Culture Music

Nicheless culture

Bookmarked 10,000 Gecs as 2023 Culture by W. David MarxW. David Marx (Culture: An Owner's Manual)

Yet what would have been even more embarrassing in the 1990s is the obviousness of the 100 gecs’s references. Their software prowess and major label budget allow them to sample nearly anything they desire (they got the real THX intro noise!), but for “The Most Wanted Person in the United States,” they rap like sorority girls doing “Paper Planes” at karaoke over the world-famous Sleng Teng riddim, the horse-neigh horn from “Insane in the Membrane,” and lines of dialogue from box office hit, Scary Movie (itself a parody of a pastiche of a tired genre)… 100 gecs are absolutely as clever as Prince Paul, but at least on 10,000 Gecs, they show very little interest in Paul’s old-school obscurity: whether that’s making obscure music for obscure communities or turning previously obscure source material into pop.

Now that “cred” has lost its value as a legitimate form of cultural currency, money is the only marker of success. And where the internet makes everything potentially non-obscure, there is no reason to celebrate esotericism.

Internet culture is a mashup of everything, except not really because there’s no point in referencing things that people don’t recognize. Everything is vibes, and vibes means drawing on emotions imbued in other works — and when many people associate their identities with popular franchises, mass culture is what most people have feels about.

…a past when artists attempted to create new aesthetic effects through strange new twists on conventions — a technique that would require audiences to have patience in learning the material before it became comprehensible and pleasurable. 100 gecs aren’t taking this risk: They mix and match a ludicrous set of Top 40 conventions from the last two decades, which are immediately comprehensible and pleasurable.

(OK I listened to one of their songs and thought it was obnoxious 😂 But I’m old and don’t typically like Top 40 stuff, so I’m not the audience for mass consumption.)

If this is what passes for overwhelming strangeness in 2023, we are living in a conservative era.

See also: Monoculture: the compression and collapse of cultural challenge

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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