In this young new global underground dance whatever scene we’re in I think that we really need to make sure that if we’re gonna engage in a style that we’re doing it on all levels, not just formal (wow this beat pattern is great, I’m gonna put my euro synth bass on it and call it ‘global-fusion’) but on the levels of slang, culture, meaning, people, relationships, beef and history. And some may say: “But it’s too much work to learn all these languages, and I’m on the other side of the world and blee blah bleh” well then I’d say either make some friends who can teach you or maybe you should focus in on something that you can understand and try to develop some depth in it. Basically, not being a tourist is hard work but I think, worth it.Matt Shadetek

43 thoughts on “…TO BE CONTINUED”

  1. as an avid and passionate white kid listening to global musics since young days… This statement is putting to words what many of us feel a a regular unspoken emotional/cultural conflict with. One that is hard to muster up and articulate. Yet. something I think many listeners and fans may too easily hold at a distance or odd rationale… how do you aproach this issue? Music = communication. not style branding, and brief restaurant tastings. easier said than done. yes. big ups for this post! … idea for a second installment on the theme of .. “how do we bridge this gap and address this in our daily musical lives.” a real forum. of feelers…… the next step. peace and thanks

  2. i agree in principle, but there are a few details that aren’t that easy to figure out. i’m a white person in pittsburgh, so on some level “euro-synth” is “tourist” music to me, too. should i not play german techno because i don’t live in berlin… or is it o.k. because i’ve been there, have german heritage, my wife speaks german, etc… should i only play music from the u.s., or pittsburgh for that matter? what would consitute my non-“tourist” white music… country? what if i don’t like that music, and don’t want to play it for others?

    don’t get me wrong… i get the gist of the critique. as much as i think kuduro is bangin, i don’t play it because i don’t know portuguese. that gets harder when it’s a spanish tune (i speak a little, but not enough, really) or a tune made without as many class issues, like punjabi mc’s “ghalla gurian”. on the one hand i want to think “ghalla gurian” is so obviously beautiful it should be played everywhere, on the other should i not play it not being party to bhangra culture or speaking punjab?

    in all my years of djing i’ve wanted to hear indigenous and international musics being composed in the same space as electronics. as a traditionally trained hand drummer, i see the obvious influence of these musics on “non-tourist” tunes. so it’s heartening for me to see these musics being made, be it baile or kuduro or tipico or bhangra. on the other hand, it’s slightly disturbing to hear hossam ramzy’s “khusara khusara” being jacked for “big pimpin”, despite how dope it sounds. what appropriation is acceptable?

    i work with a lot of young, black rappers, and i take great delight in educating them as to the origins of samples, just as they educate me on the content and meaning of rhymes. really, at the end of the day, audience matters. as a dj, i try to sew a thread through the music that moves me and moves a particular audience. i play some tracks for some people that i would never play for others. it’s a tough call. i don’t feel bad about listening, because that’s an obvious requirement of learning about other cultures.

    but when to play it for others? it’s not cut and dry to me. the issue is complicated by matters of class, sexuality, race, privilege, and taste, which is i guess why we are talking about it. to bad it’s not face to face. good to start the dialogue anyway, jace/matt…

  3. hmmm… this sounds suspiciously to me like a comment one might expect to hear from someone who is concerned that their work won’t be taken seriously by those involved in the scene/genre/culture from which they are borrowing/sampling. Short answer… it won’t in most cases, nor should one care if it does. I am passionate about my influences, spend a lot of time reading and learning about the history behind them, and agree whole heartedly that this sort of ongoing education can only enrich one’s life and work. But from a non-vocal sampling perspective, whether literally or in rhythmic spirit, I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. Language is another issue entirely obviously. If you’re going to have someone sing on your shit its probably a good idea to know what there saying I’d say… but even that is up for debate depending on the context i.e. when words simply become sound (microsampling etc, etc)…

  4. I wonder what the relationship is between the way people make music, and the music itself. I haven’t found it predictable that good music is made as conscientiously as that, although often (the way it is made) is something I like to know, a factor in appreciating it, and sometimes perhaps I can say it explains why a sample ‘works’ musically in a song, or why it doesn’t. It’s even less predictable that music made so conscientiously as that is going to be good music, I think.

