WBEZ | Jim DeRogatis http://www.wbez.org/tags/jim-derogatis Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: November 10, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/morning-shift-november-10-2015-113723 <p><p>There&rsquo;s a good chance that if you&rsquo;ve got a beef with a Chicago cop and report it to the department...the offending officer won&rsquo;t be disciplined. That&rsquo;s what a new database shows, and it&rsquo;s something you can access. We take a look inside the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/you-can-now-search-police-complaints-chicago-113721">Citizens Police Data Project</a>&rdquo;and how it could make the department more accountable to the public.</p><p>Plus world renowned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/rabbi-jonathan-sacks-tackles-violence-name-religion-113718">Rabbi Jonathan Sacks</a> tackles the issue of violence carried out in the name of religion.</p><p>And we&rsquo;ve got another installment of our series My Life in Three Songs with a man who lives and breathes music: Sound Opinions co-host <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/my-life-three-songs-sound-opinions-co-host-jim-derogatis-113720">Jim DeRogatis</a>.</p><p>Plus the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/rev-jesse-jackson-racial-tensions-student-protests-and-power">Reverend Jesse Jackson</a> shares his thoughts on racial tensions, student protests and the power of a football team at the University of Missouri.</p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 12:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/morning-shift-november-10-2015-113723 My Life in Three Songs: Sound Opinions Co-Host Jim DeRogatis http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/my-life-three-songs-sound-opinions-co-host-jim-derogatis-113720 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/jim derogotis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/jimderogatis">Jim DeRogatis</a> knows music. He&#39;s a longtime music critic and journalist and the cohost of <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/">Sound Opinions</a> on WBEZ. So when we recently posed our challenge to listeners and guests to define their lives in just three songs, we knew we had to ask Jim. Some folks have said it&rsquo;s a little tough coming up with three songs...but not for Jim.</p><p>And now we want to hear from you. What three songs best capture your life? Leave us a message on our hotline by calling 855-848-5551 and we might have you share your selections on the Morning Shift. In the meantime, check out our &quot;My Life in Three Songs&quot; <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/sets/my-life-in-three-songs">playlist on Soundcloud</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 12:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/my-life-three-songs-sound-opinions-co-host-jim-derogatis-113720 Screaming Females mature on 'Rose Mountain' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/screaming-females-mature-rose-mountain-111495 <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/screamales.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Over the course of a decade-long career that started when they were barely out of high school, force of nature guitarist-vocalist Marissa Paternoster and her formidable rhythm-section bandmates Jarrett Dougherty and King Mike progressed from playing punk-rock basements in and around New Brunswick, N.J., to opening huge shows for Garbage, the Dead Weather, and Arctic Monkeys.</p><p>Paternoster made a <em>Spin </em>list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time&mdash;albeit at No. 77&mdash;and after working with Steve Albini on their last studio album (2012&rsquo;s aptly named <em>Ugly</em>), she and the boys indulged in a move that often signals that a group is running out of steam, releasing a live album (albeit a cool one recorded by Albini at Chicago&rsquo;s Hideout).</p><p>Was it time for Screaming Females to grow up, get a day job, and maybe tone the caterwauling down to a gentle roar? Hardly.</p><p>Longtime fans may be surprised at first by the bigger, bolder, dare we say more polished sounds of <em>Rose Mountain, </em>which was produced by Matt Bayles, best known for working with hipster/n<em>ΓΌ</em>-metal bands like Mastodon and the Sword. But as Paternoster said <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/show/340/#screamingfemales">when the band appeared on <em>Sound Opinions </em>circa <em>Ugly</em></a><em>, </em>she&rsquo;s always admired more ambitious, arty groups like Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins, and big, bold melodies were always part of the mix, even if they were buried under layers of garage grunge and overpowered by the trio&rsquo;s trademark ferocity.</p><p>Well, Screamales are still raging&mdash;just listen to those barn-burning riffs in &ldquo;Triumph&rdquo; or &ldquo;Empty Head&rdquo;&mdash;but they&rsquo;re also making the daring move of slowing down some of the rhythms, emphasizing the hooks, and pushing the often more melodic vocals much higher in the mix. Songs such as &ldquo;Wishing Well,&rdquo; &ldquo;Broken Neck,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hopeless,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Rose Mountain&rdquo; are no less potent for the polishing; indeed, they rank with some of the band&rsquo;s best tunes ever.</p><p>More importantly, Paternoster remains a singular and very welcome presence. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m nothing like the others,&rdquo; she sings in the massive chorsus of the title track, and earnest and self-effacing as ever, you know she ain&rsquo;t kidding.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ECIURtpwRnk" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Screaming Females, <em>Rose Mountain </em>(Don Giovanni)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></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 or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/screaming-females-mature-rose-mountain-111495 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 The Kelly Conversations: Gen X rock critics Lorraine Ali and Bill Wyman http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-gen-x-rock-critics-lorraine-ali-and-bill-wyman <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Tile2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ef1ok_6D6X4?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>How do rock critics balance the discussion of R. Kelly&rsquo;s music with that of his actions? What is the perspective of critics who&rsquo;ve followed him from his earliest days as a solo artist, through his rise to the most important voice in R&amp;B of his generation, and from his trial on charges of making child pornography, through his embrace by a largely white audience of independent rock fans?</p><p><a href="http://lorraineali.com/"><strong>Lorraine Ali</strong></a> is the pop music editor of <em>The Los Angeles Times</em>. She also has worked as a critic and journalist at <em>Newsweek</em>, and has freelanced for <em>Mademoiselle, GQ, The New York Times</em>, and other publications. She has covered Kelly throughout his career.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hitsville"><strong>Bill Wyman</strong></a> wrote about Kelly early in his tenure as the rock critic for&nbsp;<em>The Chicago Reader</em>.&nbsp;He is the former arts editor of Salon.com and National Public Radio, and his work has appeared in <em>The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal</em>, and <em>New York</em> magazine. His essay on&nbsp;Michael Jackson and &ldquo;the ick factor&rdquo; appeared in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/12/24/121224crbo_books_wyman" target="_blank"><em>The New Yorker</em>&nbsp;last December</a>, and he blogs at <a href="http://hitsville.net/">hitsville.net</a>.</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Ali and Wyman:&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong>Ali: </strong>What&rsquo;s interesting is that idea of when people are discussing him, especially when other critics are writing about him, of not just forgetting this, but just not even mentioning it. Any time Chris Brown comes up, the first line is, &ldquo;The guy who beat Rhianna.&rdquo; Somehow, R. Kelly has gotten this pass. And not only has he gotten this pass, he&rsquo;s actually become more famous for it.</p><p><strong>Ali: </strong>There&rsquo;s something fundamentally wrong with that kind of hipster idea that we&rsquo;re gonna give this guy a pass, and not only are we gonna give him a pass, there&rsquo;s gonna be some kind of fun inside joke about it. I find that incredibly offensive also as a woman. Because what we&rsquo;re talking about with R. Kelly was largely perpetrated against women, and somehow, that seems to be less offensive to the hipster crowd and to others than other things. I don&rsquo;t understand why this isn&rsquo;t taken more seriously, what he&rsquo;s done in his past.</p><p><strong>Wyman:</strong> It has nothing to do with him, though, frankly. It has to do with Pitchfork. It&rsquo;s outrageous for Pitchfork to have someone like that who&rsquo;s created such crimes in Chicago against young Chicago people. What if he&rsquo;d been raping underage hipster guys with wispy beards? Would they be upset about that?</p><p><strong>Wyman: </strong>I have a theory I call &ldquo;the ick factor.&rdquo; Some people are so gross, and they do things that are so gross, that you just can&rsquo;t repeat [them]. I&rsquo;m reluctant even now to say what was on that video. You don&rsquo;t want to bum everyone out.</p><p><strong>Ali:</strong> If you were to walk up to any of the people on the field at Coachella or Pitchfork and say, &#39;I want you to name three R. Kelly songs,&#39; could they actually do it? Are they really there for the music, or are they there for the spectacle that is R. Kelly? If it&rsquo;s the spectacle that is R. Kelly, that&rsquo;s repulsive, because he is a spectacle for this very disgusting reason. If it&rsquo;s the music, it&rsquo;s sort of another thing. As a music writer, do I have a moral obligation to bring this up when I write about him? No. But as a good journalist, as a reporter, as somebody who needs to tell the whole story and that&rsquo;s what your job is, I think it&rsquo;s a given that that needs to be in whatever you&rsquo;re writing about him, because it&rsquo;s part of the story, it&rsquo;s part of what&rsquo;s made him who he is today, it&rsquo;s part of his public persona, and it&rsquo;s in his music.</p><p><strong>Wyman:</strong> If the audience don&rsquo;t know who he is, if he was introduced as a guy who&rsquo;s done this, and he&rsquo;s done this, and there was another 13-year-old girl who said this and this&mdash;you recite his actual greatest hits, if you introduced him that way&mdash;I don&rsquo;t think people would enjoy the show.</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, 11 Jul 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-gen-x-rock-critics-lorraine-ali-and-bill-wyman The Kelly Conversations: Mark Anthony Neal, professor of black popular culture http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-mark-anthony-neal-professor-black-popular-culture <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Tile6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NLid6uwTUTg?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Where does R. Kelly fit in the spectrum of black popular music? Can or should his music be separated from the acts that he&rsquo;s been accused of? Does he mean different things to different audiences&mdash;his African-American following vs. the young, mostly white fans who will see him live at the Pitchfork Music Festival after being struck by <em>Trapped in the Closet</em> on IFC?</p><p><strong>Mark Anthony Neal</strong> is a professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University. He has lectured far and wide, founded the blog <a href="http://newblackman.blogspot.com/">NewBlackMan</a>, and written extensively about Kelly, including a chapter in his latest book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Leroy-Illegible-Masculinities-Postmillennial/dp/0814758363/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1370606499&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=mark+anthony+neal">Looking for Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities (Postmillennial Pop)</a></em> (NYU Press).</p><p><strong>Here are some of the highlights of Neal&rsquo;s interview:</strong></p><p>&quot;In some ways, R. Kelly is damaged goods. I don&rsquo;t think, particularly my generation of folks who have grown up listening to his music, there&rsquo;s no way to think about him and not think about these charges&hellip; It&rsquo;s really hard to disconnect R. Kelly the musical person from the R. Kelly that we know is so capable of this kind of problematic behavior.&quot;</p><p>[On <em>Trapped in the Closet</em>] &quot;I think there&rsquo;s an admission there. I think there are more than a few accusations. I think what he puts on the table is really how messy and funky black life can be.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Folks have very short cultural memories&hellip; R. Kelly might be [for my students] the creepy old guy, but they don&rsquo;t think about him as a sex offender. They might know him from the [Dave] Chappelle skit. But for a Pitchfork audience, who really doesn&rsquo;t have an investment in R. Kelly&rsquo;s meaning to the black community musically, but also in terms of his persona as this predator, they have no investment in that. For them, it&rsquo;s a headlining artist who&rsquo;s done some really interesting retro-soul music, that on the one hand makes them look good because it articulates a kind of diversity that they have in terms of genre and obviously in terms of race, but at the same time they don&rsquo;t have to be accountable to a black community that is still working through all these kinds of messy issues in which R. Kelly of course is a symbol. They don&rsquo;t have to make those kinds of choices. Who holds Pitchfork accountable?&quot;</p><p>&quot;I&rsquo;m sure R. Kelly is savvy enough as a performer and as a businessman at this point to know how to play up those antics for this particular audience. I won&rsquo;t say that it&rsquo;s almost on the level of cooning, the way that we would think about how folks talked about Louis Armstrong when he stopped playing the trumpet and it all became about the singing; I wouldn&rsquo;t quite describe it that way. But he clearly is playing up the affect of these certain kind of antics in terms of who he is, what we know of him, and what the audience wants to consume&hellip; I&rsquo;m sure the show that we see at Pitchfork is not the show that R. Kelly would do for a largely black audience in Chicago, or Detroit, or Atlanta.&quot;</p><p>[On the promoters&rsquo; responsibility] &quot;I think we always have to hold people accountable for the kinds of choices that they make. I&rsquo;m sure their official response would be that the truth of the matter was he was acquitted&hellip; Even though it&rsquo;s almost common knowledge, particularly around Chicago, what his pattern of behavior was for a 20-year period.&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> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 05:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-mark-anthony-neal-professor-black-popular-culture The Kelly Conversations: More questions than answers about R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining <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/DeRoSketch.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="The statement DeRogatis read in court along with a sketch of him on the stand." /></div><p>Through nearly a quarter of a century as a professional music journalist and critic, I have spent more time listening to, thinking about, and wrestling with the music of R. Kelly than with any other artist&mdash;and not only because he is the most important voice in R&amp;B of his generation and one of the most successful artists Chicago ever has produced.</p><p>My role in Kelly&rsquo;s story is well-known: After a series of investigative reports about what <em>The</em>&nbsp;<em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> called Kelly&rsquo;s pattern of abusing his wealth and fame to pursue illegal sexual relationships with underage women, an anonymous source left a nearly 30-minute videotape in my mailbox that resulted in Kelly being indicted on charges of making child pornography.</p><p>Kelly ultimately was acquitted of those charges. But the <em>Sun-Times</em>&rsquo; reporting never was challenged, and it detailed accusations from numerous victims, some of whom filed civil lawsuits against the star that he silenced with cash settlements.</p><p>(<strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/timeline-r-kelly-107973" target="_blank">The story of Kelly&rsquo;s life and music career is detailed in this timeline.</a></strong>)</p><p>Despite my familiarity with the artist and his music, and contrary to what some might think, I am left with more questions than answers, the biggest of which resonate beyond the specifics of this musician and his work, striking at the very nature of the relationship between art and admirer:</p><ul><li>When an artist has been accused in their personal life of crimes that caused serious harm to others, is it possible to separate the artist and those acts from the art? And should we?</li></ul><ul><li>What is the responsibility of the listener, the viewer, the fan?</li></ul><ul><li>In other words:&nbsp;<strong>What if the crimes are part of the appeal of the art?</strong></li></ul><ul><li>Most people would scoff at the notion of holding an artist up to some moral standard before consuming the art. On the other hand, is the person who collects the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/13/serial.killer.art/index.html" target="_blank">jailhouse art</a>&nbsp;of John Wayne Gacy undeserving of scorn, or is he somehow complicit in the crimes of that creator?</li></ul><ul><li>Finally, and most pressingly, what does it say when an artist who&rsquo;s been accused of hurting numerous young women is celebrated by IFC, the Independent Film Channel, and music festivals such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Pitchfork? Over the last eight years, the Pitchfork Music Festival has been recognized worldwide as one of the best-curated annual showcases of cutting-edge music, as well as an undeniable celebration of Chicago&rsquo;s independent music scene. Kelly will close the festival a week from Sunday, on July 21, performing on the main stage in Union Park a mile or two away from where some of his alleged victims lived.</li></ul><ul><li>Will this fact cross the minds of music lovers during Kelly&rsquo;s performance? And again: Should it?</li></ul><p>As noted earlier, I don&rsquo;t have the answers to these questions. But I know that they need to be addressed.</p><p>To that end, and with the help of my WBEZ colleagues Andrew Gill, Tricia Bobeda, Tim Akimoff, and Alyssa Edes, I set out to conduct a series of interviews with passionate thinkers about music and culture representing a variety of viewpoints, personal and professional. These include:</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-mark-anthony-neal-professor-black-popular-culture-107967" target="_blank">Mark Anthony Neal</a>,&nbsp;a professor of African-American studies with a specialty in black popular culture.</li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-gen-x-rock-critics-lorraine-ali-and-bill-wyman-107970" target="_blank">Lorriane Ali and Bill Wyman</a>, two of my favorite rock-critic peers.</li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-charmaine-jake-matthews-professor-psychology-107968" target="_blank">Charmaine Jake-Matthews</a>,&nbsp;a professor of psychology who has counseled troubled teens and who attended Kenwood Academy with Kelly.</li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-gen-y-music-critics-simon-vozick-levinson-and-david-greenwald" target="_blank">Simon Vozick-Levinson and David Greenwald</a>, two of my favorite &ldquo;Pitchfork Generation&rdquo; rock critics.</li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-annmarie-van-altena-sociologist-and-rape-victims-advocate-107971" target="_blank">Annmarie van Altena</a>, a professor of sociology, a former riot grrrl, and a volunteer with Rape Victim Advocates.</li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/kelly-conversations-kelly-fans-jenny-benevento-and-jake-austen-107972" target="_blank">Jenny Benevento and Jake Austen</a>, two of the smartest and most articulate Kelly fans I know.</li></ul><p>After all of these chats, Bobeda and Gill still had questions of their own about my role in the Kelly story, so I submitted to the same sort of video interview with them.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/QNw3E_CzEVw?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Unfortunately, Pitchfork Webzine founder and owner Ryan Schreiber and Pitchfork Music Festival promoter Mike Reed have declined to grant an interview, or to issue any comment on why the festival has booked Kelly.</p><p>The invitation to Pitchfork&rsquo;s powers that be to join this conversation remains an open one.</p><p>And what&rsquo;s more, we want to extend it to you: What do you think about the questions posed above and about R. Kelly headlining the Pitchfork Music Festival?</p><p><em>Join the conversation by leaving comments here and listen to an on-air conversation with Jim DeRogatis on The Morning Shift on July 16 and The Afternoon Shift on July 18. WBEZ will host a live Google Hangout with Jim DeRogatis immediately following The Afternoon Shift conversation that you can join too.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining