Category Archives: Hip Hop

From the Inbox: The First Gay Rapper™

I have no idea how Sissy Rich (The First Gay Rapper™) and his street team acquired my email address, but it’s not the first time that something completely unexpected has dropped into my inbox and left me asking pointless rhetorical questions.

Sissy Rich, who has presciently trademarked the above phrase, has quite the street team. Enthusiastic and somewhat disturbing which, if you’re fronting for the first* gay rapper, is probably considered a plus.

*This claim is very likely untrue, but all that matters now is Sissy Rich has legal possession of this phrase. 

The street team hands out all sorts of assurances and deflections in hopes that those on the receiving end of this untargeted campaign won’t succumb to their usual homophobic tendencies. (Or something — there’s a strong hint of jubilant paranoia to the missive, the sort of thing that calls to mind the forced cheerfulness of salespeople practicing the fine art of mandatory upselling.)

Hey i have doubts you won’t receive this but over all, i’m here to put you on SISSY RICH cause he goes’ HARDDDDD, first off he’s a gay rapper close to mainstream and don’t be ALARMED although i said he’s GAY he dosen’t rap about the VULGAR things that may come to mind when you hear gay rapper, and he has a very big growing fan base! He has over 220K followers on twitter, over 1.4 million views on youtube and etc it wouldn’t hurt to LISTEN!!!

While I am pleased that Sissy Rich won’t be solely rapping about such VULGAR subjects as (presumably) gays, gay sex, gay relationships, gay problems, gay street life, gay imported sports cars, gay drug dealing, gay bitches and gay bling, I am also somewhat disappointed that all the gay is being pushed aside to make way for the Gay™.  Not that I’m expecting every track to go all Maxwell and become nothing more than a camp string of anal innuendo,  but if you’re going to drop your mp3s off at the nearest critic’s inbox clothed in little more than a sexual preference, it’s kind of a letdown when the lyrical content is nearly indistinguishable from hundreds of other rap artists.

Sissy Rich seems a little vague on his intentions as well:

“People like the fact i rap, but the things i rap about they wouldn’t expect a GAY RAPPER to express, my music is way beyond me dating men, it’s barely talked about. I just feel my story is just important as everyone’s else, for example who can tell me what’s RAP and what’s not when i have 100,000+ supporters who feel different?”

Now, I can appreciate Rich’s attempt to change perceptions about WHAT a gay rapper would rap about (see my list above) and change this into something along the lines of a “rapper who just happens to be gay” and subsequently blow minds in that fashion. But any shot at true subversiveness is completely undercut by his branding effort. It’s GAY™ first, RAP second, which seems to run in opposition to his stated aims.

While I applaud him for taking on perhaps the most homophobic genre in the music biz, I can’t help but feel that I’m supposed to like this (or like it more) simply because of that fact. Unfortunately, I tend not to like music preloaded with the artist’s suppositions. If I did, I’d be a Consolidated fan. (ZING!)  (Also: Rage Against the Machine.)

If you’re curious, here’s a link to Sissy Rich’s Youtube page, where pretty much everything he’s released is available, along with a few interviews.

/s/CLT

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Filed under Commentary, Electronica, Hip Hop

The Endlessly Scrolling Wall of Sound: Aural Sects Recommendations Vol. 2

Diving back into the breach in a foolhardy attempt to catch up with netlabel Aural Sects‘ breakneck pace. Since Vol. 1 (in what now seems will be an interminable series), Aural Sects has released no fewer than three (3) new albums. (Witchboy – Le Universe Perverse, Flexdragon – U Thirsty Bro?, Astral Goth – Drowning the Colossus)

To answer your unasked but presumptuous question: NO. NO I HAVE FUCKING NOT LISTENED TO THEM. YET. I’m still running through the back catalog which, may I remind you, is not a completely insignificant effort, thxverymuch, and the difficulty curve only seems to be getting steeper because for some maddening reason, the order of the albums RANDOMLY REARRANGES ITSELF.

