Dive into the archives.
- Flash Fwd:1
I’m still working on the book with the MAD office here in Beijing. Slowly but surely it’s coming together, but since I can’t really post up any material from the book before it comes out and since the book takes up almost all my time, I gotta figure out a way to keep these posts happening.
So, I’m going to lean on my friends, and pass on some of the funny/weird/amazing interweb artifacts that they forward to me. Maybe once a week. So to get it kicked off, this clip was sent by my man Lok. I don’t know much about this clip, besides it’s cool. So if anyone knows who made it, just let me know and I’ll give him/her his/her props/compliment on losing weight. j/k (rowling)
Next HERO MACHINE, a site that my friend Xiao Wei hipped me to where you can design your own superhero. Below is my first creation: Adiela Electra, a mestizo Zionist superhero, raised in a fishery at the foot of a nuclear power plant who, due to a childhood accident, had her DNA fused with that of an electric eel…
I’m in negotiations with Marvel as we speak.
And last, an only slightly less absurd but very real superhero: the Techno Viking, dispensing justice at the Fuck Parade in Berlin, courtesy of Julius.
(In case the MJ overdub throws you, you can see T.V. against his original technofied theme music here.)
- Three cheers for Yeezy
I just found out via the interweb that Kanye West has emerged victorious from his much talked about and more or less pathetic publicity stunt contest with 50 Cent. I’d be lying if I said I really cared about that. But still, I’ve been listening to the album for a few days and somehow feel the urge to mark the occasion.
I have some friends who have tired of Kanye. They look at his temper tantrums, elephantitis of the ego, and cultural vampiracy and conclude that his music isn’t worth all the excess bullshit.
But I still have a lot of love for Kanye, and although the new album isn’t as good as his first two, I love that he’s out there doing his thing, and I’m glad that there’s an audience out there big enough to support his self-destructive spending habits.
So all that said, I want to take a little space to praise Kanye and provide a few talking points for anyone interested in defending him from the swelling mass of haters.
For all his extra baggage, Kanye remains one of the most deeply committed musicians out there. Particularly at this point in hip hop’s evolution when so much effort goes toward feigning indifference, Kanye takes us back to the old days of hard working, careerist entertainers. People who believed in quality, in doing multiple takes, in spectacle, in making the most of every opportunity you get. As a money-paying fan, I appreciate the effort, even if that sometimes means having to listen to him rap acapella for like 4 minutes straight.
UPDATE: What did I tell you??? Watch this:
Now, if you still question this dude’s commitment to craft or the obsessive compulsive traits alluded to in point 3 after watching that clip I don’t know what to tell you.
In a business in which complexity, inconsistency, and ambiguity are not considered virtues, Kanye is basically undertaking a grand experiment, testing the limits of what a rapper can be. And, as in any experiment, he gets it wrong occasionally. The problem with being an out of control exhibitionist is that all your missteps are public, but that doesn’t seem to dissuade this man from throwing on a lavender vampire pimp suit with some white leather Alfa Romeo driving gloves and Kool Moe Dee wrap around sunglasses and saying, “Fuck it, let’s go to the Grammy’s”.
As someone who has always loved music, but never really committed himself to making it, there is a vicarious joy that I feel seeing Kanye chase his dreams. At this point, I wonder if he’s actually sailed through his dreams and is floating in a fantasy world beyond what he dared to imagine as a nameless obsessive compulsive making beats at his mom’s house. There are of course those people who take success in stride, who become stars, make only minor adjustments to their lives and keep it moving. People like Moby. Kanye West is not one of those, and, frankly, I wouldn’t be either.
