My day at The Boston Hip-Hop Summit with Russell Simmons and Co.
I showed up at LaGuardia to catch the 6 AM Delta shuttle to Boston. Russell was there with his assistant, Gary Foster. “You the writer?” Simmons asked. I was, and am. I expected to see more people—handlers, passengers, fans. Nothing like that. Just the three of us, and a plane where you get to pick your own seat.
Russell was dressed entirely in Phat Farm: blue baseball cap, jeans, blue and white track suit jacket, white sneakers. He made no mention of the Kimora arrest, and I hadn't yet heard about it, so we didn't discuss it.
Kimora’s mughsot is telegenically twerked and, as a strike of commerce against law, fairly effective. Nothing says “I am above the law” like a smile. In another newspiece about the arrest that I managed to lose (Google, what's really good?), Russell plugged his new Court TV show while maintaining his wife's innocence. The fusion of humanity and marketing, even in adversity. Sort of like scaling Mount Everest in 2004, or eating someone's leg if your plane crashes in the Andes. Or not.
It’s easy to make fun of a dude with his own chef and a police escort who talks in soundbites. It’s also easy for someone like me with heaps of normative privilege to think “money isn’t everything” when I obviously have the option of finding out if that’s true or not. If you have little chance of doing comparative analysis between having money and not having money, it’s a very different discussion. Simmons shifts such huge amounts of symbolic and actual capital that it is hard to tell which pile is pushing the seesaw in which direction. When we talk about “hip-hop” now, we are talking about version 5.0, and Russell has a lot to do with re-coding the idea as an essentially conservative, consumerist force. Russell is the 24-7 celebration of acquisition as the only elevator in town. Russell could also be one of the guys who gets the Rockefeller Drug Laws repealed.
After we sat for a few minutes, Reverend Run and Kevin Liles got on the plane. Russell refused the complimentary bagel and went for water. I had two cups of plane coffee, which is some harsh shit. That night, after I'd gone back home, Russell appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. (Click there if you want a representative summary of the day's soundbites.) Here are some other things Russell said:
“Hip-hop artists are not like the rest of the musicians. Everything out their mouth speaks to the political and social landscape in this country.”
He and Run said something to each other I couldn’t catch.
“Reverend said ‘Jesus put the sneakers on me.’ He became the president of the sneaker company and he sells more sneakers than Allen Iverson. He designed this sneaker,” Simmons said, pointing to the sneaker dangling off his foot. “We sell about 7 million pairs of this sneaker.”
“I’m not advocating one candidate over any other at this time,” said Simmons. “I personally have given money to all of the Democratic candidates, except, I think, Joe Lieberman, because I didn’t agree with some of things he said. I have a good relationship with quite a few Republicans. I especially like the Governor of Maryland. He changed those horrible drug laws.”
There was some talk about yoga, “religious propaganda,” and love.
“I’m a free-market capitalist, I’m getting plenty of paper, but I try to use love as a basis for my choices. I try to go into business things that are helpful and useful and not hurtful. Of course, I fuck up every day. I’m a vegan and I’ve got leather shoes on. I wear brand new sneakers almost every day. I’m still pulling the plastic off them,” he said, doing just that. “I only wear them a couple of times, but I give them away.”
We left Logan airport in two black SUVs driven by FOI guys, preceded by a single police car, flashing and whooping. Liles said they often get a police escort, “when there’s a lot to do.” We chatted and I mentioned that Sam Sever produced Nikki D’s “Lettin' Off Steam.” This made Kevin laugh. The Four Seasons was our breakfast stop.
“We’re doing Fox news, right?” Simmons asked Foster, after we had been seated at three separate tables. The policemen were getting to eat, too.
“Yes, sir.” Foster replied.
Reverend Run was writing an inspirational message on his Blackberry. “This goes to radio stations all over the country, every day,” he said.
“I got my teeth twelve years ago,” Russell said. “He knows what he’s doing. I like them, they’re not too perfect looking."
“I just got mine,” Reverend Run said. “He’s perfected the process now.”
“We’re big fans,” said Kennedy. “This is my friend, Senator Hollings.”
Senator Hollings said, “Hey, when you’re in Rome, you see the Pope. Here, we see Teddy.”
