Archive for the 'nerd' Category

Lonely Island’s “I’m On A Boat” (ft. T-Pain) = Stress Relief

Man, people are really freaking out right now. Recession, swine flu… Yes, there is a lot going on right now that you can get stressed out about. But do yourself a favor and take a deep breath. Now, exhale (just not on me).

Sometimes we need to remember to relax and not take everything so seriously. Sometimes it helps to watch a Lonely Island music video. Especially “I’m on a Boat”. Now take a walk down that big blue watery road and chill the #*$& out.

Slang Metaphor or Stupid Misogyny?

[Disclaimer: The following is a lyrical discussion and analysis that looks at gender roles, gender attitudes and diction choice within hip-hop in general and Aesop Rock‘s song “Daylight” in particular. If you are uncomfortable or in any way close-minded to an honest dialogue about any of these issues, please do not read any further. The full text of the lyrics to the song are at the bottom, and a link to the song is here, should you want to examine and listen for yourself.]

I sent out a quote yesterday and was surprised to see a Twitter follower I had conversed with many times on a variety of subjects unfollow me as a result. As I had blocked out the profanity in the lyric, I was curious as to what prompted the disconnect. Her response when I asked what happened was:

“I didn’t want to read misogynistic rap quotes on my Twitter, like I don’t get those messages everywhere else. :P”

A pretty harsh thing for me to hear, especially given that I try to take a good deal of care in acknowledging that my audience comes from all backgrounds and walks of life and I like to be, unless consciously trying to be otherwise, non-offensive to the widest cross-section possible. I think what I should start with first, when about to engage in a discussion of this extent, is a simple definition… let’s look at the accusation of the quote:

Misogyny: hatred, dislike or mistrust of women
Misogynist: a man who hates women

At this point, you must be wondering what kind of filthy, horrendous, patriarchal and utterly degrading line I must have sent out. Surely something along the lines of the song that I love to hate, “superman dat ho” or the massively inappropriate and inescapable club track “Lollipop.” These are songs that show some serious hatred and lack of respect for women. The quote:

“Life’s not a bitch, life is a beautiful woman, you only call her a bitch ’cause she wouldn’t let you get that p***y.” – Aesop Rock

And it got me to thinking… what about this quote is misogynistic? For starters, the quote isn’t about a woman or women at all. The lyric is based on the popular metaphor, “Life’s a bitch.” Now, the argument can certainly be made (and I would agree) that this popular metaphor is misogynistic. It’s a colloquialism used to equate the negative parts of life with a derogatory term for women derived from the noun for a female dog. This is, of course, if you choose to take the word literally. Some would argue that the movement to slang of the term (see “bitchin'” as a good thing) softens that blow, but for the purpose of this analysis, we’ll assume the harsher meaning is implied.

So to start we have a misogynistic metaphor for life as the basis of the lyric. It’s a negative and pessimistic metaphor, but one could argue that in the context it is most often used, it looks more spitefully towards life than towards women. Of course, going back to the “harsher meaning is implied” baseline, the implication would be that the phrase is hateful to both life and women equally.

However, in the quoted lyric, the misogynistic (i.e. hateful) message of the metaphor is flipped. Aesop in this line is not saying life is a bitch, he’s saying the exact opposite: that “life is a beautiful woman.” In the song, his anger is reserved for those that don’t treat life with the respect it deserves, and therefore by extension of the lyric, the respect he feels women deserve. He mentions “the result’s a lowlife counting on one hand what he’s accomplished,” and his greatest disdain comes at the end when he’s asked by someone who hasn’t seized their life if he has seen their “little lost passions” and he responds, “yeah, but only when I peddle past ’em.” In these lyrics, Aesop is hateful not to women, but to those who disrespect their life enough to call it a misogynist term.

