Taking The Myth – 24 August Edition 2016

This week on Taking The Myth, Stephen Knight (@Gspellchecker) and Iram Ramzan (@Iram_Ramzan) discuss the big topics. We talk about the ‘honour killing’ of Samia Shahid, the end of Anjem Choudary, radicalisation in prisons, Pakistani hate preachers, Mo Shafiq, Talib Kweli, why ISIS hate us and much more! Plus The ASLAN Awards!

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  • Have you got a link to that Luton undercover mosque thing you mentioned?

    Iram is totally correct regarding Ajmal Masroor. He might not look like an out and out puritan, but he is and he preaches as such, as well as spouting real dislike of “The West” and all it entails. A sneaky peek at his public Facebook page will tell anyone that. But the BBC love him, as does LBC etc, calling him a “moderate voice” and Iain Dale on LBC calling him “A great man”. That is part of the problem.

  • If anyone’s interested in reading the latest issue of ‘Dabiq’ (the DAESH on-line magazine) to see what Stephen was talking about: http://jihadology.net/2016/07/31/new-issue-of-the-islamic-states-magazine-dabiq-15/

  • PART ONE: Congrats to GSPodacst for its one millionth download! I say cheers all round to the spellchecker and his excellent guests. I’ve been following the blog for a few years and enjoying the podcasts for about a year now.
    I’d like to post a comment and I have to apologize in advance for it. It’s going to be a bit long. I really don’t want to be a comment hog but this is a rare exception – actually I vow it will be the only time I stretch out this much. It’s like a blog post but true, I don’t have a blog right now…
    I became interested in the podcast comments about Talib Kweli and it made me want to look up info on him as well because I had not heard his music either. The online searching uncovered other things I want to mention as well and the subject(s) just grew to the point where I had to do more research and then present this in kind of an extended form. Being a considerably open-minded music listener and consumer (with a little performance experience as well) my interest in the research (or, enlightened surfing, really) and ensuing comments expanded to include other thoughts about the subjects of music, non-religious and religious perspectives, historical commentary through music, and the social commentary of artists (whether or not they are very well known or popular or not).
    At about 36’35” I noted the comment that the spellchecker does not know who Talib Kweli is – “I’ve no idea who this man is apart from his Twitter output”. I had an impulse to find out more about him myself. First of all though I know there are other listeners who have posted good comments about him already on the “Talib Kweli vs. Maajid Nawaz” blog post dated 8-20-2016. Also as I’ll mention it turns out there were some things about Kweli’s background that were known; just not any of his music, which is his occupation. I like just about all those comments over on that blog post. One of the most basic conclusions that yes, he is a professional musician and producer, etc., and even a couple opinions saying they think he has at least produced some good music.
    I was familiar with his name only. I must have seen it in music magazines back around the time his first album came out (’98 – Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star), concert notices, and so forth. I admit that naïvely at first I just thought his name sounded really African, like, “he must be an African native”. Well, no, he is from New York, and the name is Arabic (well, maybe North African). Also I had heard of Mos Def but had never heard any of his music either. I enjoyed his role in the film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy though. Fortunately I was able to obtain a copy of the Black Star CD from the local library system.

  • PART TWO: So just going with this urge to share some of the things I found out about T Kweli, I present a few facts per Wikipedia and Google. However I need to say that I’m not trying to defend his actions in question AT ALL. I’m completely on the side of the GSP hosts. I think at this time he is definitely deserving of an ASLAN award or a general non-intelligence label or what have you. The comment at 47’17” – he has acted like a “mass of unstoppable ignorance” indeed. But here are some other bits nonetheless. From his Wiki page there is a reminder that the 1st CD was released during a “renaissance of conscious, Afrocentric Hip Hop”. In this statement there could be many concepts to tangent on. I’ll try to focus on saying that yes, the “lyrics” are not of the belligerent, sexist type, they are a bit more conscientious. I want to touch on the subject of the musical validity of Hip Hop later. For now it’s good to take as a given that the GSP hosts and many of the listeners accept Hip Hop as music (I even have a link to a good article about the terms ‘Rap’ and ‘Hip Hop’). Also, Kweli-Greene appeared on the Dave Chappelle show three times and toured with the Beastie Boys. He’s mentioned as being a spokesperson and mentor for a non-profit organization called P’Tones Records, but is not listed on their site. It seems like a good organization, however there is not much other information on it online, or any success stories where young people have credited it as being the training ground for them getting into a successful career, etc. I found a decent essay by him on a site called “The Final Call” (bit of a Muslim info site, not bad as far as that goes, didn’t check out the whole thing) where he wrote about the experience of visiting Ferguson, MO during some of the protests and (unfortunately) violence that followed after the killing of Michael Brown. He was messed around a bit by a well-known Black conservative TV news anchor…somewhat ironically I found myself on his side for that one. It was a well-written essay and not inflammatory like his recent Twitter posts. Last but very interesting to me was that he collaborated with Darryl McDaniels (RUN-DMC), Mix Master Mike (worked with the Beastie Boys as well as producing solo stuff), and Ahmet Zappa on a version of Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp” that was part of a Zappa “birthday bundle” digital-music thing released in 2010. This was so interesting to me because really I am a bigger Zappa fan than Hip Hop (although Public Enemy is one of my all-time favorite groups) and I’ll come back to my point about essential Zappa tracks for Atheist music fans later.
    A small point about one of the podcast comments I found just slightly amusing. After saying you don’t know anything about him other than Twitter output, you do mention that you know about the educated status of his family and his upbringing. Not a criticism at all. Just that you do know at least a little bit about him other than his Twitter output. But not familiar with any of his work, songs or videos, etc. Totally fair. BTW did you ever YouTube any of his videos?

