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RAP GOES ARTHOUSE & OTHER BULLSHIT

February 20, 2011

So you’ve all worked out that Hype Williams copied ‘Enter the Void’ for the Kanye West ‘All of the Lights’ video? You get the slow clap…the slow, slow, slow clap. Why? Because most of the critics should buy the film rather than furiously upping YouTube links. Mr. Gasper Noé would get paid that way. Not to defend what’s clearly a copy, but with an apathetic shrug, all I can say is, that’s hip-hop for you.

Nobody got their panties in a bunch over Kanye using ‘Akira’ for ‘Stronger’…nobody was up in arms over a trillion ‘Scarface’ and ‘Casino’ bites…it is what it is. I’m more depressed that so many people popping shots hadn’t heard of the film in the first place — it’s the kind of film Blu-ray was built for and if more people are aware of it as a result…cool. I’ve posted here before about the BUF (who are doing the effects for this year’s ‘Thor’ film too) special effects reel when it went online, and the finished article justifies the wait.

What’s the problem?

Sure, rappers seem to do pretense badly…but we’re being assailed with pseudo-pretension from all sides at the moment. Kanye never seems too sure of the smarter moves like the Will Oldham ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ video and that short film of his was willfully and brainlessly esoteric to such needless, self-indulgent heights that it made me want to cut myself…yet I’m glad he does it. I can even tolerate the Disney on ice strings and Viva Pasta approach to opera. Why? Because most rap visuals are regressive nonsense. I haven’t forgotten that ‘Ye’s seemed oblivious to France’s creative under/overground when he threw a hissy fit at Jérémie Rozan and So Me back in 2006. But I’m glad that led to some collaborative work. At least it’s not that bullshit Wale video for the track sampling ‘D.A.N.C.E’ — that was a weak So Me imitation.

Most other rappers trying to get highbrow, fail because they don’t seem to have the team that Kanye’s got on their side….the best progenitors of fly abstraction in hip-hop (Sean Price, Ghostface, Action Bronson and company) aren’t trying to bend the rulebook…their brains are just wired differently — and if you tried to deconstruct their rhymes in front of you, they might hit you.

Now Tyler’s made like Nick Cage in ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ and chowed on a cockroach, expect a wave of rappers who started as faux-gully street dudes, then got tatted up to the neck and wore backpacks these last couple of years making a shift into being bugged-out dudes chatting about necrophilia…it’ll be just like 1997 again, except the rappers won’t all be wacky, self-conscious honkies talking about how crazy they are…prepare for a tsunami of quasi-craziness in a quest to get signed.

I’m just glad that Hype Williams has moved on from the shitty CGI in the Busta and Janet promo. That was doo. What does this bode for the future? A French Montana video homaging Fassbinder’s ‘Chinese Roulette’? Jodorowsky directing a Gunplay WSHH installment in Mexico? Someone taking Lars Von Trier on tour to document the ensuing debauchery? Seeing as Thomas Bangalter did some sound effects for ‘Enter the Void’ there’s some cohesion somewhere down the line. Could a future Noé-inspired piece depict a drunken Consequence smashing a man’s face in with a fire extinguisher after mistaking him for Pusha-T? Perhaps a squalid ‘I Stand Alone’ homage, featuring the broke-ass supporting cast from ‘The College Dropout’?

The closest rap seemed to get to foreign film homage lately was Jay-Z’s godawful record with Mr. Hudson which sampled Alphaville, meaning some kind of tenuous Godard affiliation. Most rappers are unlikely to talk foreign flicks, lest someone calls them gay. The Sandman ‘Anchor’ video actually did a good job of paying tribute to the depraved Belgian masterpiece ‘Man Bites Dog’ in 2008, but nobody seemed to care. The album might have sucked, but that guy cut through the dope-talk monotony of Re-Up records. Rap’s biggest cinephile is actually RA the Rugged Man…anyone who read his ‘Mass Appeal’ pieces knows that, but naming a track after Werner Herzog’s lunatic masterpiece ‘Even Dwarfs Started Small’ was an incredible move.

It’s also worth noting that the use of the fonts in the Hype interpretation come off a little Superdry. They might tie into the bold fonts on the G.O.O.D. Friday artworks, but the way Gasper sends the Futura Condensed that represents his Kubrick love into a mix that includes Constructa and ITC Elan is immaculate and having Tom Kan (who, beyond some remarkable photography and motion graphics, worked on some memorable Daft Punk and AIR graphic design) on board as Typography Designer gives him the edge. I still don’t even know if Tom of BUF were even involved in the “homage” at any stage.

 

Other things on my mind today have been this picture of Miles Davis that I spotted on Miles Davis Online that links to talk of suede jackets a few weeks back…I don’t want this blog to turn into one of those stern image blogs, but Miles is always worth posting. Progressive cool until the very end. Nice watch too. I still wonder where he got that legendary ‘Milestones’ green button-down shirt from. The Andover Store? Brooks Brothers? I thought this Ralph Lauren article from fall ’08 in Ivy League style and jazz would have the solution, but it didn’t. It’s a good read regardless.

I’ve talked about the ultra-bleak and once-rare 1966 Canadian documentary ‘The Things I Cannot Change’ here a couple of times too…I only just noticed that it’s available on DVD and to stream on the site here. While it’s laden with anti-glamour, and makes the father of the family look pretty dislikable throughout, I was struck by how beautiful it all looks. Tanya Ballantyne’s film made the Bailey family a laughing stock locally, and sadly I’ve never seen the sequel, 1986’s ‘Courage to Change,’ but the fight over six dollars that leaves Kenneth Bailey looking worse for wear half an hour in is still one of my favourite onscreen scraps of all time.

Visiting the U-Dox office, big dog/HNIC Russell had a copy of the Queensbridge Park issue of Japan’s 212 Magazine lying around. Other than providing the browser with great snapshots, it really sold the Air Max 2009 to me all over again. Yellow and grey is a killer combo and I regret not picking them up. Cut through the swathe of deck shoe dickheads with totes and New Yorkers know how to rock shoes properly in the summertime.

If you’ve been waiting for Dave Carnie’s ‘boob’ book to reach the UK without an insane shipping charge, my buddies at Platform have just upped an excellent interview with Dave and are selling signed copies of the 720 page epic for £19.99. I was growing old waiting to get my hands on this one and if you don’t know, you need to get to know Carnie. Him badmouthing magazines and bigging up Celine’s writing style is more truth spoken.

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