eyescratch on Fri, 18 Nov 2005 08:44:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> america plural

[ sent this out b4, but it didn't quite make it. reading Mark Stahlman
   definition of new media - it is refreshing, just like New Wave.
   Strong enough, perhaps to warrant again a localizing aspect,
   such as French New Wave, which really imbues a term with some ACTION,
   that then transcends or jumps borders to some new localized aspect.
   (We can only hope;) (yippi! film was the forerunner to this later
   music descript!) Rather than lecture at a University with renown,
   large endowment, and the latest tech, I now work in the NY public
   school system (thanx mr tb!). It is filled with life and attitude
   and thirst for any kind of opportunity. So I might say, when you
   discuss these lofty (in your complex mindz) terms and try to fit
   them towards your subtle academic leanings, have a heart and try to
   inspire a bit. It won't hurt you, I promise! and you might foster
   a creative 'space and time' 'space and time' 'space and time'.
   and, no, it's not about making terms such as REMIX palatable as if
   it be the latest prescription in the medicine cabinet of culture. -es


    + \
      .>' (_--.     ...off the high horse....!
   _=3D/d   ,^\
  ~~ \)-'   '                 [ http://eyescratch.tk ]
     / |
    '  '

[ some continents go singular, some plural. some import some export.
   can't listen anymore to the MITy press headz on how it's done:
   when does the signifier NEW finally fail to reference the original
   it modifies? suspect it's some structure residual of having been
   another place before the name, be it rhythmic, be it loose that
   language assumes of the two, new + signifier, spoken together -es ]

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El Alto Journal

May 26, 2005
Young Bolivians Adopt Urban U.S. Pose, Hip-Hop and All

By JUAN FORERO EL ALTO, Bolivia, May 24 - This sprawling city on
Bolivia's windswept high plains, home to nearly 800,000 Indians, is a
tradition-bound place where the language is Aymara, the women wear
derby hats and layer-cake skirts and families relax to centuries-old
Andean music, which is heavy on pipes but devoid of lyrics.

In other words, not exactly the place you would expect to find a
thriving, politically charged rap culture.

But El Alto - a flash point for protest and the capital of indigenous
Bolivia - is seething, and a growing number of young Aymara are
expressing their anger in a hard-driving rap, complete with
rapid-fire lyrics excoriating Bolivia's leaders and venting about the
dire social conditions of the country's Indian majority.

Adopting the trappings of American hip-hop, young Aymara wear baggy
pants and baseball caps and strike the pose of urban America, hand
signs, cocky talk and all.

Their inspiration, though, comes straight from Bolivia's recent
tumultuous history: the fall of President Gonzalo S=E1nchez de Lozada
in October 2003 after protests in which 60 Indian demonstrators were
killed, the bitter struggle over development of Bolivia's huge
natural gas reserves, the indignation over the Washington-financed
eradication of coca and the desperate poverty.

"We have lyrics about Black October," said Abraham Boj=F3rquez, 22,
the natural leader of a group of about 20 rappers. "We sing about
coca, about poverty. Our singing is revolutionary. We protest without
marches or strikes. We do it through music, to reach as many people
as possible."

In the song "Jichaw" - Aymara for "Now" - the chorus, also in Aymara,
captures the fervor of Bolivia's emboldened Indians: "Now we are
speaking. Now they will know us. Now we will rise up." Switching to
Spanish, the rappers then sing of how "the revolution has started,
against the system and the state."

The rappers, belonging to groups with names that translate as, for
example, Insane Race, the Lyrical Urban Movement and the
Clandestines, often mix Aymara with their Spanish. Their songs
combine a strong love of their country with a deep resentment toward
those who have oppressed and exploited it, whether insiders or

"Proud to be born in my Bolivia," goes one song by Lyrical Urban
Movement, "though a land wounded by oppressors who call themselves
defenders of my land."

In "The People Do Not Fall," written by Mr. Boj=F3rquez and performed
by his two-man rap group, Ukamau y Ke, whose nearly untranslatable
name means, literally, "like it is and what," the lyrics seek to
capture the violence to which indigenous protesters have been
subjected. It heaps scorn on the former president, Mr. Sanchez de
Lozada, widely known by his nickname, Goni, and condemns the state
for selling Bolivia's natural gas.

"Goni, inept, the people ask for gas; the people ask for peace," the
lyrics go. "Goni, understand, the gas is not for sale, because the
people depend on democracy - they demand their rights."

Another song, "Blessed People," by the Clandestines, captures the
fighting spirit of a downtrodden Indian community. "Blessed people
wounded; how many times have you fallen?" the Clandestines wrote.
"But I never leave; I live where I love. I survive. I say what I
think, what I am. It's cold; the streets are with me."

With little money and virtually no experience with commercial music,
the rappers in El Alto get their rap out through a cutting-edge radio
station, Wayna Tambo, which also serves as a youth center. On their
radio show, "Rinc=F3n Callejero," or "The Street Corner," the rappers
play their music, interview players in El Alto's budding hip-hop
culture, talk politics and ham it up.

The one CD the rappers recorded, called "Wayna Rap," sells robustly
on the streets of El Alto, pirated by the hundreds - just as the
rappers like. "I do not live off hip-hop, and I did not plan to,"
said Grover Canaviri, 23, who sings for the Clandestines. "I do not
care if my music is pirated. The money is not important. What we want
is to send out our lyrics so they can influence."

Still, the rappers hope to record professionally, something Abraham
Boj=F3rquez is on his way to doing with one of Bolivia's foremost
musicians, =C1lvaro Montenegro.

"The music is very left, almost from the 70's, an institutional left,
but at the same time it sounds fresh, like original Bolivian music,"
said Mr. Montenegro, who first met the rappers while teaching music
to young people at Wayna Tambo.

Mr. Montenegro says the rappers need to shed some of the North
American flavor in their rap and incorporate Bolivian touches, like
using highland wind instruments as background music. The rappers say
they are open to suggestions, but they explain that it was easy to
find inspiration, and style, for their music from black urban

"We're also discriminated against for being dark, for not having
money," said Rodolfo Quisbert, 19. "That's why we like hip-hop."

Life in El Alto is hard. People live in drab adobe or cinder-block
homes. There is no heat to ward off the frigid winds that whip off
snow-capped mountains. Most people work in Bolivia's informal
economy, selling what they can on the streets. Crime and infant
mortality are common.

"We grew up with nothing to eat, a breakfast with just chu=F1o," a
type of freeze-dried potato, Mr. Canaviri said. "We didn't even know
what lunch was."

A life filled with hardship, though, yields a rich harvest of

"I say what I see, what I feel, what I think, the thinking of the
people here," Mr. Canaviri said. "I put all of that in my lyrics."

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