There is Nothing Worse Than Sad Music that isn’t at least fun.

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Life is sad. Music is a representation of life. Music is sad.

But just because music is sad doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. Drake is the walking embodiment of a sad man making fun music so the rest of the world can be happy. One minute he is dancing and singing over steel drums, the next he is pouring his heart out about how he can no longer trust those closest to him.

This bring me to my main beef: artists who make sad and whiny music that also sounds sad and whiny. J. Cole and 21 Pilots do a great job of letting people know exactly what is wrong, but they somehow find a way to leave the listener more depressed than when they started.

With their mix of punk, reggae and hip hop, 21 Pilots have quickly ascended to the pantheon of Top 40 trash. It’s like Blink-182 and Eminem had a baby, gave the baby up for adoption, the baby got adopted and grew up in a great home, and then decided to make some sad music about how no one wanted them when they were younger. Say what you will about reggae-pop band Magic!, but they make sad songs and also find a way to sound like the happiest fucking people in Canada.

J. Cole in particular is the worst offender in the category of sad music. His particular style of “real rap” that people find relatable is an absolute snooze-fest. I understand that life for him was hard when he was growing up, but his music is stale, boring and repetitive. He is the lyrical equivalent of having a tooth filled, it’s fine at first but after awhile you go completely numb to it.

In conclusion, yada yada yada, J.Cole is a potato and I hope that 21 Pilots go away forever.

Keep it wavy boys and girls.

Childish Gambino Made a C+ Funkadelic Album

“Awaken, My Love!” is a lesser version of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” and now I’m triggered.

I’ve never listened to Childish Gambino. I think Donald Glover is too good at comedy writing to be a rapper. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t watch a sitcom written by any rapper. I succumbed to the peer pressure this time, I downloaded “Awaken, My Love!” and I listened to it, in full, thrice.

There are some nice moments on the album ‘Me and Your Mama’ is ok, but it’s essentially this Bad Rabbits song from 2013.

The other standout tracks are ‘Have Some Love’ and ‘Boogieman’ and this is where the triggering comes in. These two tracks are egregiously referential to Funkadelic’s 1971 LP but he doesn’t mention the reference. There are no samples, no credits – just mimicry. Gambino is recycling the same themes, instrumentation, vocals, and effects but he misses the mark. “Maggot Brain” is fun, weird, noisy, original – “Awaken” is stale.

Let’s take a look at the songwriting in each. Here’s the first verse on ‘Have Some Love’:

You got the power, you got the power
Of every hour, of every hour
I come to getcha and I know where you are
I come to getcha and I know where you are
It’s getting hot, it’s like a sauna
Then every night, in Arizona
They come to getcha when they grope in your mind
They think you creepy, getting down in your mind
Come to getcha, come to getcha
It doesn’t matter, you making magic
I got the business to make a mind
I got the business to make a mind
And if you feel it, if you feel in your toes
And you act nothing like nobody knows
But if you want it, you got to want it

Here’s ‘Can You Get To That,’ the obvious inspiration for Glover’s track:

I once had a life, or rather, life had me
I was one among many or at least I seemed to be
Well, I read an old quotation in a book just yesterday
Said “Gonna reap just what you sow
The debts you make you have to pay.”
Can you get to that?

The verse on the latter track is much less redundant and much more substantial. Writing should be about content not word count, and if you can communicate a dense message in a short passage you’re a better writer. Funkadelic’s verse is more poetic, more rhythmic – Glover is an excellent writer, and we should expect more from him.

On to ‘Boogieman.’ It’s ‘Hit It And Quit It’ down to the melody, don’t @ me.

 

 

So what? Isn’t all music cyclical, isn’t it all recycled? Yep. It is. The frustration comes when hypebeasts talk about the “production” on the Gambino stuff like its revolutionary when it isn’t. (See comment thread here).

Glover’s material creates the sound and illusion of a funk rock masterpiece without any of the emotion or rebellion that a funk rock masterpiece requires. The project approaches the source material too literally without offering credit to the originators of the sound via samples or licensing.

People should seek out and discover the inspiration behind this sound, rather than credit a Swedish composer for creating it. George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Parliament, Parliament Funkadelic, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic; these sister groups are the incestuous community that pioneered this sound. There has been an entire canon of this music already out in the world for over 4 decades and it’s wonderful that we’re getting back to it, but only if the sources are cited and the consumers are encouraged to explore the origins.

