Lil Tay: A Brief Overview

Lil Tay has been making big waves this month. The nine year old, previously known for her provocative instagram videos (she likes to swear and discuss precisely how broke you are), was seen first in a video alongside Chief Keef on April 7th, before clips surfaced of an April 15th altercation between Bhad Bhabie, Woahh Vicki, and Lil Tay herself. According to Bhad Bhabie, conflict arose after Lil Tay and Woahh Vicki called Bregoli’s best friend a “dumb n*****,” leading Bhabie to challenge them to a fight outside a mall (both Woahh Vicky and Lil Tay frequently use the n-word online). Lil Tay has previously gotten into internet beef with youtuber Ricegum, who you probably don’t remember from the time he made a Jake Paul diss; open conflict with Bhad Bhabie seems just as much about courting internet clout as it does personal differences and bigotry.

Digging up information on Lil Tay online proves difficult; her instagram has been repeatedly deleted (probably because you have to be 13 to have an account), and Tay has only done a single interview to date, focused primarily on her music rather than the artist herself. While we don’t know who Lil Tay’s parents are, her old twitter bio claimed the account was run by her mom, who may be the woman seen adjusting a Glo Gang headband for Tay in the aforementioned Chief Keef clip. It’s also safe to surmise Lil Tay’s parents are extremely loaded, given their daughter’s penchant for rocking Gucci and Vuitton.

Now, the music: “Money Way” by Lil Tay is a boilerplate trap track for 2018, clearly derived from the Lil Pump formula, but substituting the shock value of a 9 year old white girl for Pump’s oddball charisma (note: Lil Tay may be half-Asian, specifically Filipino?). Two months prior to the March release of “Money Way” came “On My Wrist,” with lower production value and even less attempts at “rapping;” that’s probably why that song remains unavailable on major streaming services.

Lil Tay shocks on first encounter, but the trends precipitating her rise have been apparent for a minute. White rappers have been en vogue since the 2010s started, typically at the edge of the scene but increasingly carving out larger and larger swaths of territory. In the last year, we’ve seen G-Eazy and Lil Pump go #1 while hewing closer to traditional rap aesthetics of the moment.

The success of rappers like Rich Brian (FKA Rich Chigga) in translating vine personality into hip-hop star power presaged the current wave of rappers utilizing a personality-first model to break big (think Boonk Gang and Woahh Vicky). And this digital incarnation of the cult of personality is just a retooling of how celebrities and reality television stars used to parlay screen success into studio smashes (Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila both had short-lived musical careers; Bhad Bhabie rose to infamy on Dr. Phil). And we would be remiss not to cite the talented-as-hell (fight me) Matt Ox, a 13 year old white rapper who performed at the same illroots party as Chief Keef, boxed with fellow-Philadelphian Lil Uzi Vert, and contributed a standout hook to “$$$” off XXXTentacion’s recent #1 album.

Rumors are currently swirling that Lil Tay has signed a record deal of some sort, though there appears to be no official substantiating evidence. And while she’s currently making the rounds as a meme, much like Matt Ox and Bhad Bhabie before her, there is a clear dearth of musicality that ought to preclude her from capitalizing off her 15 minutes of fame in the same way. Moreover, it seems hard to believe that Tay will remain attached to the idea of rapping; she seems more preoccupied with flexing, using well-worn hip-hop tropes to accentuate the flex as opposed to flexing to highlight her rap bonafides. If Rich Brian asked “what if all the aesthetic markers of a rapper were transplanted onto a figure with absolutely no connection to them,” Lil Tay asks “what if all the aesthetic markers of a rapper were transplanted onto a figure with absolutely no connection to them and no interest in performing that connection?” While the answer might amuse for a moment, the moment is quickly passing.

No, Nicki Minaj is Not Guilty of Cultural Appropriation

This is why we can’t have nice things. After announcing two singles this week, Nicki Minaj found herself under fire for perceived cultural appropriation after dropping the artwork for “Chun-Li.” The title refers to the character from Street Fighter II, the first female character in a fighting game, while the artwork depicts Minaj decked out in Fendi and sporting Chun-Li’s signature “ox horn” hairstyle.

Let’s start with the obvious: we’re talking about a character in a videogame. If we consider Minaj’s new single appropriation, we would implicitly be accepting the premise that Chun-Li is somehow a Chinese cultural touchstone, despite being programmed by a group of American and Japanese men with little regard for political correctness. As NPR noted in 2014, Street Fighter is filled with racist caricatures and ethnic stereotypes, from Russian characters who fight bears to Indian ones who fight with yoga. While Chun-Li’s character design sees her wearing a revamped qipao (a traditional 20th century Chinese dress), her cultural connection is superficial at best.

Secondly, the song itself barely focuses on Chun-Li at all. Much like 2015’s “Shanghai,” Minaj’s lyrical content is preoccupied with flexing and stunting, notably free of cringe-worthy Orientalism present on songs like Migos’s “Chinatown” (Quavo’s “ching-chong” adlib is painfully ridiculous). The track uses Chun-Li as an avatar of female power, placing her in the company of Lara Croft and Storm. This lends itself to a much more benign reading than Minaj’s detractors have intially suggested.

Third, and perhaps most critically, accusing Minaj of cultural appropriation mistakenly suggests the power dynamics at play are the same as when Katy Perry dressed as a geisha or Iggy Azalea put on a blaccent. Antiblackness is rampant in Asian communities, and Asians in the West tend to lean in on the myth of the model minority in order to gain standing under white supremacy. Consider the recent incidence of blackface on Chinese state television, salt in the wound of China’s economic exploitation of various African nations. To suggest a black woman has the privilege to appropriate Chinese culture seems inane at face value, let alone after critical analysis.

While some have defended Minaj by citing her Asian heritage, this strikes me as misguided; born in Trinidad and Tobago, Minaj’s heritage traces back to South Asia, rather than East Asia. Even considering cultural diffusion across the continent, I cannot in good faith suggest that Minaj has any more “right” to Chinese culture than I do as an American of Indian descent.

This conversation highlights the ways social justice discourse has, for better or worse, permeated online culture, and how the buzzword-ification of various topics has led to their dilution, being tossed around without proper understanding of their origin or context. Feel free to get up in arms when the music video drops and is chockful of Orientalist stereotypes, but until then, let’s just revel in the return of the queen.

DON’T DO IT FOR THE CULTURE

Last night, Migos dropped a 24 song slog album. Somehow, even though the record is 9 hours old as I write this, approximately 85% of twitter has a half-formed opinion about it. More interesting than the record itself are those behind the music, caught time and again with the proverbial foot in their homophobic mouths.

In an era obsessed with deeming things “classic or trash,” we also love to deem things “woke or broke.” And when we find something decidedly broke, we love to find ways to excuse the actions of the people behind the microphone, either by accepting half baked apologies or contorting ourselves like knotted up earbud cables.

And of course, when it comes to Migos, their behavior falls more neatly into hip-hop history and what we, as a society, have deemed permissible. After all, they’re just using some unsavory words, which barely registers in a country so desensitized to violence, whether linguistic or physical. On top of this, the shift of music to streaming obscures the flow of money, and easily lends itself to the bystander effect: it doesn’t matter if I stream this person’s music, because it’s really only a fraction of a cent, and anyway, other people with greater moral fortitude won’t.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that on a micro level, very little of what we do matters. No, I don’t stream XXXTentacion’s music, but Capitol Records president Steve Barnett still took time out of his day to tell uneasy execs working under him that XXX was economically worth the moral malfunction. After a certain point, it’s easy to throw your hands up, say fuck it, and listen to some Kodak Black, or Rich the Kid, or Chris Brown, or R. Kelly, or Famous Dex, or 6ix9ine, or or or (And to be clear: white artists are just as abusive and sick: think Brand New’s Jesse Lacey, The Gaslamp Killer, Real Estate’s ex-guitarist Matt Mondanile, to name just a few)

The flip to this is that we have to be able to stomach the culture we create and enable. Action Bronson really said Close up of Drunk Mexican Tranny after Bes poured a Bottle of water on its head” in an instagram caption, and 4 years later he has a tv show where he gets paid to travel and eat delicious food. Fuck that’s disheartening. And as much as I would like to claim the fault lies with the artist, or the cultural gatekeepers, or the record label executives, or or or… at some point, I, like many of you, have to face the fact that when it comes to music, we vote with our ears every time we open Spotify. Migos’s homophobia is so jarring not due to its violence, or its obscenity, but because of its banality. We discuss it not because it is new, but because of what it reflects about ourselves.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 70: Bae Cutler

What is the important of space exploration in our society? 

I believe any exploration, whether space, deep sea, God particles, fucking deep self exploration, staring at yourself in the mirror for an eternity etc, all that stuff  can only be beneficial for our species. There definitely is value in space exploration.

Do you worry about the heat death of the universe?

I don’t really worry about it as much as I imagine that it is a possibility in my lifetime  and try my best to understand that. Death is all around us, and Our very existence seems incredibly tiny when we put it up against all of recorded history, and even tinier when we dig into the infinite possibilities of “life” before humans. Who knows how many incarnations of the universe have existed, will exist, or are all existing right now at the same time.

What defines consciousness? Do you think other animals can be considered conscious creatures?

I think the Dahli Lama once said that if you believe something to be conscious then it will be. I always found that fascinating. Just from experience with my cats, Its hard to think that they are not aware of their own existence. They know fear, they know affection, they communicate to me in so many ways their desires and their needs, as well as their boundaries and their limits. I always wondered why anything needs affection. It must go beyond our physical existence.

How do you create meaningful experience in your life?

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet “Neither Good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” This is something I think about all the time, daily actually. Every morning I think about how I can prepare myself for the day with that in mind.. I try to frame all my experiences as objectively as I can. When Neil Degrasse Tyson was on NPRs Wait wait dont tell me, he got 2 questions wrong. At the end of his session he said he enjoyed the experience, and while he would have liked to get all the questions right, had that actually happened he would have learned nothing, but since he got 2 questions wrong, he leaves the show with 2 pieces of knowledge he didnt have before.

I guess Im saying all experiences can be meaningful if you want them to be.

How do you manage ennui?

I just try to put my life in perspective and understand the push and pull of the universe, the ying and the yang. I did a lot of LSD, MDMA and mushrooms in my life. The crazy thing about those drugs is that it literally makes everything interesting, I remember turning on and off a light switch and just being amazed that this is the world we live in. I did that for hours on LSD. Even now, I can do it and still tap into that feeling.. I havent touched drugs in a long time and I have lived a sober life for about a year now, but those experiences still resonate with me. The great appreciation of even the most basic things in the world. With that said, I also understand that everything….. when its all said and done, will be dust.

In your opinion does this photograph of a pumpkin:

A. Reflect a profound reality (A picture of pumpkin is like the real thing)

B. Mask and denature a profound reality (A picture of the pumpkin is like a shitty version of the real thing.)

C. Mask the absence of a profound reality (the pumpkin was false)

D. Lose all connection to reality, becoming pure simulation (Pumpkins, as a natural phenomenon, are false and this picture I just handed you is just a napkin.)

E. All of the Above

Its a combination of A and B for me, Its a picture of a pumpkin, there were many pumpkins in the world, and there will be many more, and there will be many human interpretations of different pumpkins, some from the past, and some that will manifest in the future. This one doesnt stimulate me in a positive or negative way. But it could change in the future, or maybe an older version of me would experience it differently.

Source: UNDERSTANDING JEAN BAUDRILLARD WITH PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES

 

What is time? What is Macaroni Time?

I don’t even know if I believe in time. Its something, its relative, its a compass for me. But it is a great mystery. My whole sense of time got destroyed one acid trip, and its never recovered really. If anything it made me really appreciate the limited time I do have.

How do you make earnest connection in a world of instant gratification?

I kinda went through my internet phase and now am trying to ween off of it, or at least create a balance. Ive read more and more about these studies on how long, focused, repetitive mono-tasking helps but us in calm meditative state. I work out now 5-6 times a week, I read long books, not just your typical web articles. I try to listen to whole records and not just singles, and I love to draw and make music, which are long concentrated practices. I think we kind of got disconnected from these practices and habits during the internet boom, and when you think about it, the way you surf the internet is the equivalent of just watching a tv and flipping the channel every 30 seconds, or having a pile of books in front of you and trying to read one page out of them every other minute.
I can’t stress it enough, the past year I’ve gotten more done, by doing less. Mono-task. Connect with yourself, your environment, the conversation you are having. Just put the phone down and be in that moment, Sometimes even when Im driving, I don’t even have the radio on, just the windows down fully focused on steering this massive machine. Its really nice just to pause, and think, what the fuck am I doing? Who the fuck am I talking to?

Is factory farming sustainable or ethical?

Not yet, At some point scientists will be able to just grow Bacon from cells, then we’ll be in a whole other ethical boat. I have a hard time with food in the modern world, I dunno whats worst sometimes, the slaughtered animal, or the strawberries grown in china that get shipped in massive oil tankers across the ocean and distributed through massive diesel guzzling freight trucks.

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Existential Little Interviews Vol. 69: Brooklyn White

Is there moral goodness?

Goodness is following your conscience. Doing the right thing. Stepping up to the plate even when it’s hard.

What is the importance of space exploration in our society?

Bruh dealing with Earth is hard enough……….Although the thought of taking a selfie on Saturn is cute.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-4-28-21-pm

What defines consciousness? Do you think other animals can be considered conscious creatures?

The ability to differentiate between right and wrong, as well as reflect. No. Animals are out here thuggin daily.

What is time? What is Macaroni Time?

Time is a precious commodity. Macaroni Time was around 12:20 yesterday. It was baked btw. Macaroni with powdered cheese is not real.

Many Existentialist define existence as being-in-the-world or being-with-others. What do you think is the role of community, in relation to the development of one’s self?

Question of the year. We often develop through our interactions with others. It’s possible to be a standalone being, but you need others to show you your blind spots. Too much solo dolo is not okay.
Is your existence as compared to your nonexistence something which can be justified?

Since I don’t have an answer, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to say that Black Lives Matter.

“I think, therefore I am” or “I am, therefore I think”

I shine, therefore I glow. Nah, forreal. I am, therefore I think.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 68: Kai Whiston

Do you worry about the heat death of the universe?

A bit. The overall goal of this whole music thing is for someone to discover my music through a windows movie maker lyric video with the white text on the dark blue background somewhere 50 years in the future. That’s the 2066 version of finding a dope record in the dollar bin at ur local oxfam 4 me.

What defines consciousness? Do you think other animals can be considered conscious creatures?

I just define consciousness as the literal term of the ability to be alive, physically aware and responsive. I think if everyone did that then communication between medical professionals and j-cole fans would be a lot more understandable.

Are you afraid that everything will happen?

Naw not rly although I do take it 4 granted that I’m around in a time where there’s still some stuff that needs doin. I will probably always give merit to anyone tryna do something new but I also have some respect for those that can study something and imitate well in a creative way. I think I read a cure for art-block to steal from 5 of ur favourite artists and try and make something as if they were all working on it. I do that sometimes. Hopefully 1 day someone will be able to study me and imitate me in a smarter way and do a good job, and this fuckin weird interview lol.

“I think, therefore I am” or “I am, therefore I think”?

I don’t think I am anything yet until I can feel good about contributing something cool to the planet earth but I’m slowly working on it. In an ideal world it will be something that I made in my bedroom on a strict diet of crisp sarnies and coke. If I had to chose tho I would probably choose “I am, therefore I think” because I don’t like putting myself above anything that can’t think. Don’t think anything I said made any sense tho so it’s whateva.

What do you think about this poem by Paul Celan (below)

Paul Celan

This poem really annoys me on a visual level as it’s not pushing the world of visual poetry forward. I only invest my time into poems that are in the shape of an 8-pointed star or better yet you can combine the first letter of each line to form a word!! My eyeballs ache within my skull as they are definitely above the average volume of eyeball so I can relate in that matter. Not really sure what the rest of it means because I still buy savers beans and I’ve never read The Quietus.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 67: Skinny McToothpick

Photo by: Ally Zhao

How do you manage ennui?

By not living in a suburb. For me, ennui has always been synonymous with suburban life ever since I discovered Arcade Fire’s album The Suburbs and read a Rolling Stone review that used ennui to describe it. Having never lived anywhere other than a metropolitan city I imagine suburbs as something incredibly boring and bland.

I think this is how I’ve managed to stave it off actually. By defining ennui for myself as something I’ve never experienced I can create a sort of base denial. Like I may feel it to a certain extent from time to time, that is unavoidable, but my internal monologue says “hey, at least you aren’t living in the suburbs. God that would be awful.” That way total all consuming ennui is a mental impossibility since I will never achieve that ideal.

In your opinion does this photograph of a pumpkin:

stock-photo-pumpkin-17941204
A. Reflects a profound reality
B. Masks and denatures a profound reality
C. Masks the absence of a profound reality
D. Lose all connection to reality, becoming pure simulation
E. All of the Above
Source: UNDERSTANDING JEAN BAUDRILLARD WITH PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES

So as I’m writing this I’m actually drinking coffee out of a mug that has Magritte’s treaties on how images and words behave that I picked up in Brussels. So obviously it’s a sign to consider this image in terms of Magritte. An image is first and foremost not the real thing it is merely an image. It is a substitute for the real thing communicating the same information but limiting the sensory information to sight.

By looking at this stock photo, I immediately identify it as a pumpkin. How do I know this to be true? I have seen a pumpkin before, held one, tasted it, and have confirmed its existence with other humans. By my own observation pumpkins exist. (This doesn’t take into account cultural differences, a person who has lived in the arctic circle all their life may not know what to make of this image if they have never seen a pumpkin and their culture has never farmed pumpkins) Going off that basis I can identify this image as a visual approximation of what I think and remember a pumpkin to look like. I also have the context of this photo being captioned “pumpkin” which reinforces my certainty. I can also separate this an image from the real thing. I cannot hold it, feel it, taste it, etc. and thus recognize that it is a stand-in for the concept of a pumpkin and not an actual pumpkin you have handed me.

So I guess my final answer is a combination of A, B, & C since it exists as a reality and non-reality occupying the same liminal space as abstract concepts.

Many Existentialist define existence as being-in-the-world or being-with-others. What do you think is the role of community, in relation to the development of one’s self?

I think, perhaps more than we like to admit, the community plays an integral role in the construction of the self. Acceptable behavior and presentations are decided by the societal unconscious. We adhere to certain social norms and bend others (even though this often still lies within the socially acceptable). It’s my belief that humans are fundamentally scared of being alone and thus we sacrifice a bit of our own individuality to avoid ostracism.

This isn’t entirely bad, it prevents society from being an anarchic free for all, and that is how we internally justify it. So the question then becomes how do we negotiate the dissonance of being an individual and part of a collective whole. Well, we push against some of the more elastic social norms. As infants in development, we are taught the rules of society through trial and error. In that developmental stage we gain an understanding of what one can and can’t get away with so to speak. This explains the trope of “teenage rebelliousness” and the more reserved acquiescence of young adulthood. In the process we become ‘secret individuals’ we know our impulses and desires and which ones to act on and which to repress.

It’s a Freudian battle of Id and Superego but one that is less internal and more reliant on how we perceive society and locate ourselves within it. I think we fool ourselves into think we have free will when we end up doing things because we seek approbation from our peers. We constantly re-ify our place as part of the ingroup and cast off anything that could jeopardize that. At that point the self is no longer determined by you but by the collective whole. Your “individuality” is only because that is entirely dependent on and permissible through existence and recognition as part of the community.

Do you think trends are accelerating faster than ever ?

In short, yes. I think we’ve gotten to a point where trends become so saturated so quickly that they no longer have much of a shelf life. As a society, community, we become obsessed whatever content constitutes a trend. The natural course of that is actually very capitalist in the way the becomes a market demand and then a point where the bubble bursts and demand wanes. The internet age has quickened this pace, content spreads to all corners of the world virtually instantaneously and niche interests gain a following much quicker, and more importantly visibly, than we’ve ever seen before.

The other edge of this sword of internet culture is that we are constantly refreshing. There is more information than one person can possibly ever consume but our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We crave the rush of discovery. Thus our attention spans become more limited. This is an age where everything demands our attention at once, an age that is still very much in its infancy, and I think it will be some time before we figure out how to shift the way we interact with trends.

Why did we kill god, what will we do without him ?

We outgrew god. Well, we outgrew the mysticism that capital “G” God represents I think. God, in my opinion, belongs to the same sort of categories as the Greek and Roman gods. They were used to explain the world around us and soothe our fear of the unknowable. They were a singular explanation as to the why things are the way they are and that was good enough when communities were isolated and the dissemination of information and culture was limited. Humanity has grown and evolved since then and so has our belief system. Secularism is still a belief system but one that puts its trust humanity to observe the world around it and explain it. We’ve moved our belief in a supernatural omnipresent power to a belief in ourselves. As a culture we’ve become more self-deterministic, the secular intellectual in me points to science to explain the world around me. It’s a system built off of what humans can observe as the laws governing the known universe. I was actually reading in the forward of a book i just started, that this concept (and I hope I’m not butchering it) is what Kathryn Shultz refers to as “naive realism” which is a belief system governed by what the individual can observe in the world around them. Ex. “Gravity, an unseen force, has a visible that behavior that I can observe and replicate in the real world myself therefore it must be true” There is something comforting in the concreteness of this way of thinking, even if it is flawed and incomplete. It relies on humanity to be its own god so to speak.

What a god represents in terms of the mechanics of society still exists. I doubt that will ever go away. We will never know everything and we always be afraid of that which we do not know. As long as that exists we will need something to sublimate our uncertainties onto. The concept of “god” serves a critical function in staving off existential dread and will never completely disappear, it will just continue to change forms.

What gives you the right?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 66: Skylar Spence

What is the importance of space exploration in our society?

I think it’s so important because of how the human race has objectively fucked up the natural balance of the world. Maybe we could learn from our past mistakes in the near future, instead of pretending they don’t exist. And maybe in that time, we could find a new place to go and think of a way to un-fuck up the beautiful place that we destroyed!

Do you worry about the heat death of the universe?

Nah. Just don’t make me sit through another Ice Age movie!

Donald Trump is a tangible example of increased absurdity (aka entropy) in the universe, can you name other examples?

Sure! PC Music (no shots here, either, maybe some would agree?). The evolution of Mark Kozelek’s career. The evolution of news media and its prevalence in daily life. The evolution of music journalism, in general. Borat, and the success that followed it?

How do you manage ennui?

I solve everything through music. Anytime I’m feeling down or depressed, I kind of think of music as a puzzle, and it’s like “wait, you still haven’t finished this puzzle” and i HATE puzzles but this puzzle is especially lovely. it’s worth doing your part in solving it.

Sartre considered contemplation a luxury, do you?

Nah. I think it’s a large part of a lifestyle some people are born into — if anything, I would call it a privilege over a luxury. Some people don’t have the time.

Do you think trends are accelerating faster than ever ?

Absolutely! I think that was bound to happen with the invention of the world wide web. Access to information, trends included is quicker and easier than ever. People can literally become trends overnight. But I also have a theory that we’re slowly realizing our cultural peak was the 80s and every new trend to come will be some homage to an 80s staple.

Are you afraid that everything will happen?

I’m only afraid of being forgotten.

Don’t forget to come see Skylar Spence at Eastroom in Chicago this Friday.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 65: Kevin Venom

Do you worry about the heat death of the universe?

I actually think it’s more likely that the universe will keep expanding until spacetime eventually rips apart and everything ceases to exist. I worry about that a solid amount, usually when I’m high.

How do you manage ennui?
I had to look up what “ennui” meant, and I’m somewhat comforted to know that there is a word to describe how I feel 70% of the time. I try to manage ennui by creating music, spending time with people I care about, and eating good food. I feel like most people, myself included, attempt to deal with their existential malaise by not thinking about it. That’s hard for me though because sometimes I’ll be at the function and I’ll catch myself talking about the inevitability of death. I’m not really fun at parties. Anyway, I’ve found that it’s more helpful to me to think about what is making me feel dissatisfied, whether it’s something in my life, or something I’m not doing that I need to be doing, and then I act on whatever conclusions I come to.

How do you make earnest connection in a world of instant gratification?

It’s definitely not easy. Connections with anything meaningful are complicated and require a lot of effort. I’ve definitely bought into the culture of instant gratification on some levels, but overall I try to be a perfectionist. By approaching all of my relationships (interpersonal and otherwise) with that mindset, and by holding them to a high standard, I think I’m able to really connect deeply with things and people beyond a superficial level. You also have to genuinely care about whatever you’re trying to connect with. Faking it just leads to wasted time, and it will eat away at you.

Is factory farming sustainable or ethical?

