Sunday, August 27, 2017

We Did Some Research Into Spotify, And Here Are The Five Worst Hate Bands That Came Up

Article written by George Stefano Pallas. Musical illiteracy and shareability practiced by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect nor should be construed as those of the Author.


Spotify. You use it, we use it, it seems like practically everybody uses it. For the paltry sum of more than $100 a year, people can rent an almost limitless selection of music that doesn’t include King Crimson, Tool, or many film soundtracks, a limitless selection from which they’ll listen to maybe a hundred tracks and blissfully ignore the rest. Whether one is working out, making out, or getting turned up, Spotify has a playlist for pretty much every mood, making it the primary streaming service to beat up to this point.

There’s no denying the power Spotify wields over a society that almost exclusively listens to music from the last six months, and with that staggering power comes a huge responsibility to the people. As any parent who reads blogs aimed at single, unemployed millennials should know, music is one of the most instrumental factors in sculpting developing minds, which often don’t reach full maturity until the child enters his or her mid-20s. Intellectual experts agree that media can have profound effects on consumers’ psycho-social growth, so it’s absolutely vital to control the messages that kids are exposed to during this vulnerable period.

Spotify has recently taken strides to thwart the surge of Nazism in a sharply divided America, removing from its platform dozens of White Supremacist artists whom the credible Southern Poverty Law Center formerly condemned as Hate Bands. This is a noble effort that we’re sadly unaccustomed to seeing from major tech corporations like Google or Twitter, which have struggled to crack down declaratively on violent speech, but when it comes to pointing out hatred and bigotry, there’s always so much more work that can be done. Accordingly, a team of journalists for The Author’s Files undertook an extensive investigation into Spotify’s catalog to identify extremist Hate Music the company may have missed. These are the five most egregious artists we came across in our study.

5. Run The Jewels
Photo by wiredforlego.

Run The Jewels are cited as one of the most cutting-edge duos in hip-hop culture, and in many ways they exceed the reputation. El-P couldn’t put out a fire beat if he tried, and Killer Mike stands at the forefront of hip-hop activism, writing socially conscious songs about how the 13th Amendment enables slavery and endorsing Bernie Sanders for president – how much cooler can someone get than that? Unfortunately, for all the good that both these poets have contributed to society, they’ve had some missteps that make them undeserving of Spotify’s recognition. The most notable of these occurs on their biggest single to date, Close Your Eyes and Count To F***. Raps Mike (verbatim from the liner notes):
Where my thuggers and my crippers and my blooders and my brothers
When you niggas gon unite and kill the police, motherf___ers?
And take over a jail
Give them COs hell
The burnin of the sulfur goddamn i love the smell
Now get to pillow torchin
Where the f___ the warden?
And when you find him we don’t kill him we just waterboard him
We killin them for freedom cause they tortured us for boredom
And even if some good ones die f___ it the lord will sort em

Run The Jewels have done a lot of positive things for the artistic advancement of their genre, but literally calling for the indiscriminate murder of police officers and rioting in prison isn’t one of them. In fact, one could even argue that it crossed a line of basic decency, and hearing hate speech being espoused by Killer Mike is all the more disappointing knowing how erudite he is.

4. The Chainsmokers
Photo by The Come Up Show.

The Chainsmokers nowadays are known mainly for sugary, harmless electropop that appeals to the broadest coalition of music fans. They’re also one of Spotify’s most valuable artists, laying claim to two of their 10 most-streamed tracks of all time. What few people remember is that The Chainsmokers started out as a mean-spirited Hate Band of the lowest order, employing brutal satire to disparage and harass people they don’t like, especially women.

The duo first landed on the map via their misogynistic anthem, #Selfie, which callously pandered to the lowest clich├ęs of anti-feminism. The single in question cruelly mocks the insecurities of girls over their appearances, a daily struggle to which most men will never be able to relate. “So like, what do you think?” rambles the speaker on the track, a vapid valley girl who rains shallow judgment on party-goers. “Did you think that girl was pretty? How did that girl even get in here, do you see her? She’s so short and that dress is so tacky – who wears cheetah?” The Chainsmokers clearly fail to understand the societal pressures on women to be beautiful, but instead of acknowledging their male privilege and whiteness, they treat women’s desire for acceptance as an object of scorn and ridicule.

The track only gets more crude and disgusting as it gets to the third verse. “Is that guy sleeping over there?” the singer continues. “Yeah, the one next to the girl with no shoes on. That’s so ratchet! That girl is such a fake model, she definitely bought all her Instagram followers.” Not content to simply make a selfie-shaming song, making a joke out of women’s self-esteem, The Chainsmokers glorify slut-shaming and attempt to erase the immeasurable progress that’s been made on gender equality.

Between the radio, TV commercials, and college dance parties, The Chainsmokers are inescapable pretty much wherever one goes, but that doesn’t mean that Spotify has to condone their hate as well.

3. Ministry

With a name like Ministry, it’s not surprising that this group would attempt to stoke the flames of controversy. Ministry immediately evokes a wide range of traumatizing religious terrorism, from the Islamophobic, blood-soaked Crusades to the innately Christian heritage of the KKK, but that’s not the full extent of their toxic prejudice.

The group started out a relatively innocuous synthpop act, riding the coattails of popular bands like New Order and Talking Heads, but when Ronald Reagan was elected president twice in a row, it emboldened them to bare their true colors and turn their music into a deadly weapon. Ministry officially reformed as an “industrial-metal” band at the nadir of the Reagan era, combining the well-documented white nationalism of heavy metal and the virulent fascism of the industrial genre, which arose out of the Greedy 80s and was a celebratory ode to the inhuman working conditions of the industrial revolution.

The first album the Hate Band put out under their new style was The Land of Rape and Honey, another reference to Old Testament fundamentalism and to the neo-Nazi tenet of divine selection, a.k.a. “the promised land”. In 1990, the band recorded a live version of the opening track, Stigmata, which climaxes in a profanity-laden attack on numerous minorities. For more than a minute Alan Jourgensen howls obscenities into a crowd, riling them into a frenzy of hate and rage. We’ve condensed this portion of the song for brevity and for the comfort of our readers.
F___ you! … F___ everyone!
F___ the church! F___ Jesus! …
F___ the Jews! F___ the Buddhists!
F___ the Hindus! F___ George Bush!
F___ his ugly wife! F___ Tipper Gore! …
F___ Gorbachev! … F___ all these a__holes!

Hate speech is not a victimless crime, and Ministry have made it a mission to wound as many people as possible with their words. Hopefully Spotify will take steps to prevent them from marginalizing any other defenseless groups.

2. Sublime

Now we know what a lot of you are thinking. Bradley Nowell died and Sublime stopped recording more than 20 years ago, so what’s the point in trying to suppress their music today? “Just let Bradley rest in peace,” fans might say, “He can’t hurt anybody anymore.” To some this would sound like a very common-sense proposal. After all, music does have cultural and historical value, and how is censoring music one doesn’t like any different than right-wing Nazis burning books, or uptight parents banning them from schools?

Unfortunately, Bradley’s crude and disgusting lyrics still have the potential to seduce the uneducated, which makes it all the more imperative to keep them in the shadows where they belong. Consider his notorious, self-loathing radio hit Date Rape, in which he perpetuates rape culture by saying that he “would never get laid” otherwise, or Wrong Way, in which he calls a 12-year-old girl named Annie a “whore” and gloatingly admits to taking advantage of her.

When it comes to Sublime’s problematic lyrics, though, nothing takes the cake more than April 29, 1992 (Miami), a graphic reconstruction of the L.A. riots wherein Bradley recklessly urges peaceful protestors to retaliate with violence. “But if you look at the streets,” he sings, “It wasn’t about Rodney King, in this f___ed-up situation and these f___ed-up police. It’s about coming up and staying on top and screaming 187 on a motherf___ing cop!”

A 1-8-7, for those who don’t know, is police code for a murder, homicide, or execution. In other words, Sublime is inciting violence against a group of state workers based on nothing more than their profession – the definition of hate speech. Would Spotify’s partners really approve of their advertisements being run on top of such objectionable Hate Music as Sublime’s?

1. Kendrick Duckworth Lamar

Kendrick Lamar needs no introduction. By far the most revered and musically progressive artist working in his genre today, or perhaps in all of music, he’s reaped resounding accolades from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Anthony Fantano, and even President Obama. At the same time, Kendrick has curried more controversy than pretty much any other recording artist, basically embodying an inversion of Kanye West. Whereas the latter has reveled in proudly Black, self-worshipping bangers like I Am A God, Jesus Walks, and Runaway, Kendrick has made a career out of self-loathing, subtly regressive songs that appear to promote Black Lives Matter but actually slander it.

Case in point: the penultimate track on his landmark, 79-minute record To Pimp A Butterfly, titled The Blacker The Berry. As in much of his art, Kendrick slyly inoculates himself against criticism, disguising his internalized racism as a denouncement of hate. “You hate me don’t you?” he repeatedly snaps. “You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture!” This refrain alone has convinced many critics – Brian Mooney among them – of the artist’s good intentions, but when one reads the lyrics more closely, Kendrick is telling a far different narrative. He once refers to himself as a “proud monkey”, casually dehumanizing people of his ethnicity, while he calls himself a hypocrite a total of four times. As the hip-hop rhythms dwindle, Kendrick’s isolated vocals takes on a new urgency, taking aim at Black culture itself and all of its most cherished traditions, including Black History Month and diversity in Hollywood.
So don’t matter how much I say I like to preach with the Panthers
Or tell Georgia State, “Marcus Garvey got all the answers,”
Or try to celebrate February like it’s my B-Day
Or eat watermelon, chicken, and Kool-Aid on weekdays
Or jump high enough to get Michael Jordan endorsements
Or watch BET cause urban support is important

Yet Kendrick’s crashing wave of hate rolls on, taking a radically subversive turn in the last verse, when he abruptly draws a false equivalency between institutionalized racism and the specter of black-on-black crime.
It’s funny how Zulu and Xhosa might go to war
Two tribal armies that want to build and destroy
Remind me of these Compton Crip gangs that live next door…
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?

In one fell swoop Kendrick brushes aside the social significance of Trayvon Martin, a one-armed, black teenager who was murdered by a White-Hispanic neighborhood watchman and never received justice through a jury of his peers. Whether by accident or by design, The Blacker The Berry exonerates a system that persecutes blacks by suggesting that blacks persecute themselves, which somehow makes systemic police brutality OK.

The music of Kendrick Lamar isn’t going away anytime soon, and will probably wreak damage against downtrodden communities for years to come. Spotify cannot hope to silence him completely, but they can refuse to act as hosts for him, or any other Hate Artists of his kind.

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