Music Videos

30 06 2008

It’s been a good two years since I last saw a music video of any kind. The last time I watched them regularly, Queen Latifah’s ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ was a popular song and ‘The Box’ wasn’t a sexual slur. In olden times, a lot of hiphop music videos were visual representations of the narratives given in the songs. The really popular songs that the old folks didn’t like at least tended to have a story to them, and even ferociously conservative people like my father openly expressed an appreciation for the artistic flair and creativity of the videos and their expression*.

Figure 1: Goddammit…

Then last Friday rolled around. As Shabooty** and I waited at my place for more of our friends to show up for a night of drunken lunacy, this sand-dwelling fucktard turns my television to MTV Jams and fills my condo with the sights and sounds of the modern-day hiphop video for the next thirty fucking minutes. The following happened as a result:

  • The value of my home dropped 50%
  • My IQ dropped to 74
  • I became a HUGE fan of eugenics
  • I killed Shabooty – at least in one of several…
  • …Nightmares I had featuring Lil’ Wayne proposing to my daughter

The music videos I saw on Friday were the most remarkably retarded cookie-cutter manufactured works of ‘creativity’ I have ever seen. I don’t remember who any of the artists were (with the exception of Lil’ Wayne, who I’ll deal with in a minute), but I do remember that each video borrowed from the same bag of reusable hiphop music video elements:

  • Some asshole getting a haircut
  • Some asshole ‘singing’ or ‘rapping’ three inches from a chick’s face
  • Some asshole in a barn or barn-like structure for no apparent reason
  • Some asshole wearing a t-shirt with the name and image of a dead friend
  • Some asshole with 40lbs of gold in his mouth constantly baring his teeth
  • Some asshole dressed like an ex-con with easy access to glitter successfully seducing some professional looking chick
  • Some asshole flaunting his ‘thuggishness’ out of spite in a country club, high end restaurant, or equally inappropriate venue
  • Some asshole driving a giant SUV with spinning rims
  • Some asshole constantly self-affirming his gangster status
  • Some asshole flashing a giant wad of $100 bills at some doe-eyed chick
  • Booty

Figure 2: Ruining black America, one shitty song at a time

Every single video featured one or more idiots, each more unattractive than the last, singing exclusively about vapid materialistic bullshit. This isn’t anything new – ever since Viacom dug its claws into hiphop the music has always included some degree of this. But what’s different now is that ENTIRE TRACKS feature nothing more than dudes talking about their haircuts, grillz, shades, rims, clothes, cars, and cars.

As much as five straight minutes of this shit in each video…over and over again…for thirty minutes. Despite the fact that watching it was more traumatizing than watching video of the human aftermath of car crashes, my psyche was pretty well postured to recover itself back to normalcy. Until a Lil’ Wayne video came on.

Anyone that’s watched MTV Jams this week has seen this video, because it’s the MTV Jams Video of the Week. In this video, the screen flashes green over and over again for thirty seconds until some ugly be-dredlocked overtattooed asshole jumps onto the stage and, for the next four minutes or so, runs around the stage at some live event jumping up and down and yelling at you in what sounds like a hoarse and unintelligible combination of Zulu, Farsi, Algonquin, and Cantonese mixed in with some good old fashioned tard-groaning. Seeing this idiot, whom I recognized as Lil’ Wayne after about 90 seconds, made me want to get on the phone and start donating money to abortion clinics in the south.

Figure 3: I’m going to get so much shit about this…

What amazes me, after seeing this video, is how much everybody loves this fucking guy. Every verbal assault I’ve ever made on Lil’ fucking Wayne has resulted in someone(s) rushing to his defense while failing utterly to give any valid reason why his very existence shouldn’t be a federal crime. His fame makes no sense to me, which is significant because I don’t hold the bar very high for what justifies celebrity. Case in point: Paris Hilton’s fame is entirely understandable to me***.

Lil’ Wayne, however, just boggles the mind. He doesn’t have any real vocal talent (e.g. Mariah Carey), dancing ability (e.g. Ne-Yo), or lyrical genius (e.g. Teddy Riley), nor does he have overwhelming physical attractiveness to make up for a lack of other talents (e.g. Beyonce – see upcoming aside). The fact that Lil’ Wayne is famous (in a positive light) proves that the very ether of logic is being eroded, the cause likely being something cosmic. After all, we’re only a few years away from crossing the galactic plane again, and there’s no telling how close we may or may not be to a black hole.

