Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Fixx

Sometimes it’s unfortunate how a band is remembered.  Like many people I know the band for their biggest hit, “One Thing Leads To Another.”  It’s a great song and one that any band would have been happy to have as part of their discography.  The issue is that the 1980’s are not a decade that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has tended to reflect upon and this is the only song that is commonly known even though it is far from the only hit, to say nothing of the good songs, that the band created over the course of their career.  I must admit that this is not a band I would have thought to have looked further into because I figured that they were not far from getting a Todd In The Shadows video on them, only to realize that they had four top 20 hits and a career that was well worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  In general, The Fixx demonstrates a great many of the tendencies that make a group more obscure than they deserve to be because the accidents of how songs are remembered strongly influences the legacy that groups leave behind them, to the point where a band’s signature song is thought of as their only hit song, and songs that were well-crafted and well-performed are forgotten except by those fans who continue to enjoy the band to this day.

The Influence Of The Fixx

The Fixx were, and are, a band that has been well-respected by their fans as well as by critics.  Besides their own successful career, a couple members of the band also performed as backing musicians for Tina Turner on her successful “Private Dancer” comeback album [1].  More than being an active influence on other current bands, The Fixx is perhaps most notable as being a part of their times, and a great deal of their music deals with the paranoia of the world of the late Cold War period.  The fact that they were able to have a successful career on both the mainstream rock and pop charts while writing a substantial body of songs that reflected fears and paranoia about the Cold War turning into a hot war of mutually assured nuclear destruction is remarkable.  After all, other bands of their time like Men At Work found their career quickly falter after entering into the habit of writing political songs that sought to address the mood of the times.  They can be considered to be like Sting [2] in being able to have a successful career that involved political and social songs, if not to the extent of his popular success or longevity.  And that is a notable achievement, as the songs are both of their time and worth being remembered as well.

Why The Fixx Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

One of the more successful British New Wave acts, they were actually far more successful in the United States than in the UK.  While none of their singles hit the UK top 40, they managed to have four top 20 hits in the United States, including the aforementioned top ten smash “One Thing Leads To Another,” as well as “Saved By Zero,” “Are We Ourselves?” and “Secret Separation,” and two other top 40 pop hits in “The Sign Of Fire” and “How Much Is Enough?”  They managed to achieve considerable success on the mainstream rock charts with three #1 hits on that chart and four additional top ten singles, and even achieved some success on the dance charts.  They had some notable success in soundracks, with a #3 rock hit “Deeper And Deeper” off of the Streets of Fire soundtrack.  Of their albums, 1983’s Reach The Beach has been certified platinum and 1984’s Phantoms certified gold [3], evidence that they were able to succeed beyond merely their biggest hit, and their last album to date has been 2012’s Beautiful Friction, which like the band’s albums as a whole has been reviewed appreciatively [4].  This is a band whose angsty approach to rock and role music and whose high-concept New Wave has a devoted fan base.

Why The Fixx Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

It seems most likely that the band has not been inducted because 1980’s bands are not generally well-regarded by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee as a whole and because the band’s lengthy discography of ambitious and beautiful songs have not been remembered by the general public except for their biggest hit.  Honestly, though, that’s not a good enough excuse.  One of the main purposes of the RRHOF is to educate general audiences on the music of deserving acts, and The Fixx is deserving.

Verdict:  Put them in, along with a lot of other neglected bands from their era.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fixx

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/03/10/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-sting/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fixx_discography

[4] https://www.allmusic.com/album/beautiful-friction-mw0002387699

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Book Review: So You Want To Talk About Race?

So You Want To Talk About Race?, by Ijeoma Oluo

This book is one where I disagree on a great deal with the author, but one where I find the author’s humanity shines through despite her persistent unwillingness to understand the true nature of the problems that she is writing about.  If the author’s intent is to convince the reader who does not share her identity of perspective that she is right about such matters, she is woefully mistaken.  If her intent is to demonstrate her human tendency to be just as self-serving and hypocritical as any other well-meaning human being, and thus show herself as being worthy of treated as a human being despite her many sins, well, that does come off rather powerfully here.  It goes without saying that the author’s belief that only whites can be racist and that what she considers speaking her truth other people would consider microaggressions, and what she considers to be defining terms and pointing out what is unacceptable treatment others would consider as tone policing are immensely hypocritical.  The author admits her struggle to understand others, like supposed “model minorities” and to appreciate the privileges that she has received even as she harps on identity politics, and if she lacks self-awareness of her own intense hypocrisy in total, she at least has some glimpse of it in various aspects of this book, although not when it comes to Hotep Twitter, alas.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages long and is divided into seventeen chapters.  The author begins with a preface and an introduction that asks the titular question (which would be rhetorically answered in the negative by most potential readers, I would think).  The author then discusses what is about race (1) as well as her own self-serving and biased definition of racism (2) as well as the question of how people talk about race wrong (3).  The author discusses the incessant leftist demand to check one’s privilege (4), praises intersectionality (5), and discusses police brutality as a racial problem (6).  The author then discusses affirmative action as a positive thing (7), the school-to-prison pipeline (8), the unfairness of racial linguistics (9), and rubbish about cultural appropriation (10).  The author discusses why people can’t touch her hair (11), microaggressions (12), and the anger of black students (13).  After that the author brings up the model minority myth and the pressure it places on people (14), what it means to hate Al Sharpton or certain approaches to activism (15), and her puzzlement about the offense that white people have about being called racists (16) as well as her call to activist action by the reader (17), as well as acknowledgements, notes, and a discussion guide.

For me, reading a book like this is a chance to see how other people think, even if I disapprove of the contents or approach of that thought.  Nonetheless, however much I disagree with it, and however much my own viewpoint and perspective is very distinct from the author, it is clear that this author is a human being whose essential nature I can recognize as a fellow human being.  If I would find this author perhaps intolerable to be around given her intense stridency, which she admits tends to make it difficult for her to get along in corporate environments, she is at least someone who I can personally respect.  There is genuine sadness in her discussion with her son (whom she apparently had with a white father despite being “queer”) about the realities of playing with guns as a darker-skinned kid that would not be present for a white kid.  Life has never been fair, and the author’s inability to recognize that racism is not race-specific is a sign that her persistent desire for power ensures that life will not be fair for anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with her either.

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Book Review: White Negroes

White Negroes:  Wen Cornrows Were In Vogue…And Other Thoughts On Cultural Appropriation, by Lauren Michele Jackson

This book seems to come from a point of view of envy.  A great deal about leftist discourse can be understood from its desire to simply turn the existing (and reputedly unjust standard) on its head without concern that it is any more just than it was before.  Whereas in the past it was viewed as a good thing for someone to pass as white because it provided for the chance to live one’s life without being troubled or bothered because of one’s ethnic identity–for most people have always judged by appearances and not demanded to know the detailed genealogy of those people they happened to be sharing public space with, for the author those who are able to pass are counted as white and their own particular ethnic origin is disregarded as far as regards questions of appropriation.  So it is that the author views the half-Ecuadorian Christina Aguilera as being white and appropriating urban tropes during her career simply because she is light enough to pass as white.  Examples like that abound in this book of the way that the author views those who are able to move between mainstream white culture and an appreciation of less mainstream cultures with a great deal of envy and dissatisfaction.

This book is a bit less than 200 pages and contains four parts and nine chapters.  The author introduces the book with a discussion about appropriation as being fundamental to American mythmaking before looking at appropriation specifically of black culture, in various areas.  First, she looks at sound and body (I) by discussing how this occurs in music (1) as well as fashion (2), in looking at how blackness looks different when attached to perceived whiteness.  After that the author discusses how appropriation occurs in art and language (II) with a look at how high art often reconceptualizes previous experiences of others (3) and how hipsters can be considered as white Negroes in their attempts to be cool (4).  The author discusses technology (III) with a look at the meme, something I can relate to as an edgy meme lord (5), along with the question of the viral star and how such people gain viral fame (6).  Finally, the author discusses appropriation in the economy and politics (IV), discussing how white chefs copy comfort cooking from blacks (7), and how the author feels about entrepreneurial culture (8) and the search for freedom as well as her role as an angry activist (9), before discussing such matters as appropriation as business as usual, as if it that was always a bad thing, before the usual acknowledgements and notes.

That said, this book is not nearly as unjust as most books in this sort of vein.  The author seriously explores what it leads people to move back and forth between different identities or leads the to engage in cultural appreciation of the sort that the author disapproves of.  The author even manages to present reasons why people like Rachel Dolezal should not be simply insulted for their complex assumption of a complex racial identity.  At its core, the author appears to be arguing for respect for those who create the culture that gets appropriated.  I do not personally view appropriation as anything unusual or anything necessarily negative, but all the same I also agree that we should respect those whose culture we adapt, and not make them invisible or pretend that we came up with the ideas ourselves when we clearly did not.  Whether or not that would resolve the larger cultural battle over such matters as now exists, it would at least allow those of us who view cultural appropriation positively to know that we were doing justice by those whose culture we so openly and honestly appreciate.

