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.

Wednesday, August 2

SONG OF THE DAY: Don't Stop the Music (kudzu'd)

I believe in slowed music as a revolution, so DJ Screw means a lot to me. He was the flag bearer of this shit, and somebody else might’ve come along and done it if he hadn’t, but the conditions of him making tapes and the Houston scene at the time craving and supporting that sound made it be his thing to happen. Hip hop came along 20 years earlier, and had re-appropriated record collections as an instrument for collaging a new sound together. Of course, by the time Public Enemy’s third album had come around, the copyright infringement police had come along and destroyed the possibilities of sampling through legal risk and the costs associated with clearing samples. That came about in the late ‘80s at the turn of the decade, so it’s no accident that mixtape culture blew up in the ‘90s, just slapping a “for promotional purposes only” tag on shit you’ve cobbled together. Legalized capitalism has always been against hustling, but hustlers always figure out workarounds.
Anyways, jazz music fucked around with time changes (the good jazz, not the old white dude jazz) so speed changes were bound to come about the longer people played with record collections as instruments. Screw slowing it down was embracing that southern lifestyle – moving slow, talking slow, taking it slow, in a literal sense. It absolutely would’ve happened if he hadn’t done it, but thankfully he showed up to do it when he did to accelerate the possibilities.
I got this book a while back called Boogie Down Predictions that looked amazing at first glance, and had an article on Screw and something like the temporal politics of slowed music. The article sucked though, lacking any esotericism or actual lounge, just being academic masturbation of a fringe topic, like “Haha, I wrote an academic article about chopped and screwed music.” It did nothing to advance or support the actual philosophy, thus wasn’t necessary.
Records themselves have become overly expensive, so even getting shit you know is good is costly as fuck. I’ve always been that old school record head style though where you dig beyond the popular zones in obscure spots and find hidden gems. Changing the speed of music allows you way more room to move like that. I can find a crate full of 80s electronic funk that a regular speed record hipster is going to hear as formulaic crap from the past. Slow it down though and it changes the whole ambiance of the sounds, and that electronic funk absolutely bangs when slowed down. It’s one of my favorite genres of slowed music. Anything people used to roller skate to while high on cocaine is perfect for slowing down. So I spend a lot of times digging through old 45s, playing things nobody would ever expect me to play, to try and find those hidden loungers, even if all I do is spin once in a while for a small group of listeners. It’s still the slowed music revolution. I actually got run off the local community radio station for playing slowed music (though they’ll say I could’ve kept playing it, just not during the daytime when people might actually be listening, lol… fuck ‘em), because some know-it-all white dude types were up in arms about music being played at the wrong speed. It was disrespectful, or some shit like that. To who? And why do you care music is played at the right speed? Like what does it even matter? Every DJ turntable has a pitch shift control anyways, so what, we’re only supposed to use that for a 1%-5% shift? What’s outside allowable?
None of that matters. It’s just people who think they’re the experts on everything trying to say you can’t do something some other way that’s outside their ideas of a norm. (The most bizarre thing about this locally was the dudes who were mad about wrong speed music tend to put themselves out there as these crazy punk rock types, so it’s extra weird and hypocritical as fuck that they’d even care, much less complain to community radio station programming managers enough to cause drama. But it just confirms my slowly learned realization that Gen X punks are basically the same as Baby Boomer hippies in terms of hypocrisy and being desperate as fuck to see themselves as the good types of people even though they’re directly complicit in why everything is so fucked up in America.)
Anyways, I’m thankful for screwed music because it gives us the ability to enjoy shit in a different way, and take the crap we’ve already accumulated through consumption and find a new use for it. Fuck normalcy or even trying to make somebody accept anything as normal. It’s always coming from a place of bias, regardless of what you’re trying to normalize. Don’t normalize anything. And don’t stop the music, ‘cause it tends to soothe.

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