    I like when the two (good cultural practice & good music) come together, but this seems more a statement about how one should treat other people generally, and something to aim for in life overall. When I hear about how a musician deals with other people, it affects how I feel about them as people, but I’m not sure what it does to how I respond to their music. And I’m not sure I can explain my responses to music in wholly political terms.

    This argument is also interesting because it’s critique of pleasure in music, akin to the feminist critique of pornography. What is the role of pleasure? Some people feel good when they hear certain sounds or music that comes from somewhere far away – and I do think that feeling can be quite genuine. But is feeling good enough?

  5. Spare me the white middle-class kids making music in Brazilian/Angolan Portugese altogether. You may think you’re “engaging” with the music of the oppressed communities, but you’re interpreting over their heads, taking their voices away from them and giving them to yourself. Spare me any comfortable middle-class dude trying to lame-ass copy the “slang, culture, meaning, people, relationships, beef and history” – you’re never gonna live it anyway. Generally spare me “global-fusion” as well.

    Let them speak and stand for the interpretation themselves. If that involves us humbly shutting up and listening for a moment, then so be it – I’d rather be a toursit than a wigger.

  6. backwards here…

    not all culture with a genesis in oppressed cultures remains oppressed in all of it’s manifestations… not every interpretation of that culture/oppression will be “over their heads” or inherently disconnected from that culture. i think part of what matt is advocating for is to actually “live it” or don’t fake it. decent (in my opinion) examples of white people making the extra effort to have a real connection with the non-white musics they work with that come to mind are mc gringo and mary anne hobbs. i know there are others. also, i agree that sometimes djs can “take the voices away from someone”, but sometimes i wonder if maybe this can actually help broadcast their struggle in a way that does more good then harm. i suspect it happens in at least those two ways. also, you say: “I’d rather be a tourist than a wigger.” though i feel similarly, it’s a harsh and disparaging to “wiggers”. some of them are performing legitimate cultural expression too, i’m guessing… they might have grown up in a black ‘hood as one of the few white kids, etc… i think maybe the people you actually don’t like are “posers”, people who try to become something they have no connection to for dubious reasons, or privileged kids acting more oppressed than they actually are.

    @ dj ripley
    you say “It’s even less predictable that music made so conscientiously as that is going to be good music, I think. ” true that. almost nothing sounds cornier than 95% of “conscious” music. you also say “When I hear about how a musician deals with other people, it affects how I feel about them as people, but I’m not sure what it does to how I respond to their music.” it does something to my response to their music… for instance, miles davis beat his wife. i still LOVE “get up with it” and listen, but a piece of my enjoyment is missing now. it’s related to what i said earlier about “big pimpin”… if i felt like the people listening had any idea that it was an egyptian sample, or a sample at all i would feel less nausea… that’s why i always play my premash version of the two songs, to educate the audience on this tension. same issue goes for the tabla in missy’s “get yr freak on”… still hot tracks, but tracks with “appropriation” baggage. just because you can jack a track with “poise” or “beauty” or “soul” or “funkiness” doesn’t mean you have any… doesn’t mean you don’t, either… it’s complicated, natch.

    you say (italics mine): “But from a non-vocal sampling perspective, whether literally or in rhythmic spirit, I don’t think it’s (matt’ argument?) necessary for everyone. Language is another issue entirely obviously… …but even that is up for debate depending on the context i.e. when words simply become sound (microsampling etc, etc)…” i completely agree that this sort of critical theoretical approach isn’t for everyone. the moment you try to put parentheses around “acceptable” art (or behavior for that matter), you create artificial distinctions and end up with “good” work outside your definition, and “bad” work inside. also, i partially disagree with your distinction between the ethics of instrumental vs. vocal sampling. obviously it’s good to know what someone is saying with words, but there are similar issues with instrumental music. some meters, keys, and songs have particular meaning, at least in makam musics and classical indian ragas. some ragas, for instance, are to be played at certain times of day, some are forbidden to be played by most players (i’ve heard the jyoti raga is dangerous… really!). in less esoteric terms, one could say that there is a political/conceptual/emotional component to instrumental music that isn’t always illegible, and can sometimes be more legible than words. also, some music words, even in one’s native language, are illegible to listeners. both of these examples can be illustrated in a situation where no-one in a kuduro audience speaks the portuguese language, but they can sense the “immediacy”, “militancy”, “celebration” or “anger” in the music, both instrumentally and vocally, nonetheless. (that last bit is more of a technical point, and completely sidesteps the discussion of whether playing the music helps or hurts the creators of the music completely…)

