15.5.08

"The Sopranos has nothing on Friends"

Well, I was going to post a link to this new Ghostface and Raekwon track - "The Raw G Hide" - thereby staying ahead of your tastes in music (unless you saw the track posted on The Fader before me... let's not consider that) and proving that my tastes reflect independent judgment and not just my inevitable location on a chart where everybody's "favorite" music and books correspond exactly to their income level and education.

But then I went to n+1 to check up on the Intellectual Scene and I was informed that, "Staying ahead of other people's taste is how you show that your taste reflects independent judgment, and not just your inevitable location on a chart where everybody's "favorite" music and books correspond exactly to his income level and education." FUCK!

Why do I love hip-hop? Maybe n+1's argument deromanticizes my fascination, although I hope, and think, not entirely. Maybe, as a rich white kid, liking hip-hop is just a savvy play on my part. No more interesting than if I happened to get in on Google stock at $200/share. Not even groundfloor. High, but low enough and fortunate enough, for me, that I'd look like a genius, and be rich, when the shit started trading at $750.

I got lucky, had a good friend that got me hooked on 36 Chambers freshman year of high school and by the time every white kid junior year of college knew all about the lyrics to T.I.'s "What You Know About That" I cashed in: A hip-hop question? A word on a new album? "Where's that rich white guy from Princeton? He knows all that shit." My cultural tastes distinct, refined, and respected.

By the end of senior year I could pack 70 people in a classroom to listen to me talk for an hour about Nas, Scarface, and cultural imperialism like I was Frantz Fanon reincarnated in a vessle that would suggest Fanon had quite the sense of irony. I traded on the hip-hop hype cycle with the dexterity of Mike Milken in the junk-bond markets.

"The problem with hype," writes the n+1 crew in the Intellectual Scene, "is that it transforms the use value of a would-be work of art into its exchange value. For in the middle (there's no end) of the hype cycle, the important thing is no longer what a song, movie, or book does to you. The big question is its relationship to its reputation. So instead of abandoning yourself to the artifact, you try to exploit inefficiencies in the reputation market. You can get in on the IPO of a new artist, and trumpet the virtues of the Arctic Monkeys before anyone else has heard of them: this is hype. Or you issue a "sell" recommendation on the overhyped Arctic Monkeys: this is backlash. But there are often steals to be found among recently unloaded assets: "Why's everybody hatin' on the Arctic Monkeys?" says the backlash-to-the-backlash. The sophisticated trader is buying, selling, and holding different reputations all at once; the trick in each case is to stay ahead of the market. And the rewards from this trade in reputations rebound to your own reputation: even though the market (i.e., other people) dictates your every move, you seem to be a real individual thinking for yourself."

Well, shit.

Of course, by writing this, one could say I play even more craftily on the hype markets: "Nothing equals the pride of the self-lacerator." But I'm still gonna listen to Ghostface and Raekwon. And you can, too. I don't think I'm cynical enough, sociopathic enough, to simply trade on hip-hop. But I can't say it's not there either.

Damn. I'm hungry. Why do I want a steak from Ruth's Chris so badly? (Listen to the track)

No comments: