laura mvula, goddess. (at Bowery Ballroom)
I profiled Deap Vally for a new series that i’m starting at Pigeons & Planes called “Taking Flight.” I think these girls are doing an enormous, incredible service to us & their peers—and I guarantee it won’t always be easy for them because of that. Here’s to women letting loose!
my review of kurt vile & angel olsen at new york’s bowery ballroom for myspace.
I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey…
quite possibly my favorite poem on earth. thank you adrienne <3
“People will debate how stupid and pretentious it is that I constantly refer to stuff that I do as avant-garde,” he said. “But honestly, the avant-garde is stale. We’re not even trying to achieve anything.” As a cultural critic, Cox alternates between grating and brilliant, whiny and poignant, his personal and emotional struggles are inexplicably tied to the music he puts forth. Both the textured rock of Deerhunter and his abstract, spindly side project Atlas Sound wander through loneliness and fuzzy nostalgia, both examine emptiness, loss and pain. But if these elements are present in Cox’s music, they’re far more apparent in his public persona and presence. As he decried the downfall of the avant-garde from his perch on the chaise lounge, I pushed him on that point, if the avant-garde is past, what does he think is next?
that’s my baby @banacrisp (at Le Comptoir)
I seriously have no idea how this is now the third article I’ve written about Kim Kardashian. I swear to god I don’t even like her. But you know what I do like? Challenging bullshit patriarchal notions that plague American culture like a nasty STD. Speaking of nasty, it’s about time someone, preferably someone with bigger balls than him—aka a woman—take Ray J to task for the disgusting, degrading excuse for a new single he just released. This pathetic little homeboy hasn’t done anything in music since before when? Before he hit puberty? I guess that helps explain why his only possible course of action seemed to be an assumption of the most juvenile mode of addressing another human being that one can possibly adopt.
You see, in a past life Kim K deigned to date & fuck Ray J—it’s really unclear why because regardless of your feelings about her intelligence, personality, or family life, Kim is easily one of the most beautiful women on earth at the present moment. The infamous tape of the two of them having sex helped catapult her to the relatively powerful personal brand she now boasts, but lets be infinitely clear here: Kim is not famous because of Ray J. She’s not famous because she briefly married a basketball player, and she’s even not famous for carrying Kanye’s child. Kim is famous because she took a garish, calculated route to fame and proceeded to capitalize on that initial burst with immense shrewdness. Women have long used sex as a tool to gain power—in a world that specifically and at times, gleefully, robs them of equal opportunity or circumstance, the ability to circumvent hardship by using beauty & body is a path innumerable female figures have adopted. Whether it be to gain access to worlds they would never have the resources or social capital to enter or simply because they felt like having sex with a powerful man, this occurrence is a fact of life. I’ll withhold judgement on what other women do with their bodies because my main concern is that all women have as much spectacular, safe and life-affirming sex as they can, and that women use whatever means they can to achieve eventual independence. The lines here blur, but Kim having sex with Ray J and filming it seems like either a dumb mistake made in the heat of the moment or a calculated business decision by a woman with a plan. Either way, the subsequent objectification of her in Ray J’s latest single is a gross misstep that disgusts me on every level.
Let’s start with the verb of choice, “hit.” Now, this verb is borrowed from the nomenclature for describing physical violence. Needless to say, it’s slang use is a euphemism for sex, but the critical link between violence and sex, even in such a supposedly casual, carefree context shouldn’t be lost on anyone. I detest the use of this verb as a euphemism for sex for the same reason it irks me when people use “smash” as a fill in for fucking. There is simply too much rape, physical assault, violence against women, and overall danger surrounding women and sex in society for these tiny vocabulary indiscretions to go unnoticed. Words are powerful, words build culture. Almost nothing is a clearer reflection of culture than slang—this slang is a slippery slope, and Ray J’s verb choice is the first back slide toward misogyny and disrespect that riddles this mostly fluffy pop-rap track. If I say I think it’s worse than Pitbull, then maybe you’ll realize how shitty I think it is musically, regardless of all the other issues.
Speaking of which, since when does having sex with a woman, and the chronological order within her lifespan that you enjoyed this privilege, give you any ownership or stake in her life or claim to her success? I think we’ve already covered the sex tape bit but let me just reiterate that the only reason people wanted to watch this tape was to see Kim—no one really cared or cares what Ray J looks like naked, while Kim continues to make a living almost strictly from being beautiful. Others argue that Ray J’s reminiscings are clearly a reflection of his crippled self, a fair point, but what this fails to mention is that these reflections are styled as an insult, a come on and a dismissal all in one. I know this happens in rap and hip-hop culture all the time between MCs and that human beings in general are straight up nasty to each other on a regular basis. I know that. But these negative forces are exactly what is holding our society back from becoming as based as possible. This song is also blatantly sexist and a personal attack on a woman—by a man—while she’s pregnant which I don’t know if there is full understanding of this, BUT it is the most delicate, emotional, tumultuous time in a woman’s life. Definitely not a time where anyone, celebrity or not, should have to face a public, childish attack. And Ray J’s timing here seems devilishly calculated. Some things deserve respect, regardless of past indiscretions, encounters or grudges, and Ray J trudges into the darkest recesses of human indignation and sliminess at exactly the wrong time. The woman is bringing new life into the world for god’s sake, let her focus on that task instead of dealing with gossip.
Lastly, regardless of the petty wounds from the past or celebrity haterade free-for-all happy hours, the people that are famous in our culture act as reflections and icons for larger issues. Allowing this song to go by unnoticed, without checking Ray J’s male privilege and commenting on his inappropriate behavior is a mistake because like it or not, Ray J and Kim K are role models in a lot of ways. Music criticism is supposed to interact with the art of the song, but it’s also supposed to contextual use the circumstances surrounding tracks. In this case, Ray J’s anthem is being used as a vehicle for veiled, continued disrespect and mistreatment of women. Listening to it and gleefully high-fiving over it, bros worldwide are unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly, reaffirming women’s position as pawns in a sexual power play that ultimately reflects the social status of men. This song encourages the objectification of women and views them through a lens of sexual privilege that relegates the feminine to a lesser, subordinate position.
Luckily for us ladies, at the end of the day, Ray J is cavorting with Kim K look-alikes and she’s canoodling with one of the best rappers alive. Any lady knows it’s not who hit it first but who hits it best that takes home our lasting affection. Fuck you Ray J for your sexist, piggish attempt to rebrand yourself by shitting on Kim. Lastly, the one thing I still don’t understand is why the fuck in the song, they talk about mixing apple juice with Hennessy? That seems even more disgusting than filming a pornographic video. If you wanna discuss this further, I’m on Twitter: @harmonicait. But take note, I drink my whiskey on the rocks—no juice.
i don’t care, i LOVE it @kaylorikay <3
Are you really still sleeping on Kitty? Do I really still need to explain to you the difference between cloud rap, tumblr rap and actual talent? Smh-ing at all the basic bitches who still write her off as some sort of internet phenomena, forgetting that most of the music we get comes to us through the internet. Seriously, baby girl is so talented and so babely she could’ve easily been the next Britney Spears but she raps— because that’s what she feels. Kitty’s no Kreayshawn though—despite their friendship—and she keeps shoring up her already impressive MC skills with a slow trickle of sugar-spun confessionals that flow all the smoother due to Hot Sugar’s increasingly impressive production.
“Florida” falls directly in line with her daisy rage EP, as Kitty raps over a soundtrack of water bubbles and seaweed-synth glimmers. There’s an element to Kitty’s style that consistently alludes the nearly unbearable scornful critiques women in any industry face, but especially those of us who attempt creative pursuits. Her naked reflections on the apathetic society we live in and her desire to just connect with someone almost bring me to tears. Her desire to leave and just get out of her hometown— the brazen, underlying backbone of swagger mixed perfectly with her self-doubt— it’s such an accurate portrait of the universal battle going on in every woman’s heart.
It’s so fascinating to watch Kitty become a woman, she’s not there yet, she still struggles with the smallness of adolescence, but she’s growing into herself. There’s a moment, right at the end, where she switched into a different rhythm and flow and it’s the strongest she’s sounded yet. Kitty is the missing link, bridging the gap between girlhood and womanhood with a graceful uneasiness that we all feel, she shit-talks her way into sincerity and sweetness, and in the process, spirits us away.