Rap had it’s origins in an African-American form of poetic competition called Dozens which consists of the exchange of elaborate rhymed insults
Play them fast.
I’ll tell you how many bull-dogs
Your mammy had.
She didn’t have one;
She didn’t have two;
She had nine damned dozens
And then she had you.
The first academic study was in 1939, but it’s certainly much older than that with some attributing it to Zulu combat traditions or various Nigerian and Ghanan “games”. Like Scrabble it can be played for sport or for blood (my Grandmother was a fierce Scrabble player and practically had tantrums when I hit her with words like rhythm or phlox, particularly when triple letter scores were involved). The loser is the one who can’t find a come back or gets angry.
Kind of like blogging.
Lest you think pre-combat boasting and call-outs a particularly African tradition, it was a common practice in many classical cultures to muster “armies” to face each other and engage in taunting and then send forth a champion (or several) for individual duels to decide the victory.
Successful empires like the Egyptians, Macedonians, and Romans were decidedly unsentimental about things like that and would generally just slaughter the lot of you where you stood no matter how hard you sang or witty you were, but the Bronze Age Greeks indulged- read the Iliad.
Anyway it certainly goes back much farther than 1939. In 1929 Speckled Red recorded a song called “The Dirty Dozen”-
I did like your poppa, but your poppa would not do.
I met your poppa on the corner the other day
I soon found out he was funny that way.
The early center was the South Bronx where the movement got a boost from equipment looted during the New York City Blackout of 1977 (kind of like capturing a Carillon or an Organ and using it to make music instead of cannons and cannon balls). I had thought for many years that Debbie Harry’s Rapture was simply another Elvis-type rip off but as it turns out she was simply an early adopter who happened to be white and female.
During the mid to late 80s the Los Angeles ‘Gangsta Rap’ scene emerged and by the early 90s it was the dominant movement in Hip Hop.
Now when we say ‘Gangsta’ we mean that many of these artists had affiliations with the Crips and the Bloods and boasted in their songs about street violence and drug use and dealing. Eric Wright (Eazy-E) founded the seminal ‘Gangsta’ label, Ruthless, probably out of crack income.
Just keeping it 100 folks.
Now as everyone on the right coast knows, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere (and in fact many of the most prominent West Coast artists were originally from New York or Philadelphia) and by 1991 we have the rumblings (when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet, from your first cigarette, to your last dying day) of discontent from those left behind in the person of the otherwise unremarkable Tim Dog in a song about Compton.
So anyway by 1994 the East Coast has seen a resurgence and the hot new labels are ‘Bad Boy’ (based in the South Bronx, run by A&R Records and ‘Puff Daddy’ Sean Combs and ‘Death Row’ (based in LA and run by Suge Knight). Their most prominent artists were Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.) from Queens and Tupac Shakur a New York ex-pat.
Tupac accused Combs, Wallace, and Andre Harrell of participation in a robbery where Shakur was shot 5 times. They denied it. Knight took a dig at Combs and Wallace during an awards show and a friend was fatally shot. Knight bailed out Tupac from 5 counts of sexual abuse and he signed with Death Row.
In 1995 – 96 Tupac wrote numerous songs aimed at Combs and Wallace and in September of 96 he was killed in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas hours after beating up a Crip. Wallace was shot dead in another drive by in Los Angeles in early 1997. No one was charged in either murder though it was widely suspected tha Knight was involved in both.
And with the death of Sonny and Sollozo the great Rap War sputtered out.
But ek you say, what does this have to do with 19th Century Art Music?
I told you, these guys were Rock Stars. Back in the day when I was into QXR our Bando lingo for that was MozartBachandBrahms as in “Did you hear about (latest scandlously gyrating pop icon)?”, “No, I only listen to long haired music, MozartBachandBrahms.”
Now Mozart and Bach are easily justified (though listed in the wrong order) as being representative of the Classical and Barouque periods of Art Music. Brahms on the other hand, is no Beethoven nor even a Wagner.
He was, however a leader of the older and more conservative school of Romanticism that arose after Beethoven which focused more on Beethoven’s more traditional elements rather than his raw theatricality. Liszt and Wagner were all about the pyrotechnics.
So in the mid-1800s this petty and pointless feud broke out between musicians and composers who were overwhelming German called The War of the Romantics. It was hardly noticed by anyone else in the Art Music world because they were working out their own nationalistic, emotive, and programmatic aspirations.
Personally I find the music of Neudeutsche Schule earnest and overweening to the point of self-parody and am interested only in the ironic sense of its inherent contradictions and influence on broader historical movements (the rise of Fascism for instance). The Leipzig school is much easier and more restful if a bit boring and derivative. It’s not without its own sophisticated charm however.
