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January 01, 2008

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saeed uri

pick up a blues scholars cd.

aardvark

More suggestions, please! Most music is boring me these days, I need more variety in my ipod.

JoshG

give saul william's new one a shot. it's available at http://niggytardust.com, either for free or donation.

Ted

Marc: you are dead wrong about MIA's Kala (NOT Kali)--it's not quite up to the level of Arular, but it is mostly great. And I think Michael Warner's is right to be sceptical about the hip-hop counter-public. But check out Jeff Chang on the subject: http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/11/fight-the-power.html

Helmut

Despite my own grad students' attempts to educate me (also in DC), I don't know hip hop very well. That ignorance apparently hasn't stopped me from compiling a "best of 2007" lists on the music front. Here's the hip hop one with links to the others: http://phronesisaical.blogspot.com/2007/12/best-music-of-2007-hip-hop.html. I focused mostly on what I think are the interesting internationalized margins of the genre. It's pretty innovative music.

Emily

i am in total agreement about the kanye album, although stronger is appearing on my ipod with frightening regularity. but really, that's because it's a fantastically produced song, not because it's well performed.

to take on the public sphere argument, i think the sheer formality and structure of contemporary hip-hip might contain the possibility of its forming a public sphere, in that it provides a common language and a common structure for understanding contemporary experiences of racism. however, the form has become so formalized (I have a highly developed theory about how the contemporary gangsta rap song is formally identical to the pre-Islamic qasida) that it's nearly impossible to see the actual rhetorical content. frankly, i also view commercial hip-hop as performing a lot of ambivalence about its own success--the tension between the hood-rhetoric and the money-rhetoric. but that's another story.

saeed uri

I think an important point to remember when talking about hip hop today is that some of what we hear might sound like rap or hip hop but really i think it falls under the whole pop genre because it is just a mixture of everything. Hip hop will not die with people like atmosphere, jedi mind tricks, dj honda, blue scholars, and my favorite, gift of gab.

I have a really good friend in Ramallah who raps, his name is Jad Abbas but he goes by the name of boikutt or muqat3a. I think it is some of the most creative music out there, but i am very bias since I went to high school with him in Ramallah. Here is the myspace link:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=6209211

Martin K

I am not a hiphop-fan, but when it comes to hip-hop/rap with political significance, I would suggest looking to France and the scene there. Lots of real things coming out of the banlieus, as a starter I can reccomend (old) MC Solar. There is a lot of religious/cultural issues being brought up.

American Voices

Just had a powerful two weeks in July with Iraqi hip hop dancers and rappers from the Kurdish regions in the north. Videos of their performances here: http://www.americanvoices.org/soundandvideo/unity/

Hip Hop lives and thrives , in Iraq at least....

Bram

In general, I agree that most US hip hop can't be considered a counter-public, but there are some small acts who take their politics seriously. Saul Williams has already been mentioned. KRS-One is still surprisingly political, although I think his beats and flow are stale. In November, I attended a DAM show in Brooklyn with some good performers from the states. I don't think there will be another American Public Enemy, but that doesn't mean the margins of the hip hop scene can't keep pushing the margins.

I'm surprised that Marc didn't mention anything about the Palestinian hip hop scene, which seems to be one of the most dynamic around. If any hip hop can be considered a counter-public, it's the hip hop of Palestine. Someone else mentioned Ramallah Underground. I'm amazed by how tight they sound. There is also . And if you go to these groups MySpace pages, you find out about a whole lot more groups. Checkpoint 303 is one of the best.

As for the Marc's recommendations, I disagree with MIA. I love the album. You should be on the lookout for Santogold, who has a similar style, but is a bit less political. And for pure fun, The Cool Kids are amazing. Neither have an album out yet, but keep your ears open.

Bram

Something happened to my previous post, but the should refer you to DAM, from Palestine.

My last paragraph shouldn't be part of the link.

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