About this photo (by Richard Drew), theologian Mark Thompson wrote:
Perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph.
I don't think it's an image of despair. But it is a more powerful image of 9/11 than any I have found in art, or literature, or music. Like so many of the thousands of images, we simply can't comprehend it wholly.
Ten years on we have no definitive, or even adequate, artistic response. Martin Amis gave us 'Mohammad Atta was very constipated.' Park Slope darling Jonathan Safran Foer went with some Haley Joel Osment bullshit...and a fucking flipbook of a Twin Tower jumper. Oliver Stone gave us Towering Inferno Redux. United 93 is nerve-racking, but not transformative. Even Don DeLillo, whose The Falling Man is sampled here, only managed to give us 15 pages actually about 9/11, and the rest is about compulsive gambling and modern art or some shit.
I think this might be because the events are so impossible to comprehend. Guys taking weeks of flight training, knowing it is all so they can kill themselves. Slitting pilots' throats with boxcutters. Flying airplanes into buildings. First, it seemed a tremendous and impossible accident--a plane crashing into the World Trade. Then another? What were we seeing? Was it a replay of the first? Listening to all the recordings in the first few minutes, no one knows what could be happening. It seemed impossible that the towers could collapse--how could modern American skyscrapers just crumble like that? Into nothing? Then those unbelievably fast, unbelievably dark clouds of smoke. The snowfall of ash, so much ash--all those buildings not reduced to chunks of rubble, but to all that unearthly dust. I saw the vestigal steel frame they called The Shroud. It was hard to believe that was all that was left of those two hugely massive buildings.
The World Trade Center was already an impenetrable part of the skyline. From far away they looked flat, dominating and looming yet almost insubstantial, changing color throughout the day from orange to fishscale-silver to absorbent black. Nearly featureless, brutalist, like monoliths. Up close their dizzying height, the steel frontage flying up, straight up.
And the jumpers: how can you hope to understand having to choose between burning to death or throwing yourself from eighty, ninety, a hundred stories up? About two hundred people did this. So when I look at that photo I see something I can't fathom.
If I see anything, I see Icarus. So much of 9/11 is Icarus: Mohammad Atta, the planes, the jumpers, the towers, America.
This year's remembrance swirls around what has changed, what hasn't changed, what have we learned, what haven't we learned. Forget all that noise. Listen. Remember. Try to grasp it.
Chapter 1 - A.M. Breakups / 005 - MHE / 9:03am - Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet, Autolect, cLOUDDEAD / Clouds of Smoke (instrumental) - Call O' Da Wild / Icarus Falling Reprise - PSY/OPSogist / 9:59am-10:28am - Chris Craft, Brain Damage / Dead Flag Blues - godspeed! you black emperor / Snow (instrumental) - Roc Marciano
What we're seeing across North Africa and the Middle East is a youth revolution, driven by disenfranchisement and a lack of opportunities. Hip hop has always been the original soundtrack for that. It started in the city Ford told to drop dead, and since "The Message" it's been the theme music for angry young people whose rage is against poverty, ghettos and repression--political, racial and economic. Public Enemy made politics and fist-up rebellion their sound, and the torch's been carried by a handful since then.
Hip hop's been international for years, go get a late pass. I remember reading about Polish MCs in crumbling Soviet-era projects saying they couldn't understand the words of hip-hop, but the beats and the message still spoke to them. There are ghettos all over the world, and hip hop is there. OK, sure, it gets watered down here and over there as party music, gangsta posturing and fake rebellion in fitteds and sagging shorts, but on the real it's what Chuck D (in his Hannah Arendt moment) called 'the CNN of the ghetto,' now more than ever.
What we've seen across the Middle East and North Africa is inspiring. After a decade where the only option to fight against hopelessness seemed to be to put C4 in your underpants, the hashtag revolutions of 2011 have been unprecedented and unforeseen. If anyone had said six months ago 'gee, maybe there will be mass demonstrations which will overthrow governments in half a dozen countries,' they'd have been the laughingstock of the Rand Institute, CNN and the State Department. BREAKING NEWS: MIDEAST ANALYST IS A DREAMY HIPPIE, POSSIBLY HIGH.
I'm a little bit dubious about how much social media drove these uprisings. I mean, I make probably more than a gaggle of Tunisians, and I can't afford an iPhone. I don't check my Facebook that regular. It's probably a lot more complicated than that. But smarter people than me argue about it here, here, here and here.
Simultaneously, across the US mass protests are taking place at state capitols against budget cuts and depowering unions. In Europe, the same. Why are all these cuts taking place and screwing us? The financial crisis, brought about by the bankers and stockbrokers. The issue in the Middle East and North Africa isn't democracy, it's living standards, oppression and corruption. It's the same damn thing, but we're falling for the rope-a-dope.
Don't tell me we live in a democracy in the West. We live in a kleptocracy. It's just our corruption, greed and stealing from the people is legal.
My beloved, let's get down to business--lemme hear you say...