The first piece for your consideration today was written by Brahms in response to a pointed request from the University of Breslau, which had awarded him an Honorary Doctorate, that some form of dedicated musical reciprocation was expected. So he wrote a compilation of collegiate drinking songs titled the Academic Festival Overture which he deliberately overscored and stylized as a musical pie in the face.
F#@k You Breslau. It remains a great hit among student musicians to this very day and is among his most performed works.
A companion piece from the same year is the Tragic Overture. It emphasizes the Romantic detachment from narrative and a complicated formalism and allusion to other composers, Beethoven in particular.
A German Requiem is considered his masterwork (it’s certainly the longest and most orchestrated) and is controversial only in the sense that it’s based on the Lutheran Bible, concentrates more on the comfort of the living than the pitiable condition of the dead, and contrasts with his disinterest in organized religion at all.
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED)the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD. And I am highly organized.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
–Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
This Day in History
Obama’s visit to new Saudi king highlights the kingdom’s importance to the U.S.
By Steven Mufson, Washington Post
January 24 at 11:44 AM
For much of the Obama presidency, however, Saudi Arabia has wondered whether the United States had fallen into the category of an unhelpful friend.
Diplomats say that King Abdullah, who died Thursday, had been angry in recent years at President Obama’s failure to topple Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, was disappointed with the lack of U.S. pressure for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, and anxious about whether U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran would lead to a rapprochement between the United States and Saudi Arabia’s main rival.
Where will relations go after Abdullah? Though Abdullah introduced some progressive reforms in Saudi Arabia, the unequal treatment of women and suppression of dissent creates a certain distance from the United States. Human Rights Watch noted last August, the same month that American Jim Foley was beheaded by Islamic State militants, that 19 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia, eight of them for non-violent offenses such as drug smuggling.
After an Anxiety-Filled Campaign, Greek Voters Consider a Turn to the Left
By SUZANNE DALEY and DIMITRIS BOUNIAS, The New York Times
JAN. 23, 2015
(M)any are contemplating voting for the leftist firebrand, Alexis Tsipras, 40, who is promising something no other Greek leader has managed yet: renegotiating the grip of Greece’s creditors on the government’s policies.
He is untested, a leap into the unknown, and there is no guarantee that he would be able to deliver on his promises or keep from making a bad situation worse.
But it is a measure of how beaten down Greece is that voters, polls say, may be on the verge of making just that bet despite a threatening drumbeat from European officials saying that Greece must abide by the creditor-friendly austerity policies laid down by Germany.
For many, the past few weeks have been brutal, not only because of the danger of a rift between Greece and its creditors at a time when it is not yet ready to stand alone financially, but also because of the incumbent party’s campaign, which has tried to play on a wide array of fears, including suggesting that Mr. Tsipras, an atheist, would ban religious icons in schools and public spaces.
Greeks have declared themselves fed up with fear. They say they are well aware how high the stakes may be, and that Greece is still in need of help from the European Union and its creditors, but they have been won over by Mr. Tsipras’s message of hope and dignity.
“The government’s strategy appears to have failed completely this time,” said Elias Nikolakopoulos, a pollster and professor of political science at the University of Athens. “Fear does not work unless you begin with a positive message and then use fear in the last few days. They just did fear. Fear the whole time.”
Polls have consistently shown Syriza leading New Democracy, although the differences have fallen within the polls’ margins of sampling error.
Federal judge strikes down Alabama gay marriage ban
By Jonathan Kaminsky, Reuters
Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:18pm EST
Granade, an appointee of President George W. Bush, found that the ban does not further Alabama’s goal of protecting the ties between children and their biological parents, and that it is harmful to the children of same-sex parents.
“Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the state as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents,” she wrote.
The case was brought by a lesbian couple legally married in California. The couple, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, sought for Searcy to be able to adopt McKeand’s biological son under a provision of Alabama law allowing for the adoption of a “spouse’s child.”
White House says drone strikes in Yemen continue despite Houthi coup
Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian
Saturday 24 January 2015 11.30 EST
Continuing “partnered” strikes with the Yemenis provides a signal that the US still considers itself to have reliable allies on the ground to spot for drone strikes and aid in other attacks on an al-Qaida affiliate observers fear will capitalize on the unfolding unrest in the country.
The resignation this week of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whom the Obama administration had cultivated to permit drone strikes, has left many in US security circles wondering if a post-Hadi government will prove as acquiescent.
Under Hadi and his predecessor, the similarly deposed long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni government provided a launchpad for US attacks against al-Qaida’s local affiliate in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid, military equipment and training, and unequivocal diplomatic support.
It is unclear if military equipment provided by the US, from helicopters to communications gear, has fallen into anti-American hands, as happened earlier this year when Islamic State (Isis) militants overran Iraqi military positions. Several US military officials have declined to address whether the US even has knowledge of the fate of the weapons and other material it has for years provided to Yemen.
Reports from Yemen on Saturday indicated that local instability is continuing. Thousands reportedly took to the streets in Sanaa, demonstrating against the Houthi “coup” and chanting slogans denouncing al-Qaida. The Houthis are enemies of al-Qaida but not necessarily hospitable to the US.
Revealed: how Blair colluded with Gaddafi regime in secret
Ian Cobain, The Guardian
Friday 23 January 2015 13.12 EST
Tony Blair wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to thank him for the “excellent cooperation” between the two countries’ counter-terrorism agencies following a period during which the UK and Libya worked together to arrange for Libyan dissidents to be kidnapped and flown to Tripoli, along with their families.
The letter, written in 2007, followed a period in which the dictator’s intelligence officers were permitted to operate in the UK, approaching and intimidating Libyan refugees in an attempt to persuade them to work as informants for both countries’ agencies.
The recovered documents show that MI5 and MI6 submitted more than 1,600 questions to be put to two opposition leaders after they had been kidnapped with British assistance and flown to one of Gaddafi’s prisons. Both men say they suffered appalling torture.
Five men were subjected to control orders on the basis of intelligence assessments that are now alleged to have been based in part on information extracted during Libyan interrogation of the two opposition leaders, Sami al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj, following the UK-Libyan rendition operations.
Lawyers who represented the men subjected to control orders say that both the high court and the Special Immigration Appeal Commission were kept in the dark about the UK’s role in the kidnap of the two men who were providing the information about their clients.
The documents show that in 2006 Libyan intelligence agents were invited to operate on British soil where they worked alongside MI5 and allegedly intimidated a number of opponents of Gaddafi who had been granted asylum in the UK. They also show that British intelligence officers provided information to their Libyan counterparts about a British man of Libyan origin who had lived in the UK since 1981 and had been granted British citizenship in 1994. In September 2003 the UK agencies handed over a file which described this man as “a known figure in the Libyan extremist community in Manchester [who] has previously led a small group of LIFG-affiliated individuals in a dispute at a local mosque over the imam’s moderate preaching”.This man’s address and home and mobile telephone numbers were included in the file. He says that Libyan government officials called him repeatedly, urging him to return to Libya where they said that members of his family faced arrest.
Rio admits it will fail to clean up ‘open sewer’ of 2016 sailing venue
Friday 23 January 2015 16.00 EST
The promise to cut the flow of pollutants into the bay by 80% was a key part of the city’s Olympic bid document and widely held up as among the most enduring legacies of the games. But with just one and a half years to go before the showcase event, it has become increasingly clear that the target wouldn’t be met.
Sailors’ associations have expressed reservations about water quality as well as the garbage, both of which they say could harm sailors’ health. Olympic sailors have described the 2016 venue as a “sewer”, complaining of the stench at the events’ main venue, the Gloria Marina, and describing having to dodge floating sofas, animal carcasses, and plastic trash bags that foul rudders in the open waters. A few sailors have said they got sick after falling into the bay.
The bay cleanup has been a sore spot in Rio’s fitful Olympic preparations almost since the city won the Games back in 2009. Environmentalists have consistently warned that even with the clock ticking, nearly nothing has been done.
Last year, the Associated Press obtained a letter to then sports minister Aldo Rebelo, in which Rio’s state’s former environment secretary acknowledged in a best-case scenario that pollution flowing into the bay could be cut to “over 50%” – well below the promised reduction of 80%. Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, later said he was “sorry that we did not use the Games to get Guanabara Bay completely clean”.
Greece’s solidarity movement: ‘it’s a whole new model – and it’s working’
Jon Henley, The Guardian
Friday 23 January 2015 08.39 EST
Few in Greece, even five years ago, would have imagined their recession- and austerity-ravaged country as it is now: 1.3 million people – 26% of the workforce – without a job (and most of them without benefits); wages down by 38% on 2009, pensions by 45%, GDP by a quarter; 18% of the country’s population unable to meet their food needs; 32% below the poverty line.
And just under 3.1 million people, 33% of the population, without national health insurance.
The clinics in turn are part of a far larger and avowedly political movement of well over 400 citizen-run groups – food solidarity centres, social kitchens, cooperatives, “without middlemen” distribution networks for fresh produce, legal aid hubs, education classes – that has emerged in response to the near-collapse of Greece’s welfare state, and has more than doubled in size in the past three years.
If the first instinct of many involved in the movement was simply to help, most also believe it has done much to politicise Greece’s crisis. In Egalio, west of Athens, Flora Toutountzi, a housekeeper, Antonis Mavronikolas, a packager, and Theofilos Moustakas, a primary school teacher, are part of a group that collects food donations from shoppers outside supermarkets and delivers basic survival packages – rice, sugar, long-life milk, dried beans – to 50 local families twice a month.