Of course, we have to look at the full quote as my reader saw it, and it does end with “she wouldn’t let you get that p***y.” I’ll point out here that in my quotation, I did and continue to block out the majority of that word as I recognize it as one that can be felt and interpreted in a pejorative context. Were I to have no sensitivity to the use of the word, I would have written it out. While it is simply street slang for “vagina,” it does have a derogatory connotation that was clearly recognized in the censoring. The intent of the use of the term becomes the question, and for that it is a case of context.

Were the lyrics to be referencing a woman or sex, the word would most certainly be misogynistic in value. However, the word here is tied to the earlier metaphor and in this case used to denote the joys and pleasures of life to someone who is complaining of their failure to achieve and experience them. At this point, it becomes a question of an individual’s personal feelings towards the word, but also more importantly their feelings towards the context and how they interpret the author’s use. The thought that gnaws at my brain is whether this person read and understood the quote as Aesop Rock meant it, or if simply seeing that word was enough to cloud the meaning of the rest of the quote for her.

It also brings to mind the question of Twitterability. When limited to 140 characters, is it smarter to stray away from something that takes too much explanation? Keep in mind, in order to respond to the accusation of misogyny I had to step far outside 140 so I didn’t come off as disrespectful of her concern and opinion. “All due respect, but I think you’re wrong,” isn’t the path to a clear and open communiqué. The quote, especially when coupled with the chorus of “All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day/put the pieces back together my way,” has always left me feeling hopeful, respectful and fervently energetic towards life.

Would the quote have made more sense and been therefore less offensive had the entire stanza gone out?

“Life’s not a bitch, life is a beautiful woman,
you only call her a bitch ’cause she wouldn’t let you get that p***y –
Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests,
or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess.”

With the next two lines, the before ambiguous intent of the original quote becomes more clear. By addressing the person who is calling life a bitch as an “asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess,” the entire context of the p-word is altered. Not only is life a beautiful woman, but in the second portion life gets upgraded to princess. Revered as such (again – life, not women – must remember we’re talking metaphor here), that the asshole would set such a crass, base and lustful goal devoid of any real commitment is in the end disrespectful only to himself because it is the foundation of his personal failure. The lack of commitment is furthered by the “sweet talk” nature employed, rather than a serious and respectful approach. While the metaphor is life as female, if one were to want to examine them in the context of relationships, my analysis would be that Aesop Rock here is promoting a respectful and thoughtful approach rather than the commonly held hip-hop view of women as objects.

Unfortunately, a simple breakdown of that stanza and the reasons why I don’t feel it should be taken as misogynistic may only scratch the surface of this reader’s reaction. It is a direct interpretation of the words and the way I analyze their meaning within the song, grammatically and metaphorically, as ones that do not promote hatred of women. While this is literal and I believe to be analytically correct, it does not take into account the entirety of my education and therefore the possible reason this quote might have been viewed negatively by my reader. In the larger picture of Feminist theory, it could be the very personification of Life as female, thereby ascribing gender, that my reader read as misogyny.

Within a language construct framed by patriarchy where gender is indoctrinated in the way we learn to speak, delving to the deeper reading of the basic articles can be beyond the thought of some. But it’s there, this grammatical gender divide, every day, from the things we teach children to the way we address our possessions. Take for example Mother Nature and Father Time. Or simply the way someone talks about a car saying, “She’s a beauty.” A car is an object and yet is often referred to as a female object.

I’m not bringing this up to get into a drawn out explanation of how the very influential nature of gender within the English language helps further shape and extend ideas of patriarchy (which it does.) I bring it up merely to demonstrate that even if the quote is taken as a positive description of life and the respect that it deserves in the form of a “beautiful woman” and “princess” as opposed to being viewed as “bitch,” another perspective found in Feminist theory would view it as, at the least questionable, and on the other end despicable, that life needed to be tagged with the gender to begin with.

