Thursday, October 29, 2009

\\\\\\ \\ \\ \\\ interview with a label dude, dean bein (founder of true panther sounds)

Photo - The back of Dean Bein, half of Will Roan of Amazing Baby's head, Quinn Walker of Suckers. Rock and roll friendship legion.

Dean Bein is the founder of True Panther Sounds who have been putting it down pretty big this year. Now a part of the Matador family, True Panther is responsible for putting out "Album" from the SF band Girls who have made quite a name for themselves this year ON SOME YOU MUST BE LIVING UNDER A ROCK IF YOU AINT HEARD OF THEM type shit. TPS is also responsible for putting out music from Glasser, Tanlines, Lemonade, Hunx and his Punx, Tamaryn, and The Fly Girlz who were formed at a 21st century sponsored after school program at Brownsville Middle School PS 284. As busy as dude is, he was kind enough to answer some questions the inquiring minds at Gordon Gartrelle must know:

- Yo Dean Bein, when people ask what you're doing do you ever say just bein dean?

Yes also, if you do a good search for Dean Bein a lot of times it'll be like "Dean bin CRAZY" or "Dean Bein STUPID". When my mom first figured out how to use google she came to believe I was a really controversial figure on the internet.

- Do you download music? Do you draw a somewhat moralistic line, as many people do, between widely available popular music that is okay to download and self-supporting indie music that you'd like to support the band for? Do you download movies?

I don't download movies and I don't download indie or major label music. Majors because I am scared of a time warner representative rope swinging through my bedroom window and taking me out with a laser sword or something. Indies because I want to represent and support bands I love and , companies I love and believe in.

- Is the world going to end in 2012? if so, how?

My dad who is a "really far out guy" said that 2012 will be a massive change in the human consciousness. In his russian accent he said "many people may die, many people may not, but in the end we will all think of the world differently. There is no such thing as apocalypse." My dad bought me a book about Nostradamus when I was 11 and as a result I grew up as a half-hearted no-future-esque punk rocker. I now believe ha things will never be "all right" for long but also that nothing will ever be "totally fucked" forever. There is no such thing as apocalypse, only massive change.

- How dope is Monta Ellis? That guy is great. Is he going to fully recover and be the franchise player the Warriors need? How angry were you about that whole moped thing? I was pissed. I'm a Knicks fan but since they suck I slut around a little and Monta was hell of enjoyable to watch. Plus I was living with a dude from the Bay at the time.

Imagine my life with favorite teams being the knicks and warriors. Maybe this is a "no future " vibe extending itself into my adult life. I was pissed about Monta but also he is like 12 years-old. Have you ever heard him talk? He has the most amazing southern accent. Also, growing up a warriors fan I am always convinced that the Warriors will trade away any possible franchise player for a 4th round pick and a bag of sunchips so I have no such delusions about Monta being with us for long.

- What do you think of japanther?

Do you realize they have been around for almost 10 years? Do you think they realize this?

What do you think of the black panthers?

I think it's cool that Bobby Seale is really into bbq'ing now. He has a bunch of cookbooks and maybe even a restaurant. I am generally dubious of "revolutionary political practice" but I am super down with revolutionary/life-altering bbq ribs. Cooking pigs not killing pigs…or something.

What do you think of the comic book super hero black panther?

I tried to do this entire interview "off line" but I was stumped by this question and just googled him. He is like a low-grade batman? I don't know! I am not impressed!!

What do you think of pantera?

In high school I had a friend who played on the football team who was into Pantera. I made him a mix tape one time that had 10 yard fight and Earth Crisis on it and it didn't really move him .He said Pantera was way harder than those bands. I didn't understand really but I know that I was mysteriously inconsolably sad when Dimebag Darrell was killed.

What do you think of the panther as an animal?

The panther is beautiful and fast and deadly

How did you come up with the name True Panther Sounds?

We got it from a medieval bestiary. In it, the panther eats a meal then retires to the cave for a few days to digest. When it comes out, the odor that comes from its mouth brings all of the animals of the forest together in harmony and peace. The only animal that is not down with this is the dragon, the dragon hates the smell and it makes it sick. The dragon is the enemy of the panther. The True Panther brings all of the different animals of the forest together in harmony, that is why we picked that name.

- Do you feel that the quality of spam mail has gone down significantly in the past years? I used to get stuff that was pure absurdist poetry like "The eternal poodle mix tries the vacuum cleaner wisdom teeth with McConaughey in spades" but now it's 100% investment loans and prescription drugs. Do you blame gmail's spam filter for such degradation?

I got a really beautiful spam recently.

"excess of sorrow laughs. excess of joy weeps. a bare, bleak shed in blackest silhouette,searchest the grass with tongue of flame,"

I also got a poem in my email a week ago and thought it was a weird free-verse spam thing but then re-read and it turns out it was a real poem from a secret admirer!! I've never had a secret admirer. It made me hate spam even more bitterly than before, for almost making me miss such a thing.

- When you hear a band you're going to sign, is it usually something that's apparent the first time you see them play or listen to their record or is it something that comes out of a lot of listens?

It's usually immediate but then also I get excited about most music almost every day so I have to give things a bit of time to marinate to see if my excitement fades. I am an excitable person.

- Do you think people with pilates balls in their house will ever be free of someone coming over and using the thing as a toy or a hop ball? do you think people who do pilates religiously ever secretly bounce that thing around the house for fun?

