Thursday, May 24, 2012

Big Fun in the Big Town: Rap 1986

Film by Dutch filmmaker Bram Van Splunteren, shot in New York City in 1986. The DVD is just, now, finally, out. I especially love the beatboxing of Dough E. Fresh in this trailer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jeff Chang on Rap and the LA Riots of 1992

Courtesy: Los Angeles Review of Books.

it was Dr. Dre's The Chronic, released 10 days before Christmas, that became the quintessential post-riot album...Against the backdrop of the reintensified culture wars and the patently empty promises to "Rebuild LA," The Chronic seemed a heaven-sent balm, a handshake extended by capital to the kids... Dre's songs spoke less explicitly than Kam's, but no less powerfully, to the atmosphere of the truce parties, the ecstatic freedom of rolling down the street without having to worry, for once, about cops or enemies... 

But separated from the prospect of a potential war between armed united gangs and the LAPD — for which authorities were at one point reportedly preparing — The Chronic could also be heard as the beginning of a guiltless, gentrified gangsta: no Treaties, rebuilding demands, or calls for reparations: just the party and bullshit. It was the product that finally and seamlessly closed the gap between the vanilla exurbs and the chocolate inner-cities: a brand-conscious "G" Thang ready for easy consumption.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Moral panic, Japan: 'Teenage Wasteland' from LIFE magazine, 1964

Amazing set of photos shot by LIFE photographer Michael Rougier in 1964, to accompany an article by Robert Morse on Japanese youth in revolt. In the notes he sent along to accompany Rougier's film, Morse wrote:

A large segment of Japanese young people are, deep down, desperately unhappy and lost. And they talk freely about their frustrations. Many have lost respect for their elders, always a keystone of Japanese life, and in some cases denounce the older people for “for having gotten us into a senseless war.”

The article from Time-Life (no date, but contemporary) on this piece, includes the following observation:

this “lost generation” was not even remotely monolithic. While they might, to varying degrees, have shared a genuinely nihilistic outlook toward their own and their country’s future, the runaways, rock and roll fanatics (the “monkey-dance, Beatles set,” Morse calls them), pill-poppers, “motorcycle kids” — all of these groups, along with innumerable other subsets of Japan’s youth-driven subculture, attest to the breadth and depth of teen disaffection found, virtually anywhere one looked, in 1964 Tokyo.

Michael Rougier—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images 

 Caption reads: A fan (right) and a "Tokyo Beatle," 1964

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lolita fashion in Mexico

"Lolita," a fashion subculture from Japan influenced by clothing from the Victorian or Rococo eras, and anime, makes its way to Mexico. Via boingboing. And check out the Reuters photo album.

Photo: Alby Flores