mashup the 11th
(listen to mashup the 11th.)
despite ringing like a facile cliche, i decided to go with "mashup the 11th" for the title of this post and this track because it's such a multivalent phrase. of course, it refers most obviously to my creation of a "mash-up" (i.e., a track juxtaposing fairly long samples from other tracks--but you knew that already) that takes as its source materials various tracks that address the subject of 9/11. in this case all of the tracks happen to be from reggae/hip-hop sources (surprise, surprise): elephant man's the bombing and the martial arts riddim that it rides, aesop rock's ny electric, mr. lif's home of the brave, and immortal technique's righteous 911 freestyle.
so in a simple sense i'm mashing up the 11th in that i'm mashing up these songs. but, with its reproduction of bush's maddening quasi-biblical rendering (in order to secretly communicate--wink,wink--with all you religious crazies out there) of "september THE eleventh" (where does the the come from anyway? the king james bible?), "mashup the 11th" also refers to the way that bush, et al., mashed-up the 11th by responding in such a terrible way--a point underscored by 9/11 widows having to protest to get some forward movement on the 9/11 commission's recommendations. (and let's not forget that bush opposed the commission's creation and then appointed henry "warcrimes" kissinger to head it.) the bush response to the 11th has played right into bin laden's hands, creating a boon for al qaeda recruitment, while the indefinite, unwinnable "war on terror" promises to fail as profoundly as the "war on drugs" has, but not before it reduces civil liberties to soviet proportions and brings down the US economy (which was precisely bin laden's aim).
i was inspired to create this track, first and foremost, by immortal technique's freestyle (which, obviously, isn't really a freestyle--more like an acapella rant [note his hype-man finishing lines, for instance]). immortal technique drops crazy knowledge on this track, kicking ass and naming names. there is an intensity in his voice that communicates the urgency of his critique. rhyming "cellphone" with "wellstone" and dropping michael-moore conspiracy theory, technique fleshes out the details that lurk behind more populist, hip-hop-propelled accusations such as fellow rapper jadakiss's "bush knocked down the towers." no surprise that immortal technique employed the jada quote in a second topical track, the banger bin laden, with mos def (which puts eminem's mosh to shame on the same damn mixtape). beyond dropping more (counter)knowledge, technique goes so far as to express solidarity with iraqi insurgents: bin laden didn't blow up the projects, but bush leveled falluja. immortal technique feels more solidarity with those who defend their homes in iraq than with southern american racists who use new york's loss to justify their jingoism.
making the 'freestyle' work against steady beats was a bit of a challenge. because the original performance was done live, the lines don't necessarily follow a steady meter. often the second half of a rhyming couplet is stretched out for effect, which makes it hard to simply squish it into a bar. i've done my best to "warp" the vocals so that they fit the beats, but sometimes this means forsaking a certain flow in favor of making words audible and rhymes land on strong beats. i think it works, though it does occasionally mean that technique floats over the meter in a way that his original performance does not. (but what would be the purpose of reproducing the original anyway?) for most of the song, the martial arts riddim occupies the left-center, while a scratch-filled loop from aesop rock's sinewy "ny electric" (which seems to ask: what says "new york" like orientalist dancehall?) moves in and out of the right-center of the stereofield. i chopped up the drums from mr. lif's "home of the brave" (which, curiously, also employs a dancehall rhythm) to give the track some center-field punch, and i occasionally add a big 808 kick on the downbeat just to keep things crunk. in the midst of all of this, i add some sirens here and there and chop up the loops from time to time to create some variety. (listen to mashup the 11th.)
this piece complements my previous political mash-up, it's bigger than whitey on the moon, and i plan to include them both on an upcoming mix that includes a remake of my track america (<--this version's now a couple years old). as i said in a previous post, artists don't want to be restricted to making topical shit, but we will if we have to.
so, anyway, i hope that what i've done here is simply to create another compelling way to listen to immortal technique's well-informed critique and righteous indignation. the original stands on its own, but i couldn't resist juxtaposing all of these powerful responses together. although i find the guy to be a bit over the top on certain tracks, these topical knowledge-droppable efforts deserve to be heard. for real, immortal technique is not fooling around. several interviews i've read with him recently demonstrate this. check out what he has to say about the military and religion as forms of colonial control, not to mention the struggle for political direction in the latino community, which, contrary to all the condi-rice incrementalists out there, does not put a good foot forward in alberto gonzales.
just a lil' laptop agitprop, knamean? thanks for listening. and big up to all the artists who inspired this remix: immortal technique, ele and king of kings (aka, scatta and eva), aes rock, and mr. lif. keep up the pressure.