I don't associate with those kinds of people. It's also a shame that people who try to use their balls for self-empowerment are ridiculed and their balls are mocked and misused.

- Any good stories from the joint. I think I ran into you after you were locked up for a tnight. JAIL.

The only poster they had up in ny central booking office was Mike Dunwoody from the San Jose Sharks. That one really threw me for a loop. Everyone called me "that little white nigga". I met a guy who was arrested, released with no money, jumped to turnstile to get home only to get re-arrested. I also met two graffiti guys who were nice to me because they knew this other graffiti guy who I met in elementary school- which is crazy because that was in California.

- Does Christopher Owens listen to any rap music?

Jesus Christ was the first gangster rapper. I think Christopher listens to a lot of religious music.

- What's next for True Panther?

I want True Panther to keep on growing and keep on doing right by the artists, and keep on putting out good music for people from all around the world. The label is nothing if it can't provide something to artists that they can't do themselves so I hope to continue to be at their mercy and to keep surprising listeners with new, adventurous, honest and fearless sounds.

Good lookin out Dean for taking the time to do this shit. When I get around to it expect some more interviews coming soon w Nick Diamonds of Islands and the band Bear in Heaven.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Sounds Incorporated Live at Shea Stadium





Reuben: that night i dremt i was in training to join the builderberg group i was at some fancy airport, possibly Narita or LAX and was talking with a well dressed banker in the federal reserve over drinks at an airport bar still curious about the builderbergs, though in the dream i think i called them the buildingers i wanted in, i told him i was ready to do whatever it takes to become part of their secret society of white conservatives that control the universe we were planning on wiping out 75% of the population through bioengeneering various diseases such as the pig flu because at their last meeting they had decided it was their duty to take the population explosion into their own hands so as my hazing or training to join the group i had to do a job for them for a set amount of time my job involved working in a really fancy BMW showroom that was in the airport and what i had to do was lease and rent cars to really wealthy indian families red dot, not feathers except they seemed less indian and more like a bunch of persian jews because they were all really guido'd out and they would come to my dealership and it was like families of 20 people and we would all sit in a giant conference room and i would have to do meeting after meeting trying to tell them why the new BMW was the right car for them to drive during their stay in the area around whatever airport i was at after a certain amount of time i was to be evaluated on my performance and my application into the buildingers would then be considered except i was never up for consideration and my dream ended after hours and hours of renting cars to giant, affluent indian families. I guess the airport i was at had lots of direct flights to India this made me think of you and hima, because all the other indian people i:ve met in japan are boring


Sunday, October 25, 2009


A few years ago, I responded to a Craigslist ad wherein the Craigslist ad writer said he would pay a group of people thirty-five bucks a piece to go to a Tao Lin poetry reading and "heckle" and/or "boo" him. The Craigslist ad writer had linked to a couple of Tao Lin's poems, saying something to the effect of "Don't you think these suck?" I remember not really reading the poems but saying that I would go heckle regardless because it seemed like a fun and easy way to make thirty-five bucks. Dude never got back to me though.

Months later I was working at this job where I would sit at a computer and go on the internet all day. The job involved doing actual shit sometimes but for the most part I just looked at the internet. It was during this time that I came across Tao Lin's blog and read some of his poetry, which I liked a lot, and read some of his interviews, which I also dug. At some point I realized he was the same guy I almost almost got paid thirty-five bucks to heckle and thought this was funny and sent him an email about it and he wrote back being like "Yeah, there are a lot of people who hate me a lot."

And it's true, there seem to be a lot of people on the internet that fucking hate this dude and say pretty mean things about him (give him a Google), which I find kind of funny given the fact that most of the work of his that I'm familiar with reads as almost a kind of incredibly accessible operating manual on how not to be a hater. He writes in a voice that strikes me as sensitive but not sentimental, deadpan but compassionate, journalistic but casual (bloggish), and (importantly, I think) never presumptuous. Detractors seem to read him as smug, cold, empty, vapid and often decry him as a media whore. Actually, the criticism leveraged against him reminds me of a lot of the criticism leveraged against Andy Warhol, whose ideas concerning the conflation of commodity and art and the imaginary division between emotion and intellect seem pretty pertinent to most of Tao Lin's writing that I've read, particularly his new novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, published by Melville House.

How long did it take you to write Shoplifting from American Apparel?
~800 hours over ~9 months.

Who is the character Luis based on?

Have your parents read SFAA? If so, what do they think of it?
No. I'm mailing them a copy soon. I feel my mom will like it. I feel my dad would find a small detail I didn't think was funny and focus on how funny he thinks it is.

When/if your dad picks out the one thing that he thinks is funny but that you didn't think was funny, do you think you might then find it funny as well?
Yes. I think I will think whatever my dad thinks is funny is funny.

In your opinion, what's the best thing someone's said about SFAA?
Michael Silverblatt said, in his Bookworm interview with me, something like that it is the purest form yet of this type of minimalism and that the prose style is something like Buddhist while quoting John Ashbery as saying that sometimes the language gets in the way of the poetry.

In your opinion, what's the worst thing someone's said about SFAA?
I don't know. Conventionally "worst" things to me seem exciting and interesting to read or hear.

What is one of those "worst" reviews that you have been excited or interested by?

What was the worst/least accurate "praise" you've received?
I'm not sure. Probably the 70-90% of reviews that say I'm indicting something or being "scathing." But I still acknowledge that it is accurate to the person who is thinking that. All opinions seem equally accurate, in my view, from the point-of-view that it is a fact that someone has thought that and expressed it.

Who was your favorite band when you were a kid?
I didn't listen to music that much until I was 13 or 14. Then I liked Smashing Pumpkins for a while.

Who are your personal top five favorite writers?
I like Joy Williams, Ann Beattie, Lorrie Moore, Matthew Rohrer, Frederick Barthelme.

Who are your personal bottom five least favorite writers?
If the following were writers: cats, health insurance, the MTA. I can't think of two more things right now.

Is "Jesus Christ" (the indie band) going to be a continuing project? Did I write the band name correctly?
Yes. No, there is a period after "christ."

Have you read anything by Sasha Frere-Jones? If so, what do you think of him?
I know I have read his writing before, but not enough to form any thoughts about him in relation to his writing, I think.

Is Lil Wayne the best rapper?
I don't know. I like the Wu Tang Clan.

Who are your top five favorite rappers?
Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Ol' Dirty Bastard, the white person in The Mad Conductor, and Stza when he raps.

How many drafts are there in the draft section of your gmail right now? How many are there usually like on average?
159 right now. This seems like an average number.

Are you making enough money off of book-related shit or are you still stealing shit and selling it on eBay?
I'm not making enough money off book-related activities. I'm considering getting a part-time job or doing something else. I probably abstractly think, or non-specifically "worry," about how to get some kind of cash flow for 5-10 hours a day. I'm not stealing batteries and selling them on eBay anymore due to fear of increased penalties if I get caught.

Have you heard the song "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell"? If so, do you like it?
I haven't heard it.

One time I got kind of stoned on weed and wrote: "the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction" in an email text box and then copied and pasted it a lot and then after looking at it for a while I figured I'd send it to you. you were like "thanks." Was that OK?
I don't remember that, "hehe."

I actually tried to sell a print-out of that long ass email with your response at an art show in Northampton, Massachussetts. Nobody bought it. I was trying to sell it for ten bucks, I think. If it sold I would have mailed you half of the profits. I didn't want to ask you if I could cause I thought you might say no. Was that OK? Would you have said no?
I would've said yes. I give you permission to sell or share anything I ever "emit" in your presence. Wanting to send me half the profits seems nice of you. Thank you. I feel excited by things like this.

How tall would you say Moby is?
I think he's 5'6".

Did you know that Moby is related to Herman Melville (which apparently is why he called himself Moby)? Does that come up at all/a lot in most conversations you have about or even peripherally involving Moby?
Yes, I have heard that. It has come up maybe in 20% of my conversations about Moby.

How many conversations, by your estimate, do you think you've had in your life that have even just mentioned Moby even once?
Probably over 200 conversations. I like this interview.

How many times, by your estimate, do you think you have been mentioned in conversation? Like all conversations in the world?
Probably over 10,000,000 conversations. I've been able to speak for probably more than 50,000 days, I think, and I've probably talked about myself twice a day. My mom probably talks about me every day. Committed shit-talkers of me probably talk about me once a day. My publisher probably talks about me once a day. I'm not sure if 10,000,000 is accurate. It could be as high as 100,000,000 or as low as 200,000 maybe.

How many times, by your estimate, do you think Moby has mentioned you in conversation?
Probably three times, while talking to me one time, and maybe while talking to one other person we mutually knew, and maybe one other time.


Friday, October 23, 2009


so i was missing my good buddy Jeff Deeeeliter (whose aesthetic piques can be found at so i got my other good buddy Lemmy Kilmister (real [last] name) of Motörhead (the War Göds of Röck n Röll) to record a special tune for me for Jeff. Thought I'd post it here so yall can send it to a friend you miss but dont wanna PAUSE about.


\\\\ music note

couple things...

please check out the awesome tunes of GG contributor CF EDLEY here ----> SAFE
do so now --- before he blows up. then you can be cool to all your friends. he's like a 2009 black arthur russel, so make sure to describe him as such. or maybe as just like a 2009 arthur russel. then show your friends a picture of him but don't mention that he's a person of color, let it surprise them and play the cool guy by not seeing race. being the coolest looking guy alive should help him get famous as well.

here is our homie gordon voidwells mixtape which i have been bumping on repeat. at some point i wanted more enjoyable uptempo music and got sick of phoenix and just then will from GV dropped this 26 track mixtape that we been bumping non-stop at headquarters here (a dumpster). download it here ---> VOIDED CHECKS (VIA ILLROOTS) - cloud 9 vertigo is my jam as of late. its the 7th jam as of late i've had from this mixtape.

here are two new gems from weezy @jamesdewey put me on to. good timing as he gone. (to jail). feel like we finna hear a lot of dude and he gonna come out of jail like gucci (with a vengeance) - MISS INFOS BLOG AND TWO GOOD NEW WEEZY JAWNS

heres a band called sleigh bells ---> SLEIGH BELLS

finally, heres a swate toro y moi cover/remix of beach house -->

its early in the morning. i dont have work i guess. im finna blog a lot. cool.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

\\\\\\ \\ \ \\\ \\\\\\\\ interview with a music journalist, a good one, one of the few good ones

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd...

FADER is one of the few magazines I actually subscribe to. (The other two being Complex and The Economist). (I lied about The Economist). (I just want you to think I'm smart). I check their blog daily and was recently talking to someone about how I find some of my favorite rap on FADER. While typically I feel odd about "indie" press outlets covering hip-hop (mainly Brooklyn Vegan and Pitchfork) I think they're one of the few that get it right and it's because I never feel like they're outside of the culture looking in and commenting, but that they're participants. (I distinctly recall feeling strange when Pitchfork reviewed a Peedi Peedi (fka Peedi Crack) song once. Like, ah fuck, now some motherfuckers are gonna listen to this shit ironically? BRRRRAT, DDRRRINGGGG.) Even more than just hip-hop or rap or whatever though, I find some of my favorite dubstep, indie rock, dance music, whatever it is at FADER's blog. It feels like one-stop shopping.

I remember when Jay's "Run This Town" joint dropped whoever tweeted for them said they didnt have to PAUSE 'cause they're a girl and I was just like Ha! Who wrote that?!?. IT WAS JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD. And thanks to the magic of the internets I found a new friend in a music writer I actually enjoy the work of. She got hella good taste.

So I got homegirl, who's official title is Executive Editor there, to answer some questions. What we have is both an interview and possibly the best music post on Gordon Gartrelle at the same time. (All the music posts here were ganked from FADER or GorillaVsBear anyway)!

Who's the most interesting person you've ever interviewed? (Interpret interesting in any way you please). Any crazy stories?

This is obvious, but any member of Wu-Tang—I’ve interviewed Ghost, RZA, Rae, Meth and Red—and they all have their own utterly unique crazy styles, the last of a dying breed. Most recently I talked to RZA about The Tao of Wu which was amazing. He’s is so focused and responds to every life experience like a lesson, from poor and hustling to being incredibly famous and well off. Most rappers, when they talk about spirituality, are corny as fuck, but anybody’d would be privileged to listen to RZA discuss wisdom, chess, Sun Tzu, five percenters, whatever.

My stories aren’t that crazy, mostly just anecdotal. I was having a really bad interview with Cam’ron and I asked him something totally random like “DO YOU TAKE YOUR GIRL OUT DANCING” and he was like “This interview is over, B.” He’s said those exact words to like three separate people I know. It felt like some sort of milestone, getting shut down by Cam’ron. Like a battle scar or a music journalist bat mitzvah.

What's Ghostface like in person? That Brett Ratner story about burying the bucket of fried chicken is crazy.

Actually I interviewed him over the phone, but the one time I met him was at a listening session in the green room at Nokia Theatre like 20 minutes before his show. He was super tall, wearing a hoodie and totally reserved, I think he was “in the zone,” trying to psych himself up. There was no chicken around but if there was I’m sure it would have been mayhem.

What do you think of the troop surge in Afghanistan?

I’m not sure I understand the situation completely. I do think that if we’re not going to withdraw completely and let Afghanistan stabilize itself (if that is even possible), the troops already stationed there need assistance, though it seems like a full-on surge is the wrong move away from withdrawal. However my opinion is based almost entirely on reading the Times, al-Jazeera (English version) and talking to a friend of mine who’s been an embedded photographer there for the past few years. His name is Peter van Agtmael and you can see his work at

Despot wants to know if he can have a pair of Levis. I don't know why. Can he? Can I? Why do you think he's asking?

Yeah what’s you guyzes sizes? He’s asking because he knows I’m the female version of a hustla.

I read what you write all the time. I think you have great taste in tunage. What are some blogs YOU read? Who besides yourself and obviously myself do you think has great taste in tunage. No, who do think has the BEST taste in tunage? Even if we'll have no idea who they are.

Aww thanks, I read what you write all the time too. Right now my favorite shit is every podcast ever from, a radio station in London. It’s all the hotness of what is happening now in grime, dubstep, funky, house, jungle, whatever. Next level dance music. Geeneus, Roska and Angie B & Dogtaniun, Newham Generals, Dub Police, sometimes Crazy Cousins or whoever will do a guest spot. Also good for working out.

I don’t know who has the BEST taste in tunage, there are always posts on some blogs that bum me out just like I’m sure I bum people out when I post techno videos about wolves on the FADER. Some other stuff I like: (Neon Gold, they have a record label w/exclusives but always post decent rock stuff) (Ghetto Bassquake, our dude Boima who produces with an emphasis on global bass musics) (Trini Posse. If you want to GET JACKED on caffeine and listen to soca 24 hours a day, and who doesn’t?, they will hook you up)

Tekserve is a block away from your headquarters and with a publication that embraces technology such as your own, do you think your location was a calculated decision? Or do you think it more had to do with the proximity to shake shack?

Yes. Like bank drive-thrus in the suburbs, we have a tube that goes through our building, underneath 6th avenue, and shoots back up into Tekserve. It is through this that we transmit all of the secrets of the internet in the land. We, along with the good Tekserve employees, are the Keepers of the Ether, tasked with safeguarding and evolving the future of all information online. It is our destiny, as the occupants of the 13th floor in the Masonic Temple headquarters.

What are 5 things you absolutely despise right now?

* Money

* People from the Ivy League/”Families” who whine because their rise-thru-the-ranks/Skull & Bones Conde Nast editorialships are no longer a birthright. Welcome to the proles dudes!

* Biters

* The instability of Mexico and by extension Bush I / NAFTA

* When people call me at work to ask banal shit like “what’s your web address” (it’s

What if Bjork did the hook on "Empire State of Mind"?

