“I was the first musician to bring this music to a big, global stage like Paris’s Olympia Hall. It was in 1970 before a completely white, European audience who understood not a single word of my language. So I had to put on a show, and in order to put on a show, the rhythm had to be animated. The rumba was really rather tepid, rather slow. I had to accelerate it. And in French, we say secouer to mean “to shake,” so secousse, which I Africanized and I called “soukous”.”
“We didn’t realize it at the time, but there would be no coming back from this. Axl has spent the last 20 years being shorter than Stephanie Seymour. You and I may not care about that, but you can tell he did, which gives this whole production an air of weird vulnerability and instantly regretted artistic sacrifice. And yeah, this was also the video that collapsed irony utterly and forever and in all the obvious ways, because it was so ludicrous and rocked so hard that it made you see aesthetic grace as a kind of ouroboros wherein stupidity and genius are occasionally the same quality. When fears subside, shadows still remain.”
“Street Hassle's centerpiece, now considered one of Reed's greatest accomplishments, taught me that getting just what I wanted from a song (uplift, for example, or sloppy catharsis) wasn't always the best thing. “Street Hassle” includes bluntly sexual lines that turned me on, but also made me feel the edge of my own prudery. It explores how one person dehumanizes another and, just a few minutes later, how losing one person can make a person feel real and whole for the first time. It's a song suite that doesn't sound at all like punk; it features strings, female back-up singers and Reed definitely crooning. There's also an uncredited spoken-word passage by the then-rising Springsteen that adds in some of that future superstar's trademark grandiosity, serving as a telling contrast to Reed's own cooler storytelling. The song's triptych of scenarios is very Velvets: A probable transvestite picks up a male hooker at a bar; a drug dealer worries about how to get rid of an overdose victim's body; and, in the last verse, a more anonymous lover laments his man's departure in naked, needful agony. A lot happens musically around these stories, but every violin stroke, guitar bend and percussive push intensifies the focus on Reed's core message: that opening up your being — to sex or drugs or just to feeling — is inevitable, dangerous and the main purpose of life.”
Cyrus acts out her faux bisexual performance for the white male gaze against a backdrop of dark, fat black female bodies and not slightly more normative cafe au lait slim bodies because the juxtaposition of her sexuality with theirs is meant to highlight Cyrus, not challenge her supremacy. Consider it the racialized pop culture version of a bride insisting that all of her bridesmaids be hideously clothed as to enhance the bride’s supremacy on her wedding day.
Only, rather than an ugly dress, fat black female bodies are wedded to their flesh. We cannot take it off when we desire the spotlight for ourselves or when we’d rather not be in the spotlight at all.
“At the other end of the book, Charles Hughes, a fellow at Rhodes College in Memphis, writes compellingly about the ways blacks and whites worked together and exchanged ideas in the modern south. He illustrates how soul music and then disco were refined by an influential set of southern musicians of both races who played on soul sessions for artists like Arthur Alexander and Joe Tex. The white musicians went on to reinvigorate country music in the ’80s and ’90s, Hughes painstakingly illustrates, while the black musicians were often left behind. Hughes’ tale is one of unbalanced input, uncredited appropriation and unequal reward. And yet, “at its truest and most substantive moments,” Hughes writes, the music that is his subject “reasserts the continuing presence of African American music within seemingly white spheres, even during the very moment when country became so closely associated with reactionary racial politics and even racial bigotry.” It’s never a simple story of theft or harmony, and in its nuances it feels right.”
"Eminem didn’t have sleazy, objectifying party songs; he had furious, murderous meltdowns. His was not a blithe misogyny. “Kim,” was dark, violent, out of control; but the “Kim” in the song is not a prop—she’s a demon. A demon has power….[w]hile the song pissed me off and provoked me, it never objectified or excluded me. Eminem is capable of conveying great humor and joy in his music (see “The Real Slim Shady,” “My Name Is”), but he didn’t write “Kim” to make anyone laugh. He did it to show us what a profoundly fucked-up human he was. He wasn’t bragging—he was confessing. He was daring us to hate him when Jay-Z and Puffy and Snoop were begging us to love them."
“I was at this transitional moment in my life where I was leaving Bikini Kill and I’d been really associated with it, and I was like, ‘the militant asshole bitch from Bikini Kill’… but also, I was supposed to be ‘the tough-ass feminist from Bikini Kill,’ which really wasn’t what I was offstage; I was really not very confident," Hanna says in late June at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, cafe. "It was also so much more personal, in a way. I wasn’t trying to write ‘Rebel Girl’ over and over again. I wasn’t trying to write a feminist anthem. I was writing the shit that was in my diary. I disguised a lot of things. I mean I wrote about an invisible friend that I had who was getting me through this bad time. Well, it was really my cat, but…”