"...[W]hat Charles Tonderai Mudede means by proper hip-hop is : music made from other music and not with instruments in the classical sense. Mudede would call hip-hop a kind of meta-music, a musical form that takes music as its subject, and is different than traditional musical styles precisely because it is based around the act of re-playing other music." --2bears
Ten years ago, Kodwo Eshun wrote this about the Berlin-based techno duo Basic Channel: "[The] Basic Channel CD sounds like it set out to tap the system's energies, capture its underground echoes, read and feed into its steady flows of communication. The rhythms feel like severed live wires instinctively feeling their way back to the energy source. And when they finally connect, on the trail-out grooves called, appropriately enough, "Radiance i/Radiance iii", the rhythmic pulses burst, irradiating the city above and suffusing it with a shimmering electronic glow." Something similar can be said about the dub Burial is producing in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century.
Movies"For Mudede, the practice of seamless aural mixing between two turntables, developed by New York DJs in the 70s, heralded the emergence of 'the first musical form to break completely with traditional music in terms of production.' (Mudede 2003) The repurposing of the digital sampler  (the locus of sampling-technology, for Mudede) is inextricably connected to the DJ's initial repurposing of the turntable (and mixer) to extend break-beats...Mudede follows David Goldberg in suggesting that to 'repurpose' is to rob an object of 'its initial essence, ' if only to immediately refill this void with 'a new essence which finds its meaning, its place in the hip hop universe, in the service of the DJ'.(Mudede 2003). The sampler, originally intended to provide fingertip access to an orchestra of realistically sampled traditional instruments (see (Thberge 1997), (Rose 1994), (Jones 1992) is repurposed, according to Mudede, when it is instead used to overcome the single-loop ability of the two-turntable technique through the multi-track mixing of digitally-enabled sample-loops. " --Owen Chapman: "Lifted Loops and Broken Beats: Sample-based music and the revenge of the cut"
A Funky Dialectic
Television"For the time is nigh/when passion get a high/when the beat just lash/when wall must smash/and the beat will shift as the culture alter/when oppression scatter." Linton Kwesi Johnson, Bass Culture. These are absolutely the most important lines about the substance of black culture in the age of late capitalism. Kwesi is more than a dub poet, he is a profound theorist of the state and function of black music. He knows what Thomas Mapfumo knows: A black cultural revolution is impossible without a revolution in black music.
The Great Insohreckshan. The event: “It was in April 1981/down inna de ghetto of Brixton. That Babylon caused such a friction/that it bring about a great insohreckshan. And it spread all over the nation/ it was truly an historical occasion. It was the event of the year and I wish I had been there/when we run riot all over Brixton.” It is to this event that the work (music/poems) in the peak period (1979 to 1984) of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s long (but not prolific) career leads to and away from. The riots of Brixton mark the event that he is faithful to. It is a social and political sequence that is for him what the Cultural Revolution was to the French Maoists of the late 60s. For LKJ, the Brixton riots broke from the state of the situation; the break presented an opening to the truth of the matter. The state was revealed and challenged; and in the chaos of the opening, the break, there was a search/hope for a new order or social arrangement. The riots of Brixton--an opening to a truth that revealed “de wicked man’s plans” and presented an opportunity for actual justice—were challenged and eventually stopped by state force. But the restoration of the official order did not mean the sudden death of or an end to the feelings inspired by that insurrection. LKJ was deeply loyal to these feelings in the 80s. The only way to truly understand the power and beauty of his poetry and music of this period is to understand the glory of “de great insohreckshan.” Even his anti-Rasta “Reality Poem” must be seen in the light of the Brixton riots.
Books"Cultural theorist Charles Mudede has written extensively on pop music, specifically hiphop. In his article, 'Hiphop Rupture,' Mudede describes hiphop as 'the true imperfect art.' Vinyl, as a flawed and discarded relic, is an ideal tool for music " formed from the waste that falls from the abundant tables of the prosperous post-modern city." Mudede connects the terminology of hiphop ( 'wrecking,' ' rupture,' ' ill,' ' beats and pieces') to this philosophy of adaptation and misuse. The art of scratching a record back and forth to create new rhythmic sound, for example, 'is a mistake in itself: you are not supposed to stop a record, nor are you supposed to move it back and forth. You are supposed to let a record continue, to complete its cycle. The wreck is then a symphony of mistakes, mistakes heaped on mistakes, an orgy of mistakes.' By extracting beats, loops and samples from records, hiphop DJs are doing more than just experimenting with rhythmic structures, Mudede claims - they are reflecting the poverty-stricken social climate from which hiphop originated. " --Bruce Lord
'Detroit techno is architecture.' --Hari Kunzru
Interviewer: "You are very fond of architecture and you even have studied it for a while. Your tracks are all very well structured so I was wondering to what extent this interest and training have found their way into your music?
