When Hipsters Pitch(fork) A Fit…

Editor’s note: Do you remember the Grandmaster? Well here he is again with a guest drop on why the hipster media exploits rap for its credibility until shit gets real…

“yesterday, [Action Bronson] crossed over into unsettling territory … he posted Instagram photos of a supposedly incapacitated transgender person that a friend of his had poured water on.
“Lame and reckless all around.” – Carrie Battan, Pitchfork News

“Hood” and “hip” are on-again off-again business partners. In the ’60s, Detroit Red sold drugs to slumming Manhattan socialites, while Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ’80s rise to art world stardom was boosted by his connection to Andy Warhol’s pop art circles.

Today, as Cam’ron and the Clipse before them, groups like Odd Future/Wolf Gang, A$AP MOB, and a crop of loosely-affiliated emcees (Danny Brown, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Das Racist, etc.) are being embraced by a White hipster scene craving the authentic voice of the streets.

But as Tyler, The Creator and Action Bronson share Terry Richardson’s lens with Lady Gaga and Kate Moss, is the hood being valued – or exploited?

Pitchfork is a signpost for the hipster music scene: reporting on it while also charting its course. Sometimes that trend-setting (word to Prodigy) can be cutting: they’re notorious for dropping 0.0’s on undeserving albums, and recently Childish Gambino’s Camp received a 1.6.

Considering this, the comparatively high scores that Action Bronson’s last three full-length efforts received – Dr. Lecter and Blue Chips got 8.1’s, while Well-Done copped to a 7.1 – represent a strong endorsement of his style and content. Pitchfork’s string of positive reviews provided him with breakthrough media coverage, filled with comments like “Bronson boasts his own brand of gonzo humor, subtle pathos, and specificity”. By “specificity”, I assume they mean not only references to obscure French cheeses, but also to lines like “7 times she got stabbed in the back / By a regular john… / That’s what she gets for being a whore though”.

So it felt a little surprising this past Thursday when, on a Greyhound to New York, I pulled out my iPhone and saw a headline on Pitchfork: “Action Bronson Stupidly Posts Photo of “Drunk Mexican Tranny”, Rightly Gets in Trouble“.

The blog post said “[Action’s lyrics] crossed over into unsettling territory when he went on a Twitter tear in which he posted Instagram photos of a supposedly incapacitated transgender person that a friend of his had poured water on.”

Oh, word? That’s when it crossed over?

This from the same site that once wrote that “Bronson’s lyrics can be ignorant as fuck (“Take a dyke on a date/ She let me pipe cuz I’m an ape”), but … He’s just kicking silly bullshit, and it’s tough to imagine anyone seriously getting offended.”

Action’s lyrics were “silly bullshit” while they rode shotgun in iTunes; but when he took to Instagram, connecting his lyrics to an actual environment and lifestyle, that was the step too far? While Action plays the part of chubby hood jester, rapping about bruschetta and occasionally slapping women or juxing fags, hey, it’s all part of his “swag”; but God forbid he actually disrespects a woman or objectifies a gay person. That’s when it goes too far.

Here is the problem: Bronson’s New York swagger isn’t just some goofy fat guy schtick. He’s Queens through and through, and the Pitchfork hipsters-in-chief seemed to misunderstand – or not care – what they were co-signing when they call him a “raw Queens charmer, scheming in the tradition of old working class New York”. To be working class in New York is to be funny, a quick charmer, a slick-tongued hustler. It also means not taking shit from anybody, being politically incorrect, and having a big pair of balls. These are traits the left-leaning hipster agenda is happy to support – opportunistically, whenever they happen to support their causes.

In a profile of the young and amoral Odd Future collective, a Pitchfork contributor wrote that they should “Continue on, undeterred by the demands of the mainstream’s social mores and face the wraths of conservatism,” or else “change up and burn away their hard-earned integrity“. Free speech, thumbing their nose at the man (I ain’t a part of your system!) – causes near and dear to any hipster’s ironic-American-flag-tee wearing heart.

But what happens when that “hard-earned integrity” starts butting up against other hipster values? Let’s face it: while LGBT awareness runs deep in the hipster community, you’re not likely to see large sections of “old working class New York” turning out for the Rainbow Coalition, and gay pride parades aren’t exactly “raw Queens charm”.

