Wait. You just listen to DJs?

April 7, 2009 in Music, Race

It took me longer than usual to recover from SXSW this year. The isitrocking experiment had me down on sleep before things even got started, and hitting B-Side’s late-night dancefest on opening night that featured video DJs Eclectic Method to celebrate RiP: A Remix Manifesto’s premiere, sealed my fate.

I have a love/hate relationship with Hip Hop. I was a regular at Nasty’s on Monday nights for years. Heck, we originally started WnDc just as an excuse to see DJ Mel spin on Wednesday nights. Unfortunately, what lurks on the underside of that slash is my firm belief that the current state of commercial Hip Hop has set African-Americans back decades. It’s not often I get excited about new acts, but…

Eclectic Method absolutely blew my mind.

With projection screens surrounding the dance floor, we didn’t just hear the music, we got to appreciate the mixing of music in a completely new medium. Even their cross-faders had little video screens! Sure, it took a while to warm to the idea of dancing and watching a screen at the same time, but when they sliced and looped a video of Obama preaching, “A government for the puppy, by the puppy” and put it to a beat, we all lost it.

Now, Eclectic Method isn’t strictly about Hip Hop, but their performances raise really interesting questions about mixing and sampling content, and no genre has embraced mixes and samples more than Hip Hop has.

But…it’s not a level playing field. Diddy can pilfer any track he wants, but high school sophomores get DCMA smackdowns if they cover “Winter Wonderland”. The Beatles handled the 2004 Grey Album just about as horribly as one could, but there are whispers they’re finally arriving on iTunes soon, and they’re even releasing a Rock Band-like Beatles game with Harmonix. Lars Ulrich led the early charge against Napster, but even he now admits that Trent Reznor is on the right track. Record Labels aren’t happy with their relationship with Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but Guitar Hero: Aerosmith made more money for the band than any one of their records ever did.

So all this craziness makes me wonder…

– What exactly is attribution?
– Is money the only way to appease the RIAA?
– What if each audio track had to identify each sample?
– What if each video had to show the source of each audio sample?

Come this fall, it’ll be 10 years since a fraternity brother strolled into my room babbling something about free music and some executable called Napster, but all of us (labels, artists, and fans) are still trying to figure out how to make all this work.

And I think it’s gonna be a while longer ’til we do.

If you’re in NYC, go check out Eclectic Method’s show tomorrow night and take lots of pictures for me. Everybody else, go snag their latest video mixtape. It’s hot.

5 Comments to Wait. You just listen to DJs?

  1. GREAT post! Music is something we can all relate to and especially when it’s done like this. I could show this video to my parents in their 60’s and they’d totally “get” it and enjoy it!

  2. Colleen on 7 April 2009
  3. Oh man, thx for putting this out there. Eclectic Mix sounds awesome. You mentioned the Grey Album (Frickin’ beautiful, btw). Have you heard the Beastles?


    dj BC doesn’t have the tracks on his site, but you should be able to scrape the ‘Net for the mixes.

  4. patrick on 14 April 2009
  5. (That should have read Eclectic Method sounds awesome…)

  6. patrick on 14 April 2009
  7. Ooo, no I haven’t. I’ll try to snag some…

  8. Mark Phillip on 14 April 2009
  9. What up cuz,

    One of my favorite topics indeed. In regards to your mention of how “we’re all still trying to figure out how to make this all work” is the truth to the 3rd power. Nobody has the answer but I will tell you, whoever figures it out first will be the next Russell Simmons. I’m actually hoping I figure it out first ;)

    Shameless plug: http://freshnerd.com/2008/09/my-open-letter-to-record-labels/

  10. FreshNerd on 21 April 2009

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