Plato insisted that slaves, allowed full access to musical and artistic expression, might bring down Athens. Though it was clearly a turn of frenzied hyperbole on his part, he also appears to have seen a genuine danger, not just in the underclass’ possession of music, but in its ability to change it.
“Musical innovation is full of danger for the state,” he wrote, “for when the modes of music change, the laws of the state always change with them.” Or, in its catchier, vulgarized version, “when the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” Read more
Capitalism is an irrational system which refuses to see itself for what it is. Like an obnoxious trust fund kid slumming it at a dive bar, it cannot help but loudly declare how ingenious and deserving it is. Accepting its arguments for how things are and how they change is to accept the argument that there is some method underneath the layers of madness, that its opulence can somehow be separated from its exploitation, that it has something other than an ever-deepening inhumanity in its future. While our dreams are deemed irrational, capitalism’s degradations are justified as science.
To grasp the significance of Sorry to Bother You is, on some level, to grasp this truth about capitalism. Boots Riley has written and directed a film that is being celebrated by the far-left and mainstream critics alike. Those familiar with Riley’s musical and lyrical work with the Coup know that he is adept at combining his unabashed revolutionary politics with a skewed, cartoon-like worldview. Read more
The Struggalo Circus, a group of radical activists who are also dedicated fans of Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records, were finishing their preparations before we headed to the Juggalo March. The four (nom de guerres: Ape, Dimension, Kitty Stryker, and RaiderLo) had split a hotel room in Chinatown, waking up early to don their regalia. Ape, his fully made-up face framed by bleached blonde hair and beard, looked oddly appropriate for the juggalos’ leap into DC protest politics: he wore a suit. “I dress like this all the time,” he told me. During the day he fielded at least a dozen interviews. Read more
The artist behind Zeal and Ardor isn’t American. He’s Swiss, albeit of African heritage. Manuel Gagneux was prompted to begin the project by a 4Chan post. In an interview with Noisey’s Kim Kelly, he claims that he used the message boards as a starting point for his own musical experiments:
I used to make these threads where I would ask for musical genres, one would post “swing,” and the other would post “hardcore gabber techno” and I’d fuse the two and make a song out of it in 30 minutes. One day someone said “n*gger music,” and the other said “black metal.” I didn’t make the song then, but it stuck with me, and I thought it was an interesting idea. Read more
There are those days that seem longer than most. Days when I want to hole up in my crummy corner of the planet apartment complex and never leave. Usually I'm a very social being but we live in a wild world ya'll and sometimes it all feels like too much. Bad friends, bad times, bad relationships, bad vibes. I close my doors, close my eyes, and find reassurance. "Eyelids", produced by Dalessio and I, is an attempt to explore that thought. Hopefully I can uncover the same kind of lyrical honesty throughout my upcoming E.P. Impressions as I did in this single. Read more
The experimental hip-hop group clipping. have a new E.P. out. It’s called Wriggle. The group’s M.C. Daveed Diggs has recently become nothing short of a Broadway celebrity lately since winning a Tony for his role in Hamilton. The man is a phenom, an insane talent on the microphone. There’s no question about this. Diggs’ more usual fare with clipping. is, however, of a somewhat different fare. As I’ve put it previously, he’s far more Marquis de Sade than Lafayette, and clipping. fit right in with the insurgence of “industrial hip-hop” we’ve seen over the past few years that also includes the likes of Death Grips. Here’s the title track and lead single from the new E.P. Read more
There is nothing about that six second video that is not wonderful and beautiful. A diverse crowd of anti-racists – Black Lives Matter of course, but also supporters of Bernie Sanders, immigrant rights and anti-Islamophobia activists – jumping up and down and shouting Kendrick Lamar lyrics in celebration: they just shut down Donald Trump.
Trump supporters and other conservatives – as well as Trump himself – are now whining about “thugs,” and threatening to show up at Sanders’ rallies. Centrists and a great many liberals are wringing their hands about whether Trump’s “free speech” has been violated – as if Trump or his supporters have ever shown such regard for our right to express ourselves. Read more
We made this song in memory of Larry Jackson, We made this song for LaKiza. Read more
We made this song for the community.
We made this song to heal.
We made this song to pressure the judge to NOT DISMISS THE CASE.
It’s been a year since the death of Michael Brown, a year since the rebellion in Ferguson, a year since the Black Lives Matter movement began to shift the conversation in just about every avenue of American life. That shift can be seen in politics (from #BowDownBernie to Donald Trump’s threats to beat up protesters) and economics (the Black Youth Project’s embrace of the Fight for 15). It can also be seen, perhaps most obviously, in our culture — and in music, in particular. Read more
"Flawless" is a dance performance piece about gender and sexuality choreographed for pre-professional dancers ranging in age from 13-17. We asked some of them to describe the piece and its development in their own words.
Choreography by Jenny Espino Read more
Video editing by Aaron Garcia
If the grand conversation around race were to be neatly divided into “before” and “after” Ferguson, then Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly would have to be regarded as something of an artistic landmark, a stunning musical distillation of the post-Ferguson mood. I am inclined to agree with Rolling Stone’s Greg Tate when he writes: “Thanks to D'Angelo's Black Messiah and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, 2015 will be remembered as the year radical Black politics and for-real Black music resurged in tandem to converge on the nation's pop mainstream.”
Lamar’s album has far exceeded all expectations. In its first day of release, To Pimp a Butterfly became the mostheavily-streamed album in Spotify’s history, racking up a reported 9.6 million listens on that day alone. It’s the first hip-hop or R&B album since Beyoncé to spend multiple weeks on top of the Billboard charts, and has already been certified Gold. Read more