Shameless Self Promotion (by way of promoting others…)

6 02 2009

Head on over to Zombie Public Speaking for a couple of quality Heaps recordings featuring yours truly on the keyboard/virtual Farfisa organ!

Meanwhile, Songs About Radios is happy to announce that my good friend, colleague, poker rival, and fellow blogger, Joseph Kugelmass, has recently started writing for the cultural criticism website Pop Matters, which, as far as I understand, is a pretty big deal. And how nice of him to use his second post there to promote Songs About Radios!

Pop Matters

So, I thought I’d return the favor and point you all back to Joe’s excellent first post, entitled “Tha Giggle: On Lil Wayne,” which attempts to answer the question “Why was Lil’ Wayne the single biggest musical phenomenon of 2008?” Here’s an excerpt:

Obviously, Wayne isn’t naïve; he just sounds that way. The centerpiece of his whole persona is his giggle, which he lets loose on most of his songs, and which fits in perfectly last summer alongside of Heath Ledger’s near-hero Joker. It’s another piece of anarchic, disruptive noise, and another instance of disbelief: how funny is it, really, that Wayne’s on top of the world? Eminem had the same reaction to his fame, but he took it seriously and it blew out his creative fuses. Eminem made didactic points about the schizophrenic existence of public figures, yearning to be authentic or at least smart enough to hold the strings, whereas Wayne glorifies the moment of looking in the mirror and wondering who he’ll be today

Lil WayneIf you suspected that my own brief write up of Tha Carter III was in dialogue with Joe’s, you wouldn’t be wrong. Both of us see the giggle as a symptom of Wayne’s more or less schizophrenic reaction to his own performance. For Joe, the key image is Weezy watching himself in the mirror while playfully trying on identities, taking pleasure in the freedom that his art gives him to fashion himself differently every day. The giggle is anarchic and disruptive, but, like Heath Ledger’s Joker, Wayne is still in command of when he lets it loose. For me, the key image is Weezy catching his breath. As I see it, speech isn’t a tool of self-fashioning, but a sort of out of control compulsion built into the words themselves. The giggle isn’t something Wayne does, but something that happens to him, a sort of nervous tick that interrupts his attempt to pretend that he’s in command, that he has any idea how or why he’s so good. In both cases, the idea of “authentic identity” gets disrupted, but in different ways: for Joe, because language gives us the power to endlessly reinvent ourselves; for me, because language, despite being our most personal possession, is the part of ourselves that least belongs to us.

You can check up on the latest Pop Matters posts of Joseph Kugelmass here.

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