Simmons smiled and headed into the elevator. I almost got separated from the entourage. Captain Dennis, a large man with a Panama hat and one of several people who helps move things along, held the elevator door and said “If you’re going to roll with us, you got to put some pep in your step.”
We waited in a hotel room for the taping to begin on the roof, right outside the window. Senator Joe Lieberman, scheduled to go on before Simmons, walked into the suite and greeted Simmons with a smile. “Our friend the rabbi keeps threatening to get us together,” Lieberman said.
After Lieberman went out on the roof to do his two minutes, Russell sat down and watched Fox News. Bush was shown deplaning with Barney: “If I was an image consultant, I’d tell him to lose the dog,” Russell said. “It’s too much like Paris Hilton. People are so polarized now, that if they don’t like Bush and they like animals, they’ll look at that picture and say ‘Hey, he’s abusing that dog!’”
I asked him who was Number One now, since Jay-Z’s stepped down. He did a double take, but then he answered quickly. “Jada!” We agreed!
In response to a question I couldn’t hear, Simmons said: “No, no politicians on stage. We don’t want to hear their crap.”
I asked him if he thought there’s really anyone left who hasn’t made up their mind. “The ones that don’t know that they’re gonna vote. We should work on them.”
Moments after Simmons and Run finish the interview, the entourage started motoring down the hallway. As we headed for the SUVs, a doorman saw Simmons walk past.
“Hey, Master P! OK!” he said. “I can’t believe it. Master P!"
The Summit was held in the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center of Roxbury Community College. The gymnasium has a capacity of 5,000 people. A stage was set up at one end, facing thousands of folding chairs. Before the panel started, artists met reporters in a hallway by the locker rooms. The whole place was spotless. Lloyd Banks wore two big diamond Jesus head necklaces and walked around with the two largest bodyguards in building. One of them was sweating profusely. A Fruit of Islam guard, without being asked, handed him a napkin. They smiled at each other.
The Fruit of Islam and Simmons’ two publicists—Jody Miller and Ellen Zoe Golden—were in charge of keeping every one on the clock. Between them, they directed clumps of performers and handlers from place to place with little apparent friction. The event seemed simultaneously relaxed and deeply planned. I couldn’t believe how smoothly everything went.
Wyclef Jean showed up in a white fedora, a large diamond-encrusted lion’s head necklace, and a red and white t-shirt saying “Wyclef for President.” He held a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup all day. His new group, 3 On 3, followed him around wearing the same t-shirts, in blue.
On stage, the MCs and singers introduced themselves and gave short inspirational speeches. We heard from Babs, Loon, Bonecrusher, Big Tigger, Free from 106 and Park, Lloyd Banks, Wyclef, Russell, Kevin, Run, and Ying Yang Twins. The two most popular messages were “believe in yourself” and “please vote, or get your mom to vote.” The loudest applause of the day, by a factor of five or six, was for Lloyd Banks. Kids went completely bananas for him. The crowd was 100% black, and 85% looked like they were less than 21 years of age.
Banks has a deep voice and a slow cadence. He seems much older than 22. Backstage, before everything started, I offered him my chair. “No, sit,” he said. “I got young legs. I’m only 22.” Onstage, he said: “When you become successful, it’s not gangsta to be gangsta. It’s like the AA—you got to change the people, places and things around you.” At Simmons urging, he did a verse from “On Fire.” The place went kablow. After shaking hands with crowd members, he departed. Half an hour later, he appeared with TV cameras at the opposite end of the gym. Kids went streaming to the back of the gym.
“What’s going on?” Dr. Benjamin Chavis said from the stage. “Folks, the panel is this way. If you wanna see the Ying Yang Twins, they’re gonna be up here. Don’t run back there. Stop running back there.”
Farnsworth Bentley came up and said, “Ladies, the gentleman is here.” Then he spun his umbrella and dropped it. After the summit, Art Alexakis and Bentley argued about gay marriage backstage. “This country was founded on Christian principles,” Bentley said. I would have started in on Deism, but there were too many cameras between us.
We also got to hear from the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The same process obtained with almost every appearance: The audience would scream and applaud and then, if the guest being applauded talked for more than 15 seconds, the audience's attention would wander and the guest's parting applause would be a fraction of their welcome hand. Even when the guest was Lloyd.
