What I’m listening to

July 16, 2010

Divided into groups so you can skip the parts you don’t care about:

ROCK and/or ROLL

Jamie Lidell – Compass

Technically Lidell is a former electronica square-pusher who is now doing R&B and funk.  But he has time for other genres too, including this folky title track from his third album.  Here it is paired with visuals from the game “Red Dead Redemption,” which it played a key role in.

Jose Gonzalez – Veneer

Speaking of “Red Dead,” this summarizes why the game was so absorbing to me, and why my girlfriend probably considered hiding my copy.  This is what happens in the game when you first enter Mexico.  (This song isn’t on “Veneer” but it gives you a taste of the beauty of Gonzalez’s music.)

Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

For indie rock this is pretty high-profile.  I beg your forgiveness, but frankly I don’t have the energy to read the reviews in Alternative Press every month any more.  But here’s what matters: it’s a damn good album.

HIP HOP

Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot… The Son of Chico Dusty

OutKast fans can rejoice because half of that classic group finally released something, after several years of label drama and non-music-related BS.  Hip hop fans can rejoice because this right here is the best rap album of the year… and it’s only July.

Homeboy Sandman – The Good Sun

This cat is just weird.  Video below isn’t from this album, but from his previous one – however, I find the video so low-rent charming and his flow so bizarre in this song that I just had to throw this up.

Roc Marciano – Marcberg and AG – Everything’s Berri

No video here, but let me just say this: if you miss old school boom bap with grimy production and sedate flows, and above all that immersive, cinematic quality that made “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” a classic, check out both of these.  I especially dig “Snow” off of “Marcberg” and that very-70s cover art for “Berri.”  Both albums are nice.

DANCEHALL and REGGAE

Busy Signal – D.O.B.

Excellent album in general (though his debut “Step Out” remains his best), but this dark, poverty-focused track with Bounty Killer is the high point for me.

There’s also, rather weirdly, a few semi-covers of popular hit songs.  This one really works for me and I couldn’t even explain why.  I only wish Busy would get past the autotune trend – his voice is so effective without it.

Black Dillinger – Love Life

This track is so huge, reminding me of old Sizzla cuts such as “Like Mountain.” The digital version of “Love Life” has been out for a spell (since January or so) but the CD still doesn’t exist, which is a shame.  Anyway, give this a listen.

METAL and RELATED CRAP

Hooded Menace – Never Cross the Dead

Death metal mired in sludge, taking one horrible crawling step at a time in your direction.  Hooded Menace’s concept is based on the sleazy, cheesy Eurohorror “Blind Dead” series of movies:

…and the music is SO fitting to that premise.  Also: best metal cover art of 2010, without question.

Sabbath Assembly – Restored to One

Sabbath Assembly is Jex of Jex Thoth – a sonorous-voiced woman who sounds imported from both the 70s and a Frank Frazetta painting – along with Dave Nuss of the No Neck Blues Band and a guy who produced Sunn O))).  The concept behind the album is to take a bunch of hymns of the Process Church of the Final Judgment (key excerpt: “They were often viewed as Satanic on the grounds that they worshipped both Christ and Satan. Their belief is that Satan will become reconciled to Christ, and together will come at the end of the world to judge humanity, Christ to judge and Satan to execute judgment”) and realize them with fleshed-out arrangements and a serious evil hippie, Manson cult vibe.  It’s 60s flower rock meets 70s doom metal meets seriously weird religious fanaticism, and if I thought they believed in what they’re singing, I’d be a little concerned.  But as is, it makes for really interesting listening, almost like an alternative reality soundtrack to “The Wicker Man.”


Remix review

September 24, 2007

Reggae-reviews.com has posted a very flattering review of my recent remix project, which I thought I would link to:

http://www.reggae-reviews.com/sizzla.html

Just scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.


Waiting to be fed

September 7, 2007

Diane,

It seems to me that much of my life is occupied with waiting for the next juicy tidbit to be laid in front of me for consumption.  I’m not talking about GT South’s delicious barbecue hovel on the east side.  No, I mean consumption in the sense of me being a consumer, and consuming products.

