Hip hop's first stop
Last week's mailbag had a response by Matthew Lien on the state of pop music in Taiwan. I couldn't agree with him more. I have been disgusted with most of it (until it got some soul from Nicky Lee, Jay and some hip hop energy from Machi and Jason).
I thank Lien for supporting singers and musicians who get overlooked, but I can't agree with his comment that "hip hop ... originated largely in gang culture in the Bronx."
I guess that Lien felt the same sickness inside upon seeing a crooner like Wang Lee-hom (王力宏) giving his all to promote hip hop when only falseness exuded from his pores -- like the McDonald's hip hop I discovered at the end of his latest music VCD. Bleccchhh!
Unfortunately for hip hop, today it seems inextricably connected to bad boys, crack dealers, crips, bloods and cop killers.
However, that is not how it started. Original gangsters only had time for enjoying entertainment -- not creating it.
Rap is, first of all, universal. There have always been people chanting and rhyming over beats. Rap and hip hop has its origins in partying in Jamaica. Starting in the 1950s, the mobile discotheques known as "sound systems" brought parties to people all over Jamaica.
Then it was known as "toasting." There was a deejay and an MC. It was the MC's job to get the crowd movin' and groovin' by "toasting."
Jamaican immigrants in NY, their progeny and people influenced by rap spread the good vibrations around until one day a record producer decided to take a chance and put Rapper's Delight on wax.
I grew up on gospel, R&B, rap and soul because I was raised in an African-American neighborhood. So I remember all of the socially conscious, responsible and caring rappers.
And I remember when rappers saw bad boy OGs Ice-T and NWA making money by spitting profanities, promoting racism and disrespect to women. It's been predominantly gangster ever since then.
Dempsey W. Haupt
Dark Red Magic
I know the Shih Ming-teh (施明德) protest is nearly over. But I'm still curious. What was with the headband in English? Is that like an American getting a Chinese tattoo he thinks says "awesome warrior" when it really says "stupid fat white boy"?
One day I noticed the headband was upside down, and maybe even backwards. Was that to bring magic? Like saying the Lord's Prayer backwards brings Dark Magic?
Whatever. I'm glad it's almost over. I got angry every time I had to go by the train station.
Finished Being Angry
Johnny replies: Never took much notice of the headbands. I mostly took note of the word "depose" on the clothes and stickers. Considering all the funny money connected to the campaign, I'm wondering whether the word "deposit" wasn't more appropriate.
Re: The Taipei Times article "Taiwan drops to No. 13 in WEF ratings" (Sept. 27, page 12).
I was dismayed when I visited the World Economic Forum (WEF) Web site to read The Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007 and found that they added the word "China" behind "Taiwan." In all previous years it had just been "Taiwan."
I have written to the WEF to ask it to revert to its old position. I hope you can pass this message to like-minded people who might show their displeasure. Send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Johnny replies: And the WEF Web site has the cheek to say it's "tied to no political, partisan or national interests." Of course, you're not "tied" to China if you've got drool on your chin as you pucker up to where the sun don't shine. But give these guys a break. If you were pictured on their Web site wearing a shit-brown shirt with yellow blazer and matching yellow tie like Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin, one of the authors of the report, you'd be asking a 5,000-year-old civilization for favors, too. Still, an economist whose personal Web site features "Where's Wally bin Laden," Beavis and Butt-head, Marx (Groucho), the Muppets, Janet Jackson's nipple and Benny Hill can't be all bad.