Sonntag, 11. Januar 2009

The Rebirth of Cool

A few weeks back, Byron Hurt leaked a short documentary titled "Barack & Curtis". This is of course referring to Barack Obama and 50 cent and is intended to instigate a debate on black masculinity - on the dominating black masculinity that Hurt sees represented by 50 cent and which is questioned by a possible new form of masculinity represented by Barack Obama.
The clip raises more questions than it answers, but it is well worth a view.

Byron Hurt is also responsible for an amazing hip hop documentary that is taking an unusual angle. "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" examines misoginy and homophobia in hip hop and finds them rooted in hip hop's questionable ideal of masculinity.
Highly recommended, yet at times painful to watch.

Off on a little tangent ...
It was a clever move on Hurt's side to start the documentary with Nas' "Made You Look" - he already had me then. Some things worth mentioning about that track:

1. It features the immortal line "Do the smurf, do the wop, baseball bat ... rooftop like I'm bringing 88 back", later quoted by the Cool Kids in their incredible track "88".

2. It's arguably one of the best appropriations of the apache break. Quite exceptional use, I might add: It takes you a moment to realize that it's THAT break of all breaks. Here's apache:

And here it is, slowed down, as used by Nas:

Slowed down, it takes a life of its own, gaining an urgent and menacing quality, almost as if it had come back from the mists of time, haunting us and calling for what it was denied: redemption.
Or, in the words of Walter Benjamin: "In every epoch, the attempt must be made to deliver tradition anew from the conformism which is on the point of overwhelming it. For the Messiah arrives not merely as the Redeemer; he also arrives as the vanquisher of the Anti-christ. The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious." Word.

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