rightnow – 12.4.18

this is the first edition of rightnow, a new series on RSOM. every two weeks, i will post a list of things that i’ve been into recently; what i’m engaging with “right now.” this will include music, reading, and visual art — and that may expand in the future. stay tuned.

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# music #
JID :: I’m so excited about his career. He dropped DiCaprio 2 in November, and from the first song (Slick Talk) to the last one (Hasta Luego), he continues to distinguish himself as an agile, nimble rapper with a talent for addicting flows and wild cadences. Basically every song is stellar — Slick Talk (whole song is ridiculous), Westbrook (his first verse has a wild rhyme scheme), Off da Zoinkys (dope beat), Workin Out (not as good as the Colors version, but still solid), Skrawberries (all around amazing), Hot Box (J.I.D.’s first verse is so acrobatic, and Joey has a great verse too), Mounted Up (second verse?! sheesh), and Just da Other Day (best beat on the album).

earl sweatshirt :: It’s been sooooo longggg since new Earl, but I don’t think I could have asked for a better, more fulfilling project than SRS. I feel like I still don’t fully understand exactly what he’s talking about, or what he is trying to convey with the album — it’s just such a dense project. But, it’s hypnotizing. I cannot stop listening; the beats are unreal and his lyrics are frenetic yet poignant. I love his new rap style, it’s a total change from his past delivery techniques, but I think it combines with the beats to create an unbelievably emotion-filled atmosphere. Every song has such vivid feeling, and I can’t even wrap my head around the amount of skill it takes to pack such an incredible amount of texture, detail, and feeling into each song (the whole album is 25 minutes long, mind you). I love Red Water — the way he delivers “I know I’m a King” resonates with me every time I listen. December 24 is one of the more accessible songs on the album, and Earl destroys the instrumental. All of the production is consistently so impressive; I love Ontheway!, I can’t get enough of The Bends, and Veins is ridiculous. I absolutely love this album — every track. I can’t wait to see how it changes the more I listen to it, too. To me, it’s an easy AOTY candidate.

Plus, don’t sleep on E. Coli with Alchemist, which dropped a few days before SRS. Heat.

kenny beats :: Fire. We’ve all realized how fire Kenny Beats has been this year, but his releases with Key! (Cable Guy) and Vince Staples (the whole album) are so incredible. FM! might be my favorite Vince album. Don’t Get Chipped and Run the Bands go so hard.

wiardon :: He’s a 16-year-old kid from Texas that I found on Soundcloud and I’ve become so enraptured by his music. He raps really well, but it’s his producer abilities that has me in awe of his music. He has this crazy flip of a Meek Mill freestyle that I keep returning to, and the other dozens of beats he has on his Soundcloud are so refreshing and distinct. Definitely check him out.

gosha guppy :: I got put on to him very recently, but I’m really liking what I’ve heard so far. His beats are bouncy and almost ethereal-like. And he’s got fire flows. Check out A Beautiful Day to Get Robbed and No Sleep and Dreams (featuring Lucki).

nina simone :: Classic. I don’t really need to justify or explain. I never realized how deep her catalog is, though, so it’s been fun to dive into the various stages of her musicianship. Been listening to her To Be Young, Gifted and Black lately.

# reading #
Compulsory: Education and the Dispossession of Youth in a Prison School by Sabina Vaught:: Still working through this. But, it’s a super sharp and insightful look at school, prison, and prison schools. I’m specifically taking away from the book her writing on the school to prison pipeline, and the problems that arise when we look at the issue of youth incarceration from that perspective. Vaught writes about the need to, instead, redefine it from a “pipeline” to a “nexus” to account for the dynamic presence of multiple oppressive structures that connect and intertwine with school and prison. She also, though, talks about the way that the school to prison pipeline does not accurately convey what’s happening in our schools. For, when we frame the concept as a “pipeline” that shuffles students from school to prison, we fail to critique school as an apparatus of America’s systemic racism. The “school” as it is currently constructed is not some great societal equalizer, and will not produce the solution to changing societal oppression, precisely because it was never intended to do so. Compulsory looks at how schools were built to enact America’s racism, and investigates how — upon realizing the school is inherently a crucial agent of American systemic racism — we must adjust our approaches to “fixing” school and begin exploring other routes for transformation.

Along these same lines, I suggest reading “Black Radicals Make for Bad Citizens: Undoing the Myth of the School to Prison Pipeline” by Damien Sojoyner. Vaught referenced it in Compulsory and it really does do a good job of framing the problems of the school to prison pipeline.

Race, Charter Schools, and Conscious Capitalism: On the Spatial Politics of Whiteness as Property (and the Unconscionable Assault on Black New Orleans) by Kristen Buras :: This was another really interesting read on education, and specifically the way that charter schools have become prominent in modern conversations around American schooling. This paper focuses on New Orleans’ complete switch from public schools to charter schools after Hurricane Katrina, and how that switch exposes the relationships threaded between ideas of conscious capitalism, accumulation by dispossession, and whiteness as property. Buras shows how white people (and elite black people) in private and public positions within New Orleans used the post-Katrina rebuilding process to privatize education and accumulate capital. It’s really disturbing, but also super eye-opening.

Martin & Malcolm & America by James Cone:: I’m still in the beginning chapters of Joseph Cone’s book on the lives of MLK and Malcolm. I’m enjoying it, though, because of his detailed illustration of the backgrounds of the two leaders, and how those experiences shed light into the development of their various ideologies. There are so many similarities, as well as differences, between the lives of Martin and Malcolm, and I knew some of them before reading the book. It is cool, though, to read a book that goes deeper than the mainstream portrayals of the associations between Martin and Malcolm.

# visual art #

black panther party imagery ::

 

 

hidji ::

He receives a lot of comparisons to Basquiat, and I think many are valid. But, hidji’s art is also extremely unique and original in his own ways, especially his focusing on fashion, graphic design, and video work (AWGE is amazing). I find his artistic style so captivating and valuable. His work features a ton of coded references and imagery, resulting in pieces that feel like you are taking a stroll through his dynamic stream of consciousness. He’s definitely one of my favorite artists right now. Check his instagram for more of his work.