I could shake my uneasy feeling that Alicia Keys is constantly 1/8 off-key, and Jay-Z would have rapped about the Mole People in the subways instead of his Tribeca loft.

What are 5 things you absolutely love right now?

- Nicholas Kristof & Cheryl WuDunn

- Lil Kenny & the $hebangs’ “Straight to Your Head” (

- Spoek Mathambo’s blog / slang lexicon (

- Jean Charles de Castelbajac Spring/Summer 2010 (

- You (Editor's note: YESSSSSS)

What sort of things do you like to take pictures of on your phone? What's the most recent phone picture you sent to someone?

I take pictures of random shit around New York. Most recently, I saw some graffiti for this Pakistani bike gang called “PAKI RYDERZ,” so I took a pic and sent it to your friend and mine, Zeb Malik, cause I knew he’d be stoked. Shout out to the Popo bros. (Editor's Note: Shout out to the Popo Bros, and PAKI RYDERZ)

Be honest. Have you at any point ever worked at The Source? My friend Ilirjana from Apache Beat once told me she worked at The Source. I'll probably interview her and ask her all about working with Benzino. But yeah, have you ever worked at The Source? What was working at VIBE like? What was the overall vibe at VIBE? Positive? Negative?

I never worked at the Source. Never even freelanced! My ex-boyfriend worked at XXL, he probably would have dumped me on principal.

VIBE was super cool. My boss at the time, Danyel Smith, was kind of like my mentor—a real legend, too—and there was a terrifically smart energy, tough and grueling but fun and rewarding, with an emphasis on Actual Journalism and taking people and topics seriously that no one else would. I was there when we put Obama on the cover, real early in the primaries when most Dems still thought Clinton was a shoo-in, and it felt major.

There were weird aspects though. I had to spend a lot of time hanging out with people like Bow Wow and Pretty Ricky.

Here are some FADER themed questions:

Did you ever sport a high-top fade?

No, but I had a crush on Kid in junior high.

Do you ever get faded?

You know I live in New York, is this a serious question? Never not faded.

Have you mastered the fadeaway?

I suck at basketball but am really good at salsa dancing.

What do you think of burning out vs fading away?

Immortality is the apex but fading away can also be cool. Stacey Q dropped out the game after “Two of Hearts” and became a devoted Buddhist and is now permanent BFFs with the Dalai Lama.

Is Fade to Black a metallica or ac/dc album? or a Jay-Z movie? Which is the best?

Who are Metallica and AC/DC? “Fade to Black” is first and foremost a Jay-Z live movie, maybe the best concert film ever made, and definitely one of the most bombastic bits of Debordian chutzpah of our time. Like, who else gets a movie when they fake-retire? It’s like getting married to one of your friends just so you can collect a bunch of free shit from Crate & Barrel. The ruse is up, WE ARE COMING TO COLLECT.

Secondly, “Fade to Black” is an amazing electronic pop ANTHEM made by this cool girl MNDR, which you can listen to here:

What did you think about Sonic Youth on Gossip Girl and the DJ Rupture reference in 90210. The fuck is going on?

People like you and I are getting jobs in mainstream TV screenwriting and are GETTING OVER something fierce.

Dear screenwriters making these weird moments happen: please holler at me, I can hook you up with Brooklyn’s most arcane! Chuck Bass totally needs a plotline with Das Racist. Let’s get subversive.

My friend has a crush on Matthew Schnipper. Do you have a crush on Matthew Schnipper?

Of course. It is so painful to come to work every day because he is so close to me—just a few feet away, there, with his sandwich cookies and his air guitar—and yet he is so, so far. Actually no, that would be gross, like incest. But I just told him you asked this question and he wants to know if your friend is a cute girl.

Do your feminist beliefs ever create a conflict of interest with your unabashed appreciation of dancehall music?

Yes, but my feminist beliefs create a conflict of interest with basically every aspect of life in the patriarchy so hearing Vybz Kartel talk about his cocky on the radio is relief and respite from the bullshit of day-to-day. I’m a feminist, and I like to wine. People are complicated!

You can read Julianne's writing and listen to what she's listening to here: You'll notice second down from the top is a song by a band called Bear In Heaven. Gordon Gartrelle will be interviewing that band soon. Also, coming soon is an interview with Dean Bein who founded True Panther Sounds which is now a part of Matador and recently put out the stellar Girls album entitled "Album".


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hey so this is a break from my typical "dream journal" blog entries, but basically Flavorpill hollered at Das Racist to write a response to Sasha Frere-Jones' recent essay "Wrapping Up" about the death of hip-hop and I felt I should also post this old email I sent a while back (when it was actually relevant) about SFJ's (apparently infamous) essay "A Paler Shade of White" so that I could link to it from the Flavorpill article for reference.

