Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kick in the Door

Also a certain president's motto

Zion I and the Grouch - "Kickin' It" (mp3)
(purchase here)

7L & Esoteric - "3 Minute Classic" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Late last week, "the biggest real estate deal in American history" quietly went down. In truth, this event would have escaped my sight, too, if it hadn't been for a co-worker, who resides in Stuy Town, filling me in. From the aforementioned link:

"Tishman Speyer Properties, which owns a global collection of prominent buildings including Rockefeller Center, is adding a staggering 80-acre chunk of Manhattan to its portfolio. Heralded as the biggest real estate deal in American history, Tishman Speyer and its partner BlackRock Realty have agreed to purchase Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, located on the east side of Manhattan between 14th and 23rd Streets, for $5.4 billion. The site is currently home to 110 apartment buildings, containing 11,232 individual units."

Anyone familiar with New York City knows that the PJs 'affordable housing' is alive, but getting its "azz" kicked. Dallas' observations got me thinking: it's not just the nation of millions holding folks back, it's also the bankroll or debt in the millions that's pushin' 'em out. Ah, and it do push 'em, it push 'em real good.

So I understand the concern when a transaction like this occurs. We're watching a huge swath of middle class affordable housing in Manhattan -- and, accordingly, the middle class -- get the boot. Part of me suspects why the blogosphere isn't up in arms about this is because it is a world that consists of many upper class/upper middle class "up-and-comers" who one day may achieve that piece of the pie. But if you want to have a conversation about true diversity, then this means accepting that we exist on an un-level playing field. And that means making the effort to create a place for everyone, regardless of the size of their moneybags. Or the size of their penis or breast-ases.

Which brings me to today's selections, music that I typify as thoroughly middle class: from production to consumption on down to perception. The headspace of artists like "Zion I," "The Grouch," and "Esoteric" is too self-absorbed to relate to the greater conscience known as 'the mainstream.' And they exist and are supported by an entire like-minded community: one that's navel-gazes a bit too much for its own good, is reflexive against the 'establishment' (both above and below) while creating and operating within its own established order, and enjoys the comfort of this space. Really, I'm shit-talking because it's a community like any other; it just sits in the middle between those who jack Apple Jacks and the swagger jackers who invest in Apple.

However, much like the mad real world, the perceived "other" in music is getting the bump, too. Musicians are increasingly being treated as fly-by-night operations, as opposed to long-term investments. So, make that money quick, son, because Jeezy quickly begets Juc, who quickly begets Unk, who quickly begets... you get the picture. As much as I clown on the underground, I grow increasingly concerned that they are getting the squeeze. How much longer can the Living Legends turn around albums and support their selves, their families, et. al. on their music? 4080 ain't about good lookin' out and fans are even more fickle (not that the artists are all saints).

So, it's with a certain relief that I see 'old-timers' pushing it along, trying to find new ways to challenge themselves and... well, live. Zion I and the Legends have been both neighbors and collaborators in the past, but Heroes in the City of Dope is the first for the Grouch and Zion to flow over an entire album of Amp Live prodo. The new school reach-around "Hit 'Em" (featuring the Yay Area Redman Mistah F.A.B.) ain't half bad, "Current Affairs" slaps even harder, but I picked an unusual one because of the London Calling invocation. Though "Kickin' It" speaks more to the Clash's government paranoia, the song also reminds me of big money invasion. Fitting, considering the iconic punk image-turned-dorm reference. So, when Ratner kicks in your front door, how you gonna come?

The 7LESO cut seems to stray even further from our topic, but really provides the glue for the whole post: why it's better to go out with your hands on the trigger. On the duo's new album A New Dope, DJ 7L remarked: "It's about creative risks, and throughout our career for one reason or another, we haven't made enough of them. We wanted to challenge ourselves and our core fanbase." Now when's the last time an established artist admitted to slacking off? Talk about developmental leaders leading the way... from the middle. Not to overstate Dope; "3 Minute Classic" is straight porn talk. That said, the album kinda reminds me of Edan 2006 -- if Beauty and the Beat: 2005 hipster fascination with funky psych, then A New Dope: 2006 hipster love of electro/dark disco. Which leads me to this conclusion: there's something in that Boston water.

Boston underground hip-hop: sometimes, there isn't a place for mediocrity


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had been on my mind recently (no Mark Foley) so I decided to stop by your space.

Great post on Boston's underground identity. This post right here is a masterpiece.

I'm curiously watching the working class aspect of NYC get pushed to the outer rims of the outer boros. This is how they do the blue collar peeps in Paris. Folks have a hell'a long commute to the center city and then back home. Who knew there were so many rich bitches in NYC. I wonder if rich people taste tender like grilled lamb? Pretty soon the homeless are gonna be eating the rich.

6:55 PM  
Blogger sintalentos said...

shoot, is that the real meaning of 'trickle-down?' if filling nyc full of savory grilled meat, er, "children of privilege" also means feeding the needy, then i'm all for gentrification.

bring it on!

10:17 AM  

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