When that happens, what comes about is a morally confusing cycle of praise and rebuke: Bronson, Odd Future, and others like them are applauded, praised, and promoted by hipster tastemakers for their authentic voices; but as their media profile grows, so does the pressure for them to become inauthentic to the same roots that they were praised for staying close to. So Pitchfork and other outlets like Vice, Vulture, Fader, (I’d say Rolling Stone, but since when were they relevant?), and the like praise the “Talented, hilarious, villainous, immature, precocious… vanguard of modern hip-hop” – but when these artists turn out to resemble the people they rap about – the performing monkeys have escaped from their cage. And those same outlets scramble to distance themselves.

It seems that hipster media has confused “sounding grimy” and “being authentic” – they love the first, and find the latter distasteful. They love hearing raps that push the boundaries of acceptable behavior – slapping bitches, disrespecting gays, selling drugs and pussy, living rough – but don’t want to acknowledge the social reality that, for some people, this is life. So they stay in their bubble, listening to music that hints at a morally and socially frightening world, while being able to ignore its realness – until that realness pops up on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.

Is Action Bronson’s man Bes throwing water on a Mexican tranny “reckless”? Sure. But it’s hypocritical for the hipster/fringe-culture-glorifying music press can call it “lame” – when rapping about this lifestyle is exactly how he earned cool points with them in the first place.

“Queens shit. That real rap, homie. None of this relationship drama rap these faggots be putting out nowadays” – Action Bronson, Respect the Mustache.

Jason Chu (@jasonglchu)
Not a homophobe at all, I’m just surrounded by ’em


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35 Responses to “When Hipsters Pitch(fork) A Fit…”

  1. Tone Riggz says:

    People really pay attention to Pitchfork? I’m too much of a New Yorker to care about their editorials…

  2. T-Bag says:

    Actions homey should throw water on an intoxicated Billy Danze instead of a transvestite and see what happens.

  3. Woodside Tranny says:

    Big deal– Bronson get his white privilege card pulled. He got PLENTY of extra attention for the novelty value of what I think are his repetitive cornball raps– gotta take the blowback with the blowjobs. The line between good humor and flaunting ig’nance was crossed about dozens of records ago but I’m clearly not Bronson’s ‘target’ audience. Meanwhile, consider this: dude has already put out more records than Biggie, Big Pun and Big L combined– soon we can add BDK, and to what effect?

    What have ya’ll gotten out of Bronson’s music– his “art”– that I am missing? Enthusiasm? OK, he has that. And while Ghost’s homophobic asides have been unfortunate (as were young Gil Scott-Heron’s) the god offers so so so SO much more.

    @Grandmaster: appreciate the drop & thoughts; I don’t think you’re at all wrong to question Pitchfork simps essential misunderstanding of native Queens street culture but Bronson SHOULD know better and better yet, get the fuck off twitter and read some books that would up his mind game in a way commensurate with what he wants to achieve on the mic.

  4. T-Bag says:

    The issue at hand for me comes down to a grown man conducting himself in a classless manner. Music and all else set aside the act of throwing water on another human being for being blasted out of their mind with the intent to humiliate them is pointless and completely disgusting. I hope dude reflects on this whole experience and walks away a more mature adult.

  5. Wardell Franklin says:

    Co-sign T-Bag (and keep the graf drops coming if you have ’em), and that’s my overall ‘problem’ with Bronson; if there’s a way to combine his enthusiasm with some kind of maturity, I’m all for it.

    If others currently enjoy his weed + food + sports + sexism for its, I dunno… exuberance? Alright but in a world of Marvin Gaye and Public Enemy, of Gil Scott-Heron and Bill Withers, of Wu Tang before the wheels came off, even the Beastie Boys (thinking of because Middle Eastern restaurant I walk by has memorial up saying Adam Yauch was long-time friend and customer)… it’s not enough.

    Bronson has benefited from lots of positive media coverage and now he has to deal with a little negative. Hopefully a lesson in empathy learned.

  6. pmac says:

    lots of good points.

  7. Tone Riggz says:

    I’m not going to defend what he did, I do think for a grown man/father, it is appalling. But at the same time, it’s not like I expected him to be a saint either. I was a huge Big Pun fan and he pistol whipped his own wife on camera. Sometimes you can’t expect your favorite artists to conduct themselves in the most righteous manner. And if you do expect that then you’re bound to be disappointed. I’m a fan of Bronson’s music and that’s about it. I’m not looking up to him as some sort of role model figure.

  8. T-Bag says:

    Tone, I’m a Pun fan also. I think the difference in the examples is that Pun may hav been going through some real wild internal struggles and may have been extremely paranoid at this point of his life, still not at an excuse to pistol whip your wife and mother of your kids. The main difference that I can see right off the bat is that Pun didn’t go to YouTube and post these videos himself for the world to see. I also think Pun probably knew his behavior was com

  9. T-Bag says:

    Continuation (I’m typing on my iPhone and the shit sent my reply before I could finish). I also think Pun probably knew his behavior was completely insane and would have been ashamed of himself had the public seen these videos while he was living. I agree though that Action is just a rapper and not a messiah but regardless this just comes down to some really basic golden rule type compassion for the next man or women. It reminds me of some retarded shit a school bully would do and I hate that shit.

  10. T-Bag says:

    Dp what is your opinion on this situation?

  11. Rocko says:

    I think the authentic label came more from the whole rapping about being a fat white dude who loves weed, food and women and not the typical drugs, gun and money shit (and probably not that he was “authentically” homophobic or an asshole)Also, hypocritical or not, there’s all kinds of extreme behavior we can find funny or entertaining in a media format that we find completely unacceptable in real life. I love the Clipse but don’t support or want to be involved with real life drug dealing and murder much the same way I love the godfather movies but don’t support or want involvement with the mafia.

    Bronson pulled some dickhead shit and while I’m still a big fan of the artist, I think a little less of the human being.

  12. T-Bag says:

    Like i said music and all set aside if you are just Joe schmo and you did this shit you are retarded. This is some worldstarhiphop shit.

  13. Whaddup GrandMaster? Great drop my man.

    What I find interesting in all of this back lash is not about the act of dousing but the alleged persuasion of the doused. No one vilified who ever through the bag of flour on Kim Kardashian, it fact many were happy and entertained by it. I’m not justifying the childish nature of the act, but given the record heat of this weekend and seeing someone passed out the street or against the bodega, what’s not to say there wasn’t some sliver of benevolence in the prank of “Yo this muhfucka is passssed OUT! Throw some water on them!” But because the person is of some undetermined sexuality it becomes a source of outrage? Miss me with all of that.

    Where was Pitchfork when Kreayshawn (who already crossed a line with her urban expedition “Bwana” name) and her home girls randomly throw around word “Nigger”? Let be real, Action relishes in his derelictions and we all have our dickhead moments in life. But to try and spin this into some sort of “hate crime” or even color it with that shade is irresponsible.

    But again the hipster awareness factor loves “Street Art” and hates graffiti. The hipster set loves to embrace “diversity” yet works to whitewash their geographic locations and import their diversity at a set unspecific quota. Pitchfork lauds the nigger nonsense of a Gucci Mane or Waka Flacka with their chain gang rattling mush mouth mumbling, yet skewers Childish Gambino because he’s hip to their whole “I have black friends” bullshit.

    So fuck them and their holier than thou hipster moral police bullshit. Their whole M.O. is spawned from a place of entitlement and privilege, and their intent to redefine what NYC should be with out any appreciation, respect, or understanding of the people they are working to supplant from the areas they’ve taken over.

  14. Wardell Franklin says:

    40– you hit on a MAJOR sore point with me re: “street art” v. graffiti, and who gets busted for what, i.e. white Pratt student aren’t spending a night in Central Booking but some teenager tagging a construction fence might. Not to mention that most of the street art jerks are using the streets/walls for ADVERTISING, witness how many turn up in wack ass street art gallery shows.

    In better news, I just noticed (?!) that giant Jackie Robinson mural on Broad Street in Philly, was driving south from Temple into Centre City, forget the exact block but I bet you know it. THAT was hype!

  15. LEX says:

    A lot of good dialog being thrown around here. I can agree with points made by both T-Bag & 40. Personally, this shit comes across to me as some bugged out night on Roosevelt ave type shit. I’ve lived to see shit like this happen. I’m not really for fucking with people when they’re trashed, but some people get trashed enough to be vulnerable to getting fucked with. Not saying it’s right, but this seems to me to be a case of reckless fun at the expense someone fucking themselves up. The internet has constantly been used to exploit people passed out with their faces markered up and cigarettes in their nostrils. It’s always assumed that this has been done by a “friend.” When this pic turned up, people instantly assume the character to be more of a victim than a friend. At the end of the day, it’s some obnoxious shit to do, but the recipient of the action did a lot more to harm themselves than having some water thrown on them. I’m more appalled by people who try to physically harm others while incapacitated.

  16. @Wardell – i was just on broad and locust! that joint was so real. THAT is some soul right there. I love me some KAWS or Banksy… but i’m sure i don’t have to tell the dp.com audience how insulting it is that all the hypest street artists (abovementioned + shepard fairey, even futura, etc.) are light-complexioned.

    @40Deez- What up Drew?! thx for the props. I co-sign to the very 1000% fullest depth of my heart your closing lines – “Their whole M.O. is spawned from a place of entitlement and privilege, and their intent to redefine what NYC should be with out any appreciation, respect, or understanding of the people they are working to supplant from the areas they’ve taken over.” That’s why I wrote this drop, and I am very glad to see that u got that.

    @Tbag – I feel you homey. I think Action’s actions (ha) were not good. But really this drop was all about the hypocritical system that’s brought him to a point where he can’t win: If he doesn’t play up his authenticity (read: moderate-to-extreme thuggish hoodness), he doesn’t get the spotlight; and once he has the spotlight, he’s excoriated for acting in those ways.
    Jay-Z did say it well: “with the same sword they knight you, they goodnight you”. And I’m not even a Jay fan like that, but that’s so real.

  17. @Wardell – Thats been a sore point of mine for years, because its almost the coke vs. crack version of vandalism criminalization to me for reasons you expressed. Also I’m quite familiar with that JRob mural. Its been there for a while and its a great piece. Philly in the late 80s looked to redirect the creative talents of their graff writers with the “Anti-Graffiti Program” which gave artists a chance to create murals across the city on the sides of buildings (ESPO had a great on on South Street in the 90s). If someone hasn’t already, they need to do a coffee table book of all the great murals in Philly because there are literally 100s of them.

    @LEX – Great points. Case in point I once poured water on a chick who was passed out drunk on the Q train because she was puking all over the place and wound up getting some of me in the crossfire. My actions were based in anger, but then again I also started her showering and sobering up process. Judge me LOL.

    @Grandmaster – Props on Props on Props. Thanks for sparking the dialogue and discussing and thanks for articulating the paradoxical snark that I’ve felt that Pitchfork (and the mentality that spawns them) has and its irksome nature to me.

  18. T-Bag says:

    I wonder if a well educated individual such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Barack Obama would have doused a random drunk person on the street with water and then posted a pic online.

  19. the_dallas says:

    Grandmaster thanks for the drop to get the discussion thread poppin’.

    Thanks to everybody who still fux with this page.

    I laughed out loud at the pic but that is because I sometimes have a depraved sense of humor and also because I know the intimacies of the fuckery that goes down on the stretch of Roosevelt Ave from 108th Street to 69th Street.

    Pitchfork and their ilk are the same people who fifty years ago would have traveled to Memphis to eat BBQ and relive and authentic blues experience. They are culture vultures picking off cadavers. I wish Action would have told them to go fux themselves.

    The idea of pouring water on someone who is passed out is sophmoric but miles away from being felonious or even dangerous. Dude/dudette could have used the bath. I’ve done far worse to people on Roosevelt Ave when I needed to put some cash in my pocket. I don’t use this page to talk about the Knockout Game because that shit is too real and I might could get arrested for that shit.