Russell’s big analogy, which he said several times during the day: “If you’ve got a hundred dollars, and your girl takes fifty dollars and goes out and spends it —or vice versa, if your man takes fifty dollars and goes out—when he comes home, do you ask him what he did with the money? When you pay your tax dollars and the government maybe goes out and bombs innocent people, or gives somebody like me a tax break—I didn’t need no tax break, but I got a tax break—or they send poor people to fight a war and maybe you don’t agree with that war, if you don’t ask him any questions or hold him accountable, you’re a punk. And we ain’t no punks. There’s only poor people dying in that war. Ain’t nobody named Bush on the front line. Nobody named Kerry on the front line, either. They don’t think you coming to the polls, but I know from traveling around this country that you are.”
Loon: “You kids know the real artists from the fake artists. You’ve got the best radar you could possibly have. What I urge y’all to do is take that same initiative, do the same homework that you do when you listen to these artists, take that same initiative and read about some of these candidates. Your vote is valuable, you can use it to your discretion.”
And then, at the end, right before the closing prayer, Andre 3000 came out. Big bug out applause. Red and white checked shirt, small straw hat, black pants. He was one of the few people who dared to bum anyone out: “I wanna check y’all. I’m happy to see this many people here and involved, but I would hate to say that the only reason y’all coming out is to see entertainers. If we weren’t here, would you still be involved? Honestly. I see you shaking your head. That’s sad. That is sad. It’s your world. If you claim you’re a hip-hop head, and you’re talking about what’s going on in your community, and you don’t vote? That don’t make sense. You should pretty much just shut up. Whatcha think? I hope to see you all at the polls. Stank you very much.”
It was a lot harder to find a tape deck than I thought it would be. I mean, I'm not going to sit in my car all night, even for Dizzee.
11) "Dream": This album is growing on me, madly. This is the one that twerks Captain Sensible's "Happy Talk." "Tell me you don't love that." I do. I do.
12) "Girls": There's that Captain Morgan's Rum pegleg limp. "Make way!" Keyboards are the most democratic shit since ever. Ooh, here goes the detourned garage bounce. "Thank god tonight it's a different affair." The voice is so fucking musical that it is so musical. The words take off and scatter like confetti in the back alley backdraft of a restaurant with three deep fryers. Who's this guy? Megaman? Ooh, grime is the best thing ever! It's not even that good and it's so good. "You're here, but your bum's still in the queue."
13) "Imagine": Thoughtful Dizzee. Not thoughtful beat. Synth like gentle fingers touching the package on a new pack of Rizlas. Gentle. Thomas Dolby retrofitted as detention supervisor. "Retrospective of your profile and your honor/do you wanna hang about or are you a goner?" The fine line between Nas and Tupac. "A couple square meters of pavement in the end/what will be achieved, my friend?" I do not know, McBrah. What was it made the first album so thorough? Nick Detnon? Wiley? Come on, Diz, bump! Bump! You're the greatest rapper alive, Jada and Ghost aside. Burn, burn like a plastic carry bag stuck in a splint of fat wood! Make the sky your spittoon!
14) "Flyin'": "I'm just being me." Me, too, Diz. "You can say I think I'm all that/I've heard it all already...Say what you want but say it quick."
15) "Fickle": Kinda hot!
DICK CLARK ALGORITHMIC VERDICT: This is album is smoking like Tareyton!
"Yeah, that tactical suppression was only the first of many, many bricks we're dropping this quarter. Brah, stack them shits up and you will have the outer wall of a new church that you have my permission to dub Unicorp. Can't sleep on these CDR motherfuckers. Even the smallest cinder will burn down this great and ancient forest of ours. Right? Remember, what's your name again? Jim? OK, Jim. We are the water, and the people are the boats. Feel my bicep. Right there. Check this out. See—it's like a little balloon. Up and down." (Link courtesy of Piotr Orlov.)
1) "Showtime": Six years ago, Dizzee bought crap turntables, but "it was a bargain and it was a good un!" Rhyme skills going beyond the measurable. Beat skills entirely measureable.
2) "Stand Up Tall": Now we know what would have happened if Yellowman had joined Depeche Mode after Speak and Spell. Hot. The ProTools tutorial has been mastered. (I don't like Chinese food, either.)
