Drug Policy

It's Hard Out There for a Snitch

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A great article in the Atlantic about the life and death of snitches in Baltimore:

Those who cooperate with the police are labeled "snitches" or "rats"-terms once applied only to jailhouse informants or criminals who turned state's evidence, but now used for "civilian" witnesses as well. This is particularly true in the inner cities, where gangsta culture has been romanticized through rap music and other forms of entertainment, and where the motto "Stop snitching," expounded in hip-hop lyrics and emblazoned on caps and T-shirts, has become a creed.

The metastasis of this culture of silence in minority communities has been facilitated by a gradual breakdown of trust in the police and the government. The erosion began during the civil-rights era, when informants were a favorite law-enforcement tool against groups like the Black Panthers. But it accelerated because of the war on drugs.

David Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in New York, told me: "This is the reward we have reaped for 20 years of profligate drug enforcement in these communities." When half the young black men in a neighborhood are locked up, on bail, or on parole, the police become the enemy.

Most of the article follows one [SPOILER ALERT] ill-fated snitch:

This time Dowery's sixth sense–the feeling that had told him to turn around on his porch that morning a year earlier–failed him. One of the men drew a gun, pointed it at Dowery's head, and fired.

Then the other did the same. This time, the doctors couldn't save him.

And although the bar was crowded, no one has come forward to say they saw a thing. It's just another homicide in inner-city America, with no suspects, and no witnesses. [SPOILER END]

Read the whole thing. Heck, you could even pay for it. But if you don't, I won't tell.

NEXT: City of Bruised Shoulders

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  1. Is there any doubt that the greatest of all stoolies was Huggy Bear?

  2. He certainly had the best wardrobe, PL.

  3. Back when i was having trouble with the drug dealer in the basement (his customers knocking at my door, kicking in the basement door, stuff like that), he was fond of saying that the building had a “rat” problem. Now I get it!

    I was glad he didn’t have a handgun. It sounds like bad things happen to rats when guns are around.

  4. I was glad he didn’t have a handgun.

    What makes you think he didn’t?

  5. Huggy was so far beyond fashion that he was megastylin’.

    They should do a spin-off with Huggy Bear and Hawk. As PIs, I guess. Kind of like that one with Skinner and Wiggum.

  6. a gradual breakdown of trust in the police and the government.

    It is about time that they caught up with the rest of us.

  7. “This is particularly true in the inner cities, where gangsta culture has been romanticized through rap music and other forms of entertainment”

    grrrrrrr.

    this is particularly true in [location] where [particular youth expression] has been romanticized through [music] and other forms of entertainment.

    the main influence of “gangsta” (at least $$ wise) is that white suburban kids traded in their Offspring “rebellion” for “Ridin’ Dirty”. And they all talk like they were auditioning for the movie “Havoc”…

    Jazz. Elvis… etc. etc. etc.

    *head explodes

  8. What makes you think he didn’t?

    Good question, Isaac. Stuff like this:

    This time Dowery’s sixth sense–the feeling that had told him to turn around on his porch that morning a year earlier–failed him. One of the men drew a gun, pointed it at Dowery’s head, and fired.

    Then the other did the same. This time, the doctors couldn’t save him.

    Also, the fact that handguns are a lot less prevalent where I live now, than in US cities I have lived in. The law here makes them harder to get and also provides liability in the case a person can’t prevent his gun from being stolen.

  9. As they say in prison:

    “Snitches get stitches”

  10. The law here makes them harder to get and also provides liability in the case a person can’t prevent his gun from being stolen.

    Do you mean that under Canadian law a person is held responsible if say, his house is robbed and his guns are stolen then used in a crime?

  11. So, still nothing in the pages of Reason about the Phillip Thompson DC pistol deal?

    You know, all of that “above the law” stuff does not stop at the Chicago river.

  12. Do you mean that under Canadian law a person is held responsible if say, his house is robbed and his guns are stolen then used in a crime?

    Don’t know, but compare and contrast:

    Minnesota:
    http://tinyurl.com/39623d

    Ontario:
    http://tinyurl.com/39vjkz

  13. Aren’t those both Canadian provinces? 🙂

  14. I don’t know, but if I hadn’t been booted from Cop Talk, I would be posting beacoups de pictures of [b]gun safes[/b] into that idiot’s “what do I buy” thread. Only because you can’t buy a clue.

