From Sky: Week Five Response

Alright, alright. Here we go. *Mario voice*

This week was a lot harder for me. I really have a problem with things I don’t understand. It’s a wonder I am as patient as I am when it comes to be surrounded be people who don’t speak my own language. Many people are ignorant to things that they don’t understand. This is one of the biggest issues with society. Anyhow, let’s get into Dynamic Duo.

I wanna say first off that the production on this is stellar. So solid. The first time I listened to it I found myself bobbing my head as I sat up in bed. Initially I just listened to the song once without reading the lyrics. When I tried to follow along with the lyrics as the music played I hit my first hurdle. I couldn’t do so. I would use the English words for reference, but I struggled. I then decided to only read the lyrics. Okay sure, but that’s not music… if anything that’s just poetry.

Dynamic Duo

Of all the lines I struggled with, the one that was the hardest was, “This isn’t a place where kids can play / Go back to your cradle, why make a rod for your own back?” I read this line so many times and just could not put meaning to it. I posted on reddit’s r/korean. Here is my post if you’re interested.

Reddit Post

I used some of the suggestions on here to help me understand and make meaning out of that line. “why make a rod for your own back?” I just didn’t get it. To be honest, I still don’t fully grasp it… but that’ll be the point I make here in a moment.

I tried to understand the rhyme schemes they used as inspiration, but I couldn’t accurately do so because I don’t understand the language. It’s one thing to read lyrics, but we both know that absolute meaning is often lost in translation. I feel like that is what happened with the “rod for your back line”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always found code switching in foreign language hip hop to be impressive. Often it’s an advantage that foreign language hip hop artists have. They can rhyme words from the own language with English words and it works… at least for people who can comprehend both languages. Now, I know you don’t speak super great Korean. You know much more than I do, but I know you’re far from fluent… yet you still enjoy Dynamic Duo. I totally get this. For a period in high school I went through a massive Nena phase. If you don’t know, this is Nena:

This was off of an album of her’s where she went back and redid prior tracks in her discography. I loved this shit. I still do. I was also big into Wir sind Helden:

Even though I didn’t understand what they were saying, I totally loved both these artists. There are others I really enjoy as well, including Brazilian Nando Reis:

and I absolutely love The Koxx, a Korean indy group:

I’ve thought about this a lot when it comes to foreign films. I hated dubbed films and would much rather read subtitles. While I can enjoy a foreign language film (in fact my favorite film of all time is a Mexican film called Y Tu Mama Tambien, and my favorite director is Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar) I will never truly be able to appreciate all aspects of the art. I can not accurately judge an actor or actress’ acting because I don’t understand the language.

My point is this. I may be able to enjoy foreign music, but I do not understand the lyricism behind it. I am unable to make an educated post about the lyricism for this reason. Don’t get me wrong, this Dynamic Duo shit sounds amazing! I listened to a couple other’s from the same album and throughly enjoyed those as well. I can see why you dig these guys. However, when it comes to lyrical content, that is not my place. I think about Koreans who love American music, they like it mostly because they like the way it sounds, not because they understand the lyrics. We can never fully understand something if it is in a language we don’t speak.

That’s my piece. It’s not a cop out. It’s not talking the easy way out of this week, it’s simply how I feel.

From Sky: A Response to Week Five’s Response

RiFF! RiFF!

So, yes, I am going to draft a response to this before I write up Dynamic Duo. Whatchagonnadoboutit?

You’re half right. Half there, rather. You’re spot on when you say that it’s all his story. You connection between marijuana and brussels sprouts is great. The buds. The lack of stems. Spot on. When you say that none of it feels conscious, well, this here, you could be on to something.

I decided to check out ole’ RapGenius to see what those chumps had to say about it. The FAScinating thing about what RG proposes and you barely missed was freestyling. On the website it says, as a meaning for the hook: “Riff Raff references his ability to freestyle without end — a trademark of Southern (Texas) Hip Hop artists including but no limited to Lil Flip and Z-Ro.” Now I believe I’ve sent you a RiFF RAFF freestyle before, you remember, the 101 bars one in Amsterdam where he breaks his chain at the end. Plot twist: I however, don’t think this is what RiFF is getting at. I don’t think it’s all about freestyling.

Irony. That was what I was thinking about when it comes to “I Can Tell Stories”. Does the Versace Cowboy actually tell any stories in this track? Nah. Not one. Stories have beginnings, middles and ends. Thanks screenwriting class. RiFF RAFF is merely starting facts. “I can NBC, like that girl Connie” (Chung), is there a story here? Nope. Just him again, in other words, saying that he can tell stories. “Used to have a girl who worked at Taco Bell”. This, in my opinion of course, is the closest thing to a story in the whole track. He doesn’t tell us anything about her though. This is like me saying, I have a friend from Dallas. Is that a story? No. He uses a lot of past tense verbs in this track. He “could” he “might”. All of these indicate possibility. Has he done this stuff? Well I’m about 98% sure he didn’t actually write this flow on the back of the Mona Lisa. It’s all ironic. He can tell stories, he could tell stories, but he doesn’t tell stories.

