Monday, June 23, 2008

"I Kind Of Like It When People Die"

In taking a break from my bullshit ass space of the Blogspot universe, I don't feel the need to eulogize or sentimentalize George Carlin. He wasn't that type of comic and, though he was certainly more human and dignified and complex than most of the people I've actually met, heavy-handed ejaculations of adjectives and achievements won't sum up the life and sad death of one of my favorite comedians and, up until today, the best comedian alive. Besides, the next week will be filled with tons of deserved discussion and biography of the man, all of which can be safely assumed I'd write about anyway. So in the coming days, the best pieces will be culled and linked here.

So with that, some clips from his angrier, nihilistic and trippy latter days, of which is my favorite Carlin era.


Chuck Berry better not even fucking consider dying.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Best Album of '08 So Far:

Dead-ass. Only solid album released this year so far. And dammit, despite the horrible ringtone production (in the rockist sense), shit is catchy as hell.

Seriously. I know the labels are retarded and think the loudness warms and compression and making shit ringtone-ready is a good idea, but what if I actually enjoy listening to Danity Kane for the music and don't want to focus on the tinny drums and anemic EQ?

1. Danity Kane- Welcome To The Dollhouse
2. Erykah Badu- New Amerykah
3. Origin- Antithesis
4. Portishead- Third
5. Lil' Wayne- Tha Carter III
6. Disfear- Live The Storm

And there's still Arghoslent, Coffins, Dismember, Cursed, The Day Everything Became Nothing, and Protest The Hero to soak up. Unsurprisingly, all of that is metal/hardcore.

Although I do think L.A.X will truly define The Game as an important, creative, original, and surely, important rapper.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Having Your Cake and Insulin, Too

A few weeks ago, in what seems to be standard for big album releases or album releases by big names the last two years or so, Busta released two videos for two simultaneous singles, undoubtedly devised and conceptualized to appease everyone or at least enough people that it sells more copies than Busta's last few albums.

Maybe the fall-off wouldn't have happened if he hadn't based the bulk of his past albums around the concept that there was "...only 5 years left" and that the year 2000 would be the End Days.

But the first video is some bullshit with Linkin Park where everyone is over-emoting and doing that post-mid-90's thing where people thing putting a facade of emotion on is the same as evoking anything at all. Also, besides that one good song on Meteora and the singles from Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park invariably equals fail. Plus, the video reeks of, "Hey, let's get with the rock demograpgic! Like when we tried to do when we had Jonathan Davis in that video no one ever played off that album no one liked", as well as this bullshit black conservative Tony Robbins bullshit that's been peddled through mainstream rap and what's left of R&B since Pac was a alive. Its all just sort of empty and meaningless regardless of whether they're trying to be genuine or, more likely, just offering some bad faux-alt rock to make Donkey Kong-era Busta seem more interesting or eclectic than he may be.

(Note Jonathan Davis from 3:30-3:40 and, for some reason, Ghostface at 3:42-3:44)

So the Linkin park video, and song, are awful. But thankfully, there's a second single and video, "Don't Touch Me", which as a track is awesome. But as a video, it carries a bunch of signifiers that, like every (successful) rapper out who is not Lupe Fiasco, Lil' Wayne, Devin the Dude or Kanye West, his peak is long gone and despite all of the recent attempts to climb back on top it probably won't happen.

Frame by frame, the video is basically kind of an homage to "Gimme Some More" in terms of the Warner Bros. cartoon aesthetic, but the issue is that Busta, as opposed to all of the transformations that emerged after he decided to cut his hair and make decent but odd singles with Mariah Carey is trying hard to remind the naysayers and old heads that he can still be the wild, colorful and creative figure he was some 7 or 8 years ago before his sales started slumping and 50 Cent emerged, fucking up the entire NY rap landscape for years to come.

Interspersed throughout a sort-of cool but ultimately pointless and aimless video are these really awkward shots of Busta's weedcarriers and hangers on and basically shots revolving around a lyrical concept of his since his first record that everyone ignored until The Big Bang because people weren't actually paying as much attention to his rhymes that they did for his flow and behavior and videos, that he's tough and used to sell drugs and will kill you or have his goons do it. Basic whitebread-ass thug posturing. But in a post-Get Rich Or Die Trying world, all of that gets amplified because clearly there is a market for dumb Pac-worshipping G-Unit dickriders who hate music but love hollow machine-gun drums and vaguely homoerotic album covers. And rightfully so, Busta has drawn criticisms for, not the toning down and smoothing out of his flow, which is understandable, being being more and more of an asshole since The Big Bang. The vitriolic homophobia, the dumb-ass DMX-ish run-ins with the law, getting his bodygaurd and friend murked and then upholding the dumb-ass "no snitching" rule, and most of all going overboard on trying to portray himself as a vicious, hardbody NY boss that should be feared.

And its kind of obvious what happened to the guy based on this video. The various shots, one of Busta just counting money, sitting next to girls, intimidating two larger dues who run up on him and Swizz, weird shots of him and his crew just standing around mean-mugging, and the implied "throwing away goons in a trash bag" shot around 1:47-1:54. If you asked him he would probably say he's balancing what he is now, the parts of him that have always rapped about beating people up but has gotten more extreme now, and the silly vibrant animated part of him, which he had clearly been, as opposed to Redman who has always had the balance, running away from. Especially the embarrassing attempt at beef after The Black Album came out. The direction and editing of the video is pretty shoddy so those odd rising shots of Busta and what I assume to be Flipmode affiliates come off awkwardly and just emphasize the taking-yourself-too-seriously-because-you-want-respect mode of thinking Ludacris has been in lately.

Its sad that Redman was the only rapper to balance the funny/thuggy persona out. But even sadder that after all this scrutiny and Busta starting to become reviled in his attempts to combine nostalgia (note the DAISY colors) with his new marketing scheme than he would've on his previous path.

And its logical. Who wants a murderous Busta Rhymes anyway?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tha Carter III (Or How I Learned To Stop Caring And Listen To Kool Keith)

Usually I don't do reviews, unless its a case where the artist is someone I like but am constantly infuriated by or disappointed in, which makes for a more interesting read than "OMG, Converge RULEZ!!!". And so, to put a nail in the coffin of any more mention of Lil' Wayne on here, Tha Carter III track by track.

"3 Peat"- There's a plague in this decade of people trying to manufacture what they think emotion is, both in inflection (the scourge known as whisper-rapping) and production. So its always faux-melodrama and bad string synths because most rappers are full of shit and can't really put across like feeling, say, Ghostface. And then of late they've been heaping on the production to mask rappers' deficiencies to the point that all you need is an impressive sounding voice (Yung Joc, Jeezy, Shawty Lo) and you can get by on being awful. Wayne isn't really awful at all, but a lot of his album beats in the past have been, residing in that place of stale pretend melodrama that I'd hope people over 17 could see as bullshit. This intro track is better than all the "Fly In/Out" shit from Tha Carter II, but its still pretty "stock", to quote Lars Ulrich. And for a rapper who is split between lyrically great and impotent , its a bad move to have your conceptually dramatic and regal opening track be this stale.

"Mr. Carter"- People have been making these songs since Blueprint, so listening to this is more cute than anything. As a 16-year-old I'd probably be really impressed by this, and this will definitely be played in cars and on blocks for a minute. But more than "Hello Brooklyn 2.0", which was apparently a cut and paste job, this shows the lineage between Jay and Wayne and the differences, being Jay became boring whereas Wayne's whole selling point is being weird and entertaining. Also, is Wayne what a high Jay-Z would sound like if Jay really fell off a lot, or is Jay what Lil' Wayne would eventually evolve into if he improved his lyrics? I feel its the latter when hearing Jay say pretty much nothing of semblance on the song, but making it sound ten times better than Dwayne. Although, I can't help but hear some Wayne-biting on Jay's part, flow-wise. Hm.

"A Milli"- The mixtape version is better since this version has excised all the fantastically fucked up parts, including the random mention of "the almighty power of Allah". And, this is sort of representative of why Lil' Wayne probably won't be able to put together a good album for a while but can shit good mixtapes for days. "A Milli" would work on an album only as a mass posse track, like "Scenario", although that's giving it credit because "Scenario" had a hook to keep everything together. That's going to be the common thread to all of this, it feels like a well-produced, DJ-less mixtape and not an album. But kids these days don't know shit and don't care about albums so I'm sure it won't bother a lot of people.

Seriously. Fuck this generation.

"Got Money" Feat T-Pain- Fucking awful. And I'm sure I've heard the synth line in another song before. This is the most unnecessary thing he could've put on this.

"Comfortable"- The most unnerving thing on here, just because there's no transition between this timeless sounding old man Rap&Bullshit and the previous T-Pain ass-baby. Its a pretty beat, for sure, but the only good thing Wayne says on here is the opening line, "To the left to the left/if you wanna leave be my guest you can step/feeling "Irreplacable" listening to Beyonce/That's okay I'll put you out on your B'day". Its weird because at the heart of it all, when he isn't spazzing out he's addressing pretty mundane topics, which makes him perfect for the time we live in, I guess. Dude is the Family Guy of rap.

"Phone Home"- I listened to this again last night and it always makes me laugh from how ridiculous it is. Not to beat a dead horse, but I like to compare this to "Nutmeg" by Ghostface, "Sex Style" by Kool Keith and "Rollin Wit You" by ODB. And by far, no one will ever do this shit as good as ODB. Ever.

LOL @ Nicki Minaj's Rosie Perez-ass voice talking about "Planet Weezy" and some guy purposely yelling "Phone Home" with a retard's inflection.

A Retard's Inflection would be the best title for a Weezy anthology.

Honestly, there's schoolkids across the US who are having their mind's blown right now because they've never heard any rap album or non-mainstream record made before 2003.

"Dr. Carter"- I sense a pattern. I can't wait for him to rap over ye-ye and call it "Misseur Carter". Decent enough beat, although this is some old cool urban jazz soundtrack shit I've heard before and it doesn't actually amount to anything. I'd say the beats are wasted on Wayne, but the beats aren't that spectacular in the first place. Just sort of good and enjoyable.

"Tie My Hands"- I used to really like Robin Thicke. But then again I used to claim allegiance to artists based on hearing one good song by them, only to be disappointed with weedplate albums. This is another rare political addressing of Katrina by Wayne, which is a shame because the song is boring. Would it be fucked up to suggest that Katrina was great for Wayne's career?

"Shoot Me Down"- Unlike Devin The Dude's last album, this is the type of beat where recontextualizing something corny through a hip-hop lens doesn't make it good. ::Delete::

"Playin' With Fire"- You can see what he's going for, but a better rapper would've succeeded in milking all the drama and legitimate fire the sample and the hook break actually have. Wayne starts his verses weak and doesn't really rise above that. And also, is the umpteenth track to have awful simile's. "I get better with time like a watch". Actually that only applies to wood instruments and wine. Everything gets worse. Speaking of guitar, I would've actually loved a solo Weezy guitar track on here. Why didn't he think of that? Go all in, man.

"Lollipop"- I hated this song almost as much as Roger Ebert hated "North". And then two weeks later, it kind of bloomed in my head. The verses on this song actually seem brilliant and well-written in comparison to the rest of the record, which is a goddamn shame. The best song on the album, no homo.

"La La"- David Banner, after "Rubberband Man" got popular quickly realized that those little kid major key melody beats would sell like hotcakes, so I feel like he's got a whole Raffi album's worth of shit in the vault somewhere, considering how sporadically he gets beats out. Again, despite an interesting 00's "serious" Busta Rhymes verse (Side note: Busta Rhymes is a faggot and should get suppurated. Not because he's actually gay, though one can hope, but because he's an fucking asshole of "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down" status and my schadenfreude knows no bounds.) the track goes nowhere.

"Nothin' On Me"- Would be cool on a Dipset album or something. This reeks of "second-tier radio track", something decent but not serious enough to release with a video but you release it to Hot 97 or whatever to play anyway. And I'd like to see Juelz shot in the mouth. Not through the mouth, but in a way to fuck up his jaw and let him have recovery time, so maybe his bullshit will be more tolerable if he comes back with a different sound for those garbage lyrics. Hey, worked for 50.

"Let The Beat Build"- A minute too long and Wayne is not the rapper to have on this track. Or anyone, at that. Its kind of dumb, now that I've listened to it too much. ::Delete::

"Mrs. Officer"- Everything Bobby Valentino touches sucks ass. This song is no exception. As Brandon previously opined, dude's trying to be everything for maximum commercial saturation and he ends up just sucking in the end. Also, this story seems to clash with what I've learned from his condom ads. Strange.

"Misunderstood"- One of few tracks I don't instinctively fast-forward through. Solely for his batshit ballsy 6 minute political monologue towards the end, which wouldn't matter if, say, Dead prez, El-P, or Immortal Technique said it. But when a high-as-fuck Lil' "Wobbedly Wobbedly Drop it Like I'ma Eat A Star" Wayne starts dropping some intro to PoliSci talking points, its simultaneously jarring, funny, and endearing, solely for being a guy whose calling card and career is built on dumb-ass shit like spending 6 albums rapping about the same shit everyone else raps about but in a shallower, more disingenuous way. And in this regard, Wayne is like Pac. But I can't wait for Al Sharpton to catch wind of this from his grand-nephew or whoever. Especially since Wayne isn't wrong about disliking Al Sharpton, who does more harm than good in pretending to represent black America. The only addicting thing on this album, really.

"Lollipop Remix"- Hahahahahahaha. Right.

So basically, I will definitely never listen to this album in its entirety again. 7/8'th of it is going right to the recycle bin right now and I'm in the process of downloading last year's leaked Tha Carter III for a comparison and to mix-and-match like everyone else is doing.

So overall, the shit is like a 5 out of 10. A 10 being ...Cuban Linx, a 1 being Da Musicianz.

The leak of the previous incarnation of the album definitely fucked things up for this version of the album and its a shame that Wayne OD'ed on material because, though a cliche, the stuff he released for free had enough great shit where if he had someone helping him cull and do quality control, this album could've easily been something like an 8 or so.

Well, I hope Tha Carter IV at least has a Tracy Chapman cover.