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



kabir sen (yes, that sen), a fellow cantabridgian rapper/producer, has a new album out. it's his third, and he's been getting some nice press on it, if in unlikely spots (for rappers, not cantabridgians). it's been a while since the collaboration actually went down, but i produced a track on the album, "get it right," which some might recognize as employing the "sexy jesus" riddim (which, if you wanna spit on it too, holler).

a recent profile on "the world" (i'm sayin') features another track i produced for kabir, a dancehall-style chant-down called "war" from his second album, fuel for the fire, featuring ever wicked dj axel foley on cuts. (the radio piece closes with the entertaining novelty rap, "the liar," which i heartily recommend and which you can also hear at his myspace.)


in other quasi-collabos, you can hear an old w&w instrumental - one of the first tracks i ever produced, matter of fact - in a recent comic-podcast (comicast? animatic?) by canadian comic artist, colin white.

it's a new approach for an old medium, and i think it's got some potential. (see clickwheel for more.) perhaps more persuasive than anything else was colin's conviction that instrumental hip-hop was the ideal soundtrack for the medium. that's a man with taste.

i was honored that he decided to use some of my music, especially since he's putting it to what seems like better use than that guy who decided the intro to "boston jerk" was well-suited for a parody-propelling pornloop. (i did license it through creative commons, knowing - hoping even - that it would inspire derivative works. what can you do?)

i have to admit, colin's comic podcast looks and sounds pretty sweet (better, i should note, than on youtube) through my nifty video ipod - a lovely birthday gift from my dear, dear girl. (as it turns out, or as i found out this weekend, i happen to share a birthday with woebot, murk, and sasha from jahcoozi, among others! that's some fine company. thanks again to all for the well-wishes.)


link dump #856736


wicked wicked birthday

tonight, the 25th, we'll be celebrating (at least) a double b-day at river gods. it's my brother's birthday at midnight, the 26th, and mine the following day, the 27th. (i'm a year and 364 days older.) having had such close birthdays all our lives - rumor has it we would have shared the same day had he not been "taken out" a day early so the doctor could go on vacation (though i may have made that up just to tease him) - we have combined our birthday parties on many an occasion, which, once you get over having to share the attention, is a lot of fun.

among my fondest memories of our shared birthdays are several trips our family made to an ol'fashioned icecream parlour called chadwick's. not only did chadwick's have a nickelodeon in the corner, which would slap'n'clap itself into some chunky ragtime, not to mention an item called the "belly buster" (i.e., a bowl of icecream so large it had to be carried in on a stretcher, effortfully, by two young men), chadwick's also boasted the tradition of presenting any birthday boy or girl with a free sundae and no small pomp and circumstance.

first, the bass drum: BOOM BOOM BOOM. then, a rapidly rung bell: DING DING DING DING. and then, clientele rapt, some teenager behind the counter in a styrofoam hat would say, as loud as he or she could, something like, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE'RE VERY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE TONIGHT BUT WE'RE ESPECIALLY HAPPY TO HAVE..." and then he or she would insert the lucky kid's name and everyone would sing "happy birthday" as a perfect little sundae - hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top - was placed in front of the smiling kid.

or in our case, kids.

you see, we'd tell a little white lie and pretend that the doctor didn't go away on vacation after all and, so yeah, we shared the same birthday. and then we'd both get pomp and circumstance and sundaes, which was a real treat.

on two occasions, though, inexplicably, something went terribly wrong. we told them we were brothers with the same birthday and they asked us if we wanted sundaes and then before too long there was the BOOM BOOM BOOM DING DING DING DING and the "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE'RE VERY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE TONIGHT..."

but twice - yes twice! - instead of saying "BUT WE'RE ESPECIALLY HAPPY TO HAVE...WAYNE AND JASON!" they said "BUT WE'RE ESPECIALLY HAPPY TO HAVE...JAYNE AND WASON!"

that's right: "JAYNE AND WASON"

well, as you can imagine, that was a little funny and a little embarassing too. (and much more funny than embarassing the second time, natch.)

i mean, who would people think was JAYNE and who was WASON?

as you might guess, neither of us - since, yes, we HAD to decide who was who - wanted to be JAYNE. and although the question of who is JAYNE might seem clear to you, dear reader, we had heated arguments full of complex logic. "clearly," i'd contend, "it's the first letter that's most important, most determining." (though i'm sure i didn't say it that way.) he'd counter, persuasively (though i'd never concede so in the moment), "come now: it's the number of letters, the overall sound of the word, that matters." (and i'm sure he didn't say it that way.)

to this day the question of who is JAYNE and who is WASON remains in dispute.

fortunately, though, there's no bad blood between us, so me and my bro still celebrate together any chance we get. and tonight is just such an opportunity, being my monthly thingamajig, wicked wicked thursday, over at the gods. i mean, really, why not celebrate at a comfy lil' place where we run the sound and the guinness pours sweet? indeed, to make the night even sweeter and keep the vibes nice'n'festive i've enlisted two of my favoritest, funnest local DJs: mistah pace (soon to be doctah pace!) and DJ BC, boston's king of bastard pop (who gave a mashup smashup presentation in electro-class a couple weeks ago).

if you'd care to raise your glass and nod your head with us, we'll be doing so from about 9-1. as usual, it's free. (of course, if you've got other plans, i don't blame ya. if it wasn't my monthly gig and me and my bro's b-day and all, i'd probably be heading here myself.)


finally, just to add a (suspicious?) twist to the JAYNE and WASON double-debacle, it appears that chadwick's once employed not one but TWO of the SNL comedians who've made wicked retahded a nationally-recognized phrase. go figya.



and just for fun, here's a techno-polka version of "happy birthday" i cooked up years ago, back when i was living in wisconsin and in considerably closer earshot to both techno and polka.

wayne&wax, "waxy birthday"


english as a universal language

allow me to use the power of this humble blog to amplify the sage words - as posted to the SEM list - of eminent ethnomusicologist jeff todd titon (whose worlds of music i used as a textbook - and playfully sampled - in the first intro to music of the world course i ever did teach) ::

English as a national language

Recently there has been some serious talk in Congress about declaring English the national language of the United States. And there has been some quite predictable opposition to this movement from folklorists and anthropologists. No doubt the ethnomusicologists on this list, many of them anyway, share those oppositional sentiments but they are keeping their own counsel. Not I.

As a citizen of the USA, I have a modest proposal. And I think my proposal has a good chance of passing Congress and obtaining a signature from the President. Certainly it would have a better chance than those opposed to English as a national language. It is this: declare English the official language of the planet. And why stop there? Surely the Plutonians, and the inhabants of Ursa Minor, if there be any, are culturally deprived without the English language, so easy to learn (why, even a baby can learn it), so mellifluous on the tongue (the French are said to be able to fall in love just listening to the sound of English), so subtle, so expressive, particularly in the hands of our political leaders. And all this time people had been wondering if music was a universal language. No, I say, wonder no more: declare English the official language of the universe.

Want to stop the southern border crossings? No more Spanish! Without their language the plucky migrants will droop and return. Hey, hey, what's that sound? It will be "a great sucking sound" from south of the border, in the immortal (English) words of that great Texas politician whose name is on the tip of my tongue.

And stop translating at the UN; what good does it do anyway? Our leaders don't want to hear what the others have to say. Render them speechless, I say. Why just the other day a UN group asked the US to shut down Gitmo. Said it violated international law. Imagine that! And they probably issued their declaration in several languages. What a waste! No, English is all anyone needs. Do we torture "detainees" (the word itself is an eloquent example of the power of the English language) with Arab hip-hop? Certainly not; Eminem is sufficient. Turn up the volume!

Best to all,
Jeff Titon


a year ago or so i posted the following

of course, the answer to both is YES !


saturday morning link dump

  • must. feed. internet.: so i posted some purple haze punch over at da method

  • dr_auratheft has put together some new mixhibits - in blog form to boot ! - including a fine bit o' mirror-mirror exotica.

  • one of w&w's favorite local ahtists, jason chase, recently remixed repainted a switchbox in davis square with one of his vibrant, classic popcorn-box designs

  • how to make a bench: tips from clay ward, another one of w&w's favorite local ahtists

  • psy-ology: graham st. john on a goa festival

  • soul cocina: food blog, meet music blog

  • favela funk: mike davis holds forth

  • banned words from film criticism

  • jeff chang on merrittgate and the so-called rockism/poptomism debate (as usual, we're glad that jeff cantstopwontstop):
    Quite beyond the merits of Merritt's case for being a good white liberal (which, who cares? Right?) the fact is that music criticism is still a very white male-dominant field (as if I have to remind anyone, geezus), and the wounds are always fresh.


    But I don't think any of this stuff gets to the more important question of how our aesthetics function in the world.

    Point blank: Has the 5, 8, 30-year old discussion around popism and rockism helped us establish an aesthetic practice and discourse that changes the world for the better?

    Answer: Nope, it hasn't done shit.

    So I've figured out it's pretty much a waste of my time.

  • moreover, simon says:
    All these issues raised by Merrittgate (and this Marcus quote) dovetail beautifully with the P-ism/R-ism debate because they relate to this idea you get on the loony fringe of P-ism which is that listeners should step outside their own tastes/biases/preconceptions and achieve an impartial state in which things get understood "on their own terms." I don't think that is possible--not completely anyway--and I'm not sure it's particularly desirable, in terms of its effects of music writing. Oh, open-mindedness is good (although there's more to that statement to be unpacked, a lot more, but later for that; and as an ideal, catholicity tends to keep receding beyond one's grasp, given the dizzying multitude of kinds of music and sheer mass of sound) . But empty-mindedness, which is what a certain sort of "rid thyself of all preconceptions" strand of P-ism seems to propose, is not good. What are we, in the end, but our partialities (in both sense of the word)? Strong writing comes from a situated self, a self with preferences and history, but also blindspots. A piece of music (or any other cultural artefact) doesn't just happen to a listener; the person happens back. Experience is the chemical reaction between a cultural artifact and a self that carries plenty baggage with it. So this idea of achieving a self-erased and de-valued subject position from which an ideologically "clear" experience of music X or genre Y can take place is an illusion. And not even a useful illusion.

  • my 2 cents echo simon: anyone who thinks we can talk about music (or even experience music) "non-ideologically" does both music and people a disservice. and is probably a talking android. such stances do not help electric sheep at all. indeed, such stances give voice to a particular sort of ideology: the one that says music transcends the social, so why spoil the experience with all this talk of race and class and other tawdry matters? fuck that.

  • and in the slightly-old-but-relevant category... : DNA, schmeeNA, or how, when pressed on race in new ways, people's "gut" reaction is that genetics aren't so important, historical/social experience is

  • for more links: see my relatively recently formed del.icio.us ish (not yet backlogged through all my bookmarks), for more of what i'm looking at and liking and (likely later) linking to
  • 5.19.2006

    foggy bottom

    one day of remarkable respite, and now rain again. but as sasha says, let it pour. plenty sunny days ahead. more important, we at w&w could use some less-than-enticing weather to help us stay inside and writewritewrite.


    top of that, we like the way this gloomy weather seems commensurate with the foggy bottom beats we've been listening to.

    a week ago, driving from boston to middletown through rain and fog, kode 9's recent rinse mix seemed the perfect soundtrack: claustrophobic clipped-cavernous cracks in cityspace, soundscape surround in suggestive stereo, warbling womb of fluid forms full frontal flying under the radar radiant. or something.

    aiming low with head high, burial bring dubpoems and dubstep into righteous bassboost lockstep.


    why go brap!brap! when you can go gloo-GLAU!! ?


    dubbing it afro-nofuturism seems dead on mark. a subtle shift p'raps. but let's not forget, of course, that dread visions have always been a crucial component of A-F.


    let the skies open and the basements flood.

    rinse, repeat.



    busy working, wayno?

    -- a vignette of sloppy stills from i am cuba ..

    heavy-handed agitprop, but beautiful, moving all the while. the sympathies come easy: working people, poor people, students, revolutionaries. the bad guys are bad guys: united fruit, asshole tourists, corrupt officials, imperialists.

    well worth watching, even if you got shit to write, stuff to grade, people to see.


    electro class at beat research

    tonight at the enormous room: hear lots of music we produced this semester as an attempt get a hands-on grasp on some of the styles we studied. i'll be mixing'n'mashing my way through as many "production projects" as i can. we'll also have some DJ sets courtesy of a few dextrous DJ/students - i've heard rumblings about a screwed-psy-trance / chipmunk-ragga-rap mini-set, but don't quote me on that - and an ambient-hop warm-up c/o pamela martinez and teletextile. should be fun. 9-1. no cover.



    special for the gifshow (about which, see more here), the blogosphere's favorite meta-mp3blogger and grandgiffordizerer, the ingooglable dr.893 (actually he's up to #2), created an absolutely epic piece:


    let it load, scroll slow, and watch the gifs mutate and morph into no less than a cascading michaelmcdonald megamix of olympian proportions!


    elsewhere (in brooklyn, natch), for another bit of multimedia-hack-art 2.0, check banananutramentmike's youtube breakdancing video collage:

    carefully click all the little play buttons and watch everyone spin at once!


    thank you, internet! more like these, please!!


    this is a hold up

    last night during electro-class, local wiki-wiz sam klein (semi-pictured above) gave us a great overview of how one participates in wikipedia. he showed us the ins and outs of edits and discussions and talked about some of the conventions of the form, which will be helpful as we attempt to add to the growing body of knowledge on electronic music at wikipedia. (ahem, what's your cyberstrategy?) it is clear that there is a strong community of engaged wikipedians - some of whom like to hear the sound of thousands of edits as birdsong - attempting to refine and expand an increasingly rich digital commons (which, at about two edits a second [!], is growing at an unbelievable pace).

    sam also urged us to "commons" our music (which we can do, in part, at least for those of our productions that don't employ copyrighted materials). wikimaniac that he is, sam advocated for wikicommons, though obviously creative commons provides another way to license our own work in such a way that it can encourage and enable "derivative" works.

    it was a good suggestion and something that i should have put more emphasis on over the course of the semester. one of the biggest problems with the contemporary copyright regime is that its overreaching restrictions and protections are, at least in the US, applied automatically to any and all works as soon as they're created or "fixed" - unless one takes measures to reserve only certain rights. (that's right: all myths aside, you don't have to mail yourself a copy of the thing.)

    that means the burden is on us as creators to assert our rights, including our right to give away certain "rights" that we feel impoverish our creative culture. as we saw in yesterday's post, all i had to do - and this is often the case - was to make my desires as a creator known, and the "publishing group" and i were able to revise the licensing agreement. it does, however, require a certain proactive approach, which means that the majority of works pass into copyright prison despite that their creators might be more than happy to allow others to build on their work.

    the climate that current copyright creates is a stifling one not just because it automatically shrouds new works in an excess of protective armor, but because it encourages those with the power to distribute other people's works to assert degrees of ownership over them that are, at base, unfair. this is what was happening in the contract sent to me by publisher x. and i'm glad that they were able to be rather fair and flexible in offering me a non-exclusive contract when i pressed them on it. but it doesn't always work so easily, and sometimes - especially for up-and-coming, independent artists - asserting one's rights can cost one an important opportunity.

    take the case of a local friend of mine who happens to be an up-and-coming, independent producer. when he was asked to contribute a track to a compilation on a small label (but bigger than him), he sought some legal advice and attempted to assert some minimal rights over his work that they would be distributing. the nature of the biz - thanks in part to copyright and thanks in part to capitalism (inseparable as they are) - is that all parties attempt to assert the maximum rights they can. contracts on both sides are written up in such a way that neither party can reasonably agree, so it becomes a question of who has more power in the negotiation (which is also tied into $$$ for lawyers). when a small label attempting to distribute the work of a smaller artist is presented with such a contract, often the reaction is: whoa, dude, we don't have time/money to negotiate this, so thanks but no thanks. end of deal. that sucks, for everyone.

    this is a hold up.

    why not a new system with fewer automatic restrictions? why not, at least for people at a certain tier of the biz, a system like what becca proposes, wikily? why not non-exclusive deals all around? why can't we all be our own distributors? distribute the distribution? that would seem more efficient, even for the market-oriented folk out there (who probably don't read this here blog anyhow). is the only problem with such a model that access to distribution channels is unequal, leaving, say, first-world (or wealthy) collaborators with practical monopolies on distribution? are "fair trade" models working? i'm curious. really.

    meantime, i encourage all you content-producers out there to take a more active role in licensing your work. the internet makes it easier than ever before. what's your cyberstrategy?


    love letter from a publisher

    the following is the concluding paragraph from a letter i'm supposed to sign and send back:
    Your execution of this agreement will constitute an exclusive grant to the publisher of a complete release of all publishing and proprietary rights in and to your contribution in book form and in electronic and other nonbook formats and in all languages throughout the world, and for the original and all subsequent editions and printings of the book.
    sounds like quite a deal, eh? and did i mention that for the countless hours - ok, we can count them, let's say somewhere around 60 hours - of work i put into the piece that they're so kind as to offer me, well, allow me to put it in their terms:
    In full and final compensation for your contribution and your services as a contributor, the publisher will send you one (1) free copy of the work, when it is published, for your own use and not for resale, regardless of the number of contributions you make for use in this work.
    wow. "one (1) free copy of the work"! won't that look nice on the shelf. and, sure, it'll look nice on the CV, too. but is it really worth it for me to give away the rights to the fruits of my labor like this? shouldn't i be able to reserve the right, at least, to republish it myself? couldn't their "publishing and proprietary rights" be less than exclusive and, if not, less than permanent?

    fortunately for us all (unless you're a bigwig publisher), i think the times they are a-changin' with regard to this stuff. as stuart shieber notes:
    The attitude of the faculty has already changed. More and more, faculty members realize that the current system for dissemination of scholarly information is unsustainable. Commercial publishers act in the best interests of their shareholders rather than the scholarly community. The big issue is the fairness and rationality in the system as a whole . . . Scholars and academics develop their results . . . They write their articles. They serve on the editorial boards of these journals at no charge and with no compensation. They do all the reviewing unpaid. Eventually these articles are published in one of these journals that gets sold back to the libraries for the use of these same scholars - at exorbitant prices. The solution is not to compensate the authors, editors, and reviewers, but to eliminate the middlemen. That's the principle of open-access publication.
    still, there are a lot of people in a position like mine, eager to stack up some publications on the ol' young resume and/or lacking the institutional backative to resist, who still routinely sign away their rights to the work they produce. (i haven't yet, in this case.) let us hope that enough of us can convince our peers and our institutions to wake up and smell the stinking middlemen.


    update!: i'm happy to say that, with regard to the letter i quote above, i have heard back from my editor (within a few hours at that) - having made my reservations known to him - and he tells me that the editorial dept. at the "publishing group" in question has agreed to send me a non-exclusive contract! just goes to show: sometimes all it takes is a little standing up to make the system shift.

    fyi, here's what i wrote to my editor:
    I would much prefer a non-exclusive grant or an exclusive grant for some limited term, and I would much prefer to reserve the right to publish and "own" my contribution in electronic form. I don't think this is much to ask, really, though I realize it seems almost presumptuous in our present publishing climate. Call me an idealist, call me a radical - I see little reason to give away the fruits of my labor so easily, so permanently.

    Do you think [Publishing Group X] would be amenable to a revision of this final paragraph? I have many friends in the law who could assist with a rewrite.

    my friends are your friends, my friends.


    ambiquous destruct, ricely inconspicuous

    these images have been blocked.

    these poems have not !

    (choose the RIAA !!)


    dembow demo

    NYC gente:

    i'll be giving a "dembow demo" at hunter college this friday, may 5, as part of a symposium called, "a closer look at reggaeton," sponsored by the center for puerto rican studies and moderated by raquel rivera.

    despite the title of the thing, i plan to focus more on listening than looking. specifically, i'll discuss and demonstrate (and DJ!) the dembow riddim: what it is (and how it's put together), where it comes from, how it relates to panamanian reggae en español, how it informs the emergence and coherence of the style known today as reggaeton, and how we can hear its presence and resonance - and thus reggae's presence and resonance - in contemporary productions.

    should be a good conversation. despite some recent chatter about the music's decline, i don't think reggaeton's going anywhere any time soon, and it certainly has given us plenty to talk about already. the event starts at 6, and it's free of charge.


    how kaavya viswanathan got dissed

    as gawkers ethics-bound journalists continue to scrutinize kaavya viswanathan's novel for instances of so-called plagiarism, more and more keep turning up. although the harvard crimson - who "broke" the story (hook, line, and sinker) - argues that the latest revelations, including passages resembling the work of salman rushdie, "raise fresh questions about the originality of Viswanathan’s novel," i'd have to say that i'm led to the opposite conclusion. how could such a sly synthesis of so many different sources be considered anything other than original? isn't that what originality really is?

    lack of attribution notwithstanding, viswanathan's novel is clearly a helluva hodgepodge. i'm not sure why the obvious conclusion to draw from that is that is it less original. there are some strange notions of "original" floating around out here. why are people so invested in such seemingly delusional notions, such imaginary ideals?

    i think kaavya should give up this whole "unintentional and unconscious" bit, cry foul on her publisher and handlers, and tell the world all about her close engagement with the literature that informs her authorial voice. let her desi and non-desi teenage fans decide whether they think it still stands as a compelling work. salman rushdie need not worry about losing readers to ms.viswanathan.



    "The EMP conference was interesting; I'd never been, and most of my suspicions about the prospects of hanging out with ambitiously academic rock critics as they discussed the music that embarrassed them were confirmed. (smile)"

    - via myspace message from a former classmate and ambitiously rock academic critic