I’m not your typical consumer; the breadth of things that I consume is very narrow.  My car is an average priced sedan that I’ve driven for over six years, and hope to drive for another six at least.  My clothes are the standard Old Navy uniform of (cheap) cargo shorts and (cheap) mono- or bi-chromatic t-shirts.  I wear my shoes into the ground*, I eat out a lot but rarely at expensive or high profile restaurants, and I hate every shopping mall with the intensity of Jon Gruden when the Bucs are in the middle of another hopeless loss and have just committed their fourth turnover. 

What I do consume is media.  (I know, you’re surprised.)  I buy a lot of CDs and a modest amount of vinyl.  I have a good-sized DVD collection that is still slowly expanding.  I own several video game systems that demand new games to keep their lasers bright and shiny – so I helplessly comply once every month or two.  I keep an eye on new release schedules for music, movies, and books.  I even have a list.

Ah, The List.  This, I guess, is where my consumption turned from a harmless hobby into a seriously problematic addiction.  About a year ago I realized that things were slipping past me.  I have a couple more responsibilities (house, cats, girlfriend, etc.) and a little less free time than I used to, and every once in a while, an artist or director I like would release an album or movie… and I wouldn’t know about it.  I might find out five months later and buy the album, or wait on Netflix to send me the movie on DVD.  That model, clearly, was unacceptable.  And at the same time, I was ramping up my subculture browsing.  I was flitting between web forums for hip hop, dancehall, metal, and rock all day long at work, and finding more and more bands that I liked, forthcoming releases I really wanted.  Eventually it got to be too much to keep up with.  At least until I made up The List.

The List is just a text (.txt) file on my computer.  No funny fonts or spellchecking for The List.  I edit it in Notepad and it’s as ugly as Luke Skywalker making his Gerbil of Rage face when Darth tells him about their secret special relationship in “Empire.”  The List is saved under the file name “New Releases Forthcoming,” which is a little dry and a little pompous at the same time; I probably should change it, but then again, it’s not really worth the effort, is it?  I can tell what it is from the name, and that’s good enough.

I open The List every day and scan its contents.  On good days I get to add new items, or remove old ones when the date of release has finally arrived and I reach my metaphorical consumptive orgasm.  I’m not sure which action I prefer: adding new items (as well as tending to the existing list of Forthcomings) has that sickly charge of anticipation, like the month before Christmas when you’re ten.  It feels good and kind of hurts at the same time.  Removing items that have finally arrived – and usually, I wait to remove them until said item is sitting on my desk, freshly unwrapped – is both satisfying and deflating.  It usually makes me want to add something else to The List, just to keep it hale and healthy.

I realize this admission makes me out to be kind of a freak.  …That’s all I can say about that.  I won’t defend myself.  Yep, I’m kind of a freak.  The End.

For your reading enjoyment, here are some soon-to-arrive highlights from The List:

~ “From Beyond” director’s cut DVD (Sept 11).  Stuart Gordon’s best non-“Re-animator” movie finally gets the deluxe DVD treatment, and now with several extra minutes of grue.  I cannot wait.  Rumor has it that one new scene has Jeffrey Combs sucking out a woman’s eyeball in loving close-up.

~ “Graduation” by Kanye West (Sept 11).  I realize Kanye’s massive ego gets on people’s nerves, but the guy is simply doing more with hip hop than almost anybody else, whether mainstream or underground.  His albums are nearly as creative as your average Def Jux release, but they also have a lot more superficial appeal – like hooks, soul samples, funny punchlines, etc.  I liked his previous two a lot and I’m really anticipating this one.

~ “Death is this Communion” by High on Fire (Sept 18).  This is a great sludge/doom metal band, like a modern day Black Sabbath after five joints and three hours of Dungeons & Dragons.  And check out this badass cover art.  All it needs is a pair of boobs and Conan.

~ Untitled new release from Bounty Killer (late 2007, exact date unannounced).  The guy puts out like one album every five years.  That’s not good enough.  And it’s exactly that kind of lax release schedule that makes The List necessary… I can’t keep up with all these artists who disappear off the radar for half a decade and then slip out a new album when I’m least expecting it.  This entry reminds me to check back at his site every so often.

~ Halo 3 (Sept 25).  The main event in videogaming.  I fully expect this game to force me to quit my job so I can max out on hours per day spent sticking aliens with plasma grenades.  Waiting for this is killing me; luckily, I have the awe-inspiring Bioshock to tide me over until then. 

There are others… a startling amount of others… but I don’t want to scare you away completely, Diane.  My only intent was to give you a little window of insight into my soul so that when they show me on the news being carted away from a Best Buy, foaming at the mouth and screaming about the Grand Theft Auto release delay, you’ll be able to knowingly and sadly comment on it to Diane Sawyer.  Be sure to get them to film you from the left – that’s your good side.

* It’s the best way to wear them.  I tried wearing them into the sky and into a river and both of these went exceedingly poorly.


Free stuff

August 29, 2007

The project is finished.  Here it is for anyone interested.  For those of you too lazy to scroll down, this is a remix album featuring Sizzla acapella tracks over new dancehall riddims constructed by me from spaghetti western soundtrack samples and newly recorded instrumental bits.  The .zip file in the link contains cover art and notes.  It was a bigger pain in the ass than I thought it would be, so enjoy it, you bastards.


Hypocrisy on cruelty, and the album

August 28, 2007

Just a quick link today, Diane.  ESPN Page 2’s Gregg Easterbrook (a.k.a. Tuesday Morning Quarterback) is an interesting fellow.  He is an avowed Christian but loves science.  He writes about football for a living but he also likes to devote column inches to explaining plot holes in “Star Trek” episodes.  And he works for what is basically a conservative medium (sports media), but interrupted his column today with this thoughtful breakdown of the hypocrisy in the public reaction to Michael Vick’s indictment and plea agreement.  Don’t read the football parts if you don’t want to, but do treat yourself to an intelligent omnivore making a pretty good argument for vegetarianism (or something closer to it than not, anyway).  You have to scroll down to the section titled “Atlanta Falcons.”  Or just look for the picture of the hot, bosomy cheerleader.  Whoever said that huge bosoms and vegeterianism didn’t go hand in hand?

In unrelated news, I am inches from finishing the Sizzla/spaghetti western mix project I’ve been working on.  Here’s the cover (click to embiggen):

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Gotta love Photoshop, the bestest piece of software there is.  When I finishing mastering this thing I’ll probably throw a track or two up here.  Or the whole thing, ’cause I’m generous.


Redirecting the creative juices

August 15, 2007

Diane,

I apologize for not keeping you as informed and entertained as usual this week, but my creativity muscle (it’s in the lumbar area) has been flexing in other ways.  Mainly I’ve been working on a new idea I had, which is to mix dancehall acapella tracks (i.e. just the singing part of the song) with music custom-assembled by me from spaghetti western soundtracks.  Dancehall artistes have had a well-known and long-lasting fixation on westerns, so the combination seems like a good one to me – at least on paper it does.  We’ll have to see how it goes when the team takes the field.  But if I can somehow honor the legacy of the Supercat-led group album “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & The Crazy” – not to mention the toasting efforts of reggae DJs Clint Eastwood and Josey Wales – then I will have done what I set out to do.

Since I’m low on creative wattage at the moment, I’ll just fill some space with a low-creativity blog post.  Namely,

HERE’S SOME OF THE GREATEST DANCEHALL AND SPAGHETTI WESTERN TRACKS, LISTED ALPHABETICALLY

(Slick, aren’t I.)

~ “Batty Rider” by Buju Banton.  With a goofy keyboard loop and a kind of annoying sample of a guy saying “Big it up!” over and over, you’d think this song would be a big fat miss.  But Buju lays on one of his best, most infectious hooks ever.  No song about short shorts will ever rival the greatness of this one.  Click on track 2 here if you want to hear a bit of it.

