TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 2020

TOP TEN

JOEY LA NEVE DEFRANCESCO

Joey La Neve DeFrancesco is a musician, historian, and organizer based in Providence, Rhode Island, whose performances combine dance, punk, and drag. She will tour North America and Europe with her latest record, The Vital Cord (self-released, 2020), throughout the year.

  1. #NOMUSICFORICE

    Amazon has a long history of abusing its workers, lobbying for conservative legislation, developing surveillance technologies, giving support to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and committing various other moral atrocities. So when the company announced it was launching Intersect, a proprietary festival, many musicians were furious. A group of us organized as cultural workers to put some real pressure on the company. Focusing specifically on Amazon’s support for deportation and detention, we launched the #NoMusicForICE campaign. As of November 2019, there were more than one thousand musicians signed on to boycott Amazon events and exclusives until the company severs its ties with ICE. We’re explicitly acting in solidarity with the group Mijente’s existing #NoTechForICE campaign. If you’re in the music industry, join us at NoMusicForICE.com.

  2. KIM COOPER

    One of the great unsung heroes of house music, Cooper provided stunning spoken and sung vocals on tracks for Club 69, Beat4Feet, and Danube Dance. Those are all great producers, but her vocal work makes the songs. Cooper’s deliveries are inspiring, sexy, and hilarious—just some of my favorite performances. She’s from Long Island but also somehow formed a supergroup called the Rounder Girls that represented Austria in the 2000 Eurovision contest. Iconic.

    *The Rounder Girls performing in the Eurovision Song Contest, Stockholm Globe Arena, May 13, 2000.* Center: Kim Cooper. Photo: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images. The Rounder Girls performing in the Eurovision Song Contest, Stockholm Globe Arena, May 13, 2000. Center: Kim Cooper. Photo: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images.
  3. ATARI TEENAGE RIOT

    Way back in the early 1990s, Atari Teenage Riot foresaw a surprising number of today’s musical, cultural, and political trends. Their lyrics combine anxiety, nihilism, and the death drive with a simultaneous call for revolution, novelty, and freedom. Song titles like “Delete Yourself! You Got No Chance to Win!” and “No Remorse (I Wanna Die)” are paired with ones like “Hetzjagd auf Nazis!”(Hunt Down and Kill the Nazis!) and “Revolution Action.” That desperate clash between complete despair and righteous desire, experienced by so many young people today, confirms ATR had a 2020 brain almost thirty years ago.

    *Carl Crack and Alec Empire of Atari Teenage Riot, Brighton, UK, 1992.* Photo: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images. Carl Crack and Alec Empire of Atari Teenage Riot, Brighton, UK, 1992. Photo: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images.
  4. W. E. B. DU BOIS, BLACK RECONSTRUCTION IN AMERICA: AN ESSAY TOWARD A HISTORY OF THE PART WHICH BLACK FOLK PLAYED IN THE ATTEMPT TO RECONSTRUCT DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, 1860–1880 (1935)

    In my other life, I work as a public historian, researching and presenting radical history programs at museums. Though history ends up being a lot of what I read, I had long been intimidated by the size and scope of Black Reconstruction, which was a mistake, because the book is essential if you want to understand the Civil War and its effects through to the present. Counter to nearly all popular discussions of the subject, Du Bois makes enslaved and formerly enslaved people the period’s central actors, demonstrating that it was their mass escape and military action that forced the initially reluctant Union to abolish slavery. He describes this collective rebellion as a general strike—the largest and most effective in US history. And that’s only the first quarter of the book. Plus, he’s an incredible writer.

    *Cover of the 1968 edition of W. E. B. Du Bois’s _1935 Black Reconstruction in America_ (Meridian Books, 1968).* Cover of the 1968 edition of W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1935 Black Reconstruction in America (Meridian Books, 1968).
  5. LADY MISS KIER

    A perfect weirdo from Youngstown, Ohio, who went on to become the music and fashion idol who saved us all. My newest LP is embarrassingly indebted to her old band, Deee-Lite, but I’m okay with that. I feel connected to Lady Miss Kier as a fellow traveler who believes passionately in having an excessively good time while also giving a shit about things. She was standing up with queers, shouting down wars, and writing environmentalist anthems like “I Had a Dream I Was Falling Through a Hole in the Ozone Layer” back in 1992. And she campaigned for Bernie in 2016.

    *Deee-Lite performing at the Rock in Rio festival, Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, January 1991.* Foreground: Lady Miss Kier. Photo: Soren Rud/Camera Press/Redux. Deee-Lite performing at the Rock in Rio festival, Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, January 1991. Foreground: Lady Miss Kier. Photo: Soren Rud/Camera Press/Redux.
  6. MAXIMUM WAGE

    “Maximum Wage” is a good combination of words, a track on my new record, and an important policy for economic redistribution. As people increasingly realize, billionaires should not exist. Such pecuniary inequality undermines democracy, guts the public sector, and creates the stagnant incomes, nonexistent benefits, increased debt, and constant precarity the rest of us have to live with. The general idea of a maximum wage is to put a cap on the amount of wealth and power any individual can have. Taxing the top class out of existence and using the money for health care, the Green New Deal, and free university tuition is an important step away from dystopian collapse.

  7. ABDU ALI, FIYAH!!! (Self-Released)

    Abdu Ali’s FIYAH!!!, one of last year’s best records, remains criminally underappreciated. Ali has released a lot of amazing music, but FIYAH!!! is their most brilliantly adventurous outing, combining Baltimore club, hard bop, and noise into a truly exhilarating whole. They’ve also done so much to build and sustain the arts community in Baltimore—Kahlon, the party they used to host at a club called the Crown, inspires me to this day.

    *Abdu Ali, 2018.* Photo: Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. Abdu Ali, 2018. Photo: Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.
  8. NOURA ERAKAT, JUSTICE FOR SOME: LAW AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE (STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2019)

    Noura Erakat is a Palestinian American organizer, lawyer, and academic. Her latest book traces Palestinian resistance (and Zionist atrocities) from 1917 through today. Given the intensity of Zionist discourse even in otherwise progressive spaces for art and culture, it’s an essential work for us all. Buy the book, but for an overview, I also recommend her interview with Daniel Denvir on the Jacobin podcast The Dig.

    *Noura Erakat, 2018.* Photo: Ike Edeani. Noura Erakat, 2018. Photo: Ike Edeani.
  9. KOHINOORGASM

    Kohinoorgasm has been releasing beautiful, powerful music for a few years now, and last year she put out another stellar EP, Chalo. Her production layers vocals, synths, and drums into wonderful creations that are transcendently danceable. I’ve been lucky to book and perform with her a handful of times, and it’s always a particularly moving live experience. She’s also outspoken about our need to organize as musicians and put politics front and center.

  10. BERNIE SANDERS 2020

    Yes, the ballot is only one part of the fight, and we’ve got a lot of other areas we need to work in, but let’s make this happen. Give twenty dollars, go knock on doors, do whatever it is you can do. Bernie is the best shot we’ve had in my lifetime to win in the electoral arena.