Since I wrote last year's despairing article, amazing things have happened in Seattle! Anarchists turned our city upside down for a day, Arab terrorists plotted to blow up the Space Needle, a billionaire actually blew up the Kingdome, an iridescent UFO missed the Boeing strip and crashed near the Science Center, and through it all, hiphop radio slumbered, unperturbed, on the same fucking spot. KUBE still plays the worst hiphop ever made, and though there is one new station that plays music from the '80s, for some bizarre reason it excludes Run-D.M.C., Slick Rick, and LL Cool J. And then there is KCMU, which, since the late '80s, has had a two-hour rap show on the saddest night of the week: Sunday. Figuring that no one at KUBE can read, I wrote a letter to KCMU that expressed my hiphop grievances, and this was the response I received from the station's programmer, Don Yates:
"I'm always open to ideas about show placements, the hours devoted to them, etc. Unfortunately, not nearly as many people are listening to the hiphop show as was the case a few years ago. There are many other shows on the station that KCMU's listeners are enjoying more right now, and if I was inclined to give more time to a show, it would be one of the shows that are more deserving. Hopefully the hiphop show will rebound soon--there's no reason why it shouldn't. You also should know that hiphop is an important part of KCMU's regular variety programming, which airs most of the day. Of course those who prefer their music programming to be segregated into tidy little boxes might not care, but hopefully those with more open minds will find it there...."
Don is right: I don't give a damn about variety. When I came to America 10 years ago, what I wanted to hear was hiphop, which happens to be American music. I did not come to America to listen to music from India or Iran. And the fact that there isn't even a serious hiphop night on the weekend (which, at this point, is all I'm desperately asking for) is very confusing. Am I in the right country? If a big American city doesn't offer serious hiphop on the radio, then why did I come here in the first fucking place?
Being incapable of producing a reasoned, unemotional response to Don Yates' points, I asked Source of Labor's levelheaded Wordsayer to have a look at the letter and form a more sober opinion.
"Now, I'm not trying to be unfair," Wordsayer said after carefully reading the letter three times. "But in my humble opinion, hiphop is deserving of more than two hours. One of the reasons it is not doing well, as Don Yates points out, is that it's on a bad night. Sunday is just generally the lowest point for listenership. That is a radio fact. I mean, even Monday night from 6:00 to 8:00 is better. So the point is that hiphop is not being given the respect it deserves. Maybe that is a cultural thing; maybe it is an insensitivity thing. I don't know."
Maybe this is the end of the world! No, it isn't, you might say. There are still many opportunities for Seattle hiphop on the World Wide Web. The Internet is a dream, my friend. Beyond the fact that the entire industry is falling apart, even if you can catch online hiphop stations in your home or office, they are usually streamed from other cities, from unknown sources. This not only means that local hiphop is neglected, but the excitement of hearing a DJ mix and cut within the realm of your urban sphere is lost. Like rappers, hiphop DJs are hyper-present; they are aware of their moment in space and time, and that intensity is lost in the zero-geography of cyberspace. In a word, nothing can replace hiphop radio, and this city, this bizarre city, has brazenly, inexplicably deprived me of one of the greatest pleasures known to urban-kind.