50 CENT & THE INTIFADA: REALITY MUSIC

Before we get to Fiddy, some crate-digging.

a lot of heads know about this record. It’s been sampled quite a bit in underground circles, most recently by Shackleton. In our post 9-11 world, one can’t imagine a major label issuing a (great) compilation called Palestine: Music of the Intifada.

Yet in 1989 that’s exactly with Virgin Records did.

palestine-music-intifada

Liner notes are informative. “Not only does [the compilation] summarise Palestinian aspirations but also it reflects the radical social changes that are being brought about by the daily struggle against occupation.”

Sabaya Al Intifada – Min Al Mukhasyyam Toulad Al Ru’aya

They translate the song title & explain: “From The Camp Is Born The Vision is an example of the rapidly changing position of women in society. The name of the group, ‘Sabaya al Intifada’ or ‘Young Women of the Uprising,’ for example, reflects the breakdown of restriction of women from the public life. The singing is itself a challenge, as the traditional Mowwal (or introductory solo vocals) is, for the first time, sung by a woman.”

Changing demands of geopolitical reality echo audibly in music.

“I love New York,” says my Brazilian friend as we drive into a promising and justifiably paranoid Sao Paolo night, “but every time I’m there I feel how money is strong. I come home thinking: I need to make more money.”

Right now in New York City, you hear the ominous snare-crack and tech-steppy dystopian synth melody of 50 Cent’s I Get Money booming out of cars, shops, cranked-up portable radios. “I get money” goes the main sample of Milk Dee, “money I got…” Even its percussion-only elements reference & reinforce the main theme: the beat is sampled from Cassidy’s I’m a Hustla. A few months ago the streets here were bumping with Swizz Beatz’ Money in the Bank and Straight to the Bank from the same 50 album.


[50 Cent – I Get Money video]

It makes sense that the current wave of New York rap hits are often about money, about banks. This is capitalism music. It’s difficult to live well in this city unless you have lots of money in the bank. Billowy folds of the European social state — free health care, reasonable rents, unemployment benefits, quality espresso for 1 dollar! — are starkly absent. These songs come from the speakers and you think: that’s what I’m thinking about too, money, how to get it… The geopolitcal reality of this compressed town-nation of strivers seeps into the music, how could it not?

Brooklyn is all ethnic-enclaves (and/or class-enclaves) but in public and semi-private Manhattan the boundaries collapse: rich people may prefer that poor ones remain invisible (Mexican immigrants hidden away in their restaurants’ kitchens, the TV fantasy of a nation of uppermiddleclass, and on) but wealth, especially in an overcrowded walkerly city like Manhattan, is not only visible but it always seems to be just… almost… within reach.

The 50 song in particular is clattery, edgey. A queasy synth tone makes an atonal slide through the track every 32 bars or so. He’s bragging but the thing feels unsettled. (mo’ money mo’ problems; Connecticut tax laws can be so ornate) On some Hot97 mix shows the DJ will cut up the intro — a minute or two of “I get money money I got” and spare aggressive beat – extended, doubled up, and reconfigured under the DJ’s fader. Its sound and meaning amplified by one of the East Coast’s most power radio transmitters.

50’s popularity isn’t just an East Coast thing, or a US thing either. I’ve seen kids rocking his shirts and sidewalk businessmen hawking his albums in a dozen countries, at least…

Google ‘I get money’ and you find Fiddy. Incidentally, at the Harvard Free Culture Conference I spoke at a few months ago, they offered free bottles of Glacéau, 50 Cent’s bottled water business which he raps about in the first verse of I Get Money and sold to Coca-Cola for 4.1 billion dollars, netting roughly 100 million from his 10% share. A billion dollars for what!? How!? Curtis elucidates-

I take quarter water sold it in bottles for 2 bucks / Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions, what the f**k?

Real talk. C.R.E.A.M. talk. New York wallet-eaters stand up.


[Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M. video]

6 thoughts on “50 CENT & THE INTIFADA: REALITY MUSIC”

  1. word is bond.

    one small but important correction: that sample isn’t lil flip, i don’t think; it’s milk dee, from the audio two classic, “top billin,” no?

    milk is chillin, gizmo’s chilling, what more can i say?

  2. Yes Sire,
    i´m really chuffed that you mentioned this record, a very important release, culturally and politically.
    i recall you played a track during a session in LDN a few years back, never heard it a club, apart from when i play it
    Man did Declan Colgan (Virg´AnR) who put this record together get some heat, i recall complaints from certain quarters saying that Virgin shouldn´t put this out, something along the lines of the release helping justify the intifada….oh please!
    Forward!

  3. Just to echo the comment above – nice one for blogging about that LP. As well as being politically and culturally important, it contains some exceptionally powerfully pieces of music.

  4. thanks for posting this excellent article on the unique album -palestine:music of the intifada. i was wondering whether anyone is willing to sell an mp3 copy of it.

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