Death to Punk


I bet you were thinking I wanted Punk music to die. Nope. This is about the upcoming documentary about the band who predated Punk, Death. Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1971, the band consisted of three Hackney brothers, Bobby, David, and Dannis. Starting off as an R&B group, they switched to rock in 1973 after seeing an Alice Cooper show. The group recorded several demos at United Sound and received attention from Columbia Records executive, Clive Davis, however, Davis was not comfortable with their name and stopped giving support. Death released copies of “Politician In My Eyes” with “Keep on Knocking” on their Tryangle label, but later discontinued as Death in 1976, right before the Punk era began.

The brothers formed other bands after that, including The Fourth Movement, a gospel rock band, and reggae band Lambsbread. Sadly, David died in 2000 from lung cancer, and was replaced by Bobbie Duncan from Lambsbread when Death reformed in 2009, after the label Drag City released the seven 1974 Death songs. In January 2011, Drag City released another album, “Spiritual • Mental • Physical,” which consist of songs from earlier demos. The documentary about the band, “Where Do We Go From Here?,” tells their story and how they are finally getting recognition as a protopunk band after 35 years. In addition to that, Bobby Hackney’s sons are part of a band called Rough Francis, who do tributes to Death and were vital in getting out the word about the band.

Death – Politician In My Eyes

NPR interviewMetro Times article and Suicide Girls interview

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“Down Down Baby, Down Down the Roller-coaster”


Do any of you remember that hand-clapping game when you were younger? Now, think of the Nelly song “Country Grammar.” They sound familiar, don’t they? When I heard “Country Grammar” for the first time a decade ago, I did not realize the connection. But this week I finished reading Kyra Gaunt‘s “The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes From Double Dutch to Hip-Hop” and she made it clear. Gaunt is an ethnomusicologist, singer, public speaker, social entrepreneur, author and associate professor at my college, Baruch.

Her 2006 book discusses the relationship between young Black girls’ hand-clap games, cheers and Double Dutch jump rope, and male-dominated Black popular music, especially Hip-Hop. Gaunt concentrates on how Black music and Black girl play relies a lot on “kinetic orality” and embodied musical learning (dance, body movements and gestures). This leads into the gendered power dynamics of Black girl play and male-oriented Black popular music. Often it is overlooked in its contribution to Black popular music due to it being a predominately local (instead of public, mass media product), oral (instead of recorded or transcribed), and female-oriented sphere. So, Black girls as they grow up tend to abandon these games and female performers hardly ever use them in their music. However, several adult male performers have used these rhymes and rhythms in their songs, both past and present. Maybe if that was recognized, Black women would have more of a voice in Black music genres, like Hip-Hop, which have offered us limited access and participation in these fields. I encourage you to add this to your summer reading list. By the way, here is another example of how Black girls’ hand-clap games are used in Hip-Hop.

Mos Def- Ghetto Rock

“Work songs that the slaves sang back then
The playground chants, with little girls clapping

[Chorus 2: Mos Def + (Girls chanting)]
Black Jack Johnson N.Y.C., R-O-C-K-I-N-G
Sun and the moon, earths, stars, and planets
Before the song’s done y’all gonna all understand it
Black Jack Johnson N.Y.C., R-O-C-K-I-N-G
Sun and the moon, earths stars and planets
Before the song’s done y’all gonna all understand it”

“Mutant and Proud:” X-Men First Class Movie


 Yesterday, I went with a few of my friends to see “X-Men: First Class.” The reason I was interested in going to see it was that I had read and heard from a number of sources that Professor X and Magneto represented Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, respectively. I thought that was an intriguing argument and after seeing this film, I have to admit that they have a point. The setting of the film takes places during the early years of the Cold War, the era of political, military, technological and economic competition between the United States and Russia, which also coincided with the Civil Rights Movement. While watching the movie, I noticed how Professor X and Magneto had similar characteristics to the early careers of King and X.

Just as King, Professor X has a doctorate and he is a charming ladies’ man; he believes in using the minds and achievements of mutants to prove their worth to society and to prove they are better people, which is similar to King’s stance on civil disobedience and non-violence. Professor X says the phrase “mutant and proud,” similar to King saying “black and proud” in this speech. He is for working with government to help his people and believes in integration, as did King. Mystique even tells him that he is not against the world, but instead wants to be a part of it.

Like X, Magneto has a parent who is murdered (X’s father was murdered, Magneto’s mother was murdered); he says in the movie that his family does not have a name because their name was taken from them (in this interview, X mentions how African people who were enslaved had their real names stripped from them). From the beginning of the movie, Magneto’s powers are driven by anger and X was labeled as an “angry” figure. Magneto tells Mystique that she should accept herself as she is and X made several speeches about Black people accepting themselves as they are. At the beginning of his career, X was against integration; he believed that the white dominant society would never fully accept Black people as they were no matter what they did, so he wanted separation. Magneto has similar thoughts about mutants. Both figures are seen as the “bad guys” even though it is more complicated than that and they had reasons behind their beliefs.

Another aspect I noticed in the film was that both characters had respect for each other even with their differing views; the same went for King and X in real life. Michael Fassbender, who plays Magneto, spoke about the inspiration of these two for the movie in this interview. So, it is very clear that the X-Men film is based off of the Civil Right Movement, which makes sense since it is a story about mutants wanting to be accepted by a society that treats them as if they are freaks due to their ignorance.

Africa and the World Kickstarter Project


Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, who is the Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations, chair of the Department of Sociology, and the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is best known as the host of the PBS series The History Detectives. But Zuberi will focusing his energy on his upcoming documentary, “Africa and the World,” and needs your help to raise funds for it. Here is his description of the project on Kickstarter:

“We are reaching out to our friends and fans to help create a unique film documentary entitled “Africa and the World” that is designed to give American and international audiences fresh insight into Africa’s past, present, and future.

A Message from Tukufu

The journey to create “Africa and the World” began several years ago when I interviewed my father about our family history just prior to his death. The discovery that his grandfather came from “somewhere in Africa” (my father didn’t know where) fueled my desire to understand on a deeper and more personal level the continent I have studied most of academic life. Blending a personal quest with a scholarly vision and understanding, I hope to place the people and events of modern Africa within their full historical and social context.

But as M. Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” We need you to be a part of the small group that will enable us to make this game-changing film.

Peace,

Tukufu”

So, I encourage youto go watch the trailer and to make whatever donation you can to the production of this film; I am sure it will be fascinating.

In the Future, We Kill Our Attackers: Rihanna’s “Man Down” as Afrofuturist Text (via Nuñez Daughter)


This is an interesting post from Kismet Nuñez placing Rihanna’s “Man Down” video in an Afrofuturist context. Kismet Nuñez is one of the Skillsharers of the of the 3rd Annual INCITE! Shawty Got Skillz workshop at the 2011 Allied Media Conference! Go to her blog to find out how you can help them get to Detroit.

In the Future, We Kill Our Attackers:  Rihanna's "Man Down" as Afrofuturist Text Rihanna’s video for “Man Down”  dropped last week and set the web on fire.  The way justice and rape, innocence and violence work in the video–and the non-sensical responses to it–have already been outlined by better writers than me. I’m writing this post to take the video to its logical conclusion: In the future, do we kill our attackers?  ~*~*~ This description of the plot is by Akiba Solomon, writing for Colorlines: “The video begins with a … Read More

via Nuñez Daughter

A Mirror’s Reflection


I was watching the video for “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae and recognized characters from her video in a 1974 film I started watching with the Jazz composer, Sun Ra, called “Space Is the Place.”

The grim reaper characters with mirrors on their faces also appear in a 1943 short film called “Meshes of the Afternoon,” which Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid directed and starred in. The surrealist film might have influenced director of the Sun Ra film, John Coney. I like that these three works reflect on the concepts of reality, dreams and sanity.

Buried Treasure


It’s funny how when you are young and watching your favorite TV shows, you tend to miss some of the subtle messages in them until you are old enough to understand. For example, at the beginning of this episode of Recess, Ms. Grotke gives us a small, insightful lesson on how history is told while giving out history books to her class.

Watch until 0:32

Go, Ms. Grotke!!!! I knew there was another reason why I loved her. Also, is it a coincidence that this episode is called “Buried Treasure?” Hmm.

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The Sankofic Now: Reimagining the Past + Manifesting the Future

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