“As for Ms. Grimes, I see a lot of pictures and no audio, so I’ll make the only judgement I can: Yes, I’d totally do her. Doubt I’d do Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, even if she’s bangable. She might want to talk.”—I wrote about Grimes in a new column for Stereogum I’m writing which is essentially op-ed and a lot of people hated it, which is fine, but also some dude said this (already! the post went up like 14 minutes ago). I would totally never do this dude, even if he is bangable, but I bet he is voting Santorum. Maybe Gingrich.
“It’s a shot at everybody. It’s a shot at the stereotypes that people hold and perpetrate against the lower class, ignoring the diversity of the different people and mindsets. It’s also a shot at white rap journalists who are the biggest re-inforcers of these stereotypes through their limited understanding of the culture and environments they write about.”—Big Baby Gandhi, saying what everyone is thinking (and also saying)
“Dark Man X: I was a breath of fresh air.”—The great thing about being some talented musician on a major label is that having 1000 yes men around you at all times leads to some absurd, super-developed sense of self-esteem and untampered with importance that allows you to say amazing shit like this. I would love to have this measure of Michael Bay-sized, hyper self-awareness. The downside, obviously, is that having 1000 yes men can also help lead a decade addicted to rock, too, but. Glad Earl pulled through. Read this review of his show that Rembert Browne wrote for Grantland, it’s exciting.
“When I’m not on OKCupid instant messaging with a gorgeous, successful man you can find me on Tumblr questioning my decision to follow a 15 year old cutter with rainbow hair (if I stop following her will she hurt herself more?)”—
-Leila Shams, SLIGHTLY LATE re-blog but STILL SO RELEVANT. Click through for the most infuriatingly anti-statement style from a popular style blogger ever.
Also, I have seriously considered going Tumblr hair recently, like maybe a single-hued Manic Panic fuschia which I’ve totally had before anyway, but feel kind of weird about it, like I’m falling into MDMA flashback spiral. (Ooh, pretty rave!) This is after I decided to first go Alysson Paradis blonde and then ’90s Sofia Coppola caramel but let’s face it, I’m probably just gonna get bangs and call it a day.
“This video is definitely beautiful, but all that glitters is not gold. What at first glance seems revolutionary - arabs looking fabulous and outlaw in a western music video- really big ups the stunts of some of the most privileged brats the world has ever known, Gulf boys w/ plenty of time for car tricks in countries run by imported slaves & where women can’t even legally drive. Made in Maghreb because in the Arabia they would have arrested you… for all the wrong reasons.”—Global/globe-trotting DJ/Arabic music expert/GFilastine on MIA’s new vid, which I too have complex feelings about tho they are not as informed as this. Obviously it looks fucking awesome, and I love MIA, and this song, I cannot stop bumping it. BUT, HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT. Particularly IRT the fake “Arabic” writing on the single, the red carpet burqa she wore (which I still can’t decide if it’s amazing and subversive or pretty fucked up), and the background dancers in hijab (the latter examples greatly offended friends who are Muslim). What do we think about when we think about cultural appropriation, and who do we ascribe it to? Also, who “gets to” ascribe it? MULLING
“fuck that shit. oo we held in our poop till it astral projected into a cloud of soft rock autotune good night every1 we’re boniver”—Jordan Fish (@jwordfish) on the music of Bon Iver. OFTEN NON-MUSIC CRITICS ARE THE BEST MUSIC CRITICS.
All I’m saying is, when Carrie (from Carrie) had a period accident (in the gym shower! and she thought she was dying!), it was the catalyst for her LIFE-ALTERING TELEKINESIS. Christina Aguilera (possibly) had one while singing Etta James, at Etta James’ funeral. HOW FUCKING TRANSFORMATIVE IS THAT?! This chick about to control the weather systems, and stop the Mayan Apocalypse.
She’s seen as wholly gross and grody right now, I mean I imagine so, based on the amount of appalled and interrobang-punctuated blog posts about it, but dudes, sometimes it happens. And it’s every girl’s worst nightmare to start our periods while wearing white jeans and sitting in junior high health class (at least that was my personal 13-year-old nightmare, never happened though). So we can all empathize. But also, what, do you want us to go live in a cave during Menstrual Week with a case of Summer’s Eve and a bucket of holy water? Are we going to excommunicate Aguilera for not properly chronicling/misinterpreting her cycle process? Nah. Get sanguine. Jesus died for your sins (TM), and it wasn’t all that dainty. Yatches stay bleeding. God bless the post-menopausal.
As previously reported, Christina Leg is the name of my dubstep riot grrrl band I’m forming right this second. Dibs, but also do you want to join though? Disclosure: we bite.
Destiny Fulfilled came out in ‘06 and Destiny’s Child was over, TLC was getting “old,” people were feeling Pussycat Dolls / Danity Kane but they were more pop, and there was an opening for a good R&B girl group. Or at least a bunch of major labels thought there was. RichGirl and Electrik Red were essentially producer creations (the latter came together cause Rich Harrison recruited and put them together, behind the scenes—the former had kind of known each other but wouldn’t have dropped an album if it hadn’t been for the Dream writing all of it). Bella, too, was kind of a label creation. Cherish are all sisters and kind of had a family singing situation before they got signed, so. All these majors were so ambitious and eager, but it was also around the time they were really feeling scarred by new media and scrambling for anything to make a buck while still operating on this weird old model of being So Essential to Music Existing. Glad they were wrong, but still. I remember after my Electrik Red feature came out and being so furious because Def Jam did virtually zero promotion on them, so what remains a fantastic, actually classic album is still incredibly slept on. And yeah RichGirl kept getting pushed back into oblivion, Bella most certainly doesn’t exist anymore. I’m sure there were more, but those were my favorites. Anyway, it’s a really sad case of major labels scooping up acts and trying to get a single to stick, with no intention of developing them if it doesn’t work, even if they have a super-producer behind them. And look at what happened to The-Dream, even! He got fucked essentially! I still don’t understand why people want to sign to majors. It’s a grind the other way, but at least if you fail you’ll still have your dignity and, possibly more importantly, your publishing rights.
Julia: yoyo me: yao 5:39 PM Julia: do you want to come to tibet thing at carnegie hall on 13th? have to turn in backstage list me: wait what? what is that? and yes totally but what is it 5:40 PM Julia: oh! um das racist are playing with a string quartet? alongside lou reed laurie anderson james blake… me: what the fuck?!?! um yeah obviously i want to go to that Julia: phillip glass is artistic directing? me: also what the fuck?!?! dude how did this even happen Julia: um unclear
THIS WAS MY THING FOR MY PAZZ & JOP BALLOT THAT GOT LOST IN THE SHUFFLE OF TIME. STILL RELEVANT!
Last week, I heard the awesome Code Pink organizer Melanie Butler speak about her experiences at Occupy Wall Street, and how she came to be active about women’s issues within the movement, even though her purpose for joining Occupy wasn’t initially about said issues. Though she wanted to simply protest against corrupt multinational banks and corporations, she said she found Occupy to be a microcosm of the country’s overarching misogyny, so she ended up working against sexism within the 99%, too. One aspect she was particularly focused on was that the media’s coverage of Occupy wrote women from the story; though we are equally represented in the movement, reports on OWS tend to blot us out.
Not to blithely compare revolutionary protest to music criticism, because those of us who do both know it’s a long haul from staring at a Google doc and getting spread-ass to marching against the megalithic money machine with moms, students, organizers, and inevitably off-beat cowbell players. But in thinking about my number two album, London grime rapper Lady Leshurr’s Friggin L mixtape, Butler’s speech came to mind, too. I’ve been concerned with/cognizant of the visibility of women rappers ever since I first learned every word to my favorite song of all time, “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo,” and since there is never a paucity of women rappers, I have come to the conclusion that we are failing, as journalists, to be thorough in our coverage. I include myself in this. Particularly in the internet era, when bloggers seem to manage to unearth every obscure man-rapper in the US with half a bar to his name, but sites like 2 Dope Boyz can’t post a rap track by a woman without uttering the condescending, otherizing, and dated term “femcee.” (To that site’s credit, they just linked to a fairly thorough listicle of the top 10 woman rappers to watch in 2012.) The apparent myopia when it comes to female rappers, coupled with many writers’ burning desire to characterize late-2011 rising star Azealia Banks as “potty-mouthed”—because she’s a four-year-old, apparently?—gave me bad dreams all year (with a bit of reprieve here and there, including Banks’ triumphant re-emergence).
