The Null Device


Here it comes: hip-hop goes patriotic; "Fight the Power" is out, and now the only colours are the stars and stripes (which dissident rappers The Coup, incidentally, call "violent gang colours", but they're not getting any MTV airplay, so they're irrelevant). Even former gangsta personnel are lining up behind Dubya's Crusade, with Dr. Dre (whose "F*** Tha Police" caused much uproar in the early 90s) toying with a track named "Kill Bin Laden", Death Row boss Suge Knight stating that there is no place for protest lyrics or disunity, and Canibus (whose name, apart from being a marijuana reference, is Latin for "His Doggness") releasing a song titled "Draft Me", about his desire to fight for America. Even radical Black Muslims such as Wu Tang Clans, formerly militant critics of the US establishment, have been getting on the bus. Meanwhile former rapper turned cable-TV salesman MC Hammer has used this as an opportunity to make a comeback with an album titled Active Duty, presenting himself as the patriotically-correct spokesman for hip-hop.

David "Davey D" Cook ... puts the blame on disproportionate reporting. "The whole point of propaganda is to eliminate voices of dissent," he says. "If you tell everybody that 90% of people are pro-war, then people who don't really feel that way think, 'Well, maybe it's better to keep my mouth shut.' There are opinions across the board, but it's really a question of who gets the most time on the microphone."

Curiously enough, the only major dissent, other from the usual suspects such as Chuck D, comes from a niche subgenre of hip-hop, known as "backpacker hip-hop", and marketed predominantly at white left-liberals.

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An article on the fast-growing new subculture of train hoppers; mostly young people who stow away on freight trains, crossing America like the hoboes of yesteryear. Except that they coordinate their hopping through web sites, which they access from public terminals wherever they stop. Needless to say, the train companies are none too pleased.

"Hobos call a boxcar a wide-screen TV," says Snyder, dressed in a dusty pair of black overalls and layers of sweatshirts and jackets. "I just like traveling. That's why I do it."
Older, more experienced hobos hold conventions. Younger ones such as Snyder meet in places such as New Orleans for extended Halloween parties. But no one has a solid grasp on how many people hop trains these days. "Nobody's done any field work. Everybody is just guessing," says Daniel Leen, the Seattle-based author of an underground book called The Freighthopper's Manual for North America: Hoboing in the 21st Century.

(Another book to look out for when visiting PolyEster.) (link via bOING bOING)

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