  15. so drug users and dealers shoot people who call the cops or co-operate with police and it’s the cops fault? Makes total sense I’m sure to anarchists, but here’s a newsflash for you all. THE POLICE ARE NOT THE ENEMY. THE DRUG DEALERS ARE. Hard to fathom I’m sure but maybe the brighter people here might get the message. What happened to personal responsibility?

  16. mark = jane = juanita = batshit insane chick = canadian version of “the laundry”

  17. “This is particularly true in the inner cities, where gangsta culture has been romanticized through rap music and other forms of entertainment, and where the motto “Stop snitching,” expounded in hip-hop lyrics and emblazoned on caps and T-shirts, has become a creed.”

    What BS. You know why “inner city” people are more likely to keep quiet about drug deals and violent crime? Because there are more drug deals and violent crime there. Suburban kids are any more likely to clam up to the police, they just get fewer chances.

    The relevant culture here is American culture. Cripes, anybody who ever attended school learned not to snitch.

  18. See “The Wire” Season 4

  19. mark | March 29, 2007, 11:25am | #

    …What happened to personal responsibility?

    The war on drugs happened. Before that, there was personal responsibility – if you wanted to get high, you could, and if you OD…it was nobody’s fault but your own. It wasn’t as if dealers were holding you down and forcing it down your throat / in your veins / up your nostrils.

    Do you drink alcohol? Would you have said the same thing about it during prohibition?

  20. Suburban kids are any more likely to clam up to the police, they just get fewer chances.

    Bullshit. You have no clue as to what you’re talking about. I’ve lived my whole life in the suburbs. The adults that live there hold down jobs and pay their taxes. And they don’t want any crime in their neighborhood. A crack house in the burbs wouldn’t last a week. (not to say there are a lack of drug dealers, but they don’t do volume business) As for the kids that live there, they all live with their parents, very few of them would trade in their car, playstation, not to mention scholarship, to stand up to the cops.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are criminals in the suburbs. But they are the exception, and the rest of the community does not support them.

  21. Warren,

    I daresay you don’t know very much about kids in the suburbs.

  22. “And they don’t want any crime in their neighborhood.”

    Yeah, they want to get their coke and hookers in the city, then go home and talk to their neighbors about what a shithole the city is.

    How superior they are!

  23. What’s this “romanticized gangsta culture” bullshit? I live in Chicago, the people who are the LEAST likely to snitch on their dirty bretheren are cops.

  24. I live in Chicago, the people who are the LEAST likely to snitch on their dirty bretheren are cops.

    Hear Hear!

  25. Warren I am agree with you part way. I think that drug users in the burbs are a lot more law abiding except for prohibition.

  26. But the police aren’t the enemy! To anyone!

    Anyone who’s lived his whole life in the suburbs can tell you that.

  27. not to say there are a lack of [suburban] drug dealers, but they don’t do volume business

    I’d lay some money down on that assertion. My guess is that the retail dollar volume is about a wash urban vs. suburban. Throw in the rural crank & oxy on top of that.

  28. Also, the fact that handguns are a lot less prevalent where I live now,…

    Only among people who obey the law.

    Uh-huh, we got a guy selling drugs and his competition, not to mention his customers are a violent bunch.

    But this guy is not going to get himself a gun because then he would be breaking the law. Yeah, right.

    And he probably didn’t bother with you because the level of annoyance didn’t rise to the point where it was worth the trouble. Or are you trying to say you were a snitch on a par with the guy in the story.

  29. Yes, the suburbs are dens of iniquity compared to the inner city. As a rule. Why, I fall asleep to the sound of gun fire many nights.

  30. Q: When a suburban user meets his dealer at the dealer’s downtown apartment, is that suburban or urban crime? How about if they meet at a suburban train station?

    A: When someone from the suburbs goes into the city to do business, he’s entering the city. When asomeone from the city goes into the suburbs to do business, he’s taking his urban pathologies with him.

  31. Nice strawman, Pro Lib. Care to comment on anything anyone’s actually said?

  32. Yeah, they want to get their coke and hookers in the city, then go home and talk to their neighbors about what a shithole the city is.

    This is true. Although it’s equally true that there are many law abiding church going types (I suspect that this is also true of the city). The difference is that they don’t cover up for violent crime in the burbs. They snitch. Indeed the Mrs. Kravitzs are still out there just looking for someone to snitch on.

    Like I said, I’ve live for 40 years in the suburbs. I am personally acquainted with hundreds of teenagers in five different cities. I can tell you, they all want to be cool, many want to be tough, but damn few will sit mum after being hauled into a police station and having their parents called in.

    I daresay am dead certain, that it is you joe, that doesn’t know the first thing about life in the suburbs. I daresay you don’t know much about what goes on past the viaduct.

  33. Dave W., this proves, what exactly?

    I knew that already. So did everyone else that doesn’t lve in a cave.

    It certainly doesn’t prove that your neighbor doesn’t own a gun.

    And the fact that the Toronto cops regularly complain about armed drug dealers and gang members makes me think it’s a pretty safe bet that he does.

  34. It’s not a strawman, and knock off the snidery. I’ve had exposure to both environments, and I know which one that I want to live in. I’m not blaming all the residents of the inner city for being poor or being crammed together, but the reality is that the same criminal environment wouldn’t exist in the suburbs if the inner cities were put in stasis for a year.

    I’m not proposing that as a solution, incidentally.

  35. Rap music is crap and has done more to poison the minds of African Americans and hold them back then anything white people have done in the last forty years, with the exeption of maybe the drug war.

    That being said, I don’t see African Americans clamoring for an end to the drug war or speaking out against “hip hop culture”. In fact, black politicians are more concerned about who uses the n word and polls show blacks to be the most homophobic and religious part of the population. Too many are like white evengelicals but without the morals or personal responsibility.

    And fuck snitches.

  36. Warren,

    I grew up in the suburbs. Unlike you, I actually have experience on both sides of the viaduct.

    “The difference is that they don’t cover up for violent crime in the burbs.”

    “Their” crime, the crime that the people they deal with are involved in, doesn’t take place where they live. In fact, they make damn sure it doesn’t. Comparing how Group A reacts to the odd domestic violence murder down the street, to how Group B reacts to whackings by criminal gangs that infest your neighborhood is apples and oranges.

  37. Pro Libertate,
    I was with you until the end there. I don’t see any point in putting the cities “in stasis”. I would have written “…but the reality is that the same criminal environment just doesn’t exist in the suburbs”

  38. So I guess that’s a No, Pro-Lib, you don’t want to comment on anything anyone’s written.

  39. “the reality is that the same criminal environment just doesn’t exist in the suburbs”

    No, the reality is that the suburban criminal element goes into the city for their business and recreation, so that they, and you, can pretend that the consequences are the fault of those “urban types,” with their hip-hop culture and gangsa rap, who aren’t like you at all.

  40. And the fact that the Toronto cops regularly complain about armed drug dealers and gang members makes me think it’s a pretty safe bet that he does.

    I asked the Toronto police about that when they came to my apartment to visit me on the matter (when I was snitching). They said that they felt it was highly unlikely that the man had a gun.

    No, ultimately, I don’t “know” and neither did they. However, I would not have slept as well in a comparable situation when I lived in Dallas or Cincinnati or SF.

    I also think you might want to try to cut the selfserving Jesuit routine for a minute and imagine what it would have been like in my shoes, as one forced into snitching by very difficult circumstances. I am glad it looks like Mike Hargreaves didn’t end up in jail, but I am equally glad they had him sweating bullets in FLA for a bit. Sends a good message. Keeps the probabilities in more comfortable places.

  41. “Their” crime, the crime that the people they deal with are involved in, doesn’t take place where they live. In fact, they make damn sure it doesn’t.

    Exactly, this is what I’m saying.

    Comparing how Group A reacts … to how Group B reacts … is apples and oranges.

    That’s my whole point. The city and the suburbs are apples and oranges. Now maybe if you stuffed those burban brats into some high-density housing and surrounded them with gangs and dealers, they would react exactly the same. But they don’t live there and they don’t act the same. Apples and oranges.

  42. joe,

    You just restated Warren’s point.
    I quote
    “”Their” crime, the crime that the people they deal with are involved in, doesn’t take place where they live. In fact, they make damn sure it doesn’t.”

