Controversy abounds, as it always has. But we're reminded more frequently than ever just how confusing our modern-day existence is, what with these phones-turned-newspapers and social-media feeds and such.
In Denmark, Santa Claus is apparently a heinous slave owner who dictates his nefarious Christmas plans to someone called Black Pete. Fat Albert may or may not be a rapist. Some publishing company believed yet another photo of Kim Kardashian's bare ass -- a thing that had already been seen more than Punxsutawney Phil over a century of Februaries -- could "break the Internet." We can land an unmanned probe on a comet hurtling through space at 84,000 miles per hour, but we still don't know why dropped toast always falls buttered side down.
Musicians have always been there to address many of these issues. It's a tradition that dates back at least as far as "Ring Around the Rosie" and its social commentary on the Great Plague. In more recent times, it's been carried on by songs like "Strange Fruit" and "Masters of War," and "Fuck Tha Police." Houston of course enjoys its fair share of artists with the nerve to take on the day's provocative issues, such as the ones responsible for these four recent songs.
"Pololyoxenfree," Biz Vicious If there's not yet an anthem for polyamory, let's all get together and love on socially conscious rapper Biz Vicious's "Polyolyoxenfree," Beginning with the clever title, the song advocates for kindred hearts to come out, change their relationship statuses to "available" and, as Wikipedia puts it, engage in the "practice, desire or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."
Or, as Biz puts it, "It's not that I don't love you, babe, I just don't do monogamy."
Last year -- on Valentine's Day, no less -- Scientific American ran an article claiming that about 5 percent of Americans are "nonmonogamous." Its authors, noted social scientists, see positive trends in polyamorous relationships that could help monogamous couples with relationship issues like jealousy and commitment.
The song isn't a practical guide to polyamorous relationships, though it does drop some buzzwords, such as "emphatic consent." It's more an acknowledgment that this type of love exists and Biz is down. It's a fun song that doesn't attempt to debate sexual politics. And it has a catchy hook you'll be singing, whether you are a one-woman man or a one-man woman or a one-man man or a one-woman woman.
"FTP/FTP," Justice Allah In the recurring Saturday Night Live skit called "How's He Doing?" a panel of the cast's black comics comment on President Obama's job performance. No matter the subject, they invariably agree he is doing terrific. The joke is how low the first black president might have to go to ever lose their vote, but it's no laughing matter to Justice Allah.
The 144 Elite and South Park Coalition rapper is not fucking around on this track, which takes the unpopular (and largely unspoken in the black community) stance that puts Obama squarely in the part of-the-problem column by rapping "Fuck the police, fuck the president, too...yeah, I said it" at the song's open.
He never overtly states Obama has been a bystander while Ferguson and closer to home incidents of police brutality like the Chad Holley beating have occurred, but he doesn't have to. It's guilt by association, and he makes no qualms about attaching the president to other "identities under Masonic initials" and as "kin to the political parties."
He closes the song with stronger indictments by recalling the president's role in dubious foreign affairs, though he stops short of going full drone on Obama. "What type of shit is this, your First Amendment pistol-whipped in front of your congressman in view of the Washington monument?" is the most hardcore rap line I've heard in a while. If any potential White House fence-hoppers have access to the bangin' chopped version by Lil Randy, the Secret Service better start gearing up.
Story continues on the next page.
"Eye Makeup," Wild Moccasins What could be controversial about drag at this point? Men have been dressing like women at least since the Globe Theatre and, let's be honest, long before that. For most of us, even seeing cross-dressers in the grocery stores now doesn't garner much more than a casual recognition that, yup, that person is wearing attire not consistent with the societal construct and then we're right back to wondering how the hell they're making us pay $2 for a loaf of bread now. Is this stuff spun from gold wheat?!
The song itself is more about vulnerability than the drag life, but it's included here because of the way- cool video for the track from 88 92, which features performers at Robert's Lafitte in Galveston, the show bar that put the Avenue Q in "queer."
The Houston neo-New Wavers recently got some love from NPR for the video, which is dramatic but still makes you wanna dance. For those of you with schoolboy/girl crushes on singer Zahira Gutierrez, beware: she's treated a bit unkindly in the storyline. As one Youtube viewer puts it, "Good song. But seeing Zahira Gutierrez cry makes me want to beat somebody up."
"Haunting Screams of Depressions End," Wishes of Eternal Sleep Wishes of Eternal Sleep makes rainy-day music, if you're the sort who sees only foreboding menace minus any silver lining in the darkened, thunder-filled storms of life. Listed by The Metal Archives under "Depressive Black Metal," the local one-man outfit doesn't take an abstruse approach to existential issues. Songs about depression and its effects on humans are ground out in painstaking, teeth-gnashing and in-your-face fashion.
"Haunting Screams..." is an 11-minute opus dedicated to these themes. You'll need the song lyrics printed online to decipher the yowls of Lord Mictian, the band's sole member. He's a mystery figure, but what is known about him is he's no philosophical crybaby, like Sartre or Heidegger. He's not afraid to stare into the void and invites listeners to face their demons and take a long glance with him.
And, we need to look at these subjects. An estimated 40,000 people commit suicide annually in the U.S. Buoyed by the death of Robin Williams and the end-of-life discussions surrounding Brittany Maynard, we're starting to discuss mental illness and suicide in more informed ways rather than considering them dirty little secrets. If you still need a push, though, crank up this song and hear for yourself why it's important to reach out to others who may be experiencing these painful feelings.
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