    So who are we mad at? Pitchfork? Action Bronson? Mitt Romney? I’ma still enjoy Action Bronson songs without being burdened with the Ghostface reference because my brain way too big for that bullshit. Plus I grew up on 103rd and Roosey so I know how shit goes down when you fux with a $20 holla from Guadalajara

  20. Rocko says:

    Genuine question DP- in your mind what separates a culture vulture from someone who just has a real love for something from a culture other than there own? Your example about Memphis made me think about that. If a white dude (which I am) loves the blues and BBQ (not really sure how you dislike quality versions of either) are they by default vultures ? I was raised in a smaller town in the midwest but love Lo and hip hop so does that make me one ? Were the Lo life’s jackin white culture when they started wearing Polo? Were the Bad Brains when they started playing punk music ? Like I said, genuine question, just curious about your thoughts on the matter.

  21. pmac says:

    its the world star hip hop era. peolpe are getting youst to pulling out the phone and take pics/vids of fucked up shit. i like watching sometimes not. one time i watch some gay guy in africa get beaten with everything in the street then they let him on fire till he died that was the worst ever on wshh, comepard to taken a phto of a trany passed out is nothing. maybe if they pissed on the guy i would think it was foul. i just dont care i see worst shit on cbs every night. hipsters to emo.

  22. T-Bag says:

    I think it’s funny that everyone is so upset with pitchfork. I never heard of pitchfork and don’t care about pitchfork, the topic at hand is the way one man treated another. For everyone who thinks pouring water on an intoxicated individual is a means of helping them get sober, etc. it’s not. I am a registered nurse and I have never doused an alcohol detox patient with water as a technique to help detoxification because it is completely inappropriate.

  23. Woodside Tranny says:

    Right, fuck Pitchfork but fuck Bronson too. I know he’s a musical friend of DP and I’m sure in person he’s an OK dude but I have been unamused by his schtick from the beginning and, if hardly “offended” (save by Statik Selektah’s typically garbage, Premo-with-a-lobotomy production style), at what point do the “jokes” add up to something? Cartoon sexism is still sexism, though since I’m 6’2 (6’5″ in heels!!!) I ain’t sweating any threats real or imagined.

    In a wide world of music, hip-hop included, my choice is to listen everything else.

    @ Rocko, I’m a big blues fan myself and while many fans genuinely respect the varied rural and urban cultures the music comes from, others approach(ed) it with a great deal of inherited racism/classism/regionalism. Indeed, even the idea of “blues” is in many ways a white construct, insofar as nearly all professional blues musicians played a variety of songs: ragtime, folk, pop etc. There was also much romanticization of the “primitive” but that’s an old story we can discuss elsewhere. (Read lots of Nora Zeale Hurston in the meantime.)

    Pitchfork hopping on Bronson’s dick, laughing off his ignorance to start and THEN pulling a hissy fit is what’s silly/dumb– not as silly/dumb as Bronson’s tranny drenching schtick because THEY were willfully ig’nant of where he was coming from. To act all shook NOW just shows how dopey they were THEN.

  24. Woodside Tranny says:

    6’2, 225 that is… And I meant to say while Bronson was acting dumb, he was just being himself– just like the can’t “blame” the polar bear who eats trespassing kids, though I hope Bronson has a greater capacity to learn than the polar bear.

    Lastly, re: entertainment and ignorance, ya’ll ever peep the Outdoorsmen logo or crest or herald, whatever it is? Maybe they are “real” “killers” or maybe their cartoon gun shit means something I don’t “get.”

    As half a country boy myself (shout to my Georgia fam) I’m not anti-gun per se but still, if you live in Queens and you’re flaunting weapons, you’re either full of shit or so fucking reckless I don’t want anything to do with you.

  25. T-Bag says:

    As far as Action is concerned musically he is ok, def better than most of what is out right now. The food references are getting tired though. In my opinion Meyhem Lauren is much iller on the mic, I don’t know why he isn’t getting the shine Action is. Peace to Meyhem keep grinding playboy.

  26. @TBag – “the topic at hand is the way one man treated another.” Well, that’s one discussion that’s going on, and it’s a fair one to have. For the record, yeah, I think what Action did was some grade-A fuckery, and not cool.

    But the discussion I’m trying to raise is an ancillary topic: what about the people who pounce on this kind of behavior? They are carrion-feeders, as Dallas said, culture vultures who exploit ignorance for profit and also to create a moral high ground for themselves. It’s the new-media new-millennium version of Industry Rule 4080: Entitled/privileged bloggers are shay to the D.

