Hiphop

Jun. 19th, 2010 10:37 pm
yeloson: (Default)
Hiphop. A chain of transmission.

Despite all the drama and the beefs, the divisions, etc. - hiphop is a community. The divisions exist because even with all the hate, the fact is, folks had to be listening to each others' music to even take it there.

Less considered and more taken for granted is this: hiphop is connected. Lyrics reference other songs, other artists, common experiences ideas.

It's like auditory hypertext- each phrase might connect to a hundred songs before, a hundred songs since.

But only if you've been listening.

This sampling, electronically, this flipping back a phrase verbally, from before, new, twisted, changed just a little, this isn't plagiarism, it can't be - it's summoning spirits, it's repeating words of your lyrical "ancestors", it's forming ritual and prayer.

"Raise your hands in the air" has no need to be original, it only needs to connect you now, to then, to those before, and those ahead of you. When and where you flip it, it's like griots speaking their family lineages to the seventh generation, "...and here I stand, mic in hand."

This is the culture.

And this is the disconnect in how folks relate to it. They want a song, or a few songs, they want the lyrics simple, self contained. But they're never that- they're history, they're tied down, tied together, syllables taking middle passages across the dangerous oceans of passion, to rebel and find freedom broken out by screaming your name, your real name, or as real as it can be, with so little left, and so little remembered.

If you take the past away, we'll make a new past, stronger, better than before. We still speak the songs of our forebearers, even if it was just 10 minutes ago, because building family is what we do no matter how far away you move us.

Hiphop is a group endeavor. It is a community religion. This is the line between the practitioners and the appropriators - who still participates with the community - who performs with other hiphop artists, who brings them in, who says their words as well, because if "I shine, you shine"?

Hiphop is always a dialogue.

We can say the lyrics together because we know the song. Because we know -the- songs. Because we kept together, connected, tied by words passed from house party to house party, corner ciphers and turns of phrases spoken years before they got radio play and years after Clear Channel wiped them from the collective memory.

They say hiphop is dead, yet we keep raising it's spirit, saying it's names over and over.

"The job of resurrectors is to bring back the dead", and so, each MC and each fan, we do so again and again.

Hallelujah, put your hands in the air.
yeloson: (southside)
We wander between cultures like islands and faraway lands, distanced by time, history, meet at common experiences, trade tales of differences, even within our own, we fight off the piracy of those who would shackle us to the identities they demand we wear, we raid our elders' stories for old roots to make stews of our history, to make our bones strong, cobble together pieces of ourselves to repair the ships to carry us across, we dig tunnels and lay down tracks to build trains to underworld railroads and beyond.

Our hopes and dreams and fears and past and future: built of blood - our own, and others, and so we respect it. Those who throw away pieces of themselves were never meant to sail these waters. So we look to each other, ramshackle and whole, make-do, doing creating, traveling deeper, darker, brighter, hotter in a cold night, guided by lights from our hearts that only the stars dare reflect.

Diasporado, distant, just trying to get to a home in our hearts.
yeloson: (Default)
Farah Mendlesohn is interested in organizing a group of folks who might be interested in reading their ReMyths at WorldCon in Montreal in August.

If you're interested, please contact her with your name, a link to your piece, at farah.sf at gmail.
yeloson: (Default)
There's a place where the kids all play
On them bikes, them breakers, them skip rocks on the lake,
The 3 months of sunshine get stretched into lifetimes
And Joe Metro is a heartbeat that defines a city's lifelines.

There's place that cuts from Mount McClellan down to the Beach
The trees cut the gravel that never was sidewalks with they roots deep in the streets
Halfway up the hill no lights and one lane curved roads
Halfway down old homes hard to keep cool and hard to keep warm

Tongues so plenty you speak 9 words of 20 things
Eat Lao food with Haitian racers over Hawaiian breakbeats
And the nights wet and cold make you want to lay down to the last
And the fire of struggle make you the first out to snap

Who you were ain't like who you are to who you is
Even if they cut up Rainier with trains for white folks to take long trips
Even if they Starbuck up and knock out the community biz
Forever immigrant travel long, but don't set out to trip

Southside is the song and in my heart it still lives.
yeloson: (How white of you)
Kwai Chang Caine.

I was 6 or 7 when I first heard of you. I'm sorry I couldn't tell the ghosts had already taken you, but I also thought my dad was black, so I think you'll forgive me. I know you were half chinese, like me, and you were a perpetual foreigner, like me, and you lived in America, like me. I often felt like I'd wander like you, and I hope they don't put a ghost in my place as well.

Iron Fist.

