We did our edits on hip hop culture. Check them out at:
We did our edits on hip hop culture. Check them out at:
The song I am choosing as my final DJ mix table is the song Testify by Common. In this song, we see a clear idea of gender norms/ privilege and how they’re portrayed in our society. The man in the story is accused of a double homicide, and is being charged with that plus gun possession. An “anonymous tip” set him up. While this trial is going on, the wife is on the other end, crying and pleading that the man should not be taken away from her. She pleads to let him go and listen to what she has to say.
“Before you lock my love away,
Before you lock my love away,
Before you lock my love away,
Before you lock my love away,
Please let me testify.”
What the jury and judge didn’t know however, is that it was actually the woman who committed the crimes! It turned out she sent the anonymous tip and set her husband up. Once the man pleaded guilty on all charges, the woman first reacted by weeping uncontrollably to then slapping on a big smile and laughing her way out of the courtroom. The whole time, she put on a fake act to eliminate any sort of suspicion on her. By acting like a “woman” she was able to get away with her crimes because of how “sweet and vulnerable” she might have looked and because of that she was able to take advantage if it and frame a man because of how “violent and dangerous” men are. Our society usually views woman as weak, or not as tough when it comes to murder or drugs so in contrast, we place those on males which no matter who has what privilege/role, it is simply not fair or right. When the police come into a home that is suspected to house drugs and such, the man would most likely be the one blamed and accused first before the woman, who can easily act like she had no idea and get away freely. This story shows how these gender norms/privileges can be taken full advantage of and In some cases, be used to incarcerate an innocent man or woman.
This also reminds me of a scene from the movie The Dark Knight Rises where Catwoman is involved in a shooting but as soon as the cops arrive, she plays dumb and beings to cry so the police see a crying, helpless woman instead of the real culprit. Both of these scenes give a great insight on how these gender privileges can benefit someone, yet destroy someone else.
For my final DJ Mixtable I would like to share one of the most ( in my opinion) powerful songs ever written by Sade. In Pearls, Sade tells the story of a mother in Somalia who struggles to survive and raise her children. What is beautiful about this song is the way in which the pain this woman faces is compared to “brand new shoes”. Sade sings:
There is a woman in Somalia
The sun gives her no mercy
The same sky we lay under
Burns her to the bone
Longest afternoon shadow
It’s gonna take her to get home
Each grain carefully wrapped up
Pearls for her little girl
She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives in a world she didn’t choose
And it hurts like brand new shoes
Hurts like brand new shoes
To compare this woman’s struggle to the pain of “brand new shoes” ultimately reveals there is no real comparison. It is ironic and Sade is illustrating that the western woman cannot truly fathom what the woman in Somali experiences everyday. She is illustrating that we have different standards, different ways of measuring pain. This is beautiful because it speaks to what anthropologist call “Cultural relativism”, the idea that circumstances from different places/cultures must be measured based on the standards of that culture rather than our own to fully understand culturally specific situations. This is what Sade’s lyrics are showing, a Western Woman who comes from privilege cannot fully understand the struggles of the woman in somalia because their standards are different. Their worlds are different and pain means different things to both women. I believe that songs such as these reveal to us how music can serve as a source of power for artists to tell the important unheard stories in creative ways. Sade is one of those artist who uses her music to transport audiences into a different world. She challenges their thinking through comparisons such as the one mentioned above. And at the same time she is a woman that takes pride in her sensuality and takes control of it rather than allowing herself to be objectified in the music industry.
"Black Panther Party's Legacy and Alumni", 1960's Civil Rights Movement, “Bobby Must Be Set Free", Black Fantastic Freedom Dreams”, Bobby Seale, EMP POP Conference 2014, Michael Torrance, Rickey Vincent “Music on the Front Lines of the Black Revolution: The Story of the Lumpen the Black Panthers’ Band”, Scott Crossley, the Lumpen, Todd Boyd “The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop”
In a Wikipedia article on “Hip Hop Music” cites Scott Crossley “Metaphorical Conceptions in Hip Hop Music” (501) to suggest that hip hop gives a “voice for the disenfranchised” living in impoverished African-American neighborhoods, referred to as “the projects,’ “the crib,” and the bricks,” all metaphors for cell blocks. Todd Boyd “The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop” in an interview with Scott Simon of NPR (2003), states that “hip hop, emerged from a uniquely African American disposition, and like the blues, jazz, and soul before it, give voice to those who tend to occupy the lowest rungs of the American social ladder.” Boyd goes on to stress that contemporary hip hop is “much more active, much more aggressive, much more militant.” (NPR: 1178621)
Rickey Vincent, in his discussion, “Music on the Front Lines of the Black Revolution: The Story of the Lumpen the Black Panthers’ Band,” on his Panel “Black Fantastic Freedom Dreams” at the EMP POP Conference 2014, would disagree with Boyd that contemporary hip hop is more militant then protest music of the 60’s. He argues that the Oakland based Black Panther Party R&B band, the Lumpen (name derived from Marx’s “lumpenproletariat”), were singing “the praises of revolution” during the 60’s Civil Rights Movement. The musical revolution began at San Jose State and Oakland, CA, where they performed at the Fillmore district rally in San Francisco.
Black Fantastic Freedom Dreams” at the EMP POP Conference 2014
Band member Michael Torrance recollections in the “Black Panther Party’s Legacy and Alumni” speaks to the bands militant origin and contribution to the Civil Right Movement.
Throughout history, oppressed people have used music as a means to not only document their struggle, but also to educate, motivate and inspire people to resistance. The Lumpen singing cadre grew out of that tradition. The purpose or mission of the Lumpen was to educate the People…to use popular forms of music that the community could relate to and politicize it so it would function as another weapon in the struggle for liberation
Liberation on behalf of Bobby Seale, in a cell block, serving 4 years for contempt of court, took place at Merritt College. The auditorium “was packed for the kick-off concert which was recorded live. The whole audience sang along with “Bobby Must Be Set Free”.
The Lumpen are a major revolutionary influence to the contemporary Hip Hop Movement.
In the reading titled “Zapateado Afro-Chicana Fandango Style” by Martha Gonzalez, I really found it interesting given I have never heard of the Zapateado which is percussive dancing on wooden platform. It is a form of fandango which I also never heard of and thought to have begun in Spain around the seventeenth century as a dance of courtship. I really liked how the author told us about the hardships her family faced and that it didn’t seem to stop her from using her musicality especially when her and her brother were considered to be “gifted” and allowed to perform ballet even though she didn’t have the grades or the academic skills to do so. She even took up miming which you don’t hear much of especially coming from her background. It didn’t seem like a route she would take but she loved the way it tells a story without saying anything which is actually a cool way of putting it.
In the reading “Quetzal Imaginaries” by Russell Rodriguez, I learned that Quetzal is an ensemble of highly talented musicians and they are joined with the goal of creating good music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of Chicanos and Chicanas. Martha Gonzalez as I mentioned above happens to be the lead singer, percussionist, and song writer. What was interesting about them is that they emerged at such a controversial time with the Rodney King beating, the 1994 Proposition 187 Campaign, and the repercussive reach of the Zapatista insurrection in Mexico. These events gave way for expression of culture such as music and public art which emerged to give people who are minorities a voice. That is what is so great about music is that it has the power to reach people who don’t have a voice and give them hope and inspire them.
After reading both Martha Gonzalez’s “Zapateado Afra-Chicana Fandango style” and Quetzal’s “Imaginaries,” I was amazed by their beginnings especially that of Martha Gonzalez.
As stated in “Zapateado”, when Martha was younger, she was part of child musical act with her siblings taking center stage. I was amazed at how their father basically signed their brother away by allowing him to be “worked like a dog” at the age of 9 to 11. I was even more surprised that this did not stop any of them from pursuing careers as singers. I feel like if it had been me, I would have avoided playing music ever again.
In “Imaginaries,” it discusses how Martha studied at UCLA and UW. She brought both background in both international music from Ghana and Cuba and in feminism to Quetzal. I was impressed by how she incorporated both into Quetzal’s musical identity. I believe that her background is part of the reason that Quetzal’s lyrics are so focused on social activism but the other members of the group contribute just as much I’m sure.
In the end, it seems that influence has made Quetzal’s lyrics very poignant and meaningful to a modern audience. Though I am not sure how many people listen to Quetzal, but after reading the descriptions of some of the tracks I could imagine the effect they had on their fans.
