Black Power isn’t just a way of life that involves the daily fight for dignity and some semblance of justice, it’s also a romantic cumbia boy band from Puebla, Mexico. Here is one of their love / holiday songs:
Black Power – Un Poco de Amor
a little love / a little peace / new year’s eve, the new year, and christmas are all coming close / …a soldier returns / he won’t leave tomorrow / a father suffers / a mother cries / a child comes back / let’s toast to that
This is one of five hundred songs I bought last week. Out in Brooklyn, 500 cumbia MP3s cost $20. Value such a slippery thing.
If you haven’t listened to Azealia Banks’s album Broke With Expensive Taste, I highly recommend it. It’s a tremendous piece of work, sonically challenging, incredibly focused even as Banks unleashes a wealth of singing and rapping styles. I’m shocked that more people aren’t talking about it. BWET would have been excellent even if Banks wasn’t busy doing stuff like discussing the relationship between capitalism’s slavery roots and identity politics on Hot97.
But that album. Few DJ mixes–much less actual albums!–achieve this level of direction-across-variation; as manifestation of a musical persona the parameters Azealia Banks establishes on BWET are wide, wide, wide.
Music remains a charged space to explore not just ideas of freedom but the inevitable, contagious beauty of its realization.
The Mudd Up Book Clubb rolls into 2015 with a Chinese communist crime novel about a poet-cop!
We’ll meet on Sunday January 25 to discuss Qiu Xiaolong’s Death of a Red Heroine.
Set in early 1990s Shanghai, the novel uses the form of a police procedural to portray Chinese society in transition, old Maoists and new money, with lots of Tang dynasty poetry quotations and T.S. Eliot allusions thrown in for good measure. There’s a healthy attention to food, too. Central character Inspector Chen is a Modernist poet and translator, not unlike the author…
Qiu Xiaolong was the first person to translate Eliot into Chinese. He was in the US working on an Eliot book when Tiananmen Sq broke out, prompting him to stay on to remain out of trouble… He still lives in St.Louis. As explained in this interview, Qiu writes his books in English, despite the difficulty–and censors scrub politically sensitive phrases and all specific place references from the Chinese translations!
Death of a Red Heroine. Go here to buy it from local publishers Soho.
Last selection of the year: Hungarian writer Ágota Kristóf’s hypnotic, powerful (and short) debut novel The Notebook. Published in 1986 it is a bracing language bath, narrated in first-person plural by limpid & disturbing young twins in the midst of wartime scarcity. First part of a trilogy (whole trilogy is great). Kristóf’s stark minimalism reads simply (the stylistic opposite of fellow Hungarian Krasznahorkai’s baroque apocalyptics) but after a few paragraphs the awe piles up and, subsumed in her grip, you realize how deep it all goes.
A stone cold classic (that’s impossible to discuss at a holiday party without alienating your peers)! So–
We’ll meet on Sunday December 21 to talk Notebook. Mudd Up Book Clubb.
NOTE: This post went live on the Dutty Artz site 2 weeks ago, a few hours before a deep glitch sent the site offline, so although the Hong Kong trip has already happened, nobody got to read this preview writeup. Check back in a few days for the recap.
I’m about to hop on a 16-hour nonstop flight to Hong Kong (via the Arctic Circle?), where, timeslipped 13 hours ahead into my sleep-deprived Eastern future I’ll step off the plane and head straight to lead a workshop with a half-dozen traditional musicians from HK and my man Chief Boima. What’s going on?! Continue reading HONG KONG pt. 1 : Beyond Digital 852