linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


qaeda quality question quickly quickly quiet

lenka clayton's new 12" on accidental records provides a revelation of sorts. lenka took bush's 2002 state of the union address--the "axis of evil" speech--removed all pause and applause, and chopped it up word-by-word, re-arranging it alphabetically. what emerges from a listen is amazing: a laundry list of talking points and pointed vocab, where repetition underscores importance and inclusion/omission communicates bush's twisted vision (and more importantly, his projection of that vision).

you can hear excerpts and order copies from boomkat.

also, here's an interesting piece on the state of conscientious objection today.

and if you're looking for more reading material on this holiday weekend, there's always harper's weekly review, which never fails to astound in its concision and comedy.


big in ghana

several months ago, upon hearing the boston-based, afro-diasporic band soulfege's cover of sweet mother (one of the most popular songs in 20th century African pop), i chopped up the mp3 and made a dancehall inspired remix. soulfege liked it so much they not only recorded a new version of the song, they filmed a video for it in ghana.

recently, the video began receiving airplay on MetroTV in ghana and last i heard it was voted by viewers to #4 on the video countdown--beaten only by beyonce, usher, and r. kelly! apparently, radio stations in ghana have started picking it up, just on the strength of the TV response. following suit, the video has begun airing on south africa's "studio 53" program, which is broadcast via satellite to 43 countries across africa. jamaica's own RETV is also now airing the video, which, with its dancehall rhythms, african setting, and reference to jah, is sure to be a hit in JA.

the video is a vivid, moving look at contemporary ghana, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the project. check it out: low-bandwidth version / high-bandwidth version.

to see and hear more from soulfege, including the counterpart video (for the non-remix version), check out soulfege.com. and to learn more specifically about the "sweet mother tour" check this out.


coercive cipher (i.e., mugging-by-beatbox)

inspired by hua's mugging-themed post today, i thought i'd share a mugging story that i've been fascinated by for a while now.

a few years ago, my brother and his friends--all highschoolers at the time--sat waiting for the train in the davis square T stop when they were approached by a couple kids who brandished weapons and demanded that my bro-and-co. beatbox for them. as my brother and his friends provided a beat, the assailants clumsily freestyled about how they were going to fuck them up and take their money. although my brother never relayed any direct quotations, i imagine that the freesyling was filled with the same cliches that failed to impress the harvard freshman mugged yesterday (as reported by hua). eventually, the guys tired of their performance, robbed my brother and his friends, and exited the station.

when i heard about the musical mugging, i was struck by its bizarre nature. on the one hand, it seemed somewhat predictable, if surreal, given hip-hop's violent streak and cinema verite depictions of crime. on the other hand, it seemed to require a stange, somewhat humiliating degree of cooperation--not to mention acknowledgment of shared cultural practices. (i mean, i suppose it was only coincidental that my brother and his friends happened to be adept beatboxers and freestylists themselves, though perhaps it wasn't. at any rate, i'm curious as to what would have been the outcome had their beatboxing really sucked. would the assailants have punished them worse? or would their desire to deliver a hip-hop mug-o-gram have collapsed under no-skills accompaniment?)

an ethnomusicologist once implored me to write something about this, but i found it difficult. for one, my bro and his friends were not very willing to revisit the event in great detail (or memorialize it, i suppose). moreover, this terrain of forced music-making and the direct coupling of music and violence is rather sensitive and disturbing--if fascinating--stuff. the only example that comes to mind right away is middle-passage drum-and-dance on-demand, which is so horrifying i really don't want to go near it. i suppose there are other examples as well. and i suppose that a comparative study could yield some interesting, possibly (probably) existential insights about the limits of "music"--is it "music" in such circumstances? or does it become something else?--and power and society, among other things. still, i think i'll leave that one to some musicological elaine scarry out there.

even so, had to share.


forget the south,

fuck the suburbs.

and the exurbs, too.

it's all about the urbs, baby. the picture below sums it up: only in the cities, and along the mississippi, did the dems do any damage.

read this wonderful polemic to learn more about the promise of life in the american urban archipelago.

maybe i won't have to head south to find an inhabitable island after all.

shit, having domiciled in cambridge, madison, and kingston, i'm practically an islander already.

