Society allows white guys to utilize this music to get their aggressions out, act like He-Man and go crazy. The same benefits they get out of the music, black women not only get, but need even more. Black women need spaces in society where we can be free and express our individuality and be who we want to be.
– Laina Dawes, author, What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal
Writing this book, I found other black women who had felt rejected by friends, family members, or their communities because of their musical preferences.
At one point, I distributed a mass questionnaire, and nearly three-quarters of the replies described negative reactions to listening to heavy metal.
Many of the replies were predictable: “Many people say the style of music I like isn’t really music, it’s just loud noise. Or that I’m not black because I like rock or punk music.”
Others were encouraging: “Especially when I say I like rock, they think it’s like devil or white music. I find it hilarious. I revel in my musical tastes and find audio joy wherever I can.”
Some were unfortunate: “When I was younger, I was criticized for listening to ‘white’ music and told I was weird and [that] there was something wrong with me for being a black girl listening to rock ’n’ roll … [Then] I learned that black folks actually created it.”
And many stories were downright infuriating: “Especially when I was in my teens and twenties, comments from some family and friends if I was listening to rock or punk music were like: ‘Why you listening to that white sh-t?’ I once dated a white guy who grew up in a black neighborhood, and was trying to be ‘down,’ and he yelled at me for listening to Led Zeppelin: ‘Don’t you listen to any black music? Why do you listen to that white music for?’ — the funniest thing I ever heard. Now that I’m in my forties, I don’t tend to associate with anyone who is so narrow-minded about me or my tastes in life.’
From “What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life And Liberation In Heavy Metal” by Laina Dawes [Courtesy Bazillion Points Books, 2012. ]
We start this week’s mix with Lauryn Hill, who had, to say the least, an up-and-down week: on Sunday she made a surprise appearance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam and it looked like Hill was poised to embark on the full-on comeback fans have been waiting for for years.
Then, on Thursday Hill was charged with failing to file three years’ worth of federal income taxes, sending her to a prospective court date later this month. According to Reuters, Hill could face a year in jail if convicted. Here she is in happier times with “Everything Is Everything.”
Next up is a group whose summer is starting on the right foot: not only has Canada’s A Tribe Called Red has scored an opening slot for Major Lazer in Montreal on June 29, but one of the group’s members, DJ Shub, just won the country’s Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition, meaning he’ll represent Canada in a worldwide battle in Chicago this coming September. Get a taste of their style here with “Redskin Girl,” then check out their album Electric Pow-Wow here:
Next up is a young man who’s started drawing attention to himself–the kind that leads to the label “Mexico’s Johnny Cash.” Mexicali-born Juan Cirerol has taken a talent for punky riffs and welded it to what’s become his genre of choice, norteño music. But, even while his style has changed, his approach hasn’t.
“I like to think and do things in a DIY way. That’s how I consider myself punk,” he told San Diego CityBeat. “I haven’t left my ideologies that can be considered dominated by punk. I just decided to do it the way it’s done in my country.”
A good example is this track, “El Corrido De Roberto.”
Here’s a staggering factoid: Japan’s POLYSICS have been around for 15 years(!) and they’re celebrating the occasion with a new album, 15th P, which features not only a cover of “Mecha Mania Boy” by one of their bigger influences, Devo, with vocals from Devo’s own Mark Mothersbaugh. And, if you’re up for a little bopping around your house or desk today, here’s another track off the album, “Electric Surfin’ Go Go.”
Our last video is under the cut, seeing as how it’s mildly NSFW, both for language and (ahem) aesthetic reasons. But, since we haven’t checked in on John Cho in awhile, enjoy this deleted scene from Harold & Kumar Go To Amsterdam–it’s actually an alternate opening for the film–that Racebending turned us on to.