Sunday, December 27, 2009


Maluca was described to me by one of my friends as a Dominicana M.I.A., which definitely has to do with this awesome Diplo produced track.  I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Navidad El Remix

Because your holidays don't have to be Jose Feliciano on repeat anymore...
Happy holidays mi gente

Friday, December 11, 2009

La Musica del Futuro?

Friends and followers of this blog might remember that I have written about Deevani (Ines Rooney) and how she upsets a linear narrative about reggaeton's development by highlighting a number of often neglected circuits.

Here is her latest collaboration with Fuego (from Chosen Few) called "Que Buena Tu Ta."  While I have qualms about some of the imagery in the video, I do think sonically it's interesting to consider the fact that these two Dominican artists, one singing in Hindi, are able to skillfully blend Bhragra-pop, mambo urbano, and reggaeton thus highlighting the various movements of  what we recognize today as "Caribbean rhythms."

Pretty dope if you ask me.  Thoughts?

Loo$e Change

Loo$e Change from Mykwain Gainey on Vimeo.

I know I'm late since Frank Roberts and Wayne Marshall have already posted Loo$e Change to their blogs but this short is so fly I had to put it up.  "Who says loose change can't go along way?"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Major Lazer is Pretty Much a Genius

Major Lazer "Keep it Going Louder" from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

This is what dancehall videos look like in The Twilight Zone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sincerely.the lost bois

Queer Hip-pop tribute to being confident, to being silly, and to crushing hard.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Call for Dancers/Movers!

Jiggly Boo Dance Crew (founded by Alice Fu and Kantara Souffrant, MA candidates in Performance Studies @ NYU)

Is Seeking: Dancers who identify as having a “non-traditional” dancer’s body, specifically a “fat”* body. Dancers need not have “formal” training, and may come from any kind of dance background.

For : Participation in a spring semester series of workshops, discussions, movement, exercises, which will culminate in a final collaborative performance in April 2010.

When: Tentatively Sundays, January 24 – April 18, 2010, 4-6pm

Location: On NYU Campus, details TBA.

Additional information
: Please see included information below. For any additional questions or if interested, please email

About Jiggly Boo Dance Crew
Jiggly Boo Dance Crew is a much needed project for exploring the intellectual and creative potential of the fat dancing body. Within the Western performance context, fat bodies are systematically excluded or typecast into demeaning or ancillary roles.

Within this framework, Jiggly Boo Dance Crew will run a series of workshops which will culminate in a performance. These workshops will create a space in which other self-identified female “fat” dancers, movers, and performers, can dialogue about the following questions: What is a "fat dancing body"? How are fat bodies read, understood, felt (emotively and viscerally) and represented? What does it mean to identify oneself as a “fat dancing body” and what are the political implications of identifying oneself as such? How can (re)presentations of fat dancing bodies be understood alongside critical discussions of race, gender, sexuality, and the political movement of bodies that have been traditionally marginalized and invisibilized within Western stage dance?

Through these workshops, which will build towards a final performance, we hope to personalize and politicize the fat dancing body and the fat dancer. Jiggly Boo Dance Crew hopes to re-write and re-imagine these scripts of the fat dancing body. We are neither invisible, nor hyper-visible objects of ridicule.

Workshops will be based on movement, academics, as well as the participants' personal experiences as dancers. By marrying readings from fields such as fat studies; critical race theory; gender, sex, and sexuality studies; (dis)ability studies; and dance and performance studies with sessions that emphasize movement, gesture, and performance, we will create a space that views theory and praxis as mutually informative and necessary for achieving our goals.

*On the usage of “fat”
: Jiggly Boo Dance Crew intentionally reclaims and uses the word "fat" as opposed to other euphemisms (i.e. '"plus-sized" or "big-boned") to explore the politics of size-deviant bodies. Our reclamatory gesture also pays homage to area studies, such as queer studies, that have viewed the reappropriation of words as part of a larger political process of creating visibility and challenging hegemonic discourses and systems of oppression.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

This is one of the most interesting and smart approaches to web 2.0 and YouTube culture I have seen thus far.  Fantastic primer to digital ethnography! Enjoy!

*Thanks to Daniel Nieves (CUNY) for sharing this video with me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Message from Myriam Mercado, mother of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

Thanks to Blabbeando's Andrés Duque for posting and translating this video.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gay Puerto Rican Teen's Body Found Brutalized in Hate Crime

The body of Jorge Steven López Mercado, age 19, was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned on Friday, November 13, 2009 in Cayey, Puerto Rico.  López, a resident of Caguas, was reportedly a well known member of Puerto Rico's gay community.

LGBT activists are calling for López's murder to be classified as a hate crime.  This would be the first crime of its kind to be designated as such, if authorities reclassify the case.  Pedro Julio Serrano, executive director of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s notes that although the Puerto Rican government added sexual orientation to its hate crimes laws in 2002, local authorities have not used it to prosecute those accused of anti-gay violence. The FBI has announced it will take jurisdiction over the case if local investigators conclude López’s killer or killers murdered him because of his sexual orientation

LGBT activists are also speaking out against homophobic remarks made by Investigator Angel Rodriguez’s that implied that López deserved what he got because of his “lifestyle.”  During a televised press conference Rodriguez said, “este tipo de personas, cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle, saben que esto les puede pasar” [When these type of people get into this and go out into the streets like this, they know this can happen to them].  These comments sparked outrage and activist are calling for the Puerto Rico Police Department to take disciplinary action against Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has been removed from the case, but is yet to be sanctioned for his remarks.  A vigil will be held later this week for López, in addition to a protest calling for disciplinary action to be taken against Rodriguez.

López’s killer or killers remain at large.

For more info:

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's TOO much!  TWO Beyonce and Lady Gaga duets?  Insanity! The gay clubs are going to combust from so much excitement. 

Telephone appears on Gaga's The Fame Monster and Video Phone, appears on Beyonce's I Am… Sasha Fierce (Deluxe).

*tip of the fitted to Mun2

Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking Backward at Reggaeton’s Futurity

What up mi gente! As promised here are my comments from Princeton's "Reggaeton: Critical Perspectives" roundtable.  Feel free to hit me up with any thoughts...

Looking Backward at Reggaeton’s Futurity

I want to thank Alex[andra Vazquez] for organizing this panel and inviting me to participate.  She asked that I say a few words about the future of reggaeton, and where I think the genre is going both socially and sonically.  I found this to be a surprisingly difficult assignment, mainly because it is a challenging task to speculate about the futurity of a genre that has already been declared dead on multiple occasions.  Like Mark Twain, however, the reports of reggaeton’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but it nonetheless remains important to consider why critics and others have been so quick to write obituaries for a genre that seems to be alive and kicking. 

This discourse is not new, instead it is something that tends to (re)appear at moments of increased visibility and growth.  Back before reggaeton was reggaeton, when it was simply known as underground, the genre was at the center of a moral panic in Puerto Rico that resulted in efforts to ban it from the airwaves and the confiscation of hundreds of cassettes due to allegations that the music violated local obscenity laws.  Dismissed as porquería, or trash, detractors assumed that the genre would die a swift death at the hands of Puerto Rican authorities who sought to contain its social impact because it was too black, too poor, too American, too sexual, and too crass.  And Raquel [Z. Rivera] does a great job of breaking this down in her chapter “Policing Morality, Mano Dura Stylee,” for those of you who are interested.  Despite efforts to contain and even eradicate the genre, reggaeton was able to break into the market and achieve international success and recognition.  It is at this moment that the pronouncements of reggaeton’s death were once again being sounded.  So, I’m interested in why at a time when reggaeton was becoming increasingly successful in commercial terms and cultivating a wider fan base, would critics, and even reggaetoneros themselves, say that reggaeton is dead?

Like similar pronouncements in salsa and hip-hop, the death of reggaeton comes at a moment when the genre perceived as moving away from, or beyond, its original audience and social milieu.  The death of reggaeton encapsulates competing and often conflicting notions of what the genre was, what it is, and where it is going, both sonically and socially.  Similar to Nas’s 2005 assertion that “Hip Hop is Dead,” some reggaetoneros seems to be looking backwards in order to construct a more authentic future for reggaeton. 

Here I am thinking of Las Guanabanas’ recent mixtape called Regreso al Underground [Return to the Underground] which calls for a return to reggaeton’s “roots.”  This past is reduced to the genre’s early emphasis on themes of smoking weed, drinking, screwing and partying.  

This turn, or I should say nostalgic return, to underground aesthetics is no doubt in response to the increasing popularity of the reggaeton romantic ballad known as Romantiqueo, or ReggaePop.  Artists such as Ñejo & Dalmata, Guelo Star, J-King & Maximan, and Jamsha have all dismissed romantiqueo as inauthentic and as an affront to reggaeton’s masculinity.  On the track “Sendo Cabron,” Guelo Star announces, “Somos los reyes del underground.  Reggaeton for Life!  Fuck ReggaePop!  Pop Lollipop-ers.”  

Guelo Star attempts to reassert a certain mode of reggaeton masculinity, by questioning and challenging the heterosexuality of artists who perform romantiqueo.  I see this move by Guelo Star, and other artists like the ones I previously mentioned, as attempting to negotiate shifting understandings of class, race, nation, sexuality, and masculinity within reggaeton after its explosion in the international music scene. 

All this is to say that if we are to speculate about the future of reggaeton we have to take into account the significance of its many deaths and resurrections, in addition to how reggaetoneros reach into the past in order to formulate a reggaeton futurity.  Calling time of death as well as the injunction to return to an idealized and nostalgic past can thus be understood a means for reggaetoneros to reconstitute themselves within reggaeton’s constantly shifting terrain.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Get Some White Friends"

In a twist on the usual racial fetishization formula Duece Poppi trots out his white friends as accessories in the video for "My White Friends."  I'm ambivalent about this video.  Thoughts?

Reggaeton: Critical Perspectives @ Princeton University 11.12.09

Above is the palmcard for a roundtable discussion I'll be participating in at Princeton University this Thursday @ 4:30pm.  The panel will also feature scholars and artists Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, Miguel Luciano, Ines "Deevani" Rooney and DJ El Niño.

I'm very excited to participate in this event, it promises to be off-the-chain.   I am also really excited about the opportunity to meet Ines Rooney-Saldana aka Deevani, the hindi-vocalist on the tracks "Mirame," "Flow Natural," "Dancing," and the new song "Que Buena Tu Ta"  with Fuego of Chosen Few.

Followers of this blog know I have written about Deevani in my work on the reggaeton subgenre of bhangraton, so I'm really looking forward to hearing her take on the (sub)genre and where it is headed.

If you're in the Princeton area check us out.  I'll be posting my remarks from the panel on Friday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"No Maricón"

Lil Wayne get's bilingual on his new mixtape "No Ceilings" and breaks us of with this No Homo gem @ 2:10 into the track:
Versatile as fuck I switch it up, like Dennis Rodman don't
No homo you rock and roll, rest in peace my Styrofoam
Now they won’t know what I be on
Get the fuck off, my dick my cock my bone
Big money my pockets long, New Orleans I got my home
And they got my back, pause, no homo no maricón
The "No Ceilings" mixtape is packed with a lot of interesting performances of masculinity.  I need more time to think on it, but I'm sure after I listen to the mixtape some more on my bus ride down to DC this weekend I'll have more to share.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

"The New Man, Under Construction"

 I recently wrote a review of the classic Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate for Left Turn. The issue is now out, please check out the review and the rest of the issue.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guanabee's "10 Favorite Latinas On The Web"

Yours truly made the cut!  It's an honor to be in the company of such rad Latinas!  This list also introduced me to "Karla's Closet" -- a fashion blog that is like an awesome Latina version of "The Sartorialist."  I hope to one day be able to properly dress myself and look so effortlessly cool (of course  with more buttondown shirts and less skirts than Karla).   Anyway, thanks to Guanabee and thanks to all of you who check the blog regularlly!

Our 10 Favorite Latinas On The Web

29 October 2009, 10:04 AM. By Alex Alvarez

Pictured: Karla of 'Karla's Closet'
Pictured: Karla of 'Karla's Closet'

We thought we’d take a lil’ time to share with you some of our very favorite Latinas currently representing on the web: Some deal explicitly with Latino issues, some don’t. Some are funny, some are creative, some are activists, all are uniquely amazing, inspiring women who, we think, are some of the best at what they do.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of our 10 Favorite Latinas on the Web. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments:

1. Mariela Rosario (
Mariela is’s editor, and focuses on such a wide range of issues (politics! travel! pop culture!), that we wonder how she’s able to do it all and do it well. Obviously, she’s a smartiepants. Or made of magic. What’s your secret, Mariela?

2. Gloria Shuri Nava (GlowPinkStah)
This Mexican-Filipina comedian makes the most hilarious YouTube videos, often presenting recognizable characters like your typical chola (Baby Smiley) and a rambling Filipina auntie, or makeup tutorials that will leave you looking so hot you can practically “smell” boys getting excited. When she’s finally hired by SNL, we can all look back and say we virtually knew her when.

3. Monica Herrera  (Billboard)
Not only is Monica one of the single nicest people on the internet, as’s Associate Editor, this woman kicks ass when it comes to sharing knowledge about music and the music industry.

4. Maegan “La Mala” Ortiz (VivirLatino)
As a VivirLatino contributer, poet Maegan writes about politics, identity and social issues with insight, passion and wit and without ever talking down to her audience. She takes that same brand of badassery over to her personal blog, Mamita Mala.

5. Karla Derass (Karla’s Closet)
Karla, a student and fashion blogger, is quite possibly the most stylish woman in all of L.A. - the way she finds and combines high and low, vintage and new is nothing short of inspired. And we wish we could rock a vintage blazer like she does.

6. Carrie (Bilingual in the Boonies)
A Cubana living in Tennessee, Carrie shares her thoughts on Latino media and culture while probably trying to hunt down the best medianoche the South has to offer.

7. Kathy Cano-Murillo (Crafty Chica)
Give Kathy some glitter, a bit of string and a pair of scissors and this woman would probably make you an outfit, a set of loteria tickets and a matching coin purse. Yeah, she’s that good.

8. Marisol Lebron (Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo)
PhD student Marisol, when she’s not coming up with excellent blog names, is busy writing about GLBT issues, pop culture and politics.

9. Noemi Martinez (Hermana, Resist)
Noemi’s blog started out as a zine - which automatically earns our respect - and now she uses it as a platform to share her beautifully-penned thoughts about culture and politics.

10. The crew at Vegans of Color (Vegans of Color)
Noemi also happens to be one of the bloggers behind Vegans of Color, where you can not only find recipes and dining option, but well thought-out discussions about the politics, social and identity issues surrounding veganism.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

American Studies Association Meeting 2009

What up mi gente!  My apologies for slacking on new posts, I've been busy applying for a certain national fellowship due on on November 2nd (you know who you are!) and preparing a paper for submission to a journal.  All and all I have no life outside of the confines of NYU's Bobst Library.  

I will however be venturing out into the world for the American Studies Association annual meeting being held in Washington DC from November 5-8.  Because this years conference is in DC my number one priority will be pigging out at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl -- YUM!

I'm not presenting, but I do want to shout out some of the amazing panels at this years conference.  So if you're planing on attending or you're in the area, be sure to check out these panels:

Under the Influence: Affective Historiographies of Queer Nightlife (Panelists: Karen Tongson, Lucas Hilderbrand, Ricardo Montez, and Homay King)
Time: Thursday, Nov. 5 @ 2pm, Building: The Renaissance DC Hotel, Room: Meeting Room 15

The queer past is comprised not only of communities but also of scenes—sites for nocturnal congregation centered on entertainment, art, dancing and elixirs. These queer scenes have often been underground, short-lived, and as fickle as fashion; they are also, historically, local in a way that is perhaps forgotten in an era when it seems that queer culture is all the same, regardless of the place.  This panel thus looks to queer nightlife scenes in a range of venues—from the Factory, to the Farm (Knott’s Berry Farm), to Max’s Kansas City and beyond—as productive sites that revise established narratives of queer history, and the telos of gay liberation. We seek collectively to reconceptualize 20th-century queer publics vis a vis localized nighttime amusements, in order to provide alternative, perhaps even more affective accounts of queer life in the recent past.

Salseras, Tortilleras, and Alien Invaders: Practices of Queer Latina Belonging (Panelists: Deborah Paredez, Melissa M. M. Hidalgo, and Stacy I Macias)
Time: Friday, Nov. 6 @ 8am, Building: The Renaissance DC Hotel, Room: Meeting Room 10

This panel explores how Latina cultural production-from staged performances and visual art to leisure dance forms like salsa-operates as an indispensable practice for queer Latina modes of belonging. Notions of belonging are critical to formulations of latinidad precisely because of the ways the concept is simultaneously flattened within global contexts as a homogenous market segment or voting bloc even while, for many Latina/os, alliances across latinidad's spectrum are often fraught by divisions across categories of nation, region, gender, and sexuality. In light of this conundrum, how do Latinas as cultural producers achieve, however fleetingly, or mark the limitations of belonging both within and beyond this context? Moreover, how do these performative practices queer prevailing understandings of Latina/o belonging within the United States? And what is it about artistic and embodied practice—as cultural process, product, and investigative method—that enables and/or delimits the possibilities of belonging? The papers on this panel take up these questions by documenting and analyzing cultural products, practices and the laboring Latina bodies that create them in efforts to mark and disrupt the often over-determined conditions of belonging within gendered constructs of latinidad.

Counter Citizenships in Latino Music (Panelists: Gema R. Guevara, Melissa Blanco Borelli, Licia Fiol-Matta, and Gaye Theresa Johnson)
Time: Friday, Nov. 6 @ 4pm, Building: The Renaissance DC Hotel, Room: Meeting Room 15

“Counter Citizenships in Latino Music” is an interdisciplinary panel featuring four multi-sited music analyses that utilize feminist, critical race, film, and queer studies theories to examine gender, sexuality and race as systematic forces of power that constitute formations of citizenship and belonging. Specifically, each of the presentations point to unique musical articulations of counter citizenship formations by being attentive to the nuanced performance, stylistic, and lyrical acts of Latina/o artists. With topics ranging from dance to voice— within regional, cross-border, and transnational music sites—each presenter uniquely argues for alternative modes of belonging that are counter to governing configurations of US as well as Latino citizenship produced through discourses of racial authenticity, homonormativity, and geo-political territoriality.

Promesa y Peligro: Dominican Narrations of Representation, Identity, and (Trans) National Belonging (Panelists: Lorgia Garcia-Peña, Carlos Decena, Afia Ofori-Mensa, and Light Carruyo)
Time: Saturday, Nov. 7 @12pm, Building: The Renaissance DC Hotel, Room: Meeting Room 10

This panel will explore questions of citizenship and belonging, departing from the specificity of Dominican transnational experiences. Our purpose is to de-center conventional notions of Americanness, which have historically—both inside and outside academia--been centered on the United States. At the same time, this panel proposes new ways of examining the historical and rhetorical tensions that exist between and within different forms of belonging. Through the analysis of historical documents (such as legal cases and military memos), print media, films, literature and oral interviews, our panel will engage a variety of marginalized Dominican subjects: the santero, the sex worker, the Haitian immigrant, and the “loca” (effeminate flamboyant homosexual man), to mention a few, in order to look at how certain practices and rituals have helped construct and sustain communities even at times of crisis. The panel departs from a historical analysis of important 20th century events that inform notions of national belonging for Dominicans on the island as well as in the Diaspora, concluding with a thoughtful discussion of current Dominican (island and abroad) communities and their role in fashioning, establishing and legitimating notions of civil and cultural belonging.

On the Unlikely Queer Subject (Panelists: Marcia Ochoa, Heather Love, and Sharon Holland)
Time: Sunday, Nov. 8 @ 8am, Building: The Renaissance DC Hotel, Room: Grand Ballroom South

This panel brings together papers from scholars in sexuality studies from various disciplines (Cultural Anthropology, Communication, English, and African American Studies) to speak about Unlikely Queer Subjects. As the conference theme is "Practices of Citizenship, Sustainability and Belonging," the panel takes up at least two of these categories by thinking about what kinds of belonging, and what practices of "citizenship" (especially through the category of the human) are at work when we consider different queer subjects. These papers try to think through several discursive locations for queer subjects. In many cases, the papers travel through the space of death – either with subjects or through the end(s) of human history – to re-think not only queer studies choice of object, but also about the ways in which we understand how that subject moves through (queer) time and space. Two of the papers here extend the call for "no future" in queer studies to those subjects who figuratively or literally inhabit the space of the dead, while the third paper attempts to remake the supposed nihilism of queer fashion as a creative politic. The panel ultimately challenges prevailing notions of non-reproductive being as always already an index of queer theorizing. One of the papers here speaks directly to the deaths of transgendered persons that occurred in the nation's capital in 2003.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"That's Gay"... No Homo

Thanks to Roberto "Tito" Soto-Carrion and Shirley Arceo for this gem. Damn, it seems like "no homo" is blowing up the media. It's interesting considering "no homo" has been around for like 5 or 6 years now. Craziness.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mayor of San Juan calls Residente Calle 13 a "Tecato"

The government is responding to Residente’s comments about the governor during the MTV Premios Latino by cracking down on his chances to address the public.  The Mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, recently canceled the Coors Light Circotic show that Calle 13 was supposed to appear at on October 31st at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente.  Santini said he was compelled to do this as  punishment for Residente's comments.  What did "Ley 7" affect free speech too?

In response to Residente’s insult Fortuno responded not by addressing the lay-offs and "Ley 7” but by speaking about how Residente, and musica urbana more generally, disrespect the women of Puerto Rico. Santini went so far as to call Residente a “tecato” [junkie].  In this way the conservative forces of Puerto Rico have attempted to use a discourse of concern for women and feminist agendas, in addition to attempts to marry musicia urbana to drugs and drug use, in order to avoid actually having to answer for the effects of neoliberalism on Puerto Ricans and the growing discontent among many sectors of the population.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Calle 13 on the Oct. 15 General Strike in Puerto Rico

“América Latina no está completa sin Puerto Rico y Puerto Rico no es libre. Hoy 15 de octubre los puertorriqueños marcharon contra el desempleo, porque el gobernador de Puerto Rico los dejo sin trabajo y el gobernador de Puerto Rico es un hijo de la gran p…. Yo lo puedo decir porque sé y porque tengo influencia. Hoy los puertorriqueños estamos de pie”.

Now in English... "Latin American is not complete with out Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico isn't free. Today, October 15th, Puerto Ricans took to the streets to march against lay-offs because the Governor of Puerto Rico has left us without work, and the governor is a son of a bitch ...I can say this because I know, and I have influence. Today the Puerto Ricans take a stand.

Calle 13, who co-hosted the Premios MTV Latino last night, wore a shirt that read: “Viva Puerto Rico Libre” as he delivered his insult to Governor Luis Fortuño. Previously he had had on shirts that read: “Chávez nominado mejor artista pop” (seen above) and “Mercedes Sosa sonara x100pre”.

Source: Wikiton

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Comprendes El Berry?: A Note From L.A.

What up mi gente?! The UCLA Queer Studies Conference 2009 just wrapped up and it was fantastic. Thanks to all the people who made it out to our panel, "The Queer Vicissitudes of Hip Hop Expressive Culture."

As a New Yorker I find L.A. to be a bit of a strange town, there's smog, cars everywhere, and a "reggaeton station" that plays like 2 reggaeton songs per hour. I can't front on L.A.'s food scene though... Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles was like a religious experience. Nonetheless, L.A. was uncanny and my experience is summed up by the song "Watagatapitusberry."

Apparently I had missed the magical nonsense that is "Watagatapitusberry" while I was in NYC. As soon as we were on our way to the hotel from LAX we turned on Latino 96.3 and heard "Watagatapitusberry ."

This song only added to my L.A.- induced disorientation and confusion. What kind of madness was this? Every time I turned on the radio without fail the song came on and I only grew more confused. I mean, seriously, wtf is a "Watagatapitusberry" anyway? I'm still not cienporciento sure, but what ever "Watagatapitusberry" is its magical, silly, weird, and fungible. Check out all the different YouTube fan videos dedicated to this song.

This video is probably the most famous and has been circulating around the web for a while, inciting some questions about the queerness of the performance...

There are a ton of homosocial buddy videos of dudes just wildin' out together to "watagatapitusberry," like the ones below...

There are also a handful of videos of young women getting down and lipsyncing to the song...

A little co-ed number...

And last but certainly not least, watagatapitusberry para ninos....

I don't know what it all means but if you ask me how was L.A. I might respond "Watagatapitusberry" (QUE?!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Punketon Dominicano

What up mi gente!? Long time no blog, but I'm back with this gem... Skeem ft. Lapiz Conciente: "Tirense Too!!"

This video is SO layered, really dope.

I'm always on the prowl for what I'm calling "Punketon," reggaeton videos and songs that integrate significant rock/punk aesthetics and sounds. So Naldo's new album and the video for "No Existen Detalles" and Musicologo's "Llamdo de Emergencia" definitely are good examples. This video falls into the Punketon category (although uneasily since both Skeem and Lapiz are rappers, but both dabble in Dominican reggaeton).

This video is so interesting to me because its layered with all these musical mezclas. This is a rock-rap/reggaeton-fusion performed by two Dominicanos who sing in English and Spanish and throw in Jamaican slang for good measure. Reggaeton's socio-sonic-circuitry indeed!

If this is the future trajectory of reggaeton, or musica urbana, or whatever bring it on!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tortilleras Unidas! The Radical Feminist Queer Sex Positive Potential of Reggaeton

"Dembow dembow sometimes I use a dildo, oh no, oh no, I even got one that glows."

Celiany Rivera Valazquez introduced me to this amazing video by La Perfomera (Awilda Rodriguez). I love this video and it really nails all the radical feminist queer sex positive potential I see in reggaeton music and culture. Because so much of the discourse about reggaeton focuses on how it oppresses women, we often miss how women are engaging with and transforming the genre into a vehicle to address the complexities of sexuality and desire. The emphasis on reggaeton's hetero-masculinity also obscures how reggaeton, perreo, and la pista, provide spaces for homosocial and homoerotic bonding among women (women dancing perreo with other women is a common sight and practice, although it often gets dismissed as for the benefit of males, which is too simplistic an analysis of whats going on). This video gestures towards the pleasures of reggaeton for women and has fun with it.

Anyway, more thoughts to come, but in the meantime enjoy this fantastic video by La Performera.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hanifah Walidah: "Make a Move"

Check out Hanifah Walidah's new video "Make a Move" featuring an all queer and women cast and crew. Beautiful.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Puerto Rican Freedom Project CD Release Party

Internationally Acclaimed Artists Set to Perform in El Barrio for Freedom CD Release Party

Yomo Toro, Roy Brown, Zon del Barrio, Siete Nueve & The Welfare Poets take a musical stand for the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners

In an effort to raise funds for the remaining Puerto Rican political prisoners, The Puerto Rican Freedom Project celebrates the release of “The Freedom Album,” a musical compilation featuring Boricua artists from the Island to the Diaspora. One of the Island’s foremost political folk singer, Roy Brown will be on hand alongside the Fania music legend, Yomo Toro who will be joining East Harlem’s own Zon del Barrio. Further, the concert will bring old and new school performers together with the strength of the politically conscious Hip Hop artists from P.R., Siete Nueve and New York’s own The Welfare Poets, the socio-political hip hop fusion band spearheading this project.

Scheduled for Thursday, October 1, 2009 at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center located at 1680 Lexington Avenue (between 105 & 106 Sts), the event takes place at the Taller Boricua’s Multi Arts Space on the first floor. Doors open @ 8 pm with a $20 admission. The Freedom Album will be on sale that evening.

The Puerto Rican Freedom Project is a coalition of artists, activists and organizations that have come together to put out this project. It is co-sponsored by Aurora Communications and Taller Boricua, with additional support from the Prolibertad Freedom Campaign, Cemi Underground and The Zol Lab. To find out more information about the overall project and to purchase advanced tickets log onto and
or for advanced tickets, link directly below:

The Freedom Album is a musical CD/compilation dedicated to the welfare of the Puerto Rican political prisoners and their families. The struggle for Puerto Rico's independence stems back to the late15th century when Christopher Columbus under the auspices of the Spanish Crown, first invaded the Caribbean island. The modern struggle for Puerto Rican sovereignty, clutched in the grasp of the United States, has also been waged by Puerto Ricans from the island to the states who yearn freedom. Since July 25th 1898, Puerto Ricans have moved against America's hegemonic wishes to liberate their island. This fight has lead to various generations of Puerto Rican political prisoners.

In September of 1999, then US president, Bill Clinton, granted clemency to twelve Puerto Rican patriots, who had up to that point, been incarcerated for close to twenty years. A few of the Puerto Rican political prisoners who were not granted clemency,Oscar Lopez Rivera, Carlos Alberto Torres and Haydee Beltran Torres, remain confined, in addition to Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, the fourth of the current Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, who was most recently incarcerated in February of 2008. To learn more about the Puerto Rican political prisoners, go to and

Artists appearing on the album:
The Welfare Poets with Alkebulan (Hip Hop - NYC), Roy Brown (Folk – Puerto Rico), Siete Nueve (Hip Hop – Puerto Rico), Aurora & Zon Del Barrio with Yomo Toro y Sammy Ayala (Bomba, Plena and Salsa - NYC), Division X (Hip Hop - NYC), Intifada (Hip Hop – Puerto Rico), Ilu Aye (Orisha/Afro-Caribbean tradition -NYC), X-Vandals (Hip Hop - NYC), Rebel Diaz with Divino of The D.E.Y. (Hip Hop Chicago/NYC), Alma Moyo (Bomba y Plena – NYC), Ricanstruction (Hardcore/Punk/Hip Hop - NYC), Quique Cruz (Hip Hop - California), Foundation Movement (Boston – Hip Hop), Lourdez Perez (Decima – Puerto Rico), Homeboy Sandman (Hip Hop – NYC), Babalu Machete (Hip Hop – Puerto Rico), Segundo Quimbamba (Bomba – NJ), El David (Hip Hop - NJ), Dr. Loco (Hip Hop NYC), Fernando Ferrer (Salsa/Acoustic), Maria-Isa (Hip Hop -Minnesota/Twin Cities), Velcro y Ikol Santiago (Hip Hop – Puerto Rico), Ray Concepcion y Cafe Con Leche (Salsa – the Bronx), M-Team (Hip Hop – Pittsburgh/ Brooklyn), Bryan Vargas Y Ya Esta (Latin, Nu-Jazz and Afro-beat – NYC), La Bruja (Hip Hop/Reggaeton NYC), MC Natra Y Lady M (Hip Hop – Vieques), Carlos Jimenez (Latin Jazz – NYC), Fallen Angelz (Hip Hop – NY and Florida), Nino Blanco (Hip Hop – NYC) and Angel Rodriguez (Guaguanco - NYC).

For more information about the artists performing at the release event:
About Siete Nueve, go to:

About the Welfare Poets, go to:

About Zon del Barrio (with Sammy Ayala and Yomo Toro), go to:

About Roy Brown, go to:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Censorship of Literature in Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican Secretary of Education Carlos Chardón, backed by the Governor Luis Fortuño, has decided to ban books containing "coarse language" from public school classes. Among the books banned are:

Antología personal by José Luis González

Cortijo's Wake: El Entierro de Cortijo by Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá

Mejor Te Lo Cuento: Antologia Personal, 1978-2005 by Juan Antonio Ramos

Reunion de espejos: cuentos puertorriquenos de hoy by José Luis Vega

Aura by Carlos Fuentes

Below is an official press release by Puerto Rico’s PEN Club outlining the events and calling on Gov. Fortuño to lift the ban. As of Monday, Fortuño has been in support of Secretary Chardón’s decision.


San Juan, Puerto Rico, 14 de agosto de 2009, “Efectivo de inmediato, queda terminantemente prohibido el uso de los siguientes textos: Antología personal de José Luis González, El entierro de Cortijo de Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, Mejor te lo cuento: Antología personal de Juan Antonio Ramos, Reunión de espejos de José Luis Vega, Aura de Carlos Fuentes,”

Así lee el documento que censura obras de nuestra literatura. Hay que hablar claro. Existe el censor y existe la obra censurada. El escritor tiene la pasión por hablar y escribir. El censor vive de amordazar. Impedir que cinco obras fundamentales de la literatura latinoamericana sean leídas por estudiantes de undécimo grado de las escuelas de Puerto Rico, es censura. El “Indice de libros prohibidos”
, la lista de obras que desde el 1559 al 1948 fueron recopiladas y prohibidas, y sus autores condenados por heréticos, porque sus obras “corrompían a los fieles”, no es cosa del pasado. El Index sigue vivo y es peligroso.

Hoy en pleno Siglo XXI, en nuestro propio suelo, revive este peligroso movimiento que contradice los propios cimientos de nuestra constitución: la libertad de expresión. Ninguna sociedad puede evadir el que exista la palabra del poder y la palabra del pueblo, el discurso del aparato del estado o “establishment”, y el discurso que emana de las fuentes de la cultura. Recordemos que toda una tradición de dictaduras en América Latina buscó su fundamento en la censura, el analfabetismo, la ignorancia y la pobreza.

Aclaremos: toda censura a un autor es también una censura a sus lectores. Esta desatinada determinación de parte de las autoridades del DE prohibe que nuestros jóvenes tengan la oportunidad de conocer esta importante literatura como ejercicio pleno de su libertad de conocer y de conocerse. Todo libro que despierte conciencia en los ciudadanos de su sentido de identidad, que nos identifique como puertorriqueños y que declare nuestra historia, lucha, y persistencia como pueblo y como parte de una tradición hispana, tiene como riesgo la censura en Puerto Rico. Esto es intolerable y reaccionamos enérgicamente contra todo atentado de censura a nuestros escritores y hermanos latinoamericanos, en este caso Carlos Fuentes, en un acto contradictorio para la democracia y el crecimiento maduro de nuestros jóvenes.

En momentos históricos de apertura, globalización, mega-comunicaciones, un Puerto Rico castrado y enmudecido por la censura constituye triste espectáculo internacional que nos anticipa un retroceso en la historia de las libertades democráticas.

La acción de censura del Secretario de Educación, Sr. Carlos Chardón, es intolerable. Hacemos un llamado a él y al Señor Gobernador de Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, a que rectifiquen el acto anticonstitucional y antidemocrático cometido por la oficina de Asuntos Académicos del DE, episodio dramático que atenta contra la libertad y la expresión de las ideas, amenaza la enseñanza adecuada y plural de nuestros jóvenes, y nos entorpece el acceso a las realidades urgentes que deben discutirse en el aula escolar.

Mairym Cruz-Bernal



Suscrito al PEN-INTERNATIONAL con sede en Londres

Declaraciones de escritores:

Ana Lydia Vega

Tradicionalmente, la censura oficial de una alegada "obscenidad" literaria ha sido pretexto fariseo para la supresión de ideas incomodantes. Desde esa perspectiva, mueve a sospecha el proceso de saneamiento moral que ha emprendido el Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico a fin de excluir libros asignados de escritores reconocidos. ¿Disimulará el argumento de las "malas palabras" alguna torpe maniobra de purificación ideológica? No se puede olvidar el historial de persecución y marginación que, en nuestro país, ha sido la maldición continua del pensamiento disidente.

Mayra Santos Febres
El principal deber de un maestro es educar. Educar no es proveer datos y reglas de moral sino despertar en el estudiante la curiosidad por saber. ¿Qué curiosidad por el saber van a desarrollar los estudiantes si se les priva de textos contemporáneos, de textos de probada excelencia literaria, textos controversiales, difíciles, que nos presentan "el bien y el mal" de manera fácil, predigerida?¿Cómo van a aprender a pensar nuestros estudiantes, si no tienen en su currículo libros -es decir, material de reflexión- qué conectar con su vida?

Luce López-Baralt

Deseo por medio de estas líneas mostrar mi más férrea oposición al intento por parte del Departamento de Educación de censurar y de eliminar del currículo obras literarias de primera importancia debido a su alegado contenido sexual impropio. El desconocimiento literario que esta medida implica es lamentable pero evidente: de seguir fielmente estas directrices, tendríamos que retirar del currículo las obras más importantes de nuestras letras, pues, leídas por un lector avisado, todas tienen, de un modo u otro, alusiones sexuales que el Departametno de Educación consideraría "impropias". Me refiero al "Libro de Buen Amor" del Arcipreste de Hita, a "La Celestina", al "Lazarillo de Tormes", y al mismísimo "Quijote", que los censores de antaño, y hablo literalmente, consideraron inaceptable por "lascivo". Un maestro que enseñe con madurez y con conocimiento literario auténtico todas estas obras sabrá dirigir al alumnado en la lectura y estudio de las mismas sin crearle escándalos falsos ni mucho menos fomentarle actitudes represivas y fundamentalistas. De no ser así, ninguna obra literaria válida podría ser enseñada a los alumnos puertorriqueños, que quedarían reducidos a textos "recortados" de cualquier expresión o símbolo amoroso o erótico considerado por los censores como escandaloso. Reitero mi oposición a tales medidas represivas.

Mario R. Cancel

Siempre llaman la atención los resortes que se mueven en el momento en que una autoridad oficial ejecuta un acto de censura. La acción demuestra el poder del censor, pero también manifiesta sus miedos, sus pesadillas y su flaquezas. La impresión que dejan situaciones como esta es que estamos sentados sobro un barril del pólvora a punto de explotar. Confirma, por otro lado, el poder subversivo de la palabra. Las reservas morales manifiestas por las autoridades de educación no les permiten comprender que los problemas que reconocen en las generaciones jóvenes dependen menos de lo que leen -o podrían leer- que de lo que ven cotidianamente en la vida pública. Censurar las presuntas inmoralidades de unos cuantos libros mientras se tolera la inmoralidad en los nichos del poder es injusto.

Marta Aponte Alsina
La censura es un indicio de los miedos de los censores. Paradójicamente logra lo contrario de lo que se propone: despertar el interés en textos que de otro modo se leerían a regañadientes por cumplir con un requisito escolar. Ha sucedido antes, no es nuevo el debate sobre la “pertinencia” y la “moralidad” de los libros que se asignan como lecturas obligatorias. Hay que cuestionar minuciosamente a los burócratas actuales del DE sobre los valores, gustos y criterios que aplican para seleccionar unos libros y censurar otros. Después de todo son empleados gubernamentales, y los libros se compran con fondos públicos. Al mismo tiempo se abre una oportunidad para debatir, con la mayor amplitud, el lugar de los libros y la lectura en los procesos de formación social y personal.

Arturo Echavarría

La iniciativa tomada por el DE tiene consecuencias gravísimas, y, como tal, merece nuestro repudio más enérgico. Se trata no sólo de una intervención indebida que coarta el derecho que tiene el estudiante puertorriqueño a conocer su propia tradición literaria, sino que atenta contra la libertad en que se fundamenta toda expresión artística.

Aurea María Sotomayor

Los burócratas de la educación en Puerto Rico se autorizan primero como ignorantes para ejercer su función. Distinto y peor a aquel juez que reconocía la obscenidad cuando la veía, éstos no tienen que leer para reconocer que todo podría ser obsceno, y por tanto, no apto para "menores". Como no saben, porque no han leído, es imposible argumentar con ellos absolutamente nada. Paradójicamente, el propósito de estos promotores de la educación es regar la ignorancia sistemáticamente y obstaculizar el pensamiento.

Néstor Barreto
toda censura es deleznable. en su afán de ocupar todos los espacios de poder posibles este gobierno muestra características protofascistas que ya debían ser obvias para los que en su rol de intelectuales velan por no perder y en todo caso ampliar las modestas conquistas de nuestros productores culturales en el ámbito editorial y educacional.esas características son obvias para mí.por lo que deploro y condeno las acciones del departamento de educación usando como excusa valores y mores puertorriqueños supuestamente comunes y que terminan siendo al final muestras de un auto-odio feroz, inflamado por una idea de mandato que empaña su visión y deforma demasiadas de sus acciones. parecen estar en un momento frenético de desconstrucción que requiere de concertaciones a las que habíamos perdido costumbre.

Tina Casanova

Es con gran estupor e indignación que me entero de la censura del DE a las obras literarias de compañeros escritores utilizadas en los currículos de nuestras salas de clase. ¿Qué más esgrimirán contra nosotros los escritores de esta bendita patria? No basta con reducir los espacios literarios en los medios de comunicación. Tampoco con que las pequeñas librerías hayan sido devoradas por Borders y no tengamos dónde vender nuestras obras. Ya han comenzado a desmantelar el programa Lee y Sueña donde nuestras obras infantiles se hacían accesibles a los lectores jóvenes de los pueblos que no tienen librerías. Y ahora esto. Nos acorralan, nos eliminan con superfluos argumentos hipócritas.

Etnairis Rivera
Censura es sinónimo de tiranía. Trágicamente, en Puerto Rico impera la ideocracia que tan bien definió y discursó Don Miguel de Unamuno: “de las tiranías todas, la más odiosa, es la persecusión en nombre de unas ideas.O será que también censurarán al ilustre y preclaro filósofo, humanista Unamuno, censurado ya en su propia época.

Lilliana Ramos Collado
Curiosamente, los libros suprimidos son obras dirigidas a la crítica social del presente histórico, y el uso de “malas palabras” es apenas indicador de ese interés en reflexionar sobre el aquí y el ahora. Sabemos que las “malas palabras” siempre pertenecen a su época. Lo que se censura aquí no es hablar “malo”, sino hablar del presente, como si el presente fuera inmencionable e inhistoriable. Como si el presente no fuera nuestro. Si bien los libros censurados hoy no son de historia, sí interpelan al lector —sobre todo al joven lector— a pensar en su situación vital en el presente. Los jóvenes no son tontos, y en una isla familiarizada con la vulgaridad mediante la radio y la televisión (local y extranjera), nadie se llama a engaño. Esta censura tardía nada tiene que ver con la moral, sino con el gesto torpe de acallar la reflexión acerca de los que nos rodea.

Marie Ramos Rosado
La censura de obras literarias en pleno siglo XXI nos hace retroceder en tiempo y pensar que volvimos a los tiempos de la Inqusición. Además, entre los objetivos primordiales del siglo XXI, en el sistema educativo están el desarrollo de un pensamiento crítico, para poder instaurar una sociedad más liberadora. Por otro lado, escuchamos por radio y televisión a líderes políticos y desarrolladores gubernamentales como el Sr. José "Cheo" Madera tildar al pueblo con palabras como: "crápulas, garrapitas y vividores"; palabras que resultan ofensivas para la autoestima e identidad nacional. Pues estos motes afectan más que nada a la "psiquis" maltrecha de nuestro pueblo. Sin embargo, el Departamento no censura estas acciones de nuestros líderes. Mientras los escritores y artistas de las palabras utilizan esas llamadas "malas palabras" como imágenes poéticas y metáforas que irradian belleza a sus textos literarios. Nos oponemos enérgicamente a esa actitud fundamentalista e inquisitoria del Departamento de Educación Pública de Puerto Rico.

