Today’s edition of Blog Watch tackles two equally aggravating posts — one that feigns ignorance and another that feigns expertise. Details after the jump.
Tyler The Creator – “Yonkers” Video: Gotty claims that he doesn’t get the “righteous zeal” associated with Tyler the Creator’s video for his song “Yonkers,” asserting that Bushwick Bill’s early 90s misadventures were more effectively shocking and that OFWGKTA’s appeal lies in the crew’s concerted effort to promote themselves through all available channels as “different.” Putting aside the fallacy of presuming that 1992’s version of shock and rebellion has anything to do with what the kids are up to nowadays, I’m still at a loss to grasp Gotty’s logic.
If in fact Tyler’s supporting critics and fans1 comprise a hive mind that praises his music solely for being superficially “different” from the norm, what exactly does Gotty not “get” again? The problem is that there is a difference between actually not getting something and coyly pretending to not get it to support a silly construct that you devised for the sole purpose of coolly distancing yourself from the subject in question.
Another problem is that while Gotty falsely claims not to get the hype, he is much more successful in convincing us that he does not get the music. He claims that he’ll warm up to Tyler and co. once their music becomes more polished, but offers no explanation as to why he thinks their music is so unpolished. It’s just sort of a given, because, well, in his mind it is overhyped, which apparently means it can’t be too good. He offers only that “Yonkers” is not “basura.” Are we listening to the same song? In what way does Tyler’s music lack polish, exactly? We may never know, as an explanation is contingent on either the hype behind Tyler’s presentation dimming or unknown musical qualities suddenly and randomly becoming refined to suit Gotty’s tastes, or both occurring in shocking sync with each other.
Critic’s Notebook: Reliving Rap’s Down-and-Dirty Early Days: It’s hard to decide where to start with this article. Jon Caramanica may have felt that he could not adequately describe the recent Stretch and Bobbito reunion show that took place in Le Poisson Rouge in NYC without subjecting readers to a series of baffling generalizations meant to drive home his weird thesis: that “underground” rap as it was known in the era of Stretch and Bobbito is dead, and its funny/odd whenever people get together to reenact it.
I can live with the fact that Caramanica, like many other critics, has taken the mythology surrounding Stretch and Bobbito at face value and considers the scene surrounding their particular show to encompass the totality of the “underground.” It probably isn’t very interesting to him or other critics that many more fans of non-crossover early to mid 90s rap2 got their fix by pressing tape recorders up to the TV while watching Video Music Box or Rap City, or taping Funkmaster Flex sets (or even the Battle of The Beats) on Hot 97, or just racking random cassingles at The Wiz, than ever listened to Stretch and Bob religiously. It’s probably even less interesting to note that this larger group was ideologically diverse; few of us were puritanically horrified by all crossover rap or R&B. But I digress.
Caramanica’s article really suffers because it proclaims the death of the scene without first considering that maybe the scene simply changed a little. So what if a few wannabes born in 1993 were present? For every one of them there are probably three or four working bona fide fans of the show, down since its heyday, who were either oblivious to the event, couldn’t attend, or didn’t want to attend. This does not mean that the scene behind the show has died out in the least. Instead of huddling around the radio, fans just gather around their computers at their convenience to upload audio files of old shows and discuss them. They do so with zeal, precisely for the reason that Caramanica suggests the scene is allegedly dead: the war between the “underground” and the “mainstream” is rendered irrelevant by hip-hop’s expansion into pop culture and the advent of social networking.
Waving the “underground” flag in a crusade against evil pop culture is generally viewed as either quaint or corny, but if you want to find a community of people who like to listen to Company Flow unironically and with great enthusiasm, the internet will provide that for you. If you then decide you want to distance yourself from the rigidity of your 90s self, you can connect with aging Mase fans and nobody will be the wiser. And there are plenty of places where all types coexist relatively peacefully, or at the very least continue to appreciate music for its own qualities. The modern fans of Stretch and Bobbito continue to rally primarily around good music, not the thrill of indulging in an oppositional ideology, like they always have, and their scene is lively and energized. — Thun
- Whom he respectively characterizes as “white folks and black kids who got bullied in school,” HAHAHHAHAHA DO YOU GET IT??? [↩]
- Let’s face it, when we speak of underground, we’re talking about nearly everyone who didn’t break into the Billboard Top 40, we are never referring strictly to the unsigned and unseen even when focusing on the the Stretch and Bobbito/Fondle ‘Em/Rakwus/ Fat Beats/ Nuyorican/What have you scene. [↩]