Update: Redbone is ‘The Look of Love’ by Isaac Hayes. Thanks Matt.

Former Bernie Supporters Back A Libertarian. Wait, What?

Democratic Socialism and Libertarianism are theoretical opposites, let’s unpack this.

I get it, we’re all frustrated with our political system. Trump is a dangerously racist demagogue (yes he is) and Hillary is the founder of ISIS (lol). Young voters are fiery, we like to think we can change the whole system with one miraculous candidate.

Enter Bernie Sanders. I voted for Bernie in the primary, I shared articles about him, I read bills he sponsored and co-sponsored, I watched videos of him taking stands on the Senate floor, I was excited. A lot of us were, because Sanders was promising to change a political system that feels broken.

Bernie Sanders is an independent, but to run in the primaries he had to run as a Democrat. This didn’t happen because he was strongarmed into the Democratic party (they didn’t want him) we’ve built a political system that favors two parties and to have a decent chance of being elected, a candidate should run in one of those two parties. Here’s an academic article that talks about this concept, yay college! Duverger’s Law

Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialst, but he’s actually a Social Democrat. This seems like splitting hairs, but it isn’t – the two are quite different as The Atlantic points out. Here’s an excerpt from that article that outlines what a social democracy is:

“In a social democracy, individuals and corporations continue to own the capital and the means of production. Much of the wealth, in other words, is produced privately. That said, taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier under social democracy than would be the case under pure capitalism.”

Taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier. This is important, because this is how those Scandinavian governments that Sanders always lauds operate. This type of economic and political change resonated with a lot of young people, and Sanders has created Our Revolution to continue pushing his message forward.

Personally, I think government is important. Taxes pay for infrastructure, education, security, a judicial system, public preservation initiatives, and countless other things that we use & need. At times, it seems like all of these things are corrupted because so much of the power and money and influence comes from major corporations who lobby for their own benefit. Since Citizens United won their Supreme Court case, major organizations can also pour immense amounts of money into local campaigns to influence policy at the state level.

Too much money and not enough regulation in the political and economic system are bad for those not in power. In 2011, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission found that “widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets.”

Oh, they also found this:

“More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions, championed by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, supported by successive administrations and Congresses, and actively pushed by the powerful financial industry at every turn, had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe.”

So yeah, a Social Democrat making headlines was exciting. One little, just eency little speed bump though – Sanders didn’t win the nomination. Now what?! What the hell! He had tens of thousands of people at his rallies! In STADIUMS! What do you mean he’s not the nominee?! Who do I support as a change agent now?????

….

…..

GARY MOTHERFUCKING JOHNSON IS JESUS CHRIST REBORN, THE PROPHET HAS RETURNED, CHANGE WILL COME!!

I know I know, I used to be a “Social Democrat” but now I’m a Libertarian – they’re the same thing basically like legal weed and gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose and shit so get ready for my Facebook posts, our third party vote matters!

I’ve seen this cartoon A. LOT.

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Oh, what — you didn’t know it referenced Texas specifically? And also that it’s from 2014? That’s ok, we still see it all the time.

Anyway, Libertarian principles are basically the same as Bernie’s, right? No. In fact, they’re theoretical opposites. To use an essay tactic I learned in 5th grade English, The Oxford English Dictionary defines Libertarianism as “an extreme laissez faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens” (Source). We should go straight to the party’s message too:

“We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Markets are not actually free unless fraud is vigorously combated. Those who enjoy the possibility of profits must not impose risks of losses upon others, such as through government guarantees or bailouts. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws.”

Wait a minute, didn’t the federal government conclude via a massive investigation that deregulation was the cause of our economic collapse? Actually, this argument is invalid because if the Libertarian Party believes The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.” then the government can’t actually investigate a financial crisis because that means they’re trying to control or manage trade which is against Libertarian policy which means that the findings of that investigation are improper and therefore inadmissible.

Shit. You got me there Libertarians.

Of course this is ridiculous, and the government should actually have power to control trade because corporate leadership is not elected by the public and therefore should not have the power to make decisions that affect the public welfare. The point here isn’t to argue about policy though, the point is to shine a light on the LITERAL OPPOSING VIEWS of Johnson and Sanders.