Finally, I’m left to wonder whether, knowing all of this, and recognizing that I had thought it out to such an extent, this particular person would have still unfollowed me. Would the recognition of the censorship and perspective that I take all of these theories into account brought deeper thought about what those 140 characters contained? Who knows. But I’m glad it got me thinking this evening. I hope it did the same for you. And maybe, just maybe, upon depth and analysis added to the quote, I might even convince my lost reader to follow me once more.

One thing did sting… the passing off of Aesop’s lyrics as rap. Of course, while Aesop Rock is certainly of the rap and hip-hop genres, I think most people would agree that his lyrics have more in common with poetry than what you expect to hear on a rap album. Here are the lyrics to “Daylight.”

“Put one up for shackle-me-not clean logic procreation.
I did not invent the wheel I was the crooked spoke adjacent,
While the triple sixers lassos keep angels roped in the basement,
I walk the block with a halo on a stick poking your patience.
Y’all catch a 30 second flash visual
Dirty cooperative med platoon bloom head-trip split ridiculous
Fathom the splicing of first generation fuck up with trickle down anti-hero smack. Kraken.
I pace me game for zero hour completion cretin, splash.
Duke of early retirement picket dream,
American nightmare hogging the screen.
I’ll hold the door open so you can stumble in if you’d stop following me ’round the jungle gym.
Now it’s honor; and I spell it with the ‘H’ I stole from ‘heritage’
Merit crutched on the wretched refuse of my teaming resonance.
I promise,
Tempest tossed bread with a bleeding conscience
See, the creed accents responsive but my spores divorced the wattage.
And I’m sleeping now (Wow!)
Yeah the settlers laugh…
you won’t be laughing when your covered wagons crash,
you won’t be laughing when the buzzards drag your brother’s flag to rags,
you won’t be laughing when your front lawn’s spangled with epitaphs,
you won’t be laughing.
And I’ll hang my boots to rest when I’m impressed ,
so I triple knot ’em and forgot ’em,
His origami dream is beautiful but man those wings will never leave the ground,
without a feather and a lottery ticket, now settle down.

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day, put the pieces back together my way.

Slacker bound intimate tabloid headline with a pulse shimmy ‘cross the centerfold,
Enter dead time engulfed; divvy crumbs for the better souls,
When 7 deadly stains adhere the blame to crystal conscience,
the result’s a lowlife counting on one hand what he’s accomplished.
Link me to activism chain, activate street sweep,
Plug deteriorating Zen up in pen dragon
I hock spores coursed by the morbid spreading of madmen (Alley Gospel)
Sinking your Lincoln log cabin and Charlie Chaplin waddle
I could –
Zig, Zag, and Zig ’em again before the badge gleam sparked in my brick wall windows,
Another thick installment of one night in Gotham without the wretched
‘Houston we have a problem,’
Attached to the festive batch of city goblins
Who split holiday freaks on a box cut cinema high road bellow;
head gripped watch red bricks turn yellow.
Sorta similar to most backbones at camp Icarus
where all fiddler crabs congregate and get pampered for bickering.
Life’s not a bitch, life is a beautiful woman,
you only call her a bitch ’cause she wouldn’t let you get that p***y.
Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests,
or maybe you’re just the asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess.
Kiss the speaker wire,
Peter pacifism peggin’ threshold
Stomach full of halo kibbles,
Wingspan cast black upon vigils,
Here to duck hunt ticker tape vision and pick apart the pixels.
I got a friend of polar nature, and it’s all peace
You and I seek similar stars but can’t sit at the same feast
Metal captain
This cat is asking if I seen his little lost passions,
I told him ‘yeah, but only when I peddled past ’em.’

