baby’s got … complex rythms

(This isn’t really directly about Asia, but it’s still about cultural survival and transmission)

I once took a course in African music at school, and I was stunned, just stunned at how many aspects of African American culture seemed to come straight from Africa: from a love of complex musical rythms and the use of distorted sounds as interesting, to a love of women with big asses.

When you think that African Americans today are seperated from their African ancestors by generations of forced relocation and enslavement on another continent, being forbidden to practice their customs and speak their languages, the practice of destroying slaves families by selling children away from their parents, and husbands away from wives — it’s somewhat amazing that the original African blood is echoed so strongly in people today.

How is culture transmitted? To pick a funny example, how do you get from some young guy in Africa who thinks big asses are hot, to Sir-Mix-A-Lot writing “Baby got back” in 1992? How did this love of big asses survive?

1 Response to “baby’s got … complex rythms”

  1. 1 Stirling Westrup January 26, 2009 at 4:01 am

    The error is in assuming that the love of big butts was somehow transmitted by African males. From my reading, when female African slaves with large behinds started showing up in England, the local women started making snide comments about how ungainly and primitive these big-assed women looked, but it wasn’t very long after that the bustle was introduced to let white women appear to be able to compete in that arena.

    I think its very much the same as when large breasted white woman started showing up in Asia. A certain percentage of the male population reacted with “Holy Cow! Woman can have enormous hooters! Who knew?”

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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