Steve Aoki remix feat. Drake goes hard
So, occasionally I will go back and check in on what my old social media accounts are up to. The exalted social media forums of my youth have been wholly and completely dethroned by the now-ubiquitous Facebook. But when I was young, online platforms like Myspace were home to musicians and aspiring artists of my youth, when I was busy pounding a rock-and-roll drumset with my high school friends in cafeteria shows and band competitions like the Sonic Band-emonium. At the time, I never would have ever considered that I might someday enthusiastically seek out electronic dance music or rap, or that I would move to Atlanta and dance my little feet off at MJQ. The nature of music is that every artist… and I mean EVERY ARTIST… has to produce about a billion mixtapes before they get anywhere. And those mixtapes are disseminated on the streets of cities like Atlanta, sold to whoever will buy them. Eventually the cream rises to the top, and stars emerge.
Rappers and R&B hitmakers like Drake look to have their mixtapes remixed by DJs like Steve Aoki, the travelling longhaired electrodervish Asian feminist electronic music god a friend of mine recently met. The last time I peeked at my Myspace, I found that it had been completely co-opted by a totally new, updated template. With the network’s purchase by Justin Timberlake, it appears that the idea nowadays for Myspace is less the nurturing of up-and coming groups and voices, and now, more concentrated on the distribution and promotion of well-recognized artists like Drake. We all know the names of these artists… the commercially successful, household names. The ones who appear in Entertainment Weekly and Parades that you’ll unfailingly find smiling out at you on your way to checkout at the local grocery store. And I was sad to find that all my old data was gone.
But that’s not such a big deal. It took me about two seconds to start something new. And so, today’s video is a high-adrenaline Steve Aoki remix of Drake’s “Forever,” which was the first track to leap out at me. This track features Eminem, who appears to have vaulted again to the top of his game with his spitfire “Rap God” track. “Forever” drips with testosterone, backed by a pounding mix and a balls-to-the-wall screaming urgency and arrogance. I find Drake entertaining because he’s so damned blatant, though obviously offensive and sexist and violent. He doesn’t attribute any of his success to his friends or allies. His song “All Me” is an exercise in basking in the glory of his self-made success, and it’s one of the songs I heard over and over while working as a valet. He is arrogant, swaggering, aggressive, and still hungry for more.
In today’s political environment, with police suppressing underground culture by literally arming them with the leftover military accoutrements of the war in Iraq, songs like this appeal to the frustrations of an underappreciated youth. Pop music has a kind and nurturing represented by voices like Kindness, and that’s all well and good. Young people love cute, happy videos too. But some of us are more than a little fed up with sugary, condescending pop commercialism that is so obviously meant to placate us. Please don’t act like we’re stupid. Don’t tell us what to say and think. If we’re pissed, it’s our right to say it, and not have to fear that we’re going to be publicly executed, like what just happened to the American journalist James Foley. (forgive my digression from subjects of music and art.)
Social media is great. It gives us a place to express ourselves and share the things we feel and the things that make us laugh and smile. But when it turns out that ALL of our data, and ALL of our news sources, and ALL of our resources for self-expression, are subject to censorship and supervision by the authorities, that’s when it is clear that the right to freedom of expression has been compromised. I may be discomforted by some of the things that artists like Drake and Eminem express. But damned if it isn’t cool and energizing. And you don’t get to tell us what we listen to, read, or think. If I like my music angry sometimes, that’s up to me to make that decision. I have that right.
So if you’re up for it, give Drake a chance. Maybe he has reason to be a bit swaggy.