Credible Forces

Whiskey Blanket 2007. Credible Forces. Boulder: Independent.

Same old police still roams the streets
The same hand that feeds you still holds the leash.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 2 - Night Walz)
This could be one of those nonverbal metaforms/metophors Danesi is on about. I'm hoping to collect more explicitly concursive quotes from this album. Also, I have to note that this is the very first (music) album I am "listening concursively." That is, I'm broadening my concursive enterprise to music, films and pehaps even other art forms. So-called "body articulations" can be found everywhere.
Wake and stretch and take a breath
When you reach the front door try to pace your step
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 3 - Wake And Stretch)
These sound instructive. Charles Morris probably has a specific category for these kinds of "suggestive" statements. In any case, there are three behaviours present: stretching the body (after waking up; sirutamine, virgumine), taking a breath (on command; intentionally), and pacing steps (again directing conscious attention to footwork).
I'm short on breath like Funny Biz is short on change. [sound of coins clinging]
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 3 - Wake And Stretch)
Being out of breath - is it a behaviour or a state?
But I've been doing what I like since I was breast-fed
and I'll do the same until the day I fluff the pillow for my death-bed.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 3 - Wake And Stretch)
A good expression which "embryonically" contains a situation: a man lying on his death-bed, re-adjusting (fluffing, making fluffy) the pillow. Very... eye-minded, as M. Joos would put it.
As I sit I let the past entice visions of how my path in life has turned into a powerful device of love and sacrifice...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Wake And Stretch)
Here the artivity - sitting - is put to use as "a plot device." It describes the situation: the rapper is sitting and letting his mind wonder.
But I'll just take it for granted that I've been put on this planet to serve a purpose, a reason, a service to certain beings, like every person hurt or bleeding in a fervent seach for feeding my soul with a deeper meaning, and I'm breathing, but breath can be deceiving, believing that every next proceeding day is just yesterday for repeating...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Wake And Stretch)
The first (emboldened) instance in a visualizing device: the rapper states that he is in the service of people wha have been wronged, who are hurt, and those not only hurt, but visibly hurt - bleeding. The second instance sounds like a meta-description: the rapper has just uttered a long stretch of rhymes and says - as if to himself - that he is breathing, after which he takes an audible breath and proceeds to discuss some aspect of breathing. That brath can be deceiving could be a reference to the fact that words can lie.
Now what exactly do people think when they see or hear me [...]
I can never tell what others interpret, do they see a man who's life is perfect? [...]
It hurts less when I don't think, but I love attentive eyes that don't blink
And my heart sinks when I'm adored
It seems like only yesterday when I was ignored...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
Here we have a self-conscious discourse, a worrying about what others think of oneself and a valuable remark that self-consciousness can be ignored: one can stop worrying about what others think and thus save oneself some trouble. Almost immediaty the other side of the coin is presented: it feels good to be in front of attentive eyes (that don't blink). This is the bifurcated characteristic of public presentations: on the one hand one feels self-conscious and on the other it feels good. I'm sure the neuroscience of public speaking has already narrowed these aspects down to adrenaline and whatever, but at this point we're interested in the poetic expressions of these phenomena.
Do you know me now?
- The way you tilt your head and raise an eyebrow -
I wonder what you could have learned by listening
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
Wow. The concursive description is uttered by another voice. It's as if there's a self-conscious protagonist and a descriptive narrator present. The nonverbal behoviour described is questioning, or what Young (1930: 208) called "a facial interrogation point" that demands an answer. The protagonist proceeds to enumerate possible answers ("that kid can sing" etc. left out of thequotation) but before it proposes a counter-question: what could the listener have learnt by way of observation? This topic falls under the heading of "nonverbal ethics," e.g. the feelings involved by the subject who is being watched or observed.
Funny Biz is writing rhymes on little books/box of matches.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
"Object language" - this quote is uttered by "the other" (rapper), again a description of activity from "the narrator's" point of view. The content is seemingly meant to be taken comically - the image is of a rapper writing rhymes on anything that suits him; in this case - in the restaurant - it is a box of matches. Also, note the phonetic similarity here between "books" and "box" - I cannot differentiate by hearing which one is uttered, and both seem to fit semantically as well.
I've never been the type to follow all the latest fashions
nor do I get so drunk I lose control of all my actions
unless I meet a girl who's got a butt like Toni Braxton's
and come to find her friends have all got sexy foreign accents
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
The impression is again comical mixed with serious self-descriptions (Bakhtin would probably say serio-comical). The impression is also fostered by the playful "carnivalistic" music on the background. The verbal content reifies the connection between alcohol and irresponsive behaviour (losing control of one's actions).
Yo, I take two steps back to examine where I'm headed...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
Another point for metaphorization: distancing oneself - almost physically, by stepping back - from abstract concepts (one's directions in life).
