WBEZ | R. Kelly http://www.wbez.org/tags/r-kelly-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Aaliyah deserves better than her Lifetime biopic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/aaliyah-deserves-better-her-lifetime-biopic-111082 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mgid_uma_video_mtv.com_1097146.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Alexandra Shipp as Aaliyah with Clé Bennett as R. Kelly (Lifetime)." /></div><p>We might expect a considerable number of flaws from an unauthorized biopic crafted on the cheap for Lifetime, the Hearst- and Disney-owned cable TV channel that once branded itself as &ldquo;Television for Women.&rdquo;</p><p>But Aaliyah Dana Haughton, one of the most distinctive voices in R&amp;B in the last two decades, deserves much better than bargain-basement production values, wooden acting, a dismal soundtrack faking tunes that are no substitute for her own music, and a script that ignores many of the key facts in her story.</p><p>Most importantly, the many fans for whom she was and is a role model for self-empowerment deserve better than the sanitized, soft-pedaled version of her disturbing sexual relationship with Chicago producer R. Kelly when she was 14 and he was 27&mdash;a coupling that court documents annulling their brief and illegal marriage and interviews with people close to the ingénue portray as one of abuse and victimization, far from the &ldquo;puppy love&rdquo; seen in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B</em>.</p><p>The Lifetime film, which debuts on Saturday, has been controversial from the beginning. Aaliyah&rsquo;s family never gave the project its blessing (they&rsquo;re planning an alternate big-screen take), and the first actress cast for the starring role, the Disney Channel star Zendaya, dropped out of what <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2014/07/zendaya-coleman-explains-exit-from-aalyiah-biopic/">she called a shoddy production</a>. The movie&rsquo;s future was in question until Alexandra Shipp (<em>House of Anubis</em>) signed on as Aaliyah and gossipy talk-show host Wendy Williams joined as executive producer, shepherding the movie to completion.</p><p>Williams spent a lot of time jawing about the Aaliyah/Kelly controversy in her days on talk radio, and <a>she has said she pushed for the &ldquo;true&rdquo; story to be told in the film</a>: &ldquo;The Aaliyah movie was already being produced and&hellip; they were doing things wrong. I was like, &lsquo;Look, if you&rsquo;re going to make this Aaliyah movie, you gotta get it right, Lifetime. I love you, you&rsquo;re good at wives who stab their husbands movies, but you gotta get this Aaliyah movie right.&rsquo; I was very popular on the radio for Aaliyah&rsquo;s rise and untimely death. I want to hear about R. Kelly&hellip; Don&rsquo;t skate over it. This needs to be a big plot line.&rdquo;</p><p>The film doesn&rsquo;t &ldquo;skate over&rdquo; relations between the &ldquo;street but sweet&rdquo; young singer and the self-proclaimed &ldquo;Pied Pier of R&amp;B&rdquo;; it spends half its length taking Aaliyah from Catholic grammar school girl, to ambitious student at Detroit&rsquo;s High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, to stardom and platinum success following her 1994 Kelly-produced debut<em>.</em> (That ascension is overseen by her uncle and Kelly&rsquo;s manager Barry Hankerson, played by Lyriq Bent, a veteran of several <em>Saw </em>films.) But the well-established truth of what happened between Kelly and Aaliyah is almost entirely missing on screen.</p><p>Working from the flimsy 2002 book <em>Aaliyah: More Than a Woman </em>by Christopher John Farley, Williams, screenwriter Michael Elliot (<em>Brown Sugar</em>), and director Bradley Walsh (whose credits include episodes of<em> Beauty and the Beast </em>and <em>The Listener</em>) give us a guileless ingénue in Shipp as Aaliyah, and she promptly develops a schoolgirl crush on her producer. For his part, Clé Bennett (<em>Rookie Blue</em>) plays Kelly as an innocent charmer from humble beginnings who falls deeply in love with his earnest young protégé, perhaps because he sees something of his beloved mother in her when they share a Chicago-style pizza after recording.</p><p>The fictionalized couple secretly marries, but when they travel to Detroit to break the news to Aaliyah&rsquo;s parents in her childhood home, her father&mdash;Sterling Jarvis playing the kind of dad who takes a sugary soft drink out of his kid&rsquo;s hand and proffers an apple instead&mdash;says they must annul the union immediately, lest he ask the police to charge Kelly with statutory rape. (At the time of the marriage, she was still 15, nearly half Kelly&rsquo;s age). With heavy hearts, the couple separates, never to speak again, while Aaliyah pouts for more than five years about the loss of her first &ldquo;true love.&rdquo;</p><p>The artistic triumph of Aaliyah&rsquo;s second, Timbaland and Missy Elliott-produced album and the promising start of an acting career that would have seen her appear in the two sequels to <em>The</em> <em>Matrix </em>barely lift her spirits. She&rsquo;s finally buoyed a bit when she begins dating hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash. Then, tragically, she dies at age 22 in a plane crash in the Bahamas, on Aug. 25, 2001.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Aaliyah-r-kelly.jpg" title="The real Aaliyah with R. Kelly (WBEZ file)." /></div><p>This version of events with Kelly at the center of the film is deeply offensive not only as a hoary &ldquo;frustrated lovers&rdquo;/Romeo and Juliet cliché, but as a flagrant whitewashing of criminal sexual abuse. As Abdon M. Pallasch and I laid out in a series of unchallenged investigative reports for <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>spanning several years, and as I recounted in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/timeline-life-and-career-r-kelly-107973">a much-cited timeline of Kelly&rsquo;s crimes for WBEZ.org in July 2013</a>, these are the facts:</p><ul><li>When Kelly first met Aaliyah, she was 12, and he already was widely rumored in the music industry to &ldquo;like them young,&rdquo; abusing his position of wealth and fame to pursue illegal sexual relationships with underage girls.</li><li>According to a civil lawsuit filed in 1996, which he eventually settled with a cash payment, Kelly had already had at least two sexual relationships with underage girls, one 15 and the other 16, in the years before he met Aaliyah. One of those girls slit her wrists when Kelly ended the relationship and began sleeping with the then-14-year-old Aaliyah, as well as writing and producing her debut album, which he titled <em>Age Ain&rsquo;t Nothing But A Number</em>.</li><li>Shortly after the album&rsquo;s completion, on Aug. 31, 1994, Kelly married the now-15-year-old Aaliyah at the Sheraton Gateway Suites in suburban Rosemont, having procured a falsified Cook County marriage certificate listing her age as 18. Some sources have said Aaliyah was pregnant. The singer&rsquo;s family, including a furious Hankerson, separated the couple as soon as they stepped off a plane in Florida for their honeymoon, and Kelly and Aaliyah never spoke again. (Aaliyah did not have a child.)