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


what would noam do?

galang, gal: eat a food

as you all know, MIA has licensed, "galang"--the track that refuses to die (and refuses to hit, innit?)--to a honda commercial. already the cries of sellout vs. pragmatist echo 'cross the blogalog. about the deal, ms.arulpragasam allegedly had something like this to say at her recent boston concert appearance:
"Sorry to kill the party ... Two days ago, I had a fight with a friend because I sold 'Galang' to Honda ... Sometimes I think I shouldn't have done it. Maybe you guys don't give a shit ... But I hope I still have your support ... I'm a first generation immigrant, how else am I gonna make money so I can get it the people who need it? ... This is still my song. It doesn't belong to Honda."
now, having still failed to weigh in on the great MIAsma (i'm ambivalent, natch), i'm afraid i don't have any kind of penetrating insight to offer on this latest move. obviously, this is a sticky, tricky issue, and various artists/entertainers have made compelling arguments for accepting or rejecting the advances of corporate money. i don't know much about honda, but i do know that they make decent, small cars (i drive one). moreover, i don't know much about MIA, but i know she makes decent, big chunes (i play some).

at any rate, i bring this up because i recently heard from a friend of mine who found himself in a similar position and decided to accept a licensing deal with a TV show that, though i haven't seen it, sounds like a gas.

noam weinstein, a fellow cambridge native and an acquaintance from high-school and college (but not, you'll note, a first-generation immigrant), announced to his mailing list last week that one could hear his music in this week's episode of showtime's weeds. noam's not only a great songwriter and performer, he's also hilarious, so, rather than paraphrasing, allow me to quote his own rationale for the decision:

When Tyler Wood and I released our album 'Probably Human' last year, we were quickly inundated with licensing offers from a variety of organizations and media outlets that felt it would suit their broadcast needs. Unfortunately, few of those needs were of a sort that Tyler and I felt comfortable aiding. Sure, milk helps strengthen the bones, but at what cost? Yes, it's an admirable goal to explain how branches of the government work, but for thirty boring minutes? And who are we to say if pretty ladies smell nice?

After a year of declining lucrative offers of this sort, we were finally approached by a cause that we're not only comfortable supporting, but proud to support. So this coming Monday, a one-minute clip from the song 'I Can Hurt People' will be played in the background during the final scene of Showtime's 10pm program 'Weeds,' about a suburban mother who deals marijuana.


P.S. I think the episode will also air Wednesday and Friday, assuming those are just different names for Monday.
now although noam can be as slippery as his lampooning brethren when it comes to playing with the truth, it seems to me that there's something inherently easier about accepting a deal with a show that you approve of than with a corporation that you might inherently distrust (not to forget that showtime is, of course, a corporate entity, or at least part of one). at any rate, i don't see any easy way out of this debate, but i guess that making these decisions according to which entities we admire and trust(?) and which we revile and suspect is at least some way forward.

so in the absence of any real analysis on my part, let me flip it on you junichi-style (not to imply that junichi's posts are devoid of analysis--far from it):

if you were in the position to license your music/art/media for a commercial, television network/show, etc., which would you summarily reject and which would you endorse without hesitation?


Blogger Alice B. said...

thankfully, although I am at the crossroads of many things these days, I am probably not going to end up a music maker seeing as how I have never played a single instrument in my life...

the problem, I have to say, is that you can't decide that a whole industry is good and worthy of endorsement because there is serious incentive for cutting corners any place where the driving force is profit. so it would have to come down to an investigation of the individual company. and even that is no small feat seeing as how lots of companies have PR budgets...

since I am most into the written word, lots of ink spilled lately on the issue of the ML King estate's selling of rights to his speeches to various corporations. the ethical implications are much dicier with text and revolutionary speeches like his than with music, IMHO... I find both restrictions on and sales of his speeches highly problematic because of their potential to empower people in need of empowerment ...

11:31 AM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

that being said, if the Marley estate sold rights to "Get up Stand up" to a corporation, I think i'd be very sad...

