Dukepope's blog about art, design, music and technology.

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Three great pop songs with a hard hitting political message

Rap and Rock are musical genres with a rough edge, which lends itself to political messages. Pop music on the other hand is usually more light hearted, which might explain why love and romantic intrigue in past decades and nowadays partying and sex tend to be regular themes in pop songs. However there are artists who have had great success with political pop songs over the years. I have made a list of my top three pop songs with a hard hitting political message. Let me know in the comments what’s your favourite political pop hit!

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution from 1988 by Tracy Chapman is one of those songs that keeps inspiring people across generations that there is hope for a better life for all of us, not just the super rich. The hope of a better future is a prerequisite for any positive change in society. Be sure to keep this song in your playlist for when you’re about to loose faith in humanity.

When You’re Gonna Learn from 1992 was Jamiroquai’s debut single. It questions the way we as a species are exhausting the resources of our fragile earth while wrecking it in the process. Politically conscious lyrics have been a common thread throughout their career, exemplified by their newly released single ‘Automaton’ that questions if we are loosing our souls as more and more of our waking lives are consumed by our internet presence.

They Don’t Really Care About US from 1995 by Michael Jackson was the last true super-hit released by the King of Pop. Was it a coincidence that his career declined in the aftermath of releasing such a hard hitting political song? No damning evidence was ever brought up proving that he actually molested any of those young boys. As a comparison, RnB singer R Kelly’s career seems to have taken little harm from the very serious allegations against him, including possession of child pornography and videotaping himself urinating on a 14 year old girl. But then again R Kelly was never involved in the tricky the business of politics.

A wonderfully weird music video from vaporwave originators Pet Shop Boys

Put on your conical hats, lean back and immerse yourselves in this music video, bringing you straight back to that early nineties post-modernist aesthetic. “Can You Forgive Her” features the typical Pet Shop Boys sound, mixing 90s dance with ambient and orchestral elements, accompanied by airy vocals and funny, yet poetic lyrics.

Who said the white man can’t make reggae disco?

I shared this song with a friend on facebook a while back, and introduced the post with the question in the title. He told me: “Not sure if anyone ever said that.” Maybe nobody said it out loud, but I still feel like some people have harboured suspiciouns in this regard. Well, here is the proof that will have you discard your doubts if you ever had any; Break my Stride by Mathew Wilder from 1983. Take note of the crazy outfits, the interesting dance moves and Mathew Wilder’s proto-hipster moustache!

New website (and old desktop telephones)

I finally have my own personal website, which I’m being told is a must for creative professionals in today’s competitive online marketplace. Here it is: www.dukepope.com

To be honest I’m still trying to figure out how to get ahead in this rat race of self promotion and social media mumbo jumbo. I sometimes wish we could go back to the time of knocking doors and calling up solid desktop telephones with gut shaking mechanical ringing and get through to a real person on the other side. In reality I guess there’s nothing stopping us from knocking doors and ringing up people, and despite the mantra of “online presence is everything” perhaps this is still the way that would actually get you somewhere as an aspiring creative professional. I guess it’s time to put it to the test! (And perhaps I’ll even let you know how it goes). In the meantime please have a look at my webpage and let me know what you think of it! (And as a side note, if you click the “music” link, it will take you to my soundcloud and my latest song, which I finished last week, called Believe in Love.)

www.dukepope.com

The art of Bangladeshi richshaw painter S. M. Samsu

It is so refreshing and inspiring to come across an artist with such a playful and creative catalogue as S. M. Samsu. Not bound to the western conventions of perspective or the intellectual blind alley of westen post war art, Samsu’s work sparkles with artistic freedom and the joy of painting. Of course Samsu is established within the genre of Bangladeshi rickshaw art, but he lifts the genre to new heights with his colourful symphony of animals, birds and people. Especially his paintings where animals take the place of people, as in his “Rickshaw workshop” and “school”, are just so playful and surreal they instantly make the viewer smile.

The images are taken from rickshaw-paint.net, where artwork by S. M. Samsu and other Bangladeshi rickshaw painters can be bought.

Animal school

Animal school

Rickshaw workshop

Richshaw workshop

Old stamps: Miniature Art Prints for Inspiration in the Digital Jungle

I have always been a collector of little things. My first collection was a shoe box full of pine cones. Later I found it more exiting to collect objects that didn’t all look the same, like stamps for instance. My grandfather was a diligent and proud philatelist and used to give me stamps for Christmas. As I child I spent hours organizing and admiring these little artpieces, which is a labour I appreciate now, many years later. As well as being amazing graphic design pieces, these stamps are also icons of a bygone era. A digital print of an Adobe Illustrator file will never be quite the same as a miniature engraving, as many of the old stamps are. Here are some of the favourite pieces from my collection; the rest of the set can be found here: Thirty Stamps

Freakshow on the Dancefloor

After briefly straying into the domain of protests and revolution, it’s time to get back on track with some funky R&B from the height of the carnivalistic madness of the 1980s. Behind this great track are the Bar Kays, a resilient band with a stormy history. They started out in 1966 as a backing band for Stax Records, and were chosen to support Otis Redding in 1967. Tragically, four of the founding members died in the same plane crash that also ended Otis Redding’s career much too early. The two surviving members of the Bar Kays however managed to re-establish the band – an admirable accomplishment. They went on to become a successful funk band in the seventies, and kept up the success with a more commercial sound as they entered the eighties.