Back to Lady Leshurr: she was a firestarter and a salve for me in 2011, devastating beats with casual velocity and staccato incisions. It’s not inaccurate when she compares herself to Freddie Krueger in her riff on “Blowing Money Fast”—and witness her “Look At Me Now” freestyle, on which she sarcastically intros, “I don’t see how you could hate on a little girl, I look 12 years old!” The latter’s a Sun Tzu move; she presents herself as playing defense, then sneaks up and bodies the original rappers on their own track, including Busta Rhymes, finessing triple-time raps smoother and more agilely than the vet. Compare this to my beloved Nicki Minaj, who allows herself on recent single “Stupid Hoe” (a far lesser “Itty Bitty Piggy”) to underachieve into the “female Weezy,” and get an inkling how much more vital rap could be if the long-hungry lady players were invited into the billiards room. Just one “bad bitch,” however bad, is not enough to keep all our voices from getting swallowed up. In Leshurr’s own words, from her “Did It On ‘Em” freestyle: All these dudes is my daughters. Personally, I’d settle for siblings.
The rest of my ballot unintentionally fans out from this frame. Gang Gang Dance’s Eye Contact and Fatima al Qadiri’s Genre-Specific Experience lived as twins in my mind, both projects compelled by women in an audacious vanguard of visual art and feminine experience. While al Qadiri reconceptualized genres like juke and dubstep through the lens of her experiences growing up in Kuwait (check her latest video), GGD frontwoman Lizzi Bougatsos offered a lush interpretation of her group’s love of global music. Both were open, freeing, vast, and embodied the kind of expansive world I wanna live in.
Meanwhile, Gloria Estefan became the first woman ever to debut atop the Billboard Latin charts (2011?! really?!) with an album that returned to party form, thanks in part to producer Pharrell. “Wepa”’s trilingual, cheerleading merengue was, in a year of amazing dancefloor jams, the most jubilant—and motivational enough to forgive that the stupid Miami Heat used it for their stupid theme song. (Go Knicks!) Houston noise-rapper B L A C K I E coincided with Estefan’s joie de vivre for me: True Spirit and Not Giving a Fuck, his second album, was exactly that, complete surrender to the punk clamor of his beats and the revolutionary nature of his lyrics. My favorite track “Warchild” is a protest against racist drone strikes that breaks down into a desperate, frustrated scream: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT AMERICA, NI**A!!!!” It’s as succinct a sentiment about 2011 as any, and one a lot of us can probably empathize with.
But on to the corporeal: Though I have ideological problems with its frontman, Big Black’s Songs About Fucking is the best album title ever, and that’s what Rustie’s Glass Swords was for me. Though it’s mostly an electronic album, every swoop of funk and glimmering pitch shift was a siren call to DO IT, from the swingy, fresh-to-death c-walk of “All Nite” to the eager, crystalline enthusiasm of “Ultra Thizz.” It’s the first time I can remember listening to a song and wanting to fuck purely based on sonics. Maybe it was emitting something like pheremones—the voices that do exist are a pitch-shifted melange of Rustie and his girlfriend, producer/singer Nightwave, so you can imagine they transmuted their chemistry onto the album. And, because you were thinking it: yes, the album cover looks like two giant crystalline boners both going for the same pristine a-hole. This year for me was about optimism, and the unending, silly hope that someday, the underdogs will get everything they ever desired.
“First off HARLEM STAND UP FOR REAL Gs…But FOH wit that “the whole industry is just a knockoff of LES or SOHO”… thats how the EAST vs WEST got started w/ ppl shit talking…plus yall too new to shit talk…shorty…GET HUMBLE…yall mogs guzzling 40oz… and fake gangbanging(nyc bloods is really carbon copy of WEST COAST) and yall are “posers” if u dont skate!!! rocking all that skate gear yall front with! foh as soon as possible stoggaf. yall wanna be WU tang but aint half the mens or mcs of them dudes…. the music is ok from yall…its nothing new though… son…yall wave finna break real soon… Ride it as long as u can….then back to obscurity…”—Comment on A$AP Mob piece on Complex, also LOLLLLLLZ at Yams hitting on strippers by telling them he’s French Montana’s young brother.