3) "Everywhere": Ah, there's that weird shit. "Evidently far from gently eating up the road." Could probably rhyme over Joe Lieberman's haircut and wreck shit. Beat: Probably made in Reason while laminating old Ministry of Sound flyers.
4) "Graftin'": Mugwump limp. Yet more of the Snoop-derived meme: "In the LDN." Hey, someone found the Pitch Bend function. Again. Not the RZA. Not even the platinum dragonist lyricist can save a half-assed beat. Billy Squier is on line 2.
5) "Learn": Dip it medium. Schoolly D-ish cymbals. "Trying to avoid the sergeant, PC and the constable...I'm dirty and I'm stank but ain't nobody fresher."
6) "Hype Talk": Liquid paintball skank. Triplet feel in the rat-a-tat rimes. "Is he living out his dreams? Is he balling? Be truthful." Still a general lack of bottom. The spaceship has yet to shake. Considering how well he's rhyming, this must be diagnosed as the Paisley Park Syndrome: Genius will not accept some beat help. This is said, because we all need help. Accepting help will not diminish your manly genius.
7) "Face": What if I slow everything down? What is this button, the one that says "quacky"? Could be about the stabbing. Might be more general. "Please don't congregate all around me." Female MC. Hey, bring her back.
8) "Respect Me": " You people are going to respect me if it kills you." I can't work up any enthusiasm for the popular phony eggroll synth patches. Ooh, but the bassline finally came back. Tearing, except everything is too slow. Sorta Apocalypse Now. "Your opinion don't interest me. You don't like me, that's fine with me." Ooh, here's a mention of the stabbing. Eh. "So many claims and no evidence."
Tomorrow, side B.
4) You cannot eat the shrimp. Those are for the VIP reception. No, not even one. Not even if Russell said so. You should just sit down. Not there. Not there, either.
5) Bonecrusher will show his belly for the kids.
6) You can be anything.
7) "Non-partisan" is a phrase that people use and believe.
8) Loon is very smart and funny and should be a movie star.
All about The Benjamin. (Link courtesy of Brian Weber.)
Because we are so much more cheap and hungry for approval than Alex, we will bow out today with a patriotic song, sung by the dusted alien cat pictured above. God bless Carlos Delgado. Stand up? Nah, Radioheads, sit down:
Excerpts from the Jadakiss composition, "Why"
"Why is the industry designed to keep the artist in debt?
Why them dudes ain't ridin' if they're part of your set?
Why would niggaz push pounds and powder?
Why did Bush knock down the towers?
Why they gotta open your package and read your mail?
Why they stop lettin' niggaz get degrees in jail?
Why did crack have to hit so hard even though it's almost over?
Why niggaz can't get no jobs?
Why they come up with the witness protection?
Why they let The Terminator win the election?
Why sell in the stores what you can sell in the streets?
Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get a Oscar?
Why Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?
Why they didn't make the CL6 wit a clutch?
Why you forcin' you to be hard?
Why ain't you a thug by choice?
Why the whole world love my voice?
Why try to tell 'em that it's the flow son?
And you know why they made the new twenties—
'cause I got all the old ones."
Jenn Lena with ideas and words I liked. No link whatsoever to what's on the blog this week, except to the larger gabfest always in progress:
"The folks in sociology of music are loathe to say, for example: that there is new jack swing, unless they engage in some painstakingly long process of content analysis or survey work. I'm an honest enough scientist to admit that classificatory mistakes are inevitable, as the whole point, really, is that people are constantly struggling to control definitions over things like genre, beauty, art, etc. However, ethnomusicologists don't have any problem marching out and saying what's what. And I'm not comfortable with a bunch of frustrated musicians cornering the market. Plus, if we continue to cede authority over content to the "experts," we'll never be able to support our theories that there is a correspondence between identity and social structures and artistic content. And that's stupid. We KNOW it's there, or was there, or can be there."
(Apologies for posting such an old item. It was giving me bad dreams.) See! Robot band cover their robot nads! See! Executives get the reach-around they've always wanted! See! What it's like to move around the room taking cues from the market's flashing lights! See! What the logical end of owning music is—straight-up lymon-flavored lunacy.
