Posts Tagged ‘trinidad’

Race, Politricks & Crime in Trinidad & Tobago’s Electoral Debate

May 23, 2010

It’s election time in Trinidad and Tobago right now and it’s been very, very interesting so far, taking stock of the two contending parties. That being said, of course, I have to make the requisite elections post—‘the mother of all elections‘ even, says the Jamaica Observer.

It’s all so fascinating. Pondering all the main issues. The concerns. The relevant “wajang” behaviour newspaper headlines. The discussions being had with and amongst friends and family of mine. The fascinating facebook notes written by friends, popping up in my mini-feed. People in my mini-feed liking Patrick Manning’s latest insipid status updates. The person who did the wack photo edits on certain profile pics on this Kamla Persad Bissessar page in the neck area. I peeped her page the other day and thought, seriously? The woman looks fine, just as she is and the tweaked texture of her chin and neck are not preferable.

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a vintage ting dat

April 13, 2010

So I love old photos in general. I always wonder about the people inside of them who may be long gone. I wonder who they were. What was their story. What kind of history is locked into their eyes staring back at me.

And I especially love old Trinidad and Tobago images. So I was excited to find this wonderful online collection of beautiful and iconic vintage Trinidad (as well as Tobago) postcard images including,

old Frederick Street

the cocoa estates

the cane fields

a formidable mighty samaan

old QRC

the land and its people

and many, many more.

Below: vintage Trinidad postcard showing an East Indian lady 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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on being brave

February 17, 2010

do people truly sit down and vibes over what ian alvarez is saying/singing sometimes? cause sometimes i really don’t think they do—and they should. and yes, i consider it a kind of intellectual laziness when some people say how he is chanting “too fas” so they couldn’t be bothered.

anyhoo, on the eve of the merry monarch’s 2010 reign, a few timely words from the black spaniard’s “brave”. instant classic i say.

cuh-lass-sick.

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The Trouble with Culture

May 17, 2009

Part rant, part retrospective, part pissed off-ness for my friend…

The trouble with culture is that it belongs to all of us, yet to no one person—-simultaneously. There are those who may say Ellie Mannette and Rudolph Charles (God res’ de dead) are responsible for the innovation of our beloved pan, does that make Mr. Mannette and Mr. Charles the sole bearers of the culture of pan? No, it doesn’t and as a Trinbagonian, it belongs to the collective registry of all that is part and parcel of our cultural landscape. You can possess it—but you cannot actually own it. But what happened after word got out that the Japanese tried to patent the steelpan shows that whether you can or can’t actually own vestiges of culture, it does matter who tries to do so however.

Sometimes Trinis like to bemoan the alleged carnivalesque nature of our work ethic and you frequently hear other Trinis complaining that it is hard to get anything done properly with our fellow country folk and things along those lines. You hear it all the time and I am not going to dig into that issue/perception right now but the fact is that there are plenty of enterprising sons and daughters of the soil, all over the place, both IN and OUT of our islands, making their mark in a variety of areas. Some are doing so through creatively re-appropriating and re-inventing cultural idioms and images. They’re making art, t-shirts, jewelry, sculpture, music and so on. Which is fine. Good.

Which leads me to wonder, when one is aiming to employ and economize off of a uniquely Trinibagonian aesthetic, does said individual owe anything to the inspiration of their art? Any responsibility to that culture? What about the people therein? If so, how and in what ways? Who is to say what that is? One of the ways to do so is to respect your other countryfolk. Respect their money and respect their interest in your product. They would have after all, more of a vested interest in some of your images than say, people half-way across the world who don’t. (Not that they can’t either but it’s not the same).

Ultimately, I wonder, what is to be the legacy of what you are doing? To just make money? To create a vision about what it means to be from this place called Trinidad and Tobago and make a statement about it—-whatever that is. On your own terms, re-imagining what that means for yourself and the greater cultural landscape at large. Because when you are putting products out there, the people who buy them with a critical eye, will be (and should be) interested in that. Yes, it can just look good too. No, it doesn’t always have to be that complex but I am hopeful that it might because I happen to value complexity.

