Kraftwerk After-Party
w/DJs Nordic Soul, Kris Moon, Jerry Abstract

Mon April 26, Mirabeau Room.

Of the many remarkable concepts that Kodwo Eshun's book More Brilliant Than the Sun (1998) presents, one of the most impressive is that Düsseldorf, Germany, is to electronic-based American music (hiphop, house, and techno) what the Mississippi Delta was to rock-based music. "Kraftwerk are to techno what Muddy Waters is to the Rolling Stones," he writes, "the authentic, the origin, the real... Düsseldorf is the Mississippi Delta."

The reason why this concept is so remarkable is it rearranges the established order of pop music. In this case, blacks aren't the vital mud from which a new music flourishes; they're secondary. With Kraftwerk, white Germans are the source, and black Americans are the cultivators, modifying a genre of music based on the electronic act's work.

In the late '70s and early '80s, Kraftwerk enchanted not only hiphop stars like Afrika Bambaataa but also ordinary kids on the streets, who couldn't get enough of "Computer Love," "Pocket Calculator," and the celestial "The Man-Machine," which the Fearless Four used on "Rockin' it." The frequent amazement at this situation (white music influencing black music) has to do with the invalid belief that black creativity isn't intellectual because blacks are better conductors of raw inspiration. The incorrect idea being that it was up to others with more intelligence to transform new music into mature music.

In this case, though, the opposite movement is at work. Before Kraftwerk, the line between rap and disco was smooth (as exampled by "Rapper's Delight"). Kraftwerk gave hiphop the materials with which to break completely from disco, and now, three decades later, hiphop headz must give it up and admit that Düsseldorf is our fatherland.

charles@thestranger.com

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