March 25, 2008

Revolutionary... Sex?

I got you open like... a true democracy

The first time I heard about Blue Scholars' song "Southbound" was in a teaser for the Joe Metro EP, where Sabzi hinted that the song was "for the ladies." Nevertheless, I was left slack-jawed by the song the first time I heard it:

Blue Scholars, "Southbound"

For a group typically known for proletarian affinities and quote-unquote political cuts, I had expected something more along the lines of the long-time favorite "Life & Debt," which is sort of a serenade combining working-class woes, decolonization, and a down sister. Thus, "Southbound" left me stunned with its, er, forthcoming-ness:

You're the first one to find me in the cold like that
No disguise when the prize makes your eyes roll back
...
Do it like Moms and Pops when they made us
Simulating scenes by adult entertainers
...
Conversations 'til 1, have relations 'til 4
In the morn', you've been warned, I'm a warrior, y'all

At first, it seems out of place, yeah? Definitely more graphic than anything else I've heard from Geo. My sistah/ProudPinayPoet Jenny Lares had the same reaction. But we both came to the conclusion that, ultimately, why would it be odd for them to make the song? If anything, to suggest that it's a "deviation" of some sort is merely to fetishize so-called "progressive" cultural productions as inherently rooted in some articulation of political struggle, that it's always necessary to have a fist in the air and a critique of capitalism on hand. But... nah! Progressive or not, we're all human, with human desires, pleasures, and urges--and if we're not fighting for a reclamation of our own humanity, then we're not really fighting at all.

It's telling that revolutionary groups like the Black Panther Party tried to engender progressive gender politics by establishing childcare programs in which both men and women would be required to partake, trying to shatter boundaries of what was socially indoctrinated as "women's work" and instead advance collective familial structures. While some groups unfortunately tried to mask misogyny and chauvinism under calls for "revolutionized" sexual relations--such as abandoning monogamy, which typically served as a way for male activists to make unwelcome advances on their female cohorts--for the most part progressive women and their male allies have done much to advance the dignity and justness of gender equality.

Yet, as Geo opines, this doesn't mean we need to forget about getting down n' dirty--as the chorus exhorts, sometimes it's necessary to take a step back, to live for the moment, to "let it go":

No matter where you are, a struggle's nearby
And there ain't enough time for lovers to say hi
Some nights require a spark
A fire to remind us what we really look like in the dark
So let it go, let it go...

When I look at it now, "Southbound" is one of the most honest songs I've heard from Blue Scholars--from Day One their m.o. has been to advance and project views of ordinary, working people, and certainly a song about nights of passion (and how valued they can be in times of strife) fits perfectly within that mode. Like Geo said in "Cornerstone," my people celebrate life despite poverty. Love the song, and keep it up (no pun intended).

2 comments:

David said...

Hahaha I love this post. Uhm and also, I remember from the depths of brain mystification that I heard other lyrics that go like, "open you up like a true democracy should be"?

Gotta send me (and Nhu-Y) this song!

jaela said...

great post! glad we talked about it before. and thanks for the link!