i am getting tired of hearing songs with explicit sex lyrics..i mean hearing it in that context of objectification or power and all that is annoying and gross. i love hip hop and i love rap, but there comes a point when i just have to switch channels when it comes to top 40 on the radio or just tune out. those phrases and attitudes do trickle down as an influence from most of the mainstream players.
i was just talking about this with a close friend a couple nights ago..just how those issues which are most often socially agreed as “private” activities (in the social “night” realm: strip clubs indoors, porn viewed in a domestic space, webcams in a domestic space, sex in a domestic space, etc.) are only acceptable in a public sphere when those expressing it are in control and dominant (artist or rapper talking about a sexual act), or when not, those crude notions of power and objectification become explicit and somehow acceptable..
“Are Cities Music?: Chaos, collaboration, and the cultivation of possibility in New York” ~ Vijay Iyer
Here is a piece from Red Bull Music Academy’s Daily Note (11th issue). After reading it, I am trying to apply Vijay’s exposition of the music/city union to music/internet—music that thrives in the internet beyond its use as promotion or discovery, where collaboration and community is an active event..all this relying heavily on a realm that is experienced via screen/speakers…hm..what is the abundance of the interaction or the expression, the capital of those involved, the modes of movement one can rely on..etc..what are the values of internet culture interaction, if any, and is it reflected in the music?*
(* Rap 1.0: A History of the Early Hip-Hop Internet)
1. For me, New York’s superpower is its chaos of interactions. It’s simple combinatorics: a city of eight million people can have nearly 32 trillion distinct one-on-one encounters. Think about that the next time you lock eyes with someone on the subway. You bump up against so many people that it feels inexhaustible; if you find this quality rejuvenating, you are officially a “city per- son.” It’s a setting in which certain kinds of artists thrive: those who play well with others and especially those who learn to harness the noise between people, the sounds and movements of those in their midst—and let it erupt through their work.
2. How do you do that? You just wade right in to the froth of culture and let it rush over you; you cultivate new relationships and feature others alongside you. Music can contain the contri- butions of a multitude, reflecting and accommodating the com- munities in its sphere. A city is a place for collaboration.
3. Sustained, rich, detailed collaborations create radical speci- ficity in the city’s chaos of encounters. Charlie Parker and Diz- zy Gillespie, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Run-DMC, Eiko and Koma, Matt and Kim, Batman and Robin. In singling out and building on one (or at best, a handful) of our 32 trillion possible connections, such collaborations reveal how much can be made of any such human exchange. Confronted by this everyday abundance of ephemeral interactions, we learn to cherish the fact that anything substantial can take hold between individu- als; it can seem, on balance, pretty miraculous.
4. Over the last 20 years or so (including nearly 15 in New York), I’ve had the privilege of making a lot of music with a lot of different people, and I’ve also had the opportunity to study the cognitive science of music: how our bodies and minds perceive, process, and generate musical actions. I’m no scientist nowa- days, but I still speculate about how science might help us un- derstand human things—the things we do together, the stories we tell about ourselves, what we find beautiful or necessary… In other words, things like music.
5. There’s a movement toward a new “science of cities,” in which researchers scrutinize our urban centers both as networks, in
the social sense, and as vast experiments in resource manage- ment. In these massive, noisy aggregates of people, capital, and infrastructure, scientists and mathematicians are discovering predictable, systemic patterns.
6. This new science of cities focuses less on a city’s chaos and more on its order: its sewer systems, energy grid, traffic flow. It’s all about the way we handle our desired and undesired fluids (traffic is also a fluid, in the physical sense); it’s about resource management, the flow of information, big-picture stuff. Most of the thinking in this new field tends to focus on our messes (plumbing, disease, and so forth) or else with entrepreneurial “ideas”—that is, technological innovations and the wealth they are able to create. In the way these details interact, it is said, all cities are basically the same.
7. Somewhere between our waste and our wealth lurks that nebulous thing called culture—the stories of ourselves, the things that give us specificity and humanness, that we gather for and rally around. But the new science of cities seems scarce- ly concerned with the culture of cities.
8. It’s too easy to write off the arts as a mere footnote to ques- tions of infrastructure and capital. But we know that culture provides a city with a very different kind of energy, which is not strictly entrepreneurial. Culture is what carries much of the city’s identity—it creates communities, it attracts people from elsewhere, it generates desire. To scientists of cities I ask: what can culture tell us?
9. I ask because I am increasingly convinced that, at some lev- el, the science of cities is equivalent to the science of music. Or, more to the point: cities are music. Cities exist because we—that is, “humankind”—are able to build things together, and music was among the first things we ever built together. The capacities to coordinate and synchronize our actions, to incorporate each other’s rhythms, to make choices together in real time—to groove and to improvise—these are human skills, not merely musical skills. These are the foundations of what is called civilization.
10. For our species, this thing we call “music” is essentially the sound of ourselves—the joyful noise of people doing things to- gether, the art of unsilent interaction. And we keep doing it not merely because we can, but because we like it—more accurately, we desire it. Desire doesn’t come from nowhere; nature uses it to trick us into doing something that will sustain the species. That’s what love is, for example. In other words, we evolved to
like the stuff that music is made of. We selected for it; somehow, knowing how to listen to each other is a skill worth having.
11. The music of New York is therefore the sound of people in New York—that much is clear. Cities are planned/composed spaces full of unplanned/improvised behavior, and so the music of cities is the sound of bodies navigating through systems of control. But what is that sound? Is it pretty, gritty, both, neither? And why?
12. Let’s be honest: New York, like most cities, is as much about force, separation, and concealment as it is about interactivity and sharing. Once you study how resources are managed, you notice that they are not allocated equally, and that racism and class hierarchy still govern the deployment of power and the distribution of capital. And you hear all of that in the musics of New York: the sound of defiance in the face of injustice (ever heard Dead Prez?) or, conversely, the sound of domination and excess (ever been to the opera?).
13. New York is therefore the sound of uneven, uneasy intersec- tions of peoples. It’s not a “mix of styles”; it’s an overlap of commu- nities. It’s not a “fusion”; it’s juxtapositions, collisions, and ruptures. We don’t play “in a genre”; we play in the context of others, and we find ways to play with each other. We struggle to connect and sometimes, briefly, it happens. In time, these strategies become ha-
bitual, approaching something that might be called a “style,” but in a city, such patterns of behavior are in constant flux, continually disrupted by new and improvised encounters. The way to live in a city seems to be to allow this to happen as much as possible—to become, discover, transform.
14. I think of the late great cornet player and composer Butch Mor- ris (1947–2013), an American maverick who guided the creation of hundreds of thrilling collective experiences through the technique he pioneered, called Conduction. He used a baton and the tech- niques of an orchestra conductor to channel and amplify the noise, frictions, and static between people, their individual strengths and collective interactive capacities, and their human ability to listen to one another, make choices, and take action. In this way he helped whole multitudes of people build—from scratch, in real time—mas- sive, extended edifices of sound. He called them skyscrapers.
15. Are cities music? Sounds like Butch already answered my question.