Thursday, April 21, 2005

The circuitous world of bootlegging

In the grotty youth hostel in Salamanca I talked to a guy from Saudi Arabia, and he wanted to know if I liked Tupac Shakir. Sure, I said. And so he had his stereo set up and his buds from Morocco and Algeria grooved to Tupac Shakir. And they had me come over and sit on the bunk with them listening to their music. They asked if I liked n----r music. Excuse me? I asked. You know, n----r music, and the Saudi Arabian guy, who told me to call him Nas, did a hip hop maneuver with his hands. We don´t use that word in the US, I said. We also call it Negro music, he said. That´s better, I said. Then they played me a song they said was Eminem. It was a guy rapping about Slim Shady, but I couldn´t quite recognize the voice. Then they played Hey Ya by Outkast, but the guy singing Hey Ya wasn´t the guy from Outkast, it was just some guy singing. And the background music didn´t quite match the original. I tried to explain to him that these weren´t the original tunes, but his English wasn´t very good and my Spanish is worthless, and so I think I may have just offended him. But where the hell does this music come from? Who makes this music? Is there some basement in Kuala Lampur where second-rate rappers migrate to to make third-rate knock offs of rap hits from the United States? Do they sell these in Arabic countries? Why not just sell bootleg copies of the originals? Or is there some vast bootlegged infastructure, whereby a copier of Eminem can pass his music off as the original, and then tour and promote his copied self from the United Emirates to Jordan to Egypt and who knows where else? I can´t wrap my mind around it. Has anyone else heard of this?


Anonymous said...

i think phil roth may have an answer for you...thod

sarcasmus said...

I was talking to Leslia about it, and she thinks he might have got it off a compilation--you know one that is advertising the hits, but the producers of the compilation don´t have to pay as much in rights if they don´t use the original recording.

kraig ludensky said...

We live in a crazy world with crazy people; their goal is to strip down the natural beauty of those artifacts of popular culture we love. I know this to be the truth. Here are the facts:
I had been thinking about your blog for the past week and just by chance last weekend I was walking through the city of Ozu, in Souther Ehime, Japan, when I came across a sign that said Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich. Of course being so far removed from anything from where I live and enjoying the weekend away from my country hamlet I decided that's exactly what I needed-- a bad ass peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Happy as a camper I walked into an alley and spotted a hole cut into a red door--above the hole a sign: Peanut butter and Jelly 300 yen. I stuck my hand in the hole with three, hundred yen coins in my hand. I was handed a sandwich and was happy when I walked away. Wheat bread with the jelly sticking to the plastic wrap, I couldn't wait to eat. I found a nice bench to sit on but when I bit into the sandwich I realized that there was no peanutbutter--only jelly and smashed up rice. This isn't right, I thought. So I went back to the door in the ally and knocked. A little man who couldn't have been more than two feet tall opened the door and I started to yell at him in broken Japanese. He became scared and backed off. I pushed my way past him thinking that perhaps this man must have peanut butter he was keeping from the public-- But when I tore apart his room all I found was jars and jars of jelly. I saw a door in the back and opened it. Lo and behold I had come accross a room with over three hundred television screens, all the images on the screens were in black and white. To the right of the screens were stacks of recording equipment.
"What is going on?" I asked. To what conspiracy have I now come across? I thought. The man tried to run away, but luckily I happened to have my bull whip with me and with the flick of my wrist caught the man by his legs as he was trying to run away and dragged him into this ad hoc recording studio.
"What is this?" I asked again. I could feel the fever of peanut better burning through my veins.
"We have secret cameras all over the island of Shikoku. Linked to over three hundred Karaoke bars. We record late night; drunkards, business men, women in love and grannies trying to prove to their grand children that they are hip."
"And then what?" I asked. The man began to shake.
"And then we sell the tapes."
"Where?" I demanded. "Where g-d damm it?"
"Every where," he said, "all over the world. From brothels in Thailand to teenagers in Algeria. Spain, America, you name it we ship there."

It's an empire Dan. I hate to break the news to you--It's an empire. There is nothing you can do. This shop was one of thousnads hidden in the narrow ally ways of Japan-- run by the mighty Totero Cult (gang) of Northern Honshu. From Bing Cosby, Loretta Lynn, Outkast, to the forgotten classic of Bea Arthur's Singing the Blues they have covered everthing; they have no shame. There is nothing you can do. But what's worse, as I was told that day, their goal is to steal mastered recordings of songs before they're released. They look forward to the day when we, the listeners, will not know bootlegs from reality. And that's the sad truth of the Cult of Totero.

I'm no Philip Roth but I know the truth when I see it.....

Maren said...

Kraig Ludensky! Looking for you! remember Maren from Berlin? Get in touch with me!

Anonymous said...

A relentlessly unkind lady is asking a Mr Kraig Ludensky for forgiveness. Missing long conversations about nothing much. Missing stories about German brothels. Missing my good friend, Kraig Ludensky.

Anonymous said...

your friend is here and is always listening! Just write back!
once a friend, always a friend!

Patience said...

Not relentless enough, I'm glad you're alive, friend.