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Links 1 through 10 of 3461 Wayne Marshall's Bookmarks

Luc Sante reviews some pre-blues comps, etc., via Yazoo Records

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' ... But now that the man has died -- on March 18, unexpectedly, at 90 -- let’s get real. Chuck Berry did in fact invent rock’n’roll. Of course similar musics would have sprung up without him. Elvis was Elvis before he’d ever heard of Chuck Berry. Charles’ proto-soul vocals and Brown’s everything-is-a-drum were innovations as profound as Berry’s. Bo Diddley was a more accomplished guitarist. Doo-wop and New Orleans were moving right along. Et cetera. But none of those musics would have been as rich or seminal without him.

After all, it was Chuck Berry who had the cultural ambition to sing as if the color of his skin wasn’t a thing -- mixing crystalline enunciation with a bad-boy timbre devoid of melisma and burr, he took aim at both the country fans he coveted and the white teenagers he saw coming. Nor did teen-targeted hits like “Rock and Roll Music,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “School Day” merely play to the kids Elvis had transformed into the biz’s next big market. With his instinct for the ­historical moment, alertness to the fads and folkways of his young fans, delight in an unprecedented American prosperity, matchless verbal facility and autobiographical recall, Berry played a major role in inventing teendom itself -- in augmenting its self-awareness and turning it into a ­subculture. And crucially, he established rock’n’roll as a songwriter’s medium. Some in his cohort wrote a fair amount, others barely at all. But it was Berry in particular who presaged Buddy Holly, the 1950s’ second ­great-songwriter-cum-great-performer. Between them they established the artistic ­template of ’60s rock, where self-written material was a ­prerequisite. And with the ’60s in the mix, consider Chuck Berry’s guitar. ... '

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'Hatsune Miku is unique among pop stars active today in that her song catalogue is the largest of any artist in the history of the world. It may sound dramatic, but the diminutive permanent 16-year-old with body-length teal pigtails has over 100,000 songs in her catalogue. What is also unique about Miku is that these songs are almost entirely written by her fans; Miku literally sings their words for them. She is the face, figure and personality of Crypton Future Media’s Vocaloid 2 software. Anyone with the software can program songs for her to sing, chaining syllables to a melody along a timeline, adding moments of melismatic, accented or soft delivery. One can even control the intensity and duration of her vibrato. She is primarily created by her fans, for her fans to consume.

Miku is a typical example of both doujin culture in Japan — that is, amateur self-published fan creations based on famous characters — and nijisousaku, literally translated as secondary derivatives. Yet when her fans also create her massive catalogue, it presents a hitherto unseen hybrid of pop, doujin and nijisousaku culture. She is both the receptive and reflective vessel of her fans; a depository for the emotions, ambitions and talents of would-be pop songwriters, producers and recording artists; a voice singing songs written by the masses, for the masses. Several of her songs have gone on to chart in Japan, and dozens more have millions of views on both YouTube and the Japanese equivalent, Niconicodouga. Fans also produce her music videos: creators have made open-source 3D models of Miku that can be choreographed in the user-generated freeware program Miku Miku Dance (MMD), both now intrinsic to the whole creation process. Thus both the fan-written and fan-animated videos proliferate.

...

At the same time, because of its accessibility to the general public, ‘Melt’ sparked a chain reaction of another kind of song production, namely the utattemita and later the odottemita songs (literally translated as ‘I had a go at singing it’ and ‘

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' Unlike the overwhelming majority of the half—million men, women, and children of African descent who were brought against their will to North America from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, the escaped slave who found his way to Sheriff Mumford’s jail left a record of his life, composed at the request of his eventual owners. His brief autobiography — The Life of Omar ibn Said, Written by Himself — allows us a window into the inhumanity of slavery. It also reveals the estrangement of those marginalized by race and faith in a nation that often used religion to justify the practice of treating human beings as property.
Yet while Omar ibn Said’s autobiography is singular — the only extant personal history written in Arabic by an American slave — his life was not. He was but one of the perhaps 20 percent of African—born men and women who were followers of Islam before losing their faith and their history when transported as captives first to the English colonies and later to the young United States. Their presence is affirmed in documents dated more than one hundred years before Omar ibn Said’s arrival, as in a Virginia law of 1682 which referred to “negroes, moores, molatoes, and others, born of and in heathenish, idollatrous, pagan, and Mahometan parentage and country” who “heretofore and hereafter may be purchased, procured, or otherwise obteigned, as slaves.” '

