Tuesday, August 31, 2004

For the first time in my life, I've been feeling Mouse on Mars. I always found them really, really annoying, a couple of German chumps who were totally content to just eff around with baby noises and plinky plonks instead of making, you know, actual music. Then they start doing fun, listenable shit, and I start liking them! Funny how that works. Radical Connection is really pretty good! On most of the tracks, they jink around for a minute before locking into a full-on glorious house beat with just enough bang and scrape to keep it from sounding too boutiquey. The main thing that keeps me from getting too into stuff like Luomo's The Present Lover is the overwhelming smooveness and lack of tension. Radical Connection tends to err in the other direction; there are tracks with lots of experi-bleeps that don't really go anywhere. But mostly it's total hazy fun.

Straight Outta Cashville is sort of a concept album about how great deep thick Southern accents sound over slow cinematic New York clubstomper beats. Even the Lil Jon and Three-6 tracks sound totally Mobb Deep, and Buck totally bleeds over all the tracks. A year ago, I thought Buck was the weak link in the G-Unit, but he's the only one who hasn't gotten all complacent and arrogant; he sounds really hungry on most of these tracks, and he always stays locked in with the beat. "Bang Bang" really got me from left-field; I wasn't expecting anything like that at all, and it sounds gorgeous. The G-Unit still can't make a good song about girls, but other than that it's a really good album.

Monday, August 30, 2004

I'm not going to keep telling you dudes when I have something in Pitchfork. Just keep checking the "We Are The World" thing; I'll be in there a couple of times a week. And hey! Sometimes the other stuff in there is good too!

I'm in no way qualified to be any sort of cultural critic. I forgot the MTV Awards were even on last night. I missed them for the first time in I don't know how many years, which is fine with me. I spent the weekend hitting up swimming holes, drinking with my friends, and watching like nine hours of 24 on DVD, all of which are way better than actually keeping in touch with anything.

Thanks dudes!

Friday, August 27, 2004

I have been insane busy with writing for actual publications (online and otherwise) lately, so apologies for any blog silences. In the meantime, here's me on Petey Pablo in Pitchfork.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It begins! Here's me on Lil Scrappy's "No Problem" in P-Fork.

Also, I get paid to add my own little buzz to the deafening critical consensus hype noise! Here's me on Big & Rich in the City Paper.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

If you're going to New York to protest the Convention, please read this article. And please be very, very aware of everything you do and of the consequences of your actions. I absolutely agree with the impulse behind protesting; things are really wrong, and they need to be changed. But ask yourself if what you're doing could possibly change anyone's mind. I've known a lot of protesters, and I think for a lot of them it's a really self-centered activity, like I have a conscience and this is what I have to do. Be very, very certain that you aren't just making things worse. And for fuck's sake, don't just get arrested to get arrested, you know?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Reflections upon drinking homemade sizzurp (1 part codeine cough syrup, 3 parts Diet Sprite:)

1. Tastes pretty good!

2. I have no idea how the fuck Lil Flip manages to stay awake. That stuff put me out for an entire afternoon. I was laying on the couch watching TV, and the next thing I knew, it was three hours later, Cops was on, and I had really bad cottonmouth.

3. Feels nice!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Brother Ali is fucking intense. He glares at all the fucking people in the room, even the ones cheering for him. He demands crowd participation, and gets visibly pissed when it doesn't happen. He does that song about beating up a wife-beater a capella. He's the strongest MC in the underground right now, and whatever Scion employee thought to put him on the Brand Nubian comeback tour is an idiot. Two great tastes are not always great together, and Brother Ali needs a hushed, attentive, reverent crowd. He didn't get one. God, I would love to see him in Minneapolis.

Brand Nubian is the greatest nostalgia act touring. They don't wear out their welcome; their set list is maybe like eight songs, even when they're headlining. They get a couple of new joints out of the way, and then it's "What Goes Around" - "One For All" - "Punks Jump Up" - "What Goes Around" - "Don't Let It Go to Ya Head" - "Slow Down" - goodnight. I have never seen a hip-hop crowd get hype like that before.

