Tag Archives: hip hop

Amandla Stenberg: Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows

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A crash course on cultural exchange vs cultural appropriation:

A video by 16 year old actor, Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the 2012 movie version of The Hunger Games has recently gone viral. The video, which was produced for her history class, discusses black culture and the issue of cultural appropriation. In the four and half minuted video, Stenberg not only gives a crash course explanation on Black American culture but also discusses the difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation.  In particular, Stenberg discusses the mainstreaming and adoption of Black culture by non-black pop culture icons and artists, while also noting their often silence on the very really social and political issues impacting on Black Americans, including institutionalised racism, police violence and police brutality.   At the end of the video, Stenberg notes the willingness of non-Black pop artists and icons to adopt Black culture while failing to offer solidarity with the Black community struggling against police brutality, pointedly asking: “What would America be like if it loved black people as much as it loves black culture?”

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Music: Eyes, Nose, Lips Cover Project

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Taeyang from my favourite Korean idol group, Big Bang released his first song of his new album on June 3.  A few weeks later, his label YG Entertainment announced they would be embarking on a Cover Project where its artists would do covers of songs by other artists on their label.  The first one being a cover of Taeyang’s Eyes, Nose, Lips.

While I am a big fan of Akdong Musician and have been playing their new album PLAY non-stop for weeks, it is actually Tablo’s reimagined version with new lyrics, which is my favourite so far. This is not surprising given I have been a long time fan of Tablo and Epik High, with them probably being my all time favourite Korean hip hop group (with Drunken Tiger and Soul Dive coming just after them).

In the last day or so, Eric Nam, who originally came to public attention by covering kpop songs on youtube, has released an english language version of the song.   I doubt any of my favourite Korean indie rock groups will release a version of the song, but if they did I am sure they would also do an amazing job!

 

TAEYANG – original release

 

AKDONG MUISCIAN

 

TABLO – Reimagined version (with new lyrics in english by Tablo)

 

ERIC NAM –  english version of original Taeyang version

Boots Riley and the Music of Dissent and Rebellion

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Over Easter weekend, more than 1100 people attended the Marxism2014 in Melbourne.  One of the highlights of the conference was the Saturday evening performance by activist and radical musician, Boots Riley, who also spoke on race and racism in the USA earlier in the day.  Riley hopes to be touring Australia later in the year with his band, The Coup and you can check out some of their tracks below, as well as an interview with Boots on building the radical movements for change in the USA.

As the Marxism 2014 website notes, Boots Riley is one of the most influential radical American musicians of the past two decades. The critical acclaim that has greeted his musical endeavours, in particular his role as front-man of legendary US hip-hop outfit The Coup, has only been matched by the vitriol with which his work has been greeted by conservatives.

Since forming in 1990, The Coup have released a total of 6 albums, with their unique combination of funky rhythms and lyrics that move from cheeky wit to the hardest of hard-hitting political critique providing inspiration (and enjoyment) for a generation of radicals around the world. Their music has been widely acclaimed, with their 1998 release ‘Steal this Album’ labeled a masterpiece by Rolling Stone magazine, and other albums regularly appearing in ‘top 10 albums of the year’ lists in Rolling Stone and other major music publications.

Boots Riley has rapped with Tupac, produced a score for an episode of The Simpsons, had a novel written based on the lyrics of one of his songs, and, perhaps most impressively of all, had his work dismissed by Fox News as “a stomach-turning example of anti-Americanism disguised as highbrow intellectual expression.”

Riley has never been shy of controversy. Following the 9-11 attacks in New York, The Coup famously put out a press release stating that “last week’s events were symptomatic of a larger backlash against U.S. corporate imperialism.” Statements such as this, as well as the lyrics of songs such as ‘5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO’, have made him a favourite target of the conservatives. His influence on radical culture and politics in the US cannot be denied. In 2003 he was even named, by Vibe Magazine, as one of the 10 most influential people of the year. Nevertheless, the fame he has achieved through his music hasn’t led him away from direct involvement with political struggles and movements on the ground.

Riley was born into a family of radicals and has never wavered from his commitment to revolutionary politics and practice. He has been involved in many campaigns for social justice in his local community in Oakland, California, recently playing a leading role in the Occupy movement in the city.

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Abby Martin interviews ‘Boots’ Riley, about his musical roots, the state of dissent in the US and the corporatisation of America.

 

Boots Riley and The Coup:

The Guillotine

My Favourite Mutiny

The Magic Clap