Opinion: Why EDM Needs Unity Following Electric Zoo Tragedy

"Let me take you to a place I know you want to go..." - Inner City, "Good Life" 1988

The transcendent vision exalted in the lyrics to Inner City's techno classic has been at the core of DJ culture since its inception in the mid-1970s. Over the past 25 years, I've heard many DJs drop "Good Life" into a set and drive crowds into a tizzy–not only because it's a great techno jam, but because the utopian ideal still resonates with ravers. Inherited from disco, in raver parlance it boils down to PLUR–peace, love, unity and respect. When you are surrounded by people of varying ethnicities, languages, genders or altered states, a commitment to "be cool" isn't just something you stamp on a flyer, it's an oath you take and the closest we have to a safety guarantee.

In light of the deaths at New York's Electric Zoo festival over Labor Day weekend and the subsequent brouhaha from city officials, the press and other ravers, house nation's communal ethos feels like a quaint throwback, its message almost imperceptible in the shrill din of recriminations and clanging of cash registers. When news broke that the city closed the final day of the festival in response to the deaths, the reaction by many EDM fans on social media was basically: "Your death ruined my party." Shaming the dead and bitching about an inevitable, if delayed, refunds does not strike this old raver and disco journalist as a very loving vibe.

Aside from the growing body count, one of the most distressing things about rave culture lately has been watching it cannibalize itself. From fragmenting into sub- genre tribes that beef incessantly, to throwing DJs off decks, and dancing on the graves of dead ravers, the "We" in DJ culture seems to have been flipped on its head into "Me". Where is the unity? Where is the respect? Unlike punk, dance music is not antisocial; unlike gangster rap, it is not angry; unlike indie rock, it is not isolationist. More than any genre, dance music is supposed to soundtrack catharsis from the bullshit that divides us; it is steeped in multicultural, pansexual acceptance and holistic, pagan tolerance. When did it become so self-centered and greedy? Has EDM lost the roadmap to utopia on its way to the bank?

When government and the media are so quick to spin tragedy into menace, ravers turning on each other, only adds insult to injury and taints a vibrant culture from which many of us have matured into productive members of society. It calls into question the viability of rave culture's fabled Unitarian roots. Keeping the scene's "promised land" ethos alive is a collective responsibility. We–the promoters who book the gigs, the DJs who play them, the writers who cover them–are all cashing in and having a great time doing it. We owe it to our fellow ravers not only to entertain, but to inform, and most importantly, to support each other.

The last two times I attended Electric Zoo, medical tents, chill-out zones, and water refill stations were plentiful. What seemed to be missing was unity among the crowds. A striking example of the division: in one tent featuring a hot new DJ, the fist-pumping wild-eyed crowds were flowing; a few feet away, a veteran DJ played to a smaller group of loyalists, swirling in reverie. The two areas were merely feet apart, but based on their vibes, they may as well have been on separate planes, as very few people moved between both. Can a house nation so divided against itself stand for long?

The short is: Yes. Dance culture will never go extinct; it has survived countless bonfires and crucibles (the least of which are vapid award show shenanigans). But factions of dance culture are morphing into something perilously solipsistic and nihilistic. We can't trust its meaning or future to shady drug dealers or overzealous government officials, neither of which give a flying fig about?PLUR. Made Event, Electric Zoo's organizers stepped up and did the right thing, refunding everyone. The rest of us need to follow suit.

On the dance floor, keep an eye on each other; try not to buy drugs from people you don't trust; don't be afraid to chill out, go sober, or just leave if you don't feel well. Don't pressure your friends into doing things they don't want to just because some celebrity or website has glamorized it. Everyone's body chemistry is different, and a thousand-person rave is no place to find out what your body's limits are. However much you paid for your ticket or your party favors, it is not more valuable than your life. Off the dance floor, fight for decriminalization, medical care, or education.

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'Queen Sono' Will Be The First African Original Series To Stream On Netflix

Netflix caught some flack over the weekend after it was reported the streaming behemoth shelled out a smooth $100 million to keep the 90s sitcom Friends. However, staying committed to original content IOL Entertainment reports Netflix will take on it first African series.

Titled Queen Sono, actress Pearl Thusi (pictured above at the 2019 Global Citizens festival) will star in the dramedy which finds Thusi portraying a spy motivated to help the lives of her South Africans, while dealing with highs and lows of a personal relationship.

Netflix's Vice President of International Originals Kelly Luegenbiehl who's in charge of content in Europe and Africa expressed excitement over Queen Sono.

"We love the team behind the show, [and] we're passionate about coming in and doing something that feels fresh and different. It's really exciting for us," she said. "Their point of view and creating a strong female character was really something that also really drew us to it.

Erik Barmack, also with Netflix, said Queen Sono is just the first of many to depict life in Africa.

"Over time our roots will get deeper in Africa and South Africa, and we're moving pretty quickly to that now, and plan to invest more in local content," he said.

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Fans Shut Down Beyonce Cultural Appropriation Allegations

Beyonce is the latest celebrity to be accused of cultural appropriation after she was spotted at an Indian wedding on Sunday (Dec. 9). Despite some assertions, the BeyHive is swooping in to set the record straight about their queen.

