Wednesday, October 28

Is Dizzee Rascal Popular in Great Britian? I Really Have No Clear Idea of What Goes on Over There.


Artist: Dizzee Rascal
Album: Tongue N' Cheek

Comments: If blogs and general pop music trends are to be believed (and really at this point I have no good reason to think that they can't be), whatever unholy afterbirth is spawned from the diseased sperm and rotten womb of this new Rap / Techno explosion will be the next big thing to hit both top 40 radio and the underground.

Sings of this monstrously terrible trend are already all over the place. The bursting of the low-fi / garage rock bubble, giving a clear window for this new wave of terrible 80s synth-touched techno music that has become prominent along the same time as the bastardization and castration of the digital music boom, has left us hipsters at the mercy of unlistenable coke addicts making loops on their macbooks and selling it to us as culture.

And in the mainstream world, they have autotune, which basically makes it possible for anyone, anyone, ANYONE to make a hit record as long as it has a good beat and a catchy hook. Granted, catchy hooks and good beats are still as elusive as ever, but now is the time for pretenders and one hit wonders to thrive, pull for their paltry 15 and move the fuck on before the next yahoo gets his spin.

Shit, I'm talking about this as if it already inst happening. Truth be told, the first few waves of this noisy shit sea are already crashing on our ruined shores. David Guetta's first, last and only single "Sexy Bitch" is all over the goddamn place, merging 4th rate rave beats with all the poetry and art that can come with calling a girl a sexy bitch.

And on the more underground side, at least in the states, we have Dizzee Rascal's latest album Tongue N' Cheek, which is billed as, get this, the exact combination of techno and rap that I mentioned above.

Thankfully, the album isn't as bad as I originally predicted. Most of the cuts are just straightforward rap with more digitized production, which is to say its less about trunk rattling and more about dancing, at least in spirit if not in content. And that's OK: rap music started out in the late 70s as dance music, so it makes sense to merge it now with a newer kind of dance music.

However, there is one song on the record that is the total embodiment of the nightmare scenario that the combination of techno and hip hop could produce. The song is called "Bonkers," and it's the kind of...thing...that you really need to hear to fully comprehend its putridity.

If you like this song, you are either on drugs, an idiot or both:



But besides this misstep, Tongue N' Cheek isn't so bad. If you are into Dizzee Rascal already, you'll be down with this. If you aren't keen, this isn't the ideal place to start, but you could still have some fun with the record.

Key Tracks: Bonkers, Chillin' Wiv Da Man Dem, Freaky Freaky

Buy, Steal, Skip: ...I would buy this, but I wouldn't encourage 1st timers to start here, and I wouldn't be a in a rush to go out and get it.

Tuesday, October 13

Struggling With The Wu Tang Clan Once More / I Miss the 90s / Raekwon's Sad Goodbye / I Wonder What Matt Judge Is Up To These Days?


Artist: Raekwon
Album: Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt 2

Comments: Okay.

Okay, okay okay.

Okay.

Yes.

Yes, Only Built For Cuban Linx Part 2 is good.

Yes, it is very good. Yes, it is probably the best assembly of rappers, producers and songs of the year.

But the shit isn't an album. It's a time machine. A very specific, poorly designed time machine that can only go to one place and time in history, no where else. It is a vessel that is capable only of going back, only of traveling to the fall of 1994, and no where else.

And, shit, why wouldn't you want to go back to the early 90s, when underground rap was exploding? Why wouldn't you want to go back to a time when the Wu Tang Clan was the driving force in hip hop, east coast or otherwise? Why wouldn't you want to live again when everything was dirty dusty, covered in grime and power and hate and force and confidence and fucking authenticity, when the music dripped and pulsed and storytellers and criminals stood side by side telling their broken stories to an audience drunk, stupid, hungry for more?



Of course you want to go back. I do, too.

But here's the problem: WE CAN'T GO BACK.

Hell yeah it's fun to relive the Cuban Linx of old, but you don't want to get caught in that bear trap where your best days are behind you and all you can do is relive the good times. That just makes you sad and old, like a group of college grads at a kegger or a batch of old construction workers telling stories about fingering cheerleaders after high school football games.

This is the class of person Raekwon has aligned himself with now.

Don't get me wrong, I love OBFCL2. The shit bangs and thumps and rumbles. It's packed to the gills with detail oriented crime stories, boombam thump rap that'll put a spring in your stride, quotables (personal favorite comes from track two when Ghostface Killah spits "Our guns is chunky"), lyrical outbursts and top not production. But I love it the same way I love looking at signatures in my yearbooks: as distant reminders of past friends and better times. Sure, this album is awesome, but the fact remains that this is a continuation of an old idea en lieu of a new one.

So maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I should just be thankful OBFCL2 is as good as it is. Maybe I should just appreciate the fact that Raekwon can pick up his old lamp, blow the dust off and rub that fucker until the Clan and everything they stand / stood for sounds relevant again.

But a big part of me has a problem with this kind of record making. This, to me, seems like an admission that Rae has no where to go but down from here. This is the saddest kind of swan song: the kind from an artist who accepts his decline into the faded, faceless background of mediocrity and rather than scream into the darkness, coughs up a photocopied image of what once made them great.

Go buy Only Built For Cuban Linx Part 2. Listen to "House of Flying Daggers," the J-Dilla produced battle track that features three of the Clan's best throwing heat like they used to (and Inspechta Deck). Listen to the crime stories of "Cold Outside," "Penitentiary" and "Sonny's Missing" and appreciate them for their ability to put you at the scene and fill your head with images the way that great fiction always can. Listen to the mournful "Ason Jones" and the batshit crazy "We Will Rob You" and miss ODB for two totally separate reasons. Listen to "Gihad" and "New Wu," and realize that the year's best rap album is also the saddest.

Because that, in the end, is what Part 2 really is: A bittersweet victory. A successful last grasp. A beautiful, tragic goodbye of a banger.




Key Tracks:
House of Flying Daggers , Cold Outside, Gihad, New Wu, Penitentary, Ason Jones, Surgical Gloves, We Will Rob You, Kiss The Ring

Buy, Steal, Skip:
Buy

Saturday, October 10

An Introduction to Oblivion / The Fall Of Our Folk Heroes / American Starlets and Their Appetites for Destruction / Fear And Loathing Everywhere

You poor fuck. You think you know what's going on.

You don't have a fucking clue
.

Not that I blame you. You've got the Internet, a tool capable of providing you information at a rate so mind-bogglingly accelerated that if you were to describe it to a dandy from the 1950s, he or she would banish such a creation as a simple indulgence of science fiction and cock their eyes at you as an unbalanced interloper objecting on their golden era. You've got 24 hour news channels, beasts of horrible proportions that distort and conjure opinion and influence far more wide spread and far-reaching than any sane person care to admit.

You think, YOU THINK, you are informed. You are not.

You are simple. You are blissfully ignorant. You think that's a light at the end of the tunnel. It's not. Its the Broad Street Express line, and you are not at one of the scheduled stops. Prepare yourself to see the forest through the trees.

Brace yourself for the cold chrome impact of real truth.

A month ago, a document was delivered to me. A document with such staggering, shocking contents that it has taken me 30 days to process. 30 days, many drinks (MORE BEERS! BEERS FOR YEARS!) , many sleepless nights. I don't know why I was chosen. I usually like to leave the cloaks and daggers of politics to those cold and sstealy enough to wield them. I keep my focus on music, the stuff that really matters.

However, sometimes a man has to stand up and play his part. This is my cue to stand, this is my time to play.

And so, I reveal to you what has been revealed to me. I don't expect you to understand it. I don't expect you to come to grips with it. The act of revelation is enough. Understand is overrated. Simply being aware how little control you have, simply acknowledging how little you know, is the first step.

Without further ado, I present to you...

The Deep Dick Dossier.

-------------------

The Annual Ministry of General Mayhem Garden Party fell on Saturday the 22nd of 2009. This is the most sought after and high security social gathering of the year. The range of the guest list is as vast and convoluted as the mind of The Ministry’s self-appointed figurehead, and even more difficult to infiltrate.

The Guest List was as follows:

Grand Minister Adams (The Ministry of General Mayhem)
Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Attorney General Eric Holder
Tunde Adebimpe (Singer, TV on the Radio)
Rick Ross (?)
Gloria Steinem (Feminist Activist)
Robert Pattinson (Actor)
Unknown Peace Protester (Lawn Decoration)
President Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)
Kim Kardashian (Socialite)
The Dalai Lama

----------

The events of the evening revolve around continuous rounds of Beer Pong played over roughly a seven hour period. The evening begins at 9 PM sharp and is believed to last well past 4 AM.

GM Adams and Adebimpe are the first team of the evening, facing Leahy, who took a brief break from egging Jeff Sessions office, and partner Rick Ross who continuously baffles even the most dedicated listener, in the first round of the beer pong proceedings. Steinem in the foreground, who she’s conversing with is as of yet unclear.



Adams and Adebimpe entitle their team “AA” and prepare for their turn. In the foreground it is now clear that Steinem is conversing with Pattinson, star of the popular fledgling Twilight film series. He is known to appear on the covers of numerous magazines marketed toward adolescent girls. Something about him suggests he wouldn’t mesh well young children. But that’s pure speculation on my part.



Adebimpe is no longer Adams’ partner and Kucinich steps in. Kucinich seems to be more inebriated than others at this point in the evening. Adams is beginning to get a concerning look in his eye. Leahy in the foreground, now in Steinem’s seat. The wheelchair-bound anti-war demonstrator on the lawn is what it is. A truly sickeningly display, as manic as it is offensive. Surely Adams’ touch.



Kucinich has obviously abandoned sobriety.



Here things get especially interesting. There is an apparent familiarity here between Adams and Chavez, one corrupt official to another. I have yet to check with the Venezuelan diplomatic consulate but I believe we can safely assume that Chavez’ presence was unknown by the State Department. Not only is this illegal, but Chavez is one notch short of a national threat and already a well-known enemy of America.

So we have offense number one, a very large offense number one. This alone would be enough to hang him in the press. But there is more. Much, much more.




Sadly, for the common American observers, drugged on pop culture and numbed to the gravity of allowing dangerous libelous extremists like Adams to freely operate, this will most likely be what they latch on to.

And that’s fine, this time, as it is the second offense he has hanged himself with.
Kim Kardashian, highly visible socialite, daughter of deceased attorney Robert Kardashian and goddaughter of O.J. Simpson. Following her recent break-up, the latest of many, it had been rumored that she had become involved with Adams, but neither confirmed or denied it to the press.

That goes without question now.

This will surely do great damage to both of their public images.

Kardashian could never be forgiven this kind of conduct and her political affiliations will forever be identified as far left by her unfailingly centrist adoring public from now on. And Adams, the leftist organizer, the dashing young street fighter, on a self-righteous crusade to advance the liberal agenda, seen cavorting around with a reality show “celebutante” and certifiable party girl?

He has no chance now, he’s finished. Any and all street credentials he’s acquired will be forever lost to him now.



Whoever you are, I’m truly sorry that you must view this sick display. But it is essential to our cause. It is here that Adams’ lewd conduct with Kardashian, in full view of the other guests mind you, begins in all of its sordid glory.

Yes, it is here that the two forget themselves, or fully realize themselves, and Kardashian descends to presumably perform fellatio on Adams, outdoors, in full view of all in attendance.

This presumption is confirmed in the following picture.



His expression says it all.



And here lies the third and arguably gravest offense. While liberal guard dog Eric Holder stands nearby, His Holiness The Dalai Lama approaches Adams, appearing to be amused by the image on Adams’ t-shirt. Adams responds with a terrifying primal look of horror mixed with insanity.



Adams reveals unequivocally how inebriated, classless and uncaring he is, by exposing himself to The Dalai Lama, who scurries away, disgraced and terrified. Even Holder steps in to chastise the repugnant Grand Minister, who only grins back with glee, clearly remorseless and all together pleased with the madness and destruction he has caused.



The final photo is a summation of all that has come before. Adebimpe, The Grand Minister’s loyal friend, supports him and keeps him from hitting the ground. Adams looks like he’s going to be sick.

Kucinich is out of control.

---------

So what do we make of this?

Where do we turn when our heroes have failed us?

Where do we go when there is no country for men, both young and old?

When there is no law for men, men become lawless.

We turn in on ourselves. We must find the strength to carry on. We must use our fists and our mouths and our minds. If the top must fall, we shall fall with it, riding its burning pieces to the ground, dancing in the rubble around us, burning in beautiful agony together, once and for all.

We must SMASH THE MINISTRY!


Viva! Viva! Viva!






Sunday, October 4

I'm Drawing A..........BLANK! (Come On, Guys, Haven't You Seen Grosse Pointe Blank?

Artist: Amanda Blank
Album: I Love You

Comments: I've been wrestling with Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt 2 for a couple of weeks now, and quite honestly, I'm getting nowhere with it.

I've got this thing about me: for albums that I really love, I want to say something profound about them. I want my praise to be equal to their product. I want to be a small part of it, I guess: I want my work to be a reflection of how good their work is.

But fuck all that for now. For now, let's talk about an album that sucks. That album, of course, is Amanda Blank's I Love You.

Now, dig this shit, Okay? If you are a person who reads about music on the Internet...actually, fuck that. If you are a person who has at all been remotely plugged into popular culture in the last four years, you are familiar with M.I.A. Even if it's only for that totally kick ass, now totally played out hustler's anthem "Paper Planes."

Regardless of how or why, regardless of the depth or breath of said knowledge. You know about M.I.A. Odds are also good, if you are a fan, that you know about Santagold (Santigold? I'm not looking up the spelling. Fuck spelling.). AND, odds are good that if you know about Santa(i)gold, you might know about Diplo.

Diplo, to get to the point and make the last two paragraphs even more excessive, is the beat maker funk master brain child behind some of the best dance music of the last few years, M.I.A, Santigold and Major Lazer included.

He also, sadly, is responsible for Amanda Blank. Blank is a shitty lady-rapper who writes songs about fucking and slutting and occasionally feeling bad about it.

And, hey, that shit is fine by me. 90% of popular music is about fucking, and at least Blank has the sense to be honest and open about it. The problem is that, for a dance record about fucking, the album is both bad to dance to and totally not sexy.

Considering how good Diplo has been for dance music, production wise, its shocking how far he's missed the mark on I Love You. The beats are sparse and glammy, like Lady GaGa light with none of the inane catchiness. No good rhythms for shaking, no good melodies for grooving.

And with no backing to support her, Blank's amateurish lyrics fall even more flat. Here is every Amanda Blank song: I like to have sex / I will fuck you if you can get it / I am dirty / Fuck. Shit sound good to you? It's not. It's not even catchy, which is a cardinal sin in the world of frivolous fuck-music.

There's one good song. I can't really defend why I like it, but I do. It's called "Make Up," and it is pure post-ironic, post-modern dance sleaze, totally indefensible and unforgivable and brilliant. Check it out, but it's the only song worth digging.



I Love You is bad. Sorry, Blank. I love Philly and its music scene, but your album did not move me.

Amanda Blank - Make Up

Key Tracks: Make Up

Buy, Steal, Skip: Skip