RiFF RAFF

You wrote something that I really love, you said, “telling his geniune story to an audience that is willing to listen to him speak.” Willing to listen. I’d say the most controvertial thing about RiFF RAFF is that people constantly question his genuineness. Is he really this iced out, wannabe black, wigger rapper? How much of RiFF RAFF is genuine? We don’t question Pusha when he says he used to sell coke. We don’t question Danny Brown we he tells us all the drugs he’s done. We don’t question Freddie Gibbs when he tells us about murderin’ mutherfuckas. Why? Because we believe they’re genuine. This could be a race thing, being that, as Bronsolino brought up, it is a black man’s sport. Society automatically accepts that when black rappers tell these stories they are probably true or at least based on reality. RiFF RAFF takes this belief to the absurd. “Fifty grand below, poppin’ pills in the North Pole”, did he actually do that? No. “I done graduated from Versace Junior College”. Did he do that? No. Though I would enroll if I could. This applies to the Mona Lisa line as well. It’s all absurd. RiFF RAFF is absurd.

But there’s one more level that makes this a little harder to get around, and that is: RiFF RAFF is genuine as fuck. He is real. This is not just some character he is playing–this is him. Irony. RiFF RAFF is being absurd, spitting this completely absurd lyrics, wearing absurd amounts of ice while talking and acting absurd WHILE being completely genuine. “I Can Tell Stories” is all irony. He doesn’t actually tell any stories, despite saying he has too much to tell. He’s being absurd while being completely genuine. He is making us question everything that is RiFF RAFF, despite telling us straight up, no foolin’, who he really is.

-S

From ‘Cole: Week Five Response

This one was a doozie just because I didn’t have much to work with. My favorite story? I would have to say it is the one where a Community-college basketball team dropout from Houston moves to L.A. and became such an icon that his likeness is the villain/hero in a Harmony Korine film portrayed by none other than Oscar-nominated James Franco.

RiFF & James Franco

But I digress.

It’s all one and the same–it’s all his story, which is pretty much what hip hop is about. I think that’s RiFF’s appeal– he takes it back to the roots of telling his geniune story to an audience that is willing to listen to him speak.

But if I had to choose one, it’d be “Emerald green chain smells like brussels sprouts.”
Something about that line brings together his origins–it gives us more insight into his Country roots, while also shedding light on his new lavish lifestyle. I mean, emeralds and brussels sprouts is such a powerful image–the homely and the divine. It’s kind of like putting RiFF RAFF into a room of Versace models (which, I’m aware, has been done and done.)

Also, I think it’s a possible nod to green, which is a nod to bud, because brussels sprouts are all buds, no stems. It’s an interesting choice–other than the rhyme, which works, I think it was a conscious choice to point us toward weed, a very clever detail in the midst of a lot of really surface comparisons.

RiFF RAFF

But none of it feels conscious, it all feels very stream of consciousness to me, which makes him all the more fascinating. It’s like monkeys in a room full of typewriters–eventually something ingenious comes out. It’s like if he keeps spitting enough crazy unalike things he’ll find some great analogies. I appreciate the organic nature of it. In a world of very, very calculated rhymes he’s doing something different.

I don’t know if that was necessarily what you were going for. If it wasn’t, help a sister out. I DO have to say that he is a character. I think it’s freaking FAScinating that he’s the inspiration for a character in a Harmony Korine movie–you know that shit gets real.

From ‘Cole: Week Five – 한국 Edition

I know what you’re thinking. It really isn’t going to be that bad, I promise.
^^

I’m not making you listen to anything KPop related. If anything, Dynamic Duo is considered “indie”:

Lyrics here:

Shoot Goal In! Lyrics

What you should know: “Lucky Numbers” was one of my favorite albums last year, it was hard for me to pick one track. This one is not my fave of the bunch, but it demonstrates what I’m trying to prove when I say the Hip Hop game is a local-form-made-global.

Choiza and Gaeko actually lived in LA so you might see some American influences in their lyrics. Korean swag is different than American swag, so that’s interesting to see as well. But their rhymes and the way they use language…still pretty sick.

What I want you to ponder: what influences do you feel they’ve taken from (rhyme style, production style) and BONUS how do you think this fits into modern Korean music’s evolution as a whole?

Mini-glossary:
hyung = older brother
dongseng= younger brother

From Sky: WEEK FiVE: VERSACE EDiTiON

Last week was real dark. I realize that. Have no fear, those weeks will be very seldom.

When it comes to Delusional Thomas, I love the idea of different alter egos, different characters. Just because, here is an amazing track off of Mac’s most recent album, with Action Bronson. One of the best tracks of the year. No where near as fucked up.

This week we have one hell of a character. He’s a real enigma. Don’t for a second think that he isn’t genuine. This week’s question is just simply for you to tell me your favorite story from the track. Now, you don’t have a ton to work with here, as it is only one verse, but this is one of my favorite tracks by this artist. This might expand though, from the track to the artist himself. I love this guy.