Vuvuzelas, South African House and the Politics of Drones Piece in The Wire

I finally got to write about my love for South African house music in the current (January 2011) issue of The Wire. I’ve been asked to write an “epiphany” piece for The Wire for nearly a decade but I’ve always loathed the word “epiphany” so I was never able to do it. Hearing the roar of the vuvuzelas at the World Cup earlier this year got me thinking about drones as a global, popular phenomenon, and in particular about my favorite South African house track of the last year, JR’s “Show Dem (Make the Circle Bigger)” with its spluttering vuvuzela-like bass sound:

I’m fascinated by the rise of house (sometimes known as kwaito) in South Africa in the post-apartheid years, and the global spread of a highly local queer black sound coming out of Chicago and New York in the 1980s.  Rob of Wack Magic was telling me the other night that they struggle with the indie kids’ resistance to four on the floor beats like house, but house seems to be able to renew itself in so many different ways and contexts, and there’s a thread of liberation that runs through many of the forms it takes.  An excerpt from my piece:

“What was it really that we were hearing when we listened to the vuvuzelas?  I came to think of it, perhaps naively,  as the sound of the global South, the buzzing hive sound of the people of the world, contaminating the otherwise clean hyperspace of the globalized spectacle of soccer, now trademarked and sold to us by FIFA.  A reminder that you can’t send a message without distortion entering in, and that if you listen to the messages of global capital, they will always be accompanied by their subaltern support, the global multitude.  Just as I love the way that drones piss people off, I loved the appalled reaction of many commentators to the vuvuzelas, and the calls for these trumpets and the drones they created to be banned.”

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One Response to Vuvuzelas, South African House and the Politics of Drones Piece in The Wire

  1. dain says:

    Like the excerpt of your The Wire article, during the World Cup I felt so much that arrogant football fans should be a bit more empathic with those people who had the time of their lives blowing their vuvuzelas, that I started a counter ban group on Facebook called Ban football from vuvuzela concerts. It still has about 31000 fans 🙂

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