Morocco’s Hip Hop Revolution

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More examples of hip hop’s growing international influence, this time in Morocco:

Audiences scream and shout in frenzied anticipation for Morocco’s rap bands to perform. Moroccan rap artists are taking the local music scene by storm in what can only be described as a bona fide phenomenon reflecting the voices of the country’s younger generation.

Al Akef explained that ‘rap’ music fundamentally relies on street “lingo” that express the socially and economically repressed conditions of a particular segment of society, which is why this type of music is prevalent in the marginalized neighborhoods and districts. He compared it to the roots of rap and hip-hop in Harlem and the Bronx in the US, and French rap that originated in France’s poor suburbs [les banlieues, French rap is often referred to as the voice of the banlieues]. According to al Akef, French and American rap has a huge audience and moreover has a significant impact on social, and even political, life. Al Akef maintains that such artists and performers possess an awareness, which he contrasts with Moroccan rap performers. Al Akef believes that the content of Moroccan rap is vacant and full of slander, pessimism and vile language.

Sounds familiar.


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Make Music New York

I wish I’d heard about this in advance, sounds fun. But it’s impossible to keep up with the possibilities in New York (Does that answer your question, Streetsblog?)

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Apple (II) Records

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Reuters reports that Apple is now the U.S.’s third largest music retailer, with 10% market share (behind only Wal-Mart and Best Buy).

NPD said the iTunes digital music store had benefited from sales of Apple’s iPod digital music player during the holiday season. The vast majority of digital songs and albums bought on iTunes will only play on iPods, as well as the iTunes PC application.

Yes, the iPod drives Apples retail music market, but iTunes downloads offer significant advantages over retail shopping :


Though Wal-Mart is the top U.S. music retailer, it carries a relatively narrow selection of CDs. Some analysts believe its rivals are likely to consider a similar strategy.

Why should these companies stock up on inventory on artists whose popularity they can’t predict? iTunes requires only that the artist offer their music. No physical inventory, fewer middleman, and less reliance upon retail gatekeepers.

Every Song is a Single

Selling songs individually as if each were a single: Are you likelier to download a single song from an unknown artist than get the entire album.?There is a always surplus of material to listen to. I’d rather start with a smaller chunk and make a smaller investment.

Popular artists with new releases will still have multiple songs that chart, but the burden of that falls on the artist to actually scrape together a few good songs every few years. Unless your are an entrenched industry star with a vested interest, how can this be bad?

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State of the Arts: Music sweet music

Jeff Blake – What’s Missing from Music

Music is no longer the touchstone of America’s youth. It no longer propels us to do anything or to feel anything…Today, it is culture that drives music…Music is just the vehicle that gets you to where you want to go.

USA Today – Can rap regain its crown?

The music industry is suffering across-the-board drops in CD sales, but rap is in a steeper slide…

Rap pioneer KRS-One, who just released Hip Hop Lives with fellow legend Marley Marl, offers a blunt explanation.

“The music is garbage,” he says. “What has happened over the past few years is that we have traded art for money, simple and plain, and the public is not stupid.”


The Times (UK): Suzanne Vega – Still in the Spotlight (with audio)

Listening to Suzanne Vega’s new album, Beauty and Crime, it’s hard to believe that this is the sound of a woman who released her first big hits, among them Luka and Tom’s Diner, exactly 20 years ago. Ringo goes digital

The music will be available to all existing digital music services currently carrying EMI content, including in unprotected MP3 formats.

The Starr move raises further speculation that the Beatles catalog is next in line for digital release.  McCartney told Billboard recently that a deal was “virtually settled” but declined to reveal specifics.


Dennis the Peasant: A new, annoyingly pretentious blog trend

And what has now come our way – like so many locusts – is the blogger’s Very Pretentious Friday YouTube Music Video Madness. You know what I’m talking about here: It’s Powerline putting up clips of Billie Holliday for you to savor… It’s Pammycakes putting up clips of people singing Cole Porter songs for you to savor… Edith Piaf... Frank Sinatra


Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi – Where Everything is Music (via Tangier Sound)

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.


Professor Heebie McJeebie – The Universal Language of Music

The difficulty of communication, especially in Third-World Africa, has led me to the conclusion that the only universal language is the language of music. For example, every tribesperson in Africa understood the basic tone of the tune, “There’s a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza.” They knew from the musical inflections and melodic contradictions that it was a song about conflict and disease.


Suite 101: The Benefits of Music Education


Help me find an online music criticism community?

What’s Noo? – Is DRM truly free?


Wondering if there is a catch? Well. kind of. Techies were quick to point out that while there is nothing now preventing you from distributing a song you purchase to all of your friends or posting it on the Internet, each DRM-free song has your user ID and email address embedded in the song file making it easy for authorities to determine the source of the illegally distributed song file.


Reuters – Digital Music no environmental cure (via WaPo)


Environmental groups claim the music industry’s transition from physical to digital has no discernible benefit to the environment and, in the short term, is actually causing more harm than good…


When Greenpeace targeted Apple, it pointed out two concerns — how electronics devices are made, and what is done with them after they expire.

Hip Hop Congress – Why music is too loud


Dad was right all along – rock music really is getting louder and now
recording experts have warned that the sound of chart-topping albums is
making listeners feel sick…

Record companies are using digital technology to turn the volume on CDs up to “11″.

Madalyn Sklar (Go Go Girls) – Indie Music: Getting Motivated

Associated Content: How to Spot a Scam in the Music Business

After a brief tour of the studio, we all sat down and they made us an offer. I was so excited. They gave me a copy of the recording contract to take home with me, so I could read it over a few times before I signed it. That’s when I realized the whole thing was a total scam.

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Quote of the Day

Hip hop icon Run-D.M.C., on why he’s supporting Hillary Clinton for President.

“Because it’s gangsta.”

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UPDATE: More evidence:

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Instant Karma’s Gonna Get You a Clean Conscience

Far be it from me to attack, a charity organization doing necessary and noble work advocating for peace in Darfur. And given John and Yoko‘s legacy as activists, maybe this is an appropriate salute and relief fund raiser all in one.

But this ad, and the project’s title, remind me again why I’m suspicious of entertainment activists:

“Imagine. The greatest artists of our time. United to save Darfur. Now.”

Cut the super-hero crap. I’m looking forward to hearing the covers, but Lenny Kravitz, Jackson Browne, and Fergie are not 300 Spartans defending the pass.

In an unrelated political commentary, The Dark Age Blog condensed a good definition for “Instant Karma” that sheds a positive light on the possible message:

The relationship between action and consequent reaction has, in the interconnected world of the Global Village, become almost instantaneous by comparison with earlier times. This is what is meant by “time compression”, and it is what John Lennon recognised in his song as “Instant Karma”. Instant Karma is time compression in which the lag between our actions and their inevitable reactions virtually disappears as we approach instantaneity [sic.] and light speeds. It means that the past and the future now converge on the Now — on the present.

This is an interesting analysis with a powerful relevance to the Save Darfur mission. But when I hear the term, I think “Karma, Now,” which is the worst possible message for artists to broadcast if they sincerely want to contribute to serious issues normally beyond our professional scope. It reinforces the questionable impression that buying an album or attending a concert (or performing in one) is a political act, rather than another consumer choice.

If they plan on using a sound system, Al Gore‘s climate change concert will consume energy more directly than it conserve it.

Bono‘s very public activism can be a little messianic, but it’s hard to doubt his sincerity after years of lobbying governments and NGOs for aid to Africa, and it’s hard not to admire his perseverance. Individually, I’m sure most or all of these artists deeply and sincerely want to help those in need. But how will this endeavor stop the Genocide?

As the NYT’s David Carr put it:

If you are a rock star with a touch of the messiah complex, saving the world one song at a time has its limits. Even John Lennon didn’t make much progress on world peace before he died.

Here are a few big name previews:

U2 – Instant Karma

R.E.M. – No. 9 Dream

Green Day – Working Class Hero

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State of the Arts

Music and Game Design

Synthopia: Brian Eno and Will Wright on Generative Systems in Music and Game Design

designer Wright (r.) enlists Eno to collaborate on his new game Spore. Here, Wright and Eno discuss their creative processes.

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Contemporary Art

The New Criterion: Why the Art World is a Disaster
Sight and Sound: Art on the Cutting Edge?

Roger Kimball bemoans the decoupling of artistry and craft in the contemporary art scene. Brigitte Werneburg asks what contemporariness means in the art world today.

contemporary art cartoons, contemporary art cartoon, contemporary art picture, contemporary art pictures, contemporary art image, contemporary art images, contemporary art illustration, contemporary art illustrations

Global Hip Hop

Arena: Aboriginal Hip Hop
New Music Strategies: Case Study: Indonesian Hip Hop

American hip hop reaches some of the globe’s least likely corners.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Idolator: Alt-Rock Radio is in Sort of an Icky Place Right Now
Commercial rock radio stations struggle to set tastes in the new media era.

NYT: The Boys in the Band are in AARP
How the garage band replaced the trophy wife and the sports car as the ultimate midlife crisis.


The Daily Record (UK): Kids Don’t Need Music
Meanwhile, the kids just don’t dig it anymore, Noel Gallagher bitches (for a change).

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