  7. Birdseed, I think it is important to keep in mind that while you are certainly correct about these communities being oppressed, there is something rather “comfortable” and “middle-class” to the thought that these oppressed communities have no interest in their sound being exported or moving beyond its origins. It is also ridiculous to say “over their heads” as if these communities are always totally in the dark. Are we really to treat all other countries and communities with some sort of fetish of isolation? And if its only certain cultures, which it seems to be, at which point do cultures become tolerable as sample material/cultural benchmarks for middle-class first world music production? Who picks and chooses? Why are some cultures and their fetishized oppression too hip to be influenced by, while others not?

    The internet is a major contributing factor to these influences being interesting and acceptable. People from every culture (well most every culture, especially in the regards to the “global dance music underground” that the post was initially about) can see things that they create become influences for other people if they want, and there is certainly a pretty global means of having a discussion about these issues, a la threads like these. There are certainly examples of styles being aped, and long samples of songs, or even the songs themselves, being jacked, and that sucks, but its strange to confine entire music communities and new genres as either touchable or untouchable by “middle class” producers who at times are genuinely interested and influenced by new things that they hear. These sounds become influences often because of that very seperation between our cultures. In listening to other musics, you can genuinely hear very new perspectives and think about music, culture, politics, rhythms, tones, instrumentation, etc in a new way. At that point, like the spot-on post says, one has to seriously work at not being a tourist and genuinely being a part of a community, whether it be in your backyard or online, spiritual or real.

    Many of us have humbly shut up and listened. The next move, if you really feel it, is to humbly and accurately incorporate what interests you into your own music, and to make music that can stand up to criticism from the influences themselves.

    Also, “wigger”? You tried to wrap up your point with “wigger”?

  8. I’m off to the beach and will respond properly in a minute, but let me just say one more thing:

    I actually prefer people who are influenced by someone else without delving too deeply into their motivations and lyrical fineries. In Brazil there are two scenes influenced by US hip-hop: Sao Paolo Hip-hop and Rio funk. The former is painfully literally hip-hop, as suggested above, the other has a totally devil-may-care free take on it – and which is the more interesting to listen to? Let yourself be influenced, sure, but in your own music do your own thing out of your own culture and your own background.

    In Sweden, we’ve got Basutbudet, Stacs of Stamina and Maskinen, all middle-class whiteys, who are doing their own, culturally independent thing in the spirit of the music that inspires them. Which I admit makes it a little confusing when the latter released a single with a Brazilian Portugese chorus, but at least they hopefully didn’t understand its resonances. Disrespec!

  9. there is only one letter in wigger that comes from ‘white’. the rest is still the same as the ugliest in-group word white english-speakers have ever come up with.

  10. I think that’s entirely the point of the term “wigger” – the natural insensitivity and lack of deeper understanding of any white person trying to act black. And, I think, the closer the imitation gets the more offensive it potentially can be. That’s why the term seems appropriate here.

  11. Nope. It’s the natural insensitivity and lack of deeper understanding of a white person identifying personality, language and aesthetic traits he views negatively as black.

  12. e-drama!

    I kinda feel what birdseed is saying, that hyper-engagement (schooling yourself in anthers culture) can be just as troubling as a more simple “tourist” engagement. to me, either way you have to engage & reflect honestly.

    i also like to skip middle men, or at least a lot of the djs out there – i feel like a lot of them come from drumnbass or grime backgrounds or something… i dont like most of Poirier or diplo mixes cuz they mash it all into bits and sort of take out the catchy. but stuff like masala’s radio shows are great b/c its still intact and you know what everything is..

  13. Bwahahahahahhahahaha! I love it! FYI, Birdseed and I almost agree, almost. Except I’d much much much rather be a wigger than a tourist. I’ve never been too good at being humble or shutting up so… As far as substantive discussion I’m happy for him and everyone else to join us over at http://www.duttyartz.com/2008/babel-dancing-in-tongues/

    And Birdseed, have fun at the beach! I will be dispatching 10,000 LOLing ROFLcopters blasting Stacs of Stamina rapping in English about sniffing coke to divebomb your picnic while dropping pictures of my uncomfortably middle class white gold-teeth having wigger self peeing on you and your homies. I hope you don’t understand the cultural resonances of that! Wait actually I do. ‘Disrespec!’ indeed!

  14. Rachel you’re treading on dangerous ground. What are you saying exactly? When a black man in America goes to Harvard, is that “hyper engagement”? Is he then too schooled in “white”culture? How can “hyper engagement” as you’ve defined it, be troubling? Should I tell my children, whose Mother is Ghanaian and Guyanese not to be too “engaged” with our mixed-race heritage? Should I forget to “school” them in their Father’s European / Romani heritage? If someone called me or my kids this charming little name, would I be happy about it? I wouldn’t stand for it. Pure and simple.

    The chubby-faced Swedish guy throwing around the word “wigger” can get fu#ked. End of story.

    In an integrated place like London’s East End, there’s no place for these kind of words. Period. I understand that when someone has become a caricature of (the media’s contruction) of (American) “blackness”, that it can be annoying, but it’s small minded to think you have everyone’s story figured out enough to label them.

    This is so far from what this post is about.

    Let’s talk about music and it’s context. What’s wrong with mixing? Why are some people obsessed with “purism”? When Rachel says “intact”, does she really mean “pure”?

  15. In 50 years the terms “black” and “white”, when used to describe people, will be passe. Insulting even.

  16. Man I feel like I kicked a hive of super intelligent bees. This is great! I should do this EVERY DAY! Also, can someone please pay me for making people argue on the internet? I need money.

    Rachel: “engage and reflect honestly”? I thought that was what I said in my original long post (note everyone coming in, please read THE WHOLE THING along with everyone’s responses over at DA, link above).

    Rachel, please elaborate. What is troubling about hyper-engagement? Should I, as a white middle class wigger, not make music with my Carribean and British friends? If I try to learn as much about uk garage and reggae, which I love, so that I can make a meaningful contribution, understand the context of what’s being said, I’m saying, they’re saying, and earn their respect how is that troubling? What specifically troubles you about that? Please keep in mind that I am writing from my life, I do this stuff and navigate these minefields all day and as a result am bringing up some thoughts that have occurred to me in my travels.

    And I’m with Please Hang Up, intact-ness, purity, etc are not what I’m interested in or propose to provide. What I do is weird, not normal and in the cracks. By getting into those cracks I hope to create some new, deeper cracks where interesting molds and lichens may grow. BUT importantly I feel that it’s important to not be stupid while doing that because then the only exchange possible is one-way (exotification/ism)
    and no one will want to come out and play with me.

    An example is the phenomenon of The Craziest Riddim. I made an american grime tune (Brooklyn Anthem) which turned into a little dance fad in Brooklyn among teenage dancehall fans on YouTube. To me, that’s awesome and interesting. What will happen next? Who knows? By paying attention and being able to contribute meaningfully I hope to continue to participate. In order to do that I NEED to know what’s going on so that I can say the next thing in that conversation.

    Re: e-drama, I ain’t never scared, I’m ready for war. I don’t care if I have to fight every music nerd in the whole internets, bring it!

  17. on the “wigger” comment… after this i’m going to try to take the rest of my comments over to the original post, because there are a lot of other points being discussed there.

    purity is impossible. even within classical african or indian musics, the stream is “polluted” by interaction with the outside world. see rupture’s article about toumani diabete for examples.

    while i find the tone and dismissiveness of birdseed’s posts unhelpful and arrogant, i think his comments about “wiggers” are being taken differently than intended (correct me if i’m wrong here, birdseed). as i started to indicate above, the version of “wigger” (really don’t like that word, by the way) birdseed is referring to is the type that poses as “pure”, acts “black” without recognition of complexity or “becoming”. a “poser”. while those people surely don’t deserve the level of scorn laid on them by birdseed, they are surely less admirable than a white person who grows up in black culture, or comes to be involved in black culture through a process of “becoming” and recognizes that (matt is claiming at least one of the other “styles” of wigger, as far as i can tell…)

    to say it shorter, those who claim “purity” when they are anything but (birdseed’s “wiggers”) are less admirable than those who recognize their impurity but strive for it (matts “wiggers”). anyway, that’s how i see it right now.

    if i’m wrong, and birdseed is knocking everyone in that grey area (pun intended), than he’s an acid-filled douchebag. if i’m right and he’s only knocking what i labeled posers, he’s still too harsh. they’re just posers!

