Pebbles at the Palace

Volunteer Now in Civilization's Battle Against George the Boy King

Brooklyn, New York

Sure, lots of indie-rockers, undie-hoppers, and tasteful-leftist MOR icons took their pacifistic potshots at Bush and the war in Iraq, but they were just flinging pebbles at the palace compared to Natalie Maines, a woman working from the inside out, playing the kind of music that most sincerely resonates with a large number of people who actually have something at stake in this conflict—families, friends, and lovers of the soldiers themselves. I hope that Maines can reconcile with the heart-on-their-sleeve hardliners she's alienated. They still need each other.

Athens, Georgia

Do I believe Bush planned and executed 9/11? Nope. But in this year of Patriot Act hubris and Gitmo detainees, the conspiracy-theory battle rhymes on Paris's Sonic Jihad liberated my anger a hell of a lot better than "In Da Club."

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Metrosexuality in da club seems like anathema to the Bush administration and if GW gets re-elected we've got a serious case of Silent Majority coming. Toby Keith's warning bells might sound a lot like N.W.A's during the L.A. riots. Don't pretend they didn't warn you.

State College, Pennsylvania

I'm glad Ashcroft's got cameras following my every move. Until I become a talking head on VH1, it's the only way I get noticed these days.

Los Angeles, California

Might it be that America is fast becoming one vast prison? Two million of us live in actual prisons, and the rest live in a micro-managed, regulated, politically correct place where speech codes and thought police have their way with us.

Salem, Massachusetts

Thug life is now so thoroughly ingrained in the culture that the crimes of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and their ilk barely make a ripple.

Greensboro, North Carolina

We got Black boys returning from a dubious "conflict" overseas in Mylar bags. We got neighborhood kids calling each other "nigger" before they learn how to read. We got working folks making mass exodus out the ghetto 'cause yuppies are taking over and rent's too damn high. We got a lynching renaissance in the "Dirty South." Frankly, the whole high-profile hip-hop obituary thing is getting way ancient. So when do I have your permission to not give a rat's ass whether or not you blow each other to kingdom fucking come?

Brooklyn, New York

White America seems increasingly adept at ignoring the confused, angry, sullen, 800-pound gorilla it kidnapped and left in its streets. As a consolation, Jay-Z and Ludacris were able to top the charts with albums that referred to whites as crackers. But no one heard those lines, right? Everything's good, right? Gorilla? What gorilla?

Brooklyn, New York

Jay-Z's Pharrell fluffery "Change Clothes" suggested not that black female bodies are overexposed but that sistahs have finally achieved via this puerile medium what myriad angry Sapphires always claimed was the sole province of lily-white Ice Queens: the right to be viewed as a silent object on a pillar (of bling-bling).


It was the year of the Woman Best Seen and Not Heard. Society didn't just disagree with these women, it loathed them. Madonna wasn't allowed to be a critic of American life. The Dixie Chicks weren't allowed to dis the president. Amy Lee wasn't allowed to get pissed at radio jocks objectifying her. And Liz Phair was absolutely not allowed to go mainstream pop.

Brooklyn, New York

Xtina sang a song that parroted the protest of first-wave feminism against the double standard, toured domestic-violence safe houses, and released the slaying "Da Yard Riddim Mix" with Jamaican diva Tanya Stephens, and all anyone could talk about was how bad the video was.

Portland, Oregon

Whether it was the Wrens or Fountains of Wayne or the Drive-By Truckers or the Bottle Rockets, the message was the same: Bling-bling is for hip-hop daydreamers. Day jobs blow, and they're not going away.

Los Angeles, California

The Bottle Rockets provided a voice to the guy who's glad he broke his leg so he can take a break from hanging sheet rock, to the guy kept behind the security line at the St. Louis airport, to the guy driving by a hand-built white cross on the highway shoulder, to the guy who still mows his dead parents' front lawn. Ever since Nashville walked off the worksite to chase the middle-class dollar, this kind of blue-collar chronicling has fallen to ne'er-do-wells.

Baltimore, Maryland

Best proof that Howard Dean doesn't understand the South: Toby Keith's Shock'n' Y'All.


Nice Jheri curls, cowboy, you must spend more time at the hair salon than all three Dixie Chicks combined: Toby Keith.

Brooklyn, New York

General Clark doesn't need to get crunky and quote OutKast to lose the election. He was doing fine on his own.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Did hip-hop really need the validation of the Democratic field during the November debate? Wesley Clark weighing in on OutKast? Dennis Kucinich's theme rap? Somewhere down there, Robert Moses is saying, "For this I destroyed the South Bronx?"

Cambridge, Massachusetts

I didn't vote for any jazz albums in this poll because that would be throwing my vote away as surely as if I'd voted for Ralph Nader. Nor did I vote for any bluegrass albums for that would be wasting my vote as surely as if I'd voted for Dennis Kucinich.

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