facebook twitter tumblr newsletter
By Maryam Monalisa Gharavi
Whose universal is it anyway? South/South 2009-2012
rss feed

—“but was it a peaceful protest?”


◊     ◊     ◊

I was looking at a picture of Hamoudeh—Mohammad Azzehs’ nickname—being carried to a waiting ambulance. He was bleeding profusely, and in obvious pain. A co-worker asked about the picture, and I told her that my friend was shot the day before protesting against the Israeli occupation. He is only 15 years old, and we don’t know if he’ll live or die, I told her. Apparently blind to the wounded, bleeding 15-year-old child in the picture, she replied coolly, “Yeah, but was it a peaceful protest?” Her response is an example of the casually, yet deeply held assumptions of most Americans regarding Palestine. Despite the grossly uneven contest between flak-jacketed, helmeted Israeli soldiers armed with an array of fully automatic weapons, small arms, tanks, armored vehicles, and sniper rifles, and the unprotected, unarmed teenaged children waving Palestinian flags and throwing stones with sling-shots, Palestinians are held guilty for any and all violence. Americans are conditioned to not see Palestinians, to not see Palestine.

Update: More than 15 Capoeira groups are holding solidarity rodas, including:

  1. Ramallah — Capoeira Freedom Collective Palestine
  2. Valencia, Bahia — Fundação International Capoeira Angola (FICA)
  3. Rio de Janeiro — Kabula
  4. Rio de Janeiro — Caxias
  5. Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo — Angoleiros do Sertao
  6. Rio Grande do Norte
  7. Washington DC — FICA
  8. New York — Grupo Acupe
  9. Chicago — FICA
  10. London — Capoeira Angola South London
  11. Oxford — Angoleiros do Mar
  12. Lyon — Cabula
  13. Bologna — Angola Dobrada
  14. Valencia, Spain — Filhos de Angola
  15. Berlin, Germany
  16. Amman — Vale da Lua
  17. Bologna — Angola Dobrada

Postcard from the Internet


Dear __________,

If you are an allochthonous being, a rock or precarious tree rooted out from one soil and transplanted elsewhere, you cannot ever take genealogy for granted.

Where the others can trace down to the specific historical vehicle or bloodlinewho brought whom where, with whom, which way, and howyou will be left to sift through the occasional photograph, the odd homeland trip, or bit of family gossip, dimly searching for the fragments of a shadowy century (or two, at most three). There is no suitable ancestry dot com for the immigrant.

But as I was moving through life saddened by the truth of this scattered sedimentation and exclusion from the world of heritage discovery, the internet came through for me, because kneeling in the lower-right hand corner of this 66-year old photograph—discovered by chance in an article on national Iranian football teams—is my grandfather.



Compose Yourself


There’s something really important happening in rap. It’s not so much that Young Thug is its leader—it’s foolish to think that way in an art form so intricately patterned with reference and relation—as he is the one pointing to the bounty that awaits those who kill their masters.

“A wise man told me nothing.” So far, in the four hours since it’s dropped, that’s the standout line for me from Slime Season 2. Illustrating this perfectly is the album art featuring Thug’s hands expertly manipulating the strings of his self-made puppet. He is not his art: he’s the possessor of the power (and means? and conditions?) that pushes expression through it.

SS2 isn’t so much a sequel as a fulfillment: realizing the dream of every artist to become a sovereign without exerting force. This iconoclastic stance notably echoes Thug’s once-idol (now: ?) Wayne who also sang no predecessor’s praise on No Ceilings‘ “Oh Let’s Do It”: “I keep them tools on me / Get the screwface / Flowers for the dead / Here’s a bouquet.”

Experimental collaborators are undoubtedly crucial to releasing this kind of material, but self-composition is its own special prize.

Some quick notes compiled at first listen:

• while I do miss the delirious crunk vibe of Slime Season this turnt Netflix & chill one is OK too;

• there’s such easy control in Thug’s voice, evidence of a true innovator holding relaxed reign over his ultra-stylized syncopation and variation;

• the engineering production (from Alex Tumay) is smooth and highly consistent from track to track, its aural richness and precision never overpowering the unpredictable shifts and slides in Thug’s vocal landscape;

• though it might share with ‪What a Time to Be Alive the polish of a studio album and the quickly-lit furnace of internet buzz, SS2 is more voluminous (20+ tracks) and off the cuff (e.g. Thug taking a polite aside to introduce Atlanta producer Wheezy as a new collaborative partner);

• the combinatorial power that makes Thug Thug is in full effect here, but at the center of all the free play is a big, red, juicy pumping heart;

• that heart is beating wildly and unapologetically for a lover or girlfriend than an ex-ed out ex (‪see: #WATTBA);

• more cannabis resin than codeine vapor;

• I was hoping for more tracks from LondonOnDaTrack and Southside (who still hold a respectable number of producer spots) but “Raw (Might Just)” from Treasure Fingers pushes and stretches Thug’s additive sound in a soulful and confident direction;

• “Flaws” is the fastest octane I’ve heard someone rap—and speed is a piss-poor indicator of brilliance—just before slowing their delivery into a whooshy smoothie blend … only to unbalance and ignite it all over again;

• there’s almost no decent music criticism of Thug except for what the thoroughfares of these internet streets have to say about him—and unlike more established, marquee-name “stars,” he takes great latitude in responding to the swelling demand for new tracks with timely, dizzyingly prolific, high-note scream output;

• there are almost no major awards and accolades thrust upon Young Thug from any corner of the music industry; that reveals far more about their prejudices and “taste”-induced impairment than it does about him.