Not that I don’t want to hear the NEW STUFF, it’s just that there’s so much old stuff that’s still new to me and once I say I’m going to do something, I usually find every reason in the world to NOT follow through and believe me, whatever algorithmic device is in charge of keeping the albums lined up in roughly the same arrangement I saw last time has apparently decided that the internet just doesn’t fuck with self-imposed OCDists/completists ENOUGH and has rectified the situation by shuffling the deck at odd intervals. If I shut the speakers off, I swear to Jesus Harrison Christ that I can hear mocking electronic laughter and I CANNOT be 100% SURE that it isn’t just my own leaking sanity reflecting off the 21″ LCD.

To the music. Apologies in advance for factual errors, random misspellings, odd tangents, Unicode translations issues, abuse of the word “atmospheric,” abuse of the word “dark,” abuse of the word “rad” and for anyone whose albums might have been overlooked in the shuffle. Keep in mind this is not the last volume of Aural Sects: Netlabel As Wormhole.

[I was wrong. It’s four (4) albums: VS//YOUTHCLUB – WAVES. This is being said with about 80% certainty. It could be more, but there’s no way to sort by “ALREADY LISTENED TO.”]

Spell Hound – Circling.mp3

Many people regard the Midwest is the ne plus ultra of normality WHERE NOTHING EVER HAPPENS and if anything strange does happen, it’s usually something outrageously fucked up, like serial killing brought on by an overly-tight Bible Belt. In all honesty, the Midwest harbors a much worse sort of banality: stasis. Things are the same forever because that’s the way things have always been. Consequently, many of the denizens operate on a zombie-esque level of existence, not quite alive but not dead enough to auction off the various vehicles decorating the yard and the stamp collection full of mid-70s commons.

But. The best thing about the Midwest is that NOBODY expects weird shit to pop up musically. It happens, more frequently than anyone would suspect [see also: Umberto] and yet, it’s always a bit of pleasant surprise. Darkwave duo Spell Hound call Kansas City, MO home and put together the sort of VNV Nation-via-EPROM (the chip, not the musician [although maybe…]) that NO ONE expects to come winding its way down I-70, which is exactly why so many people end up victimized by serial killers. Trust in the same old continuing to be the same old. No alarms and no surprises.

Circling rolls in on a bassline that splits the difference between the Killing Joke and early Cure, while the vocals split the difference between Curve and Siouxie Sioux. Julia Holter’s electronica picks up the tip and everyone heads back to the house to spin records long into the night, quite possibly from the artists listed above.

Spell Hound – Spell Hound

Texture – Rohrschach.mp3

Texture, much like pretty much everyone on the AS roster, can’t be limited to one album. Instead, he has doubled up. Of the two, I prefer Thrown Room (see below), but they both have their moments. SigilKids, from which Rohrschach is taken, is a handful of mushrooms and the damage done. Leaning more towards slowly unwinding electro-psychedelia, SigilKids is the kind of head trip that has just enough dark moments to make you reconsider spending every moment of downtime under the influence but still pleasant enough to make you reconsider your earlier reconsideration and consequently, spend the next several hours under the influence of hallucinogenics and whatever’s on Cartoon Network.

Rohrschach itself gradually fades into view like a Mad Professor vs. session, sending echoing drum beats and cascading synth tones tumbling down a long aural stairwell. It’s not until the 6-minute mark that Texture drops in the darkness, replacing aimless buzzing with slamming-home-the-deadbolt paranoia.

Texture – SigilKids

On the second album, SigilKids II – Thrown Room, Texture mines an uglier vein, taking you places you’d rather be completely straight before entering and completely fucked up the moment you escape.

Texture – B▲53D G؆Ħ.mp3

Based Goth (translated for the Unicode-impaired and lazy typists like myself) shows just how much damage a handful of pitch-shifted and mutated loops can do in the right hands. There’s nothing overtly violent about the track, but it still exudes the sort of just-under-the-surface tension that gives the relentless swirl of loops a sonic texture not unlike rabbit-punching SALEM’s frontman several times in mid-rap, thus slowing his speech permanently. A severe pitch up arrives towards the end, turning a snippet of effed-with vocals into the derisive sound of misanthropic angels.

