July 23, 2009 1 Comment
I spent a large part of today without the internet so I decided to re-read John Gray’s glorious book Straw Dogs. Whilst reading this in the front room of my girlfriend’s flat, her flatmate started to half-watch a music channel, and on came that bad boy rapper N-dubz. I watched him, to begin with, pouring armchair scourn all over him. Then I married my book reading with my N-viewing and realised that I understood ‘dubz’ appeal.
Gray’s main thesis is that progressive society doesn’t really exist, anything that we might call post-enlightenment (certain modes of science, progressive politics to a large extent) is really just a rearticulation of crass christianity, and this even goes for today’s atheism which so often is played in the court of the believer. Along with Gray’s links to Indian philosophy and appeals to philosophies that end the reign of the ‘self’, he really enlists himself to a group of nihilistic warriors, fighting Nietzsche’s wars and constantly unravelling their huge sulky bottom lips. Grand political schemes have all failed, society is trapped in an endless circle, we ought really to embrace the freedoms that can be found about automata, and die.
That endless circle that society is trapped within, has meant morality, where once appealed to as way of protection over anarchistic anomie, is now the very thing we seek to overcome, in our postindustrial, postmodern lives. Gray imagines a time when “‘morality’ is marketed as a new brand of transgression”.
And is this not the very reason why N-dubz has become popular, that he is such an exaggerated version of himself and the image to which he is attributed, that he has started to take the form of the transgression of this very image? That what we like about him, is not that he takes his fashion statements seriously, bur rather they are so hyperbolic that they begin to be unreal, uncanny.
That Gray imagines that a society operates in a circle of morality and then morality transgression, N-dubz has operated in the form of image and then image transgression, owing to the fact that he is a caricatured version the thing he once represented – that of the boiler suit wearing, baseball-capped, white working class rapper from the streets of London.
Where audiences once liked this for what it is, the popularity of N-dubz seems to be something more,perhaps something that embraces the perception that he is something of a spin-off of his own self-image.
I’ll let you decide.
Of course, as I now know, who I mean when I say N-dubz is actually Dappy from the group of artists collectively known as N-dubz.