    Exactly. No-one seems to say that suburbanites are better people in my reading of the comments. The opinion stated is that they are more likely to “snitch”. Why? To make damn sure that the crime that they’re involved in doesn’t take place where they live.

  43. re: suburban and inner city

    see: symbiosis

    Symbiosis (pl. symbioses) is a close association between two different types of organisms in a community. It can be defined as:

    ‘The living together in permanent or prolonged close association of members of usually two different species, with beneficial or deleterious consequences for at least one of the parties.’

    There are several classes of symbiosis below. The symbols in brackets are intended to aid understanding, and are not formal definitions.

    * Mutualism, a relationship in which members of two different species benefit and neither suffers. (+ +)

    * Commensalism, a relationship in which ‘one party gains some benefit, whilst the other suffers no serious disadvantage’ (+ 0)

    * Parasitism, in which one member of the association benefits while the other is harmed (+ -)

    * Amensalism, in which the association is disadvantageous to one member while the other is not affected (? 0)

    * Neutralism, in which both organisms are unaffected (0 0)

    * Competition, in which both organisms are harmed (- -)

    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

  44. Do you mean that under Canadian law a person is held responsible if say, his house is robbed and his guns are stolen then used in a crime?

    Funny joke:

    http://tinyurl.com/yobtap

    *ha ha*

  45. Incidentally, I’m not sure how many burbanites go downtown for their illicit fun. All the vices are available in the burbs, but the transactions are done behind closed doors over food and drinks. Of course there’s a premium for the convenience and personal service.

  46. “Rap music is crap and has done more to poison the minds of African Americans and hold them back then anything white people have done in the last forty years, with the exeption of maybe the drug war.”

    rap v. drug war hmmmmmmmmmmmmm yeah.

    blasting EPMD uih.

  47. Warren,

    I think we may have been talking past each other, then. We’re in agreement that the two populations would behave similarly in similar circumstances.

    But I think there’s a poing that goes beyond that. Suburbanites who have some connection to violent crimes that happen in the inner city – for example, who know that their associate had a beef with individuals X, Y, and Z, or Gang A, don’t – don’t seem any more eager to share with that city’s police than do the immediate neighbors.

  48. Incidentally, I’m not sure how many burbanites go downtown for their illicit fun. All the vices are available in the burbs, but the transactions are done behind closed doors over food and drinks. Of course there’s a premium for the convenience and personal service.

    And last I checked, most burbanites don’t snitch on their well-dressed, local dealers either.

  49. Incidentally, I’m not sure how many burbanites go downtown for their illicit fun.

    According to “progressives”, all of them.

  50. * Competition, in which both organisms are harmed (- -)

    break that up into competition types I and II

    Capitalism (+ +)
    Politics (+ —-)

  51. Now maybe if you stuffed those burban brats into some high-density housing….

    how does high density housing figure in to the equation? in my city, some of the safest & most affluent areas are highly dense and some of the most dangerous suburbs are neighborhoods in the city have the lowest density.

  52. are = and

  53. Warren,

    I thought I disclaimed the stasis option. Of course, in the interest of science, we could freeze various communities to make comparisons. But I have some objections to that on due process grounds.

    🙂

    joe,

    Thhhfpt.

  54. class: it’s the elephant in the room

  55. “According to “progressives”, all of them.”

    Yeah but “progressives” are full of shit and don’t know diddly squat.

  56. The progressives in Loundry’s head seem to be making a lot of noise lately.

  57. When I was “in the life”, I would go into the city to get product from one of the local gangs, and haul it out to the burbs for re-sale.
    I knew that if things went pear shaped for me, I wouldn’t snitch, because my contacts in the city knew where I lived. My customers in the burbs were all end users, and thus not really subject to police involvement (this was in the early ’90’s, I’ve been out of the life for a while now, so cannot speak to current conditions). But they were unlikely to ever be in a position where they could snitch on me. So yeah, crime in the burbs v. crime in cities are different, but had it not been for easy urban access, there would have been a lot less suburban drug dealing.
    Of course, the only thing I was doing that was illegal was violating the WoD, so maybe if you take that out of the picture you get a different crime/criminal demographic.