So anyway, Graduation is out now. Go get it, it’s good. My main problem with it is a song called Homecoming, which is a kind of remake of a song called Home that was left off Late Registration. Home is one of my favorite Kanye songs and this new version isn’t cutting it for me. So, here’s the original, soundtrack to this post:
Kanye West w/ John Legend – “Home”
- Artalk: Yang Shaobin
I haven’t had much time to write anything lately, but I don’t want to go too long without a post so I have to reach into the vaults a little bit. This is an interview with the Chinese artist Yang Shaobin. I originally met him while I was researching an article on Beijing for Art Review magazine. At the time I was trying to put together a kind of oral history of Beijing’s contemporary art scene, so most of the conversation points in that direction. When we met I wasn’t very familiar with his work, but since I’ve learned more and I have to say he’s become a personal favorite. The photos were taken at his house/studio by Charlie Koolhaas.
One thing I’m trying to understand about art in Beijing is the concept of collective action and groups that organized themselves into, for lack of a better term, movements. There’s of course a big difference between an art movement and a political one, mostly because art movements are often identified after the fact by people who may not have been involved in the first place. But before we talk about your new works, I’m curious if you consider yourself part of any artistic movement.
I took part in the protection of the “1989 Movement”. It was a collective activity. Many artists created similar works starting in the early 1990s. At that time, everyone felt somewhat lost after the 1989 Movement. They couldn’t find their ideal pursuit. I can’t help thinking of my friends and recalling my old thoughts.
How were these feelings channeled through art?
There were two influential artistic styles, Political Pop art and Cynical Realism. Both could be described as successful in the world. At that time, there was a feeling of being cheated after the June 4 Movement. It could only be felt by artists in Beijing. I was not in Beijing but in my hometown Tangshan. As Beijing is the center, it exerted its influence to every corner of the country. And the influence was considerable.
What was the atmosphere like among artists prior to ’89?
Before 1989, the whole cultural circle was filled with ideals. How to save the world… In fact, it was just a slogan, not practical. Those movements before 1989, including 1985 New Art Movement, were just slogans, making no impact on the art of China. It took less than a decade to repeat the history of western fine arts over a century. It was a crazy age, but it was very important. I think it enlightened us.
After moving to Beijing, you lived in an artists’ community in the old Summer Palace with several artists who would become the leaders of the Political Pop and Cynical Realism styles. What was that experience like?
When we lived in Yuanming Yuan, we were very poor, no money, not enough food, and sometimes we were arrested by the police. It could be said that we were under great pressure; there was no safety just violence, actually the whole society was flooded with violence. During that period, I made many red paintings, very large, like blood flowing. From then on, my pressure began to release. You know, it is a tough job to work in art. Art describes the artist’s psychology.
- Put some south in your mouth
Being so far from home, I sometimes find myself overcome by irrational feelings of loyalty for more familiar places. For example, last week I made a mix called “Quit hatin the south”. It was inspired by a UGK song of the same name and put together some of my favorite southern hip hop and R&B. I’m not from the south. I’ve actually only been there a handful of times. But somehow, through the magic of expat alienation, I summoned the gall to construct a 60 minute rallying call in defense of a region that I don’t know very well and have often belittled since the election of George W Bush.
I sent the mix around to some of my southern friends, and due to their overwhelming reactions (of which I will provide no evidence whatsoever), I figured might as well post it up here.
Give a listen and let me know what you think:
Here’s the tracklist:
Havoc Hate Intro
Quit hatin’ the south – UGK w/ Willie D
Boy looka here – Rich Boy
Get Buck – Young Buck
Do ya thang (inst.) – TI
Dancin’ on a pole – Three 6 Mafia w/ Chrome
Nolia clap (inst.) – UTP
Tear it up (inst.) – Yung Wun
C’mon babe – 2 Live Crew
Some cut – Trillville w/ Cutty
She useta be – Devin the Dude
85 south – Young Bloodz w/ Big Boi
N—-s down south – Killer Mike
Ride wit me (inst.) – T.I.
Walk it out remix – DJ Unk w/ Andre 3000, Jim Jones
Buy u a drank – T-Pain w/ Young Joc
Icebox remix – Omarion w/ Usher
I care 4 u – Aaliyah
Krispy (inst.) – Kinfolk Kia Shine
Momma I’m sorry – The Clipse
Tell em I said that – T.I.
You can dl it here