Monday, March 28, 2011

The Beast and Nnenna Freelon - Freedom Suite

Some New School Jazz
Read the story here

Spotted at The Revivalist

Dallas, Texas is.... Hip Hop? | A.Dd+ - When Pigs Fly

Dallas, Texas - Not normally known as a hot bed of creative hip hop music. But here in Dallas, that is quickly changing with another innovative hip hop duo: A.Dd+. They released When Pigs Fly on their Bandcamp page today for free download.

The album features WhatUpWally?'s favorite duo Sore Losers and sounds a lot like if Outkast had been born in Tejas.

The album is available for free download

Spotted at Okayplayer

Bonus Reminder:
Sore Losers - Free Loaders: the Soundtrack

Still Reppin D-Town,


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Books from Graduate School Vol. 1: Media, Culture, The Self, and Race

After spending the last 10 years in the mythical real world, I plunged back into graduate school at Texas A&M University.

I am often asked, what do you do with a PhD. in Sociology? In response, I laugh and then proceed with a lengthy lecture about the advantages of studying PhD. over an MBA.

In reality, individuals, cultures, and the interworking of small and large societies stir a curiosity that has driven me since a child.

So what do you do with a PhD. in what seems to be a dying discipline? Teach? Research? Complain about conservatives? Use big words? Well - yes, yes, and yes.

But if approached in a different way, sociology is a discipline for the intellectually curious. It is a discipline for philosophers that seek for a concrete answer even when they understand there is no such thing.

Sociology provides a breadth of social understanding that prepares those who seek new answers to timeless problems a strong position in the market of employment.

But more importantly, if a student of humanity and culture is able to peel away his own blinders, even if just an inch, he will be unable to ignore the systems that influence his and his culture's beliefs - good and bad.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Music Musts... Top Ten 2011 - So Far

Time sprang forward this weekend, so WhatUpWally? thought we would spring ahead and imagine what the best albums of 2011 would be if the year ended now.

Our biggest disappointment of 2011 is that we are leaving Radiohead - King of Limbs off of our list. Maybe we need to spin it a few more times, but as of now, too many other albums have captured our attention and forced us to keep 'em spinnin. We hope you enjoy!

Listen, Love, and Learn,

The Decemberists - The King is Dead
Nothing is even close to this album

Eisley - The Valley
The East Texas girls are all grown up
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Lupe! Finally! Listen to All Black Everything

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts on Being White: R.I.P Nate Dogg

In 1993 it was not socially acceptable for white kids to listen to much rap music. Parent's thought they would become gangsters, white friends called them wiggers and black kids just laughed at white kids trying to be cool. Today anyone can listen to rap music. My dad wanted to go see Snoop Dogg with me, blacks rappers collaborate with white rappers and also white rock stars (see Jay-Z, Kanye, Chiddy Bang).

Hip hop music is embedded in the main stream culture but still remains the property of black America. Some whites are fully engaged in hop hop music but others still consider it to be a lesser form of art. They listen to the music not as an everyday association but as an exploited version which glorifies partying, toughness, gettin money, sex, and dancing. This is not a morality judgement but simply a statment (of maybe fact - more research needed).

Every year, the white race, with resounding agreement, clings to one hip hop song a year, and it is this song that I deem the "White Person's Rap Song of the Year."  In 1993, white kids loved no song the way they loved Regulate "Regulators....Mount up"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Can Hip Hop Change the World?

As a kid, hip hop was considered dengerous, morally deficient, and an illegitimate form of art. Today hip hop music is embedded in the everday cultural experience of Americans and many across the globe. As hip hop continues to gain validity in popular culture it may have the power to reconstruct the way our nation sees the world.

WhatUpWally? would like to highlight three videos, by hip hop superstars, that allude to the genre's power and cultural influence. There is no other music that reflects on the political, cultural, and economic dimensions of a wide variety of American lifestyles. The innovation of the genre enables it to speak to issues with immediacy and put forth messages instantly.

It is not that hip hop has changed. Hip hop has always been political. It has always spoken out against economic policies that destroy lives. It has always spoke from the margins of society. It has always represented many cultures and socioeconomic levels.

What has changed is a generation that has grown up within the hip hop worldview. Pushed to innovate and collaborate. Drawn together by experimental creativity. Hip hop has forced the doors of culture open and has decided to do something about injustice.

Hip Hop's most recent innovation is the ability to free itself from the artistic restrictions of the major labels. Artist's are using internet blogs such as to release their music with the politcal and cultural messages that need to be heard. Artist's are creating alliances with companies to release records, recieving more money for their music, and touring with a purpose. Lupe Fiasco, Jay Electronica, Rapper Big Pooh, Phonte, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Consequence, Common, Jean Grae, Nas, Murs, Emilio Rojas, Mos Def, J Cole, Wale, Kidz in the Hall. These artist are a few among many that have the power to change the world.

Can hip hop change the world? Has it already?

