I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.
Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:22 pm
What is the American dream?
A white picket fence and a walk-in closet? Mobility? The promise that your kids will walk an easier road than you did? Bank deposit insurance? Equality under the law? Showing up to your 25th high school reunion with a full head of hair and a fancy title? A Murcielago and a boob job?
And what in the world does that sound like? John Cougar Mellencamp? Lynyrd Sknyryd? Bruce Springsteen? Duke Ellington? KRS-One? Elton John? Jay-Z?
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:40 pm
I'm spending June in New Orleans, digging into the soft wet earth of American music. A week in, I feel like I've barely begun to explore. The minute I try to say what draws me to New Orleans music, I realize that the core of it is always changing. It's not just the variety, though I love that in the first few days here, I caught classic blues on Frenchmen Street, a wild bounce night downtown, my longtime favorite Susan Cowsill singing Dusty Springfield covers in the Garden District, and a brass band on the corner in the French Quarter.
The music made by Thomas Wesley Pentz, better known by his stage name, Diplo, is one part club-music mashup and one part pop music forecast. In 2009, he took bubblin' — a syncopated house style born in the clubs of Holland — as inspiration and collaborated with fellow DJ Switch, his partner in the group Major Lazer, to make the dance-floor hit "Pon de Floor." But he wasn't done with the bubblin' sound yet. In 2011, he used that song as basis for "Run the World (Girls)," a single by the pop star Beyonce.