</li><li>In October 1994, the marriage was annulled in Detroit and lawyers for both sides reached a settlement that was sealed in Wayne County Circuit Court, though a copy was obtained by the<em> Sun-Times</em>. The court documents provided a nominal payment of $100 from Kelly to Aaliyah, with Aaliyah promising not to pursue further legal action because of <strong>&ldquo;emotional distress caused by any aspect of her business or personal relationship with Robert&rdquo;</strong> or <strong>&ldquo;physical injury or emotional pain and suffering arising from any assault or battery perpetrated by Robert against her person.&rdquo;</strong></li></ul><p>That language alone indicates that the relationship was far from innocent, but years later, Aaliyah&rsquo;s mother told the <em>Sun-Times</em>: &ldquo;Everything that went wrong in her life began then [with the relationship with Kelly].&rdquo; And while Hankerson did not split with Kelly until more than five years after the marriage, and he&rsquo;s never spoken about what happened between his niece and Kelly on the record, his attorney did share with the <em>Sun-Times </em>a letter that he sent to Kelly&rsquo;s attorney. In it, Hankerson stated that he believed Kelly needed psychiatric help for a compulsion to pursue underage girls, and that Hankerson was in denial about that even after Kelly seduced Aaliyah because he didn&rsquo;t want to believe the worst and Kelly was a master manipulator.</p><p>None of the facts above appear in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B, </em>nor is there any hint that Kelly became the subject of dozens of legal claims from underage girls just like Aaliyah charging that they had been hurt by illegal sexual relationships with him. Also missing: The fact that Kelly was tried and acquitted in 2008 on charges of making child pornography in a notorious video that allegedly depicts him having sex with and urinating on a girl who was 14 or 15 at the time.</p><p>To be certain, many of the specifics of the Kelly/Aaliyah relationship remain a mystery, and neither side is eager to address them. But the facts that <em>have</em> been well-reported make the story even more dramatic: Aaliyah had the strength and the support system to recover from her relationship with Kelly and record two more brilliant albums (<em>One in a Million </em>in 1996 and the self-titled <em>Aaliyah </em>in 2001), as well as making significant inroads as a leading woman on screen even in the face of Hollywood&rsquo;s aversion to African-American leads.</p><p>More significantly, with the false and phony version of the relationship presented in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B</em>, Lifetime, Williams, and everyone involved with the film missed the opportunity to provide a stark example and a cautionary tale of how even smart, strong, and self-assured young girls can be victimized by older sexual predators, especially if those men are rich and famous.</p><p>In this way, the cycle of sexual predation is perpetuated, and it&rsquo;s hard to imagine a greater insult to Aaliyah&rsquo;s legacy than that.</p><div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"><div style="padding: 4px; text-align: justify;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="288" scrolling="no" src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/embed/mgid:uma:video:vh1.com:1097146/cp~id%3D1732368%26vid%3D1097146%26uri%3Dmgid%3Auma%3Avideo%3Avh1.com%3A1097146" width="512"></iframe></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/aaliyah-deserves-better-her-lifetime-biopic-111082 Lady Gaga collaborates with R. Kelly http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-10/lady-gaga-collaborates-r-kelly-108981 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1KellyGaga.jpg" style="height: 459px; width: 620px;" title="R. Kelly and Lady Gaga. (Andrew H. Walker/Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)" /></div><p>Stefani Germanotta is as well-known for championing female self-empowerment and an enlightened vision of sexuality (including gay rights) as she is for charting the cutting edge of modern dance-pop name under her better-known stage name, Lady Gaga.</p><p>So how does she square those causes with &ldquo;Do What You Want,&rdquo; her musically awkward collaboration with Chicago R&amp;B star R. Kelly on her fourth album <em>ARTPOP</em>, due Nov. 8th?</p><p>Never reluctant to talk to the press, Gaga has yet to say how this pairing came about. But she hasn&rsquo;t been hesitant to play into the Kelly mindset: The cover art features her posterior clad only in the tiniest of (thoia?) thongs, while the tune&rsquo;s lyrics find her in an unusually submissive frame of mind: &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t have my heart and you won&rsquo;t use my mind but/Do what u want with my body, do what you want with my body&hellip; Don&rsquo;t stop, let&rsquo;s party.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/celebrity/aboutlastnight/chi-lady-gaga-r-kelly-do-what-u-want-20131021,0,1162457.column"><strong>UPDATED: </strong>The Tribune sheds some light on how Kelly and Gaga hooked up for their duet.</a></p><p>Perhaps, despite all the time she spends in Chicago to be near her boyfriend Taylor Kinney while he&rsquo;s filming <em><a href="http://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire/">Chicago Fire</a></em>, Gaga never has been exposed to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">WBEZ&rsquo;s extensive coverage of Kelly&rsquo;s troubling history</a>. Or maybe, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/pitchfork-2013-here-we-are-now-entertain-us-108129">like the promoters of this summer&rsquo;s Pitchfork Music Festival</a>, she just doesn&rsquo;t care about the harm the R&amp;B singer has done to so many of her beloved &ldquo;little monsters.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s a sad notion indeed.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/eHI9tcKFWos" width="420"></iframe></em></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong>@JimDeRogatis</strong></a><strong> <em>or join me on </em></strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em><strong>Facebook</strong></em></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 09:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-10/lady-gaga-collaborates-r-kelly-108981 In tribute: The after party for music fandoms http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/tribute-after-party-music-fandoms-108475 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/969556_10100631311284141_43077372_n.jpg" style="float: right; height: 291px; width: 300px;" title="(The Whistler/Facebook)" />Chicago makes things happen. It allows for nearly any sort of lifestyle or livelihood. The cultural individuality (or even isolation) of the city means citizens can create the experience they want with communities they find and believe in. When it comes to nightlife, this is especially true.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>One rising example is the music tribute night. Venues throughout the North, West, and South Sides of the city have tapped into a growing fandom culture that seeks to legitimize the output of musicians, both contemporary and older.</p><p>This week will see the return of two such nights:</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/494134160661732/506410209434127/?ref=notif&amp;notif_t=plan_mall_activity" target="_blank">Song of Summer: A Kate Bush Tribute Night</a> Aug. 21 at <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;q=2421+N+Milwaukee+Ave.&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=0x880fcd633e345a95:0xc657d57ea68c4b34,2421+N+Milwaukee+Ave,+Niles,+IL+60714&amp;gl=us&amp;ei=dgoVUsiUIMKArAHd1YGoBg&amp;ved=0CDsQ8gEwAQ" target="_blank">The Whistler</a>.</li><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/570182499706712/?ref=2" target="_blank">Bump &amp; Grindcore: A Tribute to R. Kelly</a> Aug. 23 at <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;q=2421+N+Milwaukee+Ave.&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=0x880fcd633e345a95:0xc657d57ea68c4b34,2421+N+Milwaukee+Ave,+Niles,+IL+60714&amp;gl=us&amp;ei=dgoVUsiUIMKArAHd1YGoBg&amp;ved=0CDsQ8gEwAQ" target="_blank">Beauty Bar</a>.</li></ul><p>Scenes help facilitate tributes, allowing bars and clubs to bet on an idea knowing that there will be an interested audience. Event creators can recognize what is missing in the scene and fill that hole. Local venues are much more open-minded and willing to take risks in holding tribute nights.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s a perfect balance,&rdquo; said Joe Erbentraut, a co-founder of the Kate Bush tribute night. &ldquo;We have everything we need here in Chicago for innovative and unusual nightlife to succeed.&rdquo;</p><p>The Kate Bush tribute night moves through venues across the city, like Parlor on the far North Side and The Whistler on the Northwest Side. This gives different audiences a chance to attend while still providing access through public transportation for those who do not live nearby.</p><p>When creating a night that references the music, ideas, and persona of a specific artist or artists, a built-in audience is even easier to find than a standard club night. And in the case of someone like Kate Bush, it is a change to legitimize her significance with American audiences who are less likely to be recognized as major part of her fandom.</p><p>&ldquo;Our primary hope is that we will reach those who adore and/or appreciate the music of Kate Bush and bring them together in a space of positivity and community,&rdquo; Erbentraut said.</p><p>Performers for the Kate Bush event include Distant Cities, Kyle Greer, Luke McQuillan and resident DJs Belazauberin, Joshua and Josie Bush.</p><p>Bump &amp; Grindcore incorporates a similar structure with a variety of DJs and performers for its R. Kelly event.</p><p>Eric Strom of Bump &amp; Grindcore and the GlitterGuts Photobooth describes his event as, &ldquo;a night for true believers by true believers, where DJs from a lot of different Chicago tribes can play their guilty pleasures and longtime favorites.&rdquo;</p><p>Frequent collaborators include (but are not limited to) Ernest Wilkins and Moneyworth of the Sensitive Thugs tribute night, Tess Kisner of Slo&#39;Mo, and burlesque performer Josephine Shaker.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Bump &amp; Grindcore taps into the legacy of Kelly to create a night that builds on his music without completely dedicating its five hours to it.</div><p>&ldquo;As the party progresses, R. Kelly becomes more of a guiding force than the central figure,&rdquo; Strom said. &ldquo;It&#39;s everything we like in R. Kelly in all music. It&#39;s about sexuality and hypersexuality in music. It&#39;s about comedy in music. It&#39;s about hip hop and R&amp;B and it&#39;s about Chicago music.&rdquo;</p><p>At the Kelly tribute, audiences will hear artists ranging from Betty Davis to The Lonely Island to Aaliyah and Jodeci.</p><p>The event is a way to recognize Kelly&#39;s significance both within his hometown (through local DJs and tribute performers) as well as internationally through the variety of musicians who have taken his aesthetics and created something new.</p><p>&ldquo;The access I have to all these amazing people and the reciprocal support we grant each other leads to a crowd that spans all gender identities and racial and ethnic lines,&rdquo; Strom said.</p><p>By focusing on the legacy and output of one artist at a time, the creators of these events can build nightlife communities that are drawn to their music and the experience it creates.&nbsp;</p></div><p><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/tribute-after-party-music-fandoms-108475 Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 in photos http://www.wbez.org/news/music/pitchfork-music-festival-2013-photos-108151 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2302.jpg" title="Killer Mike (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Killer Mike</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2297.jpg" title="A Killer Mike fan (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">A Killer Mike fan</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_1941.jpg" title="Sam France of Foxygen (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Sam France of Foxygen</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2028.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2392.jpg" title="Dev Hynes of Blood Orange (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Dev Hynes of Blood Orange</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2074.jpg" title="Festival volunteers hand out water bottles on Sunday. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Festival volunteers hand out water bottles on Sunday.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1815.jpg" title="From the smell of things, this was a popular presence at the festival. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">From the smell of things, this was a popular presence at the festival.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_0949.jpg" title="Jake Austen and his Chic-a-go-go collaborators filmed a movie during the festival. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill) " /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Jake Austen and his Chic-a-go-go collaborators filmed a movie during the festival.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2071.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2623.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1754_0.jpg" title="Solange (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Solange</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2875_0.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1419.jpg" title="Alex Edkins of Metz (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Alex Edkins of Metz</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2555.jpg" title="El-P (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">El-P</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2628.jpg" title="Waxahatchee (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Waxahatchee</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1553.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_0941.jpg" title="Phosphorescent (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Phosphorescent</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1050.jpg" title="Autry Fulbright II of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Autry Fulbright II of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130720_1025.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2768.