Saturday, September 27, 2008

Music and video for Chapter Three, Marcus Reeves' "Somebody Scream!"

"With the release of [Run D.M.C.'s] 'Sucker M.C.'s,' the earliest b-boy sound--the uncompromised funk and competitive nature of hip-hop music--finally arrived" (Reeves, 40).

Here, Run DMC perform "Sucker M.C.'s" on the shortlived TV show, "Graffiti Rock," from 1984. It's followed by some freestyling by Run DMC, Kool Moe Dee, and Special K.

Run DMC's "Rock Box," blending hardcore rap and heavy metal guitar. The first rap video ever played on MTV (1984).

Run DMC's "King of Rock," the title track from their platinum album (1985). "I'm the King of Rock, there is none higher/Sucker MCs should call me sire." African-Americans reclaim the mantle of rock'n'roll. View it here.

Hardcore competition to Run-D.M.C.: LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells," from his 1985 album, Radio.

And Eric B & Rakim's "Eric B is President," from the album, Paid in Full (1987).

From Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell (1986), which Rolling Stone called "the first true rap album"--"My Adidas," which marked the group as the first rap artists to get a sneaker endorsement deal.

And from the same album, Walk This Way," with Aerosmith.

Original Philly gangsta, Schooly D's "Smoke Some Kill" (1988). View lyrics here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Birthplace of the Hip-Hop Revolution: The South Bronx

Photographs (and descriptions) from Mel Rosenthal's In the South Bronx of America, courtesy Duke University Libraries. See the full exhibit here.

I was born and grew up in what is now called the South Bronx. After twenty years away, I returned in 1975, to a neighborhood in ruins. The sturdy well-constructed buildings that had once housed tens of thousands of people were gutted and burned out.

The last building left standing in the neighborhood was on the East 173rd through 174th Street block. A few days after this picture was made, the building was bulldozed and the people who lived there were sent to shelters and single room occupancy hotels.

And here are some vivid images of the South Bronx, from the opening to the 1981 film, Wolfen.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Product placement in pop music

From, this article by Eliot Van Buskirk: "Products Placed: How Companies Pay Artists to Include Brands in Lyrics."

Here's the punchline:

"things have gotten so weird in the music business that high-profile acts are inserting ads into their song lyrics. The next time you hear a brand mentioned in a song, it could be due to a paid product placement. And unlike magazines, songs are not required to point out which words are part of an advertisement."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the specials: rudeboy version 2--two-tone

more skins


Siouxsie Sioux: Fetish Wear, Swastika

One of the best examples of the kind of transgressive punk style, as described and analyzed in Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style--Siouxsie Sioux, of Siouxsie and the Banshees. As Hebdige observes, punks' use of the swastika was meant to shock the bourgeoisie, not out of any political affinity for Nazism.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lord Buckley on Groucho Marx

Among other things, Buckley performs his "jive translation" of Shakespeare's rendering of Brutus' funeral oration for Julius Caeser.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Amy Winehouse and blackface

This is a particularly acute analysis of Amy Winehouse and her (mostly) occulted relation to the Black female vocal r&b/soul tradition, from Daphne Brooks, in The Nation.

"Black women are everywhere and nowhere in Winehouse's work."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Uncommon Valor": More POW/MIA Disinformation

If you're looking for another film that propagates the POW/MIA mythology (effectively demolished in H. Bruce Franklin's Vietnam and Other American Fantasies, there is Uncommon Valor (1983), starring Gene Hackman. It airs pretty regularly on AMC.

I can only recommend it for historical/research purposes; not for any cinematic values.