According to reports, Beyonce performed at an early wedding celebration in India's western Rajasthan state. She was celebrating the nuptials of Isha Ambani – the 27-year old daughter of Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani – and Anand Piramal, the 33-year old son of another Indian billionaire.


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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:47am PST

The early festivities, which is custom for Indian marriages, welcomed a handful of celebrity guests including Hillary Clinton, Bollywood stars, businessman, and more.

The controversy surrounding Beyonce sparked after the singer shared an image of herself wearing an extravagant, pink and gold dress with seemingly traditional, Indian accessories, including a headpiece and bracelets. Some critics immediately assumed Bey was culturally appropriating Indian or Hindi culture, but suggested it would go unnoticed due to her social status.

Fans however, shut the allegations down, noting that she was actually paying homage to the culture. They also stated that she was invited to perform at the party by a prominent Indian family and therefore, should be dressed appropriately.

This wouldn't be the first time Beyonce has been accused of cultural appropriation of Indian culture. She was hit with similar allegations following the release of the music video for "Hymn for the Weekend" with Coldplay.

Join the discussion and check out the debate below.

Screaming!!!!! pic.twitter.com/nTLSWeRhGJ

— lah-juh (@fabuLaja) December 10, 2018

why are fake wokes on twitter accusing beyonce for doing cultural appropriation ? IT'S APPRECIATION YOU MFs !! y'all don't know shit about indian culture !! literally sit tf down, even indians aren't mad why are you dumbasses shoving it down our throats as if yall know better

— anupama (@taysmoonchiId) December 9, 2018

Beyonce wearing Indian clothes to an Indian Cultural Event is not cultural appropriation. She was invited by an Indian family and everyone there is wearing Indian clothes. So. https://t.co/mTvsa911i4

— Ivan (@taexty) December 10, 2018

As someone who is half-Indian and half-Pakistani (aka fully South Asian for those who are not geographically inclined), I do not want to see ANYONE shouting nonsense about Beyoncé and cultural appropriation unless you are South Asian too. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk x

— Shehnaz Khan (@shehnazkhan) December 10, 2018

Ppl commenting on @Beyonce’s IG Indian outfit post, saying it was cultural appropriation, need to have a seat. Embracing another’s culture and shedding positivity on it is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural appreciation. Damn keyboard warriors

— Ramon Salas (@ramonssalas) December 10, 2018

Beyoncé was invited to an indian wedding, to perform there, she's appreciating the culture and the people that invited her There's no cultural appropriation here

— 🅚 (@chainedfenty) December 10, 2018

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Tyrese, Usher And Others Reacts To Jacquees' Claim That He's The King Of R&B

Jacquees has made a bold statement that's ruffled a few feathers.

The Cash Money artist took to social media over the weekend to assert that he's the king of R&B, and from what we can gather, the 23 singer wasn't talking about ribs and barbeque. "I just want to let everybody know that I'm the king of R&B right now, for this generation. I understand who done came and who done did that and that, but now it's my turn. Jacquees, the king." he said.

Some of the Internet raised its digital eyebrow at the boast, while others paid it no attention. Tyrese, however, didn't take kindly to the assertation.

"Ima keep it stack with you," the Transformers star posted. "The young kings of this generation that's been running sh*t since day one are Chris Brown and Trey Songz."

The soul singer continued and accused the Decatur, GA native of employing Tekashi 6ix 9ine tactics. "You got this out of the Tekashi 6ix9ine playbook. Stop trolling, my ni**a. Get back in the booth."

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How Sway..? How.??......... The way we ALL reacted.......... Let me put you up on what’s really movin bruh.. This ain’t Hip Hop my nigha.. You can’t come in this game get hot for a year then try an #T69 nighas and throw that there word #KING around..... Imma keep it a stack with you... The young kings of your generation that’s #been runnin shit is 1 @chrisbrownofficial and 2 @treysongz .... BIG facts! FYI the last real R&B album through and through that has the integrity and blueprint of the culture that was made with NO skips was #ThreeKings you got this out of the T69 play book stop trolling my nigha get back in the booth.....

A post shared by TYRESE (@tyrese) on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:25pm PST

Tank, having gotten wind of Jacquees' statements, refuted his "king" claim. "First, R.Kelly is the king of R&B. The accusations don't disqualify what he's accomplished. Second, if you can't go in the studio by yourself and make a hit record, you're not my king. If you can't sing it better live, you're not my king. I appreciate all the talent out there, but we are using the word "king" too loosely."

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Every artist is supposed to believe they can fly but only one man made it happen. @rkelly body of work is still bible. I love ALL of the artist out now and some are having amazing success but to be the King you have to beat the King and his stats still stand. Imagine if “I Believe I Can Fly” had streaming when it dropped..geesh!!! I’ll let you guys focus on kings and queens.. I’ll stay focused on being around for another 20yrs! #Elevation #RnBMoney #TheGeneral

A post shared by Tank (@therealtank) on Dec 9, 2018 at 9:56pm PST

J. Holiday noted that Michael Jackson sold 20 million after the release of Off The Wall, and said R.Kelly owns the second spot. Eric Bellinger, while in the studio with Usher, simply panned his camera phone to Usher, who sat quietly in a corner.

Are Tyrese and Tank overreacting? Or should Jacquees not make such bold assertions? Sound off in the comments below.

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