I'm famous. Congradulations are in order. I'm joining the P-Fork staff, working on that singles review column they have. I get to tell thousands upon thousands of indie kids how fucking great Petey Pablo is. They get the regular services of one of the tightest young music writers in the world. For free. It's a win-win.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Don't believe all the hype about Theodore Unit's 718. It's a posse album. It's a good posse album, but it's still a posse album. That means some of the tracks are great and some are terrible and some of the rappers are great and some are terrible. The best track, "The Drummer", is also horribly recorded and has this weird crackling all through it. Ghostface is Ghostface, but he's coasting more than usual. His crew breaks down like this: one really good rapper who sounds exactly like a slightly-more-amped Jadakiss (Trife Da God), one shitty white rapper (Wigs), one OK deep-voiced rapper who sounds like he's really, really fat even though he isn't (Solomon Childs), one average guy who you don't really notice too much (Kryme Life), and one guy who I really don't think is even on the album at all (Du-Lilz). And Cappadonna, who's barely on the record. By all means buy it, but don't expect Pretty Toney 2 or anything.

The story in Bjork in the new New Yorker is pretty tight. I cannot tell you how jazzed I am to hear this new Bjork stuff.

I'm reading the library's copy of Generation Ecstacy, and this was written in pencil at the end of the discography section:

Miraculously, I own ALL of these xtremely RARE recordings listed on these
pages. Any casual or serious researchers may borrow, buy, or rent them on
demand. contact: Chris Fernandez (410) 756-XXXX. I've been a professional DJ in
New York since 1975. This is some of the most inspirational, creative music ever
made. I thank God for it. Apologies to the librarian, I felt obliged to

This will probably only be useful if you're in the B-More area, and I don't know if it'll still work or anything, but hit me up if you want the actual number. I'm not super into electronic dance music in general, and I wasn't really feeling Starscape too much, but you wouldn't find a note like this in the library's copy of Dance of Days or The Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists, you know?

Monday, August 16, 2004

America vs. the world! The U.S. not-quite-dream-team got seriously curb-jobbed by, of all people, the Puerto Rican team. This raises many troubling questions, like: isn't Puerto Rico, like, part of the United States? I mean, don't we own them? Why do they get their own Olympic team? If they get one, couldn't Wyoming or something have its own team? It's pretty clear now that we should grant statehood to Puerto Rico so their Olympic team never again embarrasses ours. The U.S. team wandered around like toddlers whose parents have accidentally left them at the mall, bricking shots at every opportunity. Carlos Arroyo proved his gangsta and took the entire U.S. squad to school. The consolation prize: that one enormous Puerto Rican kid who scored all those points and whose name I forget will be playing for the Wizards in the fall. Hey, maybe now the Wizards will win a game or two and step their game up to, like, Hawks-level. Don't fuck this up, the Wizards.

In other bad news, Towson swim monster Michael Phelps broke the world record at 400-meter I.M. medley or something and then came in third twice in a row at other stuff. Come on, Michael Phelps! Be the best swimmer in the world!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It took me a minute to wake up, but Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party is effing spectacular. She's got a huge, soaring, totally full-throated roar, and she knows exactly when to turn it on and off. As a singer, she is every bit the equal of Loretta Lynn or Patsy Cline or any other canonized country elder I've ever heard. The big, rousing stompers are as good as anything ZZ Top has ever done, and the quieter joints are seriously, honestly heart-tugging and powerful. This record is totally bursting with joy and spirit, and the big, glossy Nashville production actually helps it and beefs it up. It's mostly not gimmicky or self-consciously eclectic like the Big & Rich album, but it sounds even better for being totally of its culture (though nothing on here is quite as obliteratingly great as "Save a Horse"). I've been sleeping on Nashville country for too long, so if anyone knows what's up and what I should be checking for, please e-mail me and let me know.

I didn't realize until just now that Alan Keyes was from Maryland. Does he just live here because it's close to DC or what? Anyway, that man crazy, and moving to another state to run for Senate just a couple of years after blasting Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing makes him look like the biggest hypocrite ever in the history of the world. Barack Obama must be rubbing his hands together waiting for this debate. Alan Keyes is going to get his ass handed to him.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The last Beenie Man album I heard was Art and Life, which had some truly great songs on it, like the title track and that one with the guy from the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. (It also had some truly godawful songs, like the one with Wyclef and the one with Mya.) I've always had a tendency to write Beenie off because his big American singles ("Who Am I" and that one with Janet Jackson) have been boring and annoying. But Beenie Man is really good! I have a lot of good feelings toward Art and Life, even though I haven't listened to it in a few years. And his new one, Back to Basics, is a really solid, enjoyable listen, a whole hell of a lot better than Ragga Ragga Ragga 2004. Beenie does two things vocally that I like: he can do the big, epic fire-and-brimstone bird-of-prey throaty righteous roar thing, and he can do the fun, playfully insouciant girls-love-me party-up thing. And a lot of the time he'll switch from one to the other on the same song. Back to Basics doesn't really have any spectacularly great songs like the ones on Art and Life, but it also doesn't have any clunkers. It's really consistent and breezy and fun, with great choruses and hot beats with names that I don't know (except Coolie Dance; I know that one) and a whole lot of sex and play and fun and a couple of really good religious songs at the end. I'd even call it a great record except that I flinch every time I hear a lyric like "slap a white girl she turn red" or whatever. I really don't think Beenie Man hates women; his music is way too fun and inviting and inclusive to be made by a guy who hates half of the human race. But why does he have to act like he does? It's stupid and embarrassing and infuriating and ridiculous and I'm sick of trying to defend guys who do it. Stop it, Beenie Man. (Beenie Man may actually hate gay people, which is a whole other story, but I didn't hear any explicitly homophobic lyrics on Back to Basics, which may just mean that I wasn't listening closely enough or his accent is too thick but whatever.)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Remember that Westside Connection single where Ice Cube is like "it's gotta be the single with Nate Dogg singing on it"? No? You don't? It was just like six months ago! And then Nate Dogg is like "uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh-uh-oh"? You don't remember that? OK, nothing special. But check this out: every song on the 213 album has Nate Dogg singing on it! Every single one! That means that every song could be a single! Every song could be the kind of totally unobtrusive, barely memorable single that comes out, gets radio play for a minute, hangs around the bottom half of the charts on 106 & Park for a few weeks and then disappears. I probably won't ever listen to it again.

But the Thermals! The Thermals are pretty good, huh?

Monday, August 02, 2004

I've been to I think nine Cex shows now, and every one of them was a totally singular experience. Like time #2, at the old Ottobar in the summer of 2001, he was playing with a bunch of rappers, and he said he was really tired and he didn't really feel like playing a show, but he brought the Daft Punk album and just kind of figured that everyone could just have a dance party instead of watching him perform. And he started to do it, and everyone was amped on it, but then the Ottobar's CD player started skipping and he had to get up and play a show after all. And then time #4 was at the Sidebar when I was home for Christmas break, must have been January 2002, the entire set was him freestyling over Timbaland instrumentals. He had a table set up by the stage where people would write topic and he'd rap about them. Rjyan isn't a great rapper or anything, but he's a really funny guy, and it was just fun to hear him talk over beats for a little while. Last time he played in town, he had a big electronic soundboard thing and a drummer, and they did all these long spacey mostly-instrumental tracks, and it was really boring and I may have left early. But last night was the best Cex show I've seen in years. He had another drummer and another electronic soundboard thing, so I thought maybe I'd hate it, but then they locked into an actual honest-to-god beat, a big undulating pulsey thing, and they rode it for a while and I just kind of spaced out and forgot to listen to the lyrics, which is weird since I usually like Rjyan's lyrics a lot. And then all the people from the opening band (some Joan of Arc side project thing) joined him onstage, and they were all playing percussion instruments and, like, banging on pot lids and the backs of chairs and the beat just got more undulating and pulsey, and it was like Black Dice or something except that I don't like Black Dice at all - I think they're really terrible - and this was great! And it just built and built and moved for like half an hour and then they did an old Cex song and then another song like that, and it ended with Rjyan making barfing noises, which was funny. Rjyan didn't really talk between songs, and usually my favorite parts of Cex shows are when he's talking between songs and not actually playing songs, which is a little bit embarrassing to admit. But I didn't mind at all. Rjyan is really tapping into something here, some tribal spaceout thing that just totally works without being retrograde or "dub" or any sort of lame thing like that, something that just totally moves and works and hits you hard and locks you in. Rjyan's next album might be something amazing.

The Village is stupid.