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American negativity and rap/metal in the age of supercapitalism
Author: Scott Wilson

The seductive force of American supercapitalism unlocks new markets, unleashing the energy of desire, and provides a destructive version of Satan's rage. At the vanguard of this seduction has been the youthful rage and rebellion of the devil's music, American rock 'n' roll and its multiple related subgenres. This book looks at the most pervasive forms of American popular music in the post-cold-war period. Gangsta rap exploits and informs the consumption of luxury brands. The 'mom and pop rage' of the nu metal bands self-consciously exposes itself as the violent expression, the excess of the implacable banal excess, and of shopping-mall consumerism. The book explores the negativity and the 'niggativity' of American rap/metal in the 1990s in relation to a number of key events in the decade such as the Rodney King riots and the Columbine High School massacre. On the face of it, the gangsta 'nigga' is an unlikely point of identification for suburban white culture. But the phenomenon of the 'wigga' (white, wanna-be-nigga) and the success of companies like Nike testify to the fascination that such a figure holds. Rage Against the Machine (also known as Rage or RATM) do not normally have problems with machines, indeed their music and living depend upon them. Rather, the 'machine' is for Rage another word for the new world order of global capitalism. Death metal groups such as Morbid Angel and Deicide aim to outdo the others in its singular relation to death, shock and outrage.

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Scott Wilson

authenticated by Tipper’s sticker. In the context of supercapitalism, therefore, maternal law operates not so much as prohibition or censorship but as an imperative that directs consumer choice. Rap and metal have been overwhelmingly targeted by the PMRC, thereby directing choice towards the music of anti-Oedipal violence that provides further support for maternal law. It is a virtuous spiral. Korn’s self-named debut album, credited with inaugurating the nu metal or white hip hop subgenre, occupies this ambivalent space perfectly. Released in 1994, Koяn’s cover depicts the

in Great Satan’s rage
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Scott Wilson

metal into a form that provided the ‘blueprint’ that Korn and nu metal would follow. While Rage’s understanding of the machine is informed by a socialist critique 144 Great Satan’s rage of capitalism, American imperialism (‘I warm my hands on the flames of the flag’, ‘Bombtrack’, 1992), new-left activism and identity politics attacking both the hidden and formal curriculum of schools: ‘the present curriculums / I put my fist in ‘em / Eurocentric every last one of em’ (‘Take the Power back’, 1992). this is not the case with the subsequent nu metal bands whose rage

in Great Satan’s rage
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Scott Wilson

bleaker and angrier forms of American rock, most notably nu metal, which also incorporated many aspects of rap and hip hop. This book discusses a variety of examples of this negative turn in American pop in the context of the end of the cold war, and the explosion of postmodern capitalism (Goux, 1998a) that spread, unfettered, into Eastern Europe and Asia, supported by unmatched US military power. Many of the examples of these forms of popular music have a negative relation to capitalism, but are also very successful commercially. Indeed they tap into the negativity of

in Great Satan’s rage
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Scott Wilson

death metal, into nu metal. Nu metal expunged the melodic element of Nirvana’s Nevermind which enriched and embarrassed Cobain, having more in common with the raw energy of Bleach. Nu metal locates itself squarely in the contradiction that Mullholland identifies between the desire for teenage rebellion and its commodification. The contradictory desire to make it, but not sell out. The shameful acknowledgment of that desire is expressed along with an awareness of its belatedness and idiocy marked by contempt for the parental baby-boom generation that it defined. The

in Great Satan’s rage
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Scott Wilson

-copyright ends. Although representative of the Californian underground, the brief notoriety achieved by this album helped to give further definition to the political issues associated with other more commercially successful forms reliant on sampling like rap and nu metal. Negativland were among the first American groups to build their work and reputation around samples that assemble a montage of citations and startling aural juxtapositions. They construct aural collages that function like a nightmarish suburban unconscious. It is an audio world ‘where scenes of guerrilla

in Great Satan’s rage
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Scott Wilson

murder, satanic rage and revenge. Unlike nu metal and Slipknot, death metal songs are ‘seldom laments of self-pitying Angst, the tone of the lyrics generally ranging from icy detachment to manic exuberance’ (103). The most important factor, however, is the presence of the live concert sound, which is ‘heard with the ears but above all felt with the body, especially the upper chest’ (88). In death metal, as with grind core and other extreme forms of metal, the force of the low frequencies is particularly intense, with the bass 160 Great Satan’s rage and guitars

in Great Satan’s rage