Archive for the Genre-defying Category

Hip Hop still a force of positivity in France

Posted in Articles of Interest, Genre-defying, Hip Hop on December 20, 2007 by blackrep

K Rhyme
The following excerpt is from an interesting article in the Times that a colleague turned me on to. It’s important to think hard about how local color (as it has in 20th century American lit.) creates specific contexts for communities that exist in nations, in trans-nations and in a global context where the meanings of cultural products are constantly being remade and reinterpreted by people with extremely different perspectives. While Parisian suburbs have been blazing on and off, Marseilles remains relatively cool, despite its similarly impoverished situation. Michael Kimmelman attributes this to the city’s diversity, culture of quiet confrontation, and neighborhood solidarity, citing the character of Marseilles Hip Hop :

Rappers in Marseille, some of the most original and distinctive ones anyway, compose sad odes to their local neighborhoods and hymns to the whole melting-pot city. The sound of Paris hip-hop, slicker and more aggressive, adopts much from American gangsta rap, as Marseille hip-hop does too, but Marseille boasts a groovier style. It mixes in blues, flamenco, Jamaican ragga.


Posted in Events, Genre-defying, Theater, White Privilege on December 12, 2007 by blackrep

Al Jolson

Tabanca’s first incarnation premiered last week. For those of you who missed the stage reading, it was a conglomeration of texts, songs, stories, jokes, taboo nursery rhymes and monologues revolving around constructions of Black masculinity and the crisis of Black manhood/fatherhood. But don’t get it twisted; Tabanca is still in development and has a long way to go before it is fully realized. Printed below is an email response we received to Saturday the 8th’s talkback and performance:

I attended last Saturday evening’s showing of “Tabanca” and stayed for the feedback segment. A question was posed by you which I didn’t not think about deeply enough at the time, but in retrospect discovered I would like to comment on.

The question was related as to how the audience felt the play portrayed Black masculinity in America. The question was answered by a few people (mostly, if not all White I believe) and the conversation moved on.  Upon deeper thought, I realized that I too had an opinion on the matter.

While I think that critiquing the stylistic and linguistic elements of the play is something which anyone can and should do, I worry about accepting criticism about any definition of Black masculinity from Whites. My fear is that Whites will be prone to push for an interpretation of Blacks which plays off of two factors: either they will seek to reify bunk stereotypes held by Whites or they will simply move toward an interpretation which is palatable to Whites or which Whites may consider to be the “right” way Blacks should be defined.

As an admirer of Stokely Carmichael, I find that people, regardless of race, should more or less freely interact with one another romantically, socially, politically, economically, etc. However, in the spirit of Carmichael in addition to my studies as an African/Afro-American Studies student, I find that defining the characteristics of Blacks by Whites is an inherently flawed notion which, even if it produced fruitful results, would be undermined purely by the fact that Whites can never possibly know what it is like to be Black. I also question the wisdom of including non-Blacks in the creative process of Tabanca (though using them as actors in the play doesn’t rub me as troublesome.) These are simply my opinions. The show was excellent and I can find little to criticize about the production itself. I shall (and have) most certainly refer my friends to it.

Black Indie Rock, now and forever

Posted in Artists, Genre-defying on November 26, 2007 by blackrep

This is a cute video by British pop star Remi Nicole, who’s fed up with broke-ass boys and media pigeonholing. She might be the next Fefe Dobson, but I’m betting she’ll reach demi-Avril heights. She’s an unabashedly Black singer-songwriter who wears tight jeans and flannels AND she’s adorable as hell and writes her own songs.

Houston opera acknowledges creole city with Immigrant Song

Posted in Articles of Interest, Events, Genre-defying, Theater on November 26, 2007 by blackrep

Immigrant Song
The Houston Grand Opera
has been doing some spectacular work galvanizing the city’s multi-ethnic communities and making Opera tangible. Christopher Theofanidis may have created a model for other cities who are interested in working with professional artists to translate stories of migration. Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal at the NY Times for his piece on Immigrant Song:

The 90-minute work proceeds without intermission through seven tableaus in which the company’s regular soloists, choristers and orchestra, joined by non-Western musicians and some of the immigrants themselves, recount the ordeals that brought people here from Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, Pakistan, India, the former Soviet Union and Central America. They are heard speaking their own words as tape-recorded by Ms. Lax in hundreds of interviews.

Where did it all go wrong?

Posted in Articles of Interest, Genre-defying on November 12, 2007 by blackrep

Teddy Bear's Picnic
Again, always trying to figure out this whole commercial v underground problem in our music today: how come so much great music never makes it onto the radio and why is it so difficult for artists who are working in interesting genres to use the traditional channels provided by the music industry? The farce that is modern copyright law helps explain the predicament and gets broken down here by Kurt Hansen:

If you’re Clive Davis or Andrew Lack running a record label, though, you might instinctively view this whole situation from a different perspective. You might think, “I paid for the making of these recordings. They’re my property! They should be mine to do with as I please!”

But that’s not historically correct. Historically, you started out with no rights at all. Anyone could copy or use anything you created for any purpose whatsoever that they desired. But government eventually realized that the public would benefit if the government granted you certain monopoly rights for a limited period of time. You’d be motivated to produce more art. And the public would benefit.

From clave to crunk

Posted in Articles of Interest, Genre-defying on November 9, 2007 by blackrep

Gee's Bend Quilt: Annie Mae Young 2003
I stumbled across a forum called “Blogariddims” while visiting The Beat Diaspora today. The project is a collection of podcasts covering all sorts of genres and featuring contributions from some of the web’s most on-point music bloggers. Two that all Black Rep heads will want to check out are “Another Crunk Genealogy” (No.11), dissected here, and “An England Story” (No.10), which is described in detail here. Why are you interested? Well, don’t you want to know why Black Rep is always trying to get you to connect the dots between these diverse sounds? It’s like a quilt.