Friday, March 26, 2010

The Subversion of Commercial Culture in Lil' Wayne's "Tie My Hands"

During this unit on New Orleans, our class has spent a significant amount of time discussing two of defining features of the city—the refinement of Jazz and Blues music and the unique cultural hybridity of its citizens. In his essay “Mardi Gras Indians,”
George Lipsitz discusses how the Mardi Gras Indians (whose practices are an example of cultural hybridity because they blend Native American and African traditions) use the commercial culture of Mardi Gras to resist the hegemonic elite society of New Orleans. As Lipsitz says, “ [The Mardi Gras Indians’] fusion of music, costumes, speech and dance undermines the atomized European view of each of those activities as distinct and autonomous endeavors…”
Like the Mardi Gras Indians, the hip hop artist and New Orleans native, Lil’ Wayne, uses commercial culture to subvert the dominant political and social philosophies of America. In the song “Tie My Hands” Lil’ Wayne expresses his anger and sadness about the events of hurricane Katrina against the backdrop of a strong synthesized beat:

I lost everything, but I ain't the only one/
First came the hurricane, then the morning sun/
Excuse me if I'm on one, and don't trip if I light one, I walk a tight one
They try to tell me keep my eyes open/
My whole city under water, some people still floatin/ (Lil’ Wayne)

The following is a link to a You Tube video of Lil’ Wayne’s song “Tie My Hands”:

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