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.