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posted : Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

“ It’s remarkable how outsiders have treated [twerk]—seeing a four-year-old twerking is not an uncommon thing in New Orleans. These kids grow up in a community where there’s no innuendo; it’s acrobatics, it’s expression, it’s part of music culture. People see a female ass move and think it’s only good for one thing: provoking or providing sex. The controversy speaks to the level of sexual maturity in pop; that they don’t see the world, or movement, as a complex tapestry.

Bounce queen Big Freedia's long-time DJ Rusty Lazer on the rise of twerking in Puja Patel's "Bouncing Back", a piece about bounce culture and the first all-female brass band to win New Orleans’ Street Kings competition. (via pitchfork)

When I was down in New Orleans last month I visited the Street Kings brass band competition in Treme and talked to the Original Pinettes (NoLA’s first and only all-female group), Rusty Lazer, Nicky Da B, and Mannie Fresh about where the city’s local jazz + brass band culture overlaps with bounce. We chatted about twerking as tradition and the celebration of movement instead of the oversimplified, oversexualized trend it’s become in pop. Really happy I got to speak to these people and write this.

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posted : Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

reblogged from : Pitchfork

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posted : Sunday, November 10th, 2013

RAPPY HOUR FOR THE SEEDS

Rappy Hour For the Seeds returns this Thursday! Really excited for this and all that Building Beats has accomplished since last year’s event. Please VISIT THEIR WEBSITE for more info on the work that they do and how you can help our vision of helping to fund and provide free afterschool music education programs in severely underfunded communities.

Better yet, come by on Thursday and have fun to support the kids! Last year’s theme was “Rep Your Region” during which each person played raps that represented where they’re from. This year we’ve assigned each writer-DJ a year from the 2000s and they’ve got 30-minutes to mp3 nostalgic. I’m thrilled about the group of people involved this year - read more on them over here. SEE YOU SOON, BABIES.

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posted : Monday, November 4th, 2013

RAPPY HOUR For The Seeds II has finally arrived! This happy hour event presented by Senari and Building Beats allows some of your favorite writers to play DJ in order to raise money for underfunded after-school music programs. It will be taking place on Thursday, November 7th at Arrow Bar, which is located at 9 Avenue A in Manhattan right off of the F and L trains. Party starts promptly at 6pm. There is a $3 suggested donation at the door. Flyer to come.

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A little bit about Building Beats:

Building Beats is a registered non-profit organization that helps find, gather, and provide funding to after-school music programs in underfunded and tapped-out communities. The organization was founded by Phi Pham - a nighttime DJ and daytime professional in the non-profit sector - and is kept in motion by him and a small, close-knit team of music-loving folk who come from backgrounds in that vary from the creative (venue booking, PR, social media, video editing, design, journalism) to suit-and-tie (law, finance). We work hand-in-hand with partner organizations and members of the global DJ community who share our vision of free and accessible music education for all. Together we strive to raise awareness about the lack of funding and importance of music in schools, organize workshops for participating programs, and invest in creative arts programs that help build larger-picture life skills through Building Beats. Visit them online and check out a video from one of their recent workshops.

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And a little bit about our DJs for the evening:

- Corban Goble is an Associate Editor for Pitchfork  where he regularly writes about the newest onslaught of rap mixtapes among other things. In his spare time he reps Kansas and will happily talk to you about Andrew Wiggins even though he already does so for Grantland. Read his interview with Drake.

- Kiese Laymon is a Contributing Editor at Gawker, the author of Long Division, and a GENIUS SCRIBE WHO HAS BROUGHT ME TO TEARS (really) while writing about race, politics, culture, gender and the intersection of those things. Make time to read his essay How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.

- Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is a writer and editor whose work has appeared practically everywhere, including in Spin, Billboard, Vibe, Rookie, NYT, MTV, and the Fader among others. She will easily out-vogue every other writer in this list on the dance-floor. Read about the time she went on tour with Odd Future or hung out in Paris with Waka Flocka.

- Nick Murray is an Associate Editor at the Village Voice and contributes to Spin, Rhapsody, EMusic, and Capital New York. He is as much a country stan as he is a rap stan and would like to talk to you about hick-hop (a real thing!) when you have a free moment. Read his review of Drake’s Nothing Was The Same or about the time he basked in the fay-glow of the Gathering of the Juggalos.

- I am Puja Patel. I serve on the Board of Directors for Building Beats and have written for Spin, Pitchfork, Stereogum, MTV, Rolling Stone, and WashPo among others. I enjoy exploring where regional dance and rap worlds merge and all things club. Feel free to read this thing I wrote on re-popularization of TRAP or #SheezusTalks ie. a convo that I was a part of on ye olde YEEZUS.

- Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland where he Explains It All, Discovers America, and has recently written an open letter to Kanye on behalf of Michelle Obama. His pop-culture musing make the Internet lol on the regular and he reps Atlanta in his sleep. Read this piece he wrote on the #RihannaPlane and R.Kelly that killed me.

- Tracy Garraud is the co-host of Sway In the Morning on Shade 45 and has written for Vibe, Billboard, and Rolling Stone among others. She delivers amazing interviews and pop-gossip insight is one of (/the only) reason that I figured out how to get Sirius XM in my car while I was home. Read her Vibe cover story on Azaelia Banks.

- Vivian Host is the current editor of Vice’s Thump and has previously been a contributing editor or writer with FACT Mag, RBMA, URB, and XLR8R. She is part of the Brooklyn-based Trouble & Bass DJ and label collective and plays anything from grime, club, and UK funky, to house, and every corner of bass. Read her story on the who’s who of vogue.

- Zach Baron is a staff writer for GQ and has previously written for NYT, The Daily, Village Voice, Grantland, Pitchfork, and the Fader among others. He is one of my favorite personal essayists and artist-profilers and I can guarantee that he will not be wearing shorts at this event. Read about the time he went to Morocco with French Montana or his interview with new era T.I.

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PHEW THAT WAS SO UNNECESSARY. SEE YOU NEXT THURSDAY!

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posted : Friday, November 1st, 2013

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posted : Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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posted : Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

True Story: I Was A Child Beauty Pageant Contestant

"There’s some confusion as to how I ended up being entered in a children’s beauty pageant. My mother and I can agree that we were approached in the mall by a person with a pamphlet; someone who inevitably stroked both of our egos enough to get us to participate in this (no-fee) flaunt of tiny people in a town that was not too much bigger in the suburbs of Baltimore. At the time I was 8 years-old and in the 4th grade, where I had been learning to play the theme to “Chariots of Fire” on my starter flute. (Note: At the time I was very impressed with the fact that our school system was progressive enough to teach us a remix of “Main Teri Hoon Janam,” a popular Bollywood song that regularly blared through my parents’ tape-deck, in elementary school band class.) What we do remember, however, is that neither my mother or I was very taken by the idea, nor did we avidly watch the Miss America or Miss USA pageants at home. From our collective, chin-scratching, memory, my entering boiled down to a game-day-decision that was more of a “Why not?” than anything else. And while it hurts a little to admit it, there’s no doubting that in the end my not-so-secret competitive nature won out. I wanted to see if I could win.”

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Oh, did I forget to mention that I was once a child beauty pageant contestant? Well, here I am writing a bit of a rant about my experience, Indian American identity confusion, South Asian beauty stereotypes, the myth of the Aryan-Dravidian divide, and some other stuff in the wake of Nina Davuluri’s Miss America win and the attack on Prabhjot Singh. Read the whole essay over at MTV Desi.

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posted : Friday, September 27th, 2013

As far as educating, I think that’s something that I’ve been doing whether I’ve had a choice in the matter or not. I want to keep it as honest and as real as I can but I’m not trying to make it too deep. A couple of things that I’m very clear about is that I look at what I do as a party that emerged from NYC and the club scene. I think the whole idea of authenticity is ridiculous – the one thing is that I do not want to do is make a cultural parody or a grand cultural display. I am a New York City kid that came to bhangra music in my twenties, after hip-hop. Who am I to preach authenticity in a way that music can’t be discovered? I discovered bhangra in a later period in my life! I am not for traditional garb or religious iconography, because that’s not what I would associate with a club environment. We’re not here to be a cultural fascination and we’re not here to be gazed at.

Being that way would be dishonest too. Bhangra music is a specific type of music with specific rhythms and cultural associations. But over the years bhangra music has changed and evolved too; it’s way broader now. It’s only natural to expect that change in other areas as well. I am fully supportive of inclusivity and against exclusivity. I love tropical bass and I don’t know a lick of Spanish, you know? If I did, that’d be great. I just think that we can expand music instead of restricting it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a DJ and I’m here to make you dance. I’m not going to put a bindi on and dance for you or tell anyone else to either.

— An excerpt from my talk with DJ Rekha about her hip-hop roots, finding bhangra through cultural activism, NYC’s desi scene, and the role that her Basement Bhangra party plays in New York’s dance underground. I’ve been going to Basement Bhangra for years and so this was really fun for me to do. Rekha keeps it real on the regular. Read the interview in full over at MTV Desi.
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posted : Friday, August 30th, 2013

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posted : Thursday, August 29th, 2013

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posted : Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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posted : Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

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posted : Thursday, August 1st, 2013

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posted : Sunday, July 28th, 2013