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3170.jpg" title="R. Kelly fans (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">R. Kelly fans</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3110.jpg" title="R. Kelly (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">R. Kelly</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3180.jpg" title="Backstage during R. Kelly's performance (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">Backstage during R. Kelly&#39;s performance</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3186.jpg" title="R. Kelly fans listen from outside the festival. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div><div class="caption">R. Kelly fans listen from outside the festival</div></div></div><p><br /><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill" target="_blank">@andrewgill</a></em></p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 11:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/music/pitchfork-music-festival-2013-photos-108151 Girl at Pitchfork: Day 3 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/girl-pitchfork-day-3-108128 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Sunday, July 21</strong>- The final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival drew a sold-out crowd hungry for hip hop, &#39;90s nostalgia and irony, which is exactly what they got.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_1975.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Foxygen (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>After catching the tail end of Chicago rapper <a href="http://www.thefader.com/tag/tree/" target="_blank">Tree</a>, whose sincerity and enthusiam instantly put me in a great mood to start the day, I hurried over to the Red Stage to see the California duo&nbsp;<a href="http://foxygen.bandcamp.com" target="_blank">Foxygen</a>. I was expecting them to sound just as exciting as they did on their stellar breakout album, 2012&#39;s <em>We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace &amp; Magic,&nbsp;</em>but their live set turned out to be a disappointingly charmless bore.</p><p>&quot;[Bleep] you, Pitchfork!&quot; frenzied vocalist Sam France baited the crowd, until the boos made him recant halfheartedly, &quot;Just kidding!&quot; Perhaps France should take some stage banter tips from Pissed Jeans front man<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/girl-pitchfork-day-2-108127" target="_blank"> Matt Korvette</a>.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2052.JPG" style="height: 340px; width: 300px;" title="Autre Nu Veut (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Then came <a href="http://www.autreneveut.com" target="_blank">Autre Nu Veut</a> over at the Blue Stage; a spectacle so insufferably pretentious that I wondered how anyone around me could possibly be taking them seriously. Four men in black aprons holding up two large picture frames: what does it mean? Singer Arthur Ashin didn&#39;t give me much reason to care, as he strained his voice to mediocre songs that I also soon forgot.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2616.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Killer Mike and El-P performing together (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Luckily, the midday sets of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_Mike" target="_blank">Killer Mike</a> and<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El-P" target="_blank"> El-P</a> breathed new life into the festival, proving that a more thoughtful brand of hip hop can be just as transcendent and awe-inspiring as any other genre. The solo set from former OutKast collaborator Killer Mike was especially engaging, with his booming raps hell-bent on enlightening the privileged of Pitchfork to the struggles that they may never know.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2122.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Killer Mike (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2744.JPG" style="height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Lil B (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Less admirable were the painfully off-beat stylings of Internet rapstar<a href="http://www.basedworld.com" target="_blank"> Lil B</a>, especially when his ugly misogyny was on full display.&nbsp;&quot;Shout out to all the sexy ladies, no disrespect,&quot; he chanted to his surprisingly massive army of fans (they call themselves &quot;The Taskforce,&quot; and Lil B their &quot;BasedGod&quot;) before launching into his biggest hit to date: &quot;F*ck My Bitch.&quot; Seriously.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2696.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Yo La Tengo (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yo_La_Tengo" target="_blank">Yo La Tengo</a> hit the Green Stage around 4 p.m., that lazy time of day when the audience needs a little extra pep to stay awake. The indie rock trio from Hoboken, New Jersey started off slow, but eventually found their momentum as the set picked up speed. My favorite part came towards the end, when nice-guy vocalist/guitarist Ira Kaplan tore into his foot pedals like a man possessed, and then hoisted his guitar over his head in true rockstar fashion.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3034.JPG" title="M.I.A. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>As blazing hot afternoon cooled into early evening, fans flocked to the Red Stage to welcome feisty London hip hop/world music artist <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.I.A._(artist)" target="_blank">M.I.A</a>. Her Sri Lankan-style show was plagued by numerous technical difficulties (she kept yelling &quot;turn my mic up!&quot; and looked royally peeved by how the bass-heavy music &nbsp;must have been sounding in her ears), but she still managed to pack a whallop of energy into her final two songs: the infamous crowd-pleasers &quot;Paper Planes&quot; and &quot;Bad Girls.&quot; And as expected, the undulating sea of Pitchforkers went wild.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3156.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="R. Kelly (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining" target="_blank">R. Kelly</a> may be the most ironic headliner that Pitchfork has ever booked, and that&#39;s saying something.&nbsp;I had never seen him perform live until last night, but I did recognize many of the songs on his setlist: the silly, sexed-up opener &quot;Ignition,&quot; the even raunchier &quot;Sex in the Kitchen&quot; and finally, the <em>Space Jam&nbsp;</em>nostalgia ode immortalized by many a &#39;90s school choir and high school graduation ceremony, &quot;I Believe I Can Fly.&quot;</p><p>The crowd was clearly having a great time; but as white dove-shaped balloons floated out into the sky to close the night on what should have been a high note, all I could think about were the once 15-year-old victims of Kelly still living in Chicago, who must have known that their abuser was entertaining a crowd of thousands just a couple of miles away from their homes.&nbsp;</p><p>Did anyone else think of them? Certainly not Pitchfork, nor the majority of nostalgic &#39;90s kids that the festival bent over backwards to cater to this year.&nbsp;</p><p>Fortunately, I was able to find spirit and light in more unexpected places, like Parquet Courts&#39; star-making turn at the Blue Stage on Saturday and Belle &amp; Sebastian&#39;s blissed-out evening of dancing in the rain. And for me, those soul-affirming moments, albeit few and far between, made the whole experience worth it.