It's out of hand / still / I've got a grip of what matters...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 4 - Make Believe)
Again, "what matters" is a metaform that can be "handled" and "gripped". Cognitive processes or states have been given concursive expression.
Throw me a bone and you ain't never gonna get it back...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 5 - Dark Secrets)
This is interesting because of the mixed levels: "throwing someone a bone" is a metaphorical expression of giving someone a chance or helping out, and "giving it back" reifies it as a physical activity. This must be "the treasure of poetic language" where everything is free to be remolded or played with.
I don't wanna live in a box searching for a saviour
receiving free time for good behovior
step into the chamber and smell the vapor
let it sink into your skin like a rusty razor
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 5 - Dark Secrets)
What we have here is a barrage of prison imagery (although I have to admit my own ward "barrage" is itself filled with war-time imagery - there's no escape from imagery). On first listening "living in a box" and "searching for a saviour" could be read from the standpoint of critical attitude towards religion, e.g. searhing for a saviour is living in a box. But it makes better sense to consider this in relation with the tendency of prison population to turn religious (what else is there to do than to go to the chapel?). Getting time off for good behaviour is a definite prison trope. The prison association is yet again reinforced by the somatic imagery of a chamber that stinks intensely enough to sink into the skin (sharply, like a razor).
I don't wanna be a wack-rapping gun-slinging gangster with my chain hanging, bustin' slugs and slangin' drugs and illin' while I'm gang-banging.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 6 - Necessity)
Another use of the same level-mixing technique, where common tropes of low-brow gangster rap (e.g. bustin' slugs and slangin' drugs) are presented in a weirdle literal way.
Oh, hello, my name is Sloppy Joe, I play the fiddle and I'm good at what I love so my life is pretty simple but, uh, you've prolly seen me at the back of the class, looking distracted, doodling and scratching my ass...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 9 - Temptations)
If I remember correctly then social psychologists have even proven that students who pay the most attention are sitting at the front or in the center - that attention is actually regulated by the teacher's visual field. In this verse Sloppy Joe introduces himself and recalls where and how he might have been most remembered. It is almost as if sitting at the back of the class and looking distracted are followed by a short list of symptoms of looking distracted: doodling and scratching his ass. The implication seems to be that attentive students do not doodle (they listen to the teacher) and don't indulge in "inappropriate" behaviours - instead of scratching his ass any given self-adaptor could have been named (picking or scratching his nose, for example).
So I actively try to keep this rapping alive
when the show is over I'll be slapping some five
throw my hat to the sky, cause I have to be live
to keep the music cruisin' with the happening vibe
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 9 - Temptations)
I wonder if there's a "semantic relation" between keeping hip-hop alive and the activities listed immediately afterwards. It is as if giving out high-fives and throwing hats in the air serve as means to keep up the "happening" vibe and in this way also keep hip-hop alive. Also, I just remembered that Whiskey Blanket has a "quirky" stage presence. In one interview they were questioned about why two of them squat while one is standing up and rapping. Their reply was cogent, that in this way the currently rapping person "stands out." Whiskey Blanket's body language is indeed interesting. They are not of course alone with such antics as high-fives and hat-throwing. It seems that many rappers do namy things to keep the audience attentive. Lords of the Underground, for example, handed out vinyls and rigorously instructed the audience to use their bodies; e.g. make the "L" emblem with their hands, etc.
So I give the directions [...] as we speak
so raise the bar, raise the roof, raise an eyebrow...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 9 - Temptations)
Could these be the instructions for the audience? If so then they are again poetically mixing the abstract with the concrete, e.g. one cannot raise the bar, the roof, and an eyebrow in exactly the same way.
Do you wanna run with those who get drunk ang take off their clothes?
If you doubt us, strike a pose...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 10 - Seamless)
Concursive, but incogent. What pose?
You can try to step quick
but you're looking shaky as an epilectic
and your head feels big because of your necklace...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 10 - Seamless)
I believe this is called a punchline. Otherwise it seems like they are just playing around with words, desperately trying to find something to rhyme (which they do, quite well), but with no "story" behind it. I'm beginning to think that the "mixed technique" mentioned earlier is a part of the punchline phenomenon, which here seems to consist of double entendres, e.g. "just leave that beef right back in the stu" - with "beef" having a slang meaning as grudge. Overall "Seamless" seems like a track made "just for fun" with Audible Audities.
No American Idol winner is speaking [?] on rap
just cause they can get a room full of people to clap...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 11 - Credible Sources)
I can't tell if the word is speakin', beatin', or vegan. In any case the message is admirable: that the size of the audience should not be the measure of music.
I analyzed the words of critics as they tore me apart
they help me build a bonfire out of only the spark
and that's good, great, / fresh / that's something worth living for...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 11 - Credible Sources)
I wonder if members of WB will read this as well. It's not a review in the traditional sense, but it's something...
Nowadays it's all glitter and glass and jigglin' ass
and nobody willing to just think of the past
you see if I became a teacher every kid in the class
would get a take-home assignment called Listen to Jazz.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 11 - Credible Sources)
Meritorious verse. The concursive aspect - ass-jiggling - is presented as a metonym for cheesy XXX music videos which dominate the mainstream rap music scene.
I woke up about half past the quarter to two. I had to gather my thoughts for a moment or two, and soon enough the day begun, I'[wa]s feeling a little bit lazy from the night before / kinda sore / sorta tired, tryina' find a pair of socks and a shirt that wasn't dirty, freshen up and try to hit the road by one thirty...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 12 - Don't Get Hirt)
This whole track is very descriptive, but explicitly bodily activities are only began with. Since the main concern lays with hygiene, transportation and food, I believe this would be what bakhtinians would call the "bodily lower stratum." The bold span, gathering thoughts after waking up, seems like a common everyday experience. I wouldn't be surprised if oneirologists had a special term for it.
What's miraculous about it is [...] Everybody's looking for their true selves. We're all trying to fulfill ourselves, understand ourselves, get in touch with ourselves, face reality... Explore ourselves, expand ourselves. Ever since we dispensed with God we've had nothing but ourselves to explain, this meaningless horror of life. / You're a wacko... /
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 14 - The Probable Antagonist)
This soundbite is Eddie Jessup's speech from the movie Altered States (1980). It may suit well this year's summer school of semiotics, the topic of which is autocommunication. I'm compiling a list of notions related to self-communication, so watching this movie may prove useful.
...it burns when he speaks, cause sometimes it goes without a reply. He's [got] doubt in his eyes, the fountain subsides and reverts into a desert. He woke up at his parents house and his head hurt, wearing his red shirt he was sent to the psychiatrist...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 15 - Ritenoir)
There's so much embedded into this, it's difficult to unravel. The burning sensation felt when speaking and not getting a reply may be ascribed to some unidentified emotion (psycholinguists, help?). Embodying doubt in one's eyes is a common case of ascribing emotions to eyes when in fact there is a whole complex of facial and bodily factors involved - this is the case af ambiguity in concursivity; when a verbal expression merely announces but does not describe the nonverbal expression. The part about the subsiding fountain may be a poetic metaphor for eyes turning "dim." Generally I noticed only now that the title of this sad song is a reference to Ritalin, and a reference to the psychopharmaceutical affair going on in the US (e.g. suicides caused by these stimulants).
When the doctor came in she arose to her feet / Now, now, Ma[da]m, you better have a seat, / Oh no, bad news, what could it be / Well how's life at home been recently?
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 15 - Ritenoir)
A point for concursive interrelationships. This is like a scene from any given American unfolding before our imagination. The woman stands up because she has been waiting for the doctor and he opens with "you better have a seat" which is a typical warning sign of giving or receiving bad news.
As he grabbed his briefcase he got weak in the knees
rushed for the car and clumsily reached for his keys
she grabbed the book-bag, hopped on the bike
staying ready, steady peddling with all of her might
stricken with the sudden feeling something was not right
he slammed on the gas as he sped through a stop light
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 15 - Ritenoir)
The episode goes on until they find mom's dead body at home. This is very concursive, almost like a (manu)script. It seems like they intentionally tried to make a visual impact, emphasized even further by the way dialogue of voices, each describing another activity or the activity of another character.
I'm simply captivated by the way that humans behave
It's been a major inspiration when my music is made
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 16 - Improper Paradise)
This is the last and perhaps the best track on this album. And, even more, the primary reason I chose to "read" the lyrics concursively (mostly because of the hand-in-the-pockets bit coming up soon). This specific quote, though, implicates the rapper is nonverbalism, that is, watching people and drawing inspiration from that.
But really who am I to judge when I'm just here to observe...
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 16 - Improper Paradise)
Could just as well be a part of the code of conduct for people-watchers.
I walk around with my hands in my pockets cause I don't want you to know what I'm doing. I walk around with you off of my conscience cause I know that you're only a human.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 16 - Improper Paradise)
Perhaps the best chorus I know. I so want to use this quote if I ever get around to writing my own dystopian fiction.
I'm left to contemplate my observations of society and how the majority is far from what they'd like to be. What a sight to see: intriguing yet appalling how some could give a fuck while sell a [?] for a calling.
(Whiskey Blanket 2007: 16 - Improper Paradise)
Quote-worthy in every way. I'm glad I undertook re-listening this album after a long while. There's much in the lyrics that I am unable to decode because they tend to get a bit too fast at times, but even in those cases the music itself makes up for it. I'm sure I'll try to concursivize more albums, perhaps even their No Object (2010).


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