Excellent Chicago M.C Rhymefest has a dope new album out called “El Che”. In this here new song, “Give It To Me”, he rhymes about visiting Israel. Rhymefest performed in Tel Aviv along with producer Mark Ronson about a year and a half ago.
Found this tonight. Who knew summer camps were dancing to JDub tunes?!? One day, maybe I’ll tell you about my history as an Israeli line dancer. As you might imagine, it starts the summer after 5th grade…
YouTube is premiering a documentary about SoCalled on March 16th. It looks absolutely wild — and features Katie Moore, Fred Wesley, C-Rayz Walz, David Krakauer, Matt Haimovitz, Arkady Gendler, Benjamin Steiger Levine, D-Shade, Gonzales and Irving Fields. You can check out the trailer above.
I have neither a bride nor any other detail in place for my wedding; except that anyone who tries to pull a stunt like this will be ordered shot on-site.
I’m all for shtick at Jewish weddings. Heck, crazy stunts at weddings are even documented in the Talmud. Then again, so is throwing down glass in front of people who overdo their wedding merriment. And these chuppah-crashers deserve a big chandelier in the face.
Aside from being kitchy and irreverent, no one who delays the meal at a Jewish wedding should live to tell about it.
For some reason, deaf Jewish themes have been coming up in conversation recently. Last Shabbat dinner, I met a guy a bit older than me who was scheduled to have a cochlear implant this week. That reminded me of a powerful documentary about “deaf culture” I once saw on PBS called Sound and Fury, which explores the tension between technology and tradition. In a separate conversation, I was reminded of a blind-deaf theater & restaurant in Tel Aviv/Yafo, Israel, called Nalagaat. If you find yourself on that side of the Atlantic, it’s a profoundly beautiful performance. If you brush up on your Hebrew sign language video, maybe you won’t be tongue-tied while trying to order a drink from the deaf bartenders at the café.
About 3 weeks ago, this video began to make the rounds on the interweb.
With 17 million views to date, it’s quite a sensation. What interests me, however, is not how this is being used to rehabilitate Chris Brown’s image/brand (it’s his song they’re dancing to), but rather the fact that it appears his record company (or their affiliates), may have been behind the video’s success. Today, digital marketer Augustine Frou laid out this compelling case. Amongst his less technical, more interesting facts: most videos take 4-6 months to achieve the number of views this video recieved in DAYS, and the wedding party was booked to perform their dance on the Today Show only 6 days after they posted it to Youtube. (Morning TV is not easily or quickly booked, especially when the dance was done to an UNCLEARED use of a major label recording). Anna Maria Virzi, at Clikz, got Frou to summarize his case in layman’s/lazyman’s terms:
“This is one of the rare, if not the only, examples of a viral video that actually drove a measurable increase in sales. Unless someone from Sony or one of their PR agencies steps up to ‘claim credit’ for doing such an awesome job of not only driving sales but also polishing Chris Brown’s image at the same time, we may never truly know if they did this. But if they did, this would go down as a text-book case of viral video marketing done right.”
Understatement of the year. If this is actually how it went down, it takes viral marketing to an entirely new level, negotiating not just the flow of the message (interns posting on message boards, tweeting, submitting it to blogs0, but huge technical, legal, and bureaucratic hurdles. In the olden days of 2008, its probably more likely SONY would have had the video taken off of Youtube because the song use wasn’t cleared. Instead, they recognized a huge opportunity for a downtrodden artist and made a mountain out of a molehill.
So sorry Rihanna, it seems funny dancing is way more compelling to America than not supporting celebrities who beat the crap out of their girlfriends. (I lied when I said I wasn’t interested in WHY Sony might be so invested in tying the (apologetic) abuser to a most joyous, happy, nonviolent moment in a young couples lives.)
Last night at Central Park Summer Stage, prolific bluegrass artist Bela Fleck showcased the results of his endeavor to bring the banjo–evidently influenced by African string instruments–back to Africa. After playing a dazzling set alongside Malian Afropop star Toumani Diabate, Fleck introduced “Throw Down Your Heart,” a film by his half-brother, Sascha Paladino, documenting his banjo jam sessions with African musicians. While watching the film, my eye was drawn to signs of globalization on the African continent: a plastic bucket used to carry water, Maasai herdsmen discussing the allure of making money in the city versus the village, one of Mali’s most successful musicians cruising in a Lexus, and of course, Afropop itself.
As a traditional preservationist (and partly due to my white American Jewish guilt), I can’t help but mourn that Africa wasn’t left to persist or culturally evolve independently of the influence of Western civilization. Do global events, the evolution of communications and technology, and the movement of civilizations render the notion of a “pure” culture totally naive and unattainable? I hope not.
Still, perhaps the creation of beautiful music, and the use of music as a medium for dialogue, softens the blow of cross-cultural pollination to the traditional soul. Maybe that’s why Bela bought the banjo back to Africa, and why JDub exists for the Jews.
P.S. In case you missed it, Girls in Trouble’s Alicia Jo Rabins recently exported some American bluegrass to South America. Have a look. And check out JDub’s cantorial afropop kings, The Sway Machinery.