Texture – The Breeze (Sonic Youth Cover).mp3

Somewhat unexpectedly, considering the raw assemblage of throttled-and-beaten noises in between the opening track and this one, The Breeze is a rather beautiful cover of Sonic Youth’s Cross the BreezeTexture shows some great range with this track, playing up the lighter tones that Sonic Youth hastily shed in their original, while also pinning it down with some impeccable drum programming.

Texture – SigilKids II – Thrown Room

Party Trash – Crazy.mp3

This is sort of a cheat here, as I’m posting the entire EP. Pray 4 Luv is a small collection of previously unreleased tracks, which isn’t a sign of someone being out of ideas. Far from it. If you head to Trash’s Bandcamp page, you’ll see he’s got plenty more to choose from. And that doesn’t include contributions to other compilations and labels.

But I feel compelled to post the whole EP, not just because each track is so solid, but because I’ve been a fan for a long time and really haven’t given Party Trash his dues. My first (and so far, only) piece dealing with one of his tracks appeared way the hell back near the beginning of 2011, featuring his work with Raw Moans — a delightful piece of slightly-off blisspop titled Drunk Dial. When not exercising his screwhop-informed malevolence under the Party Trash name, he also makes gorgeous slabs of sighing white noise as Police Academy 6, as unlikely a name to grace something worth listening to since the Revolting Cocks. In the music business, this is know as ambidexterity.*

*Ed.: This is simply not true at all. More likely it’s known as “having range” or “multi-talented,” or over-exuberantly, “a Renaissance man.”

Party Trash – Die.mp3

While Crazy is a stuttering slipstream of rising electronics and unholy choir arrangements, Die gives you all you need to know in the three-letter title. From spiritual life (Crazy) into crushed-by-atmospheric-pressure death, but metaphorically, Die is the sound of dying on the outside from dying on the inside. This is the sort of track you play when you know you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed and you want to do nothing more than either a.) go the fuck back to bed or b.) get wrecked and look for trouble. It’s like Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing with the lyrics aborted and the emphasis strongly on the last two syllables.

Party Trash – Pray 4 Luv.mp3

And Pray 4 Luv, god bless its twisted little heart, is diva dance as threnody. The vocals aim to soar while the music aims to demolish everything in its path. Some early synth tones might give you the idea that this diva wants only the best for you, but the foreboding bass thump and following doom synths let you know what’s really going down. Pray 4 Luv, sure, but you’d also had better pray 4 more life. Fucker.

Party Trash – Pray 4 Luv

DJ Deathray – Bombs On It.mp3

Combine the words “DJ” and “Deathray” and you’re halfway there. Club-ready beats combined with an alien sonic weapon. The 4/4 is geared for the dancefloor, but the kickdrums distort and the accompanying tones warp around the wreckage like light around a black hole. DJ Deathray is the heavy rotation of the Cool Kids of Death. The bass rattles like shitty-subs-in-a-trunk, giving the track the breezy outdoor feeling of drivebys on the main drag and designer drug kiddies riding shotgun with psychedelic warlords. DJ Deathray sounds like the visual shorthand for “bad trip,” blurred lines in slo-mo, neon squiggles stuck in a perpetual jumpcut.

DJ Deathray – Neus

Witchboy – Venusville.mp3

Witchboy hits a particular sweet spot with me. His cocksure industrial strut reminds me of music I discovered during my musical formative years, the point where I realized, thanks to music passed to me by others ahead of the curve, that the radio WAS NOT my friend.

Top 40 radio was suddenly annoyingly lightweight. Rock radio was only slightly heftier, but prone to focusing on hits at the expense of albums and next-big-thing repetition. Radio was dead to me. In its place were several new bands, none of which sounded remotely like the crass populism of the airwaves.

In particular, Witchboy sounds like my first brushes with industrial music, specifically Wax Trax! brand of industrial music, miles away from the clinical joylessness of a million German producers. Wax Trax! industrial had swagger. An infinite amount of cool. A willingness to explore genre boundaries and a disarming sense of fun. The Thrill Kill Kult. Ministry. RevCo. Laibach. Witchboy is mainly the first one, with his vocals reaching the same half-sneering, half-leering pitch of TKK frontman Groovie Mann.

