Science Rap: Regulatin' Genes

Thanks to JB Connor for suggesting this. It's not exactly art.... but, hey!

Explanations:

Discussion excerpts  from NYT:

The rapper on the left is Derrick Davis, a junior at Stanford. The rapper on the right is Tom McFadden, an instructor in the human biology program there.

“While the lyrics are original,” Mr. McFadden told me, “the song is actually a parody of Jay-Z’s “Money Ain’t a Thang”. In their video, they have so much money that they flip through it, throw it up in the air, throw it out of moving vehicles. Since we just had midterms, I’m projecting some wishful thinking in the video – that there are so many A+’s on the midterm that we can just throw them in the air.”

And just in case you don’t follow every nuance in the video, like the Hox reference, here’s Mr. McFadden’s non-rap summary of the biology lesson:

People in this conversation

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    I'm sorry, but that is the lamest rap video I've ever seen.

    I would suggest that Derrick Davis and Tom McFadden find another creative outlet - because rapping is just not their thing!

  • hehe. As I said, its not art... but hey, let's appreciate their sense of humor... this is tongue in cheek. Also, i supect they have a day job: they are biologists at stanford.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCpNk92uswY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

  • Guest - qwerty

    Actually, it's not that bad for a "educational science rap video" ;-)
    There are worse scientist rappers, like these CERN employees live from the Large Hadron Collider:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM
    (still funny though, plus it apparently made 5 million people learn a bit about the LHC on Youtube)

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Qwerty,

    If this video is not as bad as the average Ivy League science rap video, then the whole genre needs to be rethought.

    Beyond that, I'm sorry, but I'm a serious comedy fan and a serious hip hop head and as a connoisseur of both art forms, I have high standards.

    This video fails both as comedy and as hip hop - not to mention the cultural appropriation implications of upper class White students latching onto a Black art form and butchering it because they think it's "funny".

    I for one am not laughing.

    Flip the script - would it be "funny" if Black inner city youth were to do a lame, badly done parody of a symphony orchestra?

    And how hard would you be laughing if kids from Harlem did a video where they went into the Guggenheim with markers and spraypaint cans and started tagging up the artwork?

    I don't know about you (cause there really is no accounting for taste) but I wouldn't see that as funny either.

    Abusive, yes.

    Disrespectful to the culture of others, yes.

    But funny?

    Hell no!

    I'm sure some folks might jump in at this point and tell me to <b>"lighten up"</b> or <b>"get a sense of humor"</b> - but hey, I take culture very seriously, and that includes comedy.

    Professional comics also take comedy very seriously, and they devote lots of hours of thought into how humor works.

    I take comedy as seriously as they do - and, to me, "comedy" that's based on facile and, quite frankly, culturally insensitive premises (like <i>"wouldn't it be 'funny' if two nerdy White science guys tried to rap?"</i>) is not really that funny at all.

    Now I know that some might say - "Damn, Gregory - you're spoiling the joke" but hey, this is a <b>revolutionary communist website</b> and as communists, we're supposed to analyze <b>everything</b> - especially if there is any oppressive content to it at all.

    And, to me these videos reek of class and race privilege - they remind me of the <i>"Ghetto Parties"</i> that some White fraternities and sororities hold (at colleges very much like the ones the folks who make these videos attend) where upper class White youth dress in what amounts to modern day blackface.

    I would <b><i>HOPE</B>&gt;</I> that you would not find <i>"Ghetto Party"</I> videos to be "funny" and the mentality behind these videos and the one behind those parties are a lot more similar than you might care to admit.

    <i><b>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - nando

    Greg writes:

    <blockquote>"Flip the script – would it be “funny” if Black inner city youth were to do a lame, badly done parody of a symphony orchestra?"</blockquote>

    I suspect yes. It would be funny.