  58. When I was “in the life”, I’d go to a “health food store” and buy a vial of “procaine” (40 dollars).
    Then I’d go to a dirty bookstore and buy a hardcore porno mag (5 bucks).
    Then I’d cut and dump the procaine into packages made from pages strategically torn from the porno mag.
    Then I’d sell it (as coke) to the same roster of suburban bad boys every Friday night (four “8-balls” for 100 bucks apiece).

    They always thanked me. I always thanked them too.

    I figured the scene back at their cozy suburbanite lair went something like this:

    Suburbanites yutes snorting procaine, getting numb noses and mouths (and no psychotropic effects at all), giggling over the lurid packaging, atwitter about their adventure to score in the urban hinterlands, and the good fortune to know the shaggy visigoth punker who set them up every Friday night, and who would never rip them off.

    Early on, it was low risk. The punishment for getting busted carrying around magazine corners of procaine, trying to sell it off as cocaine, was negligible (if one didn’t mind sitting in lockup while the lab confirmed that, no matter what the perp told the narc/snitch, a case couldn’t be made for cocaine possession).

    Soon, “the law” grew weary of that drill and got the legislature to write a new law saying that, in the eyes of “the law”, if you say it’s cocaine…it’s cocaine.

    Note: This was 20+ years ago.

    What’s the going rate for an 8-ball these days?

    See: currency devaluation

  59. “this is particularly true in [location] where [particular youth expression] has been romanticized through [music] and other forms of entertainment.”

    “this is particularly true in [location] where [particular youth expression] has been romanticized through [music] and other forms of entertainment”the main influence of “gangsta” (at least $$ wise) is that white suburban kids traded in their Offspring “rebellion” for “Ridin’ Dirty”. And they all talk like they were auditioning for the movie “Havoc”…

    Jazz. Elvis… etc. etc. etc.”

    VM, I agree that this has been the drill in the past with older generations distrusting the cool shit of the kids. However, I see here in our town of 13,000 folks a lot of young folks that are emulating the rappers to the point of being “thugs.” This includes shooting someone for looking at them the “wrong” way. It is all about attitude, no intellect required.Anything deemed disrespectful is met with a ass whoopin or a knifing or a shooting.
    I do believe rap and hip-hop have had a negative effect on society like no other genre of music. The social justification seems to be that the white man has kept us down so long that we are gonna get ours now, no matter the means.

  60. Most people who say things like “rap music is crap” probably dont know anything about rap music, and certainly don’t listen to the same music I do- that is very poetic, lyrically dense, more profound, and sonically pleasing than any mainstream pop/rock/country/white music.

    When someone says this it reminds me of some old square in the 50s who thinks Elvis’s hips and Rock music are satantic or one of those National Alliance/WHite Supremicist/Bob Jones types who think only classical lyric-less music composed by dead white men is a valid music form.

  61. Thug rap is a very small % of all hip-hop and yet it is the sub-genre that the big white corporations push and want to make look “cool.” It is like the Minstrel shit. It’s the mainstream POP music. This is like saying Rock Music sucks because you dont like Nickelback.

    And besides, there is some more gansta-ish rap that is actually very Libertarian in nature. There are a lot of Libertarians who for some reason think only white Republican-lites are allowed to be libertarians and it doesnt apply to others.

  62. brotherben,

    Please name three gangsta rap albums.

    Or, if you would, please provide us with the lyrics that you were thinking of when you wrote your post.

    Honor system – no Googling.

  63. I saw this
    “This includes shooting someone for looking at them the “wrong” way. It is all about attitude, no intellect required.Anything deemed disrespectful is met with a ass whoopin or a knifing or a shooting”
    above, and for a minute thought I was on the corrupt cop thread. Seems like as apt a description of the “good guys” these days as it does the “bad guys”.

  64. “I do believe rap and hip-hop have had a negative effect on society like no other genre of music.”

    Hi Bro!

    maybe the hip hop is tapping into a vein that’s already there?

    there’s violence over “trivial” things, because that’s all that there is – that is, since there is such a lack of resources, addition of a new resource is so precious that in that locale, it’s valuable enough to kill for?

    or that they need something to matter?

    and hip hop caught on to it?

    I understand that the association is very strong, and it’s easier to spot. The punk rockers may have had the same reflection of society – back then there were knives and people were less mobile (?)…

    I just doubt the effect of a medium like that – I don’t believe that tornadic images on tv make tornadoes more powerful, I don’t think that sex references make pervs out of our young people, so, I’d suggest that we’re seeing a powerful, frightening (to some) reflection of a social stratus…

    cheers!

  65. Don’t get me wrong, there are criminals in the suburbs. But they are the exception, and the rest of the community does not support them.

    Consider how much cash flows through the illegal drug market.

    Consider how much cash is available in inner city ghettos other than flowing through the drug market.

    The customers in the inner city cannot support more than a small piece of the illegal drug market. The cash isn’t there.

    Therefore most of the cash flowing through the illegal drug market must come from middle class/upper class neighborhoods.

    But the police are a lot more careful about raising a ruckus in the “good” parts of town.

  66. Enter the Straw-Man (36 Chambers)

  67. But the police are a lot more careful about raising a ruckus in the “good” parts of town.

    Well yes. But it’s also important to remember that crime in the “good” parts of town is a lot less visible.

    And it’s also important to remember the point of this post. What ever part of town we’re talking about, one of the consequences of prohibition, is alienating the population from the police.

  68. It Takes A Town Of 13,000 To Hold This Anecdote Back

  69. Rap music is not the problem. Yes, there is a thug life image that some kids try to emulate. However, as is the case most times, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents.

    I spent my adolescent years in a impoverished neighborhood with many a chance to get into the gang life. A few of my cousins that lived in the same area did end up in gangs. As cousins, we hung out a lot, had a lot of the same tastes, did a lot of the same things, but as soon as my parents saw the direction we were heading in, they up and moved and took us away from those influences. Meanwhile, my cousins stayed behind and did fall into the gang life / drug dealing life. We listened to rap music / thug music, etc. I still enjoy listening to NWA’s “f.ck the police”, a lot of 2LiveCrew’s material, and several other rappers…but that doesn’t make me prone to becoming a criminal.

    Also, there’s plenty of “intellectual” rappers out there such as KRS1, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Kanye, Wyclef Jean and The Fugees, and many, many others. However, you only ever hear about the “thug” rappers because that is what the media decides to fixate upon as the root of all the problems.

  70. Straight Outta Tustin

  71. Joe, well gee, you sure got me there.
    I am not as they say “down with it.”
    But when I see the folks I spoke of, I look at they way they dress, the car they drive, and hear the lyrics coming from their bumpin system, and I guess I just assumed it wasnt joe jackson they were listening to. I dont doubt that some of the music is lyrically profound, but because the way the product and it’s artists are packaged, I wont bother trying to find them.

    VM, and a good day to you!
    Its a chicken or egg thing. I tend to believe that musicians have a large influence on young people who struggle to put their emotions into words. I remember a DEVO interview from 82? where one of the members said they wore the flower pots on their heads just to see how many idiots would follow suit.
    Being in a position to give voice to the emotions of the masses is a huge responsibility. I just dont like the voice I hear from some genres today.

    Having been a doper in the past, I still carry a certain disdain for a snitch. Just cant seem to shake it. Peace Out!

  72. “Most people who say things like “rap music is crap” probably dont know anything about rap music”

    I know that the combination of the words “rap” and “music” is an oxymoron.

    If you can’t sing and/or play some musical instrument you are not a musician and what ever noise you happen to be making is not music.

  73. Gilbert Martin is more of a Prussian Blue man.

  74. “they wore the flower pots on their heads just to see how many idiots would follow suit.”

    um. oh. um. k. people did that?

    um…

    🙂

    cheers!

  75. The Beastie Boys have a new album on the way. Maybe we could all hang out and listen to that as a compromise.

  76. We must kill this rock roll musick!

    It will affect our oofspring..

  77. many muzik facism happens here

  78. “But when I see the folks I spoke of, I look at they way they dress, the car they drive, and hear the lyrics coming from their bumpin system, and I guess I just assumed it wasnt joe jackson they were listening to.”

    you also assume the music is much of a factor. that’s where you lose me.

    there are entire (largely hilarious) genres of metal devoted to gore, murder, etc, in both lyrical and emotional frisson. but no one’s been afraid of metal for years now.

    (with good reason, as metal was taken over by nerds, but that’s another thread entirely)

    unrelated: south of heaven is slayer’s best album, and if you deny it your pants are on fire.

  79. If you can’t sing and/or play some musical instrument you are not a musician and what ever noise you happen to be making is not music.

    I’m afraid this is nonsense. All something requires to be music is rhythm or melody. If you have one of those, you have music. It might not be music you like, but it still counts.

  80. “I’m afraid this is nonsense. All something requires to be music is rhythm or melody. If you have one of those, you have music. It might not be music you like, but it still counts.”

    No it doesn’t.

    Rappers are not singing and they are not playing any instrument. All they are doing is chanting with a background track of recorded snippets of tunes created by somebody else who actually could make music.

    The only part of that combination that could count as music is the prerecorded background and that only counts as music when it is played as the original song – not as some snippet of it lifted by the rappers.

  81. You sound worst than my grandparents pissing and moaning about Bob Dylan back in the olden days.

    Only a little more rabid.

    But I bet Nana and Papa would have sounded more rabid too, if Bob was an urban negro.

  82. brotherben,

    It’s difficult to take seriously your theory of causality when you don’t seem to know very much about the supposed cause, other than that you don’t like it, and don’t like the people who do like it.

  83. “Rappers are not singing and they are not playing any instrument. All they are doing is chanting with a background track of recorded snippets of tunes created by somebody else who actually could make music.”

    so if a singer has, say, a spoken part in a song, he actually ceases to make music at that point?

    that’s very interesting.

    also, have you ever used a sampler, or do you imagine them to be like a giant computer that takes bits and pieces and makes them into something else? topfortybot, ENGAGE!

  84. I also dont have much knowledge about how the sun effects the earth or how my car goes down the road or how this computer works. I can look around and see the results of these things and draw certain conclusions.
    And Joe, I have seen your posts here enough to recognize you, even though I am not a proctologist.

  85. “so if a singer has, say, a spoken part in a song, he actually ceases to make music at that point?”

    Yes – if the band behind him stops playing as well and the only sound is his voice speaking.

    Rappers do not sing and they do not play instruments. Therefore, they get no credit for making any music.

  86. “You sound worst than my grandparents pissing and moaning about Bob Dylan back in the olden days.”

    Bob Dylan can’t sing worth a crap either.

  87. “Yes – if the band behind him stops playing as well and the only sound is his voice speaking.

    Rappers do not sing and they do not play instruments. Therefore, they get no credit for making any music.”

    that’s good stuff. into the archive you go!

    no, what i mean is let’s say there’s a song – and i’m sure i could find an oldie where this happens – or any johnny cash live song – where they stop playing for a bit and do a little talkover. are you really, really REALLY meaning to say that somehow the making of “music” stops at that point? it’s not part of the performance?

    are gregorian chants music?

  88. also, if a rapper plays an instrument, are they at least partially a musician?

  89. The progressives in Loundry’s head seem to be making a lot of noise lately.

    Actually, they tend to make a lot of noise on this board, where they repeat the Truth that the suburbs are dismal, racist, and replete with crime, and the Truth that hip-hop culture and gansta rap are not violent, but rather exotic and sophisticated. Only White Guilt can save us now!

  90. Rappers are not singing and they are not playing any instrument. All they are doing is chanting with a background track of recorded snippets of tunes created by somebody else who actually could make music.

    Gilbert, music is a noun. It’s not an adjective. Here’s one common definition (from Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: mu?sic
    Pronunciation: ‘my?-zik
    Function: noun
    1 a : the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity b : vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony

    So if a vocal performance is rhythmic, it’s music. If it’s not rhythmic, but merely melodic, it’s music. Chanting is music.

    And you really need to look at how DJ’s work. It’s irrelevent that they use music made by others. Manipulating it the way they do to make new rhythms and new melodie counts as music.

    Interestingly, the only people I’ve ever heard make your argument are non-musicians.

  91. …and new melody. Forgot to spellcheck!

