Friday, January 23, 2015
FLIPPIN GRAMS ON MY FLIPAGRAM
Back when piracy was starting to become the norm, every writer with a pair of glasses and a studio apartment in Williamsburg was speculatin on how the Internet was gonna change music, with dreams of being the next Walter Benjamin or some shit. They read too much postmodern bullshit in college and was all, "Golly, this influx of information! Young Greil Marcus up in this bitch finna predict the future."
By now most of that wankery has stopped, and the answer has so far revealed itself to be satisfyingly underwhelming: there's been a little bit of change, but not as much as everyone predicted. Regional styles persist alongside hybridized pastiche. KANYE did that wack song where he samples CAN, but even the crit-types it was baiting knew it was terrible and swept it under the rug. Besides, that's called sampling and it's been happening forever. On a smaller level, rap music functioned like the Internet when nerds were sharing ASCII dick-pics on Usenet, but y'all could make that argument for almost anything.
Someone's gonna read these thinkpieces in the future (prisoners in Gitmo?) and clown on us the way we clown on dudes who thought there would be flying cars by now. Actually, them dudes was cool. Keep dreaming, friends. One day we will bump BOOSIE as we fly the skies together.
But yo, lately Instagram always gets mentioned on my favorite rappers' projects. YO GOTTI and DJ DRAMA mention the 'Gram a couple times on the new Concealed joint, notably on "Ion Feel 'Em" with Kevin Gates (spoiler: not actually about ions), wherein GOTTI ridicules the dissonance between IG/Twitter puffery and reality, thesis fodder for a freshman philosophy major with a torrent of The Matrix and a dimebag of mids.
Oh you a Microsoft plug / You got thrax for sale?
These bitches ain't really bad like they on IG / In person might think it's a whole 'nother person
It's an evolution of the real vs. fake dichotomy, but where rappers used to question street-cred, they now question the authenticity of social media self-representation. GOTTI doesn't believe the sepia-toned images of your TECs on the dresser, but he clearly has an account of his own and an unhealthy familiarity with those of his inferiors.
Yeah yeah, Instagram has become a touchstone of online life, but let's not minimize the weirdness of this development. We have an artist who staked his career on coke-raps talking about picking up chicks, an old and staid trope, except now it's on a social media platform originally designed to make digital images look like they were taken by a vintage LOMO, where pop-feminists lead hashtag campaigns to #freethenipple and you can flame an NYHC luminary into threatening you with bodily harm. This ain't even a permissible realist prop and status symbol like the pager: it's a free application for sharing photography and connecting with other enthusiasts of the visual form. YO GOTTI breaks character, the coke-rap genre is no longer self-contained, and the world loses meaning. It's like watching James Bond beat off to PornHub, or living to see Jordan wear distressed jeans big enough to host a family of beavers.
Seeing behind the curtain has its price. We must honor mystique.