Monday, October 29, 2007

From the street: Andrew Sullivan, Kanye West and doo-wop

A guest post from Jogo

I don't know if I would agree with Andrew Sullivan's taste in music. I rather doubt it. In any case, music isn't one of the reasons I seek out Andrew's views.

I appears that he likes the new Kanye "Stronger." But I think it's awful, and I think the video is horrible, also. Really ugly, and a rip-off of its Japanese predecessor.

But I love the "Bigger, Stronger, whatever" sample that runs through the Kanye thing. After I found the wonderful "hands" video -- quite some time ago, can't remember when -- I rooted out Daft Punk and I thought (think) they're terrific.

I'm not trying to be a silly purist by condemning "commodified" music. Some very good music is produced as commodity, and by means of commodifying production technique and even commodifying decision-making. But hip-hop faces a particular challenge in that its roots (which are recent, relatively speaking) in the street are improvisational and low-tech, thus "original" hip-hop was dependent on the virtuosity, boldness and personal style of the griot-performers. And for a long time -- amazingly -- hip-hop has retained the authentic flava of the street .... by "keeping it real" as far as that root is concerned.

But as hip-hop becomes more and more an unabashed corporate enterprise -- on the Kanye West level, where there is MUCH at stake -- the root calls to the leaf at ever lengthening distance. Some guys can pull it off, some can't.


Doo-wop also came from the street. Direct from the street.

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