Respect the mustache. And respect the man, say his fucking name correctly. It’s Nietzsche, pronounced Nee-chuch, not Nee-chee. Goddamnit.
“The Will to Truth, which is to tempt us to many a hazardous enterprise, the famous Truthfulness of which all philosophers have hitherto spoken with respect, what questions has this Will to Truth not laid before us! What strange, perplexing, questionable questions! It is already a long story; yet it seems as if it were hardly commenced. Is it any wonder if we at last grow distrustful, lose patience, and turn impatiently away? That this Sphinx teaches us at last to ask questions ourselves? WHO is it really that puts questions to us here? WHAT really is this “Will to Truth” in us? In fact we made a long halt at the question as to the origin of this Will—until at last we came to an absolute standstill before a yet more fundamental question. We inquired about the VALUE of this Will. Granted that we want the truth: WHY NOT RATHER untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance? The problem of the value of truth presented itself before us—or was it we who presented ourselves before the problem? Which of us is the Oedipus here? Which the Sphinx? It would seem to be a rendezvous of questions and notes of interrogation. And could it be believed that it at last seems to us as if the problem had never been propounded before, as if we were the first to discern it, get a sight of it, and RISK RAISING it? For there is risk in raising it, perhaps there is no greater risk.” - Beyond Good And Evil
Like all of the most famous passages to spill forth from Nietzsche’s hand, this famed opening salvo to ‘The Prejudices Of Philosophers,’ which itself opens Beyond Good And Evil, is a fucking labryinth of philosophical and physiological issues. Whether one treats the issue here as a varied articulation of the metaphorical groundwork of any correspondence theory of truth as otherwise stated in ‘On Truth and Lies in an Extramoral Sense,’ as an adumbration of Heidegger’s comparable claim that any regime of truth and sense-making is dissociative in such a way as to close off other possible ways of making sense, or as a call to pragmatically reconsider what good aspiring after the truth yields us in the course of our lives as lived, the end result is always the same: one of our most esteemed and cherished values, the aspiration to truth at all costs, stands on shaky ground.
Yet, as with all of my ‘blog’ rants, I don’t intend to parcel out this assertion in any of these ways strictly speaking - except insofar as they bear upon what gravity they may have for life well-lived. The more distant I have become from academic discourse, the more insane and inane much of what passes for scholarship seems to me. Carving out niche domains for oneself to work within so as to insure continued employment, especially when it is done with an heir of righteous indignation, is a total bastardization of everything that makes me give a shit about philosophy. I won’t blather about that extensively at the moment - perhaps at a later date. The question for me must be, how are we to live? And what kind of purchase does this question or one like it have on our potentially healthy inhabitance of the world into which we are all so unwittingly thrown.
A crucial moment of self-awareness in academia came for me halfway through my undergraduate career whilst under the tutelage of Fred Peters - the resident super genius of the University of Michigan’s Residential College. I believe I was taking a course entitled Psychoanlysis and the Modern Novel. We were discussing the traditional list of Freud’s ego-defense mechanisms, when Fred noted that Anna Freud had added a sixth one to the list, namely intellectualization. This was jarring to me at age 18. It’s jarring to me at age 31. In essence, my whole life up to that point - and perhaps up to this very moment - had be motivated by the maxim nascent in Aristotle’s proclamation that “all human beings by nature desire to know.” Of course there is a broad valence to how one can understand what Aristotle means by knowledge in this assertion. Yet, by and large, I’ve always operated with relatively strict sense that knowledge is getting states of affairs in my brain to correspond to states of affairs as they exist in extramental reality. And no amount of philosophical education has done much to change that. And isn’t that the goal? Ought we not aspire to understand, to comprehend - which literally means to wrap our hands around - as much about the world as we can?
So why does Anna Freud call this an ego-defense mechanism? Without belaboring this point too exhaustively, the idea here is relatively straightforward. The bulk of our experience is constituted by events the meaning of which is in gross excess to our interpretation of it. Yet insofar as the only opening we have on to our reality is our perceptual standpoint - which includes our intellection - we are caught in a perpetual quandary. We find ourselves confronting a world which does not cooperate with our own formed image of it, nevertheless we cannot eradicate that image, that perspective. The issue is thus, how do we deal with this dissonance? Insofar as the excess of meaning is experienced as a threat to the ordering, controlling, and manipulating function of the ego we either have to accept this excess and realize that we aren’t fully in control of the way in which our experience unfolds, or we can forcefully try to shove everything into our neat and tidy mental taxonomy - thereby preserving the sovereignty of King Ego.
Intellectualism as Anna Freud understands it is thus part and parcel of the Will to Truth, a tacit, if not explicit, denial of the fact that world exists in vast excess to the control of the ego. And the only function this will serves in our lives is the capacity to exert control over our world through the experience of understanding. This is, perhaps, one way to understand what Spinoza means when he defines joy as an expansion of our understanding. We get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of forcing the world into our compartments. Because we can then control it. Or at least we deceive ourselves into thinking we can.
So does this mean that we ought to eschew our desire to know? To know the truth of things? Does that mean that lies are just as good? I don’t think that is the take away, here. At all. Rather, the question must become for us - how do we find a way to make adjudicate our desire for knowledge, our desire for truth, with the condition in which we find ourselves? If the meaningfulness of reality is something that truly exceeds our ability to get our hands around it, try as we might to get it to fit inside our grubby little paws, then how ought we to comport ourselves towards this epistemic excess? The only answer as I see it - as I think Nietzsche saw it, Aristotle saw it, Spinoza saw it - is to figure out how to inteliigently marshal this will so as to be able to live a healthy life. I’ve got no country for liars. That’s not what is at issue. What is at issue here is that we must accept the fact that however it is that we may come to interpret our world will never be the last word. It is only our word. And all words pale and fail when confronted with the real. This doesn’t mean that I have to swallow whatever sugar pill is presented to me to make getting on with life easier. What I think it does mean is that I have to aspire to know, and do the service of disclosing when appropriate, the requisite truths that are necessary to permit myself and others to get on with life in a manner that fosters flourishing.
