Hip Hop Is Universal
It's not news that hip hop is to the world what rock and roll was a long time ago: a cultural lingua franca more immediate and pertinent than any competitors you might name, and one with worldwide reach. Go anywhere: you will hear hip hop. Thank God.
Still, it's been hard going trying to get American listeners interested in hip hop that isn't 100% American. Practically every country in the world has a thriving hip hop scene, but who besides real heads stateside can name a Senegalese MC? As in all genres, it's only every so often that somebody comes along who's both brave enough and good enough to break new ground without losing any potential audience in the process. This has virtually nothing to do with the genre itself: it's also hard to get Americans to see foreign movies, eat food that hasn't been Americanized for their convenience, learn a second language, etc. Back when rock was the biggest music in the world, most Americans took a pass on rock music that wasn't all-English-all-the-time. If the Beatles had written all their songs in French and sung them that way, most of us would probably never have heard of them. Which is a pity: who knows how much great music we've missed by insisting that we be able to understand the words? Words are important, for sure; I'd be the last person to dispute that; but if they were the whole story there'd be no point in setting them to music. Gotta give big ups to the punx on this front though, who in the early eighties made a real point of embracing the worldwide reach of their subculture.
All this is by way of urging any
hip hopmusic fans in or near Austin or Houston to read this right now, and follow the links Matt's grouped for you - be sure to close the text comments on the YouTube video, though, unless you relish the real intellectual depth, ahem, of anonymous online political commentary. The songs on their Myspace are considerably better than the YouTube one in any case. And then GO TO THE SHOW, if it's at all possible, because it won't be every day you'll have the chance to see a crew from Palestine, and it'll be just as rare to hear melodies and scales like the ones DAM favors used this adeptly and cleverly. (Try "Ya Sayidati" is you're pressed for time - it's a solid, loping tune that gets under my skin.) I think it's a tremendous thing Matt Sonzala's doing in bringing these guys down south. Show up and show love if you can.
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