88rising, an Asian American media company, apologized late Wednesday for posting a yellow square to its Instagram page in a clumsy attempt to call attention to the recent spate of anti-Asian violence — including Tuesday’s mass shooting outside Atlanta.
“Thank you to our community for sharing your comments and critiques with us,” said a statement that took the post’s place. “It was never our intention to cause harm, but we recognize the effects of our actions and apologize.”
The original post was criticized for co-opting the black squares that filled Instagram last summer during the height of protests against police brutality and systemic racism against Black people.
The company, which provides management and video production as well as operates a record label and marketing company, insisted that its intentions were pure. “We are not trying to start a yellow square movement, though we understand how it was misinterpreted,” it said in a new statement.
Not only did 88rising draw backlash not only for seeming to piggyback on the show of solidarity associated with Black Lives Matter, but many noted that the black squares were roundly dismissed by organizers last summer as being unhelpful to the cause.
Others said they initially thought the yellow square must be a joke and were shocked to see 88rising actually post one — even after the deadly attack outside Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.
Moreover, many regard “yellow” as a slur leveled at people of Asian descent — while the term Black is a widely accepted racial category as defined by the U.S. Census.
“Enough is enough. Heartbroken with the disgusting and senseless violence in Georgia tonight,” read the caption of the original post, which has been deleted. “Violence against the Asian community has to stop. Let’s protect each other and stand against hate.”
In 2014, in a classroom in rural Indonesia, three schoolgirls fell in love with metal. During an extra-curricular arts programme at their school in Garut, West Java, Firdda Marsya Kurnia (vocals and guitar), Widi Rahmawati (bass), and Euis Siti Aisyah (drums), then aged 14, were introduced to metal by their school guidance counsellor, Ahba Erza.
Immediately, the teenagers were drawn to the “unique and beautiful” lyricism of System Of A Down, and “rebellious” spirit of bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Lamb Of God and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before long, they had formed Voice Of Baceprot, (the word ‘Baceprot’ means ‘loud’ in Sundanese) and were making their own incendiary racket. Their 2018 single, School Revolution, is a fiery blend of elastic bass and furious RATM-indebted thrash.
Emerging as an all-female, Muslim metal band in a conservative community in West Java has posed its own challenges however. The girls have received death threats, while Ahba, who is now their manager, has received calls pressuring him to break up the band. The trio spoke to Metal Hammer about overcoming these challenges and demolishing cultural and gender norms.
Marsya[lead guitar / vocals]: “Every year the metal scene in Indonesia keeps on developing and growing. There’s a bunch of bands all genders and ages, a lot of Indonesians are familiar with metal music and there are a lot of local metal bands in Indonesia.
Euis [drummer]: “There are women that play rock and metal. It’s there, the amount is relative, but there are more and more women playing in Indonesia.”
Can you remember your first gig?
“The first performance was a school event, a farewell concert and it was the first time our parents saw us perform. They school we went to was a pretty religious Islamic school, when we performed, everyone was pretty shocked.”
Shocked in what sense?
Marsya: “[Our parents] didn’t explicitly show their support or forbid us from playing music. Deep down, we knew that they were actually proud of us. Perhaps a little bit worried. They did prohibit us from playing music after [our first show], but we carried on regardless and didn’t think too much of it. [The band practised in secret for a year after their first gig following reservations from their parents.] We never thought about packing it in or taking a step back. As time went by, we realised that the lack of support from our parents and community played a huge role in fortifying our mental strength, and the resolve that we have in proving that our music does not negatively affect our morals.”
You have faced challenges in your own country, and even death threats for playing metal. How did you deal with that?
“They were just comments made on social media. We were a bit scared at first, but we just put our heads down and focused back on our music. As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We get a lot of curse words and people saying you should stop playing. They want us to stop playing music. For the most part, people are saying that stuff because we’re women, but we’re not scared to say what’s on our mind. A lot of people don’t like that. If we were men maybe we wouldn’t get such a hard time. Music gives us such a great joy that’s why we want to continue to play. So we are focusing on our music and screw the others!”
What is your single School Revolution about?
“When students start to feel lost and so far detached from their hopes and dreams for the sake of following rigid school rules, we believe that it is simply another form of subjection. This is based on our own experience; from what we felt, the discussions that we had with Abah, and what we’ve read from many books. School was a big part of our lives at that time. It was the place where most teenagers spend their adolescence. Schools should be a just and fair space that is able to accommodate the hopes and dreams of its students.”
What are other themes and messages in your music?
Widi [bassist]: “The main message is about freedom. Independence as a woman, as a human being, and we write a lot about human values and humanity as well. What we’re trying to do is continue traditions, speak our mind and share our music with other people.”
Motown legend Smokey Robinson stopped by the Breakfast Club to discuss his new skincare line, the origins of Motown, what was it like to be an artist playing gigs in the south during the days of segregation, writing over 4,000 songs and much more.
Casey Redd was 14 when she began going to shows put on by popular indie-rock label Burger Records. The concerts, featuring contemporary garage and punk bands, were often all-ages, and a swell of excited teenage girls would be in attendance.
Three years later, when Redd was 17, she says Phil Salina, the then-29-year-old singer of the Portland-based goth-pop duo Love Cop, had sex with her in the back seat of her car. He told her to meet him at the far corner of the parking lot at the Burger Records store in Fullerton, she says, then instructed her to drive a few blocks away to a darkened neighborhood where she alleges the statutory rape took place. (The age of consent in California is 18.)
A few days later, they again had sex outside of a house show in Pomona, she says.
“I felt confused and violated,” she says, adding that it took time, reflection and therapy to come to terms with what happened to her in 2013. “For years, many years, I didn’t really talk to anyone about it — I felt really ashamed — I felt like it was my fault for engaging with him in the first place.”
She did tell one of her close friends about her sexual encounters with Salina. That friend, who regularly attended Burger Records shows with Redd, corroborated Redd’s story to The Times in a phone interview.
The Times, however, reviewed texts that Salina sent to Redd after she went public with her accusations. In them, Salina apologizes and expresses remorse, writing, “I won’t ever be allowed to play music again and that is fair.” He also wrote that he didn’t think of their relationship as abusive at the time but that he now understands that it was wrong.
Redd went public with her experience last summer, sharing her story on her personal Instagram page and soon after on a page she created called Lured_By_Burger Records, which posted accusations about men in the Burger scene from other female fans and artists. The page quickly accumulated thousands of followers, spurring online outrage, national media coverage and public apologies from many of the accused musicians.
Within a week, the label ceased operations completely, prompting a long-overdue reckoning about the prevalence of sexual abuse in Southern California’s underground/DIY music scene.
One of Burger’s owners, Sean Bohrman, declined to be interviewed for this story. The other, Lee Rickard, did not respond to a request for comment. But Bohrman acknowledged in an interview with Seattle radio station KEXP after Burger’s collapse that the label — which published recordings by nearly 1,200 bands during its 13 years in existence, in addition to hosting concerts and festivals and running a record shop in Fullerton — did not scrutinize the personal behavior of the musicians with whom it worked. And it’s not clear that management was paying attention to the exploitative sexual dynamics of the scene Burger fostered.
As the allegations emerged, the label issued a statement that read in part: “We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene.”
But the problems did not involve Burger musicians alone. The Times interviewed nearly two dozen women who detailed varying degrees of sexual abuse and harassment by musicians in Southern California’s indie rock scene during the past 15 years.
A number of women spoke on the record; others chose to remain anonymous, either because they feared reprisal or had already experienced it after posting their experiences online.
Burger Records was founded in 2007 by Bohrman and Rickard, in part to release music from their own band at the time, Thee Makeout Party. Burger championed catchy, homemade power-pop, surf-rock and bubblegum punk. It opened a record shop in Fullerton in 2009 and Bohrman and Rickard lived there, washing their hair under a spigot in the alley and running the label out of the back. The shop soon became a popular gathering spot for music fans.
As Burger grew, the label hosted a slew of popular shows and festivals around Southern California including Burger-a-Go Go, which paid tribute to all-female-fronted bands, and the two-day Burgerama, which annually drew thousands of fans and featured eclectic lineups of dozens of underground garage bands and indie rock giants including Weezer, Ariel Pink, Fidlar, the Spits, Ty Segall, Roky Erickson and Gang of Four.
Burger’s reputation was burnished internationally in 2014 when fashion design house Yves Saint Laurent featured the label’s music in Paris runway shows.
An all-ages ethos was key to Burger’s identity. Young fans, including those in high school, often mingled with older fans and musicians. Many women interviewed by The Times described rampant drug and alcohol use, even at shows where alcohol was not for sale.
The label did not follow a traditional business model. It didn’t sign bands or negotiate contracts. It just reached out to bands it loved and released mostly limited-edition runs of cassette tapes, leaving it to other labels to court the musicians it championed. It also made money from the concerts and festivals that it convened.
At first, Redd felt at home among Burger fans and bands, and in the spaces they occupied. All-ages shows were held in warehouses, the record shop and a large venue called the Observatory in Santa Ana. The Fullerton store was painted a bright key-lime green and featured a highly cultivated sense of graphic design characterized by a zany, cut ‘n’ paste punk aesthetic in bold primary colors (Bohrman minored in graphic design and cranked out the labels’ merch). The store was filled with buttons (“I’m a Burger Girl,” was one), stickers and posters, many featuring vintage-inspired, punk-themed cartoons. There was a back room where musicians, staff and customers sometimes gathered. It felt, say many of the women who hung out there, like a high-school clubhouse.
“In their marketing, they described themselves as perma-teens,” recalls Redd of Burger Records.
Redd says she began to regularly receive messages from some of the men in bands whose accounts she had followed on social media.
When Love Cop’s Salina first reached out to Redd, she was 17. Salina was working as a mental-health counselor in Portland specializing in addiction. Redd’s family had a troubled history with drugs and addiction, and she came to trust Salina. She says they talked nearly every day.
“He knew the trauma that I carried and … my age and vulnerability. It was definitely a grooming relationship,” Redd says, recalling how lonely, depressed and anxious she was at that time. “We would talk about cats and music. He was one of the very few adults I felt seen by.”
Months later, Salina came to Orange County to play a Burger show and invited Redd. It was her first time driving on the freeway when she crossed county lines from her hometown of Corona to Fullerton where she says their first sexual encounter took place.
Afterward, Redd alleges, Salina messaged her often, asking for nudes and sexual photos. For the most part, she ignored him but sometimes she engaged with him, not fully understanding how inappropriate the situation was.
Redd stopped going to Burger shows when she was 18, but at that point she says she already knew several other underage teenage girls who had been abused by adult men in the scene.
Redd is now 24 years old. She is a longtime vegan and animal rights activist with a soft but firm voice and a thoughtful, straightforward way of speaking. She says that over the years, not a day went by that she didn’t think about the fact that she was not alone in her experience.
That fact became painfully clear during the summer on July 15 when Clementine Creevy, the frontwoman of Cherry Glazerr, which released its debut album through Burger, posted a statement on Instagram accusing Sean Redman, the bass player of another Burger-affiliated band called the Buttertones, of starting a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 and he was 20. That relationship, she wrote, was also emotionally abusive.
Similar stories from dozens of women soon began pouring into Redd’s direct message box, she says. Many of the accusations of rape, sexual assault, abuse, harassment and grooming were about Burger bands, and many were about the local underground music scene in general. Redd found herself spending up to 18 hours a day on the site, fielding comments, posts and allegations. She says the experience was emotionally and physically overwhelming.
As scrutiny of Burger intensified, other women spoke out and bands began to fall. Lydia Night, the singer of The Regrettes, accused SWMRS drummer Joey Armstrong (son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) of sexual misconduct and coercion, beginning when she was 16 and Armstrong was 22. SWMRS released music through a variety of labels, including Burger. Armstrong posted an apology on Instagram, adding that he didn’t agree with some of the things Night said about him, but that, “it’s important that she be allowed to say them and that she be supported for speaking out.”
On July 21, Burger co-founder Lee Rickard stepped down from his role as label president and divested all interest in the label.
The label issued a statement that read in part that it was “deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity.”
Five days after Redd’s first Lured_By_Burger_Records post, Burger folded completely, taking with it the operation’s entire digital footprint. Bohrman capped his announcement of the company’s dissolution to a Pitchfork reporter with a Porky Pig GIF: “That’s all folks.”
MF DOOM deserves a college course dedicated to him. He feels like a puzzle, trapped in an enigma, bear-hugged by metaphor. Since the 1999 release of what can be considered his solo debut album, Operation Doomsday, MF DOOM has lived in a self-created mystical world on the opposite side of the universe from contemporary Hip Hop. He’s impossible to pigeonhole and incredibly tough to describe, because he assumes different characters constantly. His music is the best kind of bar-heavy, astoundingly vivid. Almost always unconventional song structure. Few hooks allowed. Let’s break it down…
MF Doom, the cerebral and willfully mysterious rapper and producer beloved by hip-hop connoisseurs for the complex rhymes he delivered from behind a metallic mask, has died. He was 49.
His death was announced Thursday in an Instagram post signed by his wife, Jasmine, who said that Doom had “transitioned” on Oct. 31. A spokesman for Rhymesayers, a label for which Doom recorded, confirmed his death. No cause was given.
Known for close collaborations with producers such as Madlib and Danger Mouse — and for his use of a variety of alter egos including King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn — Doom, born Daniel Dumile, cut a proudly idiosyncratic path through rap music in the 1990s and 2000s, burrowing deep into a self-made comic book-style mythology even as hip-hop reached increasingly commercial heights in the pop mainstream.
His music was dense but funky, gloomy yet streaked with an off-kilter sense of humor; his records helped clear a path for younger hip-hop eccentrics like Playboi Carti and Tyler, the Creator.
“My soul is crushed,” Flying Lotus tweeted Thursday, before adding that 2004’s “Madvillainy” album was “all u ever needed in hip hop.” On Instagram, El-P of Run the Jewels thanked Doom “for keeping it weird and raw always.”
Of his decision to perform in a mask, Dumile, who was born in London and grew up on Long Island, told the New Yorker in 2009, “I wanted to get onstage and orate, without people thinking about the normal things people think about. Like girls being like, ‘Oh, he’s sexy,’ or ‘I don’t want him, he’s ugly,’ and then other dudes sizing you up. A visual always brings a first impression. But if there’s going to be a first impression I might as well use it to control the story. So why not do something like throw a mask on?”
The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well
In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future.
It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.
Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers.
On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar.
Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.
“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.”
Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.
There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away.
The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.”
Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city.
“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”