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Book Review: Questioning Cultural Appropriation

Questioning Cultural Appropriation, by Jonita Davis

This is a book written out of fear.  It almost goes without saying that the author and I have diametrically opposite views when it comes to matters of cultural appropriation.  What for the author is something akin to the threat of genocide and erasure is for me the sign of appreciation and adaption.  The author appears to be of the opinion that only white people can appropriate the culture of others and that anyone who is black or brown can appreciate without being in danger of appropriation.  White people, though, be they people who have been taught something by others or have chosen to take something and make it more palatable to others “with a dull palette,” are definitely always guilty of appropriation because their fondness for something that has a hint of other cultures but reflects our own tastes and preferences is a threat to the survival of other cultures and their ways.  If you think this is absolutely ridiculous than you are like me.  If you think the author is actually reasonable in being afraid of the power of white people to destroy cultures though, we are probably going to disagree on a lot of things as they relate to politics and identity.

This is a short book of about 70 pages long that is part of a terrible series on related subjects like assimilation, institutional relationship, privilege and power, intersectionality, microaggressions, all standard fictive aspects of the fevered leftist paranoid imagination.  The book contains seven chapters.  After an introduction the author discusses how one can identify cultural appropriation (1).  After that the author talks about cultural appropriation in food (2) as well as fashion in clothing and accessories (3), bemoaning how cool people of color do something and then white people copy it for profit.  The author then talks about the appropriation of religious or spiritual practices (4) like yoga in mindfulness.  After that the author posits a duty for people to question (5) and challenge (6) cultural appropriation by others, rather than simply to enjoy it and appreciate it like sane people would.  Finally, the author talks about a story of Navajo army blankets as a complex example of cultural appropriation (7) before closing the book with chapter notes, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an index.

This is not a good book at all.  Again, given the panic that the author views white people adapting the culture of others, there was no change that with my own favorable views to this that I would view the author’s thoughts as anything more than leftist virtue signalling.  The author’s attempts to tie herself in a pretzel to say that someone like Bruno Mars can appreciate but someone like me could only appropriate only demonstrates the sort of rank hypocrisy that passes for the beliefs of the contemporary left.  Likewise, the fact that even the most sincere white person who appreciates someone’s culture cannot help but appropriate simply by being white signifies the sort of power trip that the author and others of her ilk are in blaming whitey for all of the problems of cultures and all of their fears of assimilation into the average.  This is so even though there exists room for both artifacts that appeal to white culture as well as those things that are authentic and thus have hipster appeal to those on the left or those more interested in “authenticity.”  The author’s fear that mass appeal threatens the survival of culture suggests her lack of confidence in the appeal of authentic ways to white people and that is perhaps her biggest crime against the willingness of any people to appreciate what others offer.

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Jude: A Case Study On Elusive Common Ground

One of the most obvious failures in cross-cultural communication, or any kind of communication with people who are outside of our particular in-group, is the fact that it is easily forgotten that in order to reach people we must draw our conclusions from their premises, and defend our positions with their authorities.  This is not a task that many people do well when it comes to writing.  Most often, in fact, it is easy to tell where someone stands by the authorities that they site.  But this is no new thing, and it has indeed always been the case.  Perhaps what is different is that in the past people took seriously the need to communicate with people by reading and seeking to understand those things that would be viewed as authoritative by people on the other side of various lines and boundaries and today we are under the delusion that if we speak louder and if we criticize those authorities we disdain with more contempt that we will win over those who respect that which we deride.  This is a vain quest.  Where common ground does not exist in respect and trust and good feeling, it is a very difficult task to communicate effectively, and can only be done to the extent that we respect others enough to reflect upon what they view as being authoritative.

The book of Jude is an obscure book in the Bible, but it is a book that in its short length manages to demonstrate the sort of apologetics that used to be more common but has now come into considerable disuse because of the lack of familiarity or respect that people have with writings that are popular in certain audiences but that are not well-respected.  Indeed, the book of Jude quotes at least two extrabiblical sources in an argument with those who are judged as being rebellious and proud within the general body of Christian believers and those who claimed to be Christians.  The reasons why Jude quoted these sources is somewhat obscure [1], but it makes a great deal of sense to posit that Jude was seeking to draw conclusions that were favorable to his point of view by citing from sources that his opponents viewed with great respect.  Given that the point that Jude draws related to his authority (not least as a half-brother of Jesus Christ, which he modestly does not mention) and the authorities of the church as a whole, it seems likely that Jude was citing pro-authority passages from works which have always been considered to be anti-authority works in the way that those who despise authority within churches have always been quick to promote various apocryphal and pseudographical works.