  • PART THREE: The first exchange between Kweli & the spellchecker is obviously unfortunate and inaccurate on Kweli’s part. It only reinforces my belief that the spellchecker is bound to be the more informed and rational party in any exchange like this. How embarrassing for Kweli that he was completely wrong in bringing up the murder of the Imam Jalal Uddin as an example of “Islamophobic murder in the U.S.”. It says UK in the link he used!!?! Then he blew it again, correctly noted, about trying to insist only members of a given group should suggest or promote reform for that group…total lack of logic and understanding of free speech. “How do you know, you weren’t there” is such a weak argument. Wow, why do we even record History at all…Even Kweli himself was annoyed by that kind of weak logic when he visited Ferguson!! The subsequent responses just got worse, showing a lack of reading comprehension (alas, a common symptom when rushing to a conclusion…). I hope this exchange has stopped. Who knows why he went on such a tirade??
    Hmmm. Well I would like to say a little bit about this first album Black Star. Being open to listening to Hip Hop going back to Kurtis Blow and Schooly D, etc., I’d say yes, this is a pretty good album. I enjoyed it and might purchase a copy of it someday. The opening sample of the Jazz musician Cannonball Adderley from 1970 saying “we feel that we have a responsibility to…shine light into the darkness…” pretty much sets the tone that the album will focus on positive concepts.
    K.O.S. (Determination) focuses on a theme of self-improvement. There are mentions of the problem of inordinate incarceration of Black people and their experience in prison, including a mention of
    the Attica riot in New York 1971 (I first became aware of this through Charles Mingus’ piece Remember Rockefeller at Attica). There are no incitations or descriptions of violence and exhortations to avoid pursuing criminality.
    The experience of Music is totally subjective. I think most invective directed towards Music is totally worthless. Also I find it interesting that a lot of it in recent history seems to come from a religious perspective – as in, “the more kinesthetic, sexually vigorous and noisy a form of music is, the more it takes people’s attention away from God!!”. Jazz – “the devil’s noise”. Early Rock and Roll – “horrible noise that turns kids into juvenile delinquents”. The Rite of Spring – “that’s not music”. Later Rock and Roll – “that’s not music”. The Beatles – “they killed Jazz!!” Metal – “that’s not even music”. I’ve heard them all. Motown seems to have gotten something right, that music seems to be largely spared from this sort of invective. Hip Hop? Forget about it. “That doesn’t take any talent at all”. Actual quote from a still-touring 70s charttopper band: “all you need’s a drum machine and an attitude”. In the music studies I enrolled in there was way too much time spent on the religious origins of music, IMHO. That early counterpoint class with the original plainsong, motets, and early masses felt like it took 3 years instead of 3 months. But that’s why I’m throwing this in; academic history will be sure to remind one that the early schools and scholars were all fostered by the church, who was the source of education and law and the flat earth and witch hunts too…Well, what, have we come a long way since then? Yes.
    I’m still very open minded about all forms of Music and YES there are many now and YES we all like to argue about the genres and performers we hate. I can’t relate to doing that at all anymore. It’s the end result, the finished product that really matters and if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Boy we (well, the WE I’ve become accustomed to, anyway) like to argue about who is “talented” and who is not, bicker, bicker, balderdash. This is very relevant to a discussion about a “rapper”. I started including Hip Hop in my collection a long time ago and will continue to do so, to some degree. Now I know I’m adding to a discussion context here, but really, I don’t want to start an argument about music here. That’s not what this cool site is for. And boy, I’m ramblin’ now. I’m saying: it uses sound – practically ANY sound- controlled by humans to occur a given way in time = IT’S MUSIC. Yes that includes sounds of vinyl records on turntables being manipulated by people to produce sounds that they don’t produce when played normally. The talent issue? There are a lot of other talents involved in producing totally new forms of music and then recording it and performing it live. The “classical” concept of real talent only coming from mastering decades- (or centuries-) old prewritten music AND the “modern” concept of real talent only coming from belting out covers of extant pop songs on a TV stage where you don’t even see the band (if there is one) are really not even relevant – but they do make for great internet and pub spats. So I get to the point where I know the image of – Rap (ahem) for many is a tricked-out car with the powered subwoofer, subwoofing away (BRUUUM…BRUUUM…) and a guy yelling over the (always 4/4) beat “IMA BADASS PIMP, I SMACK MY HOES, I GAT A MUTHAF****R LIKE IT AIN’T NO THING” etc. Every genre has its bad examples. Most at least have a few good ones too. Most listeners here might agree that Kweli’s music is not really a bad example of Hip Hop. I learned several things about Black American history from Hip Hop and also thought their use of samples was often interesting, even though that did create a lot of copyright issues.
    I thank you so much for your indulgence…in my indulgence here. Here is a link to an article which explains how Rapping is considered the verbal (and yes, urban-poetic) element in the cultural phenomenon of Hip Hop:


    Here are 2 bonus links addressing the fallacy of the so-called “Mozart Effect”:


    When I saw Ahmet Zappa mentioned on Kweli’s Wiki page, it made me want to take a look at Frank Zappa’s site, which I hadn’t done in awhile. Unfortunately I found some recent news that I will only say I found to be unfortunate. But it also reminded me that I couldn’t post a comment here so centered on Music without saying: PLEASE, PLEASE, check out and maybe buy these 3 Zappa tracks…they are essential to any Atheist’s collection –

    And if you can handle a little Punk, throw in “ALL RELIGIONS SUCK” by the Dead Kennedys (from the album IN GOD WE TRUST, INC.).

    PS The Dorian Silk & the MCH theme ROCKS (F Yeah dude!!)

What do you think? Leave some comments!