so if this seems extreme I should warn you about some other parts of the internet that really go to town.

      thanks for representing for anonymous cisguys, I wasn't going to speculate.. guess I missed the memo below..

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  4. Just wanted to note a small error at the end where you use 'her' to refer to Munchi (unless I'm mistaken). Feel free to delete this comment once the edit has been made.

    P.S. Great article, well written, and no I'm not being sarcastic just because I pointed out a typo.

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    1. Thanks, what I was trying to say is that whether Banks did the leaking or someone else did, she (Banks) doesn't seem to see it as a problem. SO I think the "her" is correct but I should have been clearer,

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  5. story broke yesterday from Munchi directly on Twitter. No mention of $50K or Diplo.... Where'd u get your facts?
    and "Cisguy".....really? you are a GUY.....A MAN. nothing "Cis" about it. If ur born with a penis.....male (only prerequisite). If you have a vagina....female. basic anatomy. not a disease.
    Don't let trans bigotry creep into your life.

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    1. WRONG. People are all able to be placed neatly into categories with their own set of rules about what they are allowed to do / not do / say / not say / what equals collaboration / what equals exploitation / based on their classification, which must be done by an identity politics scholar. You are either CISMALE, CISFEMALE, TRANSGENDERED, HOMOSEXUAL, BISEXUAL, ASEXUAL, HETERONORMATIVE, WHITE, OR POC. There is a manual coming out soon about the rules for each classification, which you MUST belong to one of. It is 8,000 pages long and gets changed every 2 weeks.

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  6. lol @ this entire article. keep on pretending to "fight for the small guy". obviously you're not "sick of talking about diplo" as you claim, it appears to me you are relishing any chance to mention him negatively at all, even by slight tangental connection. munchi's underground maaan, diplo was in blackberry commercials; the circle's you like to "play with" sound like grade A douchebag hipster elitists, the kind of snobby trash that isn't wanted nor needed in this community.

    keep working hard jokester

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  7. Diplo did that blackberry add just for a free phone

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  8. munchi did mention diplo and the 50k

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  9. Thanks for digging into this a lil bit!

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  10. I like what you had to say about the situation. It seems that things are essentially a show of dominance of power in the music industry, especially when dealing with smaller and more 'grass roots' bedroom producers. A level of exploitation must be admitted in order to provide enough movement to further an artist's career (I detest the phrase "selling out"), however, where does somebody draw the line with 'artistic integrity'—whatever nuanced meaning that may have.

    Essentially, I feel artists must make a living from their art in order to produce more of it. It was either very commendable or very stupid of Munchi to turn down fifty thousand dollars, I don't know which it was and decline to definitively say so, as I don't know his current fiscal situation. I'll just say that he's one hell of a guy and his music is great.

    Speaking of grassroots bedroom producers, an artist I feel should be more well known is Atrasolis:
    http://www.soundcloud.com/atrasolis
    http://www.facebook.com/Atrasolis

    I found his music through 12th Planet, another guy who is swell in my books.

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    1. To further add to my previous comment, which I forgot to include: The entire music industry, big business or indie, is phallogocentric.

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