Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Market for Niggaz

This week's gathering of Princeton's Center for African American Studies' faculty/graduate student seminar on Black Popular Culture reviewed Mark Anthony Neal's most recent musings on rapper Jay Z and the unique brand of cosmopolitanism that he embodies. Integrating black feminist thought and queer theory, the piece was a critical intervention aimed at complicating our understanding of Jay Z's negotiations of black masculinity over the past 12 years of his commercial success.

I found the following lines particularly compelling and resonant with LarryLy's own musings on the relationships between hip-hop, blackness and American capitalism:

"It is important to remember that “niggas” largely circulate within transnational commercial culture as flattened images — images that are a projection of historic fears of black masculinity in the United States, the desires of young white men (and others) to consume the supposed visceral pleasures and dangers associated with black masculinity and the willingness of young black men (and others) to make that image available for consumption."
-Mark Anthony Neal

To that end, I invite you to take a listen to the gem below from our brutha Taalam Acey. It's one of my favorite youtube clips of all time, and soon you'll know why.

Friday, September 05, 2008

on brandy.

What follows is the blurb I penned about Brandy for my imeem.com "Best of Brandy" playlist. It's very much a work-in-progress. If you're anything like me (meaning that you take pride in thinking critically about your favorite music), I invite you to toss in your suggestions, revisions, qualms, laurels, admonitions and accolades. If you're nothing like me, just hush and take a listen.

No female singer this century has had so profound an impact on the sound of contemporary R&B than the iconic Brandy Norwood. This playlist profiles the lushly layered harmonies and the ethereal, otherworldly vocal arrangements that she and producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins tailored to accommodate the young starlet’s airy voice, smooth alto range and moody temperment.

Inspired by the stirring ballads of Whitney Houston and the intricate vocal stylings of gospel’s Kim Burrell, Brandy’s songs allow listeners to explore the unique blend of anomie and automation that shapes the postmodern soundscape as well as the human vulnerability that lies at its root.

[note: for some reason, the blog insert is only playing 30-second snippets. to hear the songs in their entirety, click on the "brandy's best" hyperlink beneath the player]

brandys best

I'd love to have a conversation about my favorites, but it seems pointless, considering I've already cited each of the tracks as one of her best. *shrug* could someone please take an interest in my claim about the postmodernity of Brandy's sound? I'd really like an opportunity to discuss it further without wondering whether anyone gives a damn. Ha!