“Forsaken Strangers and Sacrificial Lambs: Soul Asylum, Race and Music Since 1995”

Candy from a Stranger, the 1998 Soul Asylum album, got them dropped from their label.

Listen to it now. It comes in 2014, what do you think it gets on pitchfork, how do you think it’s accepted by the indie world?

Ok, let’s back up here, because music commerce has obviously changed a lot since 1998. In fact, theoretically, ’98 was the climax of the quality of music. Music being created was being compensated, because it predated Napster, online file sharing.

But black people are one force in life, and computers (also known as white people) are another, and, c’est la vie, it seemeth that the quid just usurped the quo. Actually not, though, because it was all white people making rock music in 1999, so it was really just white people defeating white people.

1998 was even past the bell curve of the quality of rap, I’d place that at about ’95, with GZA’s Liquid Swords. That was an album I bought in college… it spoke to my college self, and it spoke to my self of having grown up in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, where a dude I played tee ball with got shot in the testicles. ’96 is widely heralded as the year all rap became “gangster” (obviously too late), a phenomenon outlined in Roots drummer Questlove’s book Mo Meta Blues. So at this point the music’s organic quality had been supplanted by aggressive posturing, essentially. Few hip-hop groups strove forth after this, but it was never by following a pattern — Wu-Tang scoffed at chorus with the blitzkrieg 1997 single “Triumph,” the aforementioned Roots pulled of the monumental gimmick of “writing a song of every musical genre” on the juggernaut trooper Phrenology, the Beastie Boys sharpened their swords on wizardry of emcee interplay and pure, unadulterated carefree buzzing. Hip-hop was a less formulaic role than rock.

By 2001, the way rock groups came to be rebellious, and therefore successful, surprising, was actually by not trying to be too extreme, but just having a singular muse that they let flow in an easy timbre. This, of course, flew in the face of the idea of music as capital, which would yield the unartistic sound wave rapacity of rock/rap, so significant beforehand. But nobody, NOBODY (except hipsters) ever said that The Strokes were better than Nirvana, or even Soundgarden… the new garage wave was clearly taken as a limited antidote to a systemic musical problem we all perceived.

Liars came through and blew my mind in 2006 with that crazy tribal sh**, very original. Other than that, after Soul Asylum’s 1998 sacrificial lamb-ing, when people put out music and we hear it, we give it quite the benefit of the doubt, or the dollar.

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