Monday, November 15, 2004

I was really, really sad to hear about ODB's passing; it's about the most shocking and dismaying news I've heard from the music world since Aaliyah died. I know I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. I was driving when the news came on the radio, and I seriously slammed on my breaks when I heard it. He was supposed to play at the Ottobar next month, and I knew it probably wasn't going to happen, but not like this. Gah. The worst part is that I feel a little bit implicated. Dirty's always had a Wesley Willis aspect; people (including me) loved him for his crazy-dude antics as much as his music (and I love his music). He was killed by the same tendencies that made him famous and loved. I never understood all the hype around Return to the 36 Chambers; I thought it was an unlistenable mess when it came out, and I've probably bumped it all the way through like three times. It was uber-weird and everything, but it just didn't seem even remotely good except for "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Baby C'Mon". Nigga Please, though, is easily one of my ten favorite hip-hop albums of all time. It just never lets up with the ridiculous amped deliriousness or the candy-hard plastic hooks. I hope it's what he's remembered for.

On the brighter side of things, The Incredibles is absolutely great, like totally enthralling.

Here's me on the Michael Jackson box set in Pitchfork. It got slightly Pitchforked up; I don't like the edited-in smarminess in the little bit about Invincible, which I think is a genuinely pretty good album.

I was a bit disappointed by And It Don't Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Past 25 Years. I suppose hip-hop writers have earned a certain amount of pride, but I found the tone of the whole collection to be off-puttingly self-congratulatory. Just about all the pieces come from the obvious Voice/Source/Vibe/Spin axis; there's nothing from Rap Pages or Murder Dog or even ego trip. There's all the really old "look, kids are break-dancing!" type articles as well as the elegies for Biggie and JMJ that you knew they'd have to include. Southern and Midwest rap are barely even mentioned, and beyond a couple of excellent pieces on Ice Cube and Tupac there's nothing about the West Coast. The book inexplicably includes fawning pieces about Naughty By Nature and late-90s Rakim. And of course there's lots of bourgie boho this-is-our-culture junk (Toure's godawful "State of the Hip-Hop Nation" thing from the New York Times a couple of years ago) and five elements blahblahblah, but there isn't enough about the actual aesthetics of the music. It's a decent read with a handful of really great articles (fun time-capsule pieces on hip-house and new jack swing and Charles Aaron's "What the White Boy Means When He Says 'Yo'"), but if aliens came down and read this thing, they'd think hip-hop was self-satisfied boho ego-tripping stuff like jazz or something.

Oh, also, fuck Colin Powell. I know no one was listening to him or anything, but his departure pretty much amounts to a surrender. The crazy people are running the show now.

Hey! New York people! I'll be up in your area this weekend! Say hi!