|THE PILL BOX|
A CATALOG OF CULTURE & BARBARITY
Scarface was DISCO when it first came out (the clothes, the music, the drugs). There's a thread between the tackiest disco and hiphop that got marginalised when James Brown breaks took over the genre.
Maybe the presence of the movie in hiphop is some kinda 'reclamation' of tack and glamour in hiphop. 'Keeping it Real' didn't really figure in 99% of hiphop, and its overstated 'potitical' edge may have just been an early 90s fad inspired by PE's crossover success. Look at rap before 86, and there's a lot more in common with Chic than the Last Poets.
I think too the role of the VHS in all this cant be understated - favourite films became loops you played and replayed, alone or with friends. "Sampling" of favourit (e.g.) Scarface lines just became the hi-tech equivalent of playground run-throughs the day after of Python or whatever.
Scarface may have been white, but there WAS also a lot of 'underground' black humor - from parents albums, or from samizdat VHSs - that went into bits of Rap. Ditto, of course, a key element in the 'normalisation' of Porn.vzp
Maybe he's just been trying to do too much; cos I also think his recent books on THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and LIKE A ROLLING STONE are among his way weakest work...
But even tho I disagree fundamentally with a lot of his theoretical stances (and just plain don't *get* some of his enthusiasms) - I still return time and again to the earlier work - Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, Dead Elvis, and bits of the Dylan book - for pleasure and inspiration.
the 'scarface' dvd actually has a documentary 'Def Jam presents: Origins of a Hip Hop Classic', with contributions from pretty much everyone. puff daddy says he's seen it "63 times". most of them say calling coke "yayo" ("llelo") really took off *after* 'scarface'. also it plays up how the film went down with latinos -- who i don't think had a big crim-cultural profile before the film came out (?).
You see - off the top of my head, very very roughly - this is a vague unease of a suspicion I have with marcus... his "American" figurhead... it just feels a bit Springsteen-esque to me; it's a bit sturdy and truth-telling and 'authentic voice of' for my own particular taste... know what i mean? His "American" voice is portenous and MEANINGFUL, in a very Lit Crit kinda way, too much of the time; a tacky Latino disco, say, isn't the sort of place he would look to for sacraments and signs, portents and pleasures. (Rap, too, is a *glaring absence* in his round up of American 'prophetic' voices...) I mean, OK, fair dues, he can't write expertly and passionaely about EVERYTHING... but that begs the Q, as some correspondents have indicated here, I think, previously, begs the Q: why, then, try to propound a purportedly all-inclusive Theory of Everything American ...? Why not just concentrate on the gist and grain, tensions and timbres, of the stuff you DO know inside out? And not try sell us a dubious macro legend: "Prophecy and THE American Voice." Rather, surely: Prophecy and ... SOME American Voices, no?Post a Comment