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'More than misleading, however, the notion that enslavement “dehumanized” enslaved people is harmful; it indelibly and categorically alters those with whom it supposedly sympathizes. Dehumanization suggests an alienation of enslaved people from their humanity. Who is the judge of when a person has suffered so much or been objectified so fundamentally that the person’s humanity has been lost? How does the person regain that humanity? Can it even be regained? And who decides when it has been regained? The explicitly paternalist character of these questions suggests that a belief in the “dehumanization” of enslaved people is locked in an inextricable embrace with the very history of racial abjection it ostensibly confronts. All this while implicitly asserting the unimpeachable rectitude and “humanity” of latter-day observers.'

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'Yes, George Michael with the Patrice Rushen loops, the Gap Band interpolations, the James Brown samples, the Aretha Franklin duet, the Mary J. Bilge duet, the Stevie Wonder covers and big churchy choruses that screamed freedom out of radios and televisions was a Black Thing. The older he got the blacker he sounded. He became an avatar for Gay Pride and a vessel for those who remembered when Soul Music was a means for protest. He used the fashion business to promote his sound by casting Christy Turlington, Eva Herzigova, Tatijana Patitz, Linda Evangelista, Beverly Peele, and Hip Hop’s favorite dinner date, Naomi Campbell in his videos. He shone a bright light on the AIDS crisis and gave away tons of money to charitable causes. He kept it funky while doing it all and reminded us to listen without prejudice. I loved his music. I do not think that his dying exactly ten years to the day that we lost James Brown was coincidental. He’s probably somewhere trying to show James how to rock one of those slick Italian suits that he used to wear. He made a mighty contribution to this thing of ours. For this I am grateful.'

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"Wallpaper music? None here. These are the albums that have shifted moods and created new worlds"

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' Dancehall crashed the mainstream in 2016, providing the sound and, crucially, the rhythm for the year’s biggest hits, from Drake’s ‘One Dance’ and Rihanna’s ‘Work’ to underground gems on Swing Ting and Mixpak. But should we be worried that, despite dancehall’s commercial clout, so few Jamaican artists are in the spotlight? Marvin Sparks reflects on a breakthrough year for the sound that should never be labelled “tropical house.” '

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PRECOLUMBIAN: I feel like a lot of those spaces really are intentionally meant to stay underground, because they want to have that safety. We do very targeted promotion for our parties so that we only bring the community in.

...

PRECOLUMBIAN: As people in the margins, a lot of us are coming with so many life experiences and traumas, so it's essential to create a space that excludes the oppressions that a lot of people face. [For Cutn Paste, my night in Philly,] we created a manifesto to make sure people knew what we were about and the space that we were trying to create. The space is meant for queer people of color and their safety is of utmost importance. We wanted to have our intentions set forward so that people knew what we were about because we wanted to make sure that the people that we did create the space for felt safe and nurtured in that space: we don't tolerate racism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, misogyny, and stuff like that. It's important to just name those things so that people know what is expected of them.

LA RAT: I definitely feel a lot of responsibility, as an organizer and as a DJ, for holding that space, but it's not just something that I hold — it's something that a ton of people in the room are holding. It makes a huge difference who's on staff and what kind of conversations you can have with the staff of a club before a party, and what kind of ongoing relationships and understandings you can build.

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'It’s hard to explain just how beautiful it feels to be surrounded by queer Latinxs, listening to the music of our childhoods, dancing the dances we learned at family parties, but doing it in beautiful transversive queer pairings. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing two queer Latina women dancing salsa, one of them leading the other even though she probably had to teach herself that role. Or two gay Latino men dancing close and sexy to a bachata rhythm. The lyrics may not be about our love, but in those moments we reclaim it wholeheartedly.'

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