  92. “Actually, they tend to make a lot of noise on this board, where they repeat the Truth that the suburbs are dismal, racist, and replete with crime, and the Truth that hip-hop culture and gansta rap are not violent, but rather exotic and sophisticated. Only White Guilt can save us now!”

    ok, try to follow this:

    black metal, for example, is ridiculously (cartoonishly, even in comparison to most “gangsta” jams) violent. insanely so. yet with the exception of some enterprisingly retarded Scandinavian kids, it’s not associated with actual violence. metal in all its forms hasn’t been since the 80s moral panic era, when d&d and metal were the gateways to teh satans.

    so if someone’s going to argue that musical content = behavioral shifts, they have to deal with really violent forms of music in other cultures that don’t have a lot of violence otherwise.

    breakcore, for example, is almost entirely spastic violence and sampling (with often very violent samples and snippets tossed in there for effect) but when was the last time you heard some laptop nerds throw down?

  93. So if a vocal performance is rhythmic, it’s music. If it’s not rhythmic, but merely melodic, it’s music. Chanting is music.

    This definition, along with all other definitions of “music”, is ridiculous. The entire concept of music is subjective. Some very “avant-garde” (read: pompous as hell) composers have created compositions that consist entirely of silence or other random noise.

    “That’s not music” is a euphamism for “I don’t like that culture”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I think gangsta rap is both ugly and evil, and joe can tell us all how racist I am for my utter lack of appreciation for violence and misogyny.

  94. so if someone’s going to argue that musical content = behavioral shifts, they have to deal with really violent forms of music in other cultures that don’t have a lot of violence otherwise.

    A very good point. Death-Metalheads are posers, as they’d generally never do the things that are celebrated in the music that they listen to (mass-murder, disease, etc.). Neo-nazi skinheads, on the other hand, are much more real. Their music sings about violent racism and they live up to it.

    In either case, what kind of positive emotion can be generated for either of these two groups based on the “tough” and “mean” music that they enjoy? Either they’re living up to the violence and hatred in their music, in which case they don’t deserve to live in polite society, or they’re pussies and just like to put on a big show with nothing to back it up.

  95. This definition, along with all other definitions of “music”, is ridiculous. The entire concept of music is subjective.

    Again, the word, “music” is a noun. I didn’t make that up. That’s the rule. I don’t care for Jackson Pollock, but it would be silly to look at one of his works and say, “That’s not painting.”

    If you said, “the entire concept of good music is subjective,” there’d be no logical reason to disagree with you. But when you say that a word which is a noun is actually an adjective, then all we can do is look in a dictionary.

  96. Les,

    People call silence “music”, and other people agree with them. People call industrial noise “music”, and other people agree with them. Are you going to tell them, “it doesn’t conform to the dictionary definition, so it’s not music”?

  97. People call silence “music”, and other people agree with them. People call industrial noise “music”, and other people agree with them. Are you going to tell them, “it doesn’t conform to the dictionary definition, so it’s not music”?

    Well, if they claimed that silence or industrial noise was technically music, I’d disagree with them, for the very reason that they don’t conform to the definition of the word. They could however say something like, “That silence/industrial noise is music to my ears,” in which case I couldn’t argue with them.

    But to say that rapping or hip-hop (or punk or techno, etc.) isn’t music is to be technically incorrect (and, in my opinion, musically ignorant).

  98. “A very good point. Death-Metalheads are posers, as they’d generally never do the things that are celebrated in the music that they listen to (mass-murder, disease, etc.). Neo-nazi skinheads, on the other hand, are much more real. Their music sings about violent racism and they live up to it.”

    so people are slaves to the art they consume? or they’re pussies?

    which means gang members aren’t pussies?

    you’re just trolling, aintcha?

    “In either case, what kind of positive emotion can be generated for either of these two groups based on the “tough” and “mean” music that they enjoy? Either they’re living up to the violence and hatred in their music, in which case they don’t deserve to live in polite society, or they’re pussies and just like to put on a big show with nothing to back it up.”

    or maybe they like the music?

    i know this is a radical hypothesis, but bear with me here: sometimes people consume media that has messages that, taken at face value and only at face value, contain values they do not believe in or share. this may be surprising to you, but it’s true.

    […]

    i get the feeling you listen to very little music, pompous or otherwise.

  99. I heard that most country music fans wouldn’t actually shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Poseurs.

    Anyway, Loundry, it isn’t your lack of appreciation for violence and misogyny that racist. It’s you incapacity to appreciate, or apparently complete lack of awareness, that anything else is going in rap music.

    Don’t feel too badly. Freaking you out is sort of the point.

  100. he should check out some dead prez.

  101. Brett Gyllenskog, Smithfield, Utah

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