(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Rap

“Progress is our most important product”*…

 

Steam Power

Looking backwards, it’s striking how unevenly distributed progress has been in the past. In antiquity, the ancient Greeks were discoverers of everything from the arch bridge to the spherical earth. By 1100, the successful pursuit of new knowledge was probably most concentrated in parts of China and the Middle East. Along the cultural dimension, the artists of Renaissance Florence enriched the heritage of all humankind, and in the process created the masterworks that are still the lifeblood of the local economy. The late 18th and early 19th century saw a burst of progress in Northern England, with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. In each case, the discoveries that came to elevate standards of living for everyone arose in comparatively tiny geographic pockets of innovative effort. Present-day instances include places like Silicon Valley in software and Switzerland’s Basel region in life sciences.

These kinds of examples show that there can be ecosystems that are better at generating progress than others, perhaps by orders of magnitude. But what do they have in common? Just how productive can a cultural ecosystem be? Why did Silicon Valley happen in California rather than Japan or Boston? Why was early-20th-century science in Germany and Central Europe so strong? Can we deliberately engineer the conditions most hospitable to this kind of advancement or effectively tweak the systems that surround us today?

This is exactly what Progress Studies would investigate…

Entrepreneur Patrick Collison and economist Tyler Cowen argue that humanity needs to get better at knowing how to get better: “We Need a New Science of Progress.”

* GE’s marketing slogan through most of the post-war boom

###

As we emphasize improvement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious B.I.G. (with Puff Daddy with Ma$e) hit the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

“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

###

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.

 source

 

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”

###

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.

email readers click here for video

 

Written by LW

August 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

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

 

cecilia_azcarate

 

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

From Cecilia Azcarate, whose current work is here.

* Chuck D

###

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.

 source

 

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

###

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.

 source

 

Written by LW

December 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: