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Wednesday, September 9, 1:30pm - 2:00pm (Live Discussion of Asynchronous Stream)

International Relations: Youth, Desire & Politics Beyond the U.S.

  • Industrial Hip-hop against Hip-hop Industry: South Korea's Hip-hop Duo XXX, Pil Ho Kim (Ohio State U)   
  • Kwaito Bodies: Remastering Space and Subjectivity in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Xavier Livermon (U of Texas)    
  • What can Japanese idol lyrics tell us about youth in Japan?, Dorothy Finan (U of Sheffield)
  • Technologies of Funk Carioca: Sonic Experimentation in Rio de Janeiro, Alexandra Lippman (Pitzer College)
  • Menudo's Run, or, Come In Sweet Sixteen, Your Time Is Up: Vigilance As the Price of Eternal Youth, At The Cost of Identity in Latino Pop, Andrew Hamlin (writer)

 

Presentation Descriptions

 

Industrial Hip-hop against Hip-hop Industry: South Korea's Hip-hop Duo XXX, Pil Ho Kim (Ohio State U)  

‘By the way, why can’t you plagiarize the beat?’ snarls Kim Ximya over the pulsating, jagged noise created by his partner in crime, FRNK. The sensational hip-hop duo XXX has made their name by openly taunting South Korea’s national hip-hop (gukhip) scene through their lyrics, and appealing directly to global underground hip-hop audiences through their sound. In this presentation, I will analyze the unsettling yet compelling sonic features of XXX’s records, Kyomi (2016), Language (2018) and Second Language (2019). At the same time, I will attempt to contextualize Ximya’s verbal assault on the Korean music entertainment industry in general and the gukhip scene in particular.

FRNK’s noisy beats are heavily influenced by industrial hip-hop, the origin of which can be traced all the way back to late 1970-80s’ industrial music. Historically speaking, the avant-garde aesthetics of early industrial music had an affinity for critical social commentaries from the post-punk scene. Experimental trap, XXX’s other source of musical influence, is also important in understanding Ximya’s loathing of gukhip. While the latter has turned into a glitzy, ‘moneymaking’ industry, he identifies himself as a struggling street rapper living the hard life. In many songs and media interviews, Ximya sounds like an angry young man of ‘Hell Korea (heljoseon)’ who has been slighted by hyperconsumerism of the gold-spooned’ (geumsujeo) rich and their wannabes. As XXX strives to overcome the detrimental trappings of gukhip industry, I will assess how the congruence of sound and message may work to their advantage in terms of expressing the anger and frustration of South Korean youth today.

 

Kwaito Bodies: Remastering Space and Subjectivity in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Xavier Livermon (U of Texas)    

Appearing almost simultaneously with South Africa's political transition to post-apartheid, kwaito music has been configured as an undeniable soundtrack of post-apartheid youth culture. At this moment when its influence is being seen as on the wane, I revisit in this paper the soundtracks of freedom made possible through kwaito music and performance. Using the concept of remastery, I speak to the possibilities and limitations that Black youth in South Africa faced as South Africa shifted away from apartheid.

Focusing on kwaito as an embodied performance, I examine how Black South African youth in the musical culture of kwaito attempted to "remaster" space and subjectivity through kwaito music and the uncertain outcomes that such remastery presaged. Ultimately, the rebellious force of kwaito pushed for recognition, reclaiming of spaces of exclusion, and remaking of identity. Central to these performances were the ways in which bodies of young Black South Africans within kwaito music, what I call "kwaito bodies" refashioned regimes of race, gender, and sexuality.

 

What can Japanese idol lyrics tell us about youth in Japan?, Dorothy Finan (U of Sheffield)

What can we learn about youth by studying a type of pop music that is both about youth and performed by teenagers? In this presentation, I present findings from a corpus of Japanese idol lyrics to suggest that in Japan, youthful effort in popular music becomes an idealised allegory for society as a whole.

 

Technologies of Funk Carioca: Sonic Experimentation in Rio de Janeiro, Alexandra Lippman (Pitzer College)

With roots in Miami Bass and Freestyle, funk carioca (Rio funk) began as musicians sang and rapped over sampled African American dance music and—with increased access to computers and home studios—gradually added Afro-Brazilian rhythms and instrumentation. Each new generation of youth innovates the genre through their creative use of different technologies. Funk musicians often liken themselves to inventors and scientists—one pioneering DJ is named “Cientista”(Scientist)—while sound systems compete over having the loudest, latest, and most spectacular technology, which promises to overwhelm the senses of its public. Since the 1980s, funk has served as the most common creative expression of Afro-Brazilian youth, booming throughout the city and drawing an estimated 1 million people to weekly dances (bailes funk) in working-class suburbs and favelas.

Musicians divided funk into different eras based on the particular music technology used to produce and perform. DJs from the vinyl record era scorned “laptop generation” DJs as kids who were ruining funk by “playing it wrong.” Yet, in each era, funk DJs and producers have used technologies “the wrong way” to produce, promote, and distribute music. In each generation youthful MCs, DJs, and dancers continue to innovate styles, genres, techniques, and create surprise hits.

To avoid silencing the noisy complexity of funk carioca, I experiment with producing “sound ethnographies,” which include field recordings to engage with the particularities of sound. Alongside my talk, I borrow one of funk DJs' performance technique to create a montagem (montage) reflecting on the baile funk as a space of appropriation and youthful experimentation with technology in the service sound. In doing so I explore how the relationships between authorship, technology, and youthful experimentation play out through sound.

Menudo's Run, or, Come In Sweet Sixteen, Your Time Is Up: Vigilance As the Price of Eternal Youth, At The Cost of Identity in Latino Pop, Andrew Hamlin (writer)

We think of a teen idol as a fresh face (or faces) on a poster, on an album cover, on TV.  What is the power of visage, and the power of a persona, versus the power of a master plan?

On the matter of eternal youth (and hence, eternal attractiveness to young girls) for his brand of boy band, Edgardo Diaz imposed a simple solution—any member hitting sixteen, got bounced out.  This worked well enough over the long term, as the ever-shifting Puerto Rico-based act lasted thirty-two years (sixteen times two!) and unloaded some twenty million albums.

This sliced-out-in-their prime tactic, however, did show shortcomings over the grind.  The top-down do-as-I say policy produced teens punching out even before their time was up.  The English-speaking market remained lost in translation—even as b(r)and sales throughout the Spanish (and even Portuguese!) markets bounced between extremes.  And yes indeed, two fellows aged out of the Diaz machinery, Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa, managed, between them, to redefine Latino pop in their own images, selling considerably more than twenty million albums each.

Other questions present themselves.  How did band members comport themselves, knowing always how their clocks were ticking?  How did they bounce back (or not) after their bells tolled?  (Hint:  Some of them tried forming rival acts.) How did fans make sense of the revolving-door faces?  (Did they care?)  How did Menudo fans from different generations relate to each other, knowing they were talking about and treasuring, entirely different people?

I’ll examine all the above conundrums, plus plumbing into Menudo music over the long run, with all of its fads, felicities, and fashions. Last but surely not least…did Diaz harbor a hidden, horrifying reason for keeping them young?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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