  18. matt: this post is pretty amazing! we generally have such nice discussions. its interesting to see all the differences in how we see ourselves in relation to these musics we love.

    Please Hang Up & matt: ahhh!! no im not sayin that!! [black people shouldnt go to harvard, mixed kids are abominations, dont learn about other musics] not at all. All i meant is that no matter what your level of engagement is with another culture, you still have to check your reasons.
    I just meant digging deep in itself isnt the answer, but how youre diggin, thats all.

    and hold up / wait a sec!! i love mixes, boimas usher remix is one of my fav tunes this month. I love the craziest riddim. please, make music with your friends, jesus, im not sayin otherwise…

    I just like dancy, catchy music and i think the ghettotech / dowehaveabetternameforthisyet / nuwhired scene is dominated by people coming from a certain aesthetic perspective i dont always share or dig. people can mix and mash all they want, right now i like to see how people all over the world are mashin, and im not always into what world music we are mashin over here – it *can* be stale.

    honestly, if im gonna listen to a coupe decale mix, id like to hear the coupe decale, not a remix that mashes coupe decale, funk carioca, kuduro, dancehall, soca, grime, reggaeton, etc into something that all sounds the SAME. sometimes its interesting to hear the similarities in the soundscapes and mix em but sometimes in doing so it can all come out like boring mush to me and come of as another version of the same thing as, say, house music djs using stereotypical “ethnic” samples in exactly the same ways or a putumayo mix which takes music from all over the world and make it all sound like one easy listening song.

    I guess ‘intact’ is a really problematic word with all sort of connotations im not into. i just think its refreshing for me to see a radio show that lets global music speak for itself. Plus i def agree that wigger is an UBER problematic/offensive word i dont see as contributing to this discussion.. seems outdated, esp here in nyc where HH culture is too integrated, too part of us all – were all wiggers in the 90s sense of the word.

    ps. andrew: not in our lifetime.

  19. Just a quick one, especially to Rachel. Thanks! I’m not offended, even if it may sound that way (well, maybe a little at Birdseed) I genuinely do enjoy fighting about this stuff and it’s given me lots of new ideas. I feel genuinely pleased that I’ve stirred up a conversation which has generated so many forks, diversions and conflicting answers from so many smart people. It’s the sign of a good topic when it generates so many nuanced and different reactions that are all true in different ways. I’ll be back to post more later on but normal life beckons.

    And I think I know what you mean about intact, something I’ve said to Jace before in conversation is that I do feel that it’s kind of important for a lot of these people (in this case I was talking about distorted dancehall and all the different offshoots) to just PLAY SOME REGGAE. By this I mean, yes I think a lot of the weird influence stuff can be interesting (actually not as often as some would think) but more time, actually most of the time, I’d rather just hear real, normal dancehall, and dance to it. And I’m a little bit skeptical of the people who are claiming to be influenced but actually can’t stand up for an hour and play a set of hotness of whatever it is they’re claiming WITHOUT any of the mutant hybrid stuff. People who’ve seen me play know I like to do this, one of the things I most enjoy actually is just playing Jamaican roots and dancehall. Not mixing it with anything, just playing it.

    And sorry James but I’ve been a wigger for years and am not buying the ‘he really means poser’ argument. If he had meant that, word was sitting there ready for him and is also completely free of racial content. He was looking for a definitive smack-down type insult to disrespect my whole lifestyle and musical activity and label it inauthentic and lame. I’m not quite sure why he felt the need to go out like that but until he starts talking again and offers his own clarification, he just looks like a dick.

    And I do invite everyone commenting here to come check out the conversation at DuttyArtz.com where I originally posted this. There’s a bunch of nice smart people talking over there too.

    OK that wasn’t so quick, sue me.

  20. omg Matt that comment about Stacs Of Stamina made me pee with laughter

  21. Actually, the conversation around the original post is interesting and thought-provoking and certainly doesn’t need me to go in and do some shit-stirring like I had to do here. 😉

    What I think I mean is:

    Rent a flat above a shop,
    Cut your hair and get a job.
    Smoke some fags and play some pool,
    Pretend you never went to school.

