Tag Archives: rap

Make your dream so big that you stop identifying with your struggle. I talk with rapper Vic Mensa on AEWCH 146.

30 Mar

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Friends,

Why do we get stuck in revolution?
Around the revolutions in France of 1968 – university students were staging occupations, resisting capitalism, resisting consumerism, resisting shitty art. And their resistance led to general strikes that began to threaten people and institions in power. I don’t have the space to go into detail about those revolutions here, but I want to hone in on one comment on them.

When the university students approached psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan to see what he thought, his answer frustrated them. He said, “as revolutionaries, you aspire to new masters.”

What did he mean? Lacan was addressing the way that we become so stuck in the struggle that we identify with it.

It’s a huge challenge to the thought that if we just change social conditions change, everything will be great. That just isn’t so; because we end up cleaving to our struggles and identifying with them, simply changing the social and material conditions doesn’t work.

So what’s the way out? There are a lot of components, but music, poetry, magic, art, sex, conversation, gardening, forgiveness, knowing our neighbors, etc etc. – those are a start. They allow us to create new rhythms in our lives.

I decided to talk about all of this with rapper and activist Vic Mensa – I’m sure a lot of you know Vic already, from his own music as well as his collaborations with Kanye and Chance the Rapper among many others. He’s also the co-founder of the mutual aid organization Save Money, Save Life and their Street Medics program.

We talk about how to disidentify with the enemy and our struggle against that enemy, about meditation, talking with the dead, about music as a restorative space, about the power sexuality in hip hop, and more.

Here’s a spotify playlist of my favorite songs by Vic Mensa (and his two bands) to get you started or to get you in deeper.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Mutual aid, since no one is coming to save us
  • The fear and failure of revolution 
  • Why someone can be so advanced in one political arena but so stunted in another
  • The importance of identifying with a dream instead of fighting an enemy
  • Dying before you die
  • The time Vic snuck into Stonehenge
  • How music generates emotion
  • Vic’s trip to Palestine
  • The gift of 2020
  • Calling on the dead to make art
  • Writing, fear, and style
  • The writers that compel us to write
  • Irish traditional music and rap and punk and Rage Against The Machine
  • Homophobia in hip hop and punk and the standards we hold
  • The power and threat of sexuality in rap music
  • Dr. Sebi, alternative therapies, and their dangers

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Vic, here he is talking about mental health and wellness with Rachel Hislop. Here he is having a good, extended conversation with Reza Aslan. Here’s the video for his song “FR33DOM” and here’s a performance of the same song, but at the tail end of a performance of “Shelter” with Wyclef Jean and Peter CottonTale.

• Here’s my friend Caitlin Doughty talking about the Covid deaths at her funeral home and the moment she realized no one was coming to help.

• After talking with Vic, I thought for one second, who needs Lacan when you’ve got The Last Poets? Here’s their song, “N_ggers Are Scared Of Revolution” 

• Want to check out the occultist acupuncturist veterinarian episode? It’s AEWCH 116 with Are Thoressen.

• Here’s my little essay about my encounter with Aleister Crowley’s chair.

• Abby Martin was my first ever AEWCH guest (back when the show was a web series!), and she’s still out there every day, doing amazing work. Here’s her documentary on Gaza, Gaza Fights For Freedom.

• Learn more about Julius Jones, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in Oklahoma when he was 19 years old. He’s still there, and in solitary confinement for most the day, victimized by a racist “criminal justice” system.

• Listened to Body Count’s “Cop Killer” a bunch of times during the 2020 protests.

• Here’s the video for “3 Years Sober” which, um, made a lot of people mad.

• I talked about the “desk killers” with Dan Gretton on AEWCH 128.

• Vic was hanging out with Michael K. Williams who is just… the best. Off of that, I mentioned Alex Vitale, who  I talked with about ending policing waaaay back on AEWCH 29. 

• Here’s the most balanced overview on Dr. Sebi I could find.

Until next time, friends,
XO