Archives for posts with tag: Rant

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A couple months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who spent a good portion of her life living in The Ukraine. Due to some weird need I have to try and hear as much music as humanly possible, I asked her to send me some popular Ukrainian music. Much to my surprise and eventual misery, she sent me a rap song. Though it’s not in humanity’s best interests for anyone to have to see this, I’m going to post it here to provide some reference.

 

In recent times, I’ve tried my best to reserve judgement on other peoples’ music tastes. Partly because I want to seem less douchey/elitist, but mostly because I lost that right when I started listening to Waka Flocka Flame unironically. In the case of this particular song however, I am going to make an exception. If you like this song, you are objectively a horrible person. I hope all your electronic products have terrible battery lives and I hope your shoelaces are always wet. Full disclosure; I have no idea what this song is about because I don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian. In fact, I don’t even know if the song is sung in Ukrainian or Russian. I’m making all of my judgements strictly off of the music video. Note to self: Be less ignorant.

Anyways, watching this music video got me to thinking. These Ukrainian artists haven’t developed this view of hip-hop arbitrarily. They didn’t just wake up one day and say “We should put a bulldozer filled with money in our music video….Yeah, that’d be crazy. Then we can get a woman to rub the money on her titties” Even if it were satire, it’s badly written and painfully obvious. But this perception of hip hop has to have come from somewhere. Unfortunately, the painful realization is that this view must have come from hip-hop in North America. Is this what hip-hop looks like to foreigners? Do these guys look at Rick Ross and not realize that he’s playing a character? Separated from the context of the culture, it just seems cheesy and obnoxious. But then again, how relevant is hip-hop culture to a guy like Rick Ross? Most hip-hop was born of a very distinct culture. The black experience in America, being marginalized, the necessity to compete for survival, the feeling of succeeding when you’re constantly at a disadvantage; A desire to channel all these experiences artistically was the conception of hip-hop. When a rapper talked about how much money he had, it wasn’t because he wanted to brag. Rather, it was because he was overcome with joy at the fact that he was able to succeed in a world where he wasn’t supposed to. When a rapper then rapped about how much more money he had than you, it wasn’t because he wanted to rub it in your face, it was because life had always taught him that you must compete to survive. Again, full disclosure: I’m a 21 year old, suburban, Canadian kid of Indian descent talking about hip-hop culture. Take all of this with about 20 grains of salt. To be clear, I’m not saying that these things don’t still exist in America. Of course they do. But, are they as relevant to Rick Ross as they were to Ice T? Is it possible that the culture has been diluted over the years? I mean, the mere fact that I love hip-hop and I can relate to zero of those experiences must say something. I can recall a day when I was listening to the song “Clap” by Saigon and jamming along to the part that says “Clap your hands if you’re tired of hearing gunshots” when I realized that I’ve never heard a single gunshot. Unless you count white people racistly imitating Jamaicans and going “boop boop boop” …which I don’t think you can. So, this must speak to the fact that hip hop is no longer strictly about that culture. Like everything else in popular culture, once hip-hop became successful, people decided they’d capitalize off of its success. Many people who hadn’t lived the hip-hop culture decided they’d try to emulate it. This is how you get people like Mac Miller, an upper-middle class Jewish guy, rapping about how much money he has. Or Rick Ross, a documented former correctional officer, talking about selling kilos of cocaine. I’m sure their intentions aren’t to make a perversion of hip-hop culture, but in essence, this is what they are doing. But can they be blamed? It’s not like they’re the first people to do this. They’re simply following people who have done the same things in the past.

And so, finally, I’m getting around to my point. The caricaturization of hip-hop; why those Ukrainians had the perception of hip hop that they did. As time passes, hip hop becomes diluted at an exponential rate. You have people like Rick Ross who are emulating other people but then you have people rapping today who are emulating Rick Ross. Kids grow up today with Mac Miller as their influence. The longer this chain goes on, the further the artform deviates from its original state. We’ve taken something that was once true, reproduced it so many times, each time perverting it a little bit more. Because it’s so far from what it once was, everything begins to look like a satire by default. To give an analogy: think about the current Hollywood obsession with vampires. It has somehow reached a point where they’re making a movie where Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter. Does that not seem like a satire? So basically, I’m saying that Rick Ross is the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” of rap music. To be clear, I’m not trying to hate on Rick Ross. The dude is a very talented rapper and I like a lot of his music. However, to further prove my point, imagine a scenario where Rick Ross wasn’t a famous rapper. Imagine you encountered Rick Ross at a restaurant and he was playing the exact same character he plays as a rapper. You would probably find it hilarious. You would tell all your friends about that fat guy you met who was clearly a correctional officer but tried to convince everyone he was a drug dealer. You might love him ironically but, by no means, would you take him seriously. And this is my point: That Ukrainian music video looked like the worst satire ever because it was emulating so many other things that looked like satire.

Editorial disclaimer: I’m not some annoying backpacker, rap purist who wants to go back to 1994. I’m not too sure why I wrote this. These were just some random thoughts floating around in my head that I wanted to get out.

Random PSA.

Allow me to reintroduce myself! My name is HOVVV!

Yeah, that has nothing to do with what I’m writing. I just have an obsessive compulsive need to make hip-hop references. It’s a sickness. It really is. It’s something even my closest friends have come to tire of. “MAN. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST! THERE’S NO NEED TO BRING UP RAP MUSIC!”  It wouldn’t be out of the question for someone to have to yell this at me on any given day. Okay, not this exact scenario. Though, that wouldn’t be because I’m above making rap references about the holocaust. No, not at all (It’s a sickness, I’m telling you). It’s moreso because…who really sits around and talks about the holocaust anymore? That was so 1940s!

This kind of brings me to the point of this stream of consciousness, piece of shit blog I’m writing; attention span. (Check out that segue. Flawless! They should give me a trophy or something. *cough*)…Where was I? Oh, yes, attention span. Our society, me very much included, has the collective attention span of a grade 3 who repeatedly asks the class teacher if “we can have class outside?” This doesn’t refer simply to our ability to concentrate on tasks; though, that’s not exactly at an all time high. This refers to the general amount of time, we, as a society, keep anything in our consciousness.

Today, while I was at my school’s library to, umm, apparently watch youtube and not study for my exams, I decided to go for a walk. Apparently I felt I needed a break from doing nothing. To give you some background information, the main library at my university is 10-stories tall. Each story of this significantly large building is packed, save for study space, wall to wall with books. As I walked up and down the bookshelves and looked at the books, I came to the sad realization that the majority of these books probably haven’t been picked up in years. Seriously, there are books on every topic you can imagine. If you ever need to research how to tell your kid you have diabetes in GERMAN, my school library probably has a book for it. I don’t know why the German part is emphasized. I’m sure Germans get diabetes too. ANYWAYS…I began to think about the wider discourse behind each of these books. It occurred to me that it is highly possible that many of these books came about as the result of someone’s life’s work. People, somewhere on this planet, may have painstakingly dedicated their entire lives to researching, writing, and perfecting these books. These same Authors probably waited with baited breath to find out whether they were going to be published, rejoicing like never before when they found out that they were. I wonder what these authors would think now if they knew that their books sat, collecting dust on shelves, as a completely insignificant part of a huge collection. The library keeps all these books on display as if to yell “HEY. LOOK AT HOW MUCH ARBITRARY KNOWLEDGE WE PUT IN A BUILDING.” As if that means ANYTHING. I’m sure many of these books were completely relevant when they were published, and for all I know they sold well. This doesn’t change the fact, however, that these books seem to be of very little value now. I suppose, one could argue that their sad, but inevitable loss of significance is a reality of human progress. Relevance goes away and things are forgotten.

Now picture that this library was even bigger. Like, infinitely big. And it contained infinite amounts of books. Not just books, but all media in fucking existence. Ever. In the history of the world.  Even this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52duiUapITQ.  In case you didn’t catch the metaphor (and you’re also the world’s least perceptive person) I’m talking about the internet. The internet’s effect on the collective attention span of society has been, umm, detrimental to say the least. We live in the age of the meme. If you don’t know what a meme is, I applaud you. Don’t look it up. Save yourself. Similar to the books in the library, it seems that each meme has its time of relevance but then fades into obscurity into the abyss of things that exist (whoa, so poetic. *cough*). But, because the internet contains even more information than the library, this period of relevance has become increasingly shorter and shorter. It’s as if, we, as a society, are trying to absorb as much information as possible but we simply can’t keep up. As a result of this, we rush through everything, randomly prioritize, and keep certain things at the forefront of our attention for miniscule time periods, and move on. As vlogger Kashif Pasta aptly says, “it’s like we’re getting the coles notes” on life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for society to start saying #Winning again or for a revival of the song “Friday”. God, those things got annoying. It just seems that increasingly, this culture of the “meme” is beginning to transcend the context of internet fads into things that actually matter. Remember the earthquake/floods in Japan that we all tweeted/made facebook statuses about? How many of us have followed up on that tragedy? Remember the uprising in Tunisia? How many of us have read recently about the progress of democracy in Tunisia? The 10th anniversary of 9/11? The incident all of a sudden became more tragic because that the earth rotated the sun 10 times since that day. Cause THAT makes sense… The next to go, and already somewhat on its way out, is the Occupy Wall Street movement. To be clear, I’m not saying that I’m better. I’m just as guilty of letting myself forget about something that was once very relevant to me. When it gets to this point, however, it seems there’s a danger in continuing this trend. This is getting pretty preachy, I’m sorry about this.

The effects of this meme culture have pervaded not only the news, but pretty much every aspect of pop culture. Remember when no one would shut up about the ending of Inception? Very few conclusions were actually reached, yet the debates don’t continue! It’s imperative that we figure out what the fuck happened there! Music as well, where the latest hit song is played obsessively for 2 months and then completely disappears from our consciousness. Who still listens to “Lollipop” by Lil’ Wayne…fucking no one. At least, I’d hope not. The danger here, is that media makers are now reluctant to put their time and effort into anything, knowing how quickly it will fade into obscurity. Long gone are the days where people dedicated their entire lives to researching and writing one book. Instead, we have people who determine what’s popular, churn it out in a factory style manner, and put minimal effort into their craft. What happened to the days where media could be described as “timeless?”

Part of this problem can be attributed to the rise of social media so I’m painfully aware of the irony involved in me writing this as a blog entry and posting it on facebook. I’m also aware that I’m not exactly covering anything groundbreaking here. I just feel that from time to time people need to be reminded to take a step back and re-evaluate what was once important to them. I have no suggestions on how to do this, cause, let’s be honest, it’s much easier to outline problems than it is to come up with solutions. Perhaps, however, make it your New Years resolution (another useless concept based on the earth rotating the sun) to take 10 minutes each day and revisit something that once mattered to you. I’m sure, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable experience. After all, why do you think it is we all love to have that incredibly cliché conversation about the tv shows we watched as kids?

PSA over.