    But still you’ll never get it right
    ‘cos when you’re laid in bed at night
    Watching roaches climb the wall
    If you called your Dad he could stop it all.

    You’ll never live like common people
    You’ll never do whatever common people do
    You’ll never fail like common people
    You’ll never watch your life slide out of view,
    And dance and drink and screw
    Because there’s nothing else to do.

  22. (So basically replace the word “wigger” with the word “slummer” in all my above posts – at least in the US race and class seem so closely tied up that it shouldn’t matter.)

  23. Birdseed again you’re rubbish. Blatant self-loathing Wasteman.

    Nice attempt at backing out of your comments. But “slummer” is not the same as your previous slice of ignorance.

    So, you’re calling for some kind of a musical caste system then, eh?

    Race and class closely tied up? That’s all you got?

    You get AIR, son.

  24. What are you talking about?

    I’m complaining about rich white kids like Mr. Shadetek who, in an attempt to be “genuine” attempt to approach various oppressed groups (class or race-based, doesn’t matter) through “understanding them”, copying their way of acting, and thus de facto claiming to represent them. Not only can such representation not be genuine (since Mr. Shadetek has no idea really what it’s like to live in a favela and can only rely on hearsay) but it will, unfortunately, be given much greater attention than the genuine article because Mr. Shadetek has access to means of communication (blog/record label/DJ nights) that they don’t.

    In my world, such a person is a “wigger”, or possibly a “slummer”. That’s all I mean and please don’t go around putting words into my mouth. If you want to agree on more neutral terminology I found a great word for what I mean in today’s issue of popbitch:


    So just replace all instances of wigger etc. etc.

  25. See? I keep telling ya, the reason I’m being blasted is because it hits too close to home. Go on and tell me why being a trustafarian is the right thing to do, rather than (as an alternative approach) comprehending your own identity background and reaching out from that.

    I’m slowly starting to get soren’s comment too. Soren, seemingly, is a liberal, who thinks all inequality and discrimination would go away if we simply ignore it and sit around in a circle singing Kumbaya. All under the watchful invisible hand of daddy free market. (Never asking: Whose kumbaya? Who benefits? Whose culture are we living?)

    Dude, there IS a social, maybe even musical caste system here in the rich world. Being African-American in the US or a non-European immigrant here automatically gives you a much lower chance of doing well economically. Therefore it’s hardly strange that there is a blog called “Things White People Like” that talks purely about things upper-middle-class people like, n’est ce pas?

  26. “comprehending your own identity background and reaching out from that”?

    I do comprehend my own identity background very well thanks. I’m reaching out from that background to work with people in the grime, dancehall and hip-hop scenes. I’m collaborating with them. Whenever I do something that’s nominally in any of those scenes there is always a member of those scenes present on the track saying what they want to say. Unlike for example your swedish examples who are appropriating whole-sale and not giving attention, credit, or money to the people they are copying. My friends and I tour together and split the money we make equally. When what I do is given attention it draws the attention of people from the rich white world towards the other activities of my collaborators. I personally know many people who developed an interest in grime because of my activity in it.

    I never claimed to be from the ghetto or obscure the fact of who I am. And I think you need to examine your obsession with authenticity. Is being “genuine” the highest thing these people can aspire to? What about international sales, bookings and money?

    From my experience all of my overtures to work with people and bring them from where they are and to the audience that follows me have been met with interest, appreciation and gratitude. I think you’re rhetoric is basically separatist and ignores the fact that we are humans who enjoy communicating with others and having different experiences. How many people do you actually know from any of these scenes? That you have real, honest friendly relationships with? From the way you speak my guess is zero. Since you clearly have no actual first-hand experience to back up your rhetoric I think you should go and have some so that you can meaningfully participate in this conversation. Figure out what you “think you mean” and then come back.

    And before you go and accuse people of being liberal (oooh) or pointing out the obvious about the systemic racism of the white world you should examine your own motivations. Why do you feel so strongly about this? Do you propose to defend the impoverished people of the world against my musical predation? They don’t want you to.

  27. I don’t think I make much of a secret of being a separatist (which you’ll definitely get a sense of through reading my blog) – I’m a separatist feminist as well, come to that, though for some reason it is much more accepted there. Nor do I think you’re far off in claiming that a deeper experience in the production of the music would probably change my perspective.

