Sunday, December 03, 2006

50 shots

If ever there were a genre that produced the least amount of emotional value for me I'd say it would be hip-hop. Perhaps I'm ignorant, and I am, of a large portion of the genre but I've heard my fair share of the music. Aside from certain songs designed to cause a knee jerk reaction to racism or gang warfare I tend to search for other meaning in hip-hop besides body-shudder aural landscapes.

Thats not to say hip-hop holds less value for me than, say, Eno or Bjork. Its just that I'd rather put one of those two on when driving through a thunderstorm at night or, you know, doin it. In hip-hop I tend to search more for political or word jungle-gymming or booty shakin value. That, in turn, is not to say that none of those reasons do not equate to some sort of emotional value with me, but, like I said, I mean emotional as in seeing the center of all things in a well placed crescendo, plucking it from its stem and takin' a lil bite.

Perhaps it's the heavy beats. Perhaps it's the emphasis most hip-hop places on circular loops rather than linear song progression. Perhaps I'm a rockist at heart. Perhaps there is a fat, dripping, slimy wall of White Guilt in the way.

However! Papoose, a Bedford Stuysavant (okay. I giggled a bit at my own joke there) who has been around for several years creating buzz for himself in NY and turning down record deals because they "use gimmicks as well as fake street and jail images to sell records", recently produced a song called "50 shots." It's in response to the recent shooting in Queens of the 23 year old Sean Bell, the day before his wedding, by Police. I'll let you do the research if you haven't heard the news yet, but suffice to say: its some fucked up shit.

Papoose's response, though far far far from polished (no surprizes considering the time between), gives me the heartfeeling of pain and remorse and fear and harsh harsh deep deep anger that the black community in Queens, all over the US for that matter, must and should feel. Papoose welds his emotions and intelligence into his voice and words unlike anything I've ever heard in a hip-hop song before:
I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired son/
hope a change get here before a revolution come

Drastic, maybe rash, words but deserved and poignant. And beneath it all Sam Cooke's beautiful and heart wrenching 'Change Gon' Come,' all Kanyetized but slowing back for a moment between verses to pause our concept of race relations and ask us, soulfully and sadly from inside the time bending musical wormhole if the change has actually come at all?

The most affecting moment of the song is the fifty shots, I counted them, played at the end over Cooke's strings.

Fifty is a number, until you hear how long fifty takes to shoot.

listen: 50 shots

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