Taking the mantra of “sex, drugs and rock and roll” to its illogical and illicit extremes and then selling off the last part to purchase more sex and drugs, TKK and other roster artists acted like industrial music’s own red light district, pushing a new brand of rock and roll, rephrased as “sex, drugs and Satan.”

Witchboy – Making Movies.mp3

Like the Thrill Kill Kult (and countless other artists), Witchboy has an obsession with Hollywood. And why not. Hollywood’s draw has always been its portrayal of itself as a mythmaker and creator of cultural icons, but underneath the thin veneer of glamour lies a decades-thick sludge-like layer of sleaze. Casting couches. Arranged marriages. Racism. Sexism. Gay leading men married to lesbian leading ladies. Blowjobs for bit parts. Greyhound buses full of Midwestern teens swiftly having their dreams of stardom converted into starring roles for local pimps. And despite years and years of this, Hollywood still attracts.

Making Movies is about the biz, but don’t go casting about for profundities. Just enjoy the crashing hi-hats, the down-the-fuck-low “making movies” vocal sample, the bleeping, incongruous “melody” line, and the backsass-as-frontmouth back-and-forth of the vocals.

Seriously, just go pick up the entire album. (Link below.) And check out his latest release, mentioned about 1,700 words ago, but linked again right here: Le Universe Perverse.

Witchboy – Hollymode

Marie Dior – FAST LEGS (HIGH HEELS) (❚W❙IT❚C❙H❘B❚O❙Y❘ VOGUE BITCH remixXx).mp3

Man, nothing gets my blood flowing like the words “remix compilation.” This is not me being facetious. I love remixes. People with tiny minds spout big words about “originality” and “creativity” and endlessly besmirch remixers and mashup artists as “copycats” and “button-pushers” with no talent of their own. As a gas-huffing sociopath with kidnapping on his rap sheet and some serious mommy issues once said in regards to imported beer: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

A great remix is its own thing, one that grows and lives and breathes as an entity both within and without the original. Take Armand Van Helden’s storming remix/remake of Tori Amos’ Professional Widow, which converted a damaged pianist with a headful of bad living into a peak time house diva. Check out Alan Braxe and Fred Falke’s remix of the Test Icicles’ What’s Your Damage?, which recasts the Icicle’s masculine rawk as perhaps the best track to never make the Miami Vice soundtrack. I’ve got a million of them. Fatboy Slim’s devastation of Mike and Charlie’s I Get Live, which saw Underworld’s blistering Born Slippy racket and said “I raise you a million (bpm).”

Fuck, for that matter, check out the remix package for Pictureplane’s Thee Physical. The remixes for the track Body Mod acknowledge Pictureplane’s lifting of some vox from Dub Be Good to Me by Beats International (an early Norman Cook [aka Fatboy Slim] project) by throwing in their “own” two cents worth — Extreme Animals throws in some of the Twin Peaks soundtrack along with Moby’s Go and Teams tosses in a complete nod-and-wink by bringing in samples from one of Fatboy Slim’s most famous remixes, Renegade Master by Wildchild. Everyone stealing. Everyone building. To quote Jim Jarmusch:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination… Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.

Marie Dior – FAST LEGS (HIGH HEELS) (Aparition Remix).mp3

This is all a very long-winded way of saying I love remixes and that those with high-minded ideals about originality are welcome to GTFO and erase this URL from their internet history.

As for this remix package, it goes all over the place, taking Marie Dior’s ADULT.-at-a-rave-with-Add-N-to-(X)-DJing original and doing nasty, but presumably pleasurable (and consensual) things to it. As heard above, the previously-raved-about Witchboy adds his own gutter-thump to it, adding filthy lyrics and a full-throttle pump, taking the track over the top, erecting a ladder, climbing up to the “DO NOT USE” step and hurling the whole works over the new “top.” Sometimes subtlety is a virtue. Other times it’s as much fun as a designated driver who needs to be home by 9:30 pm. This is one of the latter.

