Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Magalluf Gets A Bad Rap

Rap. It's been around long enough for, one would think, older members of society to remember their youth and remain aficionados of the art. But as time marches on, so musical tastes change. Rap, more than most genres, is youth music, especially given some of the posturing, the lyrics and the attitude.

In its ability to cross cultures, rap, I have always felt, has the capacity to appear ridiculous when white boys are performing it. Essentially a product of black, urban, American culture, it doesn't fit with other cultures. But such an analysis takes no account of how other genres crossed cultures. In the 1960s, the Americans rediscovered the blues and R&B courtesy of British groups. An American record label, Atlantic, was to have major worldwide hits with a white soul group - the Average White Band.

There has always been a cultural intermingling. And rap is no different. It is another form along the continuum of popular music globalisation. And global is how it is. There was no global in the days of rock 'n' roll or The Beatles. Communications technology transformed everything.

Mallorca has its rap. Famously, there is Valtonyc, still awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court's sentence for insulting the crown, wishing harm on the King and various others, and apparently supporting ETA terrorism. Meanwhile, he turns up at different events, one of which will be in Arta this weekend as part of the town's fiestas.

The fiestas have their mix of music parties. There are those for the more mature members of the local community, which typically feature "orchestras" or "trios". Such groups carry an ominous threat. Not of course because they are in any way dangerous or edgy in a rap style, but because they are so depressingly middle of the road. Other parties, usually categorised as "jove", reflect the word in providing more youthful styles - punk, indie, metal, electronica, rap. Some of it can be quite good; some of it can be absolutely dire.

But such is the way with musical democratisation. Punk is said to have been the first expression of this, though the early skiffle groups were really the first. Musical ability wasn't a priority. With electronica, anyone with a creative flair, a good imagination and the right kit (generally speaking not expensive) can make music. Likewise rap doesn't demand an intimate knowledge of instrumentation. Quite the contrary. Sampling provides all that's needed. Plus a stream of lyrical consciousness conveyed with the appropriate gestures, postures and vocal.

The essence of rap is the lyric. The message is all important. Or at least, in its purest form, this is the case. In Calvia, there is a rap group who recently won the Musicalvia contest. They're called Tabú and are a duo - Yerroh and Nilo - embellished by a DJ/electronica producer who is somewhat older than them and goes by the name of Franbass. 

Tabú have released a short video on YouTube. Its title is Punta Ballena. The video includes clips of fights, of balconing, sex and medics attending to victims. According to the group, they are "street people" taking their rap to the street in highlighting the problems of their neighbours. They will be undertaking musical projects of protest, denunciation and social message.

The rap includes lines such as (with modified translation): "This Molotov cocktail is composed of sex, drugs, alcohol. As they have been for many years, no solution. Punta Ballena is outside the system."

The timing of the video - it was published on YouTube at the weekend - might seem somewhat curious. Just a short time after winning an award with the support of Calvia town hall, Tabú have stung this very administration in suggesting that no solution has been applied to the problems of Magalluf (and Punta Ballena in particular). There again, it isn't so curious. For all the efforts being made, there is evidence of backtracking with the likes of bar crawls and little intervention to prevent them, contrary to town hall bylaws.

At the weekend there was a report of yet another Friday night. Of tourists (British possibly) having passed out because of excessive drinking. Yet here we are in late July, a time when the tourist profile supposedly changes. It is persistent, just as it is in Playa de Palma.

Tabú are criticising this type of tourism, but they are also criticising the permissiveness of administrations. No one, they say, has dared to get a grip, because the interests of a few are more important than those of the people who live there and suffer from the problems.

Rap. The message is all important. And in this instance so are the images. Punta Ballena is not especially remarkable in terms of its musical quality, but it packs a powerful message. It deserves to be seen and heard.

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