Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Edo Maajka


Хеи, хов аре иоу доинг, Едо? Yeah, good? Great, man; me, too.

Except, you know what? Dude. I received an email from Blogger (which is owned by Google, who own everything around here) explaining that my post on your CD, Spomen Ploča, was taken down, and that if I put it back up again with the live links to the CD in place, it would count as a violation on my account. 


Let me back up a moment. I know you're a huge star in the Balkans; the single most sought-after rap artist in the area. But until last April, when I happened upon a Bosnian bodega in my neighborhood--Astoria, it's part of Queens, which is one of the five boroughs of New York City--I had never heard of you. No one I knew had ever heard of you. No one I would ever have met, in the few decades I have left on this Earth, would likely ever have heard of you. This is America. Or, more precisely, the U.S.A. We don't get out much. And we like to think we invented everything. And in your case--rap and hip-hop--we sort of actually did. 

That said, I'm a bit obsessed with international pop music. I spend most of my weekends on the prowl in Queens, Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn looking for immigrant-run bodegas and media stores, where I buy cut-rate CDs, many of which are forgettable crap, some few of which are utterly sublime, and most of which are listenable-to-pretty good. I post anything I deem pretty good and above here. This is my bodega. It's virtual. If it was real, it would go quickly out of business. 

I maintain this virtual bodega for one reason and one reason only: because I believe American pop culture (specifically U.S. pop culture) is more or less in decline. The movies, the music, the writing, the art and performances worth experiencing all seem to mostly be coming from other places. Have you tried to read Jonathan Lethem or listen to Bruce Springsteen or watch a Sofia Coppola movie recently? It's horrifying how bad the shit we produce really is these days. Okay, granted, I just posted a link earlier to a piece I wrote about Breaking Bad, an American television show that, I admit, is pretty great. We haven't totally lost it.

But, still. We mostly suck. And that's where you come in. You and artists like you all over the world. Artists who are doing unconscionably fabulous things but, because you haven't yet proven you can move more than 12 copies of whatever it is you might possibly sell here, you haven't been written about in Spin, Rolling Stone or Pitchfork. And because our mass media ignores you, our collective understanding of the pop music field beyond our borders is basically M.I.A., Bob Marley, those Buena Vista Social Club guys, Bjork and "Gangnam Style." Which pretty much ensures that we're going to suck very hard for a very, very long time.

Where was I? Oh, right: You. And your music. Which you had Google come sit its huge stinking fat corporate ass on my face to ensure that I'd forever remove it. Good for you. Not only have you stopped "rampant" piracy, helping you not receive precisely the amount of no money whatsoever that you would have never in a million years received anyway, but now, the only way anyone in the U.S. is going to stumble onto you is through this post

One last thing, and I'll let you go. The sample song I had posted on that no-longer-extant page, "Jebo Vladu" ("Fuck the Government"). I just want you to know that I still love that song, even more so, and precisely now for the irony of your having used the U.S. government (in the form of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to erase the sole source of English-language sentences singing your praises on the entire worldwide web that anyone in this country, or the rest of the English-speaking world for that matter, was ever going to find.

9 comments:

Holly said...

I do hope you tweet this, Gary...

Anonymous said...

1,000,000 points! this made my night. you're absolutely right about everything here and it's nice to see the case put so clearly when similar bullshit is happening all over the internet. this sort of thing is so stupid sad. anyhow, thanks for this and for continuing (I hope) to share your weekend findings!

Flash Strap said...

Excellent post, sir. Deep respect.

gilhodges said...

Anti-piracy seems like one of those evil robots in the movies. They are created by man, programmed to serve man and then they turn on man. Fuck the robots. Fuck the anti-pirates. Fuck the government. (Oops. "Fuck the Government" is probably trademarked. Maybe my comment will get a takedown notice.)

Thanks Gary.

dubme said...

I felt & enjoyed this post! Thanks!!! Very well written...

Anonymous said...

There is NO WAY people like me would ever get to hear (or hear of) the music you post. And I hope you will continue.--Bill

Goofy said...

This whole thing is plain silly! Anyway, Gary, I'd rather see that you play by the rules (up to a point) and keep your wonderful Bodega open, than see that Blogger has closed the place down.
Keep on posting, Gary!!

berry van boekel said...

The same thing happened to me about the same time. I had just one song posted of a 50 year old vinyl record by Ham & Scram. I don't think it ever was released on CD format. Something tells me that neither Ham & Scram, their publishers, nor Edo Maajka have anything to do with the blogger notifications that were sent. This may have been some random act initiated by a larger copyright holder's organization, or a random act by Google to keep someone happy. I noticed you do have the disclaimer in your opening paragraph: "If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it." I now copied it from you to include it in mine too.
Berry—Musical Thrift Store Treasures

tetedur said...

Oh! I do like your taste in music. And now, you're writing as well. Very nicely stated.