by carrie mclaren
It's Interview's turn to cover college rock again and this time 'round, WXYC gets the warm 'n' fuzzies as one of the “Five College Stations That Go Out on a Limb To Broadcast Truly New Music.” According to Interview, WXYC:
Has a long history of suporting local talent like Superchunk, Polvo, Archers of Loaf, and Small. Says Jay Faires of Mammoth Records, “WXYC is great example of the kind of college stations that allow bands to develop on their own terms.”
It's all true of course. In fact, you might even say the blurb about WPRB in Princeton, NJ, could also aply to WXYC. Interview quotes Tsunami's Jenny Toomey saying, “WPRB always plays that band you've been dying to hear, and they don't try to get laid by showing off how broad they are by playing Phillip Glass next to Bob Marley song.” As XYC djs Chris Palmatier and Pat Anders noted, “It hasn't helped us.”
Sure, Spin's always a mixed bag. Still, it's hard to see how a so-called alternative magazine could reasonably pass off its article exploring “Japan's bizarre fascination with American hip-hop culture” as anything other than racist (“Black Like Me,” by Andrew Jones, October 1993). Why Japan's “obsession” with hiphop is any more “strange, ethnocentric” than, say, Germany's thirst for American country music is never addressed. Even Billboard, in a similar article about Japanese reggae, provides a needed cultural perspective rather than depending on assumptions of the Japanese as Others.
The dichotomy Spin aims to examine is one in which Japan's “obsession” with hiphop goes hand-in-hand with that culture's continued use of blatently anti-Black images. But in pointing the finger at those wacky orientals, Andrew Jones seems to forget white America's own relationship with African-American music. Is it really so strange to find Sambo dolls and an appreciation of Black music in the same place? To find youths spending their dough in tanning booths to darken their skin? To find kids latching onto “X” wear to be cool? Sounds pretty normal to me. I guess you could call wannabe-blackness-tied-to-racial-unrest another American export.
Oh, but Jones does deliver the quotables. My favorite comes from Yu Takemae (aka You the Rock), frontman for a popular Tokyo hiphop group:
an, you stay with your own group and don't mix. So you get scared of people who aren't like yourself. Most Japanese are terrified when they see a black person.” Glancing over at Bushwick Bill and the Geto Boys posse across the rehearsal room, he adds, “I am too.”
Hell, I'd be terrified if I saw a gun-toting Bushwick Bill! (the Geto Boy known for, among other things, ordering his girlfriend to shoot 'n' kill him) Fortunately, not all Black people are Bushwick Bill.
Incidentally, the highlight of this particular Spin bore still more Bushwick Bill news. Ending off her essay on hiphop culture, dream hampton writes:
It was one of the best-attended panels at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. The moderator, Darryl Dawsey, a young columnist from Detroit, invited Bushwick Bill to join the writers who'd taken the stage to talk hip hop and journalism. The audience, many of them twice removed from the hip-hop generation, were thoroughly offended when Bushwick offered that the reason he depicts women as bitches and hos is because “that's all he meets.” One matronly type countered, “But what do you call your mother?”
“My mother!?” Bushwick got riled, detecting a dis. “I wouldn't fuck you, and if I did you'd be my bitch, too.” The moderator, other panelists, and the woman who'd posed the question gasped for air. Bushwick rambled on. Without a single word, 200 woman rose, turned, and walked out. “There's no way I'm gonna let some drunk, suicidal midget sit around and talk about these imaginary women he's fucking,” one woman said on her way out the door.
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