Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another thing: I got a new job! Eat shit, recession! Starting Monday, I'm going to be a Staff Writer for the Pitchfork news division. And in late January/early February, I'm moving out to Chicago, which hopefully will not result in death via frostbite. So shout out to Pitchfork for keeping my family out of the poorhouse. And get ready, Chicago. I am about to come eat all your pizza.

Happy New Year, everyone. Pop champagne.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's not online, but Louis Menand's early history of the Village Voice in this week's New Yorker is making me happy today. Turns out that Status Ain't Hood was actually perfectly in keeping with the traditions of a newspaper that always hired younger writers, not paying them much but giving them a place to publish, and then unleashed them on the world without editing them hardly at all. And people wrote these columns with the full knowledge that people would just hate them, sometimes actively encouraging the hate. Also, the paper's staff would turn over every three years or so, and I was there exactly three years. So I'm part of a grand historical lineage! Suck on that, assholes!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it turns out, is really really incredibly boring, probably the worst David Fincher movie ever. And that motherfucker made Alien 3! He fucked up the ending of Aliens, which is like a top ten movie ever for me. But Alien 3 at least had some cool parts, whereas Benjamin Button is all slow-motion sweeping Oscar-bait boringness of the highest order, and I'm starting to think Brad Pitt has altogether forgotten how to act. He's regressing to his Seven Years in Tibet stage or something. Aging backwards. And here comes a mild spoiler, but if the baby Benjamin Button was still a baby-sized baby who just had wrinkles and stuff, how was the super-old Benjamin Button not a six-foot baby? I was really looking forward to the gigantic baby, but no, he has to revert back to baby size again. And the guy from the trailer who I thought was Kurupt turned out to not be Kurupt. Boo.

Beyonce's "Diva" video is stupid.

That's all I got for you guys right now. Quarterly Report probably later this week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, this is interesting. Yesterday, Pitchfork ran my review of the new Clipse mixtape. And then someone from the Clipse camp responded, not sounding too happy about it. From the way this entry is written, it sure looks like it's either Pusha or Malice rebutting my review. And I have to say, it's sort of a thrill that one of my favorite groups is reading stuff I wrote about them and taking it seriously enough to give dissenting opinions. In the off-chance that one of them happens across this blog, I'd like to talk some of this stuff out a bit more.

-First off, this is a positive review! 7.6 is a high grade! It's a whole lot higher than the 5.6 Ian Cohen gave the Re-Up Gang album, and it's the exact same grade Ryan Dombal gave Got It 4 Cheap 3. I like the mixtape, I bang it regularly, and I think the review conveys that.

-"As he admits, this is a mixtape, not to be reviewed like a studio album. He then proceeds to do just that." I guess that's what I did. The thing about that is that Clipse have released a couple of insane classic mixtapes, and so any mixtape they put out is going to invite comparison to stuff like Got It 4 Cheap 2. I don't like to admit stuff like this, but if some random mixtape-circuit unknown had put this exact same tape out, I might've ranked it a couple of decimal points higher. But Malice and Pusha obviously take everything they do incredibly seriously, and I'd like to see all their new shit measure up to past glories.

-"Moreover, there’s a prevailing theory that targeting women as the main consumer/enjoyer of hiphop proved the genre’s biggest misstep. Once you start catering, when you worry more about how your product is received versus your own, organic creative process, you should simply drop the mic. Since when was making a successful club/girl record a measure of a rapper’s talent?" I actually agree with this point. The bit in my review about how they used to make girl records is sort of simplistic, though I think they kinda invited it with Pusha's response to that Lauren London skit. But I do kinda miss the spirit of a lighter-side-of-Clipse track like "When the Last Time," a song they don't include in their live sets anymore. The danger of keeping your music so unrelentingly grim and laser-focused on a couple of very specific subjects is that you could kinda run out of stuff to say about them. For whatever reasons, the punchlines on the new tape don't hit me as hard as a lot of their older ones. And one way out of that feedback loop might be to let some joy creep back into their music. I realize I'm playing Monday morning quarterback here, but it sounds to me like they could be having more fun with it.

-"It’s very hard to swallow a review wherein the author slams the album for a full paragraph, but then backs off, saying ‘I’m mostly just quibbling here.’ Well, if you’re admitting the criticism is unimportant and misaimed, what then is the intent?" Admitting I'm quibbling isn't the same as saying my points are unimportant and misaimed. My criticisms might be minor, but they're still criticisms. What I meant with that bit about quibbling was that I had a few minor problems with the mixtape but that I think it's still a good mixtape, worty of the reader's time and attention. I don't really know what kind of an impact these reviews have out in the real world, but my guess is that at least a few people who wouldn't have heard the mixtape otherwise sought it out because of my review.

-The bit about my fashion sense is fair enough. I'm really in no position to talk shit on how other people dress; I wear, like, Wranglers and shit. I just can't stand that logo is all.

-I wrote the review before I heard "Still Got It 4 Cheap," the leaked track from the new Clinton Sparks mixtape. And if I had any lingering concerns about whether these guys could get any more mileage out of that old coke-talk, it's gone now. Holy shit that song bangs. (Nah Right has it here.) It doesn't change my opinion of the mixtape, but it gets me good and amped for Till the Casket Drops, which I sure hope is as good as they say.

Anyway, that's it. And I gotta say it's great to read a response that's actually well-written and considered like that, especially when even really smart rappers usually respond to press they don't like with textspeak and, like, "What'd I, fuck your girl?" I'm still gonna keep reviewing Clipse records, though, sorry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If you've been reading the internet in the last couple of weeks, you probably already know that the new Scarface album is really good. Here's a review where I say that same thing again, except better, and with typos! (Rap-A-Lot mainstay instead of Roc-A-Fella mainstay, kiss on ya instead of piss on ya.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mongol is a good movie. Although if I was Kazakhstan trying to reboot my national image post-Borat, I probably would've gone with something other than the sweeping epic about motherfuckers running around drunk on fermented milk, stealing each other's wives and horses.

Slumdog Millionaire is a good movie, especially if you go see it with your wife and in-laws who have all spent years in India and know what-all's going on when you're too dumb to figure it out. You probably won't need them or anything, but that's a bonus.

JCVD is just a really really incredibly good movie, and I'm still dizzy from the fact that someone actually went and made it. Someone is awesome. Jean-Claude Van Damme, it turns out, is a really good actor! And incredibly sympathetic in the right light! Also: Refreshingly light on ironic guffaws! And not too much kicking either, at least outside the incredibly whoopass opening single-take action scene. I don't know if I'm ready to call Van Damme a misunderstood and underrated action star, but he did make Bloodsport and Hard Target and Universal Soldier, and I can remember enjoying the hell out of all those. And Timecop, which I think I thought was OK too. And then there's Double Team, which I just started watching in short installments via the Netflix on-demand thing, and that movie is pretty amazing just because it's this fairly big-budget action thing, and yet it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and no scene has anything to do with the scene that came before it.

Quantum of Solace is not a very good movie, even though I am still very much on board with Daniel Craig. James Bond is not Jason Bourne, even though they have the same initials and everything. And you are not Paul Greengrass, guy who directed Quantum of Solace. Hold the goddam camera still.

One of the nice things about not having a job is getting to go to movies in the middle of the day. By myself. Wait, maybe that's not nice. Maybe that's fucking depressing.