May 2, 2003

tactful oceans

In 1988, I thought De La Soul were one of the most amazing things I'd ever heard. Their first few singles blew away everyone in WHRB's R&B department--"Plug Tunin'," "Jenifa (Taught Me)," "Me Myself & I," "Say No Go," "Tread Water," "Buddy"... This, I thought, was the first real fulfillment of the promise of rap: they actually had invented a "new style of speak," the music brought a pulse out of places where it'd been deep below the skin before, and they kept trying to top themselves over and over and over.

Tonight I saw them play at the Diesel U-Music show, and it was one massive horrible bummer: 45 seconds or so of hooks from one of their early hits ("Buddy" recast to eliminate references to the Native Tongues), then 2 or 3 minutes of "put your hands up--everybody on this side put your hands up," repeat a few times. Jess and I left after about the fifth iteration of the pattern, though I decided I had to leave when they blithely turned "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" into an audience call-and-response. "Ring Ring Ring," for those who haven't heard it, is possibly the nastiest hit ever written by a major artist about dealing with the audience; when it came out, it was the lead single from De La Soul is Dead, which I thought at the time was the best hip-hop album made up to that point (and actually still do), but "Ring Ring Ring" also sort of sounded like the beginning of the end for De La, and it was. They no longer seem at all happy to be doing what they do: it's a job. Ucch. (They were preceded by the Rapture, whose songs I'd probably have liked a lot better if the kick drum hadn't been loud enough to obliterate the rest of the mix.)

Turned in my 24-hour comic/final project for my drawing class yesterday: Technicians of the Sacred, a series of interpretations of texts from Jerome Rothenberg's amazing poetry anthology of the same name. I actually made copies of it for everyone in the class, which they seemed to like. I couldn't actually do it as a legit 24-hour comic--that is, 24 pages in 24 continuous hours--so instead I gave myself one hour per page for 24 pages. I also gave myself some additional restrictions: all pages had to be drawn exclusively with a Pigma Micron 005 ultra-ultra-fine-line marker (I cheated and used a brush-type marker for a panel on the fourth page I drew; Jesse said "don't cheat again!" so, of course, I had to, and used it extensively on one of the final pages); no straight-edges or other tools for keeping things neat--I had to rely entirely on my hand; no preparatory drawing permitted--all marks I made for the project had to be made on the page; and no erasures or do-overs permitted--if I made a bad mark, I had to live with it.

As a product, it's got a couple of fun bits and a lot of fairly slack parts. (I can't actually draw-draw, especially when working without something to draw from, and while I worked around that as far as I could, there's only so much I could do.) As a process project, though, I think it worked out really nicely--I'm happy with the result in that way, and it pulled me at least partly out of the "but I need to create!" panic I've been in lately.

Posted by Douglas at May 2, 2003 1:37 AM
Comments

Any chance that you'll put this up as a PDF? I love that Rothenberg anthology.

Posted by: Jeremy on May 5, 2003 12:59 PM

i LOOOOVE De La Soul ... i feel bad when people say they don't like what they do ... tell me "Ooh" was not totally full of fun?!?!! i don't know ... i think they're just as good as they ever were, but with a new sound ... but maybe that's your whole point, that their sound has changed?

Posted by: Dawn on May 7, 2003 11:33 AM
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