By showing that according to the Assumption of Moses even the archangel Michael did not bring a reviling accusation against Satan, Jude is making a very strong implicit point that if Satan is not to be reviled, but rather rebuked in the name of the Eternal, then there is no one in authority or otherwise whom it is appropriate to revile and treat with contempt.  This would imply that the reviling and criticizing that Jude and other godly leaders were being subjected to would be ungodly by the very authorities that the revilers claim to respect and regard.  Likewise, when Jude draws a moral condemnation of those who are rebellious against God from the book of 1 Enoch, he does so by reminding his readers that even a book like 1 Enoch, which he may not have viewed all that highly himself, was hostile to those who were rebellious against God’s authority rather than being on the side of those who were themselves rebels against legitimate authorities.  Jude’s point is not made softly or mildly, it should be noted, but it is made not by citing those authorities that Jude would recognize and respect, but rather those authorities that Jude’s intended hostile audience would respect.

And this is an example that we would do well to follow.  If we live in a conflict-ridden world, which we do, it must at least be recognized that we live in a world where even those who hold us with contempt claim to respect some people and some writers and thinkers.  If we are engaged in conversation, it is worthwhile to note and draw out what authorities are respected and to find our conclusions in those writings or sayings, whatever we happen to think about the overall value of such thinkers.  If our goal is to build a bridge between ourselves and people we talk to, we do so by connecting our way of thinking to something that they already claim to value and respect, which makes it easier for us to make an argument that will resonate with the people we are debating with.  People will not respect arguments based on authorities they do not respect, but if they are fair-minded (and that is not always easy to find), they will at least be able to take seriously arguments that are drawn from that which they already respect and highly regard.  This approach, though, demands that we respect the arguments and writings of those we may disagree with and dislike enough to make ourselves familiar with them nonetheless.

[1] See, for example:

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-does-the-new-testament-cite-extrabiblical-sources

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2532/what-about-the-noncanonical-books-quoted-in-jude

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Book Review: The Polish Way

The Polish Way:  A Thousand-Year History Of The Poles And Their Culture, by Adam Zamoyski

In many ways this book is a fascinating one.  As someone who is not appreciably Polish in any way, but who finds the history of Eastern Europe interesting and revealing and somewhat important for contemporary historical concerns as well as a general understanding of Christendom, I tend to be amused at the focus that writers on Polish history tend to have.  And while this book does its best not to romanticize the Polish experience or to claim that Poland was blameless in its historical troubles, in many ways this book demonstrates some of the facets of Polish identity that tend to be wrapped up in books about Poland that are written by Polish historians, even those who attempt to appeal to non-Polish anglophone audiences.  This book is written with an intense Catholic perspective, and moreover a perspective that allows the reader to understand how it has been that Poland has served in an uncomfortable relationship between those on either side of it, whether we are looking at German imperial ambitions or Russian ones, whether we are looking at Catholicism or heathen faiths, whether we are looking at Crusaders or invading Ottomans, and so on and so forth.  This understanding of Poland and its struggle to form and maintain a coherent identity in the face of nearly continual border changes throughout its history is a compelling one.

This book is about 400 pages long and is divided into 22 chapters in a generally chronological approach.  The author begins with a preface and a note on Polish pronunciations (so that the reader understands that Sejm is pronounced as something like “same”).  After that there is a discussion of Poland’s isolation from the practical concern of Western nations during its crisis periods (1) as well as the establishment of the Polish crown (2) and the struggle against Germans and Tartars in early Polish history (3).  After that comes a look at the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty (4) as well as the relationship between church and state (5) and the status of Poland as a royal republic (6).  The author discusses anarchy in the Polish experience (7), the crisis involved in this during the 17th and 18th centuries (8), and the importance of the Hussars (9).  The author discusses the problems of the Deluge (10), the anatomy of Polish decay (11), the baroque aspects of its culture and architecture (12), as well as the increasing anarchy (13) that culminated in the end of the Polish monarchy (14).  After that the author discusses the gentle revolution that took place after Poland’s disappearance (15), the heroic efforts of Poles to bring attention to their national cause (16), the Polish question as it appeared to other empires (17), and the experience of Poles in colonial captivity (18).  The author then ends with a look at the making of modern Poland (19), the experience of the interwar Polish republic (20), the ordeal of World War II (21), and the people and plans that became important thereafter (22) before ending in suggestions for further reading and an index.

The fact that this is a very good book in terms of its text does not mean that everything about it is as enjoyable.  For one, this book is somewhat tedious when it comes to a look at Roman Catholic religious art, as this book is full of an interest in such matters that I must admit I do not find all that worthwhile.  The sight of ornate Roman Catholic cathedrals or altars or religious iconography or religious art is not a personally very appealing one, but given the importance of Roman Catholicism to the Polish identity and to the nation’s history it is not surprising that the author would wish to focus on this aspect in his history of Poland.  It was especially interesting to note the particular Polish interest in freedom and in the confusion this focus on freedom and on the reality of constitutional forms as it related to the Polish experience under Russian misrule.  The book is also somewhat melancholy in the way that it discusses how Poland finally came to be a coherent and unified nation state through the loss of non-Polish territories in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine as well as the forced expulsion of Germans after World War II and the near-destruction of its prewar Jewish population.  Sometimes unity comes at a terrible price.

