Tuesday, 23 December 2014

I Just Want this to End (part 4)

I regret ever getting into this beef. I have no answers, I am confused as to whether there are any answers, and everyone involved keeps talking like there are such things as 'authenticity' and 'appropriation'. 

There are, however, three men who got involved - since they are men, we can take their opinions more seriously than these bickering girls, right, fellas?

First up, we have Q-Tip. It's a shame that Q-Tip used twitter to
deliver his lecture on the history of hip hop, because it makes quoting it difficult (some of the tweets are half a sentence). Quite why Q-Tip can't sit down and write a proper article is a mystery (or an email, if he is really trying to school Iggy). It's not like he has been troubling the world with superb raps lately.

Anyway, Q-Tip's lecture, in another context, would be well cool. He connects the culture of hip hop to a specific period of history, and appreciates how that context defines many of the themes of the music. He recognises the depth of hip hop culture, and sees it as an integrated aesthetic. Most crucially, hip hop has a social importance and is the expression of a particular community. It's a nice introduction to the form - smooth as his better raps, and a nice balance of his personal understanding and wider discussions on hip hop. 

Surprisingly, Iggy takes him down. Like the joker behind the false Mary Brennan account on twitter, Q-Tip isn't providing a public service, he is trolling her. He is showing off how clever he is (which he is), and Iggy replies that the whole thing is patronising, treating her like a little girl who hasn't a thought in her head. 

Earlier on, Eminem contributed a sagacious rap, in which he said something that sounds like a rape threat. Even if he has been doing this since he was relevant, it's not a good look. Iggy could have got me totally onside when she replied that she was sick of hearing this kind of thing, if she hadn't added she wanted to hear more about young women making money. Of course, having Eminem promise to give you one is always going to give you the moral high-ground, expose the misogyny of the music business, et cetera. 

Finally, Will.i.am chimed in. He was on Iggy's side, seeing her appropriation of hip hop as positive, comparing it to Blondie's Rapture as an example of how hip hop is a global property. Mind you, isn't he a judge on The Voice now? That doesn't make him an icon of hip hop, more trash culture? I haven't seen it, but I presume that, like most TV talent shows, it puts a premium on matters technical (like singing in tune) then cultural (like having an emotional connection with the material).

Actually, I saw some bloke off The Voice in a pantomime a few weeks ago. He had a confident delivery and a sweet vocal range. Then I watched his video on The Voice and he was a screaming harridan. I don't think it is a show that brings out the subtle nuance of the great vocalists. 

But that isn't the point. There is a final organisation to mention. Anonymous. The hackers.

Obviously, the governments of the world have chilled out lately, because Anonymous had time to threaten Iggy, instead of attacking the injustices of the state and multinational corporations. I'll get into that debacle in another post, but the bullying tone they employed put me right off having a revolution with them. And it emphasised that while there are questions of privilege and opportunity that are offered to young white women, the patriarchy likes nothing more than having a go at them. 

Even if the original beef has some substance, these contributions
are just more of the same masculine dismissal of pop that has buggered criticism ever since the first man realised that pop music was messing with his erection. While I don't want to slip into a simplistic reading of patriarchy - there is currently a dialectical tension between its oppression and feminist resistance which is actually quite encouraging - when it rears its head, it's familiar and consistent. 

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