‘Obey’: An unsurprising slogan coined by the new-age ‘house-lover.’ Standing as a symbol of the ‘raver’, this brand not only identifies the individual as a strict member of the scene; but also serves as a point from which to begin the history of ‘How house became cool.’

‘Obey,’ or as it was known at its birth ‘Andre the Giant has a Posse’, was created by Shepard Fairy in 1989 as an in-joke directed at the hip-hop sub-culture of the time. Of course, the word ‘Posse’ originates from the slang of artists such as Public Enemy and NWA. How this brand has found its way onto the backward baseball caps and pointy woollen hats of every Julio Bashmore fan in Nottingham is extremely puzzling, yet not particularly out of character for the scene.

The above illustrates two important points inherent in the popularisation of House music during recent years. Firstly ignoring the music in order to be cool, and second, the confusion of uniformity with individuality, resulting in a sloppy and uniform approach to production.

This article rebuts the establishment of social conduct derived from music where those involved do so not because they have any connection to the music, but because they wish to be part of the scene.

It is significant that the main brand coined by the ‘House Scene’ derives its roots from hip-hop. Subsequently it can be inferred that the purchasing-process involved when acquiring the bold-red-boxed slogan involves not a desire to represent the music, which of course would result in a swell of t-shirts presenting house imprint logos and artist titles, but a desire to fit in with the ‘cool’ current trend of the moment.

Let us consider the bizarre flip-side whereby a Rhode Island rap fan strides around displaying a ‘Juice’ or ‘Original Flavour’ t-shirt. Clearly this image is out of place, yet what makes the converse so acceptable? Ignoring the small-time nature of these brands, it is quite clear that the reason this situation does not exist is due to what is perceived as ‘cool’ within the various communities.

In buying clothes branded with ‘Obey’, most individuals are concerned not with what they are representing, which is apparently house music, but instead with the social implications associated with their wears.

It’s only natural that what’s new is ‘cool,’ but the fact is, once a music genre is picked out by the masses as being ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ it loses its majesty. As people are less concerned with the sound of the music, and more how being a part of the scene will reinforce their individuality, the music follows suit.

This is no better exemplified than Navy Shade’s ‘Oh My Love.’ This song is characterised by a terribly panned/compressed beat, a bunch of sine-waves sloppily slapped on top of each other, a little bit of noise and, an admittedly catchy, vocal sample. Yet, everyone loves it because it’s considered ‘cool’.

But, if being ‘cool’ is considered being ‘individual’ and everyone knows and loves the song, not because it’s good but because it’s ‘cool’ then surely this means you are no longer ‘individual’. Until then everybody realises that this is what’s happening and a new genre surfaces.

House these days is not a music preference but a perceived life-style.

 David Shamtoob

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Image credited to Andrew Pascua

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