Published Dec 17, 2012Nobody could have predicted that a cherubic thirty-something rapper from South Korea would record the most popular song of 2012. However, just about every year features some celebrity grasping at a more worldly reincarnation. The dual case of PSY and Snoop Lion is a crossroads moment for the embattled term "world music." PSY glorifies the universality of synth presets; Snoop grasps at some definition of authenticity that may or may not have ever existed. North America is a little more familiar with watered down Caribbean influences, whereas K-pop revels in pop sterility wrenched far away from its Euro/North American architects. These two artists may represent nothing less than the 20th and 21st century iterations of the concept of "world music."
PSY: "Gangnam Style" – actually an unholy yet catchy spawn of hip house and neo jack swing.
Snoop Lion: "La La La" – actually a retread of Ken Boothe's ska classic "Artibella."
PSY: Gangnam, of course.
Snoop Lion: Strictly roots. For now.
PSY: 780 million Youtube views, launched dozens of K-pop think pieces in the New Yorker etc.
Snoop Lion: Vice mag feature-length documentary, Major Lazer production.
PSY: Seoul's high-styling Gangnam district has a lot of poseurs, but PSY is just the kind of car-a-zy those sexy ladies need to keep it real.
Snoop Lion: Turned his back on his perma-blunted, materialist lifestyle for a perma-blunted spiritual quest.
PSY: No follow up yet, but no matter what happens in the rest of the world, he's pretty much set for life in Korea.
Snoop Lion: "Pocket Like Its Hot" follow-up paid tribute to the non-"Ital" (kosher, in Rasta parlance) snack. Does not augur well for this persona.
IS THIS A JOKE? LIKE, REALLY?
PSY: Not if you consider PSY to be the face of a booming Pacific Rim economy making major inroads into global mass culture.
Snoop Lion: "My life has always gone through stages. That's what forced me to find a new path." He may be not be Ital, but he ain't no joke.