Will.I.Am,common,john legend,scarlett johanson -... by tite-sow

Still full of hope,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Introducing Aloe Blacc

WhatUpWally? has been killin Aloe Blacc's latest Album Good Things for a while now. If you are looking for some of that throw back soul vibe, we suggest you bounce over to Amazon and cop the album.

Here is the lead track from Good Things.
Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar by stonesthrow

Aloe Blacc - You Make Me Smile by stonesthrow

Check out this Stones Throw track, featuring Aloe, that was posted today.

MED - Where I'm from feat. Kurupt & Aloe Blacc by stonesthrow


Aloe Blacc - The Dark End of the Street by stonesthrow

Here are some bonus tracks for your listening pleasure:
Aloe Blacc - Get Blacc by privalove
Aloe Blacc "Fourteen" by 14KT

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mind, Self, and Facebook: A Postmodern Sociology Part. 1

Sociologists must develop postmodern tools in order to interpret the postmodern self. Interpreting the self is problematic for contemporary sociologists. The discipline of sociology has relied on the theories of Herbert Mead and Ervin Goffman to interpret the construction of the  self. Mead’s Mind Self and Society was published in 1934 and Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was published in 1959. The theories in these works were constructed in response to the social dilemmas of modernity[1] and therefore, are not sufficient to interpret the development of the self in postmodernity. The postmodern individual interacts with the self, the community, and the world in ways that differ from the modern era. The shift from modernity[2] to postmodernity is confusing to many sociologists. Instead of interpreting the postmodern self, sociologists condemn the postmodern self as fragmented, narcissistic, fantasy driven, empty, image driven, and superficial (E 136,138, Agger 1988). The postmodern self may be all of these, some of these, or none of these. Without the correct theoretical orientation, the interpretation of the self is difficult. Mead and Goffman’s theories provide tools to interpret the self in postmodern society, but these tools are insufficient. In this paper I posit that to interpret the postmodern self and postmodern society, sociologists must move away from the modern era’s interpretation of the self, utilize postmodern technology to reorient theories in order to address postmodern dilemmas, and utilize the tools of modern social theory, within the postmodern context.  First, I examine how modern sociological theory is similar to postmodern theory and how theorists are frustrated with postmodernity because they are still attempting to apply modern analysis to the postmodern dilemmas. Next, I suggest that sociologists should resist criticizing postmodern self construction and instead utilize the fragments of the culture, such as Facebook, to develop a “radical micro-sociology” to illuminate the unique nature of the self during the postmodern turn[3].

[1] “Sociology is usually considered an Enlightenmnet project, and outcome of the Frenchman Auguste Comte’s attempt to create a science of society that would rival the sophistication and methodologies of Newton’s physics. Comte went as far as to term sociology ‘social physics.’” (Agger 1988, 45)
[2] “The term often given to this new social order, which involved both the enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, is modernity, and the process of achieving it is termed modernization by sociologists.” (Agger 1988, 48)
[3] The phrase “postmodern turn” is taken from Best, Steven and Kellner, Douglass. 1991. Postmodern Theory. NY: The Guilford Press.

Mind, Self, and Facebook: A Postmodern Sociology Part. 2

Postmodern theory “resists global, total narratives” and values social analysis that is “captured in fragments, requiring local, individual level, even intuitive methodologies.” (Agger 1988, 91) Contemporary sociologists also privilege the local fragments over the global narratives. Charles Tilly (1984) claims that grand narratives are meant to be timeless and placeless should be replaced with concrete, historical analysis of real people, places, and things. Similarly, Randall Collins (2005) posits a radical micro-sociology that privileges the study of situations and chains of interaction. Through chains of interaction, symbols are assigned meanings that make up the “structure of our consciousness” and the “lenses through which we see.” (Collins 2005, 374) Micro-sociology reveals the self as socially constructed and historically situated. Collins’ fragmented, individual, and local method of study contends, “there is no guarantee that the larger historical pattern always flows in one direction.”  Instead Collins states that selves, considered normal today, will likely be different then the kinds of selves considered normal 200 years from now[1]. Tilly and Collins do not seem to be at odds with the postmodern rejection of grand narratives but resistance is encountered when Anthony Elliot (2001) addresses the postmodern construction of the self in Concepts of the Self. Elliot traces the development of symbolic interaction theory from Mead and Goffman, through Freud and psychoanalysis, onto Foucault, and eventually into the postmodern theories. It is in the discussion of the postmodern self that pessimistic view of the self and society emerges. Elliot chronicles sociological descriptions of the postmodern “dislocation and decomposition of identity.[2]” (Elliot 2001, 132) I interpret Elliot’s assertion that the “grand objectives of the enlightenment (including Truth, Justice, Reason, and Equality) dissolve or become irrelevant,” (Elliot 131) is either a nostalgic longing for the comfort of modern simplicity or a confusion regarding the shifting dynamics of culture. I contend that this discomfort stems from attempting to apply theories of modernity to postmodern dilemmas. Further, Elliot’s fear of the dissolution of truth, justice, reason, and equality is understandable in a postmodern age where reality seems “unordered and ultimately unknowable.” (Best and Kellner 1991, 9) Huston Smith contends that unordered, postmodern skepticism is “only a transition to yet another intellectual perspective, one that will be characterized by a more holistic and spiritual outlook.” (Best and Kellner 1991, 9) Postmodernity is a time of transition in world history and sociologists should utilize the fragments of the culture to develop a new micro-sociology. By moving away from the modern interpretations of the self, sociologists can free themselves to embrace the changing culture and utilize cultural fragments, like Facebook, to analyze how postmodern selves and cultures are developing from within a postmodern medium of communication.

