Re: [rumori] Dre finally sued

From: Bob Boster (
Date: Mon Nov 04 2002 - 10:54:37 PST

bb> I ought to let someone else in here first, but this is too hot a topic.

I think what you've outlined below is interesting, but think about the
implication of saying you will only 'use' material from a culture you have
the moral rights to plunder. Talk about painting yourself into a corner...

Of course there are ripples from recontextualization, but most of the heavy
lifting of that process has already been done, and it's now ALREADY in the
head of the audience. The belly dancing in the Truth Hurts video is,
itself, referring to the stereotype that exists in people's minds. Is it
reinforcing it? Probably. If it were placed in the context of a swirling
collage of images from the Mars rover would it still signify the same
thing? Yes, but it's context would be different enough that it would no
longer reinforce the stereotype, it would just DEPLOY the meaning that is
wrapped up in the stereotype. In terms of the use of this material, if
there is a continuum between reinforcement and recontextualization, then I
would say we are probably all in agreement that we're more interested in
the latter, which I think is substantively different from our friends over
in Dre's camp.

I think we are quibbling about two different sides of the exact same
process. I believe the meaning of the 'sample' to be important and the use
of it to be ethically neutral (ie it absorbs it's ethical context from the
overall work and the context it's presented in). Steev (surprisingly to
me) seems to be saying the ethical results of recontextualization is
necessarily destructive and exploitative. If you believe that Steev, then
what can you use for source material other than Dupont commercials or Bush
campaign ads? It would seem to me that EVERYTHING can be construed somehow
or another to have been someone else's culture's ethical property and
therefor subject to some consideration. If you wanted to make a reference
to 70's rock bombast in a piece, how would you do so without using
something that 'damaged' someone's appreciation for the music in
question? Why are tired old-school metalheads not worthy of consideration
but Bollywood fans are?

I agree you need to be careful. You need to be careful to do it WELL. And
I guess I would add to do it in the pursuit of some statement or
another. The act of recontextualization itself is not enough for me, but I
think that's more personal taste and less aesthetic law.

I love these deep ones...


At 10:08 11/04/2002 -0800, you wrote:
>on Mon, 4 Nov 2002 Bob Boster told me:
>->If you don't/can't reap any financial rewards from the work, and you are
>->not taking anything out of the pocket of the artist, then I see nothing any
>->MORE exploitative about using something from a local village gamelan than I
>->do from an 1973 IBM commercial. In the semiotic universe, a sign is a sign
>->is a sign...
>ooh! Bob, i'm suprised to hear this from you. i can't agree,
>unless we define "exploitation" very narrowly. But I think the
>effects go way beyond simply the lack of fair monetary
>It's good that you mention semiotics because that's exactly where
>the additional effects occur: beyond the financial, and into the
>realm of mythologies. Whenever you sample anything in a new
>work and anyone else hears/views it, you create ripples in the
>"semiotic ocean", so to speak, and the bigger the audience for
>your work, the bigger those ripples are. You alter signs when
>you mess with them, and that's precisely why lots of us do it,
>right? When we alter signs we tweak connotations, stereotypes,
>public conceptions, worldviews. So you need to be careful! Even
>if you're not (trying?) to make money, you're still having an
>One experiences it over and over: appropriations alter the
>conception and perception of the source material. Who here can
>listen to U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" without
>thinking of Negativland's "U2"? Hell, I can't even listen to
>Perez Prado anymore without thinking of Senor Coconut!
>These are just some gross, simple examples. Most of the time
>we're exposed to more subtle and cumulative "ripples."
>Look at the Truth Hurts video; like Jon said, "Edward Said's
>'Orientalism' AGAIN." It's a near-dizzying array of stereotype
>perpetuation. They're making more than money, they're making
>MEANINGS - inside teen (and adult) hip-hop fans HEADS. I'm not
>saying that they're doing this on purpose, like it's some kind of
>brainwashing conspiracy. Ultimately the motivation happens to be
>money. But the effects involve more than money, and the effects
>can occur even when you're not a hit-single producing major-label
>I just saw a great video on the Guerilla News Network (which
>everyone should take a look at anyway!) that refers to this kind
>of phenomenon. It's called "When The Smoke Clears" (
> ) and it features spoken word artist Taalam
>Acey taking rappers to task for creating a myth of the
>hip-hop lifestyle that is damaging to African Americans.
>here's some of the lyrics:
>Sometimes I believe that some of these emcees sit down and
>consciously try to figure out how to get more young black men
>Like they figured out a correlation between making money and
>delivering more young black souls into the hands of the cops.
>I mean, for them, its all about moving CDs out of one-stops and
>record shops, even if that means convincing them young brothers
>to do whatever they have to do in order to get the things that
>them emcees videos say they got.
>But, yo... they ain't got.
>So, how many more need to be caught shoplifting inside the
>Versace shop before we realize that they are not that successful.
>Steev Hise, Wannabe Has-Been
>*Recycled Culture: *Recordings:
>*Want Peace? Stop Paying for War:
>"Everything in Los Angeles is too large, too loud, and usually banal
> in concept... the plastic asshole of the world."
> -William Faulkner
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