Monday, February 23, 2004

It's the biggest thing in music blog land. So big the word has been registered on Google. Yes, yes y'all, we're talking about ROCKISM Thanks to the efforts of, a whole bunch of articles with references to rockism can be read here.
This whole rockism thing is more than an internet in-joke. In fact, it's sparking off a classic and much needed debate on the nature of popular music criticism. The ever-astute Simon Reynolds makes some particularly good points on his superb blissblog. He discusses how popists such as Paul Morley use a great, colourful and sexy pop moment such as Kylie's Can't get you out of my head as a club to bash dour rockists. All good fun, but do we really need to take sides, Reynolds asks. Damn straight.
Rock crit daily also lists an article on how Common and the Roots are not at all innovative, but rockist. I.E. they compromise hip-hop by approaching it like 70s rockers did, making "serious", conceptual albums. Humourless and preachy, lacking fire and funk. I got over the indie backbacker thing when I realised how dull most of it is - the same old jazz breaks, the same old rhetoric about the "elements" and respecting hip-hop tradition. But as with any musical genre, trying to preserve styles in aspic only stifles creativity. There was a split in backpacker circles when El-P et al arrived. Those offended by Company Flow's still startling 'End to End Burners' (undoubtedly one of the greatest hip-hop 12"s ever - the relentless abstract churn of that distorted sample, the disturbing lyrics and vicious scratching...oh man!) were like the hip-hop equivalent of old hippies dismayed at punk, or to be more apt, rockist Pistols fans gaping in horror at the dubbed out grooves and angularity of PIL.
And when the mainstream can produce greatness in the form of Outkast and Timbaland et al, the validity of the whole indie rap purism thang crumbled for me. All these stoned guys nodding along to the latest DJ Premier (although, to be fair, on form Premier is great cf. Nas's Illmatic) seemed to forget how funky and colourful all the old-skool guys they claimed to be keeping the flame for were.
Anyway, I'm going on a bit, and I've got articles which I'll actually get paid for to write. Oh, and I have used the word "rockist" in a review before, long before it became a blog buzzword. Attempting to reappraise Neil Young's electro-folly Trans, I queried whether its infamy was simply a knee-jerk reaction by Ol' Shakey's more rockist fans. I wrote this for the first Beard but held it back. A revised version shall appear in issue two, however. Whenever that comes out...

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