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer for WBEZ and co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2&amp;ign-mpt=uo%3D2" target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/girl-pitchfork-day-3-108128 Pitchfork 2013: Here we are now, entertain us http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/pitchfork-2013-here-we-are-now-entertain-us-108129 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3120.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="R. Kelly performing at Pitchfork Music Festival. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p><strong>UPDATED with a correction below *</strong></p><p>As hopefully was made abundantly clear in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">the Kelly Conversations</a>, the Pitchfork Music Festival&rsquo;s booking of Chicago superstar R. Kelly as 2013&rsquo;s ultimate headliner raised a lot of complicated questions.</p><p>I didn&rsquo;t expect to find answers in Union Park about the big issues of separating the art from the artist and the music from the man&rsquo;s misdeeds. But it did help narrow down what the presence of the self-proclaimed Sexual Super Freak and Pied Piper of R&amp;B meant to one of the most important music festivals in the world in year eight (or nine, if we count year one as Intonation).</p><p>Neither is positive.</p><p>My first conclusion is that the appreciation of Kelly by Pitchfork&rsquo;s powers-that-be and by some (not all) of the paying customers was indeed fueled by irony. All you had to do was look at some of the unofficial Kelly merchandise for sale onsite to see that.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20Kelly%20Merch%201.JPG" title="Unofficial R. Kelly bumper stickers for sale at Pitchfork (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>&ldquo;Irony is a low-lead brand of gasoline that may be ecosound and gov&rsquo;t approved but it sure won&rsquo;t put a tiger in your tank, nor take you as far as either moxie or rage or conscience (even that crap!) or even crassness,&rdquo; the late rock critic Lester Bangs wrote in 1972.</p><p>To be sure, there was crassness at Pitchfork: Allentown, Pennsylvania noise-punks Pissed Jeans covered that loudly and very nicely, thank you.</p><p>There was moxie: A strong set by Mish Way and Vancouver&rsquo;s modern-day riot grrrls White Lung kicking things off on Saturday was the very definition of that word.</p><p>There was rage (thank you, Metz) and conscience (hello, El-P and Killer Mike). And, best of all, there were a few examples of both combined.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1JB.JPG" title="Jehnny Beth of Savages (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Only an idiot could deny that this year&rsquo;s festival belonged to Savages. As powerful as London-based guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse Hassan, drummer Fay Milton, and vocalist Jehnny Beth are on their brilliant debut album <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/savages-drop-startlingly-powerful-debut-107065"><em>Silence Yourself</em></a><em>, </em>they are 100 times more ferocious, potent, mesmerizing, and dare I say life-changing in concert.</p><p>These four smart and passionate women, each making an indelible and unique contribution to the sound of the whole, packed the field in front of one of the two main stages, and the number of mouths left agape in awe after their cyclonic assault was rivaled only by the number of those who seemed genuinely frightened.</p><p>The only other act that came anywhere close to that level of intensity and sincerity (such an old-fashioned word!) was one of Savages&rsquo; inspirations: first-generation art-punks Wire. Aging legends they may be, but there was none of the phoning-it-in nostalgia witnessed in the considerably younger Breeders&rsquo; set.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Colin.jpg" title="Colin Newman of Wire (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, and Robert Grey plus upstart addition Matt Simms were as galvanizing in their minimalist way on classic older tracks such as &ldquo;On Returning&rdquo; and &ldquo;Drill&rdquo; as they were on the new material from the riveting <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/wire-rock%E2%80%99s-greatest-super-geniuses-after-eno-106948"><em>Changes Becomes Us</em></a> and other new-millennial releases.</p><p>But Pitchfork also had irony aplenty.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1PC.JPG" style="height: 295px; width: 620px;" title="Parquet Courts (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Saint Lester didn&rsquo;t make a distinction, but irony can be a useful literary tool like any other, if used correctly and sparingly. Texas-to-Brooklyn transplants Parquet Courts did exactly that as they rattled off a list of things minor (high thread count) and major (people die) that elicit the same ambivalent response: &ldquo;Forget about it!&rdquo; They hit the stage hard with their subway-train rhythms and dueling guitars, playing the songs from their great second album <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/parquet-courts-gives-us-reasons-be-cheerful-105173"><em>Light Up Gold</em></a>, and they never let up.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Mac.jpg" title="Mac DeMarco (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>A cheaper and much more annoying brand of irony was displayed by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Mac DeMarco, who wasted half his set with dumb and painful covers of J.J. Cale/Eric Clapton, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the Beatles, and Metallica, mocking the whole festival experience even as he took the festival&rsquo;s money and played to an eager festival crowd.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_3174.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="R. Kelly (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Then of course there was the ironic appreciation of R. Kelly&rsquo;s exaggerated sex jams, with hipsters bumping and grinding to soft-porn cartoons such as &ldquo;Sex in the Kitchen,&rdquo; &ldquo;Flirt,&rdquo; &ldquo;You Remind Me of Something,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Fiesta,&rdquo; gleefully unconcerned about the real harm Kelly has done to many girls, some of whom lived within walking distance of Union Park.</p><p>As Kelly shows go, the singer was on good behavior, with no sign of the giant bed or the captive women in a cage that were for years staples of his concerts.</p><p>Instead, Pitchfork was treated to an army of white dove-shaped balloons released into the sky during the set-closing &ldquo;I Believe I Can Fly.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2766.JPG" style="float: left; height: 192px; width: 190px;" title="Lil B (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>For blatant and offensive onstage misogyny, Internet hype rapper Lil B was a much bigger villain. Kelly just seemed to be on auto-pilot, his voice cracking, his set padded with snippets of covers by Kanye West, Young Jeezy, and Nick Cannon, the crowd not connecting to stepping tunes like &ldquo;Happy People&rdquo; and &ldquo;Step in the Name of Love,&rdquo; and most of his songs being delivered in truncated versions of a verse and a chorus or two.</p><p>It was underwhelming, but his shows generally have been for the last decade, with little of the evidence of the genius boosters find on record or in the ever-twisting and never-ending &ldquo;Trapped in the Closet,&rdquo; which played on the loudspeakers after he left the stage.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SchrieberKaskie.jpg" style="float: right; height: 162px; width: 300px;" title="Pitchfork Music Festival organizers Ryan Schrieber and Chris Kaskie (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>The very mundanity of Kelly&rsquo;s performance leads to my second, sadder conclusion about his presence at Pitchfork: That the <strike>formerly Chicago-, now Brooklyn-based&nbsp;</strike> <strong>(*see correction below)</strong> brains and businessmen behind the festival and the Webzine, Ryan Schreiber and Chris Kaskie, just don&rsquo;t think that the music we embrace means anything at all in the real world. It&rsquo;s just a cool, digitally stored backing track for your oh-so-hip and groovy lifestyle at home, and every bit the ideal tool in concert for marketing and money-making that we see at the festival&rsquo;s larger corporate cousin, Lollapalooza.</p><p>Why talk about ruined lives? It just brings the party down. But this lack of soul or conscience wasn&rsquo;t always the case at Pitchfork.</p><p>Perhaps it&rsquo;s just the nature of the Old Country Buffet smorgasbord model that as a festival becomes increasingly successful, well-established, and ever more commercialized, the ethos upon which it was founded becomes increasingly obscure. The greater meaning, if ever there was one, slips further and further away. Any role that the fest had in both reflecting and stimulating a musical community inevitably erodes. And everything is reduced to mere entertainment.</p><p>Savages, Wire, and White Lung; Mac DeMarco, Lil B, and R. Kelly: There&rsquo;s no difference; it&rsquo;s all just show biz. Pay your money, get your kicks, enjoy the tunes, or just wait until the next set starts in 20 minutes. &ldquo;I feel stupid and contagious,&rdquo; some indie dude sang a million years ago. &ldquo;Here we are now, entertain us.&rdquo;</p><p>That poor deluded fellow was sneering at the very notion that music&mdash;especially underground music&mdash;ever could be dismissed as anything less than the essential lifeline tethering us to this mortal coil. Now that was irony well-employed! But that sort of idealism is lacking in many on the current scene (and, truth be told, it was lacking in many during the alternative era, too, and in every rock movement before it).</p><p>So was Pitchfork in year eight (or nine) at least entertaining? As always, it depended in large part on how much you were there for the music and how much you were there for the high-five-me partying, bro.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130721_2553.JPG" style="width: 310px; height: 206px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>I have long said that live music is best appreciated indoors at night. Why?&nbsp;Beyond the usual havoc wreaked on outdoor shows&mdash;scattering the best sounds to the wind, roasting people under a blazing sun, the dubious joys of dehydration, etc.&mdash;Mother Nature struck Pitchfork with a vengeance on Friday night, cutting short Icelandic goddess Bjork&#39;s performance, and dousing those enjoying heartfelt troubadours Belle &amp; Sebastian on Saturday evening (though they at least got to finish their set).</p><p>No matter how you cut it, those performances and the other highlights cited above all would have been much better experienced at Metro, Lincoln Hall, the Riviera Theater, or, really, pretty much anyplace else. And at any of those places, minus the now ethically vacant Pitchfork imprimatur of cool, maybe the music would have meant something, too.</p><p>At a time when an audience can find irony, entertainment value, or both in the music of a man who has hurt so many women, I remain undeterred in the conviction that music matters and there is meaning to the sounds we embrace or eschew. Go see Savages, and maybe you&rsquo;ll believe, too.</p><p><strong>* CORRECTION: Pitchfork Music Festival publicist Jessica Linker points out: &quot;Pitchfork&#39;s headquarters are still Chicago. 50% of their staff is here, which now also includes The Dissolve. More so, Chris Kaskie continues to live in Chicago, down in Beverly. He is not a New Yorker.&quot;</strong></p><p><strong>I regret that error. Also, I could swear Wire played &quot;On Returning,&quot; but an even bigger Wire fan than me, Aadam Jacob, says it was &quot;<span class="st">Map Ref. 41&deg;N 93&deg;W. </span>&quot;</strong></p></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/pitchfork-2013-here-we-are-now-entertain-us-108129 The Kelly Conversations: Kelly fans Jenny Benevento and Jake Austen http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-kelly-fans-jenny-benevento-and-jake-austen-107972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tile4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/J1JErrHkli4?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>How does the true fan of R. Kelly&rsquo;s music balance the pleasure that music provides with the unpleasant knowledge of the acts he&rsquo;s been accused of? Should the private actions of an artist ever impact the appreciation of the art? And what is the responsibility of the fan who supports an artist whose misdeeds are hurting others?</p><p><a href="http://www.jennyjenny.org/"><strong>Jenny Benevento</strong></a> is a librarian, <a href="http://www.jennyjenny.org/">a blogger</a>, a cultural commentator, and co-host of the pop-culture podcast &ldquo;<a href="http://www.selloutpodcast.com/">Jenny &amp; Paul Sell Out</a>.&rdquo; Last October, she participated in an evening entitled &ldquo;R. Kelly 101: Trapped in the Closet&mdash;What, How, Why?&rdquo; sponsored by Homeroom at the Hungry Brain.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/JAKEandRATSO"><strong>Jake Austen</strong></a>, who also sat on that panel, went to high school with Kelly at Kenwood Academy. He is the publisher of <a href="http://www.roctober.com/">Roctober</a>, the force behind the public access television show <em>Chic-A-Go-Go</em>, the singer in the Goblins, and the author of several books, including <em>Flying Saucers Rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; Roll: Conversations with Unjustly Obscure Rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; Soul Eccentrics</em> (Refiguring American Music) (Duke University Press) and <em>Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop</em> (W.W. Norton).</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Austen and Benevento:</strong></p><p><em>(Austen references the Pitchfork Music Festival&rsquo;s earlier booking of Odd Future several times during the chat; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-05-02/pitchfork-odd-future-endorsing-rape-or-showcasing-art-85888">here is the long interview I did with Pitchfork&rsquo;s top executives</a> about that in 2011.)</em></p><p><strong>Austen: </strong>The thing about him is that he&rsquo;s shameless and he uses it to his advantage. A lot of his writing is about shamelessness, a lot of his excess is about shamelessness, and he doesn&rsquo;t have any remorse</p><p><strong>Benevento:</strong> Is the intentionality of this &#39;this is a totally ironic act to bring to Pitchfork&#39;? I think it&rsquo;s a mix. I think that&rsquo;s why he&rsquo;s so successful. His music is so great, but hipsters can ironically enjoy these hilarious lyrical themes. The lyrical themes are alien to everyone&rsquo;s life; no one can really identify with R. Kelly&rsquo;s lyrics.</p><p><strong>Austen:</strong> It seems like R. Kelly&rsquo;s sex songs are just about him; they&rsquo;re not about a partner. They all take place in his mind. There&rsquo;s no other characters in these songs, really&hellip; It&rsquo;s not real, and I absolutely understand why it&rsquo;s hard to separate this fantasy thing from the actual sex that he&rsquo;s had, but it&rsquo;s hard to hear those songs and thing about human beings.</p><p><strong>Austen:</strong> Of course you are right to ask them [Pitchfork] those questions, but the reason they&rsquo;re right not to answer them is they don&rsquo;t want R. Kelly to not do the show&hellip; It seems like Pitchfork the website would want to talk about this; that&rsquo;s a good place to talk about it. But this festival thing is a separate thing in a way. Ideally, you are right. This is something that should be talked about. But you understand why they&rsquo;re not going to. When a journalist is also a promoter, it puts them in a bad position.</p><p><strong>Benevento:</strong> I think tourism is a great term for it. It&rsquo;s like, &ldquo;Oh, I&rsquo;m just watching this freak show&hellip;.&rdquo; Just because I paid money and am totally supporting this financially it doesn&rsquo;t mean that I really support this&hellip;.</p><p><strong>Benevento:</strong> I do think that bro, macho culture is there in indie rock just as much as it&rsquo;s there in every other kind of aspect of rock n&rsquo; roll. It&rsquo;s just maybe a little bit more underground. It&rsquo;s not separate water fountains now, it&rsquo;s just this casual racism. In the same way, I think there&rsquo;s a lot of casual sexism, where it&rsquo;s like, &#39;Come on, it&rsquo;s just fun to watch R. Kelly, why do you have to bring me down with this rape idea? It doesn&rsquo;t matter &rsquo;cause it&rsquo;s fun and it&rsquo;s really good music.&#39;</p><p><em>Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ&rsquo;s Jim DeRogatis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">conducts a series of conversations</a> with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-kelly-fans-jenny-benevento-and-jake-austen-107972 The Kelly Conversations: Annmarie Van Altena, sociologist and rape victims' advocate http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-annmarie-van-altena-sociologist-and-rape-victims <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tile7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ODxybi7A0JM?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>How does the prevalence of rape myths affect society and our appreciation of art? Why is statutory rape&mdash;sex with a partner who is not of the age of consent&mdash;viewed differently than other kinds of sexual assault? And what does it say when society champions the work of an artist whose personal deeds most would condemn when confronted with them?</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/AnnVanAlt"><strong>Annmarie van Altena</strong></a> is a sociologist who teaches at Loyola University Chicago and specializes in issues of gender, work, media, consumption, and subcultures. A former riot grrrl, she also volunteers with <a href="http://www.rapevictimadvocates.org/" target="_blank">Rape Victim Advocates</a>.</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of van Altena&rsquo;s interview:</strong></p><p>&quot;That he was acquitted we seem to believe means that he was innocent&hellip; Only three percent of rapes actually result in a prison sentence.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s a responsibility of us as a society to know the truth, and if people are being victimized, it&rsquo;s up to us to raise that awareness.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Music is an extension of a lot of our core beliefs, really, and it reflects our culture and how we think... Music is never just music.&quot;</p><p>&quot;As far as the artist goes, everybody is human. Everybody has their flaws. But if their flaws include horrible crimes, we have to think about that.&quot;</p><p>&quot;If you like something, often you don&rsquo;t want to know bad things about it. You want to overlook the problems&mdash;that what you like could be problematic&mdash;and you want to not think about it. But if we&rsquo;re responsible and we want to be a responsible member of society, we need to. If you like the music, you like the music, right? Does that mean that you have to support him? I don&rsquo;t think so. I think as a responsible person you need to get informed about what&rsquo;s going on and act according to your own morals and values. And examine how much of the way you&rsquo;re judging this is about things like accepting things like rape myths. How much do you really know about what&rsquo;s going on, and how much of the way you&rsquo;re judging the situation is based on misinformation about what rape is?&quot;</p><p><em>Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ&rsquo;s Jim DeRogatis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">conducts a series of conversations</a> with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.</em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-annmarie-van-altena-sociologist-and-rape-victims The Kelly Conversations: Gen Y music critics Simon Vozick-Levinson and David Greenwald http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-gen-y-music-critics-simon-vozick-levinson-and-david <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tile5.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PKSmpzUR6nY?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Does R. Kelly&rsquo;s music mean something different to younger music critics and self-proclaimed &ldquo;pop omnivores?&rdquo; How do they balance discussion of his art and his actions? And why do they think their peers in the Pitchfork audience have embraced this musician?</p><p><a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/contributor/simon-vozick-levinson"><strong>Simon Vozick-Levinson</strong></a> is an associate editor at <em>Rolling Stone</em> whose work also has appeared in <em>Entertainment Weekly</em> and <em>The Boston Phoenix</em>. In March, he participated in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/shout-out-out-out-out-and-more-few-other-things-106131">a panel discussion at South by Southwest</a> on the state of pop fandom entitled &ldquo;Guiltless Pleasures: Imagining a Post-Snob World.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://davidgreenwald.net/"><strong>David Greenwald</strong></a> led that panel. He is a contributing editor for Billboard.com who also has been published in <em>The Atlantic, GQ,</em> and <em>The Los Angeles Times</em>, and he is the founder of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/more-rock-reading-kraftwerk-publikation-definitive-bio-107340">the new music magazine <em>UNCOOL</em></a>.</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Greenwald and Vozick-Levinson:</strong></p><p><em>(Both reference the Pitchfork Music Festival&rsquo;s earlier booking of Odd Future during the interview; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-05-02/pitchfork-odd-future-endorsing-rape-or-showcasing-art-85888">here is a link to the long interview I did with Pitchfork&rsquo;s top executives</a> about that in 2011.)</em></p><p><strong>Greenwald: </strong>[On Kelly playing Pitchfork] I think there&rsquo;s a lot going on where someone like R. Kelly, who&rsquo;s been in the business long enough, can look and see this is the trend, this is where the new audiences are, and go after that.</p><p><strong>Vozick-Levinson: </strong>I think most young people are definitely aware of the controversy on some level. There&rsquo;s the [Dave] Chappelle skit&hellip; But I think you&rsquo;re right that for a lot of people it&rsquo;s just sort of a joke or a punch line and a lot of young people aren&rsquo;t aware of the depth of the story.</p><p><strong>Vozick-Levinson: </strong>The things that R. Kelly has been accused of are pretty horrific. There&rsquo;s this added layer of complexity where the allegations themselves are incredibly disturbing and something that should really give any fan pause. At the same time, he did stand trial and was acquitted. That doesn&rsquo;t excuse it or mean that those things didn&rsquo;t happen necessarily, but it makes it a more complicated question. But sure, it should definitely matter. It&rsquo;s obviously important to separate the work from the artist who creates it, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that you shouldn&rsquo;t be considering both things. They&rsquo;re both important things.</p><p><strong>Greenwald: </strong>You can&rsquo;t be super-informed on every single thing you support. But certainly whenever you open your wallet and spend money on something you are making a political choice on some level. And if you&rsquo;re choosing to support the music of R. Kelly, you should be aware that this is [his] history, these are the actions he&rsquo;s accused of, and that is true for any artist.</p><p><strong>Greenwald: </strong>One thing we saw at Pitchfork last year [in 2011] with the protest against Odd Future being booked&mdash;and Odd Future is a group who had not actually gone out and done any of these things, they were just rapping about them&mdash;but I think having those protestors there sparks a conversation and Pitchfork had to respond to it, and then it just became something that people were aware of. One thing that can be done is creating the conversation and having it humming through Twitter and Tumblr and all of these outlets and having people be aware that these are the stakes of having this happen.</p><p><strong>Vozick-Levinson:</strong> I think this is an example where knowledge of the artist&rsquo;s actual life can give us a sort of deeper and more nuanced understanding of the work. It&rsquo;s easy to listen to something like &ldquo;Sex in the Kitchen&rdquo; and think it&rsquo;s a cartoon, but it&rsquo;s not, there&rsquo;s actually a darker subtext to it, and I think it&rsquo;s worth exploring that. And I think it actually makes the work more interesting, not less.</p><p><em>Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ&rsquo;s Jim DeRogatis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">conducts a series of conversations</a> with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-gen-y-music-critics-simon-vozick-levinson-and-david The Kelly Conversations: Charmaine Jake-Matthews, professor of psychology http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-charmaine-jake-matthews-professor-psychology-107968 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tile3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hxoXLxHvtdY?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>From the perspective of the psychologist, why do older men seek younger women for illegal sexual relationships? Why would someone videotape such an act? What is the impact on the young woman? And how can fans appreciate the music of someone accused of such acts without thinking about those crimes?</p><p><strong>Charmaine Jake-Matthews</strong> is a professor of psychology who teaches professional counseling at a university in Arizona. She attended Kenwood Academy in Hyde Park with R. Kelly and the two shared a mentor in the legendary gospel choir teacher Lena McLin. She previously worked as a therapist in Chicago and taught psychology at several local colleges, in addition to counseling troubled teens.</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of Jake-Matthews&rsquo; interview:</strong></p><p>[On the prevalence of older men preying on younger women] &quot;In my work as a counselor I&rsquo;ve seen many young ladies who have been in that situation at some point in their lives&hellip;. I&rsquo;ve seen many young ladies who have been, I&rsquo;m going to use the word &ldquo;victim,&rdquo; a victim of these situations. It seems to happen pretty frequently from my experience, both professional and personal.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The impact in my experience is devastating. I&rsquo;ve seen young ladies as recently as a year or so after something like this has happened, 18 or 19-year-old girls, and I&rsquo;ve seen women decades after this has happened, women old enough to be my mother decades after this sort of thing has happened, and what I see is that there is this lasting effect on things like self-esteem, self-worth, but also sometimes some serious diagnoses, things like depression, various anxiety disorders, even post-traumatic stress disorder.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Many of us kind of saw Robert even in high school [as someone] who would be successful in the music industry&hellip; and then to see this kind of negative outcome for someone like himself definitely tarnishes the hero, tarnishes the image that I think many of us saw in R. Kelly before that.&quot;</p><p>[On Pitchfork&rsquo;s embrace of R. Kelly] &quot;For me, I think what we have to realize is that as long as there is a consumer for a product, then someone will continue to create that product. So if promoting this stereotype of an oversexed black man makes him money, then he will continue to do it. I think this white hipster crowd really needs to ask themselves is this what I want to promote by putting my money there.&quot;</p><p>&quot;There&rsquo;s something about celebrity privilege, particularly having been acquitted of these crimes, that it&rsquo;s kind of like we forget so quickly. Of course we know being acquitted doesn&rsquo;t mean something didn&rsquo;t happen. But being acquitted of these crimes people forget so quickly the accusations and forget the victims, and particularly when the victims are people you don&rsquo;t necessarily identify with. So if this crowd or this population of young white women can&rsquo;t identify with or don&rsquo;t identify with the population of what were his victims, it would be easy for them to forget that these sort of things happened and focus on the music or the image that he&rsquo;s portraying today without any sort of regard for those things.&quot;</p><p><em>Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ&rsquo;s Jim DeRogatis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">conducts a series of conversations</a> with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-charmaine-jake-matthews-professor-psychology-107968