    Still, I think (no doubt because I’m a separatist) that the outsider’s perspective can certainly be as valuable as the insider’s, especially to a scene that generally seems to relish a bit of reflection in itself. In that sense I think this sort of article can generate a lot of positive discussion, and while this “wigger” discussion has veered off wildly into a tiresomely uninteresting discussion of lexicological finery (first you claim to be a wigger and now not? wtf?) I hope to be able to contribute a more reasoned response on the other blog and, hopefully, with a little bit of writing of my own soonish.

  28. yes indeed. while I thank Birdseed for stirring things up, to me, as a BONA-FIDE AMERICAN NIGGER/NIGGA/BLACK MAN* I take deep issue with his statement:

    “Spare me any comfortable middle-class dude trying to lame-ass copy the “slang, culture, meaning, people, relationships, beef and history” – you’re never gonna live it anyway… Let them speak and stand for the interpretation themselves.”

    And my problem is this: the voice(s) of power, the voice(s) of hegemony, those are just dialects naturalized as official… So while Birdseed’s comment is ostensibly aimed at Matt saying ‘you’ll never understand these poor/darker/other people so don’t even try,”

    what I hear is much much scarier: Someone saying TO ME (looking down at me): “Don’t even try to talk rich, talk white, or wear a 3-piece business suit and be comfortable, or walk around a university and feel as much right to be there as the others, KNOW YOUR PLACE and don’t try to challenge the status quo. You are your kind are not natural in the corridors of power so don’t even attempt, you’re never gonna live it anyway”

    (Notice his judicial 3rd person command — whiteness encoded as invisible power — “Let them speak and stand for the interpretation themselves.” Maybe they don’t want to speak & get yr interpretation, maybe they want to sing and see if you can dance along..)

    the language of power already depends on those undertones (know your place, boy); but it’s particularly scary for me to hear these attitudes spoken & defended in this context.

    In other words, ‘defending’ the brown people’s musical culture from white interest by lashing out at rich/white folks who embrace other cultures tends to look more like ‘containing’ the brown peoples of the world from aspiring to the positions of power commonly held by/associated with whiteness (if a white (or rich) person can’t/shouldnt use black (or poor) slang, then blacks (poor folks) shouldn’t/can’t use Proper English authentically, which is to say, successfully…) — & in this schema, folks like me & Matt are particularly troublesome, b/c we upset that ‘authentic’/”economically real” order of naturalized privileges and actually share money, knowledge, and information with “these people” so that they can better navigate the sharky music biz waters, “these people” who are more often than not, if not ourselves, our friends….

    * with a great sense of rhythm

  29. Now see here’s an interesting engagement with my initial post, not just getting bogged down in semantics. Thanks, jace. I think some of what you say is a potential consequence of the outlined thought, but rest assured that it was not intended that way.

    I come from an ideological background that is largely feminist. I think a lot of my ideas about identities and social groups derive from the (socially constructed) bifurcation that is gender roles. I’m going to try to give a bit of background from my perspective and hope I can better explain it that way.

    Firstly, I firmly believe in the dictum of no progress without representation. If we’re interested in a real shift, we need to get women/the poor/ethnically doscriminated-against people into positions of power. In this context, it involves letting the artists and DJs from oppressed groups themselves speak and tell us their stories, not Matt being there as a filter to interpret and censor them. In effect, they’re the ones who understand the “slang, culture…” etc. and I’d like them to tell me about it.

    The rich white male perspective, quite frankly, I’ve heard enough of. And that’s the second reason I can get infuriated at an article like this: I think that, in order to achieve equality, we with access need to relinquish some of our power, not hold onto it in a ridiculous display of “understanding”. That’s where the obsession with the genuine comes from – it’s not a rootsy geniunity but an earnest attempt to make sure that if I present the music of some place, it is the music as the people there themselves would understand it. In effect, I try shutting myself up as much as I possibly can, and letting the other speak. Hence, too, the separatism.