Here’s Sanders on the economy; you can read it if you want but trust me, it’s basically a shit ton of federal regulation on trade.

Demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. Stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. Enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.
Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. In the year 2015, no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.
Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.
Reversing trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs. If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.
Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program. Today, the youth unemployment rate is off the charts. We have got to end this tragedy by making sure teenagers and young adults have the jobs they need to move up the economic ladder.
Fighting for pay equity by signing the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. It is an outrage that women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America. Everyone in this country who studies hard should be able to go to college regardless of income.
Expanding Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000. At a time when the senior poverty rate is going up, we have got to make sure that every American can retire with dignity and respect.
Guaranteeing healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system. It’s time for the U.S. to join every major industrialized country on earth and provide universal healthcare to all.
Requiring employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and 7 days of paid sick days. Real family values are about making sure that parents have the time they need to bond with their babies and take care of their children and relatives when they get ill.
Enacting a universal childcare and prekindergarten program. Every psychologist understands that the most formative years for a human being is from the ages 0-3. We have got to make sure every family in America has the opportunity to send their kids to a high quality childcare and pre-K program.
Making it easier for workers to join unions by fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act. One of the most significant reasons for the 40-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits have been severely undermined.
Breaking up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail. Seven years ago, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because they were too big to fail. Yet, 3 out of the 4 largest financial institutions are 80 percent bigger today than before we bailed them out. We need to fight to get this legislation signed into law.

Here’s Johnson on the economy:

  • National debt, approaching $20 trillion, is bankrupting us. (Jan 2016)
  • National debt of $20 trillion is obscene & unsustainable. (Jan 2016)
  • Lay out a process for state bankruptcies. (Aug 2012)
  • No bank bailout; no farm subsidies; no stimulus. (May 2012)
  • Cut federal budget by 43% to bring it into balance. (Feb 2012)
  • Trillion-dollar stimulus failed; so will another $450B? (Sep 2011)
  • We could have avoided default without raising debt ceiling. (Aug 2011)
  • Ending the fed OK, but that’s only part of the solution. (Aug 2011)
  • Stop incurring more debt; balanced budget by 2013. (Jul 2011)
  • Our debt is greatest threat to our national security. (Jul 2011)
  • Opposed TARP, stimulus & Fannie Mae bailout. (Jul 2011)
  • End the Fed; they’ve devalued the dollar by printing money. (May 2011)

Both sound like pipe dreams, but at least one dreams about the government helping the people who elect it into power.

Please PLEASE fellow former Bernie supporters, pay attention to the candidates you support, and read more about them. The Libertarian party is not what we got excited about, in fact they stand for diametrically opposing things – slashing taxes & benefits, reducing welfare programs, and the limited governmental regulation of corporations.

This isn’t to say that Libertarians or Social Democrats are wrong, but it is to point out that they are opposites. If you supported Bernie Sanders and got excited about his idea of what government can be, you should know that Gary Johnson believes the opposite. If you look into Johnson and the Libertarian Party’s platforms and come out satisfied on the other side, then by all means – move to Ohio and register to vote so you can cast a vote that matters. If you think a Social Democracy is a wonderful idea, vote for progressive candidates and policies in you local elections and visit Our Revolution to see how you can help.

Whatever you do, register to vote and actually vote. Educate yourself on both sides of the questions and candidates, it’s worth your time.

Kanye West and the Proliferation of Auto Tuned “Emo Rap”

Kanye West spends a lot of time publicly talking about his own influence.

This is part of the reason why he’s so polarizing; his fans love it and the rest of the world loves to hate him for it. You can choose not to acknowledge it but West has influenced hip hop, probably enough to justify him being outspoken about it.

Possibly his most overlooked impact has been on the sociocultural acceptance of rappers using autotune to create melodic verses and openly rap about their own emotional vulnerabilities.

Let’s call this genre Emo Trap, and let’s define this genre by saying that it exists when hip hop/rap artists use melodic verses and distort their voices to create those melodies.

Young Thug gets a lot (read: most/all) of the credit for the diaspora of Emo Trap that exists in 2016, but Young Thug didn’t start releasing mixtapes until 2011. Chance The Rapper gets some credit for pioneering melodic rap music too, but his first public project #10Day started in 2011. In 2016, basically all of the “hype” new mainstream releases are Emo Trap. Think about Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, and Fetty Wap and you have an idea of what this genre sounds like.

