“An Idea of Change”: Marco Pavé and the Politicization of Memphis Hip-Hop

marco for blog postArt is always already personal and political. Memphis native Marco Pavé’s recently released mixtape, Obscure Reality, and his community work in and beyond his neighborhood, exemplify this dual function of art, as well as the possibilities of art to reflect and instigate social change. The 21-year-old rapper operates squarely in the tradition of Memphis hip-hop artists before him, who have frequently used their work to tell untold stories, reckon with the ghosts of King and civil rights, and highlight the city’s current social position. Yet, as part of the center of a bourgeoning movement of young creatives and intellectuals speaking back to the city’s unequal power relationships, Pavé marshals his art for direct action and transformation of his neighborhood and city.  [Continue reading]

I Guess I’ll See You Next Lifetime: Geographies of Time Travel in Kiese Laymon’s Long Division

Long Division

24 Feb 2014 “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” -Thoreau, 1854 “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” -Faulkner, 1950 “And I can feel it for sure/I been here before.” -Teena Marie, 1979 “I guess I’ll see you next … [Continue reading]

“Givin Em What They Love”: Janelle Monáe and the Sonic Aesthetics of Black Womanhood

janelle monae cover

  An early and relatively comprehensive review of Electric Lady essentially praised the album and the artist for gumption but criticized what might be called the album’s sonic “extraness” and the supposed disconnect between the album’s sounds … [Continue reading]