    <blockquote>"And how hard would you be laughing if kids from Harlem did a video where they went into the Guggenheim with markers and spraypaint cans and started tagging up the artwork?"</blockquote>

    I don't know about tagging the <em>actual</em> artwork -- but tagging up the Museum grounds in creative murals would be, yes, funny and poignant. And a commentary on "official" art and unofficial "art as crime."

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Nando,

    Perhaps it would be funny <b>to you</b>

    After all, there are folks who thought that that truly atrociously nihilistic and misanthropic "comedy" <i>"Zombieland"</i> was "funny" (I was <b>not</b> one of those folks).

    As I said, there is no accounting for taste.

    And maybe I've been a communist for too long, but I don't find willfully disrespecting the culture of others to be "funny" at all.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - Timo

    "And, to me these videos reek of class and race privilege – they remind me of the “Ghetto Parties” that some White fraternities and sororities hold (at colleges very much like the ones the folks who make these videos attend) where upper class White youth dress in what amounts to modern day blackface."

    I am not familiar with "ghetto parties" but If it is anything like it sounds it can't be good. I think you raise an important point about things with the same nature as the old "black face" performers.

    However, "not to mention the cultural appropriation implications of upper class White students latching onto a Black art form and butchering it because they think it’s “funny”."

    I don't think we can say say art and music(i am referring to more modern music) is black, white, or what ever. Art and culture is not created in a vacuum. For instance is rock and role white people music? of course not. Is it black people music? still the answer is no. We can trace rock's origins back to blues etc. but many different people of different groups contributed to the evolution of the music. Music evolves from what has come before as well is influenced by the times. The same can be said about rap. We could trace it back and find influences all over from toasting which came from reggae, we can go back to the first reggae, ska, we can take that back to Calypso and jazz, which we can go to find guitars originating in Spain etc. Also there is historical context to the evolution of music as well, what was going on in NYC when rap first began to develop as a distinct and new art form, British imperialism and Jamaica and reggae, etc. I hope this all makes sense.

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Timo,

    Hip hop was invented by African American youth in New York City in the 1980's - I was a teenager in this city at that time, so I saw it happen. From jump, it was a Black identified art form, and remains so today, even though there are now hip hop heads of all races all over the world.

    Rock and roll is the classic example of a co-opted art form - it emerged after WW II as "Race Music" - but Black artists who were race music pioneers couldn't get air time.

    White artists who copied race music could - and did (Elvis Presley being only the most famous example) - and, of course, the White artists renamed it.

    Today, rock is very much White music - it is the cultural touchstone of almost all non-Southern White Americans born since 1950.

    Let's be real - we cannot resolve racism by pretending to be color blind - the liberals try that, and fail miserably.

    We have to recognize the cultural and racial baggage of any and all cultural forms in this very racist country that we live in.

    Oh, and for the record, while there were rappers from the Islands involved in creating hip hop, it's true roots go to the old African American custom of <b>"the dozens"</b> - as channeled through 1960's Black party DJ performances.

    I'm sorry, but I've been a Black man in this country for too long to play the "let's play color blind" game - because if there's one thing I've learned, White Americans are <b>always</b> White first (and that includes White leftists).

    About the <i>"Ghetto Parties"</i> a <b>LOT</b> of segregated all White fraternities and sororities at predominantly White campuses have them - the guys dress like "rappers" or "pimps", the girls dress like "hoes" or "video hoes", sometimes they <b>literally paint their faces black</b>, malt liquor and fried chicken are served, they play our music and they belittle our culture.

    Here's some background on <i>"ghetto parties"</i> [with pictures]:

    http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/mar07/

    http://www.racialicious.com/2007/01/30/clemson-university-students-also-throw-gangsta-party-on-mlk-day/

    and actual <i>"ghetto party"</i> pics:

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/157/374632633_2916606898.jpg

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/168/374632781_03ca661ad6.jpg?v=0

    [the above pics were taken at Clemson State, at a <i>"Ghetto Party"</i> <b>held on Martin Luther King's Birthday!</b>]

    http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/mar07/party.jpg

    [yeah, you saw correctly, he wore an actual KKK hood!]

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/34/107871805_afea44bff6.jpg

    [yes, an Asian man joining in with the Whites in belittling my race! Negrophobia gone multicultural!]

    So, can you understand just a little bit when I totally <b>do not see the humor in White college students belittling my race and culture</b>]

    It's a little thing called <b>"White skin privilege"</b> - you might want to self examine for it.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    <i>but I don’t find willfully disrespecting the culture of others to be “funny” at all.</i>

    With all due respect to my Papist, Whore of Babylon anti-Christ worshipping Catholic friends, if Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens led a mob of atheists into the Vatican to liberate the underage male sex slaves they keep in the basement for the delectation of the College of Cardinals, I might find it slightly amusing.

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    <I>About the “Ghetto Parties” a LOT of segregated all White fraternities and sororities at predominantly White campuses have them – the guys dress like “rappers” or “pimps”, the girls dress like “hoes” or “video hoes”, sometimes they literally paint their faces black, malt liquor and fried chicken are served, they play our music and they belittle our culture.</I>

    And this has been all over the media with the James O'Keefe/Hannah Giles videos at Acorn.

    Everybody, even Jon Stewart, fell for it.

    The problem is that I don't think you distiguish between culture that needs to be violently disrespected (the Catholic Church) and the culture of the oppressed.

    Do we really need to repsect all culture?

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    <i>Hip hop was invented by African American youth in New York City in the 1980’s – I was a teenager in this city at that time, so I saw it happen. From jump, it was a Black identified art form, and remains so today, even though there are now hip hop heads of all races all over the world</i>

    Stanley Crouch, the Jazz critic, would go a bit further than you do. He argues that ganster rap in general is basically a minstrel show.

    http://www.salon.com/books/int/1998/02/cov_si_25int2.html

    <i>I dislike gangsta rap. I dislike the side of rap that encourages violence over trivia, theft, drive-by shootings, misogyny, the side of rap that gives young women the impression that in order to rebel, they should become sluts. That's what I don't like. These things have had a very destructive influence on our society.
    </i>

    He also argues that white people in America are "culturally black" in ways white people in Europe aren't.

    <i>You know, some imbecile who reviewed my book said I admired Johnnie Cochran and Ron Brown because they were black men who made it in a white world. But I don't know where that white world is. Carl Jung said that white Americans walk like Negroes, talk like Negroes and laugh like Negroes. Now Carl Jung was from Switzerland, where they make the real white people. He also pointed out that the dominant images in the dreams of his white American patients were those of Negroes and Indians. That's something we ought to think about.

    </i>

    So ghettos parties are not only conscious racist appropriation of black culture. They are white culture.

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Well, to put it simply, Stanley Crouch is wrong.

    And in answer to your previous post, there is no question of the culture of the oppressors being attacked, because it's backed up with power, in a way that the culture of the oppressed simply is not.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    <i>And in answer to your previous post, there is no question of the culture of the oppressors being attacked, because it’s backed up with power, in a way that the culture of the oppressed simply is not.</i>

    Actually I could write an article attacking the New York Philharmonic with little or no fear of consequences.

    But rap critics, both white and black, have actually been threatened for writing negatively about certain kinds of rap.

    So I think your formulation here is a bit simplistic.

    Your example:

    <i>Flip the script – would it be “funny” if Black inner city youth were to do a lame, badly done parody of a symphony orchestra?</i>

    Demonstrates it.

    There aren't very many white cultural conservatives who would get their panties in a twist because some black kids did a rap video of a Beethoven symphony.

    The dominant culture tends to be so powerful that it can easily withstand parody and mockery.

    Your example of the Guggenheim sidesteps the issue. If a group of black kids actually spray painted artworks at the Guggenheim, it would be vandalism, not art.

