I cannot remember whether it was last night or sometime today, but I had the occasion to read this post through a Fudgebook link.
Let me be completely honest here. I do not have any love of the rap or whatever you want to call it culture. I believe I have written before about how black musicians like Cab Calloway or John Lee Hooker might be rightfully offended that it is taken to represent the whole and sole of black culture. But the reason that the linked article means so much to me at the moment is because it confirms something that I have always suspected about the black culture that was promoted by mainstream media during my teen years. That is, that it was intended to lubricate the pipes of the school to prison pipeline that exists for the underclass.
Now, some objectors have posted that they grew up in poor areas and yet are not sitting in a cell with tattoos on their face. And they deserve a good pat on the back for that, but their vanity and pride about it also blinds them to something. Prisons are not really a punishment for criminal acts anymore. They are a national poorhouse. Rich criminals, whose actions demonstrably cost society more both in terms of lives and money, rarely see the inside of a prison cell.
But that is a little aside from the point that I want to talk about here. The truth is, no matter what culture you care to name, the mainstream media always aims to pervert it into something contrary to its intended purpose.
Doom metal is, naturally, the example I am the most familiar with, so I will deliver my equivalent thesis in that vein. If you have read the linked letter to the editor already, then feel free to tell me if you notice some similarities.
At some point in the year 1969, four men from the English city of Birmingham crammed themselves into a studio and recorded, virtually live, an album full of music that was designed to scare the listener. That is not mere hyperbole. In numerous interviews, in different ways, guitarist Tony Iommi has told the world that after seeing the film called Black Sabbath (at least in English-speaking territories), he got to thinking. If people were willing to pay money to watch a film that was designed to scare the bejesus out of them, surely they would do likewise for similarly-designed music.
On February 13, 1970 (a Friday, no less), an independent record company called Vertigo released Black Sabbath, the album. The album, although only a moderate chart success, heralded the dawn of a new musical form. An extreme form of the blues that took the blues’ willingness to base itself on the uglier things in our lives and ramped it up to eleven (million). More albums followed in this vein, including one called Vol. 4, where the ugliness of the ruling class’ willingness to tread on the heads of everyone else for another dollar was sung and played about in the frankest terms.
This was unacceptable in the minds of the ruling class twats who had made untold millions off the backs of artists like Elvis, The Beatles, Cab Calloway, or now Black Sabbath. So what do you do when you are confronted with a new musical style in which a lyricist is actively telling impressionable youth that the sods trying to herd them into Metropolis-style factory worker lines are not their friends? Simple. You try to replace it with a neutered clone.
The first attempt to replace actual doom metal with a neutered clone was a crude experiment. Dug from the same English city as Black Sabbath, the band Judas Priest were employed for the sole purpose of making those too impressionable to know better believe that doom metal (as it would be retroactively called decades after its birth) was about wearing stupid-looking leather clothes and stamping your foot to a repetitive beat. Thanks, but I will pass.
This is also one reason why the commercial patriarchy still fears and despises the Internet, in spite of their attempts to look as if they embrace it. When the user has enough control of the medium to decide exactly what they want to be shown, it makes it much harder to shove messages into their ears. In fact, such was one driving reason behind attacks on network neutrality. The Poisons or Warrants of the world could not stomach the fact that the Internet makes it just as easy, if not more so, to type in names like Agoraphobic Nosebleed or Pungent Stench as theirs.
I cannot remember exactly at what point in the past year I had occasion to download and listen to the second Public Enemy album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. I will not kid you. I do not really understand it that well, or relate to it. I am sure that if I were to listen to it again a few times, it would start to make sense to me. Songs like Don’t Believe The Hype already sort of do. But anyone who has heard the Impaled Nazarene song entitled Sadistic 666 / Under A Golden Shower can guess which of these songs I instantly grokked without so much as a microsecond of thought needed.
But Public Enemy‘s brand of rap has one thing in common with doom or black metal. In the form that they were designed in, both musical genres have a message that the mainstream media, as represented by the RIAA organisation, does not want you to hear. So they try to drown it out.
The image above is a good exhibitive example of what I am talking about. In 1991, if you told the average English-speaking twelve year old to describe the look of rebellion and anti-authoritanism, chances are that Guns N’ Roses would come into it at some point. But if you asked them to name the gentleman who has apparently decided to hang his dick out of Axl Rose‘s mouth, chances are you would have gotten nothing but a mumble of confusion for your trouble.
(Do not act ashamed, fellow mid-30s folk who recognise themselves in that description. I also describe myself a bit when referring to that hypothetical twelve year old.)
Thing is, for all of Axl Rose‘s self-aggrandising, even someone who would have ardently defended him during the early to mid 1990s (not naming anybody, understand) has had to admit a lot about him. He picks fights with people and fails to follow through. He wastes money “perfecting” recordings. He presents himself in his music as something he is less than. The list of charges goes on. I have written of G.G. Allin elsewhere, so I will keep this brief. When I encounter Allin songs with titles like Expose Yourself To Kids, I have little difficulty believing he has actually done so.
In other words, Allin is the real thing, and performers like Axl Rose are the thing that record companies try to blot the real thing out with. This dichotomy exists not only with black/doom metal and punk, but with so-called post-punk and rap. Because much like the characters in a Star Trek story, different cultures that express strange or new ideas are not to be regarded with wonder or interest in the eyes of the ruling class. They are to be feared.
I have no idea what went on at the meeting spoken of in the linked article. From the sounds of what the anonymous author has stated, I am willing to bet that a lot of the record company management that existed in the time of that meeting was simply replaced with people who were on board with what was suggested in the meeting. What I have stated in comment on a link to the article provided by one Fudgebook ally is essentially that I had long suspected that the corporate-approved “look how tough I am because I lead a life of crime” style rap was deliberately conceived with a political agenda in mind.
This is another example of how I hate it when I am proven to be correct.