So there is a clothing company called Coskel University which is partly owned and spearheaded by a Trinidadian. Coskel makes a wide array of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel. Many of their designs employ some vision of a uniquely Trinbagonian aesthetic and their designs are influenced and inspired by the music, culture, flora and fauna of Trinidad and Tobago. Their designs, their Kaiso icons t-shirt series are amazing. David Rudder on a tee is a yay! for me. I even own one of their coat-of-arms university tanks (pre John Legend and pre-stiffing my friend out of money!).

But I question the goal behind their vision the more that I see and hear. A press release statement issued last year, announced the company’s partnership with John Legend’s tour. In the same press release, the company’s statements on the vision of Coskel asserts, “if our product is marketed properly and is stylish the quality will speak for itself and reach the masses even if they are unaware of the culture itself.” Hmmm. Which somehow got me to thinking of that silly Skippy peanut butter ad with the elephant with dreads, wearing a Rasta tam, replete with a bad, pseudo-reggae jingle. If we don’t contextualize our own cultural images, when we put them out there, clearly no one else is going to do it for us. People will do want they want with it anyway! I don’t claim to know how it should be done, I’m just suggesting that if Coskel is selling shirts with Black Stalin and “beat pan” on it, how then, is it okay if people are “unaware of the culture itself?” It has to be two-fold I think, especially when you are capitalizing off a culture. I can’t tell someone what to do with their art, but I can certainly ponder what this means for the ways in which I subsequently view and/or choose to support their product.

On to my friend. A friend of mine, who co-owns and co-runs a small business in East Trinidad, selling all things Caribbean (clothing, accessories, handbags, natural soaps etc.) had placed an order with Coskel, that to this day, hasn’t been fulfilled. There is an outstanding balance of 250 USD still to resolved and the goods, yet to be delivered. Furthermore, to go into all the ins-and-outs of this situation: the e-mails back and forth, the tireless wrangling for what was sent—how many times allegedly by Coskel and the fact that they never ever reached my friend, could be a whole other blog of its own. The fact of the matter is that money was received for goods that have never materialized. NO refund and no product has been forthcoming til this day. And based on what I have heard, gleaned and peeped in e-mail transmissions and the like, I can’t help but see their dealings with this small business venture in Trinidad, as indicative of their broader product culture. I bet if this was some large-scale retailer in Asia courting them, the outcome of this scenario would be very different. Plain talk.

Extend to them, the same courtesies and opportunities and presumably prompt service, that you do to foreigners. In between the global expansion and while you are slapping the national coat of arms on a shirt, how do you not see the relevance in selling your product in said homeland and investing in doing so. Or to quote Sizzla Kalonji, “dance ah yard—before yuh dance abroad.” To my knowledge Coskel has been courted by a certain Syrian-Lebanese enterprise in Trinidad (a deal which didn’t materialize for whatever reason) but the brand has yet to set up any kind of showroom and be regularly stocked anywhere in Trinidad or Tobago, least of all by my friends for whom the order and the money is still outstanding to.

This does not mean that the brand is “limited by [its] Trinidadian culture” (from the Oct 31st 2008, John Legend and Band to wear Coskel University Clothing press release statement) but serving Trini retailers large OR small, locates the brand squarely there, literally and figuratively, much in the way that the brand is “defined by its cultural references.” There is nothing wrong with that. For instance, you can go to Jamaica and encounter lots and lots of people wearing the brand Cooyah. We can also find it on the streets of Port-of-Spain just as much.

You would be hard pressed to find the same amount of Coskel anywhere in TnT, at any time, because there’s nowhere to get it easily. It’s mind boggling that a world-expanding Trinbago-inspired brand, with a base in Brooklyn, New York could be so hard to access in Trinidad and Tobago. Similarly, the company’s website touts Coskel as a response to “Caribbean-themed apparel…from the Bob [Marley] or beaches viewpoint” (in the company profile) yet the company has no kind of recognizable presence within Trinidad and Tobago, on par with what they have set-up elsewhere.

Personally, as I have assessed everything, I would rather buy any new funky tank tops or t-shirt digs from local artists like Tanya Williams (among others) and other lines that show a real interest in locating their Trini specific products in Trinidad, about as much as they are intent on making a splash in the rest of the world. Not just Trini, but I would quicker support any West Indian cultural product or other product that does so. Which is also why I buy fair trade shea butter from an African booth in the flea market. West African women (and their communities) who cultivate karite have as much a right to benefit from the reach and popularity of shea butter around the world as anyone else.

Finally, Coskel can ultimately do what they want, where they want, with their own product. But the ways in which they fail to integrate the Trinbagonian market in any way is slightly problematic because of the way in which the Japanese aesthetic (the other half of the Coskel duo) is not as prominent as the other, nor is the product entirely marketed as such. Their products are marketed and located admittedly within a Trinbagonian aesthetic. Naturally, there is more money to be made elsewhere and one’s culture is only exoticized and fetishized outside the homeland, not in it. But there are several generations of Trinbagonians right now, reclaiming some kind of Trinbagonian aesthetic and placing a high value on it, just as they do with other Western brands. Which is a good thing.

Somehow Coskel is already in the works of a distribution deal, factory and store in China (which may or may not be up and running already). And they are big in de dance in Japan. Good fuh allyuh. But they still are yet to fulfill their order in Trinidad or grant my friends the money and/or goods that has been supposedly coming to them for the longest while. 2007 was  when my friend last tussled over this and they haven’t heard anything from Coskel since then. Or seen a refund. I won’t be surprised if one day, I see Coskel on the racks at Wal-Mart stores worldwide (hopefully by then, people will be able to distinguish between Stalin the dictator and Stalin the great calypsonian) but in the meantime, before that happens, I hope they find the time to give my friends their blasted money!

In Trinidad? Check out the D’Caribbean Culture Shack for all things Caribbean and Caribbean oriented [except Coskel apparently] Give them a call at  @ 377-9869/748-1927. Find them on facebook groups and fan pages and see what’s new in stock!

D' Caribbean Culture Shack
D’ Caribbean Culture Shack

 Citing for Coskel’s press release statement:

 http://www.coskeluniversity.com/news/pressrelease_nov08_eng.htm

 ok, on a related side-note to ALL ah dis. This comment was left below on my “about” page. Why not as a comment under here? *shrug* Didn’t see the comment link, didn’t care to….who knows. Either way I really didn’t want us going into a whole diatribe about this THERE cause that’s not the place to. So after several days of irking me from the “about” page, I just copied them from there, deleted the posts and reproduced them for anyone concerned about where the[ir] comment/s went.

person David Hubert says on:

May 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I read your article about “The problem with culture” and wile I understand your point of view, I wholeheartedly disagree. More so much of your information is incorrect feel free to drop me an email I will be more than happy to discus your views in further detail, or even have a phone convo about the subject

Then I said this on:

May 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm

hmmm…what is incorrect specifically? the fact that coskel did receive money from my friend’s business [which i know for a fact that they did], that they in turn didn’t receive the goods? [which i know for a fact that they didn’t and there’s an e-mail trail to prove both]. the fact that coskel ISN’T as engaged in the trinbagonian market on the same scale as they are elsewhere—cause if they are, it must be way under the radar cause no one i know of, seems to know that. the fact that i am musing about cultural capitalism and the ways in which people may or may not engage in that practice? musings, last i checked are more or less substantiated [or unsubstantiated] opinions and renderings.

if i’m wrong about the product culture of coskel then it’s only because i am locating my view based on what i have seen [and heard and know and read] of their practices thus far: in regard to a friend vs. their global [asian] expansions etc. when i KNOW otherwise–i’ll FEEL otherwise.

if you disagree with specific points about what i have written, i’d rather if you posted as a comment to THAT blog and take the discussion there, respond as a comment under “the trouble with culture” and i’ll be happy to address your concerns there. otherwise: phone conversations and e-mails are really not warranted or necessary. if you happen to be connected to coskel—i am hardly the person that you need to be e-mailing or talking to on the phone.

Then Lin had her say:

May 18, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Who are you Mr David Hubert as far as what is written in this blog everything is on point nothing is incorrect and if you want to challenge me talk to our lawyers.

Drama fuh yuh mama y’all. <— My final assessment.

A Short Drop

March 30, 2009

red-band maxi

It seems like wherever enclaves of people from different cultures are found, vestiges of our home and the culture from whence we came soon follow. Like roti shops and mini-buses. When I was an undergrad, you could take a ride from my campus in North Miami, all the way to downtown Miami (and back) for one dollar each way on the local jitney. The benefits meant that you weren’t limited to the schedule of the Miami-Dade city transport system, nor limited to their routes which didn’t necessarily go everywhere that people might want to go. The jitney ride in North Miami functioned as a main source of transportation (as well as supplemental to other public transport ) for large numbers of people including college students within the area. Here was where you were summoned onto an already full mini-bus by a nodding driver assuring you that there is room, while you scanned the darkly tinted windows with slight skepticism.

The thing is, you never really knew until you actually got on. Then you did, only to survey the hodge-podge of arms and knees, tightly folded legs, rapid fire kreyol over the sounds of kompa–with increasing doubt; while from his perch behind the steering wheel, you were solidly assured by the driver, that there was indeed a place for you, deep in the belly of the mini-bus. You just had to keep going. Eventually you’d find the space, sandwiched between two strangers, tightly squeezed on either side.

When I was riding the jitney, there were still mini-buses with no buzzer, so you had to holler from the back over the din and once in a while, between the animated conversations and the music, the driver did miss your stop. But these people beside you, these people you only knew from this ride, would always help, passing on the call for “stop!” from person to person and mouth-to-mouth, like a verbal smoke signal until we came to rest. Even people that did not know English well, knew how to yell stop on the jitney.

Throughout the developing world, you can find versions of the mini-bus as a cultural variation of the government created transportation system. There is always something subversive about the way in which they function as a means of getting people around. These small mini-buses cramming as many people inside as they can, undercutting the cost of other transport in some places and/or providing flexibility of routes in others.

They are privately owned and in many cases, this mysterious individual (or individuals) may not even be the person who is doing all the driving. In many parts of the developing world, mini-buses are part of a larger cultural representation of everyday life, in a way that other modes of transport supposedly are not. Or at least they are, in a different way.

In a large Western metropolis like New York city for example, city buses and other kinds of public state transport don’t function in the exact same way as the mini-bus, since you would find a successful mortgage broker riding next to a blue-collar worker, on the same train on any given day. In the developing world, mini-bus culture (and there usually is one), especially in the Caribbean (and Africa) is indicative of the other social and socio-economic forces at play as well.

So much so that you can find people in Trinidad, who proudly declare that “they never take public transport” before (specifically maxis, and least of all a PTSC bus) because this fact is representative of being in a certain socio-economic class that is not dependent on (or never has been dependent on) public transport. Which means you are one of those people who has your own car and when you didn’t, you’re used to getting dropped around all the time.

I want to feel like in 2009, you would still be hard-pressed to find someone who has never taken a maxi before but from what I’ve heard, that’s not true. Never taken a maxi? And okay with that? Never experienced the hustle of an ambitious tout in City Gate saying he had a special seat, just for you. Never been privy to the random conversational encounters on a maxi. Never been in the front seat of a maxi, music blaring loudly while barreling down the priority bus route at break-neck speed, with the breeze whipping at your face. Never had to dodge a bottom in yuh face after shuffling yuh own bottom around for seats on a maxi.

In Trinidad, there are more and more cars on the road and we’re building more and more walls, around ourselves (literal and otherwise) to shut undesirables out, so there’s a whole growing section of people for whom, maxi taking just will not do. As to safety concerns, I would reckon that hopping a maxi from somewhere to town and back in the day, would still be somewhat safer than doing so in a flashy car.

Plus in actuality if you ask certain kinds of people who don’t take maxis, why they don’t, it has less to do with being safe, than the notion of being cheek-on-jowl with the masses. The problem is being in close quarters, like, say a “bread van” maxi, with de marrish and de parrish. In Trini we have our maxi taxis and in Guyana you can find the “mini bus” as well. In fact, throughout the Caribbean they exist, all over Africa, as well as regions in South and Central America. In South Africa they’re called “combis.”

A friend informed me that in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto-Rico, they’re called “guaguas.” In the Vanity Fair 2007 Africa issue, I read Binyavanya Wainaina’s description of the Kenyan “matatus” as “anarchic public transport vehicles,” embodying the “edgy and beautiful” enterprising spirit of a transforming African country economy.

These “Isuzu mini-buses,” these “loud, aggressive vehicles” reminded me of the red, yellow, green and maroon-band maxi taxis on the streets of Trinidad in their heyday. Nowadays, maxi drivers and owners in Trinidad have their own association or representative body, that is very active in attempting to regulate the ply of drivers and conductors. The rides themselves are relatively tamed down, compared to the excess of the earlier years where you might find a fuzzy, faux fur interior detailing inside on the roof, black lights in a maxi and more than enough bass to feel it reverberating inside your chest.

But during the late eighties and exploding in the early to mid-nineties, maxi culture flourished in a way that made them the scourge of everyone from school principals to middle-class parents. They represented a vehicular hustle, propelled by young brash men of color, driving and touting and jostling for passengers (and sex).

From the school children liming late in town for subsequent runs of their favorite maxi, the branding of certain maxis as popular rides, to the epic pong of the bass line pulsating through the whole maxi and disturbing the peace, the dub, the dub lyrics, the school girls breaking biche to get whisked away by maxi men, the ambitious tout wetting some school girl’s ears with his own (or borrowed) lyrics, the tout shuffling through wads of cash to lure some teenager/s astray, the allegations of these big hard-back men being on the prowl, the tout who allegedly had HIV and was spreading it wantonly to school girls all over the place.

These stories and others like them are part of the maxi culture in our society, particularly ones exposing the seedy sexual underside of maxi culture. It’s Trini street culture. Trini urban culture. And just Trini culture—all stemming from a ride down the road in a red-band maxi. You can find similar sentiments and stories permeating all throughout our region of the supposed ills of mini-bus culture and the complaints about the drivers.

What is it about these buses? That they are clearly indispensable is a fact. But also because of the way in which public transport, by its very design, forces the converging of different layers of people (even within the same socio-economic bracket) into a confined space. Every one cannot have a car after all. So they do create an actual socio-cultural space while providing a real nececessity and a service to the population.

Classic footage below of calypsonian Bally’s 1989 classic “Maxi Dub,” describing his dislike  of the youths’ maxi-culture and especially the loud dub music they play that he cannot decipher!

Masculinity and Performativity in Soca music

August 2, 2008

Machel at the 2008 Best of the Best Concert. Great show!!!!

Most people seemed to be buzzing about the way in which 2008 saw the return of Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) as one of the forerunners of the art form. Similar sentiments echoed off the lips of friends of mine and the general word on the street was that “The Fireman” is indeed back, fresh off the honeymoon phase of things, as he blazed a fiery path to Soca Monarch glory and a successful year this season.

Now, I’ve been paying attention to the thematic concerns running through many of Garlin’s more popularised hits this season and came to a conclusion. With my feminist sensibilities intact, all the while soaking in this glorious carnival season, I decided that his vocal points in verse, had as much to do with everything else. It’s not that Bunji Garlin ever “fell off” so to speak, don’t get me wrong, it’s Bunji we talking about and his talent has never really waned. What he has been able to do quite well this year I think, (outside of “Fiery”) is capitalise on embodying the voice of “The Man,” and he does that very well.

Female singers do this voice — for women, quite often as well. That’s why “ladies’ anthems” exist across many musical genres. I don’t know if as many “men’s anthems” exist but some of the males I know have tended to rally around a few popular premises in songs, from hip-hop to dancehall and soca. While I will not disagree with anyone who lauds Garlin as a modern day “chantwell” (as a Trinidad Express columnist recently did), because he truly is. Lyrically masterful as he is, Garlin exemplifies where soca meets a contemporary midnight robber, a Bard if you will, for this generation.

And though he has been cited as the “voice of the ghetto people,” never failing to big up and connect with the various experiences in the lives of the many people stretching across the socioeconomic landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, I would also add that the way in which he appeals to men, as a representative of a particular kind of Trini man masculinity on stage, also adds to his appeal. He is also then, “the voice of the Man.” The scope of West Indian masculinity and identity and how we came to “be so,” is a tricky road to navigate.

We live in a society formed on a backdrop of slavery and colonialisation. A society that is largely governed  by extreme heterocentric norms and Catholic-Christian doctrines; all these too, help to shape the way in which “masculinity” is acted out or performed. Unless of course, you are some kind of essentialist thinker, then we might all agree that masculinity (or what is perceived to be masculine at any rate) is to some extent, performed and learned behavior. (Shout-out to a brilliant Dr. Sara Crawley who first introduced the ideas of gender performativity to me in a class.)

Anyway, so too is “femininity.” Females, we too, do “femininity” and it is not necessarily something innate. When we joke that we will “be” feminine today or girly, we are tapping into this very notion. Masculinity then, becomes coded through a series of behaviors, attitudes etc. that I am not going to delve into deeply here. These attitudes are of course shaped by cultural norms and performers, like the rest of us, are products of these factors too. Of course, there may be many other variables at play as well. It is not enough to just be “ah man” or a Trini man for that matter. What matters most is the way in which one projects this identity and in the process, may or may not connect with a variety of people who identify with the same attitudes in the audience.

For example, we can compare Bunji Garlin’s performance of masculinity with, say, Machel Montano, and come up with some interesting comparisons. I also think that I need to point out that to what extent the element of mindful consciousness plays into artistes’ presentation of themselves is debatable. I don’t know if Bunji goes on stage thinking, “well, I is ah man — and this is how we do.” The audience though, drinks in the images and personas presented to us via the stage and other pop cultural outlets. Some with a more critical eye than others, admittedly so.

People do notice though and this is why there’s a reason that large numbers of men are fans of Bunji’s (and Machel) for different reasons. Furthermore, women are fans of them both for different reasons than men are. This year, Bunji Garlin had some hit songs that were immensely popular especially with all the men and young boys. All these songs epitomised a particular stance with regard to masculinity (again as perceived in our society) and a man’s perspective in a variety of ways. That’s a lot for one short season. Originality though, does give someone a lot of added leverage.

All of these songs connect to Trini men on many levels in many ways. They seemed to resonate and address specific manly concerns in the Trini man’s psyche, whether it’s about “getting horn” (re: “help”) or being chased by girls because of the size of your rims or the car that you own, the pleasures of drinking rum (on the Hunter remix),  or professing why he is “ah bad boy,” or by that token, simply “ah Trinidad boy.”

Machel Montano, likewise, represents a brand of Trini man masculinity on stage and his is markedly different. If Machel is the veritable sweet-man and “winer boy,” allowing the ladies “one more wine,” then Garlin is his foil, as the badman who is just posed off in the dance, chanting upon a mic. A Machel performance is imbued with a kind of sexuality, accentuated by a hard wine, which is what some ladies especially love (and even some men, I am sure). Ladies love Bunji too, but again, it’s different. Most significantly, men are their fans for different criteria as well.

