The good peoples at Boston Progress Radio, a community-based online radio station and blog focusing on independent Asian American music and art, recently invited me to be guest poster for their “Shuffled!” column series. Basically, the rules are pick the first 5 songs that your iTunes/iPod shuffles and write about them. One of them has to be API, so usually, that’s the song you start with.
Here’s a sample of what I wrote:
“Show Me What You’ve Got (Remix)”
I swear Steve Jobs practices some kind of voodoo; iTunes shuffle has the uncanny ability to read your mind. Weren’t we just talking about Mr. Young Money during the Funkadelic song?
Anyway, this reminds me of a recent job interview I had for this hip hop program that offers weekly workshops on the 4 elements to the public for free in LA. The very first question they asked me was: “What do you think about Lil Wayne?” In my head, I was like “What the fuck?!” Do they want to judge me on how down I am with “real” hip hop by using my opinion on Weezy as the barometer? Should I play to their backpacker aesthetic and say “Lil Wayne is the worst thing to happen to hip hop since Puff’s verse on “Missing You,” or should i tell how I really feel? I chose the latter:
Lil Wayne to me presents hope for hip hop; hope for the future of creativity amongst the communities that continually innovate the music and culture instead of staying within the confines of the “4 elements.” I’m talking about the Soulja Boys of the South, the “Chicken Noodle Soup” kids of Harlem, and the Hyphy youth of Oakland. Hate as much as you want on these “bubble gum, ringtone shit” kids, but they are the future. Whatever music they make and whatever style they’ll squeeze outta the limited resources available to them will determine what pop music will sound like 10 years down the line. Lil Wayne gives me hope because he’s one of the few artists out right now (including T-Pain) who has HELLA mass appeal. He’s the hero of EVERY hood in the U.S., and is played on EVERY radio station in the world, yet sounds like noone else out there. He’s making it cool again to be weird, to be different, to be a Martian, much like Andre 3000 did in the mid-nineties. He’s bringing back a certain caliber of lyrical creativity that was missing in “Crank Dat” and “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It.” I mean, “A Milli” was Top 10 on the Billboard Charts and it’s a fucking battle-rap song, meaning it’s one of those what we call “rah rah” tracks where you just demonstrate your lyrical ability; it doesn’t even have a hook!
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not a blind groupie of Lil Weezy. I was actually one of the folks who were extremely skeptical of all the hype between the Carter II and Carter III. But as an educator, to see Wayne’s words memorized verbatim, even his mixtape tracks, by all the middle and high schoolers in West Oakland, you see a huge opportunity to create lesson plans around his music. On the literary tip, you can teach metaphors, similes, and rhyme scheme using Wayne as a starting ground, then branching out by comparing and contrasting, as well as, exposing to students, other artists less popular with them, like a Mos, or a Gift of Gab, or a De La Soul, etc etc. On the critical thinking tip, you can challenge Wayne’s rampant misogyny – ask the young women why they love repeating “I suck a pussy, fuck a pussy, leave it there…” and whether they ever questioned what they were saying? Then compare that with, say, Talib’s “For Women” or even “Keep Your Head Up” by 2Pac…it goes on and on. Use what the youth of today like instead of dismissing it. Enough about this, moving on…
Read the whole Shuffle HERE.
Thanks to Giles and the rest of the folks at BPR!
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