At the end of the day, I do believe it all comes down to phronesis. Yet, what we must perpetually ask ourselves is whether or not our desire to know is actually contributing to solid practical judgment that acknowledges our ontological condition as it is. If it’s not and we are trying to domineer, manipulate or distort our world to fit our own ends - chances are the abyss will be staring back in no time flat.
Chalk it up to my love of tr0lling the internets, to my disputatious character, to the fact that over time I’ve found it more and more difficult to convince people to engage in any kind of extensive dialogue with me about politics – chalk it up to whatever you’d like, but I have developed an uncanny and often unintentional knack for getting myself embroiled in seemingly never ending conversations with what we polite society tends to call ‘conspiracy theorists.’
Whether these people happen to be 9/11 Truthers:
Ancient Alien theorists:
HAARP obsessed folks who happen to think the Government is in charge of the drizzle in Portland so as to increase depression and therefore drive up their GlaxoSmithKline stock prices:
They all have one thing in common: arguing with them is completely impossible. “Why?,” you say, “Aren’t they just out to establish the REAL HISTORY of whatever-the-fuck?”In other words, shouldn’t I, as one who is perennially skeptical of the doxic account of global politics, Taco Bell’s stated health facts, meteorology being considered a science, etc, be on their side?I suppose in a sense, I am.For one thing, I know I often times do research in the same way that most conspiracy theorists do.Say I’m wondering about the role of occult knowledge in the Nazi party.I start out with a Wikipedia investigation of the Thule Society, which hyperlinks me to an Angelfire page about the Book of Enoch, which somehow takes me to an elaborate alchemical account of how Jason Mraz has continued to be a thing.Following the syllogistic reasoning of most conspiracy theorists I know, I therefore have to conclude that since the Nephilim are actually alien intelligences, Joseph Goebbels must have collaborated with Graham Hancock and Yakub to bring about and sustain terrible, terrible music.
The first issue with regards to the impossibility of arguing with such a knucklehead surfaces: given their essential distrust in traditional news and information sources, they are forced to go to the worlds last remaining Geocities page with animated gifs of dancing bananas for all of their actual information.To me, this is issue is relatively innocuous.Most people I meet on a daily basis don’t ever try to acquire any information about anything ever.They just take in all of their opinions through cultural osmosis, to wit, the conspiracy theorist has the advantage of actually making a passing attempt to learn something under their own motive force.The sources may be as trustworthy as the Chinatown crackhead volunteering to watch your bike, but at least an attempt is being made.
The second issue and the one that is significantly more problematic is the prevalence of confirmation bias in this community of interlocutors.If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of confirmation bias, it is pretty straightforward.The way that Robert Anton Wilson, one of my favorite thinkers of the last 50 years and a perpetual favorite of the Conspiracy theorist community, presents this idea is by describing the human mind (metaphorically of course, all language is metaphor, but you knew that) as having a two parts:the thinker and the prover.
As Wilson oft repeats, particularly in Prometheus Rising, whatever it is that we think about the world causes us to attune ourselves to reality in such a way that we will vindicate our believes.In other words, whatever the thinker thinks, the prover will prove. RAW himself: “To cite a notorious example which unleashed incredible horrors earlier in this century, if the Thinker thinks that all Jews are rich, the Prover will prove it. It will find evidence that the poorest Jew in the most run-down ghetto has hidden money somewhere.”The way that this manifests itself in Conspiracy theory style stuff should be apparent enough.Insofar as someone has become convinced that, say, the U.S. government is responsible for the WTC and Pentagon attacks on 9/11, they will embrace all evidence that confirms this view and reject all other evidence as stilted or ideological.The end result of this in conversation is pretty obvious.The view is so firmly held that nothing you can say, no information you can present, will sway the belief; whatever the theory is dictates not only the belief that is being held, but also what kinds of evidence count as worth being considered.Couple this together with the distrust in ‘mainstream media/academia’ and you’ve got an interlocutor who once convinced of a view, becomes essentially completely incapable of engaging in a dialogue.
The third issue, born out of the second, is likely the least obvious – but in my opinion, the most insidious.If you’re anything like me and grew up religiously watching the X-Files, you’ll notice a certain Fox Mulder-ish ‘I Want To Believe,’ attitude amongst most of the people that I’m describing as conspiracy theorists.While they want to reject tout court the standard information presented about the world as biased, stilted, hiding the truth; what they really seem to want is a narrative that tells them that the world really does, at bottom, make sense.Perhaps the most unsettling fact about modern global politics when considered with any degree of well-rounded scrutiny is that it is pretty apparent that no one in a position of power really knows what they’re doing.Given the manifold of nodes of power in the world, all of the competing narratives regarding history and power, it should come as no surprise that attempting to have some global, coordinated effort to move the world in a univocal direction is the closest thing to impossible.Every one of us is just as clueless as the next person as to how to get this clunky machine to move in the direction that we would like it to go, which in turn means that each one of us is equally responsible for the direction in which it tends.There is no ultimate arbiter of the direction of global politics that is masterminding the movement of history so that we can be turned into the chattel of Alien super intelligences.But I have to imagine if you believe that sort of thing, your lived experience in the world makes an awful lot more sense.The more rigid and all-encompassing the ideology, the less troubling the ‘blooming, buzzing confusion’ of experience is.Every piece of information has its place, every action has its purpose, every seemingly inexplicable act of madness can be fit into a global narrative.Belief in such a theory is tantamount to a relinquishing of responsibility for the construction of the world in which we live.As Simone de Beauvoir would have it, such a ‘serious man’ throws away responsibility and freedom for the belief that there is an objective reality of facts and values that is moving along independent of our lives to which we need only orient ourselves.And while a traditional conspiracy theorist may seem to be the antithesis of such a way of approaching the world – one which a thinker like Beauvoir is more likely to describe as a Religious Fundamentalist – the fact of the matter is that whether or not you’re embracing or rejecting the ‘order’ of reality that whatever higher intelligence has put in place, there is a definite security in the certainty that everything in the world is happening for a reason. And that faith can prove to be devastatingly unshakeable.
People who know me well know that few things infuriate me more than any talk of authenticity - philosophically or otherwise. My reasons for this regarding philosophy are complex and I have written about them extensively elsewhere - see: The Tyranny of Authenticity: Rebellion & the Question of Right Life published in the Journal for Speculative Philosophy a few years back - yet with regards to issues of making music and DJing my opinions on the matter are utterly baffling. By which I mean, I have no idea what I think. I constantly contradict myself, find myself holding paradoxical beliefs with great frequency about the matter, threatening the very axiomatic integrity of the Principle of Non-Contradiction and so on and so forth. Basically, I find myself waffling back and forth between thinking that it is inevitable that people will be influenced by others, hijacking styles, sounds, mixes, progressions whether intentionally or unintentionally and I ought to let it go - and experiencing a burning desire to freak out and scream Swizz Beatz at people:
What exactly this has to do with the three recent remixes I’m about to post may seem a bit oblique at first, but I hope it will become clear as I proceed. It is unquestionably the case that much modern electronic dance music is built and structured around older dance classics, whether we’re talking Nadastrom’s usage of Horny by Cajmere to make Save Us, or Duck Sauce’s usage of Gotta Go Home by Boney M. to make Barbra Streisand as two direct examples - disco and older dance classics have served as the sample source and foundation for tons of modern day hits. For posterity:
To be 100% clear - I am in no way shape or form pointing these usages out as failings. In both instances, the originals off of which these tracks were based were relatively well known at least within the dance music community. And in neither case were the artists pressed would they have disavowed the ‘roots’ of their tracks - in fact I’m sure they would have gladly shared them. I think too many of us, tracks such as these are a manner of paying homage. Moreover, given my upbringing as a hip-hop fan categorically hating on someone for sampling would be completely hypocritical. Nevertheless - my concern with burying originals as sample sources stems from hopefully a different site than my concern with being authentic or creative or original. Rather it comes from the fact that, more often than not, when an artist chooses to sample or edit or re-structure a track to construct something of their own - it is in part because they love the original track. There is something about the original song which speaks to them, which prompted them to want to do something novel and innovative.
My question then becomes - insofar as we live in a world where VERY few music consumers are delusional enough to not know anything about sampling and sourcing why NOT share these original tracks with others. As cliché as it sounds, I like making music and sharing it with others because I like the way the music I love makes me feel - regardless of where that feeling falls on the spectrum of human emotions - and I hope to inspire such emotional responses in others. If I can manipulate a track a love into something new and exciting, I’m going to pass it along. And insofar as doing so doesn’t get me into any sort of legal trouble, I’d like to pass on the original as well. We no longer live in a world of crate-diggers where I have to cover my labels so the next man cannot track down what I have to insure my crates are deeper. Anything I’ve found, anyone else can find it too. Why not just pass it along and share the inspiration? If it comes down to DJing, I’m just going to make sure I think I’m good enough that regardless of who has the track, I can play it better. And hopefully by passing on the origina track, older artists, obscure artists, forgotten artists can be discovered by a new audience or rediscovered and recontextualized for old fans.
To this end - I present you with three new remixes of mine. All three of which I had contemplated chopping beyond recognition to make into “Original” productions, instead I decided to leave them with a certain degree of their integrity and present them to you with my own spin on them in a variety of ways. I’m perpetually stealing ideas from other DJs, from musicians that inspire me, from songs I love. I feel like the best way for me to be original in this case is to present these songs to you in this manner.
So here you have a remix of Symarip’s Skinhead Moonstomp - which was originally posted in conjunction with an extensive interview and overview on Generation Bass: The Moombahtonista. Second is a remix of Trouble Funk’s Pump Me Up which was posted in conjunction with another interview and overview on Cool-Breezy. The third is brand new as of today and is a remix of Charles A. Chepkwony Kolu Band’s Yach Busurek. Enjoy the originals and the remixes below.
I grew up in Michigan. Not in Detroit. Shit, for the most part not anywhere near Detroit. At all. My youth and the bulk of my teenage years were spent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Minneapolis and Chicago were both actually closer excursions by car than was Detroit (Michigan is pretty gigantic state, it is nearly a 600 mile drive to the D from Dollar Bay). Nevertheless - perhaps it was the forced Michigan history in 8th Grade - I always had some sense, some pride of place, that connected me to the music that came out of my home state. At 14-15 years old I was busy listening to The Stooges, The MC5, Negative Approach, a lot of Motown records (somewhat on the low) and was just starting to get really heavy into hip-hop.
While I grew up with a youthful obsession with watching Yo! MTV Raps in the late 80s and early 90s and was a fan of a broad swath of what I heard there - like a lot of white kids in the early-mid 90s I was mostly interested in tracks coming from the Native Tongue camp and groups such as The Pharcyde. A whole ethnographic study could probably be done about that, but I digress for the moment. De La Soul, in particular was always my favorite rap group during that era. And when Stakes Is High came out, my brain got scrambled. There was something different about that record to my ears that I couldn’t quite explain. And as I was want to do at the time I got busy reading the liner notes to see if I could discover what it was. A name kept recurring. Jay Dee. I had seen that name somewhere before. Based on some fleeting memory, I ran and grabbed my copy of The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia and lo and behold he had produced Runnin’ and Drop - which were unquestionably my two favorite records on that joint. As a bit of an early internet wiener (I had a ‘website’ in 1994, if I remember correctly - lord knows what the fuck I posted on that shit. HTML IN TEXTEDIT, WHUTUPDOE?!?), I went and did some research and discovered that this man, Jay Dee, was from Detroit. That sense, that pride of place returned. And his name stayed in my brain from that day forward.
In 1998, I moved to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan. Detroit and Ann Arbor are quite close geographically, though worlds apart in most other ways from one another. Nevertheless for the first time in my life I had easy access to this city whose musical legacy had been with me since my early youth. I began attending hardcore punk shows and hip-hop shows in Ann Arbor and Detroit with great frequency. Within my first few months at the University, I had met a couple of DJs that lived in the same dorm as me (that’d be East Quad, if you’re curious) right as I myself was trying to find my way into that craft. One of these cats, whose name I have completely forgotten, dubbed a copy of Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 for me on cassette. We had been talking about producers we liked and I had mentioned Jay Dee - and he was insistent that I put my ears to what was available from Slum Village at the time. I freaked out. That tape made almost no sense to me in so many ways. The beats were insane, of course, but the way the emcees rapped on the tracks was like nothing I had ever heard before. In a lot of ways, it defied all the logic that my Pharoahe Monch-obsessed brain had come to use to analyze the quality of rapping. Yet it was somehow perfect for the tracks in question. The jazzy musicality of the production, the off-kilter swing, was matched perfectly by structures and patterns of vocalization used on this recording. And I was even more blown away by the fact that I was likely to have an opportunity to see this group perform sometime soon. And I did.
I saw Slum Village perform a handful of times, I couldn’t say how many. 6 or 7, probably. A few times in Detroit, once or twice in Ann Arbor (at the Michigan League, if memory serves me correctly). And I was always amazed by their performances. Their energy was unparalleled. And man, did they have fun on stage from everything I could see. SV’s performances were so energetic and broke so many rules - and the punk rock kid in me felt a certain sort of kinship with this fact. It really seemed like they didn’t give a fuck, in the best way possible. And loved every second of it. The last time I saw them perform, Dilla wasn’t there. I had no idea why until many years later.
During this era I had the good fortune to work with and get to know so many obscenely talented musicians and DJs. Looking back at who I would attend house parties with in 2001 in Ann Arbor sometimes hurts my brain. Tadd Mullinix, a.k.a., Dabrye, Matthew Dear, Disco D, Osborn, and many other folks from the early days of Ghostly International would be present alongside the good folks from Athletic Mic League (from whence we now have the A Side World Wide camp containing Buff1, 14KT, and of course, Mayer Hawthorne), and often times a slew of other folks who have gone on to talk over their respective niches within the music industry. More often than not I would be a fly on the wall for a lot of these guys conversations. Believe it or not, I was relatively quiet in social settings during that era. And Dilla would come up as a major source of inspiration all the time. I would sit back and listen to what these exceptionally talented artists had learned from his production work, from his style of rapping. Go back and listen to Dabrye’s One/Three today and have your brain hurt thinking on when it was produced and released, if you need confirmation.
And this leads me to my larger point, beyond simply paying homage. I am not trying to pull a “I was on this shit before a lot of you cats” card out here at all. I guess I am writing this to explain how I feel that my relationship with Dilla’s music is somewhat different from a lot of what I experience in Portland and other cities I visit. Most of my friends in and around Detroit who are long time fans of hip-hop have a different relationship with Dilla’s music. There is a similar reverence to what I see from a lot of cats around the world today, that is without question. But I’d like to think that I took away something somewhat different from it than what I see a lot of people doing with his music now. I think the homie Waajeed said it best in a recent discussion of Dilla samples on Ego Trip.
“I think that’s kinda what differs our cloth of producers, or maybe even Detroit producers, from New York producers. Just comin’ out here [to New York] and noticing how cats are sort of on labels and brands and records that are super rare. And if your shit ain’t rare then your collection ain’t shit. That type of thing. That’s totally not what was goin’ on in the D. I think [a philosophy] that we kind of inspired with each other in our own crew was there are no wack records, there’s only wack producers. You consider every record almost to be a keyboard and in that way it’s like a palette for you to create something fresh. It’s not in the record it’s in your ear. That’s more or less where all that came from.” - Waajeed
I think the insight Waajeed provides here says something about the ethos of people from the Upper Midwest in a lot of ways. A lot of us who were making music - be it hip-hop, electronic music, punk rock, or whatever - didn’t necessarily have access to all sorts of crazy tools. We had to make due with what we had and be as creative with it as possible. And for me, that has always been the legacy that Dilla ought to inspire. Be creative, take risks, work with what you have, and do you. I completely understand that Dilla’s production aesthetic was beautiful, banging, and innovative - but if you want to pay homage, I think that best way to do that is follow his lead, the lead that Waajeed so aptly describes in this quote and in so much of his recent content on the newly relaunched Bling 47. Don’t repeat, don’t replicate, don’t copy. Be inspired and create. I am no hip-hop producer, by any stretch of the imagination. But I’d like to think that all of my musical forays - and I’m sure this is excessively self-aggrandizing and hyperbolic - since I started playing bass in my first punk rock band in 1995 have aspired to manifest what I wanted to do. Is there going to be influence present in my music? Obviously. Do I love hearing elements of what Dilla brought to the table in current hip-hop production? Absolutely. But what made Dilla great, what made The MC5 great, what made The Stooges great, what made Negative Approach great, what made Juan Atkins great, what makes so much music from Detroit so fucking great, is that the people had to do it for themselves. And fuck it, if you have to do it for yourself, you may as well do it how you want. Right?
