Friday, December 10, 2004

RETURNING TO FORM

I filed my final dissertation draft the other day for review - the proverbial make-it-or-get-broken time. I'd like to say it feels good to be done but considering that I still need to copy edit all 200+ pages before I can actually file this s.o.b., the light at the end of the tunnel isn't quite as bright as I'd like it to be. However, I've managed to get my head above academic water for a few days, which means I spent the early part of the evening watching this.

It doesn't bother me that I haven't been blogging everyday (believe me) but I always feel like I'm missing out on larger dialogues floating around. Thankfully, I have folks like Jeff C. to handle business and spark off all the ideas that I should be thinking about but just haven't had time to. He has a recent post that tackles a wide set of issues, everything from "how to be an interviewer" (newbie writers, take notice), to "how to kill time while waiting for your book to be published" (provided - not a problem everyone really has) to a great section at the end about the "Asian Americans in hip-hop question," that he, me and everyone other yeller person has been getting asked the last few months.

As usual, Jeff manages to sum up his ideas more cogently and articulately than most (myself included). This is his last word which is as good as any to contemplate upon:

    "All my study of hip-hop has only led me into deeper into Afrodiasporic roots and rhythms and cultures and Black nationalist politics. And, at the same time, my study of hip-hop has only led me deeper into rejecting most fundamentalist notions about hip-hop culture as a whole. The deeper you study, the more questions you have to ask, the less certainty you have about anything, except for the beauty and survival of African cultures, the way they continue to transform and expand upon contact with non-African cultures, and the openings and transformations they create for those other cultures that come into contact with it."


(By the way, also seen at Jeff's blog: a great interview with Raquel Rivera about the Puerto Rican connection to hip-hop. Jeff himself gets interviewed over at Newswatch.

Just something to leave ya'll with - in regards to this topic - a recent email convo with a colleague made me think of something I had read in George Lipsitz' Dangerous Crossroads that has a bearing on all this recent talk about race, appropriation, identity, and culture: "To think of identities are interchangeable or infinitely open does violence to the historical and social constraints imposed on us by structures of exploitation and privilege. But to posit innate and immobile identities for ourselves or others confuses history with nature, and denies the possiblity of change." The trick, as always, is finding that narrow path between. I had a longer post that tried to confront that challenge but ultimately, as Jeff suggests, I'm only left with more questions rather than answers. Clearly, this is a topic that we'll have to revisit in the future but as unresolvable as it may seem: these questions still need to be asked.


TOO MUCH OF A (NOT SO) GOOD THING

Considering that I'm within 5 minutes of an Amoeba Records, whether at home or school, it's surprising I only shop there once every two months. Why? Because confronting the sheer volume of hip hop there is brain-numbing. Seriously, I used to be on top of new releases, partly for a living, partly out of hobby, but I seem to remember that back in the mid-90s, the task was far more manageable. These days, it feels like there's at least a dozen new 12"s a day, plus another 10 cds a week.

Was it always like this? Can it be it was all so simple?

Seriously - I know many of you try to stay on top of this hip-hop madness through your blogs and businesses. How the hell do you manage it? Is it a matter of specialization? Or just spending a. Lot. Of. Time. Listening to hip-hop, non-stop?

I'd love if someone can break down any of these releases (i.e. good or bad):
  • Aceyalone's All Balls Don't Bounce Revisited. Is this a remix album? Or just a re-release with new songs?
  • Trek Life: "Hard Work" 12"? I'm skeptical of most indie hip-hop but Babu produces this and I've really been into his production of late.
  • Gang Starr: You Know My Steez remix 12". It's coming out now? WTF?