Love this cover of Talking Heads ‘Once In A Lifetime’ by Angelique Kidjo – reclaiming and rebooting those African rhythms. She’s recorded the whole of Remain In Light, adding her own lyrics and style, so it comes full circle. I love her take on appropriation – she doesn’t see why it’s a problem if it’s done with love or respect, and points out that African artists have been as inspired by the West as much as the West has been inspired by African rhythms and songs from the Blues onwards. It’s a trade-off.
Also find it funny those who are on a power trip, wanting to be the New Gatekeepers of what goes with this trade of cultural ideas – quite often have swallowed whole the ideas of the oppressor, the divisive identity politics, the privilege wars, the oppression olympics. All the stuff of cis white straight academe and is a new sort of imperialism, a new sort of toxic colonialism, trying to keep cultures in amber, in some heritage museum.
Some if it is useful, but quite often frames things in that Western privileged construct which avoids talking about class, it surprisingly doesn’t escape that restriction – let alone into the developing world where it should be the starting point.
Funnily enough some of them call themselves Marxists or socialists, which is wrong – if you want to divide people into labels and boxes, that isn’t forming any sort of unity…those ideas are problematic under Marx, for to divide the working class is to be conquered by those who profit from such division. It’s positively Ayn Randian if you look at it, the Cult of Me, Thatcher’s (grand)children exposing individuality over all. United we stand, divided we fall.
“I get tired of people who call themselves purists. Before you start talking about “purity,” look at yourself: Are you pure? What is pure in your surroundings? What is pure in nature? The rhetoric of purity, that’s what brought Hitler to power—looking for a pure race. We are not perfect, and that’s why we are brothers and sisters. The fact that we keep ourselves divided is exactly what the people in power want us to do. The more divided you are, the more power you give them, and the more they can kill you.”
And as she points out in that article, with Trump it’s surprising how the Reagan-era songs are so relevant now, corruption, the American Dream, confusion, anxiety…the Cold War themes. Like on her take of Born Under The Punches:
I’ve always been thankful for all the different kinds of artists that my parents were able to bring to me. My father would say, “Music is the language you speak. You belong to that. The music I’m bringing home is for you to be able to get out of this house, and wherever you go, you’ll feel comfortable.”
Also love her take on cultural mobility – people argue why kids need to learn the arts, culture, anything other that maths and english and what they need to get a job. But such knowledge aids movement – through social situations, other places, cultures or just of the mind. As as my father says, art is WHY you live, the rest is how. Why I think teaching the arts is important, being exposed to a wide range of culture, art, music is essential – it lets you engage with the world and it’s people.
(article via Peter Daniels)