    But I totally feel your central point, and it’s one that’s been hotly debated in feminism too: should the focus be trying to get women into traditionally male gender roles, or should it be to try to balance out traditionally “male” and “female” characteristics, allowing everyone to be what they want to be? It’s all difficult because both traditional male and traditional female gender roles are shaped by the patriarchy, and it’s easily to contrue female roles as “wasted creativity” or male roles as “hierarchical oppression”. Still, with I think the majority of current feminists, the latter option is probably ultimately more appealing –

    So while I certainly have no inclination to prevent any black person doing the traditional white thing, I think what we need to do is upvalue the cultures of those currently with less power. Only that way can we achieve full equality.

  30. off topic but birdseed:

    separatist feminism? i dunno man.. not a fan. Its that whole celibacy / lesbian thing (help!) The only feminist i adore to rep celibacy is Valerie Solanas, and shes crazy. And the lesbian thing seems offensive to the real dykes. It also ignores the sex positive third wave and worse breaks down connections with mens movements and their deconstructing of problematic masculinity (way needed for the gays and the ladies right now) so yeah, not accepted, by me at least.. and im suspicious of a separatist feminist guy (or a racial separatist whitey)

    speaking of gender.. where the ghettotek ladies at? nina, julianne shepherd, who else? link me.

  31. Honestly, from the amount of not knowing what you think you mean and your rude and dismissive tone, I’m not interested in reading your blog and I don’t think you’ve generated a lot of readership for yourself in this debate, if that was your goal. At this stage the only reason I’m still talking to you (and not for much longer) is to respond to your embittered and insulting attacks directed personally at me in a public forum.

    As far as being a separatist, maybe you don’t understand the connotation of that to the ears of most of the people I know. Usually it goes with things like race-pride, nationalism and xenophobia. It’s not something I want to be involved in nor do I think it’s proven to a helpful or successful strategy in dealing with almost anything.

    And I think for someone who advocates shutting up and stepping aside you should do more of it and less name calling. Especially as a male feminist. I would be very surprised to find many women who would be happy to have you advocating their cause. You’ve had enough of the rich white male perspective? What are you? Change starts at home, why don’t you silence your own rich white voice first? I don’t have a conflict with speaking my views, collaborating with who I want or choosing what music I like and don’t like and then promoting those choices.

    And as much as you may not like ‘rich white males’ like myself mixing with poorer non-white people, we’re doing it! And my essay was addressing that reality and an attempt to make some suggestions to everyone that they approach these questions as thoughtfully as possible. How is “an earnest attempt to make sure that if I present the music of some place, it is the music as the people there themselves would understand it” different from what I was suggesting in the first place?

    “we need to get women/the poor/ethnically doscriminated-against people into positions of power” Why not just let them do it themselves? I don’t see how this is consistent with your rhetoric. Who is we?

    I don’t feel that I am acting as a ‘filter’ nor am I preventing anyone from expressing themselves or taking up their cultural space. If you actually studied the history of my artistic practice (which you clearly have not) then you would know that. People who have followed it do not agree with you, as noted here and in the DA comments.

    And how does me relinquishing my ‘power’ help anyone? I have consciously leveraged my (limited) artistic profile in order to bring to light artists who I thought were important and that the wider, whiter world should know about. I don’t see how my not doing that helps anyone. If you suggest I should try to ‘step aside’ or ‘remove myself from a filtering position’ I think that’s purely imaginary and that my stamp will be on the product either overtly or behind the scenes if I am involved and I choose to make it overt.

    Finally, I think you would not have attacked the piece in the same way had it come from someone else. Don’t like it? Do better. Or keep throwing rocks from the sidelines. And since you insist on consistently making this about me, my race, my cultural background, etc. I think that all your rhetoric is essentially an intellectualized personal attack on me, which I find totally mysterious since before this started I didn’t even know that you existed. While before I ignored you due to being unaware of you, now I will make a conscious decision to do so. To paraphrase Maino: “It’s nothing, we major / You see me, Bye hater!”


  32. that was me, not connor although wow, u could make anyone say anything on here couldn’t you?

  33. I seem to have got you really upset, which I find strange considering that by the Stacs of Stamina comment we were just sparring, and since then I’ve tried to be a li’l bit less acerbic and explain around. I don’t really get why I provoke so much when I write normally, but mea culpa somewhere probably.

    Rachel: I’m not sure we’re talking the same separatists here – “my” separatist feminists are women of all types interacting regularly in society who decide to have occasional strength-building seminars/parties/festivals with no male presence. That I can sympathise with for half a dozen reasons at least.

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