Last week, in that pass-the-peace-pipe cadence of his, our president told Congress that government should be "active but limited, engaged but not overbearing." We can assume he wasn't talking about the local cops' war on Ecstasy (see Leyla Kokmen's February 21 City Beat, "Party Over"). Still, Bush's budget pitch had the touchy-feely banality of a boring rave. Soon the government we pay for will resemble the music we purchase: "faith-based" (I'd like to thank God for this award) and indebted to sponsors (Big ups to my peeps at BMG Entertainment).
At the very least, watching Bush babble calls for closed captioning and a stack of inappropriate CDs. And what better music for a uniter-not-a-divider than the cop-a-feely vibe of the latest releases from Flipp and DJ Boogie? Local pop is often reputed to be the perfect compassionate conservative: engaged but not overbearing. Which is nonsense, of course, but that characterization might describe what we're supposed to take seriously. Try to convince your average Jayhawks fan that costumed glam-punks Flipp or X-rated "ghetto house" DJ Boogie are worthy artists, and you'll...have my job.
Consider the album titles. To embrace Flipp's Blow It Out Your Ass! (Rock Steady Records) or Boogie's Pimps Up Hoes Down (South Side Clique) requires a jadedness most casual consumers can't fathom. Perhaps only by constantly ingesting promotional materials whose sole message is "Pay attention to me" can one truly appreciate music whose sole message is "Pay attention to me."
Flipp's medium for this message is distinctive: self-consciously snotty and silly cock-rock cheerleading, with sex slaves oddly missing from the lyrics and solos helpfully buried in the bridge. Turn down the volume on Blow It Out Your Ass! and you can almost hear the Sex Pistols covering Gary Glitter's stadium-rock staple "Rock & Roll Roll, Pt. 2." (You remember: Nah-nananana-Hey!-Nah-nananana-Nah-nananana-etc.) That stadiums have moved on to DMX matters not at all to Flipp, who are playing a moshdome of the imagination as vivid and lively as the real-life arenas they shower in pyrotechnics.
True, maybe those giddy Cheap Trick harmonies are too funny; Flipp can remind you of the time the Muppets dressed up like punks to impress Debby Harry. But singer and principal songwriter Brynn Arens could parade the songcraft of "Oh Yeah" and "Cock Rock" alongside the maximum R&B of, say, Rocket from the Crypt and have nothing to blush about.
Well-laid songs can withstand any amount of shtick. But the fact that DJ Boogie's tracks are hardly songs--Pimps Up Hoes Down is seven cuts in before you realize one has passed--doesn't make him more disposable. Some would question, amid the local CD boom, expending ink on a producer whose genre can sound like a skipping CD garnished with phone-sex messages--hey, I could record that without leaving bed. But Boogie is as busy and curious as the brainiest drum 'n' bass maestro. His Monday- and Tuesday-night shifts on KMOJ-FM (89.9) are the most surreal few hours of local radio you'll encounter. Those speeded-up voices chirping sexual orders sound like a workout tape for repressed elves. And that's without the dirty parts.
Like love, Boogie's weird racket lifts us up where we belong--above the point of caring about how screwed-up your turn-ons are. That's also the definition of porn, really. But then, nothing about Boogie's music is self-conscious (when he drops his digits into the middle of a track, he's not joking). Certainly not his less-than-flattering subtext of arrested adolescence. Rocking to a track like "Bang Skee in My Mouth"--in which baby voices ("Ooey!") are scratched across Boogie chants ("From the windows to the walls/Dick and balls/In your jaws")--means unplugging parts of your brain that you'll need in real life. Welcome to the state of our union.