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[icon] Let's liven things up - The Label vs. The Reality
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Subject:Let's liven things up
Time:10:16 am
Current Mood:awakeawake
This community is a little sleepy lately, so I thought I'd wake it up. I've got two things to contribute: an incident I was recently involved in, and a book I've been reading.

Shit, the incident description got really long, I'll talk about the book in another post.


So about two weeks ago, I was driving with my best friend (who is also mixed) in her mother's car. This car is a bright orange, sporty-looking Dodge Neon with a spoiler, and I mention that because I think it may be one of the reasons we were "approached" at all. (I don't think we would have had the same incident in my sensible-looking Toyota Camry for example.)

So I’m at the wheel, we're at a stoplight, and a car pulls up next to us. Inside are two friendly looking black men (no really, they were friendly looking, all warm smiles). The driver leans out the window and says, "Excuse me, would you ladies be interested in some tunes?"

We're both confused (because we're a couple of lame gamer geeks on the opposite side of hip) so we say, "What?"

"Tunes," he says, "I've got some CDs I'm selling in the back here."

[I should take some time to explain this for people who may live in places where this doesn't happen all the time. There are a lot of budding rap artists in Sacramento (and in other places as well, I'm sure). Their main mode of CD sales is street solicitation. Every once in a while (not really any more than once a month or so), outside a record store or shopping center, I’ll get approached by a guy wanting me to buy his CD. I should also mention that “no” is not an answer they tend to take favorably, and in fact I’ve been downright harassed by some of them in the past.]

Kim (my best friend) says, “No thanks, we’re not really into rap music, and besides, I don’t really want to just give money to a stranger.”

Then the light changes and I pull forward. At the next red light, they pull up next to us again, and the guy immediately starts in on us again, “Come on, help a brother out.”

Kim, being not the most socially adjusted person in the world, gets a little weird on him, “Dude, I don’t know you from Adam, I’m not going to just buy something from you at a stoplight.”

Then it gets really weird. The guy frowns and goes, “Now see, that’s your white side talking. You got too much of your white side. You gotta’ get in touch with your roots.”

I laugh and say my standard response to statements like that, “I’m sorry race is that important to you.” Kim echoes my statement.

Dude gets really pissed then, and starts screaming, “What? What? It is important! Look at this!” he grabs one of his braids, which has beads on it (which I’m sure symbolizes something, but I have no idea what), “This is heritage! This is culture!”

The light changes and I start to drive.

“They’re beads,” Kim says to him (which I realize was very culturally insensitive, but like I said, she’s not all that socially adjusted and says some very unintentionally insensitive things sometimes).

Dude totally freaks out. Is screaming incoherently as we drive away, and starts following us; tailing us, actually. I had to act like I was turning left and then escape into traffic to get away from him. Craziness.


The thing about this story is, this is the response I always get from street vendor rappers. I mean, I’ve never been followed before (that was extra-super crazy) , but I’ve been yelled at, demeaned, and called a race traitor in so many words because I don’t want to buy a rap CD from some guy on the street. I once had a guy respond to my polite, “No thanks, it’s not really my kind of music,” with, “WELL FUCK YOU TOO, THEN!” I’ve heard the phrase, “Help a brother out,” more times then I care to mention, and that’s the sentiment that really pisses me off. This tells me that they’re expecting me to buy their CD solely because we share a skin color, like it shouldn’t matter that I don’t like the music and don’t want the CD, I should just give them money because hey, we’re supposed to be family. Well, I don’t buy it (no pun intended). I am under no obligation to buy something I don’t want just because the seller happens to be black.

Your thoughts?
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marley_station
Subject:That guy was a nut
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-29 07:03 pm (UTC)
He certainly didn't expect you to respond with that kind of self-assurance; that's probably why he got defensive.

Interesting.

For the record, I'm clapping. Bravo. You handled that with guts and grace.

You do know better than to take any of that personally, don't you? I mean, in the final analysis, he was selling and you weren't buying. You could have looked like anyone and you would have received the same reaction.
(Reply) (Thread)


biklar
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-29 07:37 pm (UTC)
The best way to respond is, "No thanks. I am not interested in buying and I am not carrying any cash."

No need to explain your music preferences or general feelings towards strangers.

What else can someone do after replying this way? No cash, no interest and a firm but cordial succinct reply? The chance of someone aggressively following you around urging you to get to an ATM machine is quite low I'd bet.

In most major metropolitan areas...you will have people selling their music this way so it's quite common overall. I've never had any negative experiences with saying no and the aforementioned is usually the way I reply.

Once in awhile, if I say no the "worse" that happens is that I get a business card/flyer/poster or a referral to some website.
(Reply) (Thread)


jackbooty
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-29 08:31 pm (UTC)
i totally agree with "biklar",
just say "sorry no cash" it pretty much always works
you don't need to tell the "brotha" all your business
i always go with, the less some stranger knows the better

if you're not willing to give him money, don't be willing to give up any kind of personal information

p.s. that guy was totally irrational, and a whack job, and needed to chill the fuck out.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


mercurystar
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-29 09:09 pm (UTC)
No need to explain your music preferences or general feelings towards strangers.

See, that's a reoccurring problem in my life: unnecessary honesty and TMI. My mom says I’m cursed with honesty. I tend to believe her. I really am working at not telling everyone I meet stuff they don’t need to know, but for some reason I just don’t have a mental filter for that, so it’s difficult not only to catch myself doing it, but to identify the behavior in the first place.

I remember being 12 or so, getting hit on at a public pool (I was fully developed by age 10, so it was a pretty common occurrence), and realizing only after my best friend scolded me that yes, perhaps I shouldn’t tell adult strangers my real name (a lesson which had been drummed into my head from birth, negated at the first opportunity). I’m not stupid, I’m just far too trusting for my own good and it doesn’t occur to me to question someone’s motives before answering them.

The flipside to that is I have a real problem telling people only what they need to know. I find myself accidentally discussing religion at work, telling near-strangers about complex personal problems, and yes, telling street vendors that I’m not into their music. The dumbest part is, anything less feels like lying by omission. I feel like I need to be totally transparent to people, and it doesn’t occur to me that perhaps they don’t wantme to. I’ve yet to horrifically offend anyone (thank whoever’s listening) but the result is things like the above story. If we had just said, “Sorry man, no cash,” he probably would have left us alone, but I’m cursed with perpetual honesty, and I’m beginning to suspect Kim has some kind of mild form of Asperger's, because she simply doesn’t comprehend certain social mores (like not insulting people by insinuating that they’re trying to sell you stolen goods).
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


mercurystar
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-29 09:16 pm (UTC)
As a perfect example to this, it didn't occur to me until you mentioned it that my "I don't listen to rap" remark would not be the best thing to say.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

_operator_
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-08-30 06:32 am (UTC)
niggas need ta lern to stop pushin dey whack ass, played out raps on peeps. aint nobody want no to buy no damn cd from some whack ass, broke ass nikkuh off the streets. nigga get a real job en educasion.
(Reply) (Thread)


eternal_watcher
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-09-01 05:13 pm (UTC)
You can't sell anything else like this, well except stuff that is illegal to sell,

man probably didn't have no booth or nothing, no permit, man work within the lines, you wanna be an artist you gotta respect the art.
(Reply) (Thread)


mercurystar
Link:(Link)
Time:2006-09-01 05:36 pm (UTC)
See, the thing is, if it were something I actually wanted to listen to, I don't have a big problem with under the table CD sales. I mean shit, a $4 CD I can buy to support an independent artist, and the RIAA sees none of the profits? I'm motivated, where do I sign?

But then, if they want to sell independently, why don't they just sign with an independent label? Or even better, why don't they and their friends start an independent label?

Could it perhaps be that a)no label wanted to sign them or perhaps b)they're not properly self-motivated to do something any harder than wandering the streets trying to peddle their CD to random strangers?
Could be either.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

[icon] Let's liven things up - The Label vs. The Reality
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