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robertogreco : spikelee   6

J.PERIOD
The mixtape world’s master storyteller, J.PERIOD, joins Spike Lee & 40Acres.com to pay tribute to Michael Jackson with this exclusive mixtape. Mixing Michael’s classic hits with rare demo versions, remixes, and behind-the-scenes interview clips, J.PERIOD weaves together an 80-minute musical documentary that pays tribute to The King of Pop’s staggering catalog of songs, and reminds us why - no matter what you think of the man - Michael’s true legacy will always be his music.
michaeljackson  music  jperiod  spikelee  2015 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop | Los Angeles | Artbound | KCET
[See also: http://www.returnofthemecca.com ]

"To most people, when you say "Islam and hip-hop," they will look at you a bit surprised. To most, Islam is viewed as being pre-modern and anti-Western, with a strict, puritanical code that is also anti-pleasure, while to most people, hip-hop is viewed as the exact opposite: it's decadent, rampantly materialistic, hyper-sexual and hedonistic. But if you peel back the layers (or barely scratch beneath the surface), that initial look of surprise will soon turn to awe. Because not only is Islam a part of hip-hop culture, it's central to its very foundation. Harry Allen, hip-hop journalist and Public Enemy's "Media Assassin" has said that "if hip-hop has an official religion it is Islam."

Los Angeles has its own specific histories around Islam and hip-hop -- from the presence of artists such as Kam, Jurassic 5 and Divine Styler, to a May 2001 benefit show at the Watts Labor Community Action Center for Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), which featured Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Zion I and others.

But arguably the most significant moment was when Ice Cube, who had just left N.W.A., teamed up with Public Enemy's production unit the Bomb Squad, to record his first solo album, "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" (1990). The combination of Ice Cube with Public Enemy was incendiary -- a volatile mix that combined Cube's militant street poetry with Public Enemy's Black Nationalist fury.

In the exhibit catalog to Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, Chuck D writes that this was the period following the release of their anthem "Fight the Power" and that "this alliance of Cube and Public Enemy was a show of Black and rap unity that the powers that be feared may ring the alarm and spin the youth away from being lured into stupor and sleep."

And indeed it did. For this was a period in hip-hop when political consciousness raising was central to the music's mission, as ideas about Afrocentricity, Black Nationalism and most notably Islam deeply influenced the culture. And not surprisingly, Malcolm X would become the icon of hip-hop, as his books were read, his voice was sampled, his ideas were referenced, and his influence shaped ideas about Black resilience and resistance. Malcolm's influence would culminate in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic of him, as "X" caps, and Malcolm merchandise became all the rage.

But more than just the popularity of his "By Any Means Necessary" slogan, or the circulation of symbols and the iconography of him, Malcolm's resurgence in urban America beginning in the mid-1980s and into the early 1990's also spoke to the profound disillusionment of Black youth in the post-Civil Rights era. This was hip-hop's "Golden Age," and through the legacy of Malcolm, it was deeply influenced by Islam, as seminal artists as diverse as Rakim, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, the Wu-Tang Clan and others carried on a long standing protest tradition in which Islam influenced Black art and culture -- from Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, to its influence on jazz (Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef, etc.) and the Black Arts Movement.

By the time Cube was collaborating with them, Public Enemy had already been vocal supporters of the Nation of Islam, but it was Chuck D's baritone voice, his deeply informed lyricism, and his brilliant songwriting that made Public Enemy the standard bearers when it comes to revolutionary hip-hop, even to this day.

Ice Cube's work with Public Enemy on "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" proved to be a turning point, as Cube would continue to weave the ideas of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam into his albums, infusing his music with political urgency and biting social critique, from his magnum opus "Death Certificate" (1991) to "The Predator" (1992) and "Lethal Injection"(1993). Cube's music proved prophetic in many ways, as a closer listening to his first two solo albums add support to his claim that he in fact rang the alarm about what would become the L.A. Rebellion of 1992 in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

By the mid-1990's, at about the time that Cube's career path took a serious turn toward the world of film, hip-hop was increasingly becoming the soundtrack to 21st century capitalism. No longer being compared to the previous generations of Black artistic genius, hip-hop instead was being compared to itself, as the "Golden Age" is constantly being held up as the standard and beacon for hip-hop's own potential in the face of hyper-commodification.

In these demands for hip-hop to get back to its roots, what is often overlooked and understated is not only the extent to which Islam played a vital role in politicizing the music and shaping the politics and culture of early hip-hop, but how it has continued to do that even today through artists such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Lupe Fiasco, Jay Electronica, and others. This is partly what "Return of the Mecca" hopes to begin to redress, that through the songs, album covers, photos, flyers and poetry, these histories that too often go unseen are made visible. And that despite the post-9/11 context that has tried to silence these histories and separate Blackness and Islam, these powerful histories are a testament to legacies of struggle that need to be urgently understood and reflected upon."
hiphop  music  history  islam  sohaildaulatzai  2014  publicenemy  harryallen  jurassic5  kam  divinestyler  mosdef  talibkweli  dilatedpeoples  zioni  nwa  icecube  bombsquad  1990s  chuckd  spikelee  malcolmx  atribecalledquest  bigdaddykane  brandnubian  poorrighteousteachers  wu-tangclan  rakim  gangstarr 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The peril of hipster economics - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"In a sweeping analysis of displacement in San Francisco and its increasingly impoverished suburbs, journalist Adam Hudson notes that "gentrification is trickle-down economics applied to urban development: the idea being that as long as a neighbourhood is made suitable for rich and predominantly white people, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else". Like trickle-down economics itself, this theory does not play out in practice.

Rich cities such as New York and San Francisco have become what journalist Simon Kuper calls gated citadels: "Vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself."

