About Me
I'm a Canadian academic and musician living in Scotland. By day, I work as a researcher. By night, I play in a band.

My Work
Live Music Project

PhD Thesis

Selected peer-reviewed articles:
Down beats and rolling stones: the American jazz press decides to cover rock in 1967 (Popular Music History 1:3, 2006)

The rough guide to critics: musicians discuss the role of the music press (Popular Music 25:2, 2006)

Selected conference papers:
Comparing the shaming of jazz and rhythm and blues in music criticism (Experience Music Project 2006)

Was Newport 1969 the Altamont of Jazz? The role of music festivals in shaping the jazz-rock fusion debate (Leeds International Jazz Conference 2006)

Musical projects:
Current band
Maritime Rock Opera Club

m.t.brennan at gmail.com
Great Canadian Music:
CBC Radio 3

Great Canadian Reading:
The Dominion
This Magazine
The Walrus

Great British Music:
BBC Radio 1 Experimental
BBC Radio 6
John Peel (R.I.P.)

Friends With Websites:
Dru Jay
Sylvia Nickerson
Inez Templeton
Inez: the blog
Clark Richards
Tara Wells
Max Liboiron
John Haney
Eva Bartlett
Catherine Brodigan
Adam Behr
Szu-Wei Chen
Pedro Nunes

Musical Friends:
David Myles
Michael John McCarthy
Ben TD
Henry (Peter Mansbridge and the CBCs)
Jo Mango
Jay (Proffessor Undressor)
Jim (Shotgun and Jaybird)
Jon (Rhume)
Matt Johnston
Pat Brennan (The Angelshakes)
Troy Neilson (Brockway Biggs)

By Category:
academiks (4)
aural creativity (16)
books (1)
flicks (8)
inspiration (3)
mad science (4)
media theory (4)
music biz (11)
other (6)
personal (14)
powers that be (8)
travel (4)
visual creativity (9)
words (1)

By Month:
March 2008 (1)
June 2007 (1)
April 2007 (1)
March 2007 (1)
January 2007 (1)
December 2006 (1)
November 2006 (1)
October 2006 (1)
September 2006 (1)
July 2006 (1)
June 2006 (2)
May 2006 (1)
April 2006 (2)
March 2006 (1)
January 2006 (3)
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November 2005 (1)
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September 2005 (1)
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April 2004 (6)
March 2004 (8)
February 2004 (7)
January 2004 (11)
December 2003 (2)

January 09, 2007

Hip hop hostilities


I watched James Brown’s “homecoming” funeral service on Boxing Day, and I was struck by the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson calling on black musicians, particularly rappers, to change the lyrical content of their songs. They’ve done this before, but the difference this time was that they bolstered their opinions with the views of James Brown himself, who had an immeasurable musical influence on rap music, and who in his last conversation with Al Sharpton had apparently expressed the following sentiments.

CNN transcript of Al Sharpton eulogy: [James Brown said] “I want you to keep fighting for justice. But I want you to tell people to love one another. I want you to fight to lift the standards back." He said, "What happened to us that we are now celebrating from being down? What happened we went from saying I'm black and I'm proud to calling each other niggers and ho's and bitches?" He said, "I sung people up and now they're singing people down, and we need to change the music."

This isn’t a new debate, but it made me wonder using Brown’s memorial service as a platform, watched by millions the world over, might provoke a noticeable response from hip-hop artists and the media that covers them. I wonder no longer:

Excerpted from The Guardian: "In the highly competitive and at times violent world of New York hip hop, it is anything but unusual to hear rappers attack each other verbally in forceful terms. But seldom do they go as far as the writer of a new song that calls for fellow rappers to be lynched…. It singles out what the author calls "you fake-ass gangstas" and says "y'all should all get lynched". An accompanying video shows pictures of black men swinging from trees....

The rapper in question is NYOil (pronounced NY oil), a Staten Island-based artist who has posted the song Y'all Should Get Lynched on his MySpace page. The song has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, been highlighted on hip hop radio channels and provoked lively debate among listeners…

His beef is with well-established rappers such as 50 Cent, Jim Jones and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy whom he accuses of spreading irresponsible messages to black youth. Most hip hop lyrics, he believes, glorify selling drugs in the hood, doing time in prison, gang violence and murder for money. They also objectify black women as "hos" (whores) and "bitches". NYOil has also written a song bemoaning black people's use of the n-word in self-description, called "What up my Wigger". In it he argues that by failing to show themselves respect, black people are opening themselves up to the disrespect of others....

Though his use of language may set him apart, NYOil's critique of mainstream hip hop strikes a mood that is steadily intensifying. Fellow New York rapper Nas recently hit No 1 on the Billboard chart with his new album, Hip Hop is Dead, in which he rhymes "Heinous crimes help record sales more than creative lines" and "Everybody sound the same/Commercialised the game"."

Posted by matt at January 9, 2007 01:35 PM