If you keep up with the Graveyard’s social media, you know that mom, dad, and aunt Rigby have embarked on a new YouTube channel. The venture has gotten me thinking about my own place in what’s pretty much my favorite user-generated platform. I really wish I could fucks with it, I do, but I’m just so miserably inarticulate when it comes to speaking. But perhaps not all is lost. This week I wanted to take a page from a far superior internet Jenna—Jenna Marbles—and perform the written equivalent of her video “I Rant For You” on topics that just don’t quite make the cut for standalone articles. Maybe having something “do your complaining for you” will provide some type of vicarious release? Yes? No? Fuck it, let’s give it a shot.
Or, more like the surrounding critical dialogue.
Let me start by posing a question:
What if I told you that it’s possible to be excited about dressing up for a music festival and watching the artists perform?
Coachella attendees, and attendees of live music more generally, tend to get divided into one side of the dichotomy or the other. One class is posed as being worthier of taking up space in Indio than its flashier counterpart. This limited mindset does a whole lot of conclusion-jumping, insults artistic expression, and potentially puts people in danger. I know that’s a hefty assertion to swallow, so let’s break it down:
First, why does anyone do anything? We can never really answer unequivocally. The great thing is that for the most part, people doing things doesn’t really hurt you unless they start talking shit or spraying bullets. How does a social media influencer taking a picture in front of a ferris wheel affect me? How does them posting it up during Fleet Foxes’ set ruin my experience? I would just take it as a sign that they’re more excited to see, say, Beyoncé perform. Coachella literally has something for everyone, which very well could also be a lurking variable in its popularity aside from its primetime potential for Gram ops.
Second, there’s a finite amount of contexts in your adult life in which you can dress like the complete goon of your dreams. So, festivals become hot weather Halloween. To me, going to, say, Maryland Deathfest is an opportunity to unleash the alternative identity I have to keep at a minimum in my cubicle. The fact that I may spend eons painting myself into a Siouxsie Sioux corner doesn’t mean that I’m not going to spend hours in the front row rocking tits to favorite artists, old and new. I know people want to get on their high horse about the aesthetic aspect of music, but looks and listens have historically gone together like Monday mornings and Google searches for suicide success rates by method.
Finally, I would like to present the theory that the delegitimization of primarily female music festival participants actually puts them in danger. 2018 seems to be the first year of Coachella where accounts of sexual harassment have been brought to light. I, too, can offer anecdotal evidence of having my thighs and ass groped in crowds at shows. I can’t help but feel like if women wearing, say, high waisted shorts or bandage skirts at shows weren’t pegged as “lesser” fans then they might be perceived as being worthy of basic human decency. Some preemptive defense: the “just wear pants” argument in this context is problematic by engaging in the typical victim-blamey narrative, but also because these functions are often sweaty endurance tests. People should be allowed to, yano, exist without getting heat stroke. Oh, these hoes of today and their audacity to want to be comfortable and not die!
Let me start of by saying that trying to dissuade kids from using drugs—particularly in the dicey era of Fentanyl—is a noble goal to set out to accomplish. Now that we got that out of the way, we can broach the subject of Russ, who, if you don’t know, is a popular rapper among the youths. IMO, his shit makes for chill-enough background music. Others think it’s corny and keep starting rumors that he died b/c internet. Just this week, he’s gotten himself into some shit again by releasing a song called “Sore Loser,” which basically takes a road paved with ad hominem attacks to call out drug culture in Cloud rap. As a result, I am arguing that despite what he alleges, daring kids to resist drugs is not really Russ’ goal at all. He is mad that he is a meme and is looking to take it out against the perceived perpetrator. That’s literally it.
First things first, and perhaps most obviously, you don’t dissuade kids from drug use by calling them losers and throwing shade at their dead friends/idols. Lest we forget, Lil Peep was still warm when Russ was on Twitter trying to assert some fugazi ass moral high ground, as if he has the reputation for being a substance-free role model (spoiler alert: he doesn’t). This mindset is especially ineffective when you’re talking to a crowd of legitimately anxious, misanthropic kids who are only going to further close themselves off at the first sign of bullying. A little empathy might go a long way. But it’s looking more and more like Russ isn’t in it for the long haul. He’s just trying to carve out a voice in the right-now rap narrative by any means possible. Maybe I’m falling into his trap by even saying his name, but when you’re going to drag people’s lives into this shit then that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
The more you unpack this alleged tough love anti-drug crusade, the more you realize that it’s devoid of critical thought. His Tweets in the wake of Peep’s death went on to say that it’s one thing if you’re taking Xans in your bedroom because you’re depressed, but it’s another if your drug use is portrayed in your widely-disseminated art. I’m glad that he brought up that kids do drugs because they’re struggling, but he falls so fucking short when you consider how people are supposed to know the full extent of an epidemic if no one is bringing their addiction to light. Cloud rappers started in their bedrooms, hence their use of a user-generated medium. The two separate entities he named in his bedroom v. studio dichotomy aren’t separate entities at all— they’re all the same fucking kids. Oh my god. This fucking hamster.
