Lucid Culture


CD Review: Chang Jui-Chuan – Exodus: Retrospective and Prospective 1999-2009

Global hip-hop doesn’t get much better than this. Rapper/college professor Chang Jui-Chuan is a bonafide star of the hip-hop underground in his native Taiwan, and this collection – largely culled from a 2006 release – has him poised to cross over to an English-speaking audience. A gifted, frequently ferocious bilingual lyricist in his native language, Hokkien and also English, he delivers his English raps in a menacing, slurred Taiwanese-accented drawl. This is conscious hip-hop raised to a power: people have been executed for tackling the topics he addresses. He has little use for globalization:

You say free trade gets us out of poverty and hunger

Free trade saves my family from pistol triggers

Free trade assures good drugs for my son’s cancer

Then tell me why we’re dying faster than ever…

Exploitation disguised as freedom and democracy

Global corporations feed Third World Dictators

Paying less than one dollar per month for child workers…

He fearlessly takes the stand for dissidents who risk their lives around the globe, especially those who dare stand up to the mainland Chinese regime:

…when I’m placing an order on this free-speech website

It’s taken over by the interface in Chinese Simplified

Propaganda’s never simplified, can only be vandalized

I orchestrate lyrical drive-bys

The most potent lyric here is in Hokkien, titled Hey Kid, a scathing account of Chang Kai-shek’s invasion of Taiwan, the February 27, 1947 massacre of Taiwanese nationalist freedom fighters, and the subsequent terror that lasted decades and left tens of thousands of innocent civilians dead. He also addresses spiritual concerns without coming across as doctrinaire (he’s a Christian) and the need to preserve indigenous cultures in the face of western cultural imperialism. The backing tracks here deserve mention too because they’re excellent, ranging from spacy psychedelic funk, to roots reggae (Chang sings respectably well), to ominous, chromatically-charged funk-metal played by a live band rather than sampled. Fans of the best conscious American hip-hop acts: Immortal Technique, the Coup and Dead Prez are in for a treat here. Or maybe this guy can hook up with the Hsu-nami and we can get a real Taiwanese-American crossover.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Top Ten Songs of the Week 6/29/09

We do this every Tuesday. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Pretty much every link here will take you to each individual song.

1. Marty Willson-Piper – Feed Your Mind

The Church guitarist has a career-best solo album just out (very favorably reviewed here) and this savagely funny anti-tourist tirade is on it. The Church are at Irving Plaza on 7/8.

2. Pajtasi – Untitled

Slovak cimbalom band playing a string-driven haunting dance number. They’re at Radegast Hall & Biergarten on N 3rd in Wburg on 7/2 at 9.

3. The Luxury – Rockets & Wrecking Balls

Power ballad – but a good one – and the frontman can really sing

4. The Motion Sick – Jean-Paul

Swirling dark garage pop from Boston

5. The Sterns – Supreme Girl

Like vintage XTC but catchier with a little ska feel

6. Shilpa Ray – Shine in Exile

Noir harmonium and vocals – scroll down on the page to find it

7. Elizabeth Devlin – Gatsby’s Song

Spot-on oldtimey song, solo autoharp!

8. The Weeds – What Was It

Sad and pretty

9. Dalis Elvis – Beating Dead Horses

Southwestern gothic punk  

10. Notorious MSG – Chinatown Hustler

First-generation Chinatown gangsta rap/punk rock. Someday other Chinese rappers will refer to this as the golden age.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment