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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Forest Fires Collective

Forest Fires Collective
Forest Fires Collective
Forest Fires Collective
A little self-reference is a dangerous thing, particularly where art is concerned. In the visual arts, I suppose things really didn’t come to a head in this regard until the Modernist age. I mean, to some extent, art has always been about art. But it also used to be representative of something in the world — nature, politics, religion, the human condition, something. Then it became more and more about the artist, and then about the object, and then mostly about art itself. Of course, I’m generalizing here — there is obviously still a great deal of art about the world and things in it. But (as I found out while living and working in the New York “art world” a few years ago), there’s also quite a lot of it that’s only about itself.
And so it’s interesting to me how hip-hop seems to have been that way from the start. Was hip-hop ever really about anything other than hip-hop? I leave the answer in the capable hands of the Sugar Hill Gang, from the 1979 “Rapper’s Delight”:
I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
To the hip hip hop, a you don’t stop
The rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

Forest Fires Collective
Thus began twenty-five years of rappers rapping about how well they rap. Riveting stuff, that. But you know what? They’re still doing it, most of them with all the creativity of Def Leppard singing about a girl they’d like to have sex with. “What? You like girls? Yeah, sing about that some more. Man, I never get tired of songs about thighs.”
All of which makes it that much more of a treat when somebody actually tries something novel — which is what Forest Fires Collective does so well. Sure, there’s some of the standard hip-hop doper-than-thou posturing, but it’s mostly buried underneath rhymes about squirrels, nuts, and Smokey the Bear, overtop of beats that are, well — squirrely. For the most part, the novelty and sharp lyrical wit of the FFC make up for the somewhat frivolous content. At which point the pundits will quickly point out that expecting hip-hop to be about anything is missing the point. It’s supposed to be all about the style. I’ll sympathize with that to a point, in much the same way that I’ll sympathize with a good-looking stupid girl. Nice to spend casual time with, but nothing you’d want to invest a lot of your life in. Combine smart content with stunning style, and now you’re talking commitment. Which is what FFC pull off when they’re at their best.