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Book Review: A Traveller’s History Of Poland

A Traveller’s History Of Poland, by John Radzilowski

This book is what you would get if you wanted to see a book about the course of Polish history if it was written by a general friend of the country.  The author clearly has a perspective in mind that he wishes to get across, and as someone who neither has particularly strong feelings either for or against Poland, this book was notable to me in the way that it sought to tone down some of the less flattering or complementary aspects of Polish history for the presumably intellectual Western reader.  Some readers will likely take offense to these elements, such as when the author includes a prophecy from early modern Polish history that claims a Slav would become pope and help lead to the freedom of the Polish people, something that came true in the papacy of John Paul II, but the reader who is tolerant about such matters will find this book to be a generally enjoyable if brief discussion of Polish history that like many such histories tends to focus more on the present day and less on the ancient and medieval aspects of history that may be more enjoyable but are also more remote.

This book is a bit more than 250 pages long and it is divided into ten chapters.  The book begins with a preface and acknowledgements and introduction.  After that the author discusses early Poland from its prehistoric origins to 1138 (1).  After that the author discusses the fragmentation of the Piast state and then its rebirth as a unified nation from 1138-1333 (2).  This leads to a discussion of the shift in construction from wood to stone in the period from 1333 to 1466 (3) as well as the Golden Age of Polish greatness and influence from 1466 to 1576 (4).  After that the author looks at the Silver Age of Polish decline from 1576 to the end of the Polish Commonwealth in 1795 (5).  The author discusses the period of Polish rule by Russians, Prussians, and Austrians from 1795 to 1914 (6) and then the rebirth of Poland as an independent nation in the interwar period (7).  The author then discusses the Second World War, Occupation, and the Holocaust (8), presenting the Poles as victims on the same level as Jews (8) while also discussing the period of Poland under Soviet domination from 1946 to 1978 (9).  The book then ends with a discussion of Poland in the age of John Paul II from 1978-2005 (10), as well as a chronology of major events and a list of Polish rulers including the leaders of the Polish government in exile during and after World War II, sources of information on Polish history in English, a historical gazeteer, and an index.

As someone who reads a lot of histories, I can say that this book has the same general difficulty that many histories of peoples do who were under the rule of others for long stretches of time, and that is the way that the discussion of a culture that is being ruled and dominated by others can clearly become an exercise in advocacy for subaltern groups and thus biased by the author’s desire to support a historical cause and not primarily a desire to be fair-minded and just in one’s approach.  This book clearly crosses the line from narrative history to advocacy for the Poles as a historically oppressed people in the period between 1790 and 1914 as well as between 1939 and 1989.  In many ways, the author fails to do justice to the fact that the Poles themselves did not always do right by the Jews and other ethnic minorities when Poland was itself a powerful imperial nation, and the injustice of Germans being removed from their homes so that Poland could claim Gdansk and Silesia for itself are not even discussed at all.  But if you know that this book is being written by a friend of the country who only wants to speak what is good and noble about Poland, you can understand why the book is silent about certain things and why it is very loud about others.

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Book Review: The Trumpeter Of Krakow

The Trumpeter Of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly

This book is a historical novel, and that is all the more impressive when you realize that this book is based on an actual historical legend in Poland, namely that there was in fact a trumpeter in Krakow who died while sounding the alarm for his city in the face of the Mongol invasion and that for centuries afterwards those who followed him in his position stopped playing the call at the same note where he died.  Whether or not this actually happened is hard to say, but the story itself provides the opening of a story that manages to have a lot that is worthwhile to say about the search for knowledge about the burden of being a protector of that which is lusted after by so many in the world.  I read this novel because a friend of mine had obtained the book to give to her husband and he was concerned about the themes of magic, alchemy, and necromancy that were involved, but this book sticks to realistic fiction even if it portrays the negative side of alchemy and early scientific research that even continues to the present day as a lust for power and domination over creation and over others.

This book is about 200 pages long and sixteen chapters.  The version I read had a trumpet for the trumpeter written in 1966 from a reader who wants to praise a book that by that time was already a relic of a previous generation.  The book begins with a discussion of the broken note as a prologue.  The rest of the story then focuses on a family of refugees with a terrible maguffin that draws trouble to them.  First, the father refuses to sell a pumpkin to a disguised ruffian, and then they find a place to stay in the home of an alchemist, and then the villain is introduced and strikes a plan to steal the maguffin and is foiled.  Frustrated, since it would give him the chance to shape the politics of nations (this book has a distinctly anti-Cossack and anti-Russian feel to it), he tries again and the result nearly destroys the city of Krakow in an epic conflagration, which brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion that rewards virtue and punishes vice but also expresses the moral complexity of rulership.  The end result is an appealing adventure novel that many have and will enjoy.