Alberto Martínez-Márquez

La decisión del Secretario de Educación concerniente al retiro de varias obras sobresalientes de la literatura puertorriqueña, debido a su lenguaje burdo y soez, no es sino la puesta en práctica de un nuevo puritanismo que pretende complacer al sector anti-intectual del PNP, a los fundamentalistas cristianos y a los sectores moralistas del país. Las declaraciones del Sub-secretario para asuntos académicos del DE, Juan J. Rodríguez va en detrimento de la pertinencia y excelencia de los libros que han sido censurados. Lo expresado por Rodríguez deja mucho que desear viniendo de una persona que ostenta el grado de académico de la primera institución universitaria del país, demostrando así una crasa ignorancia por la producción e historia literarias de nuestra nación boricua. Con respecto a la censura de libros de autores/as puertorriqueños/as hay que destacar que es parte de una agenda de los gobiernos anexionistas que han gobernado nuestra isla. Es necesario señalar que durante el romerato se censuraron libros de Juan A. Corretjer y de René Marques y que durante el rosellato se censuró una novela de Olga Nolla. El Secretario de Estado, Kenneth McClintock, ha hecho unas declaraciones muy desafortunadas para justificar la acción del DE de censurar los libros de José Luis González, Juan A. Ramos y Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, entre otros. Denunciamos la errada determinación del DE de privar a nuestro estudiantado de una literatura de gran calidad que forma parte de nuestro acervo cultural.

El Filósofo del Rap

Sunday, September 13, 2009

LA Queer Studies Conference 2009: The Queer Vicissitudes of Hip Hop Expressive Culture

Matt Lipps ©

As promised here are the panel and paper abstracts for a panel I'm participating in with Michael Ralph and Laurence Ralph on Queer Hip Hop at the UCLA Queer Studies Conference (October 9-10). If you're in the LA area the conference is free and open to the public and is a great chance to see some rising young queer scholars.

Anyway, without further ado...

The Queer Vicissitudes of Hip Hop Expressive Culture
This panel delves into hip hop lyricism, fashion, and imagery to explore the queer vicissitudes that structure this mode of expressive culture. A vicissitude is a variation, an alternation, a change in fortune, a mutation: a reversal, perhaps. At the very least, it captures the gap between what one is and what one has imagined oneself to be. The aporia signaled here is not the space between the perspectives of two different rappers— i.e. a gay rapper versus a straight one—but the tension between two different views of one’s self. We explore this phenomenon of doubling by discussing the musical and visual production of several hip hop artists that dominate the contemporary landscape, these include: R. Kelly, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, T Pain, T.I., Andrew 3000, and Common.

“No Homo": Racialized Sexual Surveillance in Hip Hop
Hip hop culture is increasingly constructed by scholars and detractors alike as a hypermasculine space of unabashed violence, materialism, misogyny, and homophobia. This concern with sexuality and bodily comportment in hip hop performance tends toward a reified a mode of analysis which places too much emphasis on dubious standards for respectable discourse. In this paper I focus on performances of queer masculinity in hip hop as spaces that contradict dominant depictions of hip hop sexuality as increasingly narrow and formulaic. Hip hop masculinity often straddles the contractions of sexuality, desire, and gender performance, revealing the artifice of its constructions. Performances of queer masculinity in hip hop simultaneously disrupt and reify existing structures of oppression in the process of articulating a complex sexual and gendered personhood that is vibrant, diverse, and complex. By charting the ambivalence of the fad phrase, “no homo,” I explore how hip hop artists speak homophobia as a way of enacting nonnormative intimacies that interrupt racial and sexual surveillance. In this paper, I examine two performances of queer masculinity and intimacy: the first is the phallocentrism of Jim Jones’ “Pop Champagne” music video. The second mode of performance surfaces in a series of advertisements that Lil Wayne did for Strapped Condoms. I demonstrate that these queer performances eschew “respectability,” in favor of a masculine persona that embraces conflicting conceptions of intimacy and desire. These performances do not merely expose the fissures of hip hop masculinity, they exploit them, reveling in their pretenses. By grappling with the complexity of these ambivalent performances, I believe we can establish a scholarly discourse on hip-hop sexuality and gender performance that is, if not quite feminist, undoubtedly queer.

Marisol Lebron
Department of Social & Cultural Analysis

New York University

“I’m a Flirt”
In centering their attention on the “down low” phenomenon, analysts of male same sex intimacy feed social paranoias that frame homosexuality as the principal source of death and disease in African American lived spaces. They also tend to conflate homoeroticism with homosexuality in a way that is both crude and imprecise. Given that male rappers are increasingly marketed as sex symbols for both men and women, and since some of the social contexts rappers draw from (like jails and prisons) are widely known as arenas where male same sex intimacy flourishes, there is sufficient evidence to consider how male homoerotics structure interpersonal relationships in music that draws upon prison culture, like hip hop/r & b. In the song, “I’m a Flirt,” for instance, one man’s claim that he is capable of stealing another man’s girlfriend is precisely what generates a male homoerotic episode—a narrative in which those activities that a man finds titillating become central to a dialogue with other men that evinces more intimacy between them
than with any of their purported female objects of desire.

Laurence Ralph

Department of Anthropology

University of Chicago

“Where I come from, gay people were like aliens …”
Photos that flooded the Internet while Kanye West and friends were visiting Paris Fashion Week in February 2009, ignited a firestorm of controversy. The sartorial decisions that had everyone buzzing concerned Mr. West and the motley crue of fashionistas that looked, by all concerned, “gay.” Kanye dismissed the rumors, explaining that “the way a man dresses doesn’t have anything with what he likes to do at night.” Still, he was more empathetic than angry. In fact, Kanye indicated that he considered it his duty to “educate” his brethren and attributed the prevailing homophobia to the hypermasculinist ethos that pervades street cultures like the one in which he was reared, “Where I come from,” he said, invoking his native land, the south side of Chicago, “gay people were like aliens.” It was an apt image, and not simply because Kanye has routinely cast himself as a space explorer. For his 2008, “Glow in the Dark” tour, ‘Ye cast himself as a protagonist who crash landed on an unidentified planet. This, after he had already featured the track “Spaceship” on his debut album The College Dropout. This paper explores how rappers who artists who are frequently branded as queer—Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Common, and André 3000—have cast themselves as aliens to explain the way they fit into the broader cultural phenomenon that we call “hip hop.” André is an ATLien, Lil Wayne is a Martian, and Common has deployed futuristic, space age sounds, and accoutrements to craft his own gender-bending persona. These are but a few of the examples this paper will explore toward a theory of queer vicissitudes in hip hop lyricism and performance.

Michael Ralph

Department of Social & Cultural Analysis

New York University