the new world order is working. people are more separate now than ever, satisfied with their distractions, overworked, with not enough energy or connectivity to see the plight in other places as also their own.
people are dying all over the world from fascist regimes. violence has become so normalized that we’ve become desensitized to the sight of war, hunger, suffering. we are inundated with so much imagery that they all start to lose meaning. put a photo of a dead child beside a photo of a cat and we’ll quickly turn to the cat. we’ve become a state of surveillance, and we willingly participate, tagging ourselves at parties and restaurants, all in an effort to say “look! I exist!”
I’m rethinking my personal approach to identity politics. While integral to being and creating a sense of self-identity, self-worth, and power to pull one’s self out of oppression, I’m deciding to shift my focus into collective identity, collective oppressions. it is we humans that built these systems to enslave ourselves, and it is we humans who must dismantle them.
and lest anyone think I think I’m above it all, I’m typing this sitting comfortably in my room in the city, away from bombings. I’m not wearing clothes because I feel like it, not because I don’t have any or can’t afford it, or that I’m being sexualized and objectified outside of my control. I haven’t eaten all day because I’ve barely been outside my room, not because I can’t afford to eat. I am so privileged to even be typing this on a MacBook Pro. Like you, I’m guilty too. I often feel like I’m not doing enough. I realize the futility and the irony in Facebook activism, using a tool that connects and separates us to point out how we are separated to connect us. But it’s only a tool, as most things are.
So what do I do? What do you do? What do we do?
On Realness: Said the Griot to the Gangsta
By Urban Cusp on July 25, 2014
Dear young man mean mugging me as protective gesture of your turf. As I passed you talked about being a real n*gg* and keeping it real.
1. There is no real. Just approximations of it. Good luck with that.
2. This turf you fight over, that produces this defensive glare I thought twice to challenge with an abrupt “boo” or sly smile, isn’t yours. You may fight or kill another brother over it, but neither of you own it. This will hit you crudely should your blood or one of your N*gg*s color the walk inside a chalk outline. The city will clean it: police, detectives. It’ll disappear with the every-other trash lined adjacent to memorial flowers, should anyone care enough to buy them.
3. Tough is not being afraid. You are not tough. Tough is taking the road less traveled and not cowering to demands to be “real” when you have no idea of its destination. Real has become journey to uncertain oblivion: a day to day litany of moments sandwiched between chasing next blunts or tail. Escapisms never fill you, just make you feel felt.
Dear young man. I somehow see the corny, square work I do each day as preventing fewer of you. You should smile. You probably have a nice one.
Tim’m T. West is an educator, author, poet, and Hip-Hop artist who works nationally to address the social justice intersections of educational equity and LGBTQ advocacy.
I am trying to see things in perspective. My dog wants a bite of my peanut butter chocolate chip bagel. I know she cannot have this, because chocolate makes dogs very sick. My dog does not understand this. She pouts and wraps herself around my leg like a scarf and purrs and tries to convince me to give her just a tiny bit. When I do not give in, she eventually gives up and lays in the corner, under the piano, drooping and sad. I hope the universe has my best interest in mind like I have my dog’s. When I want something with my whole being, and the universe withholds it from me, I hope the universe thinks to herself: "Silly girl. She thinks this is what she wants, but she does not understand how it will hurt.
It’s when you hide things that you choke on them.
New Orleans bounce queen Big Freedia talks to Local MC Emanuel Vinson
"It started at a block party. People were like, ‘Get on the mike.’"June 02, 2011
- Jim Newberry
Between the right’s recent vilification of Common and Rhymefest as violent, misogynistic thugs (the two are actually more granola than gangsta) and the orthodox wing of hip-hop fandom that remains suspicious of any MC who doesn’t dress in Timberlands and Dickies, it seems that a lot of people are clinging to retrograde ideas of how a rapper should look, talk, act, and think. Fortunately there are artists doing amazing work outside of those confines—and making massive revisions to hip-hop’s rulebook in the process. For this week’s Artist on Artist, local rapper, producer, indie-rock fan, and proud bisexual man Emanuel Vinson talks with Big Freedia, the glamorous transgendered queen of New Orleans bounce, a regional rap style focused in an almost obsessive way on the female booty. Big Freedia & the Divas (with Rusty Lazer) headline the Do-Division Street Fest Sun 6/5.
