Madonna & Child

In case you haven’t checked any of your social media accounts recently, this happened:


Don’t worry, Drake feels the same way you probably do- highly uncomfortable. The unwarranted kiss happened during a performance of her new song at Coachella this past weekend. Of course, we’re used to Madonna being overly sensational…

…with her getting vocal on Instagram…

…her “British accent”…

…and her no-holds-barred attitude…

…so we really shouldn’t be all surprised that she did something like making out with Drake on stage at Coachella without his permission. And yet, while I’m not necessarily surprised, this is certainly unsettling. Not that some of her previous antics weren’t- but even glancing back at the Instagram post, it not only contradicts much of what she’s stood for in the past, it also totally demolishes any path for women’s rights she’s begun to pave.

Yeah, I said that. Putting out songs in support of teen pregnancy and confidently strutting around in her iconic cone-cupped lingerie sets onstage, there shouldn’t be a doubt in your mind that Madonna is proud to be a woman, and embraces it any way she can- even if that means her own…Madonna-y way. But this smooch with Mr. Degrassi turns the tables. In an age where consent means everything, Madonna completely demolished any progress that’s been made.

And shame on her for that! Whether or not Drake ended up being okay with it in the end has nothing to do with the fact that she shouldn’t have done it in the first place. His reaction makes it clear that he had neither an idea nor intention to engage in a kiss with her- and yet she seized her moment, on stage in front of thousands of Californian music lovers, and did something “so Madonna!”

Her antics in the past may have been entertaining, in their own way. Perhaps even admirable, for the courage it must have taken her to do something so publicly. But this matter comes down to consent.

And, in a world where it’s usually the other way around- men violating the consent of women- this action is also perplexing. Though I’m wording that a bit extremely, and the meat of that topic is for another blog, another time, violating consent can be something as little as hugging someone who never asked for it and doesn’t want it. Which just so happens to be all too common of an occurrence in the star-studded world: Men grabbing female companions for a glamour shot, sneaking kisses on their cheeks at award shows, anything they can. So why would Madonna turn around and do something she’s been seemingly fighting against with everything else she’s been doing?

Perhaps in her eyes, she sees this as a power move. Perhaps she sees it as absolutely nothing. We can’t know for sure until someone asks her. Just don’t tell Britney. She might get jealous.


Shoutout to Andrew for contributing the idea for this post.




Music as a Muse: “Copyright Criminals”

copyright criminals

Sampling.  A common practice nowadays.  The term refers to the creation of a montage of sorts out of audio by cutting a sample of a recording and introducing and reworking it into a different, more dominant musical piece, oftentimes as a motif within the new piece.  This takes place in many genres, particularly in hip-hop, rap, R&B and even pop music.

“Copyright Criminals” is a film that examines this practice and its artistic and commercial value.  Directed and produced by Benjamin Franzen, this 2010 documentary further delves into the subject, documenting debates concerning artistic expression, copyright law, and the money that all of this entails.

The film sports an all-star cast of a-list names offering their take on the subject, including Aesop Rock, George Clinton, Chuck D, and Clyde Stubblefield the ex-drummer for James Brown.

The film shares interviews with many of the first artists who began to use sampling in their work, and documents the legal questions that are involved, namely how in its beginnings, artists would sample other artists’ work without their consent.  It documents the progression from a sporadic whim to a ubiquitous custom, demonstrating how the music created with samples began to generate an unignorably substantial income.  It was then that the original artists began to seek reparation in court.  They sued for copyright infringement and the remuneration of royalties, and the debate thickened as the artists retorted with claims of fair use.

The film highlights how in the modern paradigm, artists have to be much more cautious about what material or not they choose to include, because ultimately they are going to have to pay the original artist for the sample clearance.  This preocupation has transformed the way in which sampling artists operate because with tighter restrictions, be them from the wallet or not, mean the artists cannot practice the art in the same, unobstructed manner as was typical in the past.

One particularly notable case in the film is the interview with Clyde Stubblefield, the ex drummer for James Brown.  As the production unfolds, we find that although he is not a household name, he is actually the most sampled artist of all time.  One particular clip where he was given a break became the birth of the funk drum sound, one that can be heard in the music of L.L. Cool J., Public Enemy, Madonna, Prince and Sinead O’Connor and became the standard beat for thousands of other songs.

Interestingly enough, given the profoundness of his contribution to modern music in comparison to the obscurity of his name and the fact that he has never seen a dime worth of royalties, he is happy that other artists are using his creation.

Copyright Criminals received its funding from the Ford Foundation, the University of Iowa, and the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation, and after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, it was broadcast at the national level on PBS.  (