The Aparition remix, on the other hand, takes Fast Legs on a tense stroll through his own particularly worrisome neighborhood. The beat doesn’t do much propulsion, seeing as it tends to get waylaid by cantankerous buzzing noises of ill repute and for some reason, the whole ‘hood is darkened, dead-end alleyways all the way down. (If this sounds like your cup of abrasive tea, be sure to check out Aparition’s full-length album as well as his Bandcamp page.) Elements of the original remain, but I’m pretty sure they’re making panicked phone calls to the outside while Aparition hastily cuts all the outbound lines.

Marie Dior and Various Artists – Fast Legs (High Heels)

Volume 2 Complete. Achievement Unlocked: INTERNET OUROBOUROS.

Until next time…

/s/CLT

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Filed under Electronica, Hip Hop, Remixes

On Originality

This extra-long (but you’re getting used to that) post was provoked into existence by the comment James Copeland left on the post featuring his amazing remix of the Hillbilly Moon Explosion’s My Love Forevermore.

Thanks for the kind words. They`re very welcome as some fans of the original song didnt quite appreciate my particular take on the track and i started feeling sad about it because i really did my best to be respectful to the original. This makes me feel a whole lot better.

There’s a certain attitude out there, largely in established artists, but also found in those who use “analogue*” equipment to craft their music, that remixing isn’t creativity. If provoked, these artists will go even further than simply suggesting a lack of artistic merit, calling for these remixers and mashup artists to create their own “original” music. This carries over to some music fans as well. It’s generally found in older fans, ones who are averse to electronic witchery in all its forms (including rap, which is a.] most electronic and b.] “not singing”), finding something distasteful about those who use machinery to shit all over their preferred genres.

*Guitar/bass/drums

Beyond the casual disdain, there’s a strain of complete ignorance driving these statements. I’ve run down several of the ridiculous objections to quote/unquote remix culture previously, specifically in regards to the complaints about mashup artists. It always boils down to one simple, but thoroughly ridiculous claim: that these derivative works are not truly creative works simply because they are not “original.” Since there’s nothing quite as moronic as a hive mind with a superiority complex, let’s go ahead and start demolishing these arguments starting with the big one: originality.

[Some demolishing music for your ears whilst your eyes do the heavy lifting. This is Heaven’s Gate by the mysterious Stalker, which believe it or not, is Lady Gaga’s Pokerface pitch-shifted and run backwards, with some additional tweakage applied for maximum holy/unholy otherwordliness. (The “holy/unholy” thing with the abused forward slash means that this track teeters on the precipice of good and evil, like the devoted hymnal of a church that dabbles in black majicks to increase its congregation’s tithing percentage.)]

Stalker – Heaven’s Gate.mp3

ORIGINALITY

Apparently, if you don’t craft your music from the ground up (with standard instruments like guitar/bass/drums or regional equivalents [mouth harp/accordion/bagpipes/throat singing]), it’s not “original” and as such is (again, apparently) not “creative.” I’m not sure which claim is more offensive: the fact that only certain instruments are capable of producing “original” music or the fact that only “original” works are creative.

First off, placing arbitrary limitations on your creative toolset is your problem. Don’t project your issues on the rest of the creative community simply because you feel machines and software have no place in creating music. This is legacy bullshit that has zero basis in reality. Electric guitars, so often deployed by “original” artists, were once as unwelcome as Ableton. Thousands of years of music creation has moved us to a point where nearly any non-electronic instrument can be reproduced electronically. Not only that, but the resulting tones can be looped, reversed, reverbed, distorted, layered, stretched, sped up or simply used as a capable replacement for the oft-impractical need to have an entire band in one place at one time in order to lay down a track.

Secondly, who the fuck do you think you are? Honestly. Have you forgotten the thousands of years of music history already? Are you and your band of honest musicians truly trafficking in only “original” works and bristling every time you see me place quotes around that word? Do you seriously think that your “original” music stands alone, free from outside influences and your own personal music history?

No one creates in a vacuum.

We are all the massive beneficiaries of millennia of accumulated human scientific knowledge and cultural output, and not one of us did anything do deserve a jot of it. We’re all just extremely lucky not to have been born cavemen. The greatest creative genius alive would be hard pressed to create a smiley faced smeared in dung on a tree trunk without that huge and completely undeserved inheritance.

