I was wondering why my mom was calling me until I realized I had accidentally sent her this picture of me:
Her concern was stemming from the particular cigarette in my mouth, and didn’t represent a broader surprise in regards to smoking, but rather what she thought was rolled in it. It is surprising that after all these years Afroditi hasn’t figured out weed is not my jam, nor ever really was. The reason I was trying to smoke self-produced cigarettes was that I was out of mine. The tobacco and filters fell on my lap, and I decided to let my entrepreneurial nature fail me once again.
It has always amazed me the way certain elements speak to different people, especially when these elements deviate from what speaks to hoi polloi. I consider the Internet fully responsible for the brand of selectivity it enables, or at least facilitates. Providing ample space for audience interpretation, when a message is not fully articulated by its Hermes, has made us all the sort of people that order the Meat Lover’s Pizza by requesting “no ham, only crispy bacon, extra sausage and VERY light chicken.” (If you view my use of “us” as populist, I am sorry: I am sure you have kept an objective understanding of the one and only universal reality.)
An interesting consequence of this expansive space for us to consume media in our own terms has been the introduction of this neurotically-crafty creativity. I particularly enjoy noticing it in music, and have really enjoyed witnessing artists like Mykki Blanco attain success on a broad scale. A lot of months ago I spent an entire afternoon faithfully memorizing all the dance-moves to Le1f’s “Wut” through repeated simulation. Thankfully, I was not alone, though I did learn faster than my friendly companion. This afternoon was the best, because it was silly and it was personal, but also because it just was: there was nothing behind deciding Le1f was the shit and trying to emulate his moves.
My favorite song by Le1f is called “Psy Lock.” I think the title plays with the idea of how people fictionalize themselves online, sometimes almost embracing a system of order where labels (favorite books, movies, activities and quotes) are indicative of one’s identity. Psylocke is a graphic novel figure appearing in Marvel imprints, in X-Men and Captain Britain. Psylocke’s superpowers pertain to fields of telepathy and telekinesis. Surely, both are areas in which manipulative real people specialize, to successfully construct unreal online versions of themselves. I think the way the song’s title is spelled out adds an additional layer of criticism, framing how people frequently look online to find something real.
The thematic focus of the lyrics comes together with the line: “Baby, get online so we can get off…” As Le1f instructs and describes the set-up, the organicness of such cyber-artificial experiences seems unifying. Most people who have created versions of themselves to be fictionally-available online will have no difficulty finding themselves in the all-encompassing emotional lyricism of the song. There are hilarious one-liners delivered in unprecedented ways, such as: “I’m your final fantasy. You ain’t gettin’ no second life.” Proudly defending the gaming-community, Le1f also manipulates the URL culture of multiple lives to underline the IRL urgency of getting things right from the get-go. An acidic sense of humor is apparent in the lyric: “Can you see me in the light? Yeah, I got you clicking like.” The statement is funny, because it embraces the self-aggrandizement omnipresent in rap, but for a rather silly accomplishment. However, the line rises to the level of social criticism, addressing the lack of gut most present when they sometimes randomly end up in the early morning hours drunk alone and horny reaching out to the hot masses via “likes.”
“Psy Lock” semantically pays tribute to Aaliyah’s “Read Between The Lines,” clarifying what these lines are today: on and off.