~ “The Ecstacy of Gold” from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly by Ennio Morricone.  This is darn close to the definitive spaghetti western song; I honestly can’t listen to it without getting chills.  The spectral wailings of the female singer alongside the swooning strings and defiant brass gets me every time.  I also can’t listen to it without picturing Tuco (Eli Wallach) running circles in that cemetery, looking desperately for treasure he doesn’t deserve – but which by the slightly cruel generosity of The Man With No Name will soon be his anyway.  A classic piece of scoring and a timeless scene.  It’s track 20 here if you feel inclined.

~ “Fedup” by Bounty Killer.  This is a HUGE dancehall anthem.  It had to overcome a few obstacles to get there though.  The beat is somewhat generic except for an occasional interjection where the kick drum pounds right on the beat four times in a row.  There’s an odd sample that is not quite on rhythm (riddim?) and sounds kind of like a guitar crossed with a steel drum, pitch-shifted down an octave.  And there’s the fact that Bounty’s main melody is lifted right from Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner.”  But when the Killa gets to the hook and bellows “Poor people FED UP!” you know what the fuck is up.  And what is up is this, Diane: this tune is kicking your ass.  Enjoy the Tom’s Diner-ness here (track 1).

~ “Il Grande Silenzio” from The Great Silence by Ennio Morricone.  This is a tremendously sad little bit of folksy scoring that precedes one of the bleakest, coldest westerns ever made.  Spoiler: When the title character meets his demise at the hands of superfreak Klaus Kinski at the end, this song by the maestro is what makes it not particularly surprising.  Goodbye, Silence; hello, beautiful soundtrack that transports me to a much sadder place.

~ “Killa Is A Killa” by Bounty Killer.  He says he’ll execute your family, and it sounds like he means it.  This is probably one of Killer’s finest tracks in terms of pure delivery.  His voice had reached a deep resonance, aged like a fine wine after years of chatting, but he had also just recently started inserting these bizarre modulated bits (e.g. “Hey yo! Yallo!”) that are awesome and funny at the same time.  With a solid, stripped-down riddim behind him, Bounty can’t miss on this one.  Track 3 here.

~ “Main Theme 1” from Indio Black by Bruno Nicolai.  As solid a Morricone pastiche as you’ll ever hear, with catchy chants of the title character’s name, horse-gallop rhythms, a soaring theme for trumpet, and flute shenanigans right out of the “Fistful of Dollars” playbook.

~ “Parte Prima” from The Grand Duel by Luis Bacalov.  I’m kind of glad that this song is too slow to make a good dancehall track, because otherwise I’d certainly use it, and everyone would think I was sampling the “Kill Bill” soundtrack.  And with all due respect to Uma, she’ll never hold the same esteem in my heart as Lee Van Cleef.  Anyway, this song is one of the defining musical cues in “Kill Bill,” and it’s a lovely, melancholy thing with an almost chaotic amount of emotion in it.  God, I miss big ol’ melodramatic scores.  Here it is if you want to refresh your memory – track 3 on the “Kill Bill” CD (the original soundtrack is utterly MIA).

~ “Step Out” by Busy Signal.  This song has a hyper riddim (as is pretty common nowadays – the dancehall is speeding things up every year) and delivery to match from newcomer Busy Signal.  But the true awesomeness arrives in the eerie chorus where he croons in slow motion: “Wuk gal/Buss guns/Smoke weed/Have fun” – and then tops it off with an energetic “Wah mi do!”  Yeah, me too, Busy.  I also work the gals, and have been known to bust a gun or two.  First track here.

~ “Titoli Di Testa” from The Big Gundown by Ennio Morricone.  The instrumental version of the theme – a defiant, rousing piece of work with blazing trumpets and ghostly feminine crooning – just beats out the vocal version (“Corri, Uomo, Corri”) because it lets you imagine rather than be confronted with the impressive but weird singing of these lyrics: “Go ahead young man!  Reach toward the sun!  Run man while you can!  Run man, run man, run!”  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be humming that all afternoon.

