Nujabes

Seba Jun was a Japanese hip-hop record producer, better known by his anagram Nujabes (his name in reverse). Like many others, I first saw his work in Samurai Champloo, Shinichiro Watanabe’s anachronistic jidaigeki. It’s absamuraichamploo-departuresolutely a peach of an anime!

Best of Nujabes (Mix Tape) : https://youtu.be/Aj8UnnMdMcA

I find his work absolutely incredible. Why is it that I find these amazing artists only after they die?

His sound is unique. There are layers, sampled from other songs, mixed together. But it is not for your to distinguish them: there is a flow to it, almost like the undulating flows of a river. It’s mostly what people would call “nu jazz”. Of course, he has  produced a lot of hip hop. Over the years, he collaborated with a number of artists, from Japan and America, to produce top-grade stuff. It didn’t end in Gangsta brags, but segued into a soulful journey of undulating beats.

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A tribute to Seba Jun’s life. Rest in beats. Credits: chrisgoods.tumblr.com

Unfortunately, in the late February of 2010, Jun Seba met with a car crash. He was pronounced dead in the Hospital.

 

Numerous tributes have been given to him, underlining his importance in the DJ\Indie movement of Hiphop.

Hiphop has become obnoxious in recent times. Apart from a handful of artists, I think most Hiphop artists sell only because they are popular. People buy them when other people tell them to: peer pressure of music scene.

And worst of all, music becomes popular because of music videos. Just fill the music video with vanilla love and overt teenage sexuality, and you have a popular song with a billion views on YouTube. Just don’t forget to add the lyrics in the video (but most people don’t care what you are saying when the lyrics rhyme anyway).

The recent EDM rush just illustrates my point better (ever heard of The Chainsmokers?)

After listening to popular music, I feel like my ears have taken a beating, I feel like I have been subject to an onslaught of electronic bullets. Nujabes then becomes a guilty pleasure. I am listening something which might be deeply unpopular, or not heard of; it is certainly not something you can use to discuss with your friends over lunch, since they haven’t heard of him! But it’s amazing, and you don’t care about these things.

You just put him on, and listen to the beat.

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PewDiePie and all the Swastikas: Part II

Part I goes here.

Felix is no such person. If anything, he’s a decent fellow. His jokes sometimes stretch too far, and he uses a lot of clickbait. He’s no anti-semite: it’s like saying Sacha Baron Cohen was anti-semite because he made “The Dictator”. He has made a few Hitler jokes, and has used the swastika sometimes in clickbait images.

Let’s talk about it. The imagery is frightening because of its association, not because it’s inherently bad. The swastika, for example, is a symbol of good luck and prosperity, transcending religions and even cultural boundaries. A good article on it can be found here.

Just like his book, Adolf Hitler’s symbolism is given too much power in the west. Charlie Chaplin reduced Hitler to a laughing stock, caricaturing him in his famous film The Great Dictator. People need to shake off these associations. These don’t give fascists power. What gives them power are our fears.

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At a time when technology is making people, many of whom are too old to learn something new, lose jobs, fear is at its highest. Where certain ideologies are making people, innocent in other ways, take up arms and fight for twisted lies, fear is driving the cause of global conflict. Far before Global Warming or rising sea levels, a large scale war can be a fatal blow to our already precarious environment.

Fascism uses these fears. It puts up a symbol of strength: a man who’s calling on ancient customs and shows the way forward to an utopia. People rally around him; people do whatever they can to get back a glorious past or an imagined glorious future. The one party with a majority uses fears and propaganda against a group of people, isolating them from a national narrative. Targeting them, they use this group of people as a common enemy uniting their followers. This is fascism, as defined by Benito Mussolini, who was a journalist and therefore knew about the power of a national narrative. If this sounds insinuating, you may find fascism working somewhere around you.

And the media is silent.

That’s the second tenet of fascism: silence your opponents. No one can break the national narrative, which is aggressive and loud. Mussolini and Hitler did it by assasinations; one can say a similar thing about Japan. If you do not participate in the ideology of the ruling party, your life is forfeit.

It’s no wonder fascism is a favourite with dictators; it gives them immense power without opponents. Voldemort’s system was a classical fascist system: riling fear and hatred towards a common opponent and institutionalizing oppression and elimination of undesirables. Even the newspaper of the wizarding world, the Daily Prophet, went towing Voldemort’s line after he took control at the Ministry of Magic. Any other publication, like ‘The Quibbler’ (which is run by Luna Lovegood’s father, Xenophilius), that tried to challenge Voldemort was silenced. Rowling knew what she was doing. This is the worst phase of human history, after the colonization centuries.

But Mussolini or Hitler weren’t Voldemort. Voldemort had real power, but the others were simple humans. They could have been killed and gotten rid of if only people had questioned.

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The one you should really be scared of. The rest, pooh.

That is the fourth estate! That is where the media comes in. You would imagine with all the connectedness the world has, one wouldn’t find these things happening, but they are.

They are happening because our media is out of touch with the people, chasing their own agendas and advertisement money. Trying to persecute an innocent swedish guy who shouts and screams for living as a Nazi-monger. This is sad, because I don’t want Voldemort to come back. Nobody wants to hear a patronus in a wedding party say, “The ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.”

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We only need to know that happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

PewDiePie and all the Swastika: Part I

Wow, I didn’t realize there was something so drastic going on in the world right now. PewDiePie is a racist and a Nazi patriot! BREAKING NEWS! We have to tell all the world about this because we don’t have anything important to talk about today!

For the people (which in this case is mostly everybody) who are wondering what all the fuss is about, the Wall Street Journal, that iconic newspaper idolizing the mecca of capitalism, wrote an article about PewDiePie’s apparent Nazi messages. Be careful world! Here is a Swedish YouTuber from the south of England ‘normalizing‘ Nazi rhetoric, imprinting it in the minds of impressionable twelve-year olds.

Looking at the grave concerns of a corporate herald, Disney cut ties with an independent creator, relegating him to a ‘hopeful’ tier of internet anonymity.

Oligarchies have once again won against individuals.

Continue reading “PewDiePie and all the Swastika: Part I”

Arts and Persecution

India has been a paragon in the field of Arts Persecution for the last century or so. Never before in the history of the subcontinent have more books been banned, more paintings condemned, more egos ruffled in the name of ‘getting offended’. Pretty sure the Khajuraho sculptures would one day be destroyed when someone’s morality is outraged. Ah, freedom of expression!

 LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
- Preamble to the Constitution of India

The recent ‘ban on Pakistani actors’ comes as no surprise. We hardly ever leave our own (looking at M. F. Husain and Salman Rushdie here); how can we not do the same to our beloved neighbours? It’s only a little subcontinental love of banning things, no?

Today morning, I heard Om Puri shout “As if that’s gonna solve the problem!” A lone voice of sanity in a sea of blood curdling shout-a-thon.

“Go to War” I am sorry, man. I don’t think it’d be you taking up arms against men using terror to try to get things done for themselves. “Ban the Artists!” they said. “How can we enjoy their music when our soldiers are fighting them?”

Them? The artists? Atif Aslam was a terrorist? Wasim Akram is a general shrieking for blood? Or are you talking about a poor farmer in Sindh who draws his water from the Indus? According to men in India, such men who perform Surya Pujan and recite the Hanuman Chalisa twenty times a day, such holy and divine men of honor, all Pakistanis are terrorists.

I think we ought to create another artificial island and send such holy men to live there. Along with Donald Trump. They could make the Great Wall of Stupidity and live there with impunity for the rest of their lives. Or we could watch as they burn themselves, as they inevitably will.

If only MNS could take up real issues, like the Maratha Reservation marches, or the irrigation of Marathwada, could they justify their existence on the face of this planet. But instead, they vent their anger at mute Toll booths, hapless auto-drivers, and now awkwardly placed actors. Sure, I know Raj Thackeray is jealous of Fawad Khan’s looks, who is not (he is surely a handsome devil), but you can’t take out your frustration of not getting the right genes on an entire community, who are only handful in Mumbai!

Banning stuff doesn’t help. You can’t ban Ebola. You can’t ban Encephalitis. You can’t ban terrorism by banning artists here to do their trade! Do they not have a visa? Are they not human beings? Then why are we talking about ‘banning’ them?

Banning stuff doesn’t help.

Such arguments are baseless, as I have clearly shown. No, it doesn’t ‘isolate Pakistan’. They have a multi-billion dollar trade with China, multi-billion dollar military and financial aid from the US. We lose out on the Pakistan market. It’s bad for business if they are ‘isolated’ from the world. Like seriously, people, if you’d only read history instead of dozing off in your middle school, you’d know what I am writing about. It’s childish to imagine helping our government like that. Only governments can put diplomatic pressure on each other. We can’t. It’s stupid to imagine otherwise and treat a fellow human being from another country as an outright criminal just because our governments can’t agree on treaties.

Arts and Sciences form the bedrock of human civilization. In no circumstances should they be stopped. The last time they were persecuted in India, it was the dark ages for our ancient land. But since we are bent with all our fury to call back the Dark Ages to India, let’s all persecute art by any other artists other than Indians. Not just Pakistani artists, we should ban everyone! That should provide plenty of opportunities for us to shine!

We should ban everyone, because not doing so would be fundamentally unfair. And come on, are we ever unfair?

No. We are the paragon of fairness. We aren’t Incredible India! We are Fair & Lovely India.