[1] (Collins 2001, 372) “…and there is no guarantee that the larger historical pattern always flows in one direction….. There is no Hegelian evolution revealing that the pure essence of the human being is individuality and inwardness.”
[2] Elliot is discussing Richard Sennet’s views on the postmodern self

Mind, Self, and Facebook: A Postmodern Sociology Part. 3

Once sociologists move away from the modern paradigm and begin to utilize the tools of postmodernity, they will be able to re-appropriate modern theories of social research. Although not explicitly postmodern, Diane Bjorklund’s 1998 book, Interpreting the Self: Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography, analyzes change in the historical development of the self. Bjorklund uses autobiographies to study real people, places, and things within their historical context, as Tilly suggested. She chooses the autobiography because of the way the authors imagine themselves within the community. Autobiographers employ a number of rhetorical techniques that reflect the values of their society. Likewise, in 2011, individuals are daily authoring and re-authoring micro-autobiographies on Facebook. Today, the presentation of self takes on multiple forms on-line and off-line. Selves are being formed as they place themselves in the role of the other to communicate. The response they call out in others when they post a status or upload a picture evokes the same response in the poster. Communities are developing and strengthening as content is produced. When selves are observed un-critically, they appear disconnected, superficial, commercialized, and trivial. But when selves are observed sociologically, we see identities being negotiated in real time. We don’t have to wait sixty years for the autobiography to be written. Individuals are authoring real time stories with cultural significance. When sociologists conquer their fear of the unknown postmodern future, they will be able to approach this postmodern form of communication and develop a deeper understanding of identity construction and social interaction. Embracing the postmodern reality will also allow for a more accurate critique of the social formation and domination that exists when “selves’ psyches are engaged by the culture industries, which induce people to spend hours watching television and Web surfing, consuming advertising images that form identity.” (Agger 2004:107) The pessimistic worldview many sociologists hold is prohibiting opportunities for social research and social critique.

Mind, Self, and Facebook: A Postmodern Sociology Part. 4

Now that we have loosened our grip on modernity and have begun to utilize the postmodern tools of interaction, we can re-appropriate modern social theory. Bjorklund’s method of analyzing autobiographies is a good model to start with. Bjorklund noted:
We discern the individual voices of the autobiographers, but we also discover the culture speaking through the self. These self-narratives, however, have even more to offer when we also recognize them as rhetorical accomplishments. Autobiographers use vocabularies of the self, not only to make sense of their lives but also to present a praiseworthy self to their audiences. (Bjorklund 158,159)
Similar to postmodern theorists, Bjorklund privileges the localized nature of autobiographies to draw conclusions about the larger society. Her study analyzed 110 autobiographies from 1800 to 1980. Her analysis explores “their use of shared cultural ideas about the self as well as the social situational constraints of impression management.” (Bjorklund 1998, Xi) Facebook, like autobiographies, are an “amalgam of cultural ideas, scruples, art, imagination, rhetoric, and self-presentation.” (Bjorklund, x) Both keep a record of how people interpret their own lives. Bjorklund extracts how the self is developed by analyzing how each author, over different time periods, dealt with the literary constraints of modesty, honesty, and the need to be interesting. She then looked at how the author’s emphasis on components of the self (passion, reason, and will) differed over the four time periods. A third way that Bjorklund interpreted the self through autobiographies was by analyzing how the authors spoke about their relationships with others.
            The micro-autobiographies, written in Facebook, are not the same as traditional autobiographies, but they are expressions of individuals sharing their lives, reflecting on their identity, and anticipating the response of their audience. These similarities make it possible for us to appropriate Bjorklund’s modern sociological methods for the study of postmodern study. Although many sociologists conduct research in ways that are similar to postmodern styles of research there is still confusion or fear of the unknown, changing dynamics of society. This postmodern turn is a cultural shift that sociologist must confront. Once they are able to move away from the sacred texts of modernity they will be able to embrace the new postmodern technologies. By moving towards the postmodern, they will be able to gain better understanding of how the postmodern self is developing. They will be able to conduct better postmodern research and critique. When sociologists stop longing for the comfort of modernity they can join the excitement of the new era with its new possibilities. Instead of nostalgic research that stands in condemnation of the postmodern self, they can join the dialogue and help shape the free flow of information, political power, social networking, media, and discourse that may lead to a better stage of society. Once sociology accepts the transition out of modernity, it can adapt the grand narratives of modernity and re-appropriate them to study the development of the postmodern self.