Lil’ Wayne is proof that the world will end, as the Mayan’s predicted, on December 21, 2012.

Figure 4: Fear it.

Aside: Beyonce Cannot Sing

Awhile ago, Destiny’s Child received a Grammy and when they went on stage to accept the award, they harmonized part of their acceptance speech. This was apparently done to dispel rumors that Destiny’s Child has no real vocal talent, as if anyone else couldn’t gather up two other morons and have them harmonize for five fucking seconds.

Beyonce can’t sing. She just can’t. She sucks at it. I don’t care how many childhood singing contests she won – as an adult, she CANNOT sing. Ella Fitzgerald could sing. Sarah Vaughan could sing. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey can sing. Beyonce, on the other hand, sounds like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Her voice is grading, nasally, whiny, and utterly devoid of anything pleasant.

Beyonce is to music what rugby is to a hemophiliac.

End Aside

*In my father’s parlance, this approval was given with an emotionally neutral grunt
**My clinically insane Persian friend, often referenced by the much more appropriate nickname ‘Asshole
***White America forever is, has, and will be enamored with the ‘heiress’ concept and anything else remotely related to fairy tales – no matter how much of a fucking asshole the benefactor is





Subtle Racism II: Nightlife

6 03 2008

Here’s a strange phenomenon in the DC area: the non-black here people love hiphop (esp. non-black, non-white people), yet the vast majority of the places where the best hiphop DJs spin are labeled ‘black clubs’ and are therefore rarely frequented by these non-blacks who claim to enjoy the music.

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Figure 1: Asians fear this like blacks fear diabetes

Black clubs are the only clubs in this area that are segregated by race*. All the other clubs are pretty well mixed: you’ll find whites, asians, indians, persians, hispanics, arabs, and even a few black people (usually men that are chasing after asian or white women) all in the same place.

*Notwithstanding the exception of a few Irish bars featuring extremely loud music and unwashed frat boys that, as far as I can tell, only other unwashed frat boys and the white women who love them can stand.

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Figure 2: ……

There is a common thread that runs through all the mixed clubs:

The music is uncompromisingly atrocious.

The DJ is always, without fail, an asian/white/persian dude with a motherfucking iPod or two, an overly complicated computer-based mechanism for managing the tracks, and no clue at all how to mix or, in some cases, what mixing even is.

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Figure 3: Completely ridiculous

The fucker will play moderately acceptable hiphop tracks for awhile, which the entire crowd will dance enthusiastically to. Then, without fail, he’ll start oscillating between god-awful southern hiphop and utterly undanceable shit by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. If you go to a mixed club in DC, you’ll spend 50%+ of your night listening to this crap.

When Joan Jett and the southern hiphop starts, every non-white person in the room stops dancing** and adopts a determined scowl that would make Clint Eastwood proud. They complain to one another “this DJ sucks!” and “I can’t believe they’re playing this music!” But I ask…why can’t you believe it? Mixed clubs play the same music and feature the same DJs week in and week out, and you keep returning to these clubs week in and week out. They play shitty music and you keep coming back, so naturally any club owner will assume that you’re coming back because you like what you hear.

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Figure 4: Hates Joan Jett, yet can’t stay away

**White people LOVE Joan Jett, especially that song “I Love Rock N’ Roll”. Many white people are actually excluded from the subtle racism addressed in the article because a.) you WILL find white people at black clubs and b.) since white people love Joan Jett, they aren’t just attending clubs that play her music to avoid black people.

The subtle racism lies in the reason these people keep returning to mixed clubs in spite of their shittyness: they’re avoiding the black people at places where good music is played.

Let’s face facts – most people have the preconception that black people become extremely violent in clubs. It’s ironic, because I’ve seen countless fights break out at mixed clubs, and not one fight at a black club. This stereotype can be blamed partly on an age-old racial subtext and unfair media practices, and partly on DMX in the movie “Romeo Must Die” (who brandished a machine gun and ordered anyone who isn’t black to get out of his club. I’m pretty sure non-blacks think this is a regular occurrence at black clubs, kinda like last call.)

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Figure 5: Thanks, asshole

As such, this racist fear of black people keeps non-blacks out of black clubs and away from good music – and no one in these non-black circles wants to be the first to suggest a trip to H2O or Zanzibar because, while ‘tolerance’ is a good thing, it’s not cool yet to be a nigger lover.

Of course, no one will ever admit this. God bless America.