MixMatchMusic Launches Tra.kz

It seems that the more accessible and fast information becomes, the greater the urge is to make it go faster. The evolution it took to go from snail mail to e-mail was not only a giant cost and speed leap, but a shift in thinking about the way to convey information simply. From there, IM made short and fast the norm for online communication. With these changes in communication and upgrades in data sharing speeds, artists are now not only able to immediately present new content to their fans, but they’re also able to spread the information about that content much more rapidly. Now, as the internet culture reaches another stepping stone in social networking and media, Facebook status messages and sub-141 character Twitter messages have become commonplace, making the need to dumb down traditionally fingernail-on-chalkboard length URLs to something that can link to a site and still hold space for a description. There are numerous sites that provide services like these already, Twitpic for pictures and bit.ly for other content, but this morning marks the launch of a URL shortener specifically made to direct readers to music related content.

MixMatchMusic has been working diligently with the online music community through their site which promotes the collaboration, organization and monetization of user created content. And while online artist content and collaboration remain the primary focus, MMM has been forward thinking in their approach by quickly recognizing and assimilating various aspects of the ever-expanding musical presence on the web, as evidenced by both their Remix Wizard and their site sequencer. It makes sense then that today they offered up a new and incredibly useful tool to the online community in tra.kz, a URL shortener for all things music.

When sending a shortened URL over the web, it’s easy for other people to skim links if they’re not sure of where it’s going or why they should be interested. With tra.kz, users will always know that the link points to an Mp3, artist interview, music video or something else musical, making the custom URL creator perfect for anyone trying to share music related content with a simple and easy to remember link. Like the press release about the tra.kz launch found at tra.kz/l82g.

In conjunction with the launch of tra.kz, numerous artists will team with MixMatchMusic today to release a new song on Twitter each hour. With musicians and fans increasingly turning to Twitter to keep up to date with the latest group information, the ability to share songs and other band related information through an easily recognizable music URL shortener can become central in online promotions. It’d be easy to stop there, create the tra.kz/___ URL and leave it at that. But in the interest of making the service social platform friendly, the Twitter box is provided right below the short form to send directly from there.

Keep checking in today with @EvolvingMusic and @MixMatchMusic for new songs released using the tra.kz link shortener. Artists will include Pepper, Slightly Stoopid and Throw Me the Statue to name just a few. The folks over at Controlled Substance Sound Labs are using the launch as a platform for their artists to interact with their fans and harness the TwitterVerse to drive content exposure. As someone just latching onto Twitter, the idea of something as easy as tra.kz to identify music related content comes as a welcome way to filter links that I’m simply not interested in. For some solid Bay Area hip-hop, I recommend with my first use of tra.kz The Tones’ “The Movemeant” over at tra.kz/thetones. I’m also enjoying this multi-lingual track from Breez Evahflowin and Indiefeed’s very own Dirt E. Dutch at tra.kz/4wind . Enjoy!

Sharing Mp3s in Twitter

While Evolving Music and MixMatchMusic have been Twitter devotees for several months now (check out why one of our writers thinks that musicians should jump on the Twitter bandwagon), I’ve only recently picked up the site. And I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t seen the iPhone app Gavroche has been rocking, I probably never would have. I put up an account several months ago, but the idea of just text messages coming in, or needing to look at a browser window seemed ridiculous to me. I’m not sitting at home checking my computer to see what other people are up to. But when Gavroche introduced me to Tweetie where you can post automatically, get a nice streamlined list of responses and other peoples’ status messages, I was intrigued. When he showed me how easy it was to post photos to the site from the phone, I was sold. And now, with even more features, I’m beginning to feel like Twitter culture is slowly infiltrating everything (and now to see if they can come up with a workable business model to actually stay in business.)

But up until now, the shortened URLs, the pictures, the @replies… these are fun things that have kept me busy, but haven’t yet broken into the main area of interest that I have… namely, big shocker here, music. So when I read about Songly, I was of course intrigued. The service allows you to use ANY URL that is hosting an Mp3 and post it as a Tweet. Here’s the kicker though… it doesn’t just shorten the URL and make it tweetable… it wraps it up in a flash player so anyone can listen.

To try out Songly, click here, and to read my first tweet attempt at such a thing, click here. I’ve used the new Souls of Mischief song, “Tour Stories” (click here for Souls of Mischief interview.) And for those of you rocking FireFox, Songly has an integrated tool for it. Talk about musical connectivity. A fantastic way to share music that will surely evolve with Twitter, forming the future of content sharing. Only drawback? Since the player they use is Flash, your iPhone friends won’t be able to listen until they get to a computer.

Remix MC Lars

mc_lars

Andrew Robert Nielsen (aka MC Lars), is the self-proclaimed originator of “post-punk laptop rap”. Post-pu-what? Not something most people are familiar with… But that’s the way it goes when you’re a pioneer in your space. Wikipedia describes his unique style as follows: “With a punk rock band set to back him up, MC Lars plays a hip-hop set to a true punk rock background (a joining which he refers to as “post-punk laptop rap”). His bandmates play live over the samples and loops contained in his recorded music – all stored on his laptop computer.” Some would say his music also falls under the larger umbrella genre of “nerdcore“.

MC Lars epitomizes what we’re talking about when we shower praise on all the DIY musicians out there, determined to stay true to their art and not succumb to the temptations of going mainstream for the sake of appealing to the masses – and using the wonders of the internet to do so. MC Lars can be found on the web at:

Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Blog

He considers himself a part of the iGeneration, “a group born and raised in the time of the Ninja Turtles, cassette tapes and new wave music, who now live in the age of Gossip Girls, iPhones and screamo bands” (read more of his bio here).

Besides being a talented musician, MC Lars also does comics and podcasts. Oh, and he owns his own record label. Because, you know, he “sees little need for the traditional label trappings and would rather storm his own trail through the Internet”. Atta boy.

In storming that trail, he has boldly embraced the growing trend of engaging fans by letting them interact with his music and the culture created around it. Be part of that culture now, by remixing some of his stems. Download the stems and remix in your own software or use the online MixMaker to piece together your song, then upload back to the Wizard for others to listen to, vote on and share. (Check out more artists to remix here).

Yuri Lane: Beatbox + Harmonica Phenom

It’s hard not to be a fan of the harmonica. From John Popper to Bob Dylan, many big name artists have popularized the instrument, but it still doesn’t get quite the attention it deserves. Have you ever seen someone play the harmonica and beatbox at the same time? We looked at beatboxing flute previously, which was interesting, but check out this guy Yuri Lane:

If you like blues, give this one a listen. Or for a dub-influenced jam, this one.

We see more and more musicians using their art as a way to communicate a message – oftentimes in the vein of political or social commentary. Some think of music as their weapon. Yuri has created a “hip hop travelogue of peace” called From Tel Aviv to Ramallah (see the promo video here) to that end. The somewhat nerdy, very approachable, and obviously talented kid is creating an interesting niche for himself.

March Madness is for Everyone: Rockers, Obama, Nerds, and You!

Now that March Madness is upon us, let’s all join in on the chaos, shall we? Hey, even Obama is doing it. But what if you like the excitement but aren’t particularly enthused about basketball? There are bound to be some alternatives out there…

For example, Philly’s Rock Station, 94WYSP, is hosting “Rock Madness”. There are 64 bands. You fill out your own bracket and should you pick correctly, you win a 42″ HDTV. Of course, the catch is you have to live in the greater Philadelphia area, as per the official rules.

Or, let’s adress another demographic: the nerds. Though not typically huge sports fans, why not let the geeky types join in…but with their own unique approach. A somewhat more mathematical one, let’s say? Check out Owen’s Photolog, in which he predicts – by way of a “bracket-generating algorithm that uses the seeds to generate weights for a random function” – that Kansas will win.

Finally, for the theater-lovers out there, March also means the beginning of Broadway season. Anybody else surprised to see Terrence Howard starring on Broadway? Makes sense though, I guess. The guy blew me away with his acting and singing in Hustle and Flow. I’m sure he’ll kill it.

So whatever your passion this month – be it basketball, music, or otherwise – join the madness. In whichever way you see fit.


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