Unpopular Culture

Agriculture Wars

Agriculture Wars

If coun­try music gave voice to many Amer­i­can farm­ers dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry, what does it have to say about the fun­da­men­tal shift in farm labor that is com­ing to define the 21st?

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

John­ny “Gui­tar” Wat­son was a fas­ci­nat­ing con­tra­dic­tion: a man dressed like an icon of fame and wealth whose lyrics depict the strug­gle of work­ing peo­ple try­ing to make ends meet in an era of loom­ing eco­nom­ic des­ti­tu­tion. Though he dons a funky get­up, Watson’s bleak expres­sion of work­ing life under eco­nom­ic and social oppres­sion derives from the long blues tra­di­tion dat­ing back to slav­ery and the Recon­struc­tion era.

Field Notes on Tunisia’s Green Revolution

Field Notes on Tunisia’s Green Revolution

Ayeb’s focus is the strug­gles of direct pro­duc­ers who work in agri­cul­ture in a nat­ur­al world beset by the dis­lo­ca­tions and mount­ing dis­or­ders of agro-indus­tri­al cap­i­tal­ist farm­ing. Through inter­views, he assem­bles an anec­do­tal yet accu­rate account of Tunisia’s rur­al pro­duc­tive sys­tem, a col­lage of tes­ti­mo­ny and analy­sis.

Rattling Devils

Rattling Devils

The point is to place the human oper­a­tor back in the frame, to ask after those who tend­ed the machine before it was avail­able as a spec­ta­cle, and to lis­ten to how they under­stood what they were tan­gled in the midst of.

A Butterfly Reads History

A Butterfly Reads History

While Adorno claimed that to write poet­ry after Auschwitz was bar­bar­ic, hip-hop claims that it is nec­es­sary to write poet­ry after the bar­barism of slav­ery. Its his­to­ry, and its his­tor­i­cal con­se­quences, must be record­ed.

Stereolab's Revolutionary Horizon

Stereolab’s Revolutionary Horizon

Stere­o­lab is an intellectual’s dream, equal parts vin­tage synth man­u­al, obscure bossa nova record, and com­mu­nist tract. Their fetish for odd key­board and odd jazz is well dis­cussed, but their lyrics, often deeply Marx­ist, far less so.