~ “To The Point” by Sizzla.  All I can say about this song is “HEY HEY HEY HEY Sizzla Kalonji say fi unno love one anothah! HEY HEY HEY HEY Sizzla Kalonji say hot hotta fyah!”  Track 7.

~ “Two Mules For Sister Sara: Main Title” from the film of the same title by Ennio Morricone.  This slightly edges out the very similar discordant guitar title music Morricone used in “Death Rides A Horse” and “Face to Face.”  It benefits from not being as fast as the latter, or as jangly and chaotic as either.  But mostly it benefits from that wonderfully off-kilter flute bit that comes in around the two minute mark.  This movie pales in comparison to the two I just mentioned, but the theme is great stuff.  It’s track 1 here.

~ “Wrath” by Sizzla.  It’s baffling to me that this tune hasn’t appeared on a Sizzla album yet.  Scratch that; it’s baffling to me that this tune hasn’t appeared on every Sizzla album, ever.  Even his old ones should be reissued with this song leading off.  For one thing, the riddim is enormous… elephantine, even.  It’s fast and driving with a kind of evil minor key melody, and these funny, squeaky percussive noises marking the end of every measure.  And then Sizzla just erupts: “Gangsta nuh left dem gun an mi run it!”  Yessir, I won’t dispute it.


Opinionated art

July 12, 2007

Diane,

A friend of mine recently told me the story of how he logged into his neighbor’s network through their unprotected wireless router.  He found their music library, an oddly assorted collection of Britney Spears pop and Burzum black metal and all points in between (which I guess is all the points there are).  Browsing over the black metal, he found a lot of so-called NSBM (national socialist black metal), which basically means racist Satanists from Norway.  He may or may not have deleted some of it.

This is interesting to me because of my recent insider/outsider status in the online metal community.  I occasionally post on a couple different forums, mainly to gather death metal recommendations from people who’ve been listening to the stuff for two decades more than I have.  On that front I’ve done extremely well.  I don’t listen to black metal*, but one can’t participate in that kind of forum without at least skimming over some of the black metal-oriented conversations.

Now, there is definitely such a thing as racist death metal.  Arghoslent is probably the best-known proponent of growly singing about flogging a particular kind of now-illegal cargo.**  But they don’t represent a very large trend.  NSBM, on the other hand, is widespread enough to have earned itself a genre name, albeit one that rarely appears in Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly’s music section. 

The people who listen to this music are in some unmeasurable percentage not racists, though, and that is what fascinates me.  If you ask them about it, the general theory goes like this:

1. It doesn’t really matter what they’re singing about if the music is good.

2. Besides, you can’t understand them most of the time anyway.

3. I have a black friend.

4. Wagner hated Jews, so, y’know, wtf.

I haven’t had to indulge in this exact rationalization myself, because I don’t listen to NSBM.  I don’t listen to black metal in general – most of it strikes me as juvenile, talentless, and ridiculous.  If death metal is a cousin to good horror movies (as I’ve argued previously), most black metal reminds me of those Italian cannibal movies where they stage gruesome scenes designed to look like no-budget snuff flicks, and sprinkle on some actual animal killing for flavor.  I don’t watch Italian cannibal movies from the seventies, and I don’t listen to black metal.  And even if I was going to listen to black metal, I doubt I’d be deep enough into it to have exhausted all the good bands and need to move on to shitty racist ones.

But the basic concepts here should be familiar to fans of several other kinds of music – most notably hip hop and dancehall.  And indeed, Diane, I listen to both. 

Hip hop ran into a lot of trouble in its early days by damning homosexuals (Brand Nubian, 2Pac, lots of other guys) and Jews (Public Enemy’s Prof. Griff, Ice Cube).  After a few public relations disasters, it seems like most rap artists – or maybe their record labels – learned not to cross those lines.  You still can hear some homophobic and anti-Semitic rants on hip hop records, but they’re buried a little deeper and scattered a little wider.  Certainly not a lot of major label releases are going out with this kind of rhetoric embedded in them.  Where they still venture though (and problematically for the enlightened listener) is into the dark waters of misogyny, as well as anti-white racism.  The former is more common – so common, in fact, that I think the average gangsta rap listener long ago stopped being shocked or surprised by songs that refer to bitches and hos, and in what capacity said bitches and hos are best used.***  Anti-white racism is fading out, especially now that MC Ren is off the scene and Ice Cube is making kiddie movies in exchange for what must be fifty zillion dollars and all the free handjobs he wants, but it still carries an aura of acceptability.  In fact, most white listeners I’ve spoken with about this type of lyric have shrugged and said, “Yeah, I guess that’s fair.”  The spectre of slavery and segregation have created a free pass for this kind of subject matter.  You’re more likely to get in trouble in the media for a gay slur in your rap song than for calling whites “devils” or talking about shooting up a white suburb.  (To be honest, if anybody wants to go shoot up Carmel, IN this weekend, I’m available and would be happy to drive.)

Dancehall has an even bigger PR problem than hip hop nowadays.  To give some background, Jamaica is a pretty homophobic island.  Homophobia is deeply ingrained in both the culture and the most well-known (though far from statistically dominant) religion, Rastafarianism.  A lot of Jamaicans in general are prejudiced against gays, and an even larger proportion of rastas are.  I don’t know for sure, but it would not surprise me if the likes of Bob Marley and Winston Rodney (a.k.a. Burning Spear) were homophobic to some degree.  However, they didn’t sing about it.+  But as reggae has evolved into the more aggressive digital styles of ragga and dancehall, homophobia has jumped to the forefront.

Roots reggae was always infused with rasta spirituality – one love and all that.  As such there was a certain amount of anti-Babylon polemicism, a degree of condemnation of us American sodomites (not necessarily meaning “one who practices sodomy,” but rather a latter-day resident of a metaphorical Sodom and Gomorrah).  Dancehall has evolved that into a full-on battle against homosexuality.  Slack artistes++ like Bounty Killer will use some unfortunate gay slurs and insult an opponent by saying he’s homosexual, but it’s really the rastas in dancehall who sling the most anti-gay fire.  Capleton and Sizzla, two singers whose music I enjoy, have been banned from performing in certain venues (and even whole countries) because of some of their lyrics.  Partly this is because the rasta way of speaking sounds more violent than it is.  A singer condemning the gay lifestyle will “bun [burn] it out” or throw “fire pon dem,” which is not intended to describe a literal torching of gay people, but rather a spiritual fire that cleanses sin.  In the same manner, for instance, a rasta would sing about burning down Babylon, which just means me and most of my friends (small comfort, eh? Enjoy another day of sin, fellow Babylonian).  Where the trouble comes in is in the more literal violence of songs like Buju Banton’s notorious “Boom Bye Bye,” or Sizzla’s “Gunshot.”  It may be a lot of big talk or it may not – Banton was recently charged with attacking some men who were believed to be homosexual – but either way it’s a troubling tendency.  More difficult for the listener is that your average Capleton or Sizzla album tends more toward roots reggae and milder lyrical themes; it’s usually on the single-only, aggressive dancehall tracks that they cut loose and really burn out the sodomites (this time meaning exactly “one who practices sodomy”).  So if I buy the latest by one of these guys, am I supporting their hidden agenda?  Should I wait for them to stop releasing anti-gay singles before I spend money on their gay-neutral (or non-gay-mentioning) albums?

I don’t have a good answer for this; it’s just a dilemma I have been thinking about.  My conscience is clear when it comes to NSBM and Arghoslent, because I don’t like either one.  But I do buy a lot of hip hop and dancehall, and I’m sure some of the artists I’m supporting are harboring some not-really-concealed homophobic and misogynistic and possibly racist agendas.  (Note: just to pre-empt any accusations of racism on MY part, I am going to point out that I also own three Eminem albums, and he is square in the center of this discussion as well, considering tracks like the infamous “97 Bonnie and Clyde” and his pre-Elton John lyrics about gays.  Intolerance and prejudice is by no means a black or Jamaican province; I just happen to listen to a lot of black and Jamaican music.)  Am I obligated as a consumer to only support artists whose politics and opinions I agree with?  Or at least not support the ones whose politics and opinions I strongly DISAGREE with?