– Julian Sanchez, Things that are Irrelevant to Copyright Policy

Oh. I see. That’s not the same thing. So… it’s one thing to have influences and produce music that shows this and yet another to simply remix it?

Once again, we’re back to arguing about the legitimacy of certain instruments and pieces of software. It has nothing to do with “ripping off” the artists. It’s just that you’ve decided what you do is “creative” and the producer morphing your quotidian rock into a dance floor monster is simply offering up a simplistic variation. (So simple you couldn’t reproduce it if you tried, but still…)

[Speaking of remixes… Here’s the original version of Spiritualized’s ode to love, drugs and druggy love, I Think I’m in Love. Beautiful in its own lethargic just-home-from-the-methadone-clinic way.

And here’s the Chemical Brothers doing some “mere” remixing, taking the warmest parts of the “junk running down my spine” feeling and adding their own electronica-via-rocknf’nroll touches, including an amazing section of drums/bass/spiraling noises that sound very much ChemBros without completely eradicating J. Spaceman’s spacey rock.]

Spiritualized – I Think I’m in Love (Chemical Brothers Remix).mp3

[And as an added bonus in the the-best-artists-steal department, here’s Spiritualized quoting Elvis Presley in a new context, but not new enough apparently, as Elvis’ estate forced this track’s removal from subsequent pressings.]

Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space (Deleted Version).mp3

These people you’re bashing? The remixers? The “derivative artists?” They craft their own originals as well. There are very few remixers out there who DON’T produce their own tracks. Even mashup artists, the ultimate derivative artists, have gone on to produce original albums, form bands and do production work for other original artists.

DJ Dangermouse went from The Grey Album (Jay-Z vs. the Beatles) to one-half of Gnarls Barkley along with several other projects. Belgian mashup duo 2ManyDJs went from infringing the hell out of nearly everyone to cranking out top quality dance music as Soulwax. Another pioneer of the mashup scene, Richard X., has gone on to produce hits for Annie, Kelis and the Sugababes.

Richard X./Sugababes – Freak Like Me.mp3

CONTROL

At some point, your music will be used to soundtrack something you don’t care for or condone, like furry porn or a pagan marriage ceremony. You CAN’T stop this from happening. The only thing you can do is choose how to react. Remember, just because they’ve got bizarre habits doesn’t mean they don’t venture out into the public to purchase music, attend concerts, etc., often without the colorful costumes and visible erections. Do you really want to cut off a potential source of income just so you can keep control of your “artistic legacy” or whatever you choose to justify hard-assian overreaction?

There’s only one way to control use of your artwork. Keep it unreleased and locked up. Not a great way to make income and an even worse way to express yourself creatively. This lack of control is understandably scary, but on the bright side, an internet’s worth of feedback is readily available. Most artists want their art to be seen, heard and experienced. But some want to control these interactions, and in this day and age, especially if your art can be converted to 1s and 0s, there’s no way to do this. So you have to decide how you’re going to react, keeping in mind that your reaction to “misuse” can often mean the difference between gaining fans and sales and being relegated to obscurity (or worse, infamy).

I’ve said before I think using other peoples’ recordings to make your own records is lame and lazy. It’s a cheap way into the game and it’s for suckers. That said, when I turn something loose into the world, the world will do with it what it pleases, despite my preferences. If a business gets involved, it has a footprint in a jurisdiction and I could raise a fuss if I wanted, but I don’t.

If you don’t want anybody riding your horses, keep them in the barn.

Steve Albini

Some artists treat this interaction with all the care of a cigarette-smoking driver piloting a leaking fuel truck across the only bridge in town. After their carelessness sets the bridge on fire, they find themselves with little more than an empty fuel truck and no road out of a town filled with enraged citizens.

EXPANSION

Here’s one thing remixers, samplers and mashup artists are willing to do that many “original” artists simply won’t: expose your music to new listeners. While these artists sit around, preaching to the converted and decrying various “ripoff” artists, these derivationists (BRAND NEW TODAY — THIS WORD!) are bringing (like James Copeland) swing to the dancefloor or (Hood Internet), the Black Keys’ garage rock to the hip hop crowd (and vice versa).

