Aoki & Carnage Make The Sonic Equivalent of a Trump Tweet

I haven’t written about a singular track on this blog in a very long time, but this one requires it. For many reasons, none of which are good. Carnage & Aoki put out something I can only describe as a nightmare of mediocrity and ignorance. If you told me a neural network wrote it, I’d actually respect it a bit more. Thankfully it’s only 2:40, but in that time it manages to annoy, confuse, and disappoint. While being marketed as “Minimal Techno” by the payola industry (You better hope to the Gods of Techno that Jeff Mills doesn’t hear this), the track more closely aligns to cheesy tech-trance that could be produced with a starter sample pack on Fruity Loops around the time the Vengaboys were coming.  Boilerplate EDM snare drums, lead into some vocals that have nothing to do with the title, the video, or much of anything. I’m tempted to believe the only reason they’re structured the way they are is because “North/West/East/Southside” rhymes with Genocide. They feature a vocalist for this, Lockdown, but at this point, Lockdown could very well be the name of the vocoder they used.  The vox push into late 90’s faux industrial kicks and one of the more disappointing drops I’ve heard in the last decade.

To be clear, the song is structurally coherent, the mixdowns are fine, and if it was created by a kid on the Southside of Chicago with some ripped software and a blown laptop in 1999, I’d have loved it when I heard it…in 1999. Instead, we have two artists who have massive amounts of resources and access to a shocking amount of authentic talent & collaborators, squeezing one out in an hour. But, none of this is the worst part. Not even the baby angels having a knife fight is the worst part. The worst part is something that, for the life of me, I simply cannot figure out. Why the fuck did they call this track PLUR Genocide?

A Tweet by @ARPdid911 talking about DJ Carnage & Steve Aoki

Steve Aoki is Japanese and DJ Carnage is Guatemalan. Both of these countries have suffered massively, from internally & externally spawned genocide that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the 20th Century alone. What purpose would there be to naming the track this, especially when you’re discussing PLUR, the aesthetic of the Rave era, the thing DJs like Carnage, Aoki, Swedish Fish Mafia, and GuettaFace killed? There’s something entirely infuriating about a track that could’ve been built by an algorithm fed late 90’s dance music, while actively denigrating the era. Many DJs have rode a wave of fame on the back of parties that would not have existed without communities of poor, queer, black & Latinx artists, which included refugees. Early rave culture on both sides of the Atlantic was a space for the excluded, rejected, and misunderstood. EDM gentrified the shit out of a lot of these spaces, to the point where the original community members were no longer welcome. Over time, “rave culture” gave way to retail festivals, with the safe space giving way to commercialized & exploited spaces.

Then, the culture is packaged and sold back to us at a profit. This track is the Pei Wei version of authentic music that moved dance floors almost 30 years ago now. Which is idiotic when you stop to think about it. This track will get a bunch more traction than a lot of the innovative stuff going on out there. They could’ve named it “Angel Baby Knife Fight” and I wouldn’t have cared. But instead, they called it PLUR Genocide. Even McDonalds has the decency to not call the McRib “Pork Slavery.”

Why call the track this? Why even release this? The only possible explanation I can come up with is that this is the dance music equivalent of trolling. This is a track that a ton of people are going to rail against (myself included), which will drive clicks/streams. This is EDM in the era of the Facebook algorithm. People will have a ton of hot takes in the coming days about it, but it doesn’t matter because they’re still getting paid for it. And while it’s a sound business strategy, I’m just kind of sad that’s where the industry has gotten to. This is what happens when labels decide to start “triggering the libs,” as it were. Trump tweets set the narrative and take the spotlight off people doing real work in our country. This does the same, but on Spotify and YouTube.

A while ago Aoki did this interview where he said that DJs should step aside and let women lead. As Dim Mak doesn’t have any solo producers/DJs on their roster, and Aoki’s work with Carnage sounds like fucking a war crime, maybe he should step aside, book some woke First Nation, Mayan, Japanese, and Guatemalan women & queer artists, let them benefit from his platform, and have himself a think.

Happy Thanksgiving From A Tribe Called Red & Wednesday Addams!

A Tribe Called Red – Burn Your Village To The Ground

This is going to rile some of y’all up, and others may just run and hide when it comes to the content matter & execution in this track. I happen too love these guys. A trio of First Nation producers, going by the name A Tribe Called Red, put this fantastic anthem track out last year to celebrate the holiday. There’s a lot of terrible shit in the history of North America, and our treatment of American Indians & First World Nation people is at the top of that shitpile. While many of us still look back longingly at the Addams Family Values movie, I bet not that many of us remember this dope speech in the middle of the movie. Definitely drop it on whoever is Thumping The Donald today. Happy Gobble Gobble y’all!

“America Fuck Yeah!” Tour: Boston comes out Swinging!

In an effort to ensure I don’t get fat, happy & fundamentalist by only looking at one city and it’s scenes, I’ve decided to start branching out and trying to hit places outside of Gotham where I can see how other cool people do cool things. This weekend, by way of a very dear friend, I was able to check out a sweet, underground electro-swing party in Boston. As I moved past the standard, fist-pumping, lite-beer-swilling, Avicii-spinning (that last one is new) Irish bar the front room of the bar contained, I pondered on eventual fist-fights between party-goers. Wherever my mind was going,by the time I’d checked my coat and paid my tab, It had gotten sidetracked by the Charleston and St. Germain cocktails by Macchu Pisco.

I’d like to say that there was something kitsch about what was happening, or that NYC does/did it better in the 90’s, but I can’t. It was an honest-to-God swing dance party with fun DJs and cool people. Vests, pocket watches, a liberal dollop of fedoras, shiny shoes, fast moving feet, girls spinning like tops and a respectable amount of martini glasses ensured there was no posing or biting in this crowd. The group wasn’t as cocky or flashy as what you’d find at a scene party in Gotham, but people also approached nervous others on the perimeter of the dance floor to ensure they shook their butts to the retro-amazing as well. Something I’ve never seen at a party in NYC, the varsity dancers approaching the JV with a confidence and warmth I didn’t think possible, and I’ve been checking out dance floors since the Clinton years. Continue reading