Spend any significant amount of time engaging in conversation with folks in their 20s in a city like Portland, OR these days and you are bound to hear some iteration or another of the following trope repeated ad nauseum: “I just want to do something meaningful with my life, something that is fulfilling.” To many of us this may seem like the most obvious of all aspirations. Of course we all want to accomplish feats in our lives that bring us a sense of purpose and meaning, a sense that we have made our mark on the world. Right? Positing fulfillment of our desires as a goal in life seems to be so obvious that one ought not even need to express it, much less justify it to others. Asking someone why they would want to live a life that they find fulfilling seems almost as absurd as asking parents why they feel it is their duty to take care of their children. Nevertheless, insofar as the majority of people that I speak to on a regular basis are finding no such ‘fulfillment’ - or at least nothing that measures up to what their idea of it would feel like in their head - it behooves us to ask a few questions: why do we have this notion that our lives are the kinds of things that can be fulfilling and meaningful? Is this idea novel? And, if so, where did this idea come from?
To be clear out of the gates, I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I do have some suspicions. And moreover, I think that perhaps with some recalibration about what our expectations are in the face of reality there are, perhaps, better ways to live insofar as we aspire to be content.
Let me ramble about this for a bit in response the questions posed above. Like many questions of a philosophical sort, I believe all three of these questions are intimately intertwined and cannot be answered in isolation from one another. To put the questions much more simply: why do we think human lives are the kinds of things that ought to grant the specific breed of fulfillment we desire? In my experience - and all of this is just my experience, I would ask the reader to consider my thoughts seriously but relative to their own lives and see if they think I’m on to something - our notions of meaning and fulfillment are pretty nebulous and vague. Though they tend to revolve around some general idea that we could find some kind of job, relationship, car, apartment, city, vacation destination, peer group, drug of choice, musical genre, etc. that would manifest our inner desires our inner selves. Many people - my self included - cultivate narratives about who they are - “I’m a rebellious, critical, analytical, compassionate, anti-authoritarian, who loves nature, loud music and sushi” - and we seek out employment, places to live, things to do, that will permit this self-conception to fully come to the fore. We also tend to be wildly protective, if not passionate, about the things that we think express our inner selves. Challenge my taste in music, my choice of partner, my preferred menu items, my political beliefs and you are likely to see an initial twinge in which I take this as a personal attack. All of this in and of itself seems to be part and parcel of a certain notion of identity that has run through Western Culture for thousands of years. So why do we seem to be having so much more angst about the lack of being able to find things that fully manifest the inner core of our being in the early 21st century?
My suspicion here is not unique. It’s something that has been prattled on about in film, literature, philosophy, etc. for quite some time now. But I feel that the force of our neurosis regarding ‘living a meaningful life’ has become so strong that it bears repeating over and over. I firmly believe that the reason why so many folks of my age group and younger inhabit the world with a baseline level of dissatisfaction is because of our ineliminable belief that we are all unique and special. You can hearken back to Chuck Palahniuk writing about how we are “not beautiful and unique snowflakes” as an obvious predecessor to my claim. But how many fans of Fight Club bought the DVD or a movie poster and proudly displayed in on their bookshelf to display to people their unique and distinctive tastes? We can hear it. But we don’t understand it.
So what’s wrong with the desire to be unique, to be an individual? After all, hasn’t this impulse been present in Western Civilization since the time of Ancient Greece when epic heroes were attempting to immortalize themselves through great deeds? Or epic feats of strength sans Festivus Pole? I believe that in and of itself the desire to be unique, to stand out, to make ourselves a ‘center of meaning’ is just part of the way that our cognitive apparatus is put together. All of us can only see the world from our own perspective, to wit, the world is always ‘my world’ to some extent or another. And the way in which the world appears to me is the only reality that I can truly ‘know.’ Accordingly, we have a desire to assert the integrity of our manner of conceptualizing reality simply as a way of saying, “I’m here and my world makes sense and you can’t shit on me or erase me.” The integrity of our identity (or subjectivity) hangs on defending the way in which we see things against incursions from others that would like to suggest that our world is somehow worth less than theirs. One way we can understand what it means for someone to be a ‘great’ person is that their world becomes a focal point around which other peoples worlds and narratives begin to revolve. Getting others to see the world through our eyes through the force of poetic expression, brute force, political statements, or compassion is - I have to imagine - as old as language.
If this is the case, what’s different now? If this same desire to stake our claim to our narrative has been part of the human experience since the dawn of human civilization (a claim I can’t back up, but I’ve got one of those hunches), why does it seem that people are all of the sudden experiencing this particularly nasty crisis of meaning in the present day? It seems as though all of the pieces of the puzzle were there 3000 years ago for people to be moping by their campfire bemoaning the fact that they couldn’t get their dreamjob - but you don’t hear so much of that in the historical record. Maybe it was just glossed over. But I doubt it.
My thoughts on this aren’t all that novel. I’m reminded of one of the formative ‘texts’ of my philosophical education - and I’m not even kind of joking - George Carlin’s stand-up special “You Are All Diseased!”
“There are a couple of things you have to remember … not all children are smart and clever. Got that? Kids are like any other group of people: a couple of winners and a whole lot of losers.”
Our generation grew up being told that the world existed as a site to grant us our wishes. Though my parents never explicitly told me otherwise, I’m glad I grew up in a cultural milieu - the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which is overrun by fatalistic Scandinavians - which ‘taught’ me that life was probably going to mostly be unpleasant and that you had to get in where you fit in. But in my experience, this narrative is relatively anachronistic in modern American society. Most people I know seem to believe - or at least they exhibit this belief through their behavior - that the world was fated to coordinate itself to our desires. That our way of looking at the world was inevitably going to be affirmed in the long run. That there is ‘that’ job, or ‘that’ partner, or ‘that’ subculture, in which ones innermost dreams and desires are capable of being fulfilled. Our sense of uniqueness now comes with the promise that it will be vindicated. Either through merit based upon hard work, or simply because you’re smart, special and beautiful - we expect the world to show up to us wrapped like a Christmas present with a our name on it. The obvious problem here is that - if we accept the conception of identity put forward here - reality is nothing but an aggregate of narratives and perspectives and not all of them can win. We can’t all play lead guitar in the band. A more realistic musical metaphor for reality is that of the symphony in which we all have to play our part precisely in order to generate harmony. But insofar as we were all taught that we deserve to be center stage playing a solo - this harmony can never be attained. This strikes me as one of the origins of our suffering and malaise in the modern world: a fundamental misrecognition of the nature of the cooperative nature of reality.
This misrecognition is exemplified by a phenomenon in modern television pointed out to me by my good friend Ben Brewer. Take The Office or Parks and Recreation as two examples. In both of these shows we are led to believe that there is some sort of documentary being made about the exceptionally banal lives of office workers or middling government bureaucrats. I’ve brought this point up in conversation with many friends and I’m repeatedly surprised by the fact that few viewers of these shows have ever wondered who is filming these people and why. The simple fact that we are not baffled by the idea that someone would want to film the most mundane lives imaginable is testament to a peculiar fact about our cultural circumstance. Social media as it exists can be either seen as a cause or an effect of this, I’m not sure it can neatly inhabit only one of those two categories. Every time we post something on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat or Facebook we are operating under the tacit assumption that a general audience (or maybe a specifically selected one) has a burning desire to know all of our thoughts and feelings. The contemporary world is one which reinforces in us, without us even realizing it, the idea that we are quite literally the ‘star of the show.’ While our lives may differ from the life of a character on Parks and Recreation in that those characters have some unseen and unnamed film crew documenting their existence - but they are a mirror of our life in that we all have to come to believe that we are the protagonist of a film. That this is ‘my story” (or ‘your story’ or ‘his story’ or ‘her story’). And the narrative tropes we have been raised with teach us that stories told as such have happy endings; they have resolutions wherein the world does accommodate itself to the desires of the protagonist. But the simple fact of the matter is, as I previously claimed, our reality cannot be seen as a 10 billion movies running side-by-side but never intersecting - each with their own plot arc and theme music - without us being woefully disappointed. The general ‘theory of reality’ that we operate with in the modern world shows itself to be problematic, at least psychologically, insofar as our belief that we are the star leads us to a state of constant disappointment.
What is the solution to this? Perhaps we need to strive to see ourselves as member of communal whole whose existence doesn’t depend upon our perspective. We have the capacity to contribute to the health and growth of the world - but reality would get along just fine without us. When it comes down to it, I firmly believe that an increase in contentment can only come with a diminished sense of self-importance. This is not to say that we have to give on the idea that we are unique or that we have our own identities - but it does mean that we have to give up on the idea that the world exists to fulfill our identities. Learning to work in concert with what is the case rather than trying to get the world to let you play the lead may be our only avenue to some peace.
Regardless of how much time I spent stitching Conflict patches onto jackets, hoodies and Dickies between the years of 1995 and the early 2000s, I’ve always voted. Even when I was front and center in political actions, chanting the lyrics to Crass songs, I somehow found my way to the ballot box. No matter how many hours I have spent dissecting and criticizing the failure of the electoral system in the US, I have never refrained from participating in that very same democratic process.
The reasons for this are manifold. And I think some of these reasons are only clear to be in retrospect. Though I’m more capable of dwelling with them comfortably now.
First and foremost, I do really give a shit. Even in my most brazen bouts of Up the Punxness, I have been very concerned with the way in which those in power relate to their subjects. Perhaps this came from watching Avenue C get cleared of snow every night for 6 months straight and being made aware at an early age that this was only possible due to the redistribution of tax dollars throughout the state of Michigan. Furthermore, since as early as Middle School, I was obsessed with global politics, world religions, and political geography. (I seriously used to color in world maps for fun and decorate my room with them. I definitely used to attempt to seem cool by stumping people with questions like, ‘what’s the capital of Burkina Faso?’ - it’s Ouagadougou, by the way - and that never made me ANY friends). When struck by extremely revolutionary and/or idealistic impulses, I have always been one to remain grounded in the reality of the political milieu that we as humans inhabit. My desires to see the world exist entirely other than it does right now, does absolutely nothing to change states of affairs as they actually exist. To wit, my decisions regarding how to vote in specific elections and with regards to specific policy issues have always been guided first and foremost by a stark confrontation with reality. What field are we playing on? What are the rules of the game? What can be done within the bounds of this game to push things in a direction I think would be most beneficial to humanity over all?