This is the sort of novel at which the late 19th and early 20th centuries excelled at, a historical novel that brought the past to life in ways that were capable of giving lessons to contemporary readers.  Without overly salacious writing or delving too much into dark matters that the book brings up, this is a practical book that could be enjoyed by adventurous young people.  It provides a discussion of all the things that someone needs to be thought of as fully grown up–it has a teen boy learning about responsibility and the burdens passed down from fathers to sons and his own family legacy, it has courtship, the faithful fulfillment of a job, and the encouragement of civic duties and standing strong against bullying mobs.  These are all practical lessons in every age, and certainly the sort of approach to practically modeling good behavior in difficult but also exciting circumstances that should be a lot more common in our own days.  But since such books are seldom written nowadays they can serve as inspirational reading even now, and so books like this continue to be read and appreciated for the world that they show and the model that they set.

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Six Degrees Of DaBaby

For those who are not aware, largely because they do not follow the contemporary music charts, DaBaby is a relatively new up and coming rapper who entered into mainstream success with his single Suge and has since proven himself to have an interest in hopping on everyone’s remixes, from a Lil Nas X remix for Panini [1] to a remix for Future & Drake’s Life is Good alongside similarly monikered Lil Baby.  Interestingly enough, DaBaby and Lil Baby have already performed together on several tracks, most notably but not only on the inevitably titled Baby but also as co-features on a song called Baby Shower as well as on DaBaby’s Toez and a song by Stunna 4 Vegas called “Do Dat.”  If you don’t like to see words get massacred this is going to be a long post.  At any rate, although DaBaby has only been in the public eye for about a year now, he has been rapping on features for at least three years and already has 82 singles, most of them with feature credits.  As a result, it is not hard at all to imagine a game where you try to figure out who is connected as close as possible to DaBaby.  The results, as you might guess, can be somewhat entertaining.

How does one go about playing a game like the Six Degrees of DaBaby.  First, one has to figure out all of the people that DaBaby has performed with (and I am limiting this to credited features).  Who has performed on credited features with DaBaby?  Well, a lot of people:

DJ Luke Nasty/Luke Nasty (Comin’ Over, Ready, I Did)
Chophouze (F***YouTalmBout Freestyle, Came From Nothing)
BlocBoy JB (Mini Van)
Str8Barz (Crazy)
Locx (I’m A Star)
Quality Control (Baby, Pink Toes)
Lil Baby (Baby, Baby Shower, Toes, Life Is Good (Remix), Do Dat)
Saint Vinci (Duck Sauce)
Offset (Baby Sitter)
Zaweso Del Patio (Gucci Bag Latina)
2Sober (Gucci Bag Latina, Coochie Bag, Bust It)
Jungle (Gucci Bag Latina)
Chxna (Coochie Bag)
NRG Rose (Coochie Bag)
20 Vision (Coochie Bag)
Tanya Stephens (Coochie Bag)
Lil Nas X (Panini (DaBaby Remix))
Future (Life Is Good (Remix))
Drake (Life Is Good (Remix))
Moonie Music (All I Ever Wanted)
Lil Jr (Struggle Baby)
Just Raven (Struggle Baby)
Zac Keelo (Litty City)
B. HIll (High Rollin’)
DJ Jayy Hawk (Ready)
Ricco Barrino (Ready)
Def Smove (Killa Cam)
Beach Bumz (Bank Roll)
Deejaytrap (Clubbin’)
Jxhines (Clubbin’)
Yung Reason (Clubbin’)
Ja’vee (Came From Nothing)
SKZIY (Hello)
D-Froz (No Time)
NewCharlotte Saint (Wait A Minute)
Gabby Dinero (Blue Strips)
Producer20 (Hotline)
Jayway Sosa (Hotline, Goin’ Live On Em, Wave)
IV Montana (Hotline)
Shawn Scrilla (Sing)
Jerry White (How They Gon Eat)
Stunna 4 Vegas (Animal, No Cap Zone, Ashley, Really, Sticks, Do Dat)
Loudpack Leaf (Juice)
Micmanordj (Goin’ Live On Em)
Kash Addison (Draco)
Str8 Cash Flowz (For The Team)
Eurogotit (For The Team)
G Step (On The Run)
Kam Hicks (Lit)
Ricky Ruckus (Lit)
Roscoe Dash (Lit)
HeroGawd (She The Plug)
Money Counta Nard (Wave)
Young Money Yawn (You Heard Now)
K Dos (Colors)
Baebae Savo (Scared To Book Me)
Garcia Vega (Look At God)
Petey Pablo (Bust It)
Semi Sixteenz (Double Or Nothin)
YQ Dreams (Did It)
Jamz (Baby Shower)
704 Baggz (BAck Up Off Me)
Succeed Phlyguy (No Cap Zone)
MrPostman (Pamper)
Doobie (Power (Remix))
Icewear Vezzo (Power (Remix))
YK Osiris (Freaky Dancer, Gospel)
Sy Ari Da Kid (One Phone Call)
Paxquiao (One Phone Call)
Ou’ri Cuatros (Bag Mode)
Geezy Escobar (Cool)
Lizzo (Truth Hurts (DaBaby Remix))
YHN Balla (In & Out)
Spiro (Splash)
Gucci Mane (Richer Than Errybody, Gospel)
YoungBoy Never Broke Again (Richer Than Errybody)
Post Malone (Enemies)
Vic Flair (Heartless)
Gatti800 (Act Out)
Tone Tone (100 P’s)
Shaquees (100 P’s)
D-Major (No Time)
Piles (Boss Friends)
Trippie Redd (Death)
Akevius (1+1)
Blac Youngsta (Like A Pro)
Munk (Suboxone)
Shakewell (Suboxone)
Camila Cabello (My Oh My)
Blueface (Obama)
Charlie (F***** Up)
Megan Thee Stallion (Cash S***)
Dreamville (Under The Sun)
J. Cole (Under The Sun)
Lute (Under The Sun)
Chance The Rapper (Hot Shower, Gospel)
MadeinTYO (Hot Shower)
Offset (Pink Toes)
Gunna (Pink Toes)
Kevin Gates (Pop Star)
Nicki Minaj (iPhone, Suge (Remix))
Moneybagg Yo (Toes, Protect Da Brand)
Migos (Raw S***)
Deniro Farrar (The Dealer, Literally)
CFN TrapGod (Plug Best Friend, Really Rich)
Quis Famous (Vert)
DJ E.Sudd (Literally)
Sequence (Literally)
Skully (I Shoulda Told Ya)
N.F.L. Nique (Sauced)
Lil Dre KND (Hiccups)
2deuce Corleone (I’m Used To It)
YajGrindin (In Charlotte)
Rad BlueBillz (Woah)
Lil Waldo (Back End)
YSM Swole (Gimme The Loot)
GetRichZay (Gimme The Loot)
DP Thablazer (Posted In The Trap)
Rizzoo Rizzoo (Koll Aid)
Slicc Da Kidd (Off The Boat)
Mir Fontaine (Hide The Money)
YG (Stop Snichin’ (Remix))
Bandy Boy Shad (Sauce)
Mak Sauce (Do It)
Blacc Zacc (Tuesday)
Ombre2Choc Nation (Suge (Remix))
Young Nudy (Dispatch)
Pi’erre Bourne (Dispatch)

Now, most of the people on this list are people I’ve never heard of, and that likely come from the Charlotte rap underground.  Even so, despite having a mainstream rap career of only about a year or so, DaBaby has racked up a huge number of collaborations with other rappers, including some of the biggest rappers of the present day.  Obviously, considering the size of the first degree of DaBaby, a list that only promises to get longer and longer given DaBaby’s willingness to hop on any track and the fact that his career is going well enough that people want him to provide a verse with a fast flow to help out their songs is in the offing.  It would be far too time-consuming and lengthy to post all of the six degrees of DaBaby.  That said, just looking at some of the artists with wikipedia pages provides a few second degree of DaBaby options, such as:

Through BlocBoy JB (Mini Van) ->

21 Savage (Rover 2.0)
88rising (Let It Go)
HIgher Brothers (Let It Go)
Lil Mosey (Yoppa)
NLE Choppa (ChopBloc, ChopBloc 2)
No Jumper (Hard)
Tay-K (Hard)
ASAP Rocky (Bad Company)
Brianna Perry (Slow Dance)
G-Eazy (Drop)
Blac Youngsta (Drop)
Lil One Hunnet (We Bangin’ Gape)
03 Greedo (We Bangin’ Grape)
Chantel Jeffries (Better)
Vory (Better)
Lil Pump (Nun Of Dat)
Lil Yachty (Who Want The Smoke?)
Cardi B (Who Want The Smoke?)
ASAP Rocky (OG Beeper)

And this is only one set of the many, many people who have second degree connections to DaBaby.  Although Quality Control is a label, looking at those cases where it is credited on a song, we have the following second degree connections through the song Baby:

Lil Yachty (On Me)
Kodak Black (My Dawg (Remix))
Quavo (My Dawg (Remix))
City Girls (F*** Dat N*****)