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my very cheap 2 cents

seriously, honda is NOT that bad of a company. Where were all these haters when Diplo got a track in A HUMMER commercial(jesus christ, H2 vs. HONDA - lets get real, honda is a way more trustworthy company than GM (as if that really matters))

If you want to talk about the enviornment, forward thinking vehicles (ie hybrid, etc.) honda is clearly a "better" car company than GM. But honestly, this hardly matters. I think this is more a case of people getting upset because their favorite secret is becoming a popstar.

Im a sound design student and an obsessive producer / dj. I would KILL to get some tracks into some car commercials just as I would KILL to get some tracks to artists I like. The reason? Im hungry, I have student loans to payback, etc. These people hating on selling a track for promotion don't make beats every day in their bedroom, they don't know what its like to make tracks and sometimes wonder who you are making them for.

Would anybody be upset if UGK was used to promote a new Cheby Impala? No, fools would be like "golly gosh this is so cooL! I LOVE that southern rap is getting the attention it deserves!!"

11:10 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

thanks for the 2 cents, alice and doc. i'm hoping we can stack some more change up in here. dj/rupture just added 10 cents of his own, so future comments might attempt to respond with this in mind:

12:34 PM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

Hey Wayne,

Thanks for posting about Creoles. Loved your comment about interviewing SOB's. I'll see if Papa Jube (the Haitian they recently hired to promote the former French Caribbean Friday party) is up to it...

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay maybe this is a bit old to still be relavent, don't know when this thread started exactly, didn't check. MIA. First of all, she took my city's initials, the wanker. Second of all, honda aint even an issue. She was seriously, severely compromised before she came out with the album, moreso than most indy turned elevator success stories usually are. See, everyone can laugh at the Honda bit really. We've been down that road before and to ad execs and the people that use a 60 sec. clip to buy a car, people like MIA (and really any artist or person who tries to exist a bit outside ... well exist at all) just aren't human, and vice versa. It's like calling a pidgeon a sell-out for eating day old burgers in a McDonalds dumpster: just useless rhetoric. However, what scares me about MIA is that a couple months before the big album release, when maybe only sunshowers (most accessible song on the album in my opinion) was getting much play, Sasha Frere did one of her pop-culture write ups on MIA. It was decent;I suppose it helped motivate me to buy the damn album, but I probably woulda done that anyway. So now it's a couple of months later. I get the album, I sit down to listen to it and it just happens to be one of the albums whose liner notes I look at. What do I find? A big glaring shout out to Sasha Frere Jones...To me that looked, and still looks, like two people's art has been compromised. That's an intersection between the artistic and the commercial in a place where it shouldn't have been, between two real people.

11:06 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

"It's like calling a pidgeon a sell-out for eating day old burgers in a McDonalds dumpster: just useless rhetoric."

wow, ken. love that metaphor. and you make some good points. but i'm not sure i'm with you on the last one. when it comes down to it, the music world is a small one (especially when we're talking about cheeky urban pop), and it's just too hard to keep the lines between journalists and artists too starkly drawn. sasha, who is a dude incidentally, liked some things about MIA and MIA was grateful. that doesn't seem like any great crime to me. much worse, in my opinion, is the common practice whereby journalists (not naming names here--but the not-so-good ones) simply reproduce the press-packet hype instead of listening and thinking for themselves and offering an opinion that might diverge from the artist's/agent's opinion of him-herself/his-her client.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sasha Frere did one of her pop-culture write ups on MIA."

ahem, Sasha Frere-Jones is a man...

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya know I think Led Zep artistically survived the Cadillac usage. In most cases the music will get weakened.

MIA has been pimping herself since day one, so no diff. For us hipsters maybe she looses effect, but she's a good thing to shove upstream. But I think she should be representing Tamils and Tamil Nadu instead of saying she's from Sri Lanka. She's never even been there ! But people think Sri Lanka is sexy and they don't know Tamil Nadu at all.

After she does an album with timba.... girl can buy some teeth.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Junichi said...

A friend sent me to this post to tell me that my name had become an adjective, which is exciting.

I don't have a sophisticated answer to your question, although I would happily lend any music to any show that has the power to essentially create a music video for me: Entourage, The O.C., The Wire, Grey's Anatomy, etc.

5:33 PM  

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