    If they made a fictional movie where a group of black kids spray painted art in the Guggenheim it might or it might not be funny, depending on the talent of those involved.

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    Greg. I think the mistake you're making here is basically that you're trying to identify certain forms of culture identified with blacks as "organic" to some kind of a black "volk".

    But it doesn't hold.

    Take the song "Missing You" by P Diddy. Here you have Diddy, a black multimillionare, stealing from Sting, a white multimillionare, even though Sting stole his originally style from reggae.

    Or take The Fugees song "Ready or Not" where they stole a riff from Enya, who actully sued.

    The dominant culture of America isn't "white" culture. It's capitalism.

    I could put up a parody of a Mozart string quartet on Youtube and nobody would care.

    But if I posed a segment of The Daily Show or The Simpsons, I'd get a letter from a lawyer.

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Stanley,

    The cold hard fact is, we live in a White supremacist country, where White culture is the dominant culture and where Whites dominate all aspects of society.

    Folks a lot smarter than me have proved all of that, so I'm not going to debate that with you <b>especially on the 45th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination</b>

    Nor am I hip hop's defense attorney, so I'm not going to stand here and disprove every allegation you make about that genre of music (or the fact that you fail to mention the heavy involvement of organized crime - to be specific <i>White</i> organized crime, in much of popular music, White or otherwise).

    You've obviously made up your mind and good luck with that.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    <i>

    The cold hard fact is, we live in a White supremacist country, where White culture is the dominant culture and where Whites dominate all aspects of society.
    </i>

    Non sequitor.

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    You see, I can't spell.

    That's "non sequitur."

    Anyway, a blanket statement about America being a white supremacist culture says nothing about how rap may or may not be a part of that white supremacist culture (as opposed to an organic black "volkish" culture).

    In reality it's neither. It's a response of black people in the Bronx to the dominent capitlist culture that, once out in the open, can be appropriated by whites, Asians, latins, anybody.

    Black people can play Mozart, even though Mozart was an 18th century European.

    White people can "rap".

    The ghetto parties are racist but that's not because white people are appropriating black culture but because they're appropriating black culture with a RACIST INTENT.

  • Guest - Stanley W. Rogouski

    I mean, to elaborate on that, what if, instead of having "ghetto parties" white college kids had "Duke Ellington Parties" where they all got together to play Jazz?

    Would that be racist? Obviously not.

    The ghetto parties are racist because you have white college kids highlighting what they see are degrading parts of black culture, putting them into sharp focus to the exclusion of the whole.

  • Guest - zerohour

    "Hip hop was invented by African American youth in New York City in the 1980’s"

    This is factually incorrect. Hip hop, as a specific culture including rap, breakdancing and graffiti originated in the 1970s and included many Latinos among its originators. Also, some prominent old school graffiti artists were white - Italian actually [see the documentary <i>Style Wars</i> on this]. The fact that it was, and is, primarily known as an exclusively "black" culture is a result of the intertwining of niche marketing and racial reductionism, more than a reflection of its reality on the ground.

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Zerohour,

    I didn't have to see the documentary - I was there.

    Rap music became a visible and widespread part of the city's - and the nation's - cultural fabric in the 1980's - and it was Black artists who made that happen.

    And, again, I didn't have to see the movie cause I saw the live action version of the story in real time.

    But thank you for your input.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

  • Guest - zerohour

    " it was Black artists who made that happen."

    I think music corporations had a bit to do with the proliferation of hip hop and also defining its contours, including its racial image.

    "And, again, I didn’t have to see the movie cause I saw the live action version of the story in real time."

    Then why are you promoting the media-based narrative, when you know the reality to be more complicated?

  • Guest - MOVIE, REVIEWED

    Zerohour,

    Like Stanley in the comments above you, I'm not prepared to debate this with you at this time - I see you have a narrative that you're comfortable with, and I'm happy for you.

    Have a pleasant evening.

    <b><i>Gregory A. Butler</b></i>

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