RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Monday, March 22

SONG OF THE DAY: Pana (chopped not slopped)

Acknowledged culture and actual culture don’t actually cross over all that obviously. A marginal tendril of our meritocracy myths is that the best, most important shit ends up being what we looks back on 25 years as “culture”. But that’s often determined by the power structures we live by, or means of consuming culture in our capitalist ass system. Like superhero movies… that shit is gonna be considered huge because it’s such a giant, expensive part of our American culture. You can argue with random ass people you only met once about superhero movie bullshit pretty easily. I’ve hardly watched them, and wasn’t a big comic book kid either, because I couldn’t afford shit as a kid (baseball cards took my limited surplus collecting shit as a kid income), and I’m not one to drop $10 on going to a movie either, so for the most part I’m too contrarian to be part of the superhero movie demographic. I guess it’s not really contrarian, because I don’t do it in a reactionary way; I just don’t care. A dude I work with got superhero advent socks and was stoked, and I was confused as hell as to how we sat in the same general vicinity of each other. Identity built through consumer culture is such a weird fucking aspect to life in this late American Empire, especially as it’s incubated in the internet Petri dish, where hardcores hassle newbs, and the standard American college fraternity system of extreme hazing has been replicated in relatively simple shit like “enjoying a thing”.
DJ Screw was a minor blip culturally, and is rightfully remembered as the originator of chopped and screwed music, and I’ve listened to a ton of that shit. I’ve got actual Screw tapes from the Screwed Up Shop (well, my kid took them, to be honest), and have most all the mixtapes on an external hard drive. This doesn’t mean shit, and doesn’t get me any special passes into secret societies. Basically it just means I’m a meticulous dork. But there’s a lot that’s grown off that simple “chopped and screwed” concept, including other dudes from Houston performing the same way, most notably OG Ron C (and also Michael 5000 Watts). Ron C has formed a whole ChopStars crew who have continued the movement, chopping and screwing (calling it “chopped not slopped”) their way through many more genres. But you’ve also got the discovery of Sonido Dueñez in Monterrey, who was selling slowed down mixtapes of cumbia music there at the flea market, back before Screw’s heyday, although completely separately. Most of these mixtapes have never seen the internet yet. (Trust me, I’m still a meticulous dork.) And on top of this, there’s individuals worldwide now experimenting with chopping and screwing various music in a multitude of programs, not to mention people (like me) just straight up slowing music down for a new listen, like I do playing old 45s at 33 rpms on my turntables, loud as fuck, scaring the cats, as Charlie Rich ominously bellows about going behind closed doors.
All of this is to say, what is considered “culture” is still subjective, and society doesn’t give a fuck about anything in any real meritocratic way. The fact everybody you know will watch the same new shows on Netflix or HBO Max or whatever shows us this – we are all very much motivated by what is throw in front of us, in Pavlovian ways. University of Houston has a DJ Screw collection, but to be honest, even having academia validate you doesn’t make you memorable culture. There’s a lot of academia at this point, with it being a pretty big industry that whole “go to college and get a degree” foundational tenet of the meritocracy. I’ve been guilty of that one myself, thinking, “Oh shit, somebody taught my book in a college class!” What does that even mean really though? It’s all so random and lacking any deep meaning.
Unless it gets stuck in people’s minds, without having to be maintained. Superhero shit lives in people’s heads, but that takes constant marketing and pushing new stuff out. The market is manufactured to an extent, like teaching kids to ride a bike, going downhill. Eventually it gains enough momentum that it just keeps going. But there’s also a good chance without the marketing continually pushing it along, and keeping it propped up, the whole thing will crash and just get left laying there in a broken hump.
I tend to imagine real culture as honeysuckle vine-esque, in that it will go uphill, even with nobody looking, and continuing growing in neglected corners of society. That’s actual culture, because it can sustain itself without marketing, or manufactured involvement. I’d suggest chopped and screwed music is a way more sustainable culture than superhero movies, because I know like half a dozen people chopping and screwing music, personally. I don’t know nobody making no superhero movies.
That’s actually sad. WHY ISN’T ANYBODY MAKING THEIR OWN SUPERHERO MOVIES? It’s because we think it requires too much money, and a certain level of special effects. We’ve been trained to price ourselves out of entertaining ourselves. But that’s a whole ‘nother meandering essay, to be honest. Then again, Nollywood laughs at this whole tangent of wonder, on a monthly basis. Culture is not the practice of doing what is acceptable to do so much as doing what the fuck you want to do, regardless, to enjoy yourselves. And the practices that stick around are culture, and the ones that only stick around in certain marginal environments are fringe culture, and the ones that get constantly marketed so consistently that we come to expect them and react accordingly, that’s our pop culture. But I have so much more respect for that Nollywood mentality of, “fuck it, let’s make a superhero movie by the Friday after next!” than I do the American empirical practice of getting the proper funding beforehand to do everything in the most accepted and respected manners, to get the best “quality” (which again, is also still subjective rather than objective believe it or not). Just make shit, fuck thinking too hard about how it could look more validated if you did it in more complicated and expensive ways.
All of this is preliminary ramblings to share a song from a chopped not slopped by OG Ron C disciple, SlimK, where he did chop but not slop a bunch of African bangers. Also like a honeysuckle vine, I eventually get there. And this is there.

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