Even as I type those sentences, my inner punk rock kids and my inner Marxian philosopher start screaming at me like a car full of 12 year olds on a cross country road trip, jacked up on Jolt, with serious issues regarding my character. Insofar as the global political system - and the system is global, please don’t forget that (I’ll get back to that in a second) - is conditioned and determined by the peculiar form of late Capitalism that we live within today, it is essentially impossible that the kinds of shifts in foreign policy, educational policy, immigration policy, etc. are ever going to happen without some sort of global economic meltdown. The question then becomes, obviously, why the hell am I choosing to participate in this system that doesn’t permit the outcomes I think would be of greatest benefit to the flourishing of the Earth and the human community in general? The answer to that pains me, but it is also easy enough to see. It is the only game in town.
We can choose to opt out of voting. Sure. Fine. Fuck, depending on where you live and depending on how quickly you reject the ‘what if everyone else did it’ logic (which is nonsense, universalizing maxims in that manner seems foolish to me - sorry Kant), opting out of voting and choosing to vote in a Presidential election are likely to have the same effect. None at all. That being said, to do so as an act of protest is completely asinine. No one cares. I really mean that. You aren’t the protagonist of a fucking film, no one is going to applaud you for your protestation. No one will even notice. To wit, if you really do want to contribute to a systemic shift in global political structures, find those sites wherein you have agency and can actually make something happen. Unfortunately with regards to elections, this means simply voting in them in a manner that best befits your conscience. If that doesn’t sate your desires you have a new challenge, which is to figure out how to assert yourself into the socio-political realm at large in such a way so as to make other kinds of more radical transformations begin to take shape. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what that looks like. But wait there’s more.
Not only is this the only game in town. But as much as I hate to admit it to my 17 year old self, by and large I’m not that mad at this game. I very much enjoy the amenities of my bourgeois existence. Would I rather that I could by typing this message on MacBook Pro in comfortable apartment while sipping my cage free chai and listening to Negative Approach in a world without sweatshops? In a world without ethnic cleansing? In a world without political violence instigated because of race, religion, gender, or sexual preference? Of course. Of fucking course. But am I willing to give up all of my creature comforts to see what it’s like out there in Mad Max land? Not so much. Does this mean we shouldn’t be critical? Absolutely not. But I do think it means that we really ought to attend to the conditions of the possibility of engaging in such critical acts. Without the support system I have in place from the system I loathe, I have no manner in which to engage functionally in criticism of that system. This is why I read my Adorno daily: “The subjugation of life to the production-process degradingly inflicts something of that isolation and loneliness on every single person, which we are tempted to consider the matter of our superior choice. The notion that every single person considers themselves better in their particular interest than all others, is as long-standing a piece of bourgeois ideology as the overestimation of others as higher than oneself, just because they are the community of all customers. Since the old bourgeois class has abdicated, both lead their afterlife in the Spirit [Geist] of intellectuals, who are at the same time the last enemies of the bourgeois, and the last bourgeois. By allowing themselves to still think at all vis-a-vis the naked reproduction of existence, they behave as the privileged; by leaving things in thought, they declare the nullity of their privilege. The private existence, which yearns to look like one worthy of human beings, simultaneously betrays the latter, because the similarity of the general implementation is withdrawn, which more than ever before requires an independent sensibility [Besinnung]. There is no exit from the entanglement. The only responsible option is to deny oneself the ideological misuse of one’s own existence, and as for the rest, to behave in private as modestly, inconspicuously and unpretentiously as required, not for reasons of good upbringing, but because of the shame that when one is in hell, there is still air to breathe” (Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia)
The only viable and responsible reason that I can actually see not to vote is because you don’t feel fully informed to make a responsible decision regarding the issues and candidates that you’re being presented with. I have had a number of conversations in the last few weeks wherein people very close to me have expressed this sentiment. In none of these instances did I balk and try to argue with them. Barring my parenthetical slagging of the universalizing of maxims earlier, if more people thought this way, we would have a much healthier electorate.
For all of these reasons and more, I vote. I do so with a degree of awareness regarding my complicity in a system I’d rather reject. With an awareness of that air which is still there to breathe in hell. But also with hope that insofar as I vote in an informed manner with the best interest of the Earth and humanity in mind, things can perhaps, get better.
Like many DJs and music connoisseurs that I know, up until relatively recently I wasn’t at all up on the idea of ‘Boogie’ being something that one could consider a distinct genre or sub-genre of other kinds of Funk or Disco. And to be completely honest, I’m still not 100% clear on what exactly constitutes a Boogie track over and against tracks that would fall strictly within one of the other two domains mentioned (beyond a description that I heard recently regarding the uptake of Disco musical stylings by usually Black funk musicians who added a wide array of synthesized/electronic instrumentation to the pre-existing template). Regardless, through folks like Dam Funk, Onra and others, I’ve grown enamored with digging back into the early 80s for seriously funky tracks that sound right at home with much contemporary Nu-Disco and beyond.
To that end, I’ve begun the process of making a ton of DJ-friendly Boogie edits. Here is a .zip file of 8 joints for you to rock in your sets or on your home Hi-Fi. Redrummed, quantized, intros, outros, remastering - and all the other usual additions avail.
Walter Porter - I’m Serious About You (Doc Adam Edit)
Super Three - When You’re Standing On The Top (Doc Adam Edit)
The RAH Band - Messages From The Stars (Doc Adam Edit)
Alec Mansion - Trop Triste (Doc Adam Edit)
Odyssey - Inside Out (Doc Adam Edit)
Rockie Robbins - Caught In The Act (Doc Adam Edit)
Luther Vandross - Never Too Much (Doc Adam Edit)
Furthermore, I have to give props to my homie, and fellow DJ, Fishr Pryce from Dallas, TX for hipping me to a lot of these joints. In particular, I highly advise you check out his Automatic Party Robot mixtape series for tons more tracks of this style for you to chase down.
