Sunday, April 12, 2009

Queer Intimacies Panel @ EMP Pop Conference 2009

What up mi gente!?

I've been missing in action from the blogosphere for the past couple of weeks trying to catch up with work and prepare for this paper I'm presenting next week at the EMP Pop Conference 2009 in Seattle.

I'm on a panel entitled "Queer Intimacies in Hip Hop and Reggaeton" with Elliott Hunter Powell and Laurence Ralph, and Gayatri Gopinath who will be responding and moderating.

Peep the panel abstract:
The papers in this panel address the rich and vibrant queer relationality and intimacies that exist within hip hop and reggaeton. Dominant discourses construct an image of hip hop and reggaeton that depict these genres as spaces of unabashed homophobia and misogyny. In attempting to address the ways in which misogyny functions in hip hop and reggaeton, scholars have largely failed to interrogate heterosexism and privilege in their critiques of these genres. Furthermore, when queerness and queer desire are made visible, it is typically through the problematic representations of DL/Homo Thug identity and practices. The panelists seek to expand the discussion of queerness in hip hop and reggaeton by exploring spaces and performances that on the surface seem to exude contradictory ways of being and embodiment, but actually enable the development of queer(ed) intimacies. We use queer not only to describe same sex relationships, pleasures, and desires, but also to describe disruptions to normative practices and structures. Marisol LeBrón focuses on reggaetonera and hindi-vocalist Deevani as a case study for examining the complicated roots/routes of “socio-sonic circuitry” and affinity that operate in reggaeton. Placing Gujarati American vocalist Raje Shwari at the center hip hop’s recent engagement with South Asian music and artists, Elliott Powell explores the ways in which a turn to the sonic opens up possibilities for South Asian female queer desire and subjectivity in this post 9/11 era. Finally, Laurence Ralph examines the epistemology of the closet in hip hop and forms of homosocial intimacies among rappers.
My paper has changed quite a bit from when I submitted the abstract, so while in the larger paper I do discuss Deevani, in this conference paper I will be looking at how bhangraton queers reggaeton by disrupting the normative logic of cultural nationalism that surfaced during 2005-2006 at the height to reggaeton's boom.

Hopefully, people will think the paper's dope and I will get a chance to see some old friends and meet some new ones. If you're in Seattle check the conference out it should be off the chain this year.

hasta pronto...


The Incredible Kid said...


I was very interested in your analysis of "bhangraton" and its effect on the cultural nationalism surrounding reggaeton, but like my partner Anjali argued in the q&a, I would avoid using the term bhangraton in a conflationary way. While the term bhangra is often used incorrectly to refer to any South Asian musical fusion, its use should be limited to music tied to Punjabi language, music, and culture. Rish Rich and Tigerstyle produce bhangraton tracks, Deevani's jacking of Hindi Bollywood lyrics does not a bhangraton track make. I realize she was supposedly going to release an album called Bhangraton, which since it was in collaboration with Rishi Rich, would no doubt have included Punjabi singing, rhythms, and musical elements, and thereby indeed be bhangraton. That does not mean that the tracks she has featured on thus far are in any way bhangraton, since they only use the Hindi language, and zero Punjabi musical or rhythmic elements. Call her tracks Bollyton, or place them under the umbrella of Desiton, but please only use bhangraton to refer to Punjabi fusions, and not just any South Asian fusion.


The Incredible Kid

Marisol LeBron said...

Hi Incredible,

I agree with you that Deevani and many other of the "bhangraton" artists do no use traditional bhangra sounds, but the reason why I referred to it as "bhangraton" was because that is how the artists, the press, and a number of desi blogs referred to the fusion genre. I wanted to respect that terminology because I am less interested in whether "bhangraton" uses bhangra rhythms in the traditional sense, rather I am interested in what that genre under its various nomenclature does and represents.

I did appreciate the comments that Anjali made during the q&a (I was actually going to e-mail her to thank her for her question but you beat me to it!), and I apologize if my answer felt dismissive in anyway. I just wanted to make it clear that I was using that terminology because that is terminology being used by practitioners and fans and I wanted to respect that.

Thanks for coming to the panel and thank you for your feedback, please feel free to share any other thoughts about the presentation.

All the best,

The Incredible Kid said...

Hi Marisol,

I see your reasons for wanting to use the term bhangraton in your paper, and I understand that you were using the nomenclature developed by others, I just don't like the way the use of the term conflates different South Asian cultures, languages, and music. Bhangra is a very misused term these days, and it isn't just a recently fabricated genre tag, but a hundreds-of-years-old folk tradition from a particular culture.

I appreciated your investigation into the figure of Deevani, and I'm curious if the hooks that she lifts both lyrically and melodically from Bollywood films are credited and paid for, and how that plays into the love and theft of her work.



Marisol LeBron said...

Hey Incredible,

I'm actually not sure if she credits the Bollywood lyrics/music formally. I've read interviews where she does, but whether they're credited in liner notes and/or royalties are being paid is another thing. I'll have to get my hands on the liner notes for Daddy Yankee's "Mirame" and Tito El Bambino's "Flow Natural" to find that out (one of the downsides of pirated music I suppose is the absence of liner notes).

Thanks for bringing this issue up, it is something I will definitely look into.