Have You Tried Less Tiresome Music?

I have questions, dear reader. Important, probing questions. Are you unenthused by hip-hop tracks about “police brutality and racialised oppression”? Does rapping about poverty and “the woes of Black Americans as artists” not render you giddy and enthralled? Do you not delight in endless repetition of the word nigga?

I ask because we’re told, by Dr Jeremy McCool and Dr Tyrone Smith, two devotees of “critical race theory,” that a failure to gush with enthusiasm is a result of “systemic bias and inherent prejudice,” and is suppressing such innovation. It is, they say,

The silencing of intellectuals in music.

This profound and damning revelation was uncovered by means of a “notional study” in which 310 participants, young adults, half of whom “self-identified” as black and the other half as white, were invited to listen to various tracks and read selected lyrics, before being asked whether they would be likely to skip said track if heard in the car, or would instead continue listening, mesmerised and ready to be educated.

In each instance, the white participants in the experiment rejected the messaging at a higher frequency than the Black participants.

Extrapolating with gusto - one might say wildly - our scholars promptly invoke “the silencing of Black narratives and perspectives.” It turns out that if a hundred or so white people are slightly less interested in rote racial narcissism expressed via the medium of rap, this could result in “artists who typically make thought-provoking music being shunned by the industry.” It’s all terribly unfair, you see. If true.

It remains unclear whether our mighty scholars considered the quality of the music as music, i.e., beyond any supposedly radical and “thought-provoking” content, those “deeper political implications.” Nor is it clear whether lyrical monotony, generic braggadocio and crass sexual references may have played a part in boring some more than others. To say nothing of many rappers’ own reliance on cartoonish racial stereotypes. Readers are, however, invited to ponder the intellectual heft of the following extract from one of the selected tracks, Da Baby’s Rockstar:

Continue reading "Have You Tried Less Tiresome Music?" »

And In Arts News

In juvenile detention, she would write “really radical raps” that rattled her supervisors. 

Why, yes, I am reading the Guardian. Where the paper’s Janine Israel is positively gushing over aboriginal rapper Barkaa and her “politically potent” music.

The Malyangapa Barkindji woman… is on the verge of releasing her debut EP, Blak Matriarchy,

You know you want to.

Based in south-west Sydney, Barkaa takes her moniker from the Barkindji word for the Darling River. She comes across as warm and humble, 

Warm and humble. An interesting choice of words. And followed almost immediately by:

Earlier this year she played the Sydney Opera House forecourt, the lights of the harbour stretched out before her as she performed her song Bow Down: “They used to look down on me / Look who’s looking up now. Bow down.”

Regarding said ditty, our mistress of the surly pose and monotonous loop informs us,

Bow Down is one of my favourite tracks to perform because a lot of people growing up [were like]: ‘Oh you’re not going to be much, you’re just going to be a lowlife, you’re just going to be a junkie, you’re not going to get anywhere, you’re just going to be in and out of prison.’ It’s kind of like: middle fingers up to them.

Same article, seconds earlier:  

Born Chloe Quayle, the 26-year-old rapper was a former teenage ice addict who did three stints in jail – during her last, five years ago, she gave birth to her third child.

Despite three children, no father, or fathers, are mentioned. Well. Perhaps we should move on.

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His Amulet Failed Him

Via Captain Nemo in the comments, a tale of woe and trauma from party person Mr Jordan Bennett

Okay so I had the most DISGUSTING INVALIDATING experience at Heaven nightclub last night,

Hey, I visited Heaven one evening in the early 90s. I’ve seen what can happen.

a place where I am meant to feel free and accepted.

A big gay club for today’s downtrodden homosexual. There is, though, the small matter of security checks. For weapons and such.

Queuing to enter the club it splits into 2 lines- MAN and WOMAN - to be checked by seperate [sic] people.

Sharp-eyed readers may have an inkling of what’s coming.

I am non-binary so OF COURSE I’m gonna queue in the women’s line in sheer protest of where I know they would expect me to queue based on my appearance.

But of course. Let’s call it intersectional decision-making. Or a contrived, rather needy, excuse for drama. 

I wait to be checked nervously and then one of the security staff rudely gestures me to the other line for men. I then kindly tell them that I am non-binary whilst highlighting the pronouns on my earrings which clearly say ‘They/Them’

Sadly, however, said earrings had lost their talismanic powers:

They carried on refusing me access, repeatedly saying this side was for ‘women only’. I shamefully walk to the other side. The two distinctly separate box-like detectors for each queue added to the prison-like atmosphere. I felt invalidated and embarrassed.

Habitual self-involvement can do that, I suppose.


“It is both possible and impossible to appreciate rap music as a white fan,” [Associate Professor of Philosophy at Florida Southern College,] H.A. Nethery said. 

Okay then.

The professor added that rap is a “gift” to white people which “exposes the opaque white-racist self through the inducement of double consciousness within [the] listener.”

Good to know. You see,

Rap music is an expression of lived experiences of being the target of a world structurally dominated by white supremacy.

Which is apparently a thing; though, as so often, it seems we must take that on trust. And so, in order to properly appreciate rap music and its variations, rather than merely appropriating them, the Pale Oppressor must first indulge in “direct-self-reflection on [their] own complicity within the systems of white supremacy.” Casual and spontaneous listening is, I’m assuming, out of the question. First you must atone

Having cultivated the appropriate level of neurosis and pretentious agonising, readers are invited to contemplate the uplifting ditties of Mr Stormzy, a rapper beloved by Guardian columnists, and who wishes us to know about his nocturnal adventures as an oppressed person - albeit a very wealthy one - specifically, his being able to “take your chick,” and more specifically, “getting freaky in the sheets,” and even more specifically, “finishing with a facial.”

Readers will doubtless recall that Mr Stormzy and his works have been deemed a fitting replacement for Mozart in school music lessons

The Jacking Of The Body

Among the many calamities of the pandemic, one of the under-reported ones is the sweeping obliteration of social dance, particularly in its most popular form: dancing to the selections of a DJ.

Yes, it’s the ever-groovy Guardian. Specifically, a piece by Tim Lawrence, a professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London: 

Party culture exists on a continuum alongside other activities whose communally based, psycho-acoustic underpinnings provide participants with a dose of natural serotonin, among them music concerts, theatrical performances, sporting events, religious gatherings, choirs and walks in the park.

In terms of “party culture,” I’m not entirely convinced that natural serotonin has been doing the heavy lifting.

Party culture’s kaleidoscopic, connecting potential arguably outstrips these other experiences in terms of immersion, duration and joy.

With the apparently kaleidoscopic joy-inducing effects of natural serotonin, it’s a wonder anyone bothered with ecstasy, cocaine, and nitrous oxide balloons. A few sentences later, Dr Lawrence links to this piece, also from the Guardian, on unauthorised lockdown-era raves - a source of “transformational meaning,” Dr Lawrence informs us - and in which we’re told about “saucer-eyed teenage girls,” who are also doubtless invigorated by that natural serotonin.

David Mancuso, pioneering host of the Loft in New York, even believed that communal dancing amounted to humankind’s best attempt to tune into the underlying essence of the universe, which was born out of sound and amounted to one big party of constantly, intensely vibrating atoms.

Cosmologists take heed.


Ms Luna Lee performs O Holy Night in a gayageum styl-ee

As is the custom here, posting will be intermittent over the holidays and readers are advised to subscribe to the blog feed, which will alert you to anything new as and when it materialises. Thanks for another 1.5 million or so visits this year and thousands of comments, many of which prompted discussions that are much more interesting than the actual posts. Which is pretty much the idea. And particular thanks to all those who’ve made PayPal donations to keep this rickety barge above water. It’s much appreciated. Curious newcomers and those with nothing better to do are welcome to rummage through the reheated series in search of entertainment.

To you and yours, a very good one. 

Laurie Has A Sister

And so

Laurie's sister airs her brains.

Lifted from the comments, where Jen asks an inevitable question

Does she think Israel is ‘whiter’ than Estonia?

Geographically and demographically, it’s all rather confusing. What with the violent logic of whiteness. But like so many others, the above isn’t a load-bearing statement; it’s just there for effect. To alert us to an eruption of wokeness, and therefore superiority. Eleanor Penny, by the way, is not only an editor for Red Pepper, but also a senior editor for Novara Media. Where socialists and feminists, and socialist feminists, rub their throbbing brains until something oozes out.

Via Obnoxio

Tidings (11)

Carol of the Bells, performed by Acoustic Trench. Assisted by Maple the dog.

As is the custom here, posting will be intermittent over the holidays and readers are advised to subscribe to the blog feed, which will alert you to anything new as and when it materialises. Thanks for around 1.5 million visits this year and thousands of comments, many of which prompted discussions that are much more interesting than the actual posts. Which is pretty much the idea. And particular thanks to all those who’ve made PayPal donations to keep this rickety barge above water. Curious newcomers and those with nothing better to do are welcome to rummage through the reheated series in search of entertainment.

To you and yours, a very good one. 

Feeling The Season

Christmas music is emotionally damaging and a hazard to our health.

Yes, the Guardian’s signature inversion of the festive spirit has once again started to blossom:

‘Tis the season when you can recite every single word of It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year because you’ve heard it 25,671 times this morning already and, let me tell you, there is nothing remotely wonderful about the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you to be of good cheer. It’s extremely annoying.

So writes columnist Arwa Mahdawi, who, it seems, and unlike most grown women, has yet to master the controls of a music player or radio.  

To bolster those eye-catching claims of musical health hazards, Ms Mahdawi cites a report sharing the hitherto unguessed-at news that round-the-clock exposure to in-store Christmas songs can irritate a significant minority of retail staff. Yes, I know. I’ll pause while you steady yourselves. However, these anhedonic tidings extend beyond mere in-store playlist repetition:   

The report [notes] that 43% of people who hate holiday music think it’s too repetitive and 26%, who I imagine all read the Guardian, said they the dislike the materialism of Christmas music.

Yes, people are buying their loved ones things that they might like. How ghastly.

It’s true that a lot of festive music is extremely materialistic.

It’s a “futile materialism,” apparently.

But, worse still, a lot of it is just deeply weird if not outright disturbing. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, for example, a classic of the genre… can be read as an early warning about the powers of the surveillance state and the pervasiveness of sexual predation.

This, remember, is written by a grown woman. 

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Elsewhere (248)

Jim Goad on rappers, shootings and bullet-hole cred: 

In late October 2005, a rapper named Cam’ron took three bullets in an attempted DC carjacking. When a reporter asked him for a quote as he was leaving Howard University Hospital, Cam’ron quipped, “I got shot three times and my album comes out November 22.” [...] Being shot is such a shot in the arm for the aspirant hip-hop mogul, a rapper named Gravy got shot in the buttocks outside a Brooklyn radio station in April 2006 before heading right into the studio for an interview. As it turns out, Gravy had one of his friends shoot him because he knew it would be good publicity.

Toni Airaksinen on more things you mustn’t think on campus: 

Angela Putman, who teaches public speaking at Penn State-Brandywine, designed a comprehensive three-day seminar on “white privilege” for her students, then interviewed 12 attendees on their belief in meritocracy and equal opportunity. To her dismay, Putman discovered that these “whiteness ideologies” were widely endorsed by students, many of whom agreed that “if I work hard, I can be successful.”

Believing in study, effort and diligence as positive things and broad prerequisites for success is, apparently, a harmful and racist ideology. Unlike cultivating resentment and then spending decades seething at how racist, sexist and hopelessly unfair everything is, which I’m sure is bound to pay off.

And Mark Steyn on the indignant librarian, The Cat In The Hat, and the great racist retcon: 

The piece argues that the Cat in the Hat’s bow tie is meant to be an evocation of 19th-century racist minstrel shows. Now, just off the top of my head, cartoon characters who wear bow ties: Porky Pig, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Huckleberry Hound. Yogi Bear doesn’t wear a bow, he wears a tie like me, but his boy sidekick Boo Boo the Bear wears a bow tie. Ambrosia, I think the name is, in ‘My Little Pony’ wears a bow tie. I’m not one of the many men in the western world who are obsessed with ‘My Little Pony’ and have ‘My Little Pony’ parties, but I happen to know this one character in ‘My Little Pony’ wears a bow tie. Cartoon characters wear bow ties. That has nothing to do the minstrel shows. We are making ourselves a society too stupid to survive.  

Readers are invited to speculate as to exactly when said books became so “steeped in racist propaganda,” as the librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro claims, and therefore corrupting of children. Presumably, it was at some point after Ms Phipps Soeiro was photographed proudly dressed as the aforementioned cat, at work, with children, while celebrating the birthday of one Theodor Seuss Geisel

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets on any subject, in the comments.