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Posts Tagged ‘Rap

“It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none”*…

 

Flyting is a stylized battle of insults and wits that was practiced most actively between the fifth and 16th centuries in England and Scotland. Participants employed the timeless tools of provocation and perversion as well as satire, rhetoric, and early bathroom humor to publicly trounce opponents. The term “flyting” comes from Old English and Old Norse words for “quarrel” and “provocation.” [Indeed, the image above is of Norse god Loki trading insults with his divine brother, Bragi.] ‘Tis a form of highly poetic abuse, or highly abusive poetry—a very early precursor to MTV’s Yo Mama and Eminem’s 8 Mile

More of the history of insult as a form of battle– and a discussion of the actual ancestry of rap-as-we-know-it– at “Flyting was medieval England’s version of an insult-trading rap battle.”

Rap has been a path between cultures in the best tradition of popular music.
― Jay-Z

* Snoop Dog

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As we yoyo “yo mamas,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & the Comets became the first rock and roll album to enter the chart.  The single had become the first rock single to top the pop charts six months earlier.

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Written by LW

January 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment / You own it, you better never let it go”*…

 

From the good folks at Polygraph, Spotify playcounts analyzed to understand how generations remember music, over time: “The most timeless songs of all time.”

* Eminem, “Lose Yourself”

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As we ponder our playlists, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that “The Loco-Motion” hit #1 on the pop charts in the U.S.  Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote the tune for Dee Dee Sharp (who then had a monster hit with “Mashed Potatoes”), but Sharp demurred.  Goffin and King then turned to their babysitter, Eva Boyd, who took the stage name “Little Eva.”

The song appeared in the American Top 5 three times – each time in a different decade, performed by artists from three different cultures: originally African American pop singer Little Eva in 1962 (U.S. No. 1); then American band Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 (U.S. No. 1); and finally Australian singer Kylie Minogue in 1988 (U.S. No. 3). It was the second song to reach No. 1 by two different musical acts; the first, “Go Away Little Girl,” was also written by Goffin and King.

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Written by LW

August 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps”*…

 

Left: Henry VIII by the studio of Hans Holbein the Younger, 1540-1550 / Right: Rick Ross

Highlighting an invisible conversation between hip hop and art before the 16th century…

From @ceciliaazcarateB4-XVI beforesixteen

* Chuck D

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As we scratch ’em and sniff, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that Robert Matthew Van Winkle— better known as Vanilla Ice, whose “Ice Ice Baby” was the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts– married Laura Giaritta.  Ice, who’s both a Juggalo and a vegetarian, has recently concentrated on his home renovation reality show on the DIY Channel, but still occasionally performs… though in September, 2013, he rapped at the halftime show of a Houston Texans game; Houston went on to lose the remaining fourteen games of the season, leading some players to blame Ice for the losing streak.

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Written by LW

March 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true…”*

 

It is not just an artist’s work, but their personalities — inadvertent, performative, implied, affected, whatever — by which an overall narrative, or “personal brand,” of the artist is measured, which invariably informs how the art is perceived. Do likeable people make likeable art, and vice versa? Is it better to be an arrogant genius than a modest one? At what point is arrogance reasonable? One hates to reduce art-making to the two binaries presented, but this seems to be the case: What you think of yourself, and what others think of you… this is all grossly subjective and was distractedly assembled while this contributor was at work, in a cast (broken hand, bike accident), with low blood sugar due to manorexic tendencies (no breakfast, salad for lunch), and I know there’s not enough women and minorities represented, and that this is all rather mainstream, so if you point that out, I’ll know that you didn’t finish reading this ¶. Cheers, to the people who touch us.

Jimmy Chen in “Artistic Temperaments

* John Steinbeck

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As we take our geniuses as we find them, we might send a birthday reminder that “just because one’s paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t after you” to Philip Kindred Dick; he was born on this date in 1928.  The author of 44 novels and over 120 short stories, PKD, as his now-legion fans know him, won every major award available to the science fiction writer during his lifetime, but barely scratched together a living.  It was only after his death in 1982 that his work was picked up by Hollywood; ten popular films based on his works have been produced (so far), including Blade RunnerTotal Recall (twice), A Scanner DarklyMinority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau.  In 2007, he became the first sc-fi writer to be included in the Library of America series.

