For everyone still thinking the Mannequin Challenge was the new hot thing, I’ve got an amazing story to tell you about the U NAME IT phenomenon that’s been the highlight of my November by far. If you don’t listen to Hip Hop you might have missed this one, so sit back, relax, and learn how two artists took the raw grist of the internet and turned it into magic, one after the other.
Way back in 2010, a gospel singer named Shirley Caesar uploaded a performance of her singing a gospel tune named Hold My Mule. The epic performance, clocking in well over nine minutes, describes a tale of an honest priest tilling his fields and praising the Lord. When a bunch of idolater & materialist Reverends come from the city in their fancy cars, telling him that he’ll be thrown out of the Church they all preach at for his meager and overenthusiastic ways, Shirley utters these words (~5:55 for those interested), that will forever go down in meme history:
“I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, rams, hogs, dogs, chicken, turkeys, rabbits — you name it!”
Prince performed in Baltimore this weekend and wrote a song for the protest & #BlackLivesMatter movement that has been growing over the last 6 months. While we’ve seen EDM remain largely a-political, hip hop artists have taken up the call to speak truth to power through their rhymes. In addition to Prince’s track, I wanted to highlight some of the other artists that have touched on the issues of brutality & freedom in the last couple of months. One of the first to be released on YouTube was this one, posted in December of 2014 by The Peace Poets. This is a more traditional peace/protest song than the other songs on this list, in the same vein as many of the Vietnam anti-war protest songs done by Pete Seeger (pictured above). Alicia Keys released a track in early December as well. One of the first top tier artists to mention this publicly, she was definitely wading into heated ground. Her soulful “We Gotta Pray” is accompanied by stunning images & history lessons about the struggle for equality that many have faced in America.
Fly by Raury ft. Malik Shakur came out about 3 months ago but it’s stayed with me. This combination of spoken word, indie, and hip hop elements hopes, even triumphs against the backdrop of the horrors that many cities have seen over the years. I’m particularly struck by the emotional weight at the end. The spoken word message about his son is something every American should hear:
I hope he never becomes a hashtag
I hope to never see him on the back of a t-shirt.
I hope no man in uniform assumes he’s reaching for something in his pocket.
I hope he knows it’s ok to love.
Peter $un has been making waves in VA and clearly, with sample & flow like this, you can tell why. This guy needs an audience with Chance The Rapper immediately. He talks about fears in the same way Malik Shakur does, especially bringing in his concern for his daughters & nieces. It’s not just men who feel like they’re threatened, many women have been the victim of violence at the hands of authorities. Peter $un gets some help from Matt Burton, in the form of some stupendous beats. They’re low, lazy but original, bubbling up to back Peter while he oozes lyrical cleverness & fear for his community.
Not sure what else needs to be said about The Blacker The Berry. Kendrick Lamar‘s anthem (one of many) has a perfect way of pulling things out of you that you didn’t know you had inside of you. His embrace of his identity & his challenge against the establishment is clear, if not terrifying for those who can’t identify with his words. While there have been many songs that speak of peace, Kendrick Lamar’s track evoked pain & deep frustration with the status quo, even as an insanely successful artist.
I’m rounding out with a totally new track off of DVS’ new mixtape that really swings for the fences on this. This is a hard feel matched with some of the most profoundly effective flow this side of the planet. DVS discusses the rage that you see on the faces of so many of our downtrodden and exploited. He brings up the specific/crucial point if treating children like criminals while they’re still in school, which then translates to the way they’re treated by law enforcement. DVS legit drops a line or two from Howl (yes, the one by Ginsberg), just in case you didn’t realize just how advanced his skills are. This may not have been created specifically to respond to the deaths of Garner, Gray or Brown, but DVS speaks of the issues in ways many other rappers seem to have forgotten.
Show all these folks love, they deserve it. Hug your loved ones, help your community & help us build a better tomorrow.
EDMTunes and I have been a fan of Deadmau5 for a very long time and we’ve been following his recent exploits(w, x, y, z) closely. I’ve been a fan of the way that the maestro of synth works with ideas but recently, I think we’ve begun to see a side of Joel (I know I can’t call him that but it’s easier to type than Mr. Zimmerman or Deadmau5 or trollmau5 or TimHortonLover) that we don’t get from any other producers or DJs in the community. Joel reminds me very much of J.d Salinger, with their mutual creations (deadmau5 & Holden Caulfield, respectively) having affected Western culture profoundly in their own ways. Holden is a man alone against the world (or so he thinks), who both despises those who would prey on the weak and innocent, but also wishes to be heard by those same people. And I think the way that Deadmau5 uses social media right now, is the way that Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye would if he existed in a world with internet, and don’t worry, it’s not because they share a penchant for outlandish headgear (stay with me now).