Struggling US cities of the rust belt and heartland lack the investment of coastal contemporaries, but have in turn been spared the rapid displacement of hipster economics. Buffered by their eternal uncoolness, these slow-changing cities have a chance to make better choices - choices that value the lives of people over the aesthetics of place.

In an April blog post, Umar Lee, a St Louis writer and full-time taxi driver, bemoaned the economic model of rideshare services, which are trying to establish themselves in the city. Noting that they hurt not only taxi drivers but poor residents who have neither cars nor public transport and thus depend on taxis willing to serve dangerous neighbourhoods, he dismisses Uber and Lyft as hipster elitists masquerading as innovators:

"I've heard several young hipsters tell me they're socially-liberal and economic-conservative, a popular trend in American politics," he writes. "Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, but it's economics and the role of the state that defines politics. If you're an economic conservative, despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are, you, my friend, are a conservative …"

Lee tells me he has his own plan to try to mitigate the negative effects of gentrification, which he calls "50-50-20-15". All employers who launch businesses in gentrifying neighbourhoods should have a workforce that is at least 50 percent minorities, 50 percent people from the local neighbourhood, and 20 percent ex-offenders. The employees should be paid at least $15 per hour.

Gentrification spreads the myth of native incompetence: That people need to be imported to be important, that a sign of a neighbourhood's "success" is the removal of its poorest residents. True success lies in giving those residents the services and opportunities they have long been denied.

When neighbourhoods experience business development, priority in hiring should go to locals who have long struggled to find nearby jobs that pay a decent wage. Let us learn from the mistakes of New York and San Francisco, and build cities that reflect more than surface values."
cities  class  gentrification  hipsters  race  economics  inequality  redevelopment  sanfrancisco  nyc  brooklyn  poverty  adamhudson  sarahkendzior  spikelee  katharinagrosse  whitewashing  simonkuper  segregation  rustbelt 
may 2014 by robertogreco
On Smarm
"It is also no accident that David Eggers is full of shit."

"Smarm should be understood as a type of bullshit, then. It is a kind of moral and ethical misdirection."

"The old systems of prestige are rickety and insecure. Everyone has a publishing platform and no one has a career."

"What carries contemporary American political campaigns along is a thick flow of opaque smarm."

"Romney clambered up to a new higher ground, deploring the divisiveness of dwelling on his divisiveness."

"Through smarm, the "centrists" have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute. In smarm is power."

"A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all."

"Joe Lieberman! If you would know smarm, look to Joe Lieberman."

"The plutocrats are haunted, as all smarmers are haunted, by a lack of respect. On Twitter, the only answer to "Do you know who I am?" is "One more person with 140 characters to use.""

"To actually say a plain and direct word like "corrupt" is more outlandish, in smarm's outlook, than even swearing."

"Anger is upsetting to smarm. But so is humor and confidence."

"Immense fortunes have bloomed in Silicon Valley on the most ephemeral and stupid windborne seeds of concepts. What's wrong with you, that you didn't get a piece of it?"
criticism  culture  smarm  snark  daveeggers  malcolmgladwell  2013  tomscocca  buzzfeed  heidijulavits  isaacfitzgerald  daviddenby  bambi  arifleischer  lannydavis  leesiegel  cynicism  negativity  tone  politics  writing  critique  mittromney  barackobama  michaelbloomberg  ianfrazier  centrists  power  redistribution  rebeccablank  civilization  dialog  conversation  purpose  jedediahpurdy  irony  joelieberman  marshallsella  billclinton  mainstream  georgewbush  maureendowd  rudeness  meanness  plutocrats  wealth  publishing  media  respect  niallferguson  alexpareene  mariabartiromo  gawker  choiresicha  anger  confidence  humor  spikelee  upworthy  adammordecai  juliachild  success  successfulness  niceness  tompeters  bullshit  morality  ethics  misdirection  insecurity  prestige  audience  dialogue  jedediahbritton-purdy 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Games in the street « Snarkmarket
"We didn’t play stickball out in the second-ring suburbs of Detroit, but we did play with sticks. We ran in the street until dark and we built forts in the mud down by the creek. Most importantly, we made up new games on the spot.

That’s just about my favorite thing about kids: their willingness to transform anything, instantly, at any time, into a game. And I do mean a game: a system with rules. It can be as simple as I slap your knee, you slap mine but it’s a game.

I was lucky to fall in with a neotenous crew in college, and we spent long afternoons inventing games at Michigan State, too: coming up with new configurations of ground and body and frisbee out on the big quad around the clock tower.

Anyway, Spike Lee shouldn’t lament cocolevio (?!) because it’s in the nature of kids’ culture to change, eventually beyond recognition, but I’m with him when it comes to games in the street. I’m sure there are still some kids playing this way in Cobble Hill, but definitely not as many as before. I mean, there’s just no way, right? There are so many other games already invented for them now—all these other games waiting indoors on bright screens big and small.

Stickball never looked like much fun to me, but you can carry a stick into a sword battle, too. Those were more our style. And at a certain time of day, with the sun low in the sky, a neat lawn could truly become a battlefield. You got tired after just a few tussles, really desperately tired, and maybe your knuckles got a little bloody too, but you had to keep going, had to keep fighting—at least until your mom called you home for dinner.

Snarkmatrix, you know me: I am not a Luddite (no way) and not a techno-triumphalist, either. So I hope you’ll take it not as a nostalgic yawlp but rather a considered statement about the nature of the mind and the body when I say: Raw unselfconscious imagination is the best graphics engine that has ever existed, and the street will forever be the arena in which all the best games are played."
snarkmarket  play  games  neoteny  comments  edg  srg  minecraft  sticks  children  creativity  spikelee  imagination  cocolevio  stickball  rules  robinsloan  2012  brooklyn  interviews  timcarmody 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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