Tag Archives: Youtube

The Harlem Shake and The Trans-Racial Nature of the Internet Meme

As I observed the latest viral video meme sweeping the internet, the Harlem Shake, I realized how unique this phenomenon is. In case you don’t know, an internet meme is something so popular that it is honored by being copied by others across the globe. Think of last year’s Gangnam Style:

Original

Imitators

Sometimes the internet meme becomes so popular that the original creator comes back and mocks themselves:

I particularly love how simple the Harlem Shake meme is to duplicate with just a few friends in a room:

But what strikes me more than anything is how these internet memes transcend race and place. You will find white military guys in Norway, Japanese teen girls in a bedroom, black college kids in Atlanta, mixed groups in an office in London, all fully participating in their version of the meme. Has this ever happened before? The only thing similar is how hip-hop has been embraced and adapted across the globe. But even that is acknowledged as a traditionally Black music form. The internet meme seems to belong to no one. Or said better, it seems to belong to the world. Engaging in the meme doesn’t make you less Black or less authentic it would appear. It’s odd to say, but the internet meme through such services as Youtube might be the ultimate representation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a trans-racial open society.

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Thrift Shop : Potentially The Rap That Changes Hip Hop

It’s good to occasionally check in on top 40 radio. You can get a good sense of cultural directions and trends. So, last week I heard a song that had an infectious hook and had to listen in. What blew me away though wasn’t the sound but the lyrics, which were about celebrating thrift store shopping for fashion. One part mentions how silly it was to spend $50 for a t-shirt that everyone else was wearing. The fact that this was a rap had me extra excited, as rap is well known for pushing the value of high fashion and expensive taste. Suddenly, I began envisioning this song as a trailblazer; a turning point away from the urban values which have caused poor spending habits as parents don’t have a dime in their kid’s college fund but routinely drop $100 or more for the latest shoes or jeans. A rap glorifying used clothes and hand me downs wasn’t something I ever expected to hear in my lifetime. Hip Hop moving away from superficial consumerism and towards the hipster lifestyle could be nothing but good news. Nothing saddens me more then hearing the non-stop stories of kids getting shot for his brand name coat or due to stepping on some thug’s $300 sneakers. And I love the thought of Kanye at the Salvation Army or Jay-Z dumpster diving.

When I got home I immediately looked up more about the song. ‘Thriftshop’ is by a rapper named Macklemore along with Ryan Lewis singing vocals.

I was truly surprised to see that he was a white rapper. I was also disappointed as I think the song would have a greater impact on the Black youth of the rap community if he was also Black. On the otherhand, his Youtube video has over 70 MILLION views and the it is already a top 10 song, so it has obviously struck a cord with many people. And it is definitely a refreshing rap and I hope a new direction for the genre.

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