Jeff Mills: "Yeah, I think its just methodical intent. My intent is to create some kind of foundation and build from there. The foundation has to have reasoning, at least to me. I have to understand why Im doing it in the very first place. Why even sit down to press the key on a keyboard? I have to have some reason for that. I think that kind of relates to architecture. There has to be a need to build a building. It needs a purpose. Why are you building it, for what reason? From there its easier to construct. If you know that its an office building then you know people have to have space for their desks. If its residential you know it has to have a kitchen and so on. Music works the same way. If its designed for a DJ to use in a club, but he wants to use it for a transition, then it should be laid out in a way so that he has time and that things occur at a much slower pace and it gradually builds up and you leave and escape. In a building you have to have fire escapes. Music for the most part is the same thing. The DJ chooses to mix out of it so he needs to have a break in it to depart into another track. So in a way the building, the construction is very similar to architecture."
On the cover of Cybotron's first album (and the album that connects Kraftwerk to Detroit techno), Clear, a man in the middle of jumping through a floating plate of glass is digitized, dematerialized, cleared. This is Juan Atkin's vision of the internet long before it's civilianized. "Clear" is to music what Blade Runner is to cinema and Neuromancer is to literature--all three were released the same year, 1982. As Cybotron says, "Tomorrow is a brighter day."The Interviewer: "Have you ever had a dream based on a song? (What song, and what happened in the dream)?"Mudede: "Actually, yes, Grace Jones 'Slave to the Rhythm.' It wasnt one dream with a plot but a recurring dream with the same setting and massive architectures. The sonic imagery of the music was translated into vivid dream imagery: It was about workers, mass production, Fordist factories, power lines, dams, the transformation of raw earth into large reserves of energy. Heidgeggar talks about these reserves in his essay, 'On The Question of Technology.' But the dream was more Marxist than Heideggarian. The imagery in the recurring dream has its proper literary equivalent in Marx's Das Capital. However, when [the dreams] first began, in my late-teens, I had not yet read Das Capital. I only read it in my early-30s, and while reading it discovered that the book possessed the same terrifying beauty of that recurring dream, and that song by the great Grace Jones."Slave to the ImageFew images have impacted my imagination more than this one: At dusk, the massive, robotic head of Grace Jones rises from the desert floor, turns to the side, opens its metal mouth, and shoots out a silver CX GTi Turbo. Dreamed up by Jean-Paul Goude (Jones's husband at the time--1984) for France's defining automobile corporation, Citroën, the image transports me from any point in real time to a fantastic world where Jones is the entire economic base, the whole productive force, the source and sole generator of labor power. In the pyramids of ancient Egypt we see masses of hardened human energy, human misery; in this giant head of Grace Jones, we do not see the expenditure of a society of slaves mobilized by the will of a master, but, instead, the economy of just one, the production of a single slave who works for no master, who works simply because there's work to be done. The image is of a slave utopia.Grace Jones..Walter Benjamin"A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."Hegel"Only one word more concerning the desire to teach the world what it ought to be. For such a purpose philosophy at least always comes too late. Philosophy, as the thought of the world, does not appear until reality has completed its formative process, and made itself ready. History thus corroborates the teaching of the conception that only in the maturity of reality does the ideal appear as counterpart to the real, apprehends the real world in its substance, and shapes it into an intellectual kingdom. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering."Fredric Jameson"As for artists, for them too 'the owl of Minerva takes its flight at dusk...'""It darkles...all this our funnanimal world." -- James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake“God, having become Nature, had extended Himself into the [splendor] and the mute cycle of formations, become conscious of the expansion, of the lost punctuality, and grown angry about it. The anger is this shaping, this gathering into the empty point. He finds Himself as such, and His essence is poured out into unquiet, restless eternity, where there is no present, only a wild going outward, always becoming as fast as [it is] transcended. This anger, while He is this rushing outward, is at the same time an absolute going into Himself, a growing into a central point. In so doing His anger devours His formations into Himself. Your whole realm of extension must pass through this central point: by it your limbs are crushed and your flesh mashed until it becomes part of this fluidity.” HEGEL
Who I'd like to meet:
"Words like violence/Break the silence/Come crashing in/Into my little world."--Dave Gahan
The substance of my blog Pop Life finds its best representation in this video of Depeche Mode performing "Enjoy The Silence" on the top of the World Trade Center. Photographed in the first year of the 21st century, 1990, we see at once two things: one, the point at which history meets pop music (or, better yet, the interpenetration of history and pop music); two, the visualization of Marx's theory of society, which is composed of the real, the economic base (WTC), and its mirage, the superstructure (the pop tune "Enjoy the Silence").
Another important video in the Pop Life project is "Borrowed Love," which has the leading band of the black elegance period (1979-1990), SOS Band, dreaming up and dancing in, in 1985, an apartment complex ruined by a wrecking ball that's not unlike the one that will, in 1998, begin demolishing the Robert Taylor Homes, a modernist vision that became America's worst slum.
- Status: Married
- Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe
- Orientation: Straight
- Religion: Atheist
- Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
- Drink: Yes
- Education: College graduate
- Occupation: Culture Critic/English Lecturer/Writer