PKD’s influence on literary and cinematic science fiction, and on popular culture in general, has been monumental.  But he has admirers within the ranks of philosophy as well, among them,  Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Laurence Rickels, and Slavoj Žižek.  Writing of Dick’s evocation of postmodernity, Baudrillard observed…

It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move “through the mirror” to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence.

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Written by LW

December 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Rap, Rap, Rapping on Heaven’s Door…

 

As our friends at Rap Genius observe,

Rap’s history has been traced many ways — through books, documentaries, official compilations, DJ mixes, university archives, even parties. But until now you haven’t been able to look at the development of the genre through its building blocks: the actual words used by emcees.

Like Google’s Ngram viewer (only with a more pronounced beat), RG’s Rap Stats lets users plot the frequency of words appearing in rap songs from 1988 through the present day; one can, as they suggest “figure out the migratory patterns of drug dealers, when hip-hop became big business, and whether money really is over bitches”… and a host of other fascinating things.  For example,

The word first pops up in 1993-4. This makes sense, as DJ Jubilee’s “Do The Jubilee All,” generally acknowledged as the first recorded rap use of the term, was released in ’93. Jubilee was a bounce artist, and one of the many great things about early bounce music was that it functioned as a conversation between the artists. It wasn’t too long before Jubilee’s call to “Twerk, baby” was answered by Cheeky Blakk’s 1995 classic “Twerk Something!”, and a slew of other N.O. artists followed her lead.

The word lived quietly as a regional trend, losing steam in the late 90s, until pop culture finally discovered the dance, and, as we all know now, launched “twerk” into a Miley-fueled rocket ship ride, with no end in sight.

(Of course, Will Smith fans might have said the same thing about “jiggy” in 1998, and we can see how that turned out…)

One can develop one’s own rap on rap at Rap Stats.

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As we bust a rhyme, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington recorded his first big hit, “Mood Indigo.”  Ellington was fond of saying, “Well, I wrote that in 15 minutes while I was waiting for my mother to finish cooking dinner.”  With lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1931 (but credited to Ellington’s manager Irving Mills), “Mood Indigo” became a vocal as well as an instrumental standard, recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone among many, many others.

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Written by LW

October 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

Beating the rap…

Liz Fosslien “likes to turn numbers into pictures and ideas into charts”– from “Crime Patterns in Chicago” to “How to Get Hired,” she’s created infographics galore.  Indeed, one of her visual essays is a quiz, “Name that Song“; two sample questions (answers, below):

Take the test here.

Answers:

# 4- “Sexy and I know” LMFAO

# 8- “No Church in the Wild” Jay-Z and Kanye West

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As we bust our beats, we might send birthday smiles to actor, writer and film director Arthur Stanley “Stan” Jefferson… or as he was better known, Stan Laurel; he was born on this date in 1890.  Laurel came to the U.S. from his native England as Charlie Chaplin’s understudy in a touring acting troupe.  Laurel stayed behind, first as an actor in two-reel comedies, then as a writer-director for Hal Roach.  Laurel intended to remain behind the camera, but stepped under the lights again when an accident left Oliver Hardy without a co-star.  The two became friends and went on to make first a series of shorts (one of which, The Music Box, won the Academy Award for Best Short in 1932), then features– over 180 films in all.  In 1961, four years after Hardy’s death, Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy.

If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I’ll never speak to him again.
Stan Laurel

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Written by LW

June 16, 2012 at 1:01 am

By their “f#*ks” ye shall know them…

click here to play

One can click on the rapper of one’s choice at The Rap Board to hear that artist’s signature catch phrase (or cry or grunt or whatever)…

 

As we rework our rhymes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1778 that Captain James Cook became the first Caucasian/European to visit the Hawaiian island of Maui.  He was, of course, by no means the last.

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Written by LW

November 26, 2011 at 1:01 am

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