by carl wilson

Back to the Slappin'

I missed Dave M.'s response earlier, basically because I've been busy writing a book proposal and an article and otherwise takin' care of business. Suffice to say that he makes his case so much more effectively here that I can't respond without going back to the record, and that would require finding it in the piles of things in my house-still-under-repair, and so I probably won't be able to get back into it for now. But I will say that I think that the issue of cultural appopriation is vastly different when you are talking about people "borrowing" from the most successful form of music/entertainment in the entire world than it is when you are talking about people stealing from poor unknown artists who are performing in juke joints. In fact it would be appallingly dumb and boring if artists from other cultures were not swiping from, commenting on, reacting to and subverting elements of hip-hop now. I don't think the historical analogy transfers over at all. That said, Dave's charge that NHS isn't making interesting choices in what to steal (and that there's something chicken about that) is a strong one, and certainly much more subtle than what he said in his review. I will say that the nerdy-insularity of the references is something I like about it - I'll go so far as to say it represents, and in fact if it didn't, there wouldn't be people getting so very pissed off about it. Which is interesting exactly the way that Dave paraphrases Christgau to say it is.

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, November 29 at 11:32 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

COMMENTS

See, now I don't know who to side with. Because I saw Ninja High School and thought they were the most annoying band ever, but then I read D.M's expanded review and thought it was the most annoying review ever. I feel kind of like Rumsfeld observing the Iran-Iraq War.

Posted by JKelly on December 1, 2005 02:11 AM

 

 

This is ridiculous.

The reason why people don't like YAAS is because it was Greg Collins' first attempt at production and Matt's vocals aren't well recorded.

Once Greg gets more experience and the vocals are recorded better, well, call it rap, call it what you want, but rest assured it will get GREAT REVIEWS.

Posted by Owen on December 1, 2005 12:32 AM

 

 

I'm with Dave here. NHS just plain annoy the crap out of me.

In any case, my point wasn't that the appropriation or borrowing of hip-hop was in all cases horrible and should be avoided. Nor that NHS should be seen as a hip-hop group above and beyond everything else. It was just, though i don't think I articulated this well enough, that if you're going to do something, if you're going to borrow something, you should be using it in an interesting way. the way Eric B. & Rakim flipped James Brown and made his music relevant once again is an amazing exaple of borrowing in its best light. However, rap is a technically demanding technique and the fact that NHS borrow it by using cadences and flows that have been irrelevant since 1986 is what annoys the piss out of me. It;s just not a good appropriation of hip-hop technique let alone the culturally specific signifiers of rap. Again: why can't one have good yelling and good rapping together? (Like say in the example of P.O.S.) Why settle for a bad and boring rap style like the "lyrical geniusing" of NHS.

Hell yes, I am a rap-ist.

Posted by Graham on November 30, 2005 07:01 PM

 

 

It's the debate that just keeps on giving. Hmmm. Let's start with Elvis and finish with the Beastie Boys. Black folks have given non-black folks the best material to expropriate. So why stop there. What about Peter Gabriel, Johnny Clegg and even Charlie Haden...Wait...how about Ice-T and Puff Daddy expropriating white rock for their anthemic crossover dreams, or was it Run DMC that started that trend? I could be mistaken, but I think (and hope) this horse has been thoroughly flogged. A book proposal Carl? Now THAT sounds interesting...I guess I'll be checking out NHS some time soon. Mission accomplished.

Posted by Phil on November 30, 2005 12:57 PM

 

 

I don't think this is anything you would call "rappist," I think Dave was pretty upfront about the fact that their music just basically annoyed the hell out of him and he this was the particular thing he could articulate that annoyed him. And it's a fair thing to have annoy you about something you're listening to as long as you're not using it to dismiss something without actually hearing it. I forget the album, but I really hated it, and my explanation was that it was just too damn ironic. I like ironic things, and people tried to tell me that it wasn't actually that ironic, but that was what I kept hearing, and since I hated it, I wasn't really going to try to hard to hear it differently. When Dave listens to NHS, he hears a bunch of non-blacks calculatedly appropriating a culture that's not theirs, and I think there's at least some basis for hearing that in the music and seeing it in the context, even if I don't necessarily think it's true.

Posted by Eppy on November 30, 2005 12:30 PM

 

 

But any sort of borrowing of "cultural signifiers" or "theft" perpetrated by NHS is by default once removed. I haven't seen anybody in print invoke the KLF factor of NHS and to my mind it's always been what clinches their being worthwhile. When you consider the fact that they owe a great deal more to the Shamen than to Rakim then it makes all the sputum-flecked puritanism about the "sanctity of the four elements of hip hop" seem totally redundant and ridiculous. This isn't Paul Barman, there's not any attempt at a sort of ad hoc cred through parody or even any parody at all. Just because their record won't appeal to the oversized knapsack and Freeway beard set doesn't mean that NHS is invalid or inauthentic. If anybody can't get their head around that then they've been listening to Common Sense up their own asses for too long. Carl, can we expect some sort of exploration of "rappist" prejudice in criticism any time soon?

Posted by benstimpson on November 30, 2005 09:23 AM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson