Monday, February 08, 2010

coupla "rap's pretty vital actually" retorts

my old melody maker colleague (and occasional sparring partner) Neil Kulkarni with a brilliant piece of writing (how come hardly anyone hardly ever writes like this anymore--full-bore, off-the-leash, elegant aggression?)

still at the end of it I didn't feel like the argument (gems are out there, just gotta dig, dig deep) was incompatible with my mine, which was much more re. the mainstream of rap (whose innovation/surprise ratio has steeply declined, as has its actual profile/dominance of the mainstream). the mainstream face of rap now is, what, Drake/Lil Wayne/Enimen on the Grammys (absolutely ghastly), and "Empire State of Mind", which is a great Alicia Keys tune that could have come out in 1974 in terms of its essential musical properties (it has a touch of Carly Simon or maybe Laura Nyro about it).

likewise David Drake (aka ILM's deej) whose retort takes the form not of an argument but a mixtape. which i listened to a couple of times and enjoyed quite a bit, but, again, without feeling it really constituted a refutation. the contents certainly seemed sufficient to keep you keeping the faith if you were heavily predisposed to do that, but could equally explain why those who'd been into rap in a heavy-duty way earlier in the decade might have have felt their interest fading. there weren't any real surprises, any head-flip moments.

quoting from memory Neil uses this term "reflexive wistfulness" to describe the golden-ageist tendency within hip hop fandom (but also any area of music fandom probably). but from my point of view equally irritating is reflexive patriotism, which is this syndrome where people will happily whinge and moan on a weekly basis about their beloved genre, right up until someone takes the logical and clear-eyed and dispassionate next step and says weeeell this whole genre is rut-stuck innit and then they get knee-jerk defensive. again i think of the "bad marriage" syndrome, where you can kvetch about your spouse all you like (because an oath of loyalty has been sworn) but if someone from outside was to say something critical, it'd be "mind your own fucking business" and fisticuffs