“Zapateado Afro-Chicana Fandango Style” by Martha Gonzalez was a very interesting piece to read. I really enjoyed reading about her life growing up and how those memories she kept became a part of her life forever. Coming from a Latino background, I can relate when she says “Music was the center of our cultural experience.” (pg.2) A lot of the artists she mentioned were some of the ones my parents used to play all the time. I hadn’t been to Mexico since I was 3, so growing up I had a difficulty learning and celebrating my culture. The music my parents played was like a piece of Mexico in our home. It’s something I know I will always carry with me, so it’s cool knowing that Gonzalez felt the same about her experiences.
Gonzalez also expresses the difficulties of growing up with immigrant parents who’s dad was totally against American culture. My dad was the same way growing up. It can be very difficult to “act Mexican” in such a different culture setting. However, through her adversities I was very impressed that she was able to overcome those obstacles and find her voice through music. Understanding where you came from not only reminds you why you do the things you do, but also give you a perspective to look back at when you need that inspiration to strive and try something new.
I really liked reading Martha Gonzalez chapter on “Zapateado Afro-Chicana Fandango Style”. What appealed to me the most about this piece is the way in which the author connected her professional interests back to her childhood. I loved the way Martha told us a story in such a colorful and personal way, allowing us to see her own influences when it came to music and dance. What really caught my attention was the way Martha connects her struggles as a child of an immigrant parent living in a place she did not feel she could fully be herself. Because she grew up with a complicated father figure who refused to connect to anything American, Martha found a hard time finding her own voice. I really appreciated the way she described to us how the arts provided a space for Martha to claim her complex identity. Although she was raised in the U.S, her father and his connection to Mexico and the Mexican culture still played a great role in Martha’s life. Music gave her an ability to express her unique voice without having to deny any part of who she was. Martha also briefly brings up this idea of Hollywood attempting to sexualize her which we have seen a few times in this course and I think it would be interesting to hear more of her take on this issue.
In this sense, we imagine. We visualize. We gather our resources. We design and construct. Taking part in communities that have exercised decolonializing methods such as these, as well as dialoguing and learning from communities that survive by adopting the same strategies and principles, inspired this song.
Martha Gonzalez, on the title track Imaginaries
Both Martha Gonzalez and Sherrie Tucker’s presentation at the EMP POP Conference 2014, “Improvising New Communities with Bodies in Motion Roundtable,” reconfigure “music, movement, and space in terms of individual bodies, social collectives, and contested urban geographies,” (Program, p17) to adapt traditions mitigating from Mexico and Japan; and, demonstrate how ALUM multimedia improvisations build diverse communities. In her presentation Martha Gonzalez merges Latino & Chicana/o Fandango practices with Nobuko Miyamoto’s Buddhist tradition of music and dance to combine and create the Fandango Obon Project which functions as a participatory musical dialogue between Veracruz and Japan, two diverse groups who share in LA’s cultural and geographical spaces.
Gonzalez is also part of the talented Quetzal Grammy winning ensemble who drew from the folk traditions of Mexico, protest songs of the Civil Rights 60’s, Chicano Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Salsa and International music to create “Imaginaries”, a tribute to the L.A. soundscapes for political and social struggles for self-representation.
Sherrie Tucker’s project, “(Un) Rolling The Boulder,” relies on a group collaboration involving disabled people, the academic community, and Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute multimedia “Adaptive Use Musical Instrument” (AUMI) interface to connect people through interactive musicality. Tucker explains how disabled people and people without disabilities are now able to use “ a free software interface AUMI, which transforms any computer with camera-tracking into a flexible musical instrument that adapts to every body.” She says that the project seeks ways to explore the meaning of community and how some people experience exclusion from their communities. Furthermore, she says, that although the group posses different degrees of physical ability, they are able to produce a fusion of music, dance and song to express themselves in unique and unexpected ways.
I relayed the information to my daughter in law who works in the Boston School District with disabled children.
I went to the POP Conference here and this amazing invention has been developed to incorporate everyone and anyone into the music art community. Thought you might be interested. The software is free along with instructions.
Adaptive Use Musical Instruments Tutorial