On the borders of ska

[email protected] [email protected] reappropriate ska music tropes for women’s reproductive rights in the South Texas music scene

Authors

  • Steven Stendebach Bowling Green State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.18872

Keywords:

Rio Grande Valley, Punk, ska, borderland, music scene

Abstract

On Tales from the Border: Skank for Choice (2019), a benefit album to support local reproductive rights organizations in Rio Grande Valley, Texas band [email protected] [email protected] position their music and ska in general as an explicitly activist space. Despite calling the album and accompanying concert ‘ska themed’, musically, the album features little of ska’s elements: upstroke rhythms, prominent brass and walking bass lines—the hallmarks of ska music—are all absent. Instead, the album offers three hardcore tracks, before the band’s drummer takes center stage and delivers three bilingual hip-hop songs. This article seeks to understand what ‘ska’ as a signifier means in this context. It posits that [email protected] [email protected] utilizes double meanings, such as ‘skank’ in the title and a feminist pseudonym, to gesture toward both ska’s history and feminist activism. Ultimately, this highlights the anti-racist and anti-colonial moments in the genre’s history, while also posing a corrective to the depoliticized ‘third-wave ska’ sound.

Author Biography

Steven Stendebach, Bowling Green State University

Steven Stendebach is a doctoral student in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.

References

Allmusic. n.d. ‘Third Wave Ska Revival’. https://www.allmusic.com/style/third-wave-ska-revival-ma0000012129

Alvarez, D. 2018. Los Angeles Latinx Ska: Subaltern Rhythms, Co-optation of Sound, and New Cultural Visions from a Transnational Latin America. UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Anzaldúa, G. 1987. Borderlands/La Fontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Bennett, A., and R. A. Peterson. 2004. Music Scenes: Local, Translocal, and Virtual. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv17vf74v

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 2016. Season 4, Episode 8 ‘Skyfire Cycle’. Dir. Michael McDonald. Fox.

Carnes, A. 2021. In Defense of Ska. Troy, NY: CLASH Books.

Catbite (@catbiteband). 2021. ‘ITS BANDCAMP FRIDAYYAYAYAY!! Instagram, 5 February.

Flying Raccoon Suit (@flyingraccoonsuit). 2021. ‘We are BLOWN AWAY by the response to our album release yesterday’. Instagram, 20 March.

Galinsky, A. D., C. S. Wang, J. A. Whitson, E. M. Anicich, K. Hugenberg and G. V. Bodenhausen. 2013. ‘The Reappropriation of Stigmatizing Labels: The Reciprocal Relationship between Power and Self-Labeling’. Psychological Science 24/10: 2020–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613482943

Gilroy, P. 1987. There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. London: Hutchinson.

Gordon, A. 2021. ‘Ska’s New Generation is Here to Pick it Up Pick it Up’. Stereogum. https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2227380539899/ska-s-new-generation-is-here-to-pick-it-up-pick-it-up

Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routledge.

Hebdige, D. 1987. Cut ‘n’ Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music. New York: Routledge.

Kun, J. 2000. ‘The Aural Border’. Theater Journal 52/1: 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1353/tj.2000.0016

Lysloff, R. T. A. 2003. ‘Musical Community on the Internet: An On-Line Ethnography’. Cultural Anthropology 18/2: 233–63. https://doi.org/10.1525/can.2003.18.2.233

Mausfeld, D. 2020. ‘“These Stories Have to be Told”: Chicano Rap as Historical Source’. Popular Music History 12/2: 174–93. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.39209

[MBaits]. 2014. ‘So What Defines These Different Waves?’ Reddit.com. https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/2o3qd1/eli5_the_different_waves_of_ska_what_makes_them/

The One Show. 2017. ‘Lee Thompson: Embarrassment’. BBC One, 15 September. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMQU5btgw78

Pearson, D. M. 2019. ‘Extreme Hardcore Punk and the Analytical Challenges of Rhythm, Riffs, and Timbre in Punk Music’. Music Theory Online 25/1: 29–42. https://doi.org/10.30535/mto.25.1.5

Petridis, A. 2002. ‘Ska for the Madding Crowd’. The Guardian, 8 March.

Punk Rock MBA. 2021. ‘What Killed Ska-Punk??’ YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOlMOjsZDHg

Queer Nation. 1990. Queers Read This. Queer Zine Archive Project. https://www.qzap.org/v9/index.php/57-queers-read-this

Robinson, L. 2019. ‘How Hard is it to Remember Bananarama? The Perennial Forgetting of Girls in Music’. Popular Music History 12/2: 152–73. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.40052

Sacher, A. 2020a. ‘Ska is Thriving Right Now. Here’s a Look at the DIY Scene That’s Keeping it Alive’. BrooklynVegan, 21 September. https://www.brooklynvegan.com/ska-is-thriving-right-now-heres-a-look-at-the-diy-scene-thats-keeping-it-alive/

Sacher, A. 2020b. ‘Q&A w/ Bad Operation on their Debut Album and the Joyous Retaliation of New Tone Ska’. BrooklynVegan, 9 November. https://www.brooklynvegan.com/qa-w-bad-operation-on-their-debut-album-and-the-joyous-retaliation-of-new-tone-ska/

Skatune Network (@Jer). 2021. ‘But like frfr it’s super dope that there’s a whole scene and following that’s slowly growing with us new generation of ska bands’. Instagram, January.

South Texans for Reproductive Justice. 2019. ‘South Texans for Reproductive Justice Facebook Page’. Facebook, 19 November.

Straw, W. 1991. ‘Systems of Articulation, Logics of Change: Communities and Scenes in Popular Music’. Cultural Studies 5/3: 368–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502389100490311

Traber, D. S. 2013. ‘Pick it Up! Pick it Up! The Transnational Localism of Ska’. Popular Music and Society 36/1: 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2011.600293

Wintle, J. 2021. ‘Today’s Ska-Punk is Seriously Fun’. Spin, 5 January. https://www.spin.com/2021/01/todays-ska-punk-is-serious-fun/

Published

2022-06-23

How to Cite

Stendebach, S. (2022). On the borders of ska: [email protected] [email protected] reappropriate ska music tropes for women’s reproductive rights in the South Texas music scene. Popular Music History, 14(3), 268–282. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.18872

Issue

Section

Articles