Maybe they thought if they put a mask over the white guy we wouldn't see. But he took it off all the time to remind us that you were gone and a ghost was in your place. CoIntelPro must have somehow brainwashed Luke, because he didn't notice the difference, at least consciously. He fought a lot with the ghost, so I think he knew, deep down, it wasn't you. I like to hope that you made it back to KunLun and kicked it with the dragons.

Snake Eyes.

Unlike Iron Fist, they had enough sense to keep the mask on this one most of the time. I wish you got a chance to avenge your whole clan from this ghost that took over. They all rocked hexagrams from the I-Ching and got to star in dope issues with no dialogue. Every boy wanted to be you, because you weren't annoying like Quickkick.

Neo.

I know they say the ghost has some of your DNA, but they couldn't fool me. I knew it was a fake when he said, "I know Kung Fu" but really broke his neck while filming. After all, it took a lot of special effects to get him to compete with Lawrence Fishburne. They wanted Jet Li to work with you, but they wouldn't pay him enough to keep quiet about the ghost and got Collin Chou instead. We only watched the movie because we thought the ghost was a robot.

Goku.

I thought they'd never get you. Sure, you looked mighty ghost like when you went Super Saiyan, but I was ok with that because you always turned back to normal when you were done. I think they just couldn't deal with the thought of you being a superman from outerspace saving the planet. And you were so much more awesome than Supeman. You stayed popular for 20 years, but I guess, like everything, they're not happy unless they can claim credit for it all.

Aang.

They're trying to get you too. I suspect they'll do it, because, even if you are the Avatar, they have no elements, no heart, no spirit. That's why they have to keep stealing ours. Our stories and heroes are about mastering ourselves, but they can't see such a story unless they master someone else.

That's why they're ghosts.
yeloson: (Default)
They say we'll come...from the East, from the South, from the lands where we speak strange languages and worship foreign gods. They say we'll conquer, enslave, kill, rape, pillage, that we will destroy their civilization, topple their cultural institutions, destroy their language, burn their children.

I open their history books. I read their invasion. Their genocide, their slavery, their racism, their sexism. I read their priests kidnapping children. I read systemized rape, languages for "half-breeds" and a thousand other words than person, human, father, mother, brother, sister, friend. I read about napalm dropped in wars upon children. I read about our stories co-opted, removed. I read about our heroes changed colors.

In their books they admit this.

Yet, we are the threat, the unwashed hordes who will bring horror upon the land.
yeloson: (Default)
I can't remember how old I was, 8, 10? I was young enough to go to summer camp, old enough that they'd consider putting us in canoes. If you wanted to go on the canoe trip, all you had to do was pass the "Swim Test".

You had a life vest, you jumped off the dock. You swam, doggied paddled, or whatever manner of aquatic locomotion you could pull to get to the other dock, which was only like 30 feet away. I watched kids jump in, bob back up, and at the very least, flail their way to the other side.

I had a life vest. How hard could it be?

I jumped in.

And sank.

Right to the bottom.

I think it was about halfway down that I realized the lifevest wasn't working. And wasn't -going- to work. It wasn't until I was at the bottom, on the sandy floor, looking up, that I realized I was going to have to get myself back up, somehow.

I grabbed the support for the dock, and climbed my way up, like a monkey underwater, to pull myself up over the edge, hyperventilating. The camp counselor peeled off the life vest and threw it in the water.

It floated.

Even now I love hanging out at the beach.

Just don't ask me to go in above my waist.
yeloson: (Default)
So several folks who've been excited by this have asked if we can form an LJ community for it. I've held off on the idea for personal reasons (hella busy), but, now that I've had some time to think about it, I think we should NOT have an community, and here's why:

Remyth is about having ownership of your words, stories and myths, and how you choose to share them.

When you post to your own journal, you have full control over it, not only in editing, deleting, etc. but you can choose to share it only with your friends. When you post to a community, (at the very least) everyone in the community can see it- and you don't necessarily pick who's in that community- the mods do.

Even if it's a safe space, honestly, people are dealing with some serious stuff here, if they just want 5 of their friends in on it and screw the rest of the world? That's ok. That's Remyth. Power is being able to choose your audiences, choose who you bless with your words.

Second, if we had a community, what happens to the people who are doing Remyths who aren't part of that community (Perhaps for even the reasons above)? Are they less legit? This isn't a cool kids club, and the biggest issue of even possibly having a safe space in the first place is that once you make a stage, people will come for the spotlight...

Although communities are fun, and great, as a social structure, it's not a good fit for the Remyth Project.

So. People of color with power over their own stories and past.

That's what it is and that's what it should be.

Because realistically? All I did was come up with a catchy name for something people have been fighting and working for, for generations.
yeloson: (Default)
It doesn't have a singular church. It's a few thousand years of various traditions, beliefs, and worships, poured under one name because it has some similarities. Which is like saying Christianity, Scientology, and Flying Spaghetti Monster worship ought to go in the same book.

Like Islam, it predicted it's own absence- coming as a stranger and leaving as a stranger.

They call it Taoism.

And, accordingly, supposedly, anyone can be a taoist. All you have to do, is do nothing. Or perhaps have lots of yin-yang symbols everywhere and i-Ching hexagrams for bonus points. Don't have sex. Have lots of sex. Do Yin-Yang Yoga. Do Tai Chi. No, do real Tai Chi. Stand on your plastic Tai Chi Ball to increase your core strength and balance your chakras. Have lots of Buddhas around. Burn incense. Buy more books. Drink tea. Get a Chinese girlfriend. Read lots of books written by white people who have chinese masters who no one has heard of. Or better yet, Tibetan masters. Or better still, Taoist teachers who show up in their dreams to tell them secrets (Hey, I just dreamt I was a Jedi, can I start a Jedi Church now?).

Or. Maybe, talk to people with lineages. With rules and books and histories. Which are all really important and they can tell you why everyone else doesn't have the Tao right. And how you can't share these secrets with anyone else (it's universal laws, you, small human, hide them).

Me? I don't think I'll talk to anyone about it. After all, what can be said isn't what I was looking for in the first place.

False gold exists because there is real gold, somewhere.
yeloson: (Default)
I spent almost a year living in the Central District. I had just came back from Vancouver, deciding that spending 100 hours a week doing computer animation was not the way to live life. I was staying with a friend, and while he had been there longer, we were both Southend natives, and two hoods had a long history of beef. So, we're walking around, trying to learn what places were cool/not cool, etc.

Just a couple of blocks over from the house, we're walking by a torn out building being renovated.

"Hey. If you ever hear or see any little kids in there? Don't go in there."
"What's up?"
"It used to be a church a few years back. It got firebombed and a few kids died. Sometimes you hear or see stuff at night."

It was one of those classic cases of a bit murder that got a half paragraph in the back of the 3rd section of the newspaper. You know, in super liberal, tolerant "Safest City in the US" Seattle.

Don't be brown in the town.

I chose to avoid that block ever since. I spent two years on the run from gangs, but I wasn't ready to deal with "ghosts", real or not...

I wonder what building is there now. I wonder where ghosts of children go, when genocide is done and gentrification has begun.
yeloson: (Default)
Before people, there were dragons. They controlled wind, rain, storms, and even waves of the ocean. No one measures when people first came, but, at some point, an accord was made. The dragons lived in palaces below the water, and people above, and gods above that. The dragons "paid tribute" by bringing the weather on time.

Or perhaps the gods paid tribute and the dragons were kind enough to grant rains.

It's really hard to say, as people are the ones who wrote the history.

An empty palace sits under waves, abandoned. And storms come harder and more fierce every year. The dragons aren't carved of ivory and jade- they sit printed on napkins and club shirts. They do not echo with the roars of thunder and storm waves, but the voice of Eddie Murphy tinning out jokes to soften "foreign stories" upon ears.

Nobility, of the spirit and not of blood, knows that it's power is not in who it commands but who it serves, how it betters the world just by being. At one time, people sought monsters, not for the slaying, but to learn their truths.

If I meet one, I'll ask her if she has lost her history as well.
yeloson: (I'll cut you)
The Remyth Project is a simple idea that came from thinking about mythology, stories, and appropriation. There's this way in which traditional stories and mythologies of people of color have been misused, abused, and ultimately redefined by others, for profit, for power, for fame.

Mythology is not just stories, not just beliefs- it's icons, it's a way of thinking. It's a way of talking about things with symbol. It's a language, which, like many other languages, has been chopped up and is dying off for the purposes of a world defined by a few.

But let's talk myth.

The Remyth project is this: You, as a person of color, as a person whose myths have been sidelined, removed, changed, altered, turned into movies, popularized and sold, you as a participant of your heritage (even divorced by many generations)...

You write up, draw, or ramble in whatever way befits you about a myth you can claim ownership to. You take back that myth. You tell us what you think it is. Reinterpret, reconstruct, or even revise- give it a rebirth, as you would.

And, if you want, give a link back here.

Let's stop hearing second-hand stories from colonizers with vested interests in ridiculing, exoticising, and taking our stories.

Let's hear each other's stories.

And let's remember.

ETA: Why the Remyth project works best without an LJ community.

There's folks organizing some Remyth readings at WorldCon in August.

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yeloson

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