The video tribute above comes from Jasiri X who’s taken to music to reflect on the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
In the chorus he raps:
Then I looked over the horizon and saw Mandela in a sun that was rising
He said listen to what the drum say, we are all gonna be free one day
When I looked over the horizon and I saw Mandela with wings he was flying
He said listen to what the drum say, we are all gonna be free one day
There is a history of music inspired by Nelson Mandela. He has left a profound legacy, the outpouring of love and admiration in light of his passing is a reminder of just how much of an impression he’s made.
And this profound impression spans across generations and countries and peoples. Nelson Mandela is truly a person of the ages whose impact cannot be understated. Jasiri’s song beautifully captures that fact and yet goes future. In honoring Mandela’s legacy– Jasiri also poses a challenge to all those left to carry his torch that’s worth reflecting on as we mourn the loss of a great leader and celebrate the life of an extraordinary individual.
I emailed Jasiri to ask about the inspiration behind the song and he replied:
I believe Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest revolutionaries that has ever lived. When he started to get sick, myself and the song’s producer Agent of Change, wanted to pay tribute to his incredible leadership. I always have wondered why we give so much admiration and love to Nelson Mandela, but so few of us are willing to make the sacrifices he did, to effect a world that still needs revolutionary change. I imagined what a conversation with him would be like and what he would say. I believe Nelson Mandela would have great faith in our generation to carry his ideas and make them a reality. We are all gonna be free one day.
Spalding is an accomplished jazz musician who plays with a lot of heart. She started playing violin at age 5 but she truly found her groove, and subsequently her sound, upon discovering the bass at age 15. A ton of hard work, a Grammy and a few records later, she was doing no big deal things like jamming with Prince and playing with Stevie Wonder at the White House.
Now she’s channeled her musical prowess into an empowering anthem that strives to be for something.
That something being the American values, principles and laws that make the concept of indefinite detention without trial – and thereby the very existence of Guantanamo Bay – completely indefensible on our watch.
Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged by her band members, and supported by various human rights organizations Spalding captured her feelings not only through a song but a fact-laced video that spells out what’s going on, why it’s important, and how you can help. The video encourages viewers to contact their representatives and the song is a rousing cry as to why they should.
As Spalding sings
I am America
And my America
It don’t stand for this.
We are America
In our America
We take a stand for this.
Speaking to MSNBC, Spalding clarified that she hadn’t written a protest song– rather she’d created an invitation to participation:
It’s such a gift and a joy to be engaged in the process- in our democratic process, and I think maybe we forget that we each really can do something. You know, it seems like an overwhelming issue and any overwhelming issue gets solved by slow continual person-by-person action so that’s the invitation.
She went on to specifically address personal power and it’s role in this project and others like it:
We’re powerful individuals. Each of us have a lot of power in us to contribute to positive transformation of the world we live in and it’s a celebration of that- a celebration of we don’t have to sit her and let unpleasant things happen under our nose. We can celebrate this freedom and power that we have to make a difference.
Writing in the LA Times Spalding went even further to explain her inspiration as well as her hope for the project getting into the nitty gritty legislative details of how and why that power matters”
If the Senate and the House of Representatives agree to the Guantanamo provisions in the defense act, the few prisoners in the detention center who face charges could be prosecuted where it makes the most sense, in federal courts.
Radio Music Society (and friends) made “We Are America” because we believe that, while not all of us are called to the front lines like Martin Luther King Jr., we can all support our elected officials in doing the right thing.
The entire project is amazing and it accomplishes its job, as described by Spalding, in that it helps to raise consciousness around what’s happening and why it matters. In a little over a decade 779 men have been illegally detained and 164 remain imprisoned despite the fact that well over half of them are cleared to leave. What’s happening is wrong but what happens next has yet to be determined.
The video’s call to action spells out what you can do:
Call the US Capitol Switchboard 1-202-224-3121 to connect you to your two Senators & your Congressional Representative
I am your constituent and I want you to support closing Guantanamo
Indefinite detention and unfair trails are illegal, un-American and unnecessary.
The video, done in collaboration with ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, includes cameos from Harry Belafonte, Janelle Monáe and Stevie Wonder, while also highlighting statements from President Obama, Senator John McCain, Colin Powell and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen to spell out why closing Guantanamo is the right thing to do.
All that’s lacking is the courage and political will to do it.
Yesterday, the Republican National Committee sought to honor the memory of Rosa Parks with a tweet which read:
Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.
While the mistake inspired its own hashtag #RacismEndedWhen, a collective Scooby Doo “EURP?” from the vast majority of Americans, and a correction– it also likely comes as news to Bob Dylan who is currently being sued in France for “racist” remarks made in a September 2012 Rolling Stone interview.
The remarks in question- when considered in light of the RNC’s gaffe and recent reports indicating Americans don’t trust each other anymore- offer insight into the messed up priorities of “post-racial” America.
Mmm, I don’t know how to put it. It’s like . . . the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing. What, like, 500,000 people? A lot of destruction to end slavery. And that’s what it really was all about.
This country is just too f***** up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back – or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.
It’s doubtful that America’s ever going to get rid of that stigmatization. It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves. You know what I mean? Because it goes way back. It’s the root cause. If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today. Whoever invented the idea “lost cause . . . .” There’s nothing heroic about any lost cause. No such thing, though there are people who still believe it.
The bolded portion above, specifically the reference to Serbs and Croats, two groups with a long-standing and bloody conflict, is the basis of the lawsuit filed in December of 2012 in France by a Croatian Community Center. Europe’s strict free-speech laws are such that Dylan can be sued and fined if charged despite not being a citizen of France.
Now I’ll admit, Dylan’s sentiments are a bit cringeworthy, but it’s important to remember that despite being a huge proponent of the Civil Rights Movement he remains a man of that era. You don’t call people “blacks” anymore and the concept of one group being able to sniff out another group’s blood is “poetic”, sure, but also pretty cynical.
What it isn’t is racist.
Racism isn’t over.
We’re far from the point of being “post-racial” in part because there’s a perpetual sense of distrust hanging over all of our rhetoric, as well as an instinct to call lots of things racist. I don’t think Bob Dylan meant to say something disparaging of Croats. And while the RNC is definitely responsible for advocating on behalf of policies that are harmful to people of color, I don’t think their Rosa Parks tweet was intentionally striving to fan the flames.
That doesn’t stop everyone from being on edge, and while public shamming has its place, what does it accomplish?
We don’t trust each other to the point where it’s reflected in our rhetoric and by what dominates our attention. Controversy sells! How often do good things get covered? To what scale? We’re inundated with the sideshow in a circus with no main act.
I thought from the GoldieBlox online commercial that the Beastie Boys were involved with the company which creates these toys for future inventors, or at least endorsed it somehow, since their name was attached to the video and their song “Girls” was used. I guess a lot of people thought that, and the Beastie Boys’ name and the song helped boost the video into viral status. It’s now a finalist in a contest sponsored by Intuit to air a commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl.
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.
Rolling Stone reports that the phrase
any music or any artistic property
was written in Yauch’s own hand. He died of cancer in May, 2012. The Beastie Boys wrote the music together, so “Girls” falls under his will. So basically, GoldieBlox has defied and disrespected a dying man’s wishes for their own purposes.
a copyright infringement, is not a fair use, and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a “big problem” that has a “very significant impact.”
So GoldieBlox filed a preemptive suit. (And I hope they don’t shift strategies, calling the whaaa-mublance and starting to bawl about how they are being picked on by the big mean rock stars and their big mean record companies; that would be conduct unbecoming. But they should fire whoever told them it was a totally cool, no problem thing to just blithely parody a major hit and use the band’s name to promote their product.)
You read that right: GoldieBlox is suing the Beastie Boys. And their record labels and publishing companies. GoldieBlox is hoping for
declaratory judgment and injunctive relief
with the hope that their unauthorized use of the song will be declared Fair Use parody. They want to protect their version of the song, it’s integral to the GoldieBlox promo video that’s received almost 9 million views on YouTube. (Using the Beastie Boys’ name to promote the video isn’t gonna help the case at all, that was a very foolish move). Here are the standards for considering Fair Use:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Well, the song was clearly parodied for commercial purposes. One could argue that Weird Al Yankovic also parodies for commercial purposes, but he secures permission and royalties are paid. And he is not selling a separate product, simply the song itself. The tune and phrasing of the original is used, along the with distinctive chorus. Weird Al changes the words completely, along with the overall meaning. Again, he pays royalties. But is this just about money? The Beasties say no, it’s about their principles: They don’t allow their music to be used in commercials, period. And they don’t allow the band’s name to be used in commercials. And the GoldieBlox video is an ad. It may be on YouTube, but it’s an ad. And it could be shown on the Super Bowl.
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial ‘GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,’ we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song Girls had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
In their court papers, GoldieBlox makes the point:
Set to the tune of ‘Girls’ but with a new recording of the music and new lyrics, girls are heard singing an anthem celebrating their broad set of capabilities — exactly the opposite of the message of the original. They are also shown engaging in activities far beyond what the Beastie Boys song would permit. GoldieBlox created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.
Actually the band’s original song was pretty much a parody of macho attitudes.
I wonder though, maybe GoldieBlox anticipated the Beasties’ reaction and figured that (along with making the world better for girls with their cool toys), they would get additional PR, and also pry open the door for greater Fair Use. This could end up being very expensive battle, and the odds of it being resolved before the Super Bowl are slim.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since Felix Salmon at Reuters points out this isn’t the first time GoldieBlox has used a song without permission for their online videos. The Silicon Valley startup’s first video “GoldieBlox Breaks into Toys R Us” used Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and there was no parody of lyrics at all. I am starting to like this company less and less.
Kanye West’s new video “Bound 2,” featuring his fianceé Kim Kardashian’s breasts and her breathless, knowing utterances of
Uh huh honey
is A) self-will run riot; B) a brilliant self-parody; C) a sign of the impending collapse of Western Civilization; D) all of the above. Sans narrative and set in Monument Valley and outer space (and perhaps Kanye’s subconscious), “Bound 2″ explores the rapper’s profound, passionate and complex relationship with Kim Kardashian, acknowledging the conflict between love and materialism that surface in the couple’s union, ultimately ending on a note of hope-or is it resignation?
I wanna fuck you hard on the sink
After that, give you something to drink
Step back, can’t get spunk on the mink…
And hey, ayo, we made it, Thanksgiving
So hey, maybe we can make it to Christmas
She asked me what I wished for on the wishlist
Have you ever asked your bitch for other bitches?
Maybe we could still make it to the church steps
Now James Franco and Seth Rogen have created their own shot-by-shot version of “Bound 2″ called “Bound 3,” which further cements the utter surreal perfection of Kanye’s Nick West-directed video. Kim Kardashian loves it tweeting:
You nailed it!!! Sooo funny!
Rogen and Franco shot their homage, entitled “Bound 3″ on the set of their new political comedy/thriller The Interview, directed by Rogen and his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg, and written by Rogen, Goldberg and Dan Weaver. Franco plays a a good looking, but vapid talk-show host and Rogen his long suffering producer who travel fall into the middle of the CIA’s assassination attempt on the prime minister of North Korea.
Rogen and Franco have starred before in Pineapple Express and End of the World. “Bound 3″ marks their first music video collaboration. The song “Bound 2″ in now number 5 on the Billbaord Hot 100. It premier last week on Ellen. I’m sure her her audience was grateful for the tip
Step back, can’t get spunk on the mink.
It is a good piece of advice, and one I always make sure is followed.
With Thanksgiving only two days away, will Kim and Kanye to make it through the turkey, dressing and stuffing, all the way to Christmas, and to the church steps? Oh gods, please yes, if only to see the next video. And hopefully Rogen and Franco’s response.
Hi guys, this is a very special auction because a portion of the proceeds of my eBay auction are going to International Medical Corps, which is a nonprofit organization that provides critical health services on remote islands where families are struggling to access medical care and basic resources like food, clean drinking water and vital medications.
London-based fashion and sports powerhouses Victoria and David Beckham took a different approach to relief efforts in the Philippines. They are supporting the British Red Cross Drop, donating boxes of clothes directly to a Red Cross shop in Chelsea, West London. Fashion designer Victoria Beckham tweeted:
Typhoon Haiyan has devastated the Philippines, killing thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. The British Red Cross is now carrying out an enormous humanitarian relief project to help all those people in desperate need. David and I are supporting the Red Cross Shop Drop for the Philippines campaign and we urge everyone in Britain to do the same.
In the United States, CBS held a Los Angeles-based telethon on November 13th benefiting the Red Cross, featuring contestants from Survivor, Survivor host Jeff Probst, and members from the cast of The View and The Doctors. The event, broadcast on local KCBS 2 and KCAL 9, as well CBS radio affiliates, raised $164,000 to date.
The sentiment expressed in the video is not just a company angling for page views– it’s at the heart of the GoldieBlox philosophy.
Founder and CEO Debbie Sterling is a stunning example of practicing what you preach. She holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and sees the depressing statistic that only 11% of world’s engineers are women as an opportunity to, in her words, “disrupt the pink aisle”.
The GoldieBlox website is unapologetic about their mission and they have no interest in burying the lead:
At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
GoldieBlox is here, clear about what they want, and people are responding.
Last year the company launched a successful kickstarter that blew its $150,000 goal out of the water garnering $285,881 in pledges. As of this writing the youtube video for this spot amassed over 7 million views and show no signs of stopping.
La Stevie has downplayed rumors of her interest in the occult in recent years, but in the 1980s my friends in the antiquarian book business (great sources for insider info; what people collect reveals so much about them) told me that Nicks bought lots of old, old books on witchcraft, magic and alchemy, and had amassed quite a collection.
The witch world and blogosphere are bubbling like a cauldron at Yule with news of Nick’s appearance. I met Nicks once, in the early 1990s when I was working at Atlantic Records; she came in for a meeting with my boss, wearing a very sedate black and white fitted silk dress, she was tiny, nice, and very pretty–my boss, knowing my occult interests insisted that I come in and meet her (as well as taking the coffee and Perrier orders, lol!). She had a certain vibe about her, one of woman who is capable of achieving her goals.
Misty Dawn, the AHS:C witch who worships Nicks, has the magical power of resurrection, so it’s appropriate that the next phase of Stevie Nick’s career emanates from her hands, and how wonderful that Stevie has embraced her legend, inspiring a whole new generation of witch-lettes like she did in the 1970s and ’80s when a friend of mine named her daughter, born in the mid-’80s, Rhiannon (and Riri lives up to it, too; she’s quite good at the mantic arts!).
I don’t know about you guys but I’m super excited by the prospect of going to Space. Even more so after renowned scientist/ tweeter Neil deGrasse Tyson’s epic twitter live-tweet of the movie Gravity and all the things the movie got wrong. At a certain point you just want to check things out for yourself. Seems to be the case for many pop stars who have the means to shell out the one bazillion dollars (tickets actually go for $250,000) required to board a flight into orbit. Among them, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Ashton Kutcher have all called dibs on some of the first commercial flights into space. Never one to take a backseat, Lady Gaga announced plans yesterday to actually perform in space, in 2015.
Rolling Stone reports that the show is part of the Zero-G-Music Tech Festival- done in conjunction with the launch of NewMexico’s Spaceport America- and that Gaga will have to rehearse for a month to adjust to the change in atmosphere.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, space expert and managing editor of Space.com Tariq Malik weighed in on the acoustics of the future space show warning that “there will be a lot of background noise with the rocket engine and fans whirring”. Beyond that he also noted some of the complications that come with singing in space:
The most difficult part, for anyone, is going to be the launch. She will be in a rocket and will have to withstand the initial G-forces. Once she gets up into space, gravity drops away, and it can be really disorienting. I took a zero-G flight this summer, and it was a big surprise when we tried it out. She’ll have to prepare for space sickness because she won’t want to sing if she’s throwing up all of the time.
Gaga will be flying on a Virgin Galactic Flight, founded by Richard Branson.
Her announcement doesn’t come without some controversy. Today questions arose as to whether or not fellow Virgin Galactic ticket holders Beyoncé or Justin Bieber might manage to sing in space first. The celebrity race to space is fully underway 13 years after Brittney Spears performed on ‘Mars‘. Charity Space Auctions have also come into fashion as of late, with one super rich dude shelling out 1.5 million dollars to board a flight alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
Verzilov has information that leads him to believe that Nadya has been moved to a Siberian prison as a sort of punishment stating:
“They do not have the ability to put on the usual psychological or physical pressure they can use with inmates because of the high profile of the case. So they have chosen this as the punishment instead.
As the New York Times reports, the initial hunger strike was called off after Nadya’s hospitalization ten days later, at which point she was under the belief that she would be transferred to a new prison. When the transfer didn’t take place she attempted another hunger strike and then disappeared. Her family has been told that she’s being transferred to a new prison and while it’s not unusual for inmates to go without contact during a prison transfer – Nadya’s family should be informed of her new whereabouts within ten days of her arriving – the nature of her case and fact that Russian authorities don’t take kindly to dissidents makes the past 19 days of silence particularly deafening.
The BBC reports that yesterday Amnesty International intervened to urge Russian authorities to allow Nadya contact with a lawyer and to give her family information on her whereabouts. Her lawyer Irinia Khrunova has filed an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court but also confirms that she has not been able to speak to Nadya because “they are hiding her.”
Speaking toThe Guardian, Russian human rights ombudsman Vladmir Lukin says that he’s been told by Russian officials that Nadya is in “satisfactory health” and was transferred to a new prison.
Still, those reports have not been confirmed by her actual family who is still frantically trying to contact her. Verzilov is continuing to post updates from Twitter through the handle @gruppa_voina.