    @Woodside – i c you overstand me. That last paragraph you typed sums up my whole issue:
    “Pitchfork hopping on Bronson’s dick, laughing off his ignorance to start and THEN pulling a hissy fit is what’s silly/dumb… THEY were willfully ig’nant of where he was coming from. To act all shook NOW just shows how dopey they were THEN.”

  27. T-Bag says:

    @grandmaster, like I said I don’t know shit about pitchfork (what they do, who they are, what they are trying to gain, etc) but ironically if it weren’t for pitchfork we may not be having this discussion. I could care less about them being “culture vultures” and so forth as I have stated and you agreed with me, this was some grade-A fuckery and that’s that. I just hope Action does some soul searching.

  28. T-Bag says:

    @grandmaster I just read your @ to me from earlier i will quote it ‘If he doesn’t play up his authenticity (read: moderate-to-extreme thuggish hoodness), he doesn’t get the spotlight; and once he has the spotlight, he’s excoriated for acting in those ways”. If Action feels like he needs to conduct himself in an asinine manner to be in the spotlight then dude should reevaluate what in means to be in the spotlight. I also don’t think its that “thug or hood” to throw water on a transvestite, on the contrary it’s pretty soft. It would be more “thug or hood” to throw water on a drunk Kimbo Slice or a drunk Kimbo Price, that’s “authenticity”. Action or his homey knows that if they did this to either of these men they would catch a fair one. I know i have posted many reply’s on this topic but i guess it just struck a nerve in me.

  29. the_dallas says:

    @Rocko I’m railing on the people at Pitchfork and similar outlets who misappropriate culture and replace its context to suit their whims and conceptions. Because they recklessly bite I call them vultures but maybe they are really cultural ‘tourists’.

    You don’t have to travel to Memphis to experience authentic blues but if you don’t care enough about what’s real then you will remain generically suited and then when the blues musician identifies the source of their misery and the finger is pointed at you (not YOU per se, but you) it becomes uncomfortable.

    Lo-Lifes are part of the continuity of colored people adopting the costuming of those who are leisurely and wealthy. Those are the REAL aspirations of the working classes to attain that upper class status, but even moreso to PROJECT it to one another living in those impoverished conditions.

    Ask yourself why you listen to rap or maybe you call it Hip-Hop. Is it because you like the music and the ryhmes, or is it because you want to gain and give knowledge (hip) and keep moving forward (hop). You gotta ask yourself honestly why you are here?

  30. T-Bag says:

    The truth is most of these rappers just “sound grimy” and don’t really do the shit they rap about. If they are doing the shit they rap about and they end up getting popped then they go to court and their defense is that the music they make is just for entertaiment purposes. I think most people who listen to rap music don’t expect these artists to actually be in the streets selling dope or gunning down foes. The authenticity comes from the rappers history of doing these things but once you get in the game I think it’s expected that your smart enough or should be smart enough to cut that shit out and start to make bigger moves.

  31. Rocko says:

    @DP
    Don’t take issue with anything in your response, guess I just found the Memphis example a little open ended and was interested in some clarification. As to why I’m here and why I listen to hip-hop; never really put touch thought into it. Perhaps I should but I’ve never been terribly analytical as to why I like things. On this site because you cover things I’m interested in terms music, fashion and comics. I like hip hop, punk, metal, ska, classic rock, classical etc simply because I like the way it sounds. Smoke weed because I like the way it makes me feel. Wear polo because I like the way it looks. Eat shitty fried foods. Because I like the way they taste. I’m sure psychologically there is all kinds of reasons for why I like what I like, but as I said rightly or wrongly simply the fact I like it has always sufficed.

  32. khal says:

    i 100% agree with this drop. felt the same way when i saw that pitchfork post. condone what action does or not, but you cant champion the dude for what he says in the rhymes but then flip it when you dont like what he did on the instagram.

  33. […] on Dallas Penn‘s site, there is a great post + comment cycle about the inherent conflict of Pitchfork […]

  34. […] on Dallas Penn, there is a great post + comment cycle about the inherent conflict of Pitchfork faulting Action […]

  35. […] When Hipsters Pitch(fork) A Fit… […]

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