The Revolution Will Not Be Today


Here stands the empty parking lot where an Afrika Bambaataa jam was supposed to be happening. If you listen hard (ears tuned to the third dimension, antenna aimed at planet rock) you'll pick up them good vibes comin at ya next week, this time. We got b-boys, b-girls, a whole squadron of taggers, and of course the man himself - ageless, intimidating in a nondescript hoodie and Zulu fro. 

Point is, I was supposed to be pushing a little retro product on you cats - but my connect seems't've got ground down downtown, dig? No names, no names. Just gimme 7 days' time to recoagulate, and get y'all what you need. 

Okay, that's enough well-meaning racism for one day. Hear it here first: I'm working on a four part series concerning notable expressions of negritude in hop hop since the genre's origination in uptown Bronx to the modern day. I've been researching and close-reading for a month or more now - so it should be a nice tight gig when it's all done. Afrika Bambaataa first, followed by three more acts/artists whose critical and commercial credit is substantial enough to be, er, emblematic of broader historical trends in rap music - and who've consciously (and unconsciously) defined a vision of blackness in America, its rap game, its social strata, and beyond. In the interest of keeping y'all guessing, I'd prefer to keep the subsequent three acts unnamed. However, I still have a week or more before this bad boy (35 pages for a term paper? come now... while you still have the energy) hits my prof's desk. Since Greg Tate has been famously hard to reach, I appeal to you for help, advice, reference, movies, records, books. If you need me to spoil the surprise in the pursuit of these recommendations, I guess I'll oblige. 

Before I pack up this topic, let me say: I'm not sure negritude means anything, because I know a few (or most) of you are asking. Even its inventors - Cesaire and Senghor - didn't articulate it well enough for the term or its political ethos to (terrible terrible but necessary phrasing) accrue the currency necessary for sustenance. You don't hear it outside of academia anymore - and even here, it's an elbow patch. But it is summarily the best term I have at my disposal.

See, Bambaataa got fat off the scraps of literally any edible expression of blackness. His philosophy is a mess, a patchwork of Islam, pan-Africanism, black nationalism, disco, funk, afrofuturism, Reagan's star wars, The Black Panthers, The Trans European Express, and Michael Caine. His genius (social, musical, political) was and remains a fiercely indifferent cognitive dissonance. Grab on to all of what little you have access to, and invite everyone to share it. Eventually, there's a party goin' on with all kinds of funky shit - everyone bringing everything. And if that's not the spirit of hip hop - in the long view, and even today, in its weird hipster instantiation - then lie and tell me what is. (No one pay attention to the large Questlove behind the curtain).

Negritude's big enough and dead enough to take on all of this, if it wants to. Hell, I'm going to let it - as the only person I know (including my professor and his associates in Africana studies) currently doing anything with it. But let's go back to its roots: if negritude means blackness, then negritude in America is pretty much rap music and the President. That's all that's allowed - and you're lucky to have that. Fifteen yard penalty, shame on you. 


140 Characters or Less #Two

 
 

The Future of Gaming

Rumor is, Future made this flash game himself. And who knew he'd be a better developer than rapper? The game mechanics are utter dogshit. The song is improved. 

 

tUnE-yArDs - nikki nack (4AD, Marriage) 

A weird çŁįČhĒ is still a fucking cliché. Thanks Obama.

 

Flying Lotus (feat. Laura Darlington) - Phantasm

In 2012, this guy took a hit off that helium balloon Tyondai Braxton was passing around. Thank god he got that shit out of his system. He's back to mushrooms, it seems - er, hi hats that sound like cheery mushrooms glomping around in wet grass. My favorite signature sound.

 

Lil Wayne (feat. Drake) - Believe Me

Last I was this hype, I was hearing 6 Foot 7 Foot for the first time. Last time I cried, I was hearing Tha Carter IV for the first time. Those were tears of hate, Weezy F. Show me how to love again.