“Sore Loser” drones on about other facets of Cloud rap in call-outs that are just plain strange coming from a pale string bean. This kid literally drops some line like “white skin, they can’t believe I’ve got friends in the hood,” as if having black friends is still a litmus test for being cool and, like, totally not racist u guise. But if you want to make it one, Cloud rap is like a goddamned rainbow, so I really don’t know why Russ is out here trying to sell himself as some sort of Sicilian snowflake. He also goes on to claim that Cloud rap kids who get face tattoos are really just pansies appropriating gang culture. But aren’t all tattoos, regardless of placement, technically appropriating gangs who are technically appropriating from the pioneering tattoo cultures from the depths of history? Where does one draw the line? I have an anchor on my ribs—am I appropriating other marginalized groups like Navy vets? I have a tramp stamp on my back—am I appropriating strippers? Oh wait, I was one! Sliding into my next point: maybe some of these Soundcloud kids did run the streets when they were younger. Who the fuck knows? Making sweeping generalizations when you don’t know every last personal story is pretty lame.
Jumping back to my earlier point, Russ’ story is hardly unblemished himself. Rapper Fat Nick pointed out that Russ is guilty of talking about getting fucked up in his songs. While I understand that I defended Lil Xan for having a drug-based name and still preaching benzo sobriety, Nick does highlight the reality that morally speaking, Russ doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He asserts an “I’m better than you” point of view that, say, Xan just doesn’t. If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when people want to turn high-horse riding into a fucking contest. Inevitably, by trying to the best guy, you turn out to be the actual worst: case in point, tone-deaf Tweets post-Peep.
It’s like a race to the bottom of whose death is most important because it’s the saddest and pooerst and most obscure. Fuck that. Do you think Russ really deeply cares about “the kids OD-ing you don’t read about” (another obvious jab). Really? Fucking Johnny Boy in his basement in Iowa? I mean, I think Russ would give a shit on a basic human level, but if he really wanted to lead a crusade to prevent deaths like these, he would be donating money to mental health organizations and offering meaningful alternatives to drug use. Goddamn, he could take a page from John Joseph and preach meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet. But nope—just say no to drugs, kids. Works every time.
It makes me sick when people go on some fake ass after school special campaign that’s really just promoting their own agenda. It reminds me of how the city of NOLA tried to shut down all of the strip clubs on Bourbon Street under the guise of ending human trafficking, when really, the city’s goal was to clear house for gentrification. It’s such a slap in the face to individuals who are really oppressed by outside forces, as well as good Samaritans who are actually trying to help in a substantive, nuanced way.
Russ, I’d love for you to prove me wrong. As someone who’s been to rehab and back, I would think it would be mad dope if you, you know, weren’t completely full of shit. Put your money where your mouth is, dude. You definitely have a lot of both regardless of whether or not you’re a meme, and I most certainly can’t take that away from you.
I’m going to attempt to stay calmer for this final segment. Because this form of internet knife-wielding doesn’t call kids’ welfare into question, I really don’t want it to get the reaction out of me that it’s so desperately baiting.
I really had no clue Pitchfork was even still active as a website until they started talking shit about a rapper named Lil West after he contributed a verse to nothing,nowhere.’s “REM” last fall. Prior to this instance, I literally hadn’t read a Pitchfork article since 2013 when they roasted the easy target that is Falling in Reverse’s “Alone.” I vividly remember that they made some type of jab about how only Eurotrash dudes at the airport “rock Gucci sneaks.” Well, with the resurgence of Gucci’s popularity, I guess Pitchfork is attempting to keep their insult valid by shredding Smokepurpp’s new album Bless Yo Trap for no good reason other than the fact that they can.
It’s not that I’m surprised that Pitchfork is hating things for the sake of being the spoon in the pot; it’s the fact that they’re STILL performing this shtick after all these years. It’s like the keffiyeh scarf PBR kids of ’08 forget to go to grad school and pop out a gluten-intolerant kid named Milo. Instead, they’re still swinging their tall boys around the same old gentrified dives, basking in the glory of what once was. I think I just ripped off a nothing,nowhere. line, but that’s actually a nice segue into my next point.
Hey, guess what other album they just dragged—Ruiner, dropped two weeks ago by Mr. Nowhere via Fueled By Ramen. I fully admit that I am triggered by this because I stan the legend, but that confession is precisely where I diverge from Pitchfork. I own up to my personal biases where disclosure is due. Pitchfork goes after concepts like conviction, adding taglines like “lackluster” as liberally as most music bloggers would use “rock” or “hip-hop.” Criticizing something so objectively immeasurable—particularly under the guise of hardnosed, top-notch music journalism—is lame, and it is lazy. It’s a shortcut for sounding like an intelligent authority without opening up the vulnerability to be proven wrong.
Even though they don’t admit it, it is clear that Pitchfork goes into an album already decided if they like it or not. I guess because nothing,nowhere. has the reputation of an earnest emo nugget instead of an ultra-self-aware prick they feel threatened and need to knock him down? And I guess because Smokepurpp fucks with Lil Pump and Lil Pump is becoming cool to hate, Smokepurpp becomes cool to hate by proxy? Because the kid, who paid his dues is the underground, is no more than Pump’s “wingman” amirite? God fucking damn does my head hurt. But, by god, what Pitchfork likes, Pitchfork fucking likes. This explains why they can use “aimless” as an insult against Purpp while naming Bon Iver’s meandering Bon Iver the album of 2011.
I’m honestly not even mad as much as I am just sad. I’m sad that this is the school of journalism to which we’ve amounted. Pitchfork, you owe it to hardworking artists, and to yourself, to be more than the notorious journalistic equivalent of a dirty diaper.
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