Wednesday, September 16, 2009
For the record, Jarvis Cocker is a useless twat and Pulp were always terrible. He's much more reasonable of late, as the lower clip illustrates, but there's still a sense of needlessly embarrassing and mocking an easy target and having a well-presented, but not totally valid reason (As if Christ iconography hasn't always been a part of rock imagery?) Running up and taking the piss out of Michael Jackson in 1996 as a drunken 30-something fool doesn't take any balls.
Now jumping onstage and shitting on a 19-year-old beloved and white popstress as an already half-reviled/half-beloved 33-year-old black man with everything to lose (including a public empathy only recently regained by your mother's death and an endearing blog epiphany following a South Park parody) and a publicly bisexual white girlfriend with a buzzcut? Balls.
For actual thought out assessments of this meme:
-Quite Possibly the Most Brilliant Hipster Runoff Post Ever, on the Subject of Kanye, Taylor Swift, and What Makes Life Worthwhile
-Brandon Cruelly Cuts Through The Bullshit. Applaud This Man.
Friday, September 4, 2009
How can you not love Nicki Minaj? There's that line in Pulp Fiction about "personality going a long way", and that's always been especially true about rappers. To be real, Kim was never that nice and her best material (Hard Core) just sounds like the majority of it was ghostwritten or directed by Biggie, and all the Michael Jackson drama that came later was just a bad look. Foxy was the same way, except her albums and rhymes rarely measured up to Kim, which left a host of true school femcees like Bahamadia, Jean Grae, and Rah Digga to pick up the slack. But Jean Grae's career never took off (despite being extremely likable and clever), Bahamadia always sounded like Frieza from Dragonball Z, and Rah Digga is best known as the babysitter from "13 Ghosts". Trina was never taken seriously because shed always been too good-looking, and Mia X, Gangsta Boo and a slew of others had to deal with the double curse of being female and Southern, two things that until 2004, were hard obstacles to hurdle. So that just left Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill, the former pulled a Will Smith and moved on from rap and the latter went fucking batshit. (Remy Ma's in jail and never got past the mixtape stage in her career so her faults go without saying) A lot been written about the dearth of female emcees and the reasons, but Nicki Minaj might be able to overcome that, despite suffering from nearly every flaw listed above.
Jean Grae and Bahamadia could rap, but their voices weren't all that great and weren't sexy enough to arouse interest or push units. Nicki also suffers from this, but after listening to her enough, that grating Rosie Perez, Queens-as-fuck accent becomes somewhat of an asset in being able to tell her apart from legions of other female MC's with "grating New York accents" (to quote Byron Crawford). Another potential chink is her close association to Lil' Wayne, which depending on how Drake does and how well Wayne can actually put out talent (no Tyga) could be good or bad. But judging by the fact that her first mixtape appearance had spot-on Harry Potter references and that she spazzes out on the "Donk" beat for this song is promising. I don't see an issue with a female Lil' Wayne with a better good-to-bad punchline ratio(as of post-Da Drought 3) and ridiculously heaving breasts.
Not that that's all she is but, really, those titties are reckless.
Luckily she seems to have been blessed with a good amount of self-awareness for a rapper in general, not just a femcee, which is good to see. Several interviews from this year have shown that she's trying to distance herself from being interpreted as a Lil' Kim clone (minus the pre-mortem Michael Jackson self-esteem kit) or merely a dime-a-dozen NY rapper with a marketable body. For most women, especially in hip-hop, there's an internal debate about just simply riding the wave of interest produced by your looks and displaying your talents without foregoing that very same aspect of your womanhood, and there is a fine balance there (to rhyme about riding dick or to not rhyme about riding dick), which Nicki Minaj not only seems extremely aware of, but she's trying to shift the conversation about her to something other than the fact that people want to see her naked (and would probably rather see her naked than hear her ape Lil' Wayne's cadences and inflections)
And with a voice like that, she should be trying to display depth. One hacked Sidekick might be all it would take to derail further interest in Nicki Minaj, Cassie-style, so establishing a more complex identity and becoming a better rapper is definitely a must. Although probably not as every instance showing that she's moving away from tat lane has two where she's using it for promotion. Her wackiness is her main asset right now, and it might be shallow to cosign a rapper for that reason alone, the field is kind of barren for female rappers (and Crime Mob sort of fell apart) and I can do without Lil'Mama/Bow Wow.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I was going to do this yesterday afternoon when I copped the leak from my second favorite rap blogspot site of all time, but it's the first week of my second senior year/superseniority and this fell by the wayside for 24 hours while I continued getting situated/wasting money on a useless political science degree.
1. “What We Talkin’ About”- Sounds almost identical to just about every lush R&B chorused track on Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, except Lupe is an incredible rapper and Jay is still a twitching corpse without Philly rappers to take inspiration from
2. “Thank You”- Amazing. After the initial admiration and excuse-giving that comes whenever an artist or parent disappoints you time and time again (the same that makes me check out Nas albums even though he’s to date only made one good one in 15 years), this will probably be the only track that I don’t delete. Jay goes IN during the break when it’s just the instrumental and the drums fall out and he spits all this semi-insensitive 9/11 allegory shit. I first heard this the morning the album leaked, before I found out the album leaked Monday afternoon from Combat Jack, and it’s the sole of the 5 previous leaks that made me give a shit about BP3 and offer a glimmer of hope. I’d equate this to “N.I.G.G.E.R.”, from Nas’ album last year, which was also a gorgeous almost classic quality song buried in a meh album. Also, the first memorable post-retirement Jay hook.
3. “DOA”- The beat is ill. I wasn’t sure about it at first because I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me about the song, and then I realized that it was Jay. The lyrics on the song, ignoring his actual rapping and the grating “Awwwww”s, makes him seem like a crotchety purist jerk, which is a look that only looks good on KRS-ONE, and barely at that. It’s a song completely comprised of corrective talking points, and frankly, a lot of the shit he says is rote, immaterial, and oddly conservative. Who’s really going to rah-rah about these things when they’re just shallow parts of the zeitgeist anyway? People wear colorful clothes and tighter fitting clothes. That’s just what’s happening. And to get up in arms about a superficial change that will eventually be overtaken by something just and unimportant is remarkably myopic for someone who is supposedly blessed with foresight.
4. “Run This Town”- I find songs like this and T.I.’s “Anything You Want” insulting not because they’re poppy, but because they’re instantly dated trend-chasing throwaway tracks. Like, is anyone going to think this is a good reflection of over-processed ringtone-ready rap ‘n’b in context of T-Pain, The Dream, 808’s&Heartbreak and a slew of infinitely better examples of the strange mish-mash of pop radio that I’ve been subjected to since my summer working at Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s in 2006?
5. “Empire State of Mind”- It’s kind of sad to follow up a song prominently featuring Rihanna’s non-singing (statuesque) ass with one with Alicia Keys who can not only sing in the traditional sense, but can sang in the Steve Harvey sense. Also, did this motherfucker just reference Anna Wintour in a piece of wordplay? The beat is okay, but Jay is, third album in a row, the problem here. He frequently sounds like he has no more idea of what to do with his rapping.
6. “Real As It Gets”- Beat is inspirational and soulful in a Jeezy by way of Graduation Kanye sense as opposed to soulful in a Blueprint sense but this track is perfectly decent. No real complaints.
7. “On To The Next One”- My favorite thing about Swizz Beats, besides him seemingly existing to soundtrack dance crew movies and TV shows, is how hit-and-miss he still is. On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being a college hippie’s suspended chord, Dave Matthews-inspired cover of a song from Popozao, and a 10 being “21st Century Schizoid Man”m "I Luv Your Girl" or something equivalently awesome, this song is a solid 4.7, to use Pitchfork scaling.
8. “Off That”- My age group (21 and older) is the last to give a flying shit what Jay-Z thinks is cool. He should keep that in mind, as well as the fact that that very demographic is a tiny minority as I sit here listening to Auto-Tune records and wearing tight-ass yeastXcore pants. Hallelujah holla back. Also, I don’t know how it’s possible, but Drake manages to sound mulatto on record. On some 80’s Soul-Glo/School Daze shit. This doesn’t bode well for my rap career.
9. “A Star Is Born”- You know you’re old when you spend an entire track giving praise to canonical rap icons. I’m guessing the kingly gesture is to, for the first time, actually acknowledge that Jay-Z has heard of rappers outside of UGK, State Property, Nas, Biggie, Pac, Cam’Ron, Lupe Fiasco, and (Vol. 1 reference ahead) Master P. It’s neat to hear him shout out Wu-Tang, but for the most part that’d be the only reason not to delete the song. J.Cole reminds me of Brandon’s point in deference to technically proficient rappers in a traditional New York/East Coast sense not being that interesting.
10. “Venus vs. Mars”- Fucking repugnant. Honestly. Also, I got douche chills when he referenced “Hit ‘Em Up” and “Who Shot Ya”. There’s just something very uncomfortable about hearing someone around then and so close to the beef do that in some shitty toss-off song referencing a shitty middlebrow relationship book from the early-90s. THE PLOT HAS BEEN LOST BY TRACK 10. The bridge is neat sounding, but would be best on a Kanye record or something with the rest of the elements culled and shat out of a plane, likely JetBlue.
11. “Already Home”- I really like/want to like Cudi. “Poke Her Face/Make Her Say” is fun and sports great effortless verses, “Day n’ Nite” was an amazing grower of a song, and the details of his album from Nahright seemed well contextualized (usually the mark of at least a decent record half the time) and the album art reminds me of a mix of Jacon Bannon and Giger. But that mixtape he put out was terrible minus the album singles and I’d be hard pressed to say if he offers anything lyrically or thematically that Devin the Dude or Lupe Fiasco don’t do better, respectively. But his singing on this track definitely has charm. Something I notice about a lot of these tracks, especially the singles and this, is that there’s one verse too mane and the 4 minute run times could definitely afford to be shortened if Jay is going to put out these stock verses that just go in one ear and out the other.
12. “Hate”- Douche chills. DOUCHE. CHILLS. Also, I like Kanye and Jay’s “slow Lil’ Wayne verse” impressions. Being full of yourself only works when you don’t consistently put out B- quality albums or lower. And the Blueprint is overrated, for the record. Classics don’t have “Jigga My Nigga” on it.
13. “Reminder”- This second half is pretty awful. You know who would make me love this beat? Gucci fucking Mane. Real talk. I never thought I’d say this. Get an old Pimp C verse for a screwed hook, Gucci, and maybe like Ludacris on the remix. Otherwise...feh. His raps and this hook should be violently dragged to the bottom of the abyss by a particularly ravenous and ill-tempered giant squid to be crushed like so much tinfoil in the unforgiving pressures of the earth’s watery black nexus.
14. “So Ambitious”- The most telling thing Pharell has ever said was in a studio interview (also, I’ve always appreciated The Neptunes for being technologically craptacular and more interested in songs and sounds than taking traditional routes to them, in a very punk rock way, to misuse a rotted cliché) was how much he loves major seventh chords and how “there’s just something about them”. Checking out his post-Neptunes falling off output makes this clear, as, though “I Know” was actually a really good song, a rarity in several lush yet tepid post “Give It Me (I Just Wanna Love You)” songs. Whatever happened to the guy who produced “Grindin’” and “Mr. Me Too”? Although that clearly seems to have been Chad’s department.
15. “Young Forever”- This album’s second half has quickly become a parody of itself. It’s unforgivably dated and terrible without aim or much of an even small inkling or anything important, profound, clever, or memorable. And this John Hughes bullshit is almost up there with “Beach Chair”, a song that single-handedly proved to rockist naysayers that it really isn’t that easy to make rap beats.
5 songs leaked by the time I had written this album off, which was a third of the track listing. Everyone hoped those were the 5 shitty songs, it turns out the fraction should be modified: 1/3 of this album is good and will not be deleted by the end of tonight, whereas 2/3's are equally bad and forgettable. It's a testament to nostalgia and Jay's hitmaking summers of yore that we still choose to pretend that Jay hasn't completely lost the plot whenever his post-retirement records leak. Also, can someone buy this motherfucker a hook and a Premier beat? Jesus Christ.