The Hashtag Revolutions Mixtape:
Looking For Freedom - Ibn Thabit (Libya) / Last Days - The Arab Summit / We Protest - The Are / Ana Fhemtkoum - Mohamed Ali Ben Jemaa (Tunisia) / Poverty & Corruption - Ibn Thabit (Libya) / Not Your Prisoner - Arabian Knightz (feat. Shadia Mansour & Fredwreck) (Egypt) / Wa2t El Thawra Gaya - Revolution Records (Egypt) / Ta7ya Tounes - El General (feat. Mr Shooma) (Tunisia) / Back Down Mubarak! - Master Mimz (Egypt) / Land Of Yemen - Dirty Flame / Yalla Back to Yemen - Loki da Trixta / Ded El 7koma (Against The Government) - Ramy Donjewan (Egypt) / #Jan25 - Amir Sulaiman, Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah & Sami Matar (Egypt) / Awakening - Badawi / Justice Tomorrow - The Arab Summit / To Be Continued - Raz Mesinai / #fightthepower
Peep these out:
- Khalas Mixtape Vol. 1 - Mish B3eed (also at DatPiff): “Khalas” means “enough”, “stop” or “end” in Arabic. It’s also the title of this new mixtape featuring a group of hip hop artists from Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya who are fed up and have gotten together to spread their message that oppression must end, regardless of nationality and borders. Mish B3eed, or ‘Not far,’ refers to the sense of solidarity that these youth feel across borders, the similarities of their causes and the oppressors they face, their physical proximity and the sense that our ultimate goal is within sight.”
- Davey D - Beats For the Revolution
- Hip Hop & The Tunisian Revolution: A 21st Century Affair
- The Global Reach of Hip Hop
- To Egypt: Abdallah's Address
Must not sleep. Must warn others.
Beast Vision - Nephlim Modulation Systems / Delirium #3 - Tenshun / Psychic Dictatorship - Red Ants / Government Secret - Mix Master Mike / On Your Retina - PSY/OPSogist / Slaves - Presage / No Masters - DJ Blood1 / Necessary Illusions - Abnorml Injustice / #35 - The Gaslamp Killer / Delirium #6 - Tenshun / Notice The Spirit - ATMA, Apakalypse & Illuminati Congo / Zombie [Counter] - Alphabethead / Operation World Domination - Spectre / Channel Assign - Jel / They Hate - Dockta Valkus / Reptilian Agenda - B. Dolan / She Watch Channel Zero - Public Enemy / Wake Up (Bubblegum Edit) - Rage Against The Machine / Full System Station - El-P / Emmanuel Goldstein - Super Chron Flight Brothers (feat. Bigg Jus) / Outro
Bonus track: ATMA & Illuminati Congo - Reptilian Body Snatchers
So, how's your recession going? Yeah, mine too. Being an old school head, I preferred the first depression when the bankers and stockbrokers threw their monkey asses out the window instead of giving themselves huge bonuses. And inventing the Commodity Index to make my groceries more expensive.
In honor of how much things are sucking, and this article about rappers' worst-ever jobs, here's the recession mixtape.
I Get Money (Goldman Sachs Remix) - Apex / I Ain't With Being Broke - Geto Boys / It All Comes Down To The Money - Whodini & Terminator X / Fuckajob - Soul Position (Blueprint & RJD2) / 9-5ers Anthem - Aesop Rock / Lunch Money - Qwel & Maker / Clockers - M.A.D. (Dr. Monokrome, Thrill Gates & Billy Woods) / Money - KRS-One (feat. MC Lyte) / The Ka$H - Malcolm & Martin / Funds - Blockhead / Get Rich or Try Dying - Despot / Valet at the Players Ball - Kentucky Prophet / $ (aka Cash Rule) - Bronze Nazareth / Pimps (Free Stylin' At The Fortune 500 Club) - The Coup / The Financial Crisis Song - Open Mike Eagle / Money (Dollar Bill Y'all) - Jimmy Spicer / Get Rich Quick (Marmaduke Remix) - Super Chron Flight Brothers (feat. Tom Vu) / Outro (feat. Patrick Bateman)
"Whether the ideal society patterns itself upon the family, church, school or army it tends to approach the model of a prison. Thus the quest for individual freedom may figure as an escape from a realized ideal."
Parole - Immortal Technique / Escapism - Qwel & Mike Gao / Escapism (Instrumental) - Pete Rock / Freedom - Jurassic 5 / Release (Parts 1, 2, 3) - Blackalicious (feat. Saul Williams & Zack de la Rocha) / First Day of Freedom - The Psycho Realm / Freedumb - Orko Eloheem / Escapee - DJ Krush (feat. asa) / Freedom - Lexbeats (feat. Mumia Abu Jamal) / Way To Freedom - Die Young / Price Of Freedom - Dday One / Liberation - Outkast (feat. Cee-Lo)
The US has the largest prison population in the world, with 1 in 31 adults in the corrections system--double 25 years ago, and the largest prison population per capita. Eight hundred and forty-six thousand--40% of prisoners--are Black men.
Court is Now in Session - Chill Rob G / Locked in Spofford - Mobb Deep / Handle Your Time - Prince Paul, Sadat X, Xzibit & Kid Creole / Jail Saga - T.H.U.G. Angelz / Lick a Shot - Super Chron Flight Brothers & Hi-Coup / Prison - X-Clan (feat. Christian Scott) / The Rage Of Angels - Jedi Mind Tricks / Lil Ass Gee - Ice Cube / The Phone Tap (Welcome to State Prison) - Prodigy & Sid Roams / The Tower - Ice-T / Incarcerated Scarfaces - Raekwon, El Michels Affair / Another Day In The Beast - Brand Nubian / Claimin' I'm A Criminal - Brand Nubian / Behind Enemy Lines - Dead Prez / Nathaniel - Supa Nate / Lock Down - DJ Muggs / Cell Therapy - Goodie Mob / One Love - Nas / Attica Blues (The Chief Xcel Remix) - Archie Shepp / Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos - Public Enemy