Episode 3: “Revolutionary Pop”

What does M.I.A. mean when she says “I got more records than the K.G.B.” in her hit song Paper Planes? And who is the man on the back of Jay-Z’s jacket in his Run this Town video? This episode examines these sly political messages and the artists’ efforts to drum up awareness–or revolution?

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele


Experts Featured:


Ellen L. Gorman is an adjunct professor in Georgetown University’s English Department where she teaches courses such as “War and Terrorism in Popular Culture” and “Introduction to Cultural Studies.” She is co-editor of and contributor to is an adjunct professor in Georgetown University’s English Department. She is co-editor of and contributor to The Hummer: Myths and Consumer Culture published in March 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield, and has published articles on social labor and critical theory. Professor Gorman has also coordinated an annual symposium on visual culture at George Mason University and taught courses in the School of Art at GMU and the Corcoran School of Art + Design.

Episode 2: Gov’t Loves Me, Gov’t Loves Me Not

 

The rocky relationship between black Americans and the U.S. government.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

Experts Featured:
(1) Maurice Jackson  is an Associate Professor of History and African-American Studies and Affiliated Professor of Performing Arts (Jazz) at Georgetown University. He is also a Fellow at the GU Center for Social Justice. He teaches Atlantic, African-American, Washington, D.C., and Jazz history. His book, “Let This Voice be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism,” was published in 2009 by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

(2) Bruce Douglass  is the Political Theory Field Chair at Georgetown University, specializing in 19th and 20th century Western political thought. He is particularly interested in the development of liberal and socialist thought. He also has an active interest in the influence that the religious traditions of the West have had on the development of its political institutions and practice. His work has appeared in Commonweal, the Journal of Politics, Political Theory, the Political Science Reviewer, the Review of Politics, and The Responsive Community, among other journals.

(3) Adam Rothman  is an associate professor of history at Georgetown University, where he teaches courses on slavery and abolition in the United States and the Atlantic world. He is the author of “Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South” (2005), and he is currently working on a book on New Orleans as an international city in the nineteenth century.

Like Lectures to Beats on Facebook. Follow L2B on Twitter.

Episode 1: The Wire Proved that Capitalism is Sort of Like the Dope Game

A scholar explains how dealers from ‘The Wire’ and industry elites are one in the same.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

Producing this episode became personally intriguing when the expert began to use “The Wire” as a springboard to discuss American capitalism.


The show is arguably one of the best portrayals of inner-city America. It placed so many topics right at its intersections. Here’s a little nugget for those who did not watch the series: The show’s most popular character is Omar — a highly respected (and feared) homosexual stick-up bandit that robbed drug dealers both for profit and principle, à la Robin Hood. Omar donned a deeply entrenched scar that ran diagonally from forehead to chin. He wielded his double-barrel shotgun relentlessly but never raised it on anyone who wasn’t “in the game.” Every character in The Wire is just as complex and contributes to a larger narrative about surviving.


The show’s creators, if nothing else, sought to make apparent one truth: The tactics used by Baltimore’s rival crews to sustain their fraction of the city’s drug trade is similar to the practices used by the elite classes of any institution: political or corporate, religious or social. The frustrations felt by those on the come up—be it the hoppers on the street corners or the working class people on Main Street—are the same too.


The series appealed to all kinds of people: intellectuals, policymakers (Google President Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s reactions), blue-collar workers, dope-boys still in the game, and even nostalgic OG’s. If one were a suburbanite living in Middle America, the inner-workings of each of the institutions explored in The Wire’s five seasons resonated with you, because the need to make money manifests the same everywhere, regardless of one’s race, class or profession.


The series, through the lens of Baltimore’s underserved communities (and the public collectives that that serve them: cops, schools, politicians, media) initiated many conversations about a boatload of under-discussed issues.


{Spoiler ahead.} At the character level, I was conflicted by Stringer Bell’s demise because I thought it was unrealistic that he was not allowed to “cross-over”. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a gangster to use his dirty money to bankroll a more positive and legal business endeavor. Joe Kennedy Sr., patriarch to the great Kennedy clan, allegedly used the money he got from business deals with people in the mafia to fund his sons’ early political campaigns. Why couldn’t Stringer succeed and why could Kennedy Sr.? The re-allocation of one’s assets from crime to corporate. I wanted that for Stringer. I thought it a well-intentioned venture.

Pages: 1 2