[Marxism] RE: Ali G

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Wed Jul 21 23:55:56 MDT 2004

From:           	"Mine Doyran" <mine.doyran at verizon.net>
To:             	"Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition" <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "David Quarter" <davidquarter at sympatico.ca>
> >  In arguing that Ali G. is trying to "represent black people" the
> > assumption is that most black people dress in baggy clothes,
> I did not say that Ali G is representing black people. I did say that the
> criticism of the show of on the basis of "cartoonification of black people
> or black culture" is misleading. I was responding to other posts on Ali G.
> Ali G is the rapper Cohen represents, anyhow, not black people necessarily.
> It is not blacks who rap, BTW.  I have known Labanese rap, Algerian rap,
> French rap, Turkish rap etc. There is a famous Algerian/ Ray singer Cheb
> Mami. He sometimes sings with French black rappers. It is top quality world
> music and has a social message (since Ray is a form of protest music, like
> raggy). If you look at the world around yourself, you will see there are
> alternatives.
> Listen to Cerkez Kizi from Turkey, for example. She raps about the oppressed
> situation of women in shanty towns or environmental  destruction of Istanbul
> coasts (playing the famous Turkish poet Orhan Veli's "Listening to Istanbul"
> Istanbulu dinliyorum in the background).
> Sacha Cohen is imitating a black rapper, clearly, not generalizing or
> representing black people. He is just witty, silly most of the time. He does
> not have a social message.
> Why to play with words here?>>>>

 I agree there are still rappers carrying a postive, empowering 
message, and all the power to rappers "kepping it real", keeping 
hip hop "true to its roots". Yet sticking to the Topic of Ali G for a 
moment: Is the character (Ali G) an imitation of *a* black rapper, 
as in some guy Cohen came across one day walking on the 
streets of South-East London, who incidentally had a Arabic 
name? Seriously now.  

 <<<He represents a variety of types, among which black people is
> one
> > > of them. >>>>

Ok. Maybe he is imitating a * type* of black person, as in one 
which the vast majority of black people would feel very ashamed 

<<<<Well, calling rap culture corrupt, degrading,
> anti-working class, humuliating, etc. can be as "racist" as society's
> classification of black culture, as if blacks cannot produce good music or
> as if it is up to whites to do high quality music only.>>>>>

I also wasn't suggesting that **hip hop culture**  per se is "corrupt, 
degrading, anti working class"etc. Certaintly in the popular versions 
you get nowadays (I don't know where this become "corrupt" and 
what being "anti working class" in a rap song would entail exactly). 
Yet this is mostly in the popular stuff anyways, i.e., rap music that 
is primarily targeting  surbandan white American youth. That is who 
craves the gangsta  message and images of black people, which is 
why this form of rap music is produced in the first place. This is rap 
manufactured in corporate studios. There is also the underground 
stuff --the stuff produced in basements or street corners in urban 
neibourhoods, the stuff  that that gets air time on the local hip hop 
stations, whose artists aren't signed to major record labels, that is 
sold on street corners or bought in local music stores, and that 
isn't shown in  video version endlessly on MTV, BET and all the 
other commercial TV and radio stations -- and best of all, the stuff 
that might actually contain a message, the way rap use to be 
before it became  all about the "bling, bling". 

The solution is to
> find ways of empowerment within rap music, not to deny it. Rap does not
> always have to be corrupt or degrading, just as a porn is. We should
> overcome these streotypes.>>>>

There is nothing really empowering about a corporate manufactured 
version of rap music that presents a degrading and humiliating 
image of black women and men. 


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