Factory farming is neither sustainable nor ethical. Factory farms produce so many greenhouses gases and are a huge contributor to global warming, making them unsustainable right from the jump. They also produce several toxic chemicals that can damage the ecosystems in which they exist, as well as cause lots of health complications for people. Conditions in factory farms are so bad for the animals that they’re always freaking out all the time, and are given drugs like Prozac and Xanax to calm them down. And then we eat these animals and consume those chemicals, along with growth hormones and other terrible shit. Unethical for the animals and unsafe for us. You’ve probably also seen those videos of baby chickens being ground up alive, or of cows being confined to super small spaces where they live in their own feces. It’s all so fucked up. I said fuck the meat industry and became a pescetarian (can’t give up sushi).

Sartre considered contemplation a luxury, do you?

Definitely. A lot of people don’t have the time or the resources to contemplate the complexities of existence like Sartre did. Sartre was a bourgeois white dude, so he didn’t have to deal with a lot of oppression that other groups of people face, which gave him time to think deeply about shit.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 64: Contour

Photo is by Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

What defines consciousness? Do you think other animals can be considered conscious creatures?

I personally define consciousness simply as the ability to experience. I believe that the majority, if not all animals are conscious, and we as humans often dismiss that idea because of our inability to perceive and understand the way in which animals communicate/express their consciousness. I think simply the amount of study done on the minds of animals is a major indication of the fact that animals are conscious creatures.

How do you create meaningful experience in your life?

The idea of creating meaningful experiences is interesting. Any experience can be meaningful if you focus your attention on the right things. Combining your inner dialogue with an active presence in whatever moment you’re currently experiencing is typically enough to make the experience meaningful in some way. On the other hand, you can also literally create meaningful experiences for yourself by spending the bulk of your time doing things that will move you towards the things you’re passionate about/the things that you find meaningful. By cultivating a lifestyle that’s in league with those things you’ll naturally come into contact with effortlessly meaningful experiences more often.

Donald Trump is a tangible example of increased absurdity (aka entropy) in the universe, can you name other examples?

This is going to sound funny, but I think memes are possibly the best example we have to date of increased entropy in the universe. We have this constantly expanding macrocosm of images that reference some sort of pop culture or some sort of joke, and jokes that reference themselves, and references that reference parodies of themselves. In a sense any individual’s ability to recognize and understand memes past a certain generation could be an indicator of said individual’s connection to the amount of absurdity in the world.

Sartre posits that the existence of desire is the best proof that humans are basically in a state of “lacking”, if man were “what he is(a being-in-itself)”, he would not need anything to complete him. Is there anything that can make a human complete?

Death is the only thing that can complete a human, as death is the completion of the human cycle.

In Albert Camus’ famous novel ‘The Stranger’ the central character, Mersault, is able to tolerate life in prison fairly well because of his general detachment. Is it fair to say that many people in our society “detach” as a way of coping with the violent unjust system that has been thrust upon us by history?

Yes. I think for all of history humans have sought detachment in order to cope with the cruelty of the reality that they live in. The most common ways historically have been through use of mind altering substances and through use of escapism via entertainment (social media today, roman coliseums centuries ago, etc.). In a sense, our emphasis on personal achievement and a dynamic life path is also sort of a means of detachment. We absorb ourselves in our own personal narrative, and at a point that narrative becomes the only connection we have to the outside world. This can be observed in the fact that as we get older, the amount of connections we have to others decreases, and the prevalence of dementia/insanity/senility in old age. You could even say existence a gradually increasing state of detachment until reaching a complete state of it in death.

Existential Little Interviews Vol. 63: Viceroy

Viceroy will be appearing in Chicago on May 13th and you can buy tickets from us #BrandSynergy.

Do you worry about the heat death of the universe?

Candidly I had no idea what heat death of the universe was before this interview, so i did some reasearch. I’ve concluded that I’m honestly not worried. I try not to worry about much in my life. I think it’s is waste of energy. I try to focus on solving problems that arise and things like the heat death of the universe really is something far beyond my capacity to solve, so why worry?

How do you create meaningful experience in your life?

I was just talking about this with a friend the other day. I learned at a very young age that I’m going to be terrible at a lot of things and great at a few. With that in mind, I’ve focused on realizing what passions of mine are sustainable financially and socially. When I can do something I love for a living, I then can create the most meaningful experiences in my life whether it is social impacts I can make or accomplishing my own personal goals.

What is time? What is Macaroni Time?

Time is money and I’ll defer to Chief Keef for Macaroni Time

Sartre considered contemplation a luxury, do you?

Definitely. Once your common needs in life are fulfilled then you are free to contemplate the finer points of life, for instance-which thai restaurant you want to go to try on a Friday night?

Donald Trump is a tangible example of increased absurdity (aka entropy) in the universe, can you name other examples?

Plenty. You should meet my friends. Other than them, I think what is going on in North Korea completely absurd. The way the people of NK are treated and can’t leave their country is something so hard for me to comprehend in the year 2016. Being held against your will in their case is something no one should ever have to endure. The inherent human right of freedom is something completely disregarded there.

Do you think trends are accelerating faster than ever?

Absolutely and they are coming in and out of vogue at faster clip. Today’s speed of media and communication has accelerated ideas faster throughout the world. Naturally that causes people to move onto the next trend. We live in on-demand society.

 

Cute/Existential Little Interviews, Vol. 4: Hood Joplin

Who’s the best dog you know? What are they like?

I used to work at this streetwear/record shop called Foosh in Edmonton where we had a shop dog named Olive, she’s a super sweet English Bulldog that would headbutt you if she loves you. The staff always brings in their pups, my homie got this little guy named Murphy who is a tiny little baby I just want to hold all the time lol. Snuggly dogs are the best.

Cats though: my sister found this cat on a boat and named it Gilligan. It was literally the dumbest cat on the planet but had a heart of gold. This big, white, fluffy, durpy looking thing. It’d stand up on your lap and put its paws on your shoulders (kind of like a hug) and if it loved you it would drool- a steady stream of drool. So disgusting but it was mad cute at the same time. I was in Europe and I get a call from my sister (we never talk, so I knew something was up) and she told me that Gilligan got hit by a truck. Def shed a tear for that loss. RIP G.

What is the importance of space exploration in our society?

To put our existence into perspective.

Are you worried about the heat death of the universe?

Not as much as I’m worried about climate change.

Ideal contents of a banana split?

THC

Sartre considered contemplation a luxury, do you?

A luxury is something that is unattainable to the masses, but everyone has varying degrees of time to meditate and reflect in their own manner. I think a lot of people (myself included) forget how important having honest conversations with yourself is.

Who is the first celebrity you can remember having a crush on?

JULEZ SANTANA. When Clockwork came out I died. That was game over for me until I started getting into Pharrell heavy. I had about 10 posters of him in my locker lmfao. Back when he was the essence of cool + had neck tattoos + made music for the streets, not soccer moms.

What song(s) do you define as your “anthem” or alarm clock?

“I Just Want 2 Luv U” by Jay Z and Pharrell is my jam forever. Alarm clock was Gangstarr’s “Work” for about 3 years, now every time I hear that song played out I gotta do a lucidity test lmfao.

Donald Trump is a tangible example of increased absurdity (aka entropy) in the universe, can you name other examples?

The economy/financial system. People don’t seem to realize that industries mature, The US Dollar Standard is arbitrary, and everything is cyclical (These downturns have happened ever 7-8 years for the past century. We live in a system based off constant growth, how is that sustainable? The economy needs to contract and people need to stop going crazy every time it does b/c that’s what fucks up the economy more. The most wealth is generated during economic downturns b/c smart people strategically exploit others’ entropy.

Also- cell phone charges in Canada can be described as increased absurdity. The 3 large providers are an oligopoly rates keep going up because “the infrastructure is expensive: although they lease their networks to new market entrants which should reduce the price (because usage hasn’t rapidly increased with the entrance of the new companies as the population is still the same), but the prices stay high. We live in a massive country and technology in the network often needs to be upgraded, but Canada has an 80% urban population and I don’t get why rates aren’t lower in dense areas. (This rant is dedicated to my $750 Rogers bill).

Name one scent and one memory strongly attached to that scent.

Waking up to the smell of caramelized onions cos that means my mom’s making some bomb chana masala for breakfast T_T

 

Do you think trends are accelerating faster than ever ?

No because people are still wearing bastardized tribal prints.

What gives you the right?

Being of-age living in a socialist country gives me all the rights any other Canadian adult can access. Being a female POC in the music industry should give me the same rights as cis-men, but that is not the case.

How do you make earnest connection in a world of instant gratification?

Sincerity goes a long way- real recognize real.

Can you write us a short poem

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