The Electric Slide

25 02 2008

The Electric Slide is very similar to the Federal Reserve, in that its creation is shrouded in mystery, our willingness to let it flourish boggles the mind, and people continue tolerate it despite the fact that they hate it and there’s no law stating that they have to.

I first saw the Electric Slide performed at my Aunt Brenda’s house when I was about 8 years old, and I immediately drew two conclusions.

  1. Every single person in my family is an asshole
  2. The stupidity of the dance itself is exceeded only by the stupidity of the song that it’s danced to

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Figure 1: Organized stupidity

Everyone I know derides the song and the dance as patently ridiculous (even when it was a popular song at clubs), and yet for some reason when Marcia Griffith’s tinny voice inevitably poisons the air at any large family gathering, I’m the only jerkoff who doesn’t know how to do the dance. The same people who once claimed to hate the song are suddenly on the dance floor or in the yard with shit-eating grins on their faces, singing along to the song’s asinine lyrics, and putting way too much effort into the last step of the cycle in the dance (see Figure 1).

The thing that really confuses the hell out of me is how the Electric Slide became so popular among black people. The Electric Slide is completely antithetical to black dancing: it’s a line dance (didn’t think about that, did ya?), it’s repetitive, it offers zero chance for creativity, there’s nothing sexual about it, there’s no potential for a remix, and white people can do it as well as black people without even trying that hard (except, apparently, for the ferociously uncomfortable-looking dude on the far right in Figure 1).

I’m surprised that so many people were shocked that the DC sniper was black, because if black people are capable of enjoying the Electric Slide, then we’re certainly capable of gunning down people at gas stations. The Electric Slide is responsible for more deaths every day than Malvo and Mohammed perpetrated in their assholerous three weeks. I base this claim on nothing in particular.

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Figure 2: Enjoys the Electric Slide





Non-Black Hip-Hop Scholars

24 02 2008

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Figure 1: Hiphop’s Panacea

The term “non-black hip hop scholar” is almost redundant, because just about anyone I’ve ever met who fits the following criteria:

  • Knows the year that virtually any hiphop album/single was released
  • Vigorously defends hiphop from those who say it’s all about violence and misogyny
  • Has an iPod so chock full of ill-gotten hiphop tracks that you almost develop sympathy for the RIAA
  • Loves loves loves loves loves Tribe Called Quest and/or Mos Def and/or Talib Kweli
  • Takes pride in knowing about ‘underground’ (a wannabe Afro-urban partial appropriation of the term ‘Indie’) rap artists
is not black.
It’s difficult for me to express exactly what about this makes me incredibly angry, but I think number 2 on the list is what causes the most conflict between myself and other people. Hiphop scholars take a lot of pride in the fact that they’ve ‘discovered’ the music to me more than just gangster rap, but as soon as they make that discovery, they take the shit way too damn far. They’re suddenly under the impression that since they understand hiphop more than pretty much everyone else on the planet, then they also understand black people – effectively equating hiphop to black people and the black experience.
This sets up an incredibly tense situation when, inevitably, I make some offhand (and usually exaggerated) claim about hiphop in the presence of a hiphop scholar. For example, I’ve been known to say things like “I don’t need to listen to hiphop. I grew up in DC and lived through the violence and put up with the drug dealers first hand.” I say these things jokingly, and most people get it.

But not the hiphop scholar. This fucker will blindly LUNGE at the chance to defend hiphop – even from black people – and tell me exactly how I’m wrong, why I’m wrong, and how I’ve failed to understand hiphop. The irony of this behavior is what gets under my skin, because it takes a lot of nerve for someone who isn’t black to presume that a.) a black person from the inner city (me) could misunderstand hiphop which, at its core, is an expression of black people and the black experience, and b.) that they could ever in a million years understand that expression better than I could.

I could sit here for the next ten years listening to Fado – but no matter how much I studied it and learned about it, it would never occur to me to ‘correct’ the interpretation of this music by someone from Portugal. That would reflect a combination of rudeness, presumption, and flat-out wrongheadedness that was driven from me in my childhood by occasional smackdowns and yellings at delivered skillfully by my parents. I suppose when it comes down to it, hiphop scholars just don’t have any home training, or perhaps they were gifted children and aren’t accustomed to shutting the fuck up when they should.

With all that said, let me state that I don’t actually have a problem with the hiphop scholar studying the ins and outs of the music and the culture that surrounds it. Furthermore, feel free to light a fire under anyone who isn’t black and presumes to make blatantly false claims and misguided interpretations about hiphop. But when you’re around black people…do yourself a favor and keep your fucking mouth shut.