Emanuel Vinson: Like a lot of people, I was first introduced to you through the “Y’all Get Back Now” video that was on Stereogum. I want to know how bounce originated in New Orleans.
Big Freedia: It started over 20 years ago. It was way before my time—all those people came before me, the DJ Jimis and the DJ Irvs.
You’ve been doing it for at least ten years. Do you feel like you’ve changed musically in that time?
Definitely, because not only has the music changed over the years, we’re changing for the different generations. We don’t do it the way we used to do it when I first started. It just keeps elevating and getting even better.
Bounce used to be slower, right?
Yeah. The new generation of kids wants to shake it even faster and even harder, so the beats changed. 10th Ward Buck actually changed that for us when he came out with the song “Faster.” The beats per minute for a song changed immediately.
You said on Carson Daly that when you started out you had intended to change the way people thought about gay people in New Orleans, which is something I can totally identify with as someone in Chicago who is not traditional genderwise or sexually. Have you seen your effect on people take hold in your time as a bounce icon?
Definitely. It paid off, all the hard work that I put into being that gay person that people can come up to and open up to and have an open mind about and not just judge by what you see on the outside. Give them a chance and you never know what might be on the inside. I definitely changed New Orleans.
Now that you’re on the national scene, is this the level [of attention] you imagined for yourself when you first started?
No, I never thought it would have reached this far. I just was doing it to make people have fun. We actually started playing in our neighborhood, beating on walls and coming up with crazy ideas. It started at a block party. People were like, “Get on the mike.” Me and Katey [Red], we would get on the mike and our names just started raining and ringing. People just started calling, and then the record company came and found me. That’s when I knew it was getting more serious. We never would have imagined in a million years that it would have taken off to this level. I’m making sure that not only do I work hard at what I do, but I be that icon for New Orleans. When I started, I wanted to be like all the other bounce rappers that I grew up listening to: Partners-N-Crime and Ms. Tee and Cheeky Black. All those were legends to me. They still are legends to me.
When my music and my creative projects started coming together stronger, I started also feeling more support from people around me, which is still happening, and that gave me the courage to change myself and become more confident and take chances. Do you think you would have been the same person, as confident and outgoing, if it wasn’t for music and having this career?
Before I really got into bounce, I still was a very confident person with a very strong personality. I was a choir director. I was in the choir for a very long time; that was my scene as a child. I was always confident and very strong and stood firm in what I believed in. Before I became Big Freedia, they would call me Big Freddy. Little small things that happened in my lifetime, as a child, led to becoming Freedia.
At the beginning of one of your songs, “Gin in My System,” you mention Lil Wayne referencing one of your lines. What was hearing that like?
Oh my god, when I first heard it I was like, I can’t believe he did that! At first I was a little bit pissed, and then I was like, no, I’m actually happy because Lil Wayne just said my shit. He representing me, so I took that in stride. I used it to my advantage. I need more rappers to say more of my shit!
What’s the relationship between non-bounce hip-hop in New Orleans and the scene you’re in?
They definitely cross over a lot. Bounce is New Orleans all the way. In New Orleans, you can’t have a show without at least having one bounce artist on the bill, because people want to feel that beat. They want to hear it, because that’s New Orleans. We cross over a lot with the different hip-hop artists who come in, even the majors, because for the opener, they want something that’s gonna give y’all something that really gets y’all going and gets y’all hyped. I’ve opened for Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, many of them.
You have an interior design business back home. Are there any other projects you’re excited about, or is bounce the only thing you’re focusing on at this point?
The decorating is always gonna be there; it’s something that I do and something that I learned. When I’m not in the studio I always do jobs because it frees my mind from all the other things, and it’s another creative process. I’m working on a reality show as well, and a documentary. So there’s a lot going on with me right now.