November 1, 2013
Remember about ten years ago everybody was bugging off sampling Bollywood for their beats? That came and went around the time Madlib killed it with 85,000 loops. But across hip-hop history, cats been sampling Far East music in interesting ways.
Look peoples, you know how I do: I curated the dub-hop, the jazz-hop, the Spaghetti-Western-hop. This is another one. But not just on some OCD digging tip.
Sometimes peoples are all, 'why do you only listen to hip-hop? You need a varied musical diet to stay healthy god.' Son. SON. Hip-hop contains all other musics. There is not one single type of music that hasn't been flipped, sampled, popped and locked, and if it hasn't, it will be soon enough. There is no other genre that does that.
Hip-hop production is magpie music, finding the shiniest nuggets and weaving them into nests. It's alchemy, turning a few bars of Chinese opera into a beat that makes you wanna bodyrock. It's prestidigitation: makes you say, wait, how the fuck did they turn that into this?
On top of that, with this set you also have the deeper relationship between kung fu movies and hip-hop, which has been explored with art exhibits and fucking incomprehensible scholarly shit. While Wu-Tang foregrounded and embedded kung-fu shit into hip-hop permanently, it goes back earlier and deeper. A lot of breakers were also into martial arts, and kung-fu movies were all over the cheap theaters in the '70s, '80s. Some say the original b-boys admired the code of honor, the discipline; the plots of revenge and fighting against injustice--but same could be said about Westerns though...I guess aside from being a definitively white genre there's also not the cool and acrobatic action. There is that--the poise and posing; the ritualistic squaring off before the battle--that's hip-hop. Hip-hop iconography, movement, the stylized practice--it's sometimes like a Noh play. Peep this:
Music and martial arts. They are parallel art forms. Unlike sculpture or painting, music and martial arts happen in real time. When you hear a rapper perform or see a master demonstrate, the proof is in that moment. A lifetime of extensive, hard training may culminate in the recitation to which you bear witness. Rap style has an even more internal connection to martial arts than most music. It involves strenuous breath control, and of all techniques, it is the most difficult.
So kung-fu is another strand of hip-hop's earliest appropriations to make something new with what was at hand, what was hot on the streets. There's actually a whole lot of other facets though...how does this play out, or contradict with, long-standing tensions between Asian shopkeepers and ghetto residents (c.f. 'Black Korea', 20 D Energizers, Latasha Harlins)? Why have no Asian rappers really broke through--is it the inability to overcome the stereotype of Asian dudes as nerds, not hardcore enough? (OK, yeah, Jin, that one dude from 2 Live Crew, Bambu, Cool Calm Pete and uh...Boo Yaa Tribe, but that's a handful outta 80 billion black, white and Latino rappers.)
Last, what happens when one dispossessed subculture idealizes another minority culture, borrows from it, but also reduces it to stereotypes of high-stepping, face-kicking wise men, moo goo gai pan, submissive females and plinkety-plunkety music? Given the lack of a power play, can hip-hop really be accused of orientalizing the Orient? Maybe we should call it orientamalism because it's not really driving in Edward Said's lane? Oh you want me to unpack all that for you? Nah b. You don't. You wanna hear KRS go the fuck in over this flip of Song Of The Shenzen Widow or whatever that shit is.
Hideyaface (Reminder Version) - Prefuse 73 / I Already Know - Nas / Emperor's Main Course in Cantonese - Kid Koala / Enter the Ablist - Rob Swift / Watch Your Step - Percee P (feat. Vinnie Paz & Guilty Simpson) / Hawaii Dark - Booka B / Tall Tale of Denkufucious - Taiyamo Denku / Once Upon A Rhyme in Japan - Rakim / All In Japan (DJ Sardonic Smirk Mix) - Aesop Rock & Plasticman / Never Give Up - KRS-One / Dope On Plastic (Scratch Perverts Mix) - Uptown / Big Trouble in Little China - DJ Yoda (feat. Action Bronson & Alice Russell) / Live From Hue - Onra / BigaBand - Sizemen / How High (Isjberg Mix) - Wu-Tang Clan / Cellular Antiquity - DJ Espionage / Nightfall's Messenger - Hermitude / Bodhisattva Vow - Beastie Boys / Boong4 Boong3 Va Thet - Ban Nhac Le Go Vap (vs. Eric B)
I didn't know this existed before I started or I might not've bothered: DJ Yoda - How To Cut & Paste (Asian Edition). His is a lot different though. We got different crates.