Through Lil Baby, frequent collaborator of DaBaby, we have some famous names like Lil Wayne, Big Sean, Travis Scott, KSI, Rick Ross, Bhad Bhabie, Meek Mill, Schoolboy Q, 21 Savage, DJ Khaled, Lil Tjay, and Jerimeh as well as J Balvin.  Considering the fame of such people it only extends from here.  One can see that within two or three degrees there are a huge number of artists, including everyone that Future (Maroon 5), Drake, or Nicki Minaj have ever worked with.  And that is a large number of people.  Obviously, we could go on for a very long time figuring out all of the complicated links that connect artists together, and by the time we get to three and four degrees of separation we could easily include a massive list of thousands upon thousands of artists who are connected, and artists with massive amounts of connections given the frequency of collaborations between them.  As some online acquaintances of mine and I were able to discover, by the time we got to three degrees of separation we could connect such names as Sia and the Jonas Brothers and there are at least fourth-degree of separation connections with country acts like Tim McGraw and Florida-Georgia Line.

What does this all mean, though?  It may not be important, in a trivial matter, to connect all of the musicians that have ever worked with anyone else.  But it is a small world, and the fact that collaborations in music are so common means that all kinds of people are connected far closer than we might think.  This makes people less alone in the world than they would otherwise be.  Imagine if you are a no-name rapper in Charlotte who happens to have performed on a few tracks with DaBaby before he was famous that through him you are now connected to a whole host of people who could possibly be looking for an artist to hop on a beat with them.  DaBaby’s willingness to work with just about anyone makes him a bridge, and it is possible that he might be able to talk to an artist about someone else who is looking to make a project and be able to connect people together that might not otherwise be able to work together as easily, and that people can play fun games to show just how closely connected the world of music actually is.

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Book Review: The Portuguese Seabourne Empire: 1415-1825

The Portuguese Seabourne Empire:  1415-1825, by Charles R. Boxer

This was an interesting book to read, not least because it was written before the fall of the Portuguese empire in Africa which took place after the death of Salazar in the mid 1970’s.  Although the author has little to say about Guinea-Bissau and East Timor, which is perhaps unsurprising given the fact that even at the end of Portugal’s period as an imperial nation these areas were nearly forgotten.  That said, this book has a lot of insightful things to say about Portugal’s empire and some necessary comments about the society that came with it and the struggle that various people had in the empire gaining respect from the culture as a whole.  The author manages to demonstrate a sound knowledge of Portuguese imperial history and political history while also doing some good work in discussing some of the myths that Portuguese people have often had about empire.  It has been said that the Portuguese were far more racially tolerant than many other imperialists, but the author demonstrates plenty of cases where there was a great deal of racial tension and hostility and insults regarding Jews and blacks in different parts of the empire, and even the people of India around Goa.  This can be considered a sound example of history.

This book is about 400 pages long with two parts and sixteen chapters.  The author begins with a preface and a general introduction for the series as a whole.  The prologue then discusses Portugal’s peripheral status within Christendom.  After that the first part of the book gives a narrative history from 1415 to 1825 that shows the vicissitudes of empire (I), with chapters on Guinea gold and the search for Prester John from 1415-99 (1), shipping and spices in Asian seas from 1500-1600 (2), converts and clergy in Southeast and South Asia during the same period (3), as well as slaves and sugar in the South Atlantic during that same period (4).  After that the author talks about the global struggle with the Dutch from 1600-63 (5), stagnation and contraction in the east from 1663 to 1750 (6), revival and expansion in the west during that same period (7), and the dictatorship of Pombal and its aftermath from 1750 to 1825 (8).  The second half of the book then discusses the characteristics of empire (II), including the India and Brazil fleets (9), Crown patronage and catholic missions (10), purity of blood (11), town councillors and brothers of charity (12), soldiers, settlers, and vagabonds (13), merchants and smugglers (14), the Renaissance and Enlightenment (15), and finally issues of Sebastianism, Messianism, and nationalism (16).  The book then ends with six appendices that provide some statistical data as well as a glossary, bibliography, and index.

There is something deeply poignant about the Portuguese imperial experience that makes one a bit sympathetic for the Portuguese.  Empire was deeply costly for the Portuguese, especially because they had such a limited sailing tradition and one that was not regarded very well.  The long shipping runs between Portugal to and from India ended up killing a huge percentage of the people involved, and even those who made it safely to their destination seldom made it home and struggled to marry and have families, all of which are problems of empire that I can definitely relate to.  The author spends a lot of time talking about the experience of the people involved in the empire, whether those people were Portuguese citizens back at home or people running town councils or those being ruled by empire and struggling to be honored and respected.  The author spends a great deal of time in talking about the influence of religion on Portuguese society and the way in which empire was a great strain on Portugal, showing that we should not take it for granted that empires always benefited their own people by seeking to dominate over others.

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