Would I buy a Ku Klux Klan monthly calendar?  Even if it had Jessica Alba in various stages of partial nakedness on every page?  No, I wouldn’t.  (Uh, probably.)  So maybe I shouldn’t be buying music by anyone who sings about hitting women or gays.  There is one difference, though, which is that the Klan primarily exist to further prejudice; artists primarily exist to create art.  Even politicized art is mainly intended to entertain and stimulate the mind+++, which is very different from an organization holding racist rallies and trying to get affirmative action laws overturned.  And unlike your standard skinhead punk band, most of the artists we’re discussing here sing about things other than their unfortunate prejudices.  Eminem rapped about killing his bitch wife (a few times) – but mostly he raps about killing everybody else, plus doing drugs, trading letters with Stan, and losing himself in the moment.  I don’t feel like the money I give to Eminem is going into his “Kill All The Bitches legislation” fund.  I’m guessing (hoping) he doesn’t have one.  More likely it’s funding his pot-buying and his next “Rocky” remake.  Mostly it allows him to continue to exist as an artist.

The difficulty re-enters here though: if an artist is encouraging people who aren’t very good at thinking for themselves to have intolerant, prejudiced attitudes, should I oppose the art?  A lot of Eminem fans are young and stupid.  They absorb anything you put in front of them – and then spit it back out like parrots.  And regardless of the fact that Eminem hasn’t made me cut your head off and stuff you in my trunk, Diane, it’s possible that he might be gently enticing some other dumbass out there to do so.

It’s a question that I’m not going to answer now.  I’ve babbled on for far too long already, and besides, it should be obvious to you that at this point I don’t really have an answer.  It’s just something for all us hip hop, dancehall, national socialist black metal, and racist polka fans to consider.  And to my friend browsing his neighbor’s music collection: don’t delete their shitty black metal collection.  Maybe eventually they’ll decide to do that on their own.  Maybe not.  Or maybe they’re actually a bunch of racist assbags – but hey, even racists are entitled to their bizarre, completely wrong-headed opinions, and their Britney Spears albums.

* For those of you out there wondering, death metal and black metal are not the same thing – no matter what allmusic.com tells you.  Death metal is an outgrowth of thrash (e.g. Metallica, Slayer) that places a high value on technical skill, and utilizes a lot of twisted guitar riffs, low-pitched vocals, and precise drumming to get its point across.  Lyrics can be about almost anything (though mostly they are about mortality and sub-horror movie gore descriptions).  Black metal is defined as much by ideology (“we love Satan!”) as music (“we like singing in a high-pitched rasp that sounds eeeeevil… to high school students!”).

** Meaning slaves.  Seriously, they have a song called “Flogging The Cargo,” and that’s exactly what it’s about.  They also titled one of their albums “Incorrigibly Bigotry.”  For some reason, these guys get a lot of hate mail.  For some other reason that is a lot less clear, the metal community is generally accepting and borderline-worshipful of this band.  Maybe they’re just stunned that a bunch of racist dickwipes playing metal don’t sound like a pig with its foot in a blender.  I’ve spoken with a guy who describes himself as mixed Puerto Rican and Spanish; he listens to Arghoslent, and commented that he didn’t feel bad about listening to them because he’s “not a jew and not a full spic.”

*** Sperm receptacle, punching bag.

+ Burning Spear is actually still alive and active in reggae, but sorting out the tense changes in these two sentences was too irritating to finish.  My apologies to Mr. Spear.

++ Being “slack” in Jamaica is the equivalent of being a gangsta thug in America; slackness is the same as hooliganism, but the word is a lot less hilarious.  “Artiste” is how they refer to musical artists – I wasn’t just spelling it that way to be annoying.

+++ This is what differentiates art from propaganda, and “Birth Of A Nation” from “Triumph Of The Will.”