He called out Madonna.
Now I realize rappers have been criticizing each other since the advent of the art form, but ever since the MTV era mainstream artists have remained mute. It's like they all belong to a social club in school, watching each other's backs as they abuse the nerds.
So it's a new era when Joel Zimmerman publicly criticizes Madonna for utilizing a cheap shot, a drug reference, to ingratiate herself with the Ultra audience.
But this is not about Madonna.
Madonna is chasing her audience.
Deadmau5 is leading his.
The biggest story in music last week never made the newspapers. It bounced around online amongst those who are electronic music fans. And it is this echo chamber that counts. A press release, an appearance on "Entertainment Tonight"…it's like a tree dropping in the forest. There might be a native close enough to hear it, but there's no resonance. The sound waves dissipate instantaneously. It's just part of the cultural tsunami manufactured by baby boomers running old media (into the ground!) But online, you can truly have your message ring through virtual neighborhoods, you can truly have an impact, if you play.
Sure, you've got to have a website. People think Facebook can substitute for your own domain, but that's like believing MySpace was enough. You've got to own your own domicile, it's the essence of freedom.
But that's not enough. You have to tweet, you can utilize Facebook, you've got to get into the agora and speak. And what fascinated me was Deadmau5/Zimmerman's Tumblr post on "The Veldt".
Clicking through you end up at a pirated version of the Ray Bradbury story. Which may anger the esteemed author but people only replicate that which they deem worthy. How do you know your art is worthless? When you Google it and learn it's nowhere to be found, except where you placed it.
I am not a big sci-fi fan, I've never read this short story, but what stuns me most is not that Zimmerman is a fan of Bradbury, but that he READS!
Do you think Rihanna reads?
I realize Madonna is a devotee of Kabbalah, but do we hear her mentioning consumption of novels, not new best sellers, and pontificating how much they impact her?
Of course not. Because if you're selling, you've got no time to consume.
That's right. Everybody's so busy trying to get us to pay attention, they've got no time for influences.
Deadmau5 is not about cool, but about identity. That's the difference with the younger generation, something that eludes the baby boomer string-pullers.
Anyway, Deadmau5 is inspired and writes music and tweets that he knows not what he is going to do for lyrics and a random follower composed some which Deadmau5 at first ignored, but then hounded by his fans listened to and was blown away by and got the author and his manager on the phone to work out the details and voila, a song was born.
This is not how it is done in the old world:
1. Artists don't muse online. Their utterances are carefully controlled by handlers, edges shaved off so as not to offend anyone, what's left is fake, not genuine.
2. Old wavers don't utilize their audience as a tool, they don't realize it's a two-way street. Fans idolize their heroes. And not all fans are stupid.
3. Fans have power in the new world. At first Deadmau5 ignored the tweet of the author…it was his fans who got him to pay attention.
4. There were no intermediaries involved to cock up the works.
5. It's just another chapter. It's not about getting THE track, but continuing to create.
Everything the old wave music industry tells you is the truth is wrong. The Internet liberates artists, sure, it might rip them off financially a bit, but when one door closes, you go through the open ones to find new opportunities.
It doesn't matter whether you like Deadmau5's music. The creative paradigm he's employing is the one of the future. Not the one where Madonna hires producers du jour, gets plastic surgery and boasts about herself just to make money.
The new generation embraces its quirks. It's okay to be a nerd. It's what's inside that counts. The fact that the mainstream media isn't paying attention, just doesn't get it, makes it no less real.
P.S. Unlike the ancient, Deadmau5 created the track live. The fans were ringside watching the creative process. This is a 180 from the bands a decade ago who claimed Napster was negligent in allowing their unfinished work to be exposed. Once again, Deadmau5 is using the tools to his advantage instead of being a Luddite resistance to change.