“One family, there are six people surviving on the grandmother’s pension of €400 a month,” said Mavronikolas. “Another, they’ve lived without running water for two months. We help them, yes, but now they are also involved in our campaign, helping others. People have become activated in this crisis. They are less isolated.”
How Netanyahu’s speech to Congress could save his re-election
by Lisa Goldman, Al Jazeera
January 24, 2015 5:00AM ET
As far as the irreverent Israeli media is concerned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to the U.S. Congress is nothing more than an election campaign rally. Israel votes for a new Knesset on March 17, and according to the polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party and his potential coalition partners are vulnerable. But the sight of their prime minister giving a speech in perfect English to applauding American legislators – the last time Netanyahu spoke on Capitol Hill, he received 29 standing ovations – could be just the thing to sway voters on the fence. Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation offers him a third appearance in that venue – an honor previously bestowed only on Winston Churchill.
Netanyahu is relying, once more, on his reputation as Mr. Security. He waxes Churchillian in his interviews with Western media, claiming the mantle of the British leader, whose reputation was built on his willingness to confront Hitler before others acknowledged the danger. And in Netanyahu’s speeches, he warns frequently about threats from “radical Islam” and Iran’s nuclear capability. But Israelis appear to be tiring of Iran talk. While security has traditionally been their No. 1 concern, this time, according to the polls, it is the economy.
The past seven years have seen a precipitous rise in housing and food prices as well as cuts in welfare benefits. The cost of living is rising a lot faster than salaries are. The media now report daily on soup kitchens, children living with food insecurity, dual-income professionals who depend on monthly stipends from their parents, pensioners sifting through dumpsters for food. They also report, with clear disapproval, on the ostentatious consumerism of the small newly moneyed class. Netanyahu’s economic policies have helped bring Israel, which once had the narrowest income gap in the industrialized world, to the point that it now has the dubious distinction of having the widest wealth gap among OECD member states.
Israelis are not as willing as Americans are to accept extreme income inequality as a fact of economic life. They remember the socialist orientation of earlier decades and miss many aspects of a shrinking welfare state. When nearly half a million Israelis (out of a population of 8 million) took to the streets for weeks over the summer of 2011, the catalyst for their protest was the cost of living, and the theme was social justice. Two of the leaders of that protest movement are now prominent members of the Labor Party, headed by Isaac “Buji” Herzog. And Labor is doing well in the polls – better than Likud is.
Obama abandons telephone data spying reform proposal: U.S. officials
By Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel, Reuters
Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:41pm EST
The Obama administration has decided, however, that the option of having a private third party collect and retain the telephone metadata is unworkable for both legal and practical reasons. “I think that’s accurate for right now,” a senior U.S. security official said.
The official also cited concerns about the extra costs of moving data from telecom companies to a third party, and in a format which the government agencies found easy to use. The official said there would be no significant cost to the government to require telecom providers to hold the data.
The law which NSA has cited to authorize its bulk collection of U.S. telephone metadata expires in June.
Disneyland seeks to reassure public amid measles outbreak
By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters
Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:17pm EST
The California Department of Public Health reported 59 confirmed measles cases among state residents since the end of December, most linked to an initial exposure at Disneyland or the adjacent Disney California Adventure Park.
Nine more cases linked to the two Disney parks were reported out of state – one in Mexico, three in Utah, two in Washington state and one each in Oregon, Colorado and Arizona.
Among those infected are at least five Walt Disney Co employees and a student at Huntington Beach High School, some 15 miles (24 km) from the park, which earlier this week ordered its unvaccinated students to stay home until Jan. 29.On Wednesday Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the state health department, told reporters that anyone immunized for measles should have no concern about visiting the theme parks.
“But if you are unvaccinated, I would worry about it,” Chavez said. “And if you have a minor that cannot be vaccinated – under the age of 12 months, I would recommend that those children are not taken to places like Disneyland today.”
- Lawyers as Crime Enablers: Maine Bar Counsel Punts on Sanctioning Foreclosure Attorneys for Bogus Affidavits, by Thomas Cox, Naked Capitalism
- The Sterling Closing Arguments: Who Is the Hero, Who Is the Storyteller?, By emptywheel
- Arthur Laffer is Not Laughing at Sam Brownback’s Budget, By: Peterr, Firedog Lake
- FOIA: Department of Justice CCIPS Notes On Aaron Swartz Investigation, By: DSWright, Firedog Lake
- Distrust But Verify, By: David Swanson, Firedog Lake
- Why wealthy Americans’ delusions about the poor are so dangerous, by David Sirota, Salon
- Syriza and the Greek Elections: The Tough Questions That Must Be Asked, By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout
- And the Lifetime Award for Shameful Corporate Behavior Goes to… Chevron, by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams
- NRC: We’re Keeping Fukushima-Style Nuclear Reactors Going, by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams
- Andrew Cuomo Must Answer for a Culture of Corruption, By Zephyr Teachout, New York Observer