McQuaid’s Bruk Out Selections #10
Busy Signal – Same Way
Im really feeling this timely version of U Go Kill Me from Busy. Hes always been the most African sounding of recent dancehall stars – who could forget the talking drums and ululating chorus of Da Style Deh – so his decision to voice the already-a-bit-reggae Sarkodie track makes perfect sense. Now I just need dancehallzone to step up with a download
The Eazy E hologram And Its Terrible Implications For Hip-Hop
After the appearance of the Tupac hologram last year I wrote a juvenile, jokey piece about how it spelt the end of humanity as we know it. Now, watching this computer simulation of a chubby, middle-aged Eric Wright performing 20 year old hits to a sea of iPhone screens just gives me the chills. They may seem obvious, but can we consider the implications of this latest burst of pixelated necromancy ?
1) A generation of new artists are going to be left high and dry. Not only do their releases have to vie for attention on Spotify and itunes with legendary back catalogue hits, now the live arena- the one place where new acts had the edge- is going to be encroached upon. Big promoters have been shutting out fresh talent in favour of reunion tours and best of shows for the last decade. In the weird, risk averse world of promotion, a well loved dead performer offers a guaranteed crowd, a tightly scripted show that runs with the lifeless precision of a digital clock, and zero chance of a no show. There are enough legends in coffins to keep festivals, stadiums, sponsorship deals and global tours sewn up for the next decade. When you factor in the disproportionate control companies such as Ticketmaster have over venues and festivals, you can guarantee that if youre a breaking performer youre gonna have to stick pretty closely to a toothless, status quo affirming script to get a look in. Where would this have left a young Fuck the Police’ Eazy? Certainly not headlining Rock the Bells. Even assuming people eventually get sick of being sold pre-programmed light and artificially hollowed sound, by the time they do there’s very likely going to be a massive shrinkage, or, at worst, complete collapse of infrastructure that supports new blood.
2) Dead artists can be neutered by technology. Im convinced that the man – yeah, I know Ive used a lazy phrase like the man – but you know what I mean- if you really dont think that there are a group of powerful men putting an unholy amount of effort into controlling the direction of hip hop culture then you dont know shit about Clear Channel, and theres not much point reading further. Lets just agree to disagree.. Anyway, Im convinced that the man put a lot of effort into making Tupac seem more of a G and less of a revolutionary in the years following his death. Countless shitty, cynical Pac albums were (and still are) pushed out, scraped from poor outtakes and abandoned projects, all serving to dilute the righteous, incendiary anger of the stone cold classics he made whilst alive. Holograms go one step further. Artists like Pac and E, were essentially media hate figures whilst alive. NWA terrified middle America, and now their chief vulgarian, the unashamed, snot nosed, gang banging, drug dealing, cop hating street punk E can be tamed and turned into a fairground ride. Hes a comedy bogey men, swearing and raging about nothing that matters to no one who cares, cavorting for white kids to capture on tablets. Of course he hasnt got anything to say about George fucking Zimmerman- Eric Wrights long fucking dead. Sit down and enjoy the show.
Hip hop has been made rich by artists retelling the tales of former rappers. You hear echos of echos running through the music, ghosts of cadence adding layers of meaning- and these ghoulish holograms stymie this oral tradition. New MCs recontextualising old rhymes are going to struggle to emerge from the long shadows cast by shadowless illusions. I cant help but think that this is going to lead to a fundamental cankering of the artforms soul. Its worth noting that the hologram shows are currently confined to dead African American performers – theres talk of a Left Eye Lopez reanimation doing the rounds – but its no surprise really. The major labels have been steadily reducing the culture to a limiting series of imaginary props – bitches, guns, dollars, blah – for years, so I guess were already used to illusions of blackness spitting scripts for someone elses profit.