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Charles Mudede

Charles Mudede is a music, film, and cultural critic for The Stranger.  He has also contributed to a number of national and international publications.

“Fontella Bass and the Philosophy of Soul”
In 2002, the British nu-jazz collective the Cinematic Orchestra opened its second album Every Day with a wonderful experiment in soul called “All That You Give.” It featured the mostly forgotten but very talented Fontella Bass (famous for the original “Rescue Me”) singing not so much a soul tune, but the fragments of one. Bass sings with great feeling: “You hear raving… You see me crying... I’m grieving from my hat down to my shoes.” Who is hearing her ravings? Who is seeing her cry? What has made her grieve so much? We have no idea. She does not provide that information because this is not what the tune is about. She is not singing a soul song but a song about the state, the condition, the mode of soul itself. It is, indeed, Bass philosophizing about her art, soul music. And philosophy is always the effort to capture the essence of something. My paper will examine the life of Bass, her early work, and the gospel roots of soul in the light of this late but brilliant philosophical experiment:  “All That You Give.”

“What Is Green Gothic Hip-Hop?”
“It darkles (tinct, tint) all this our funnanimal world.” - James Joyce

One of the most distinctive and under-appreciated developments in 206 hip-hop has been a very singular, profoundly local form of gothic rap. There is a good reason for this, and it is theorized in a 2009 essay by Seattle-based visual artist Matthew Offenbacher. He described this aesthetic mode as “green gothic.” What is it about? A feeling, a mood (indeed stimmung) that captures the region’s monstrous aspect. The dusky quality of its sharply slanted light, its dark-green trees, its urban wilderness blending with the wilderness of the woods. All of this has impacted not only the visual arts but also Northwest cinema and a school of rappers that extends from Oldominion to Nacho Picasso. My talk will explore the twilights of 206 hip-hop’s green gothic.

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