So here it is, basically unedited:

...while i think frere-jones does pick up on an interesting point in describing his experience in his band that miscegenation/appropriation (i feel both terms are acceptable and can be used in value neutral ways) "felt" more "odd" and even "seemed insulting" in the territory ofthe "intimate gesture" of singing, he doesn't develop it very much, and misses and opportunity to segue into how lyrics factor into this. he doesn't, in my opinion, give enough credence to the way a lyric informs its performance and the way a performance informs its lyric is and the resulting feedback loop in which a lot of disbelief can be suspended and a lot of complex contradictions can coexist in a way that makes some sort of emotional sense, for example when he typifies stephen malkmus' lyrics as "allusive and oblique" in (apparently from the context of the article) an attempt to illustrate their tendency towardswhite tropes, or when he describes wilco's lyrics as "embarassingly poetry laid" to the same end. "allusive," "oblique," and " embarassingly poetry laid" lyricism are hardly qualities that one could argue to be "whiter" than they are black. in fact, i think most of the dichotomies he constructs in the article are far from compelling and in fact, often pretty shaky.

also, while i can take no issue to a statement to effect of prince and mick jagger being two examples of "fus[ing] disparate" racial or racialized frontman/vocal styles (and i appreciate that he uses a term like "fuse" versus the more oft-used and less accurate word as "transcend," which i think oversimplifies things) and while i can more or less concede to naming a couple of black (or at least, historically recognized as of african origin) musical tropes to be "swing" or "some empty space," i think typifications such as "full-throated vocals," "ecstatic singing," "intense, voicelike guitar tones" or even "palpable bass frequencies" are too vague/non-specific to hold much water. i think a number of his descriptions of white tropes are pretty here-nor-there: "mumble and moan," "hid[ing] their voices under noise," and "raucous sing-alongs" don't strike me as more specifically whitethan black, yet he uses them to describe white music in contrast to black music.

and while i don't object to, for academic/journalist/philosophical reasons the investigationof geographic and social/cultural origins of specific musical tropes, i'm perplexed by how he doesn't seem to want to attempt any sort of argument with them, perhaps because he is afraid of "being accused of reductionism, essentialism, or worse." he seems to want to say that he laments that "soul, blues, reggae... funk" and other "attributes of African-American popular music" are "missing" from the "DNA" of arcade fire and "dozens of other accomplished [and "less entertaining"] rock bands" and in fact says as much in my opinion, but then sort of easily backs out of any confrontation by saying (rightfully) that there's "no point in faulting Arcade Fire for what it doesn't do." if there is no point in doing that, then what exactly is the argument of the essay? if the aim of the essay is to provide a set of novel observations and talking points (in that classic, New Yorker editorial style) about "the racial pedigree of American pop music," then why bother framing it as a reviewof an arcade fire concert? or if the framing was for the sake of injecting himself in the article to remind us of the subjective nature of these types of things or for the sake oftrying to emotionally locate the origins of his essays' questions, then why didn't he delve more into *why* he "really wanted to hear" the elements of black music in arcade fire in the first place, or *why* the musicians who inspired his own music were mostly black (or else "white bands heavily indebted to black music"), or further explore *why* singing is more feels intimate (and thus more dangerous) than playing an instrument (hint: language).

frere-jones seems to have a willingness to consider race on one hand but then avoids acknowledging his own personal/subjective/emotional involvement with ideas of race on the other hand. not that it is particularly easy to talk about race, but i think that the article pretends a sort of boldness (from the preference of the sexually charged term "miscegenation" over the term "appropriation" to referring to the rise of critical theory as an age of "political correctness" in which musicians felt "as though [their] parents had come home and turned on the lights," to even saying flat-out that most other critics don't attempt what he's doing for risk of being called racist) when, in fact, the article is pretty timid.

i also just kind of find him sort of silly (don't know any other way to put it really). like when he talks about how "Elvis Presley stole the world away from Pat Boone and moved popular music from the head to the hips." ...i think the language is theatrical to the point ofsloppiness. i would hardly call pat boone cerebral for one, and to pose elvis and pat boone as a dichotomy rather than two different points along the lighter side of a gradient ofappropriation is to me a bit easy.

or when he suggests (and of course uses the get-out-of-jail-free qualifier---that i admittedly use as well---of "you could argue") that snoop and dre are the most important pop musicians since bob dylan and the beatles, it just plays into the very mythology he seems to be trying to debunk in some ways. i mean i think i know what he's getting at when he says that and maybe it's just the nature of having to speak in the language of the new yorker's readership but i feel like even frere-jones himself obviously sees how bob dylan's "importance" is impossible without the historical precedent of robert johnson and woody guthrie, or how the beatles' "importance" is impossible without the historical precedent ofpretty much every motown artist, or how snoop and dre's "importance" is impossible without the historical precedent of slick rick and parliament/funkadelic to name just two ofthe more obvious direct influences. he seems to gauge the term "importance" by using commercial success as the sole equilibrium of his so-called objectivity. and while music history is inextricable from the history of capitalism, that doesn't mean that it's particularly useful to consider the chronic to be more "important" than say bizarre ride 2 tha pharcyde or redman's whut?

or how he describes eminem as a "protégé of Dr. Dre's who spent part of his youth in Detroit [where] he had to be better than the local black competition simply in order to be accepted—a fascinating inversion of the racism that many blacks have encountered in the workplace." i think statements like these are illustrative of frere-jones' general unwillingness to complicate his own argument with the burden of actual history. black discrimination against a white rapper is in my opinion not comparable to the long history ofeconomic disparity between blacks and whites in the u.s. labor force, and especially so when considering rap's significance as a historically black music whose artists spoke ofthe black condition and often tended to be rebellious and hostile to the dominant (white) ideology. speaking of which, he characterizes sampling as of the hip hop camp, and therefore black, but later talks places panda bear (a heavily sample-based artist) in the white camp because of his "[Brian] Wilson"-esque "beatific multi-tracked harmonies" that "evoke the sound of glee clubs and church choirs" (which, by the way, are also present in the four fifths black band tv on the radio, and, i might add, there are black church choirs too). basically this dude is all over the place but kind of nowhere at the same time...

one of the few things in the article i can get behind is the statement: "Pop music is no longer made of just a few musical traditions; it's a profusion of strands, most of which don't intersect, except, perhaps, when listeners click "shuffle" on their iPods," but where he goes with that thought doesn't really make sense to me: "Thirty years ago, [Devendra] Banhart might have attempted to imitate R. Kelly's perverse and feather-light soul. Now he's just a fan." what? i won't even dignify that with a deconstruction.

he goes on to say, "The uneasy, and sometimes inappropriate, borrowings and imitations that set rock and roll in motion gave popular music a heat and an intensity that can't be duplicated today, and the loss isn't just musical; it's also about risk." which, on top ofbeing nearly as incomprehensible as the banhart/r. kelly quote, just strikes me as sentimental and nostalgic.

and maybe this is just a generational thing, where we have less reverence
for concepts of aesthetic hierarchies than the folks before us? maybe because we look back on a history of pop music that comes to us via the internet in no particular chronology? i don't know... but i do know that frere-jones' writing feels old to me. particularly his ideas about race.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

\\\\\ interview with a dallas penn

According to VIBE: Dallas Penn is not an old man, but he’s certainly an old soul, and his website, is the exact same way..... In addition to, his “Internets Celebrities” ( series – a collaboration with Rafi Kam of – has garnered a cult-like following with its satirical YouTube bits about everything from grocery shopping at Bodegas to the crazy creation of "Ghetto Big Macs". His commentary on focuses primarily on the East Coast boom bap he grew up on as a young kid in New York City, he also blesses his readers with streaming audio of the music hip hop samples, groups like the Ohio Players get as much shine as Wu-Tang Clan. In other words, Dallas Penn is old school and so is Class is in session.

Dallas Penn was one of the earlier doods to put us on to people, and not on some "hipster," "indie" or whatever whatever, but just as rap. The respect is mutual. How would I not appreciate a dude (NH) who would make this:

or under the banner of Internets Celebrities and along with the homie Rafi Kam of Oh Word, this:

or write THIS, THIS or THIS.

Local dude from Queens who uses humor to discuss rap, race, and food appreciates the work of other local dude from Queens who uses humor to discuss rap, race, and food. - Associated Press

Dallas was nice enough to answer some questions we had for him:

- Does a future in which all nations have dismantled their nuclear weapons seem likely?

Nuclear weapons are washed up. Biological agents and hyper-natural weaponry leaves less damages to property. Some LRAD shit can fry your brain in a split second while a fine particulate pollutant can choke our asses to death. Nukes are sloppy like old school rappers. There was that record back in the day called Nagasaki but no one wants to hear that shit anymore.

- Where were you and what were you doing on 9/11?

I was at a job site in downtown Brooklyn at the on ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge. I didn't see the first plane go into the towers but I did see the second one. People were in a panic, running out of the office and screaming. I stood still and watched the whole time. After the towers fell I went to get my car and I drove back to my parent's crib in Baldwin where I was occupying the basement. My dad thought that the world was going to end. I was sad like I had lost a family member. Twin brothers actually.

- Are you excited for Where The Wild Things Are? Why are so many people excited for Where the Wild Things Are? Why am I excited about Where the Wild Things Are? Are black people excited for Where the Wild Things are? Speak on behalf of all of that large group of people please. (Editors Note: Been done peepted the film and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

I am excited for Where The Wild Things Are. I think anyone that is familiar with Sendak's book and favors it will be excited. I would say that percentagewise Black people are more excited than the Eskimos, asian diaspora and probably non-English speaking Latinos. But Blacks also spend more money per capita on entertaining themselves. Black people would be be excited for a remake of DW Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation' if Tyler Perry directed it.

I would prefer to see Into The Night Kitchen because its trippy and I like to get high from eating baked goods

- Do you have the standard pseudo-space mac background on your computer? If not, what's back there? If you have a laptop, do you have any stickers or decorations on it? Do they cover up the apple logo? Do you think people do that because they want to pretend to be ashamed to own a mac?

I have one of those jazzy hard shells on my Blacbook which is silly considering that I move my laptop from my desk only twice a year. Apple makes their shit to appeal to people's base elitist aspirations. The same asshats that separate their garbage are the fuxwads that are proud of the tools they own. I know a Stanley hammer will install a nail just as well as a Craftsman but we still want the product that has the cache of making us better through the relationship. I like Apple for the iMovie software and so that I can look down on other Blacks who own Dells.

- You ever fuck with flavored vodka? Not a skippable question.

Hells Chea I fux with flavored vodkas. Stoli Vanil is mah sheet. I remember being so drunk one night that I saw a bottle of Stoli Bluberi and thought that the flavor was dingleberry. It was surprisingly refreshing with tonic. I preferred the Stoli Ovary tho'. I was saddened to later find out it was only orange flavoring. Think about it, Stoli Ovary would have to blend into the best tasting Bloody Mary evar. Natch.

- I saw your Unkut interview. Ima flip the script. What are five things you REALLY like and enjoy right now?

The five things I am currently going gaga (no hermaprodite) for are Nike SB Dunks, Penn Station's Au Bon Pain sells a self-serve peach iced tea that I mix with their homemade lemonade, Sean Price aka Ruck-'Lo, Curb Your Enthusiasm and just the internets in general.

- Are you into chocolate bars or candy candy? What do you think that says about you versus the other option?

I fux with chocolate bars [pause] and candy. I don't mixes them tho'. I had a box of choco-covered gummi-bears and I shit myself. Segregate your sugars. I'm'a sweetist. Stand up Swedish. My nig.

One time we were e-mailing and you said "Middle class Blacks in the 90's were having their children kidnapped by the ideaology of lower class Blacks. We thought we needed to do dumb shit to affirm our Blackness. Not realizing that being in the skin we were in was enough for the rest of the world to hate us." - THAT HAPPENS WITH INDIANS TOO!!!! - Do you think there's less of that going on in the '00s? Do you think there's more white people being kidnapped by the ideology of lower class blacks in the '00s than the '90s? Do you think there's more white people being kidnapped by the ideology of lower class blacks than middle class blacks?

- You quoted me as saying lower class Blacks. Did I say lower class or working class? Semantics aside we do have a collective Bart Simpsonizing of young people here in our country. Mostly boys, natch. When I was coming up the smart-dumb mindset is what I aimed for. You know the difference between right and wrong and if you opt for the wrong side you accept the consequences of your choice.

Indian youth may confront similar pressures to buck conforming but the longterm repercussions remain vastly different from other people of color. The legacy of African Americans within Western culture is set up as a perpetually antagonistic position. Brown and beigish peoples will admit their non-whiteness while explicitly declaring their non-Blackness. NO ONE wants to be Black. That shit is fucked the fuck up.

At the end of the day everybody has a cross to bear when they are a youth. Kids can only break things if they aren't taught how to build things. Life is sweet architecture that you build towards the sun. Why can't I rub some sun on my face too?

What do you think Bahamadia is doing right this minute?

Breathing I'm sure. Shouts to Bahamadia, Yejide, Mz.Badu, my boo Jill Scott.

Do you know any women that listen to Black Moon?

Who doesn't like Black Moon? Who hasn't owned an Eastpak, A Jansport, a North Face, Manhattan Portage messenger bag? Any female that has grown up in NYC in 1992 loves Black Moon. For that reason alone there will be enough female fans of Black Moon.

If Hennessy did an event with Black Moon I guar-ran-tee that women will be up in that piece clapping they ass off. Literally and figuratively. (Editors Note: Really though?)

Sometimes I jokingly say "Read a blog dude". Do you think the expression will catch on as people continue to read less books and more of the internet?

I am talking to those people right now who were told to read a blog. I'm very appreciative they did that and found my voice. I would still be having discussions with myself anyhoo so I don't mind the company and the community on the internets. No matter how retarded I feel sometimes its cool to talk to someone else equally/similarly retarded. I hope more people find the good use of the internets.

Who would win in a fight: you or Dallas Austin? I say you.

Dallas Austin went through that wild arabic prison stint. I've only got a few short stays in the bookings. I've never showered in jail so he has that over me. Pause [ll] to having him over me.

Who's the most talented actor out of these five: Greg Kinnear, Wood Harris (who I always think is called Ace Woods for some reason), Mekhi Phifer, Gary Sinise, or B.D. Wong?

Gary Sinise does great character actor work as does Wood Harris. Mekhi Phifer was sublime in 'Clockers'. I knew cats who were just like his character. Greg Kinnear and BD Wong are serviceable. Pause [ll] to servicing people.

What do you order in Subway if you order in Subway?

I prefer Quizzno's bread over Subway's but Subway gives me greater beverage choices. When in Subway I always go with the turkey swiss bacon club, tomatos, baby spinach and red onions. Oh and yeah, mayo > mustard.

Do you think Hov really knows how much Swizzy's new Basquiat cost? Basquiat was a solid dood. Do you agree? Why?

I do imagine that Jay-Z knows how much Swizz Beats Basquiat costs. I think they talk about contemporary pop artists whose shit the fux with. These dudes are wild rich. What else do wild rich people have to kick it about other than the fabulous (no 'Loso) shit they acquire?

I fux with Basquiat for a piece he did called the 'Trickster'. In African mythology(where in Africa I'm not sure but the Mormons would know since they keep good records like that) the Trickster character is a guide to the future. He speaks in riddles sometimes and uses language cleverly to lead people to their fate. Fate not hardly being a bad thing natch.

I like to imagine myself as a Trickster as well. I use my weblog to post Tricksterisms. Most people run from me because they are scared to see me expose their lack of humanity. We are all so selfish and self-absorbed. I think Basquiat was genius and generous to a fault. The drugs and the company he kept was his downfall.

What are 5 dope things about Queens?

Queens is the center of New York City. I know this because I have been looking at subway maps for as long as I can read. Queens has the best food in the city from Colombian to Indian to Dominican to east Asian. Everthing. You can prA'li find anything you want from an ethnic perspective by riding on the #7 train. I love shopping in Queens. The Queens Center Mall was NYC's first foray in suburban megaplex consumerism. The Hall of Science, the Lemon Ice King, the White Castles on Northerrn Blvd in Jackson Heights, Los Metropolitanos. My great grandmas house on 112th Street. I was raised in Queens. We da' bast!

Stay tuned as tomorrow we'll have an interview with homegirl Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Executive Editor at FADER.


Google Analytics