This found footage documentary covers the emergence of new distribution methods for media circulation in the digital era, through the example of Hip-Hop culture, while struggling to disperse corporate control of popular representation and the stereotypes proliferated by mainstream media(Rap music included). The differentiation between Hip-Hop and mainstream Rap is almost too contentious a discussion to attempt at this point in popular culture, given that the common interpretations of both are usually either too shallow for a real conversation, or on the other extreme too elaborately woven into what seems like a radical ideology to be taken seriously. However, the first three videos sighted in this documentary draw out some compelling relations between commodified Rap music, and the remaining voices of Hip-Hop. These videos, “The Game” by Common(Sense), “Road To Zion” by Damian Marley ft. Nas, and “Ni**as In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, bring to light the conflict of perceiving Hip-Hop and popular Rap through the same lens, and hopes to consider who is given the biggest stage and why, so that maybe some will begin to understand that their still remain noble community leaders in the world of Hip-Hop who are still fighting to reach and and enable the practice of all people.
from within.. seeks to address the issues of inheriting a global economic structure as the descendants of colonial and imperial heritage, while hoping to take one step further and rectify the illusion that we must ever be separated as people. The sole motivation of this project could be found in the question: how can we respond to the world in light of the internet, to strengthen movements of the past which lacked an independent system of distribution? This project benefitted from the theoretical work of Karl Marx, David Harvey, Laikwan Pang, Manuel Castells, Tricia Rose, Wendy Chun, Rita Raley, Judith Halberstam, Geraldine Lievesley, and Laurence Lessig as well as the practical work of Common(Sense), Damian Marley, Nas, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Immortal Technique, Tricia Rose again, Rocky Dawuni, Big K.R.I.T., Carey Stuart, and myself.
The world cannot survive without a more balanced distribution of power, resources, environmental understanding, shared experience, and collective communal access to public goods. This project makes the case to completely disregard the nonsensical requirements of a capitalistically driven agenda, not necessarily to abolish capital in a revolution that starts and ends tomorrow, but to subvert them when they stand in the way of a more moderate practice that enjoys the beauty of movement. The audience is anyone awaiting a chance to come together, either to voice their frustration, dance away their tension, or simply meet their community.
It began with learning about the exploitation of psychedelic soul music from the 1970’s, by way of copyright cases brought to the surface by contemporary Hip-Hop. Turns out that when an artist is sued for using another artists work(i.e. “Dr. Dre sued for using George Clinton’s music), under the claim that these older artists aren’t receiving proper “royalties” for their contribution to new hits, and must pay ‘publishing fees’ as a result, it is not even Clinton who gets payed, but the publishing company which owns his work. This tragic irony made me want to develop a project that would challenge paying for the ‘marginal unit’ and seek explore different ways of enabling the artist to pursue their own work.
Reading “Accumulation by Dispossesion”, an article by David Harvey, really informed the basis of this work in offering a comprehensive analysis that in reflection inspired me to take a stance. Looking back, one of the central aspects of this article states that, “"With the core of the political problem so clearly recognized, it should be possible to build outwards into a broader politics of creative destruction mobilized against the dominant regime" (Harvey pg. 179-80). This quote really made it kind of simple for me to imagine. it may be true that the world’s problems are tied to the hip of corporate authority, but this can be democratized through the spread of awareness enabled by free file sharing, which may eventually be a way for the masses to demand a quality of life which holds the potential to sustain an economy where everyones practice is brought to the fore, for undoubtedly it is not the resources that are lacking, but their distribution.
After a good deal of reading, I began to watch countless documentaries and Youtube footage and downloaded relevant bits through a third party form of software called “Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate”. There was no learning curve as I was already familiar with the software, which simply asks one to copy and paste an online video url, press enter, then press download. This software also comes with an editing suite which is extremely finicky, but by taking things very slowly I managed to adapt and manipulate the footage I chose to use in some very effective ways, though the program did crash and overheat a few times.
I learned how to compressively draw out an analysis that develops multiple intersecting points of interest to draw a variety of views into the conversation, draw parallels between these, and potentially develop alternatives in the process. This project helped me realize that I still have to understand a more complex variety of processes to bring about real social change that could truly fight against the forces of inhumane power that have left much of the world in poverty today, but undeniably helped to solidify ideas about how to start.
In 2010, Ghanaian Afro-Reggae artist, and international cultural ambassador, Rocky Dawuni, released a song entitled “Download The Revolution” on an album entitled Hymns for the Rebel Soul, calling for the mobilization of people through music around the world. This song plays a central role in the documentary. In it, the artist sings:
“Download this (3x) revolution
Upload this, download this, upload this, download this
For so long they try to keep us back
Soul to soul, here we come
Download this revolution
I want all my brothers and all my sisters to say Yeah
This conscious music revolution
Download this revolution to wipe away the musical pollution
The playing field keeps leveling
I want all my brothers and sisters to say yeah
This is conscious music revolution
In Ghana, download this
In America, download this
In Jamaica, download this
The whole world, download this”
The music and the message are about sharing and exchange in a much different way than in the world before us. Ghana, home of kingdoms before British colonization, the first nation to declare independence from European rule, Jamaica, home of Chiefdoms before Spanish colonial rape and British capture, recognized globally as the birthplace of the Rastafari Movement as “way of life”, and America, taken to mean either the United States, the world’s foremost economic and military power, or even as “America” the continent itself, in it’s northern, central, and southern entirety, a land of troubled indigenous origins, WE ARE ALL, along with the whole world, her motherland included, called to download this music, and share our triumph. Download by definition reads, “to transfer (software, data, character sets, etc.) from a distant to a nearby computer, from a larger to a smaller computer, or from a smaller computer to a peripheral device” and revolution by definition reads, “a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point”(http://dictionary.reference.com). The call is one to use the media, social media, and the internet to return to the world a renewed sense of cultural unity, sharing what is needed to be free.