This past weekend I had the good fortune to head up to my home turf - the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Keweenaw to be exact - and rock at a new club opened up by some homies called The Continental Fire Co. Houghton, MI isn’t exactly a large town - the Upper Peninsula is one of the last inhibited swaths of land in the lower 48 - but this club is on par with anything I have seen in any major city in the US. The crowds were enormous - well over 500 people each night - and they wild out. In conjunction with this trip, I made a ton of new edits. I’m presenting both packs of these here along with a 90 minute chunk of my set from Saturday night. It is probably one of my favorite live sets in recent memory on some straight-up club shit.
Here is the second pack of edits for the month of March. This is a comparably disparate group as the last one, though with a few obvious thematic clusters. Paying homage to some of my favorite jams and favorite artists edited, re-drummed, reworked, and in some cases essentially remixed. I’ve also included two tracks I also through out as individual .mp3s last week into this .zip, in case you missed them.
March Edits Vol 2 Dead Kennedys - Pull My Strings (Doc Adam Edit) Dio - Holy Diver (Doc Adam Edit/Re-Drum) Enigma - Return To Innocence (Doc Adam Edit) Enigma - Return To Innocence (Doc Adam Moombahton Edit) Gap Band - Outstanding (Doc Adam Edit) Gino Soccio - Take Me To the Top (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Guess Who - These Eyes (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Mtume - Juicy Fruit (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Mtume/Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy (Fruit) (Doc Adam Blend/Re-Drum) Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy (Doc Adam Intro Edit) Phil Collins - Take Me Home (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way (Doc Adam Re-Drum)
Bill Withers - Lovely Day (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Earth, Wind & Fire - Brazilian Rhyme (Danny Krivit x Doc Adam Edit) Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over (Doc Adam Edit) Genesis - Tonight x 3 (Doc Adam Re-Drum) Genesis - Tonight x 3 (Doc Adam Re-Drum QH) Jaylib - McNasty Filth (Doc Adam Edit) Junkyard Band - Sardines (Doc Adam Edit) Shirley Ellis - Clapping Song (Doc Adam Edit) The Stooges - Search & Destroy (Doc Adam Edit) Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy (Doc Adam Edit) UB40 - Red Red Wine (Doc Adam Re-Drum)
About an hour and a half from my four hour set at the Continental Fire Co in Houghton, MI on March 24th, 2012. This was a surreal gig for me for a variety of reasons, but primarily because I was DJing in an actual club in my hometown. I never expected to rock in front of 800 people in the Upper Peninsula of MIchigan. But I did. And it was crazy. Big shouts out to all my homies who got this place up and running. It is seriously one of the dopest clubs I’ve ever seen, amazing build out, fantastic sound system, and some of my favorite people in the world.
FINALLY. I made this mix over the summer and a few fits and starts of attempted exclusive blog releases I have given up (no hard feelings to any of the unnamed folks in question) and decided to release this on my own before it gets too old. This was my attempt to put together a primarily Tropical and Disco inspired mix, with a chunk of original production and an obscene amount of heavy editing along the way. Most folks that I know who have gotten their hands on it are big fans. Hopefully you will be too.
OFFICIAL NARCISSISTIC RELEASE NOTES
Doc Adam has been an extremely busy man over the course of the last year. With the release of a mammoth list of Moombahton edits, DJ edits and remixes of nearly every genre of music imaginable, multiple mixtapes, the La Reconquista EP, and DJing all over the U.S. as well as in his home base of Portland, OR - Doc has stayed true to his trademark lack of concern for genre and traditionally codified domains of music. With school back in session - Doc is still a working Philosophy Professor - he has decided to release a new mixtape to tide you over until he can get time away from his office hours to make more music. Here is, Doc Adam Is Getting Incredible. This mix reflects his love for Moombahton, Tropical Bass, Disco and more.
In the near future, you can expect an EP of original Moombahton tracks - a few of which are featured on this mix - along with a few commissioned remixes for major label artists. Doc is keeping his nose to the grindstone trying to finish a book about club culture written from his perspective as a specialist in Post-Kantian Continental Philosophy while continuing to churn out dancefloor friendly, forward thinking jams, and keep his weight down for up coming Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments.
8Ball and MJG – Just Like Candy Vybz Kartel – Fresh Jamie Woon – Lady Luck (Hudson Mohawke Remix) Steve Winwood – Higher Love Craze and Heartbreak – Summer Riddim Emynd – Lambadaton Doc Adam – Weigh Up Heartbreak – Blaze Up Schlactofbronx – Chambacu (Smutlee Remix) Pickster and Melo – El Bumper Doc Adam – Bombs Over Burnside Diplo and Douster – On (NEKI Edit + Original Mix) Dr. Gonzo and Savage Skulls – Bust ‘Em Up DJEDJOTRONIC – Bugle Boy 8-Bit – Fire Extinguisher The Count and Sinden – Future (Canblaster Remix) Jamie XX – Far Nearer (Emynd Remix Dub) DJ Ayres – Flashing Lights (Grandtheft Remix) Fred Falke – Look Into Your Eyes Bingo Players – Cry (Just A Little) Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers (Magician Remix) Treasure Fingers – Lift Me Steve Angello – Flonko (Doc Adam Edit) Nadastrom and Heartbreak – Church Doc Adam – Es Gibt Kein Melo – Es Dificil Sazon Booya - Mujeres
And a million thanks to my brother Ronin Roc - @RoninRoc on Tweeter and RoninRoc.com - for the artwork.