A key notable point in stage performativity of masculinity is to look at who “wines” and who does not. Not everyone it seems, is comfortable with or interested in gyrating on stage. I am sure that Bunji “wines” and does — somewhere. But that is not a part of his stage repertoire. KMC is another soca artiste among others who doesn’t visibly wine. Apparently “bad men doh wine.” Well, I’ve learnt that men wining is not exactly as prevalent in all West Indian cultures. Now there’s also a difference between this and being wined on or wining on someone.

Take most Jamaican men I’ve encountered for example. You would be hard pressed to see one wining solitarily in unbridled exuberance anywhere. A Trini man — not so much, even more so with some Johnnie in his hands. Seeing as vast numbers of young men in the West Indies take their primary cue on masculine identity from dancehall culture and artists anyway, this is significant to keep in mind. Some West Indian cultures are tentative about the “wine” and what it means for their representation of masculinity in their particular environment. Some people are downright disturbed by it.

If you ever have the chance to watch a “real yardie man” take in a serious Machel performance, you will see what I mean (generally speaking). He will probably squirm as someone I know does and it’s always when Machel starts the oscillations. The discomfort may be quite evident. Otherwise take a “bad man” friend from Jamaica (if you have one), plop him next to you in a big Trini fete and gauge his reactions on the male winery. Many will quicker do the willy-bounce than gyrate their hips jus’ so.

Some of Bunji Garlin’s prominent themes this carnival season related to the male experience (this list is a sampling and by no means exhaustive!) :

1. wayward women who get pregnant by an outside man

2. promiscuous young women

3. women propelled by material gain

4. superficial women who run down man for their cars

5. women who will do anything to ride in that car

6. women who have compromised their morals for gain

7. the versatility of rum

8. a man must hold his liquor within reason though

8. being regarded as “mad” and moreso “bad”

10. professing his bad-man-ness.

Don’t think that pop culture, music and all these cultural factors have no part to play in how we all shape our world view because they do. They all play a huge role in informing people’s sensibilities about attitudes and what their identities should be.  Young men and young women are especially susceptible. That’s why young men and older ones the world over, clamored around Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and still today, many young men frequently quote Bell, Biv, Devoe’s famous, “never trust a big butt and a smile.”

I worry though, about young boys deriving all their ideas from these outlets and thinking every female is either a Jezebel out to seduce and destroy him, is ready to drop and spread out and “hot wuk” at his command, use all his money and wants him just for what he may own, is out just to get what she can or that every female wants a “passa passa” move behind close doors. What about tenderness, consideration, reciprocity and understanding for example? Can’t these become facets of masculinity and manliness as well?

Of course these qualities are there sometimes, but male performers “doing masculinity” dare not show this. Real men hide that side of themselves supposedly. That’s why you will probably never hear of Bunji doing a passionate love song duet with his lovely Fay-Ann. This wouldn’t go with the image. When men push up their gun finger salute — it’s akin to an affirmation of masculinity, one that they all agree with and allows them them to say, “yeah, ah hear yuh — cause yuh talking about me.”

Related links, references, further reading and works cited.

Alvarez, Ian (with Hunter). “Bring It Remix.” VP Records: Soca Gold 2008, 2008. MP3 file.

–. “Bad and Famous.” Fiery, 2008. MP3 file.

–. “Beep Beep.” Fiery, 2008. MP3 file.

–. “Help.” Fiery, 2008. MP3 file.

–. “Pretty Hott.” Fiery, 2008. MP3 file.

–. “Bad So.” Fiery, 2008. MP3 file.

Connell, Bob. “Hegemonic Masculinity.” Gender: A Sociological Reader, New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.

Montano, Machel. “One More Time.” Book of Angels, 2007. MP3 file.

–. “WinerBoi.” Heavy Duty, 1997. Audio Recording.

West, Candace and Zimmerman, H. Don. “Doing Gender.” Gender: A Sociological Reader, New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.