Hood Internet – Hard and Gone (Ace Hood vs. the Black Keys).mp3

The next time you’re wondering why your album sales have plateaued or ticket sales have slumped, perhaps you should consider the limits you’ve placed on yourself by limiting your creative output to the same static set of fans using the same static arrangements and instrumentation.

THE HELL IS WITH THE FANS?

It’s patronizing enough when artists decide their work is unfuckwithable, but it’s even more appalling when fans attempt to claim secondhand ownership of these creations. I’m already reeling in disbelief at the fact that some artists believe their work in completely unapproachable and guard it with the tenacity of a pit bull on Adderall, but I’m completely baffled by fans who decide (with or without a statement from the band in question) that they are somehow “protecting” the band’s “integrity” by piling a whole lot of hate on some remixer.

Even if the band has stated that they are unhappy with remix of song X, your “job” as a fan is not to simply repeat the company line. If you don’t care for the remix either, so be it. But to take a personal tack is to presume that remixer X crafted his or her version SOLELY to piss off the band and its fans. Remixes are usually done because the remixer digs the source material, not because he wanted to shit on someone’s creative output.

But most frustrating of all is the survivors of legacies who guard the former artist’s output with the same ferocious tenacity, swollen with secondhand entitlement and a staggering amount of presumptiveness. They proclaim themselves the mouthpieces of dead artists, an idea that would be laughable at a seance, much less a boardroom discussion with an artist seeking to use part of their work. Of all the people that I loudly wonder who in the FUCK they think they are, these would top the list.

One of James Joyce’s heirs spent several years bullying anyone who attempted to do anything with his work, including peope who were just trying to celebrate Joyce’s literary legacy by *gasp* READING HIS WORK ALOUD. He’d likely still be threatening Joyce’s fans if several of the copyrights hadn’t expired in 2012, 70 years after Joyce’s death. Apple Records has made using any of the Beatles’ songs in film or TV nearly impossible, demanding outrageous amounts and passing out several hundred no’s for every yes. Because the Beatles hated people enjoying their music, if the label’s lawyers and surviving members are to be believed.

So, your choices as an artist boil down to this:

1. Embrace the inevitable and realize that artists build on their predecessors’ work. Some just build in a more direct fashion.
2. Surround yourself with bristling lawyers and an openly hostile attitude towards other artists.

Which choice is more likely to gain you fans?

-CLT

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Filed under Commentary, Covers, Electronica, Hip Hop, Remixes

Link Dump No. 1

  • Vox Popoli – The True and Obscure History of Psykosonik, Part I
  • Standpoint. – What Happens When the Band Stops Playing?
    (The orchestra I live closest to performed Handel’s Messiah on a single night this month to a sold out house and didn’t bother to schedule any other performances of the work. This isn’t completely dissimilar to the owner of the Upper Level in Day’s post above not welcoming the success of a dance cover band like the NoBoys in spite of audience reaction.)
  • John AugustNo Trombones
    (What would the reaction be from those who trumpet the benefits of music education were it proposed that only piano be taught to middle/high school students?)
  • Village VoiceWheelchair Sports Camp’s Crip Life
    (3,500+ words written to introduce readers to the group and only a couple of paragraphs give any indication of their sound.)
  • JazzWax – Why Sonny Rollins Matters
    (Contrast this with the Village Voice article linked above. It doesn’t shy away from mention of politics, but gives the unfamiliar an idea of what Rollins did musically, why that was special and how doing so was political – and in fewer words. For Myers, the political content of Rollins’ music sheds light on the depth of his artistry. For Dodero, Wheelchair Sports Camp provides her merely an opportunity to champion a set of political views. Heffernan doesn’t come across in the interview as a particularly insightful political mind, Dodero is left applauding the existence of an artist that can play a strong hand in victimhood poker and has to quote Riggs to provide the article’s best musical insight.)
  • Baseball ProspectusBaseball, Sex and Sheet Music

/s/Mohammed Chang

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Filed under Classical, Hip Hop, Jazz, Link Dump