The Day the Culture Passes You By

The Lady and I heard the new Gaga single on our way to the grocer on the weekend and had the same reaction of most people older than 24: ‘Man, that really sounds like ‘Express Yourself’ by Madonna.

‘If  you’re Gaga, you have to be pretty ballsy to thief on Madge like that,’ said The Lady.

‘I don’t know if it’s considered ballsy,’ I said,  ‘I think it’s just that she doesn’t care. How much it rips off Madonna is something old people talk about, and we don’t matter. Not to her.’

Pop culture has always trafficked in casual thievery, and lots of music has been about flipping the bird at the squares, but the prevalent undercurrent seems to be the postmillenial spin on ‘Don’t trust anyone over thirty.’  Now it feels like, ‘If you’re over thirty, fuck off.’

Call it the positive spin of memory, but it felt as though the youth music and culture back in the day was more inclusive, as long as you got it.  Didn’t matter if you were old as shit, if you understood the indie rock coming out of the West Coast, or Halifax, or the hip-hop of Death Row and Bad Boy, you could hang.  Lately there seems to be a trend suggesting that it doesn’t matter if you get it or not:  you are not wanted.  To wit:

Meet Tyler.  Also, Tyler the Creator, leader of Cali rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All [OFWGKTA, usually shortened to Odd Future].  Since 2008, Tyler and Co. have put out about 15 albums, given away for free on their website.  The beats are minimal, the lyrics are deliberately provocative and usually offensive [but don’t call them horrorcore], and always pleased with themselves. And they will own this year, more than likely.

Tyler’s latest video dropped last week.  In one single shot, he eats a cockroach, vomits on camera, gets a nosebleed, and hangs himself.

And it’s….kind of fucking awesome? Because who wouldn’t want to stab Bruno Mars in his esophagus?  I kid, I kid.  The lyrics are frequently hilarious and the beat is the hardest, most terrifying thing I’ve heard in years. And just looking at him, you can tell Tyler could not give less of a shit what an old prick like me thinks.  Even if I told him I like it, he’d make fun of me to his buddies as soon as my back was turned, probably to my face, because they’re kids who are claiming the Eminem “Just Don’t Give a Fuck Flag” (TM).

And I’m not lamenting this.  Really.  I reluctantly embrace my membership in the Monsters of Rock club.  I just think it’s interesting the ferocity with which the kids are out to offend, to ‘be provocative.’  When even someone as wack as Rihanna is loving the smell of sex in the room, a corner has been turned.  It’s a well that dries up fast, and at 15 albums in two years, it’ll be interesting to watch the boys in Odd Future develop once they pass the drinking age.

In the meantime, you can catch them tonight [February 16] on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

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