(thanks to tobias, a montreal-based islander, for pointing me to this piece. it's great to have allies in the great island to the north.)


teach against the machine

the good folks over at downhillbattle have put together some great new resources in the ever-evolving struggle over intellectual property. this time, rather than appealing to sample-based musicians or file-sharing peers, they're reaching out to students and teachers, whose worlds are equally threatened and constrained by overly stringent IP laws and misleading, copyright-crazy propaganda.

this one's for students.

this one's for teachers.

thanks to larisa (the gyal with the bwoy and the max romeo LP), aka dj ripley (pictured below), for bringing these new resources to my attention. we need more kick-ass jungle DJs fighting this (downhill)battle. i'm glad to know a few. rootical rally-cry uproar, indeed.


i reiterate...

ethnomusicologist seeks work abroad: caribbean preferred.

i mean, it's not even mid-november yet, and i've already got to deal with this. seems i lost my madison-earned winter legs by wintering in jamaica a couple years ago. can't even take the massachusetts lows anymore. so, despite our red-state shaming divorce rate, i may have to head south before too long.

i find the cold quite punishing, and ultimately, rather forbidding. i'd rather live in a place where the outdoors are more inviting. at this rate, i'm due to be cooped-up for another five, six months. ugh. the photo below, framed by a window-screen, seems to symbolize nicely my lack of desire to leave the house.

p.s. - wu-tang is for the children! RIP ODB.


stop the back-door draft

first off, fuck the south.

second, sorry everybody.

third, with all his talk about the sanctity of marriage, who knew bush was a back-door man?

all jokes aside though, the back-door draft is for real. and unjust. and it should be resisted as one of the major fronts against the bush administration's immoral warmongering and reckless deployment of this country's brave men and women in the armed forces.

a major battle on this front was won today when david miyasato, who happens to be jeff chang's cousin (don't mess with hip-hop activists, yo), received a two-line order from the army revoking his call-up. the details follow:

Back-Door Draft Lawsuit Against The Army And Intense Media Interest Cause Army To Rescind Orders

Honolulu, Hawai’i—Today, Kauai, Hawai’i, resident and Gulf War veteran David M. Miyasato, who was called up by the Army 13 years after an honorable discharge, was released from his active duty orders by the Army. He had filed a lawsuit against the Army on November 5 in the United States District Court after receiving no response to his inquiries.

David expressed satisfaction with the revocation order. "Now I can move on with my life," he said. He said he will return to his small auto window-tinting business on the Island of Kauai. He is married and has a new infant child. His attorney, Eric A. Seitz, said, “This is a rare victory, not just for David, but for the thousands of others who may be in his situation as well."

He added, "The back-door draft must be stopped. We don't know how many others may have been called up illegally or may now be serving even though they have done their time. Many may be suffering severe financial hardships, just as David has for the last two months in his state of uncertainty."

On the 5th, after being ignored by the Army for weeks, the Army responded within hours after Miyasato filed his suit, granting him an “administrative delay” for up to 30 days, and notifying Mr. Miyasato he would soon be receiving a “new report date”. Today, Senator Daniel Inouye's office received a 2-line order stating that David's call-up order had been "rescinded or revoked".

Mr. Miyasato enlisted in the Army in 1987 for a term of eight years. His enlistment contract specified that he would serve on active duty for three years and then be enrolled in the inactive reserves for five additional years. Mr. Miyasato reported for active duty on August 16, 1988. He served as a specialist E-4, driving a heavy equipment mobility tactical truck, delivering fuel, ammunition and other materials. He served in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War. He was honorably discharged on August 15, 1991. He then returned to Kauai while he remained in the inactive reserves. His enlistment obligations expired on August 15, 1996. Suddenly, in late September 2004, the Army issued orders directing Mr. Miyasato to report to a military facility in South Carolina on November 9, 2004, “for no more than 24 months active duty.”