Writers on pitchfork and stereogum like to tell us that Young Thug is a pioneer of rap weirdness, but his career only began 5 years ago so where does that leave us if we consider  hip hop has been around since the 1970s?

Working chronologically backward from Thug, Chance, Uzi, and Yachty, we’re left with two of Emo Trap’s present day heavy hitters: Drake & Future. Drake’s first mixtape Room For Improvement came out in 2006 and though at times emotional, his raps aren’t exactly melodic and he certainly doesn’t sing like 2016 Drake sings. Future’s first flurry of mixtapes came out between 2010 and 2011 and Pitchfork reviewed his 2011 project ‘Streetz Calling’ by saying “He’s so far basically come as close as anyone to perfecting this thread of ringtone pop, where singing and rapping are practically the same thing, and conversing 100% through Auto-Tune doesn’t mean you still can’t talk about how you used to sell drugs.”

So that’s it; in 2006 it was culturally acceptable for Drake to write veiled raps about personal vulnerabilities, and in 2011 Future could use auto tune to singrap about how he used to sell drugs. What happened between 2006 and 2011 that made it OK for trap rappers to do both? To use auto tune on trap songs about emotional vulnerability.

In 2008 Kanye West, working closely with T-Pain, released 808s & Heartbreak. Three years before Young Thug’s first mixtape, a rapper known for his soul sampling productions and punchline laden ego rap releases an album with track titles like Say You Will, Heartless, Love Lockdown, and See You In My Nightmares. The whole thing is about heartbreak, processing heartbreak, and moving on from heartbreak. Kanye uses auto tune on every track. He sings on every track. Jay Z, Kanye’s most public mentor and “big brother”  releases a song called Death of Autotune less than a year later. At a time when rappers were shamed for using auto tune because it was for pop stars and singers, Kanye challenged the status quo as he so often does.

West constantly gets challenged publicly for what he claims he has contributed to music and this take often comes from people who only see the public figure & outrageous tweets, not from people who listen to his music.

Without Kanye West and the contextual weirdness of 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak we have no context for Young Thug in 2016.

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The Colin Kaepernick Theory

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Why his protest may have nothing to do with race.

Colin Kaepernick has come under a lot of scrutiny in the last week for his refusal to participate in the national anthem this preseason. You’ve heard about it endlessly on ESPN, and no doubt are sick of hearing the debate on the merits of his actions.

What the news isn’t telling you is that Kaepernick has under-performed in his last two seasons as a starting NFL quarterback and is a toxic presence in the San Francisco locker room. Here are three recent examples of this:

October 25, 2015

Oct 27, 2015

November 3, 2015 

Factoring this with his $11.9 million salary, it stands to reason that his protest was done with the knowledge he would be cut soon. And now he has a nice excuse for why they’ll be cutting him – because he is unpatriotic.

Now he has something to fall back on, knowing that many people would now cause a huge shit storm in his defense in case he is released.

Will he be cut? Only time will tell, but it stands to reason that this was his plan all along.

[Editor’s note that may or may not reflect the personal views of the author]

Not standing up during the national anthem as a form of  peaceful protest to systemic injustice and then coherently and eloquently defending that protest are perfectly acceptable things to do as a person living in the United States. Kaepernick might just be trying to create a space for himself outside of being an NFL quarterback, which has proven to be mostly unsuccessful in his case.

 

 

 

What is Dimely?

Great question. Dimely comes from a tweet by the wonderfully hilarious @vineyille on June 30th.

@vineyille’s tweet reads:

“This podcast is sponsored by Dimely. Sick of going to the, ugh, BANK for dimes? Dimely has you covered, fresh dimes to your door every day.”

That is where Dimely comes from. Dimely creates possibly cynical, slightly informed opinions on current issues and things we think deserve commentary. Sometimes these issues will be serious cultural and political events, and sometimes we’ll just write about how Jay Electronica still hasn’t released an album. Sometimes posts will be quick takes on important things, and sometimes we’ll write long reads on subjects that are relatively insignificant. We’ll never post clickbait bs, and we’ll never write a stupid fucking listicle like 12 Reasons Rachel is The Best Person on ‘Friends’.

We might use profanity.

Stay tuned for our first full post.

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