Best of The Couch Sessions: The Revolution Will Be Gentrified
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Ed. Note – Marcus Dowlings’ posts do not reflect the thoughts of Winston (aka Stone) or The Couch Sessions
Pithy auteurs of blue eyed soul with a desire to create guitar driven 60s- flavored rock and roll? This is the future of urban music? Harvard educated intellectuals that routinely bump DJ Quik in their rides and inspired one of the most heated and lucrative independent artist signing battles in recent major label history, even in a declining and struggling recording market? Calling fans VIPs and infusing their upcoming debut record release with a faux veneer of Ivy League aristocratic flair is hot in the streets?
With their release of their heavily rap inspired “Jacques Jams Vol. 1: Endurance” mixtape last week, DA Wallach and Maxwell Drumney, collectively known as the rock duo Chester French, sounded the final (and what will ultimately be the loudest) clarion call that rap music is more accessible than ever, and is no longer JUST an avenue of expression for white artists, but ultimately a shared and raceless expression that is REAL for both races. By the end of 2009, what will be the biggest story and industry trend? Nerdy and unassuming white folks are the future! You may think I’m crazy, but keep reading…
Outside of Drake’s masterful “So Far Gone” mixtape, which is easily hip hop’s best album, and the most significant addition to hip hop in the first four months of the year, hip hop’s freshest looks have come from young Caucasian men who at one time would’ve been stereotypically limited to Abercrombie backgrounds and Dockers modeling. These kids are now at the forefront of the bubbling to the surface, soon to be VERY visible underground of hip hop genre. Be it the SNL comic triumvirate represented in The Lonely Island jabbing fun in the hottest way possible, with guest looks by T-Pain and E-40 and surprisingly blowaway hooks done by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas or Norah Jones, or Asher Roth breathing life by simply having fun, and now Chester French’s Hah-vuhd Yahd Swah-guh, white kids have the need, desire and ability to keep it real.
The most telling truism of the rise to fame of this Caucasian collection is the sheer willingness of African-American artists to co-sign their brilliance. Jim Jones ambles in a cloud of purple haze through verses of Asher’s “I Love College,” mirthfully switching it to “I Love Harlem.” Chester French has a veritable who’s who of hip hop and African Americans who record music on the mixtape, from Common to Talib to Janelle to Wale, as if rappers and singers would seem to be tripping over themselves to align themselves with the duo. Hell, if you follow Twitter with any regularity, you’ll know that @iamdiddy, “Locked In” as ever, has spent probably 140,000 characters verbally fellating them, likely still bitter that they’re on The Neptunes’ Star Trak imprint, instead of Bad Boy. Did the forgettable Fuzzbubble get that kind of love after doing the Benjamins remix? Exactly.
How did we get here and will this last? Well, first Billboard started using Soundscan, which immediately showed rap to be a big seller, so rap became pop accessible and hot on Main Street in Des Moines. Then, Eminem had an overabundance of talent and a a very real tale of urban blight and personal decay that belied race, and couldn’t be denied for nearly a decade. Then, suburban punk kids met suburban rap kids, and chilled with the rock and rollers next door, got swagger and infiltrated the universe, and everybody became some sort of hipster. From there, we ALL elected Barack. If you still think there’s no reason for this, and that it’s all terrible, well, you’re either misinformed or secretly harboring racism. I’m hoping for the former. If you suffer with the latter, music really isn’t your forte these days.
Chester French and Asher Roth drop debut albums next week. Hip hop, meet your future. At a rapidly expanding table, some new friends have arrived. Scrubbed and clean white guys with a filthy and funny interior. Just like the movie, let’s call them angels with dirty souls. Gil Scott, in 2009, the revolution will not just be televised, it will be gentrified. Wow.