By Guest Blogger Neelanjana Banerjee
When I moved to Los Angeles after living in San Francisco for ten years, I was expecting the usual stereotypes—that I’d get bored listening to stories about entertainment industry fallout, and occasionally see James Franco at brunch. [Okay, that second thing does happen sometimes. All right, all right: once.] But in reality, I have found myself surrounded by mainly activists, artists, and most surprisingly: academics. If you told me before I moved to LA, that I would meet a large number of cutting-edge POC theoreticians, I would have laughed at the irony—especially after moving away from the shadow of Berkeley and Stanford. But here I am in Los Angeles, more wowed by the academic rock stars that I meet than by the real rock stars I may be standing in line for coffee behind.
I say this as an intro to Thuggee Cult’s Beats for Bangladesh track because it represents that smart, sly, subversive academic kool that I’ve come to respect LA for. Not that I know anything about the mysterious cats behind Thuggee Cult—self-described cryptically as: a “a Los Angeles-based music group with beginnings and endings elsewhere” featuring Jung John Brown, Saladin, Tripoli, Iskandir, Radio Rahim and produced by Gameli. And the band’s name? Well, it is a historical reference to the name of the infamous tourist killing thugsters in India during the Sepoy Mutiny era.
But their #B4B track “Thomas Friedman and the Orientalist Express” which is a jazzy mash-up of beats and samples, with some smooth flows running over it all, is both incredibly listenable and drops some smart make-you-stop lyrics like “white savior complexes” and “fuck a Slumdog Millionaire”; and maybe the most relevant to this album: “This shit is 2013 slavery / peoples dying for your ambercrombie.” [It’s pretty amazing how well slavery and Abercrombie rhymes, isn’t it?]
Shouts to Neelanjana Banerjee and Mishthi Music.
Check out http://www.beatsforbangladesh.org/