Disturbing the peace

My girlfriend just called me from the anarchist bar collective she works at: “Hey, tell me an old school hip hop band. I’m building a playlist for my shift.”

I was silent. Geto Boys? Too much black-on-black murder/rape. NWA? Too much Compton. 2 Live Crew? Too many n*s, not enough h*s. Run DMC? Too much product placement. (Same goes for Gucci Crew.) Wu Tang? Too much yellow face. Eric B. and Rakim? Too difficult to spell on the phone.

It seems like any product that is not useful in and of itself (like bicycles) must resort to undiluted vulgarity to leave the shelf. Also, prices for musical products have long been fixed by cartels – currently at 99 cents a song. Per unit, you don’t earn more for producing a good song, but you don’t lose anything for producing a shitty one.

Since sales for “cultural” products are notoriously hard to predict – one album that sells pays for 9 that don’t – you want to reduce risk by investing very little time and money in talent, which is nothing but accumulated years of work experience.

The few competitors in the music industry will try to out-shit each other, i.e., hire younger and less talented artists, use the same crappy producer on every song. The iron law of cost control will push the quality of formula music to increasingly lower depths. Whether “Country” or “Urban,” the sales chart doesn’t fuck around.

“What should I play now?” asks my partner.

What can you play to a middle class drinking club whose unique selling points are admission non-whites, even if they smash windows occasionally, and donating its tips to the next ATTAC?

“What about Public Enemy?”

“Yo, man!”

The revolution’s just waiting to jump off the record; errr, I mean screen, know’mean.


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