congratulations to jeff, and especially to david and his family.


art against bush

the struggle continues...

as this week's theory of everything program illuminates, artists would rather not devote their time and talents to topical bullshit like the bush administration. but they will if they have to.

thanks to ben for bringing this to my attention.

thanks to joe and pat for bringing this to my attention.

and thanks to 88.9 at night for bringing this to my attention.

mos def and immortal technique are hot like fire. burn, babylon, burn.


ethnomusicologist seeks work abroad

canada and the caribbean preferred. anywhere in the EU would work, too. holler.

regardless of what happens in the recounts, this is a profoundly sad day for me and millions of other americans who hoped to see an end to the bush madness. it seems that 51% of the US is filled with assholes and idiots. it makes me feel like an alien in my own country.

another four years of bush will drive this country into the ground, and i can't help but feel a little premature schadenfreude for all those duped and crazy motherfuckers in middle america. they've given a radical right president a mandate now, and by the end of another term this place is gonna be, to borrow an apt military phrase, FUBAR.

as the world watches and sees the american populace's endorsement of bush, i am ashamed to be a citizen of this country that seeks to unilaterally fuck up the world. i know that i am now automatically despised, derided, and defamed by the majority of the world's people.

i never imagined that gay marriage and abortion would trump an ill-conceived and ill-executed war and a budget deficit that could very well bring our economy crashing down. i never admitted to myself that my country was filled with religious crazies. i never thought that american middle-brow common sense could be so fucked up. this popular vote is my confirmation.

so here we go. four years of hell. may the whole damn thing come down on bush's head. meantime, i pledge to continue to fight at the level of common sense. more now than ever, america needs sexy jesus.


army of five

if this doesn't constitute fascist propaganda, i don't know what does.

too bad for bush that photoshopped soldiers can't actually fight. then the draft would be an non-(shadow)-issue in this campaign.

with all this talk about supporting the troops, such military-industrial-light&magic is pretty hypocritical--and pretty insulting to all of those non-holograms, family members of mine included, who are risking their lives and dying in iraq. try sending holograms on a suicide mission. bet they don't revolt with the support of their wives and families. bet they don't do shit.

this smoke&mirrors routine through which the bush administration continues to deny reality will one day be exposed for what it is. at the least, history will be the judge. still, because i can't stand to see this country and the world plunged deeper into war and crisis (and the supreme court fall in the hands of religious crazies), i am hoping that kerry wins tomorrow. but it certainly would be satisfying to see the whole thing crumble on bush's head. (and let's face it, the whole thing--by which i mean, the US economy, US global dominance, and the "war on terror" [especially on the iraq front]--will probably crumble in the next presidential term.)

a new study estimates that upwards of 100,000 iraqi civilians have died since the war began. that is an atrocity. yet it is an atrocity that america seems not to care about at all. neither bush nor kerry mentions civilian deaths because voters simply value american lives more, which is bullshit. this selfishness will not sustain itself.

this is the security problem to which bin laden refers in his latest straight-to-TV video. it's not the security of al qaeda that he's talking about, safire; it's the security of the suffering, silent majority in the muslim/arab world (who, by the way, are not on bin laden's side--though their sympathies are undoubtedly tempted by continuing american agression and exploitation). their security has been routinely trounced by the US military, by corrupt dictators, by unilateral Israeli action, and by asshole jihadists like bin laden and zarqawi. it's funny that people seem to think osama's saying something new here, something conciliatory. really, he's holding the same line and attacking the same policies that he has for years. i'm not sure i believe that bin laden would seriously stop short of destroying US economic and military dominance if we changed our tune vis-a-vis the middle east, but i'm pretty sure that killing 100,000 iraqis does little to fight his aims. it is a mystery to me why kerry has not pointed out that bush's strategies play right into bin laden's hands. perhaps it is because, in this current political climate, such an assertion would be taken and twisted around to the point where it seems like kerry thinks osama is good.

finally, fuck curt schilling. the man is a hero for pitching with his tendon stapled to his ankle, but he's an asshole for endorsing the worst commander-in-chief ever.