The impossibly-named C.Aarmé and the humorously-named Part Chimp both have a good shot at winning the Most Rockingest Attempt To Rock Prize, should the stadium be completed in time for competition this year.
Everyone go home. Hua and his his family have closed this whole pop music case. Back to "Is there a God?" and small talk.
"If a serious case for blog progenitorship can be made for Vicomte de Launay, surely an almost equally serious case can be made for Georg Lichtenberg's The Waste Books (regardless that they were published posthumously), or Yoshida Kenko's Tsurezuregusa. I assume someone's pointed out robotwisdom to you if you didn't already know it; the first blog and rather different from most current ones. Though Jorn Barger coined "weblog", his probably wasn't really the first of its kind. Apparently in the early Mosaic days Marc Andreessen had an updated list of what was new on the web, which is basically the same format Jorn used.
No one, to my knowledge, has ever taken CMJ seriously at the radio station I used to work at."
"The CMJ samplers were useful precisely for the people who WEREN'T the kind of people who knew how much it cost to place a track and what criteria they used to fill up non-payola'd space. There's not necessarily a connection between paying to promote a track and that track being of no worth; indeed, for anyone who has affection for individiual labels, that would seem to be kind of the point. One of the interesting things about blogs, to me, is the multiple different levels at which they operate, and specifically the different levels of knowledge they assume: the sort of deep but narrow (-ish) background it helps to have to read Simon or Marcello (or arguably Mark at k-punk), all of whom I sometimes find myself just plain not understanding; the shallower but broader knowledge assumed by Matthew's blog or No Rock or NYPLM, all of whom seem to delight in making references geared toward an audience of young cultural gluttons; and the shallow and narrow bodies of knowledge assumed by CMJ and the NME. But the thing is, I (and most of us who didn't have cool older siblings/parents) once had a pretty shallow and narrow body of knowledge, and so for all their faults, hype-happy NME helped get me started. Shallow/narrow becomes deep and/or wide, and having those entry-level resources can be key tools in that process. I don't think Matthew was necessarily arguing for the validity of the CMJ sampler in its present (or even past incarnation), just that particular model. I think what he's promoting is a model of introduction rather than comprehension, and that's what blogs very often—and, I think, usefully—do. They certainly do this better than print media these days, at least on cultural issues; compare the way grime was introduced on the interweb and in hard copy, for instance."
This discussion pivots (but does not end) on disclosure. Most people don't know that labels pay for front-of-store racking in HMV and Virgin, or that even indie labels pay for digital real estate on free CDs bundled with music magazines. Because of the web, more people know about the music business criminals, but the majority of consumers, especially those offline, don't. Take Fahrenheit 9/11. People who read newspapers every day and get routinely enraged by the US government's chronic hubcap stealing may not be surprised by the Moore's allegations. But many, many millions of people are. This is an issue of dissemination. Even those feeling the bandwidth heat avoid plenty of information, sometimes because of the bandwidth itself. (Ever wonder what it would be like to get all your news from Yahoo?)
Buying the shine of an editorial imprimatur is shady business as usual. It is also routine to discover those who can afford placement have some pretty good songs to sell you. As Douglas pointed out, the music and the money don't always land on the same space, but we will give the last word to a song that has yet to fail. Everything.
A discussion up and happened, just the way we like:
"CMJ samplers = $1500 for placement in the first three tracks, $500 for the slots past that, last I heard. Sometimes you could get em down to $300 if someone over there was really cheering for your band. This also explains, clearly, why if they gave things lukewarm reviews why they were still on the comp."
"When I was there, I think the price for a track was higher but standard (and the first-three-tracks placement had more to do with whoever was on the cover or would make a good sales point for the cover sticker), with the following complications: 1) indies generally paid less than majors (and editorial cheering helped); 2) the editor reserved the right to decline any tracks he thought were seriously lame (and occasionally did); 3) part of my deal with CMJ was that I could give small indies free space for songs I liked at the end of the disc—always at least one song, sometimes as many as six or seven if not a lot of labels were buying that month. (Wasn't Ui's "Match My Foot" on there at one point? If it was, that was how.) The sales pitches tended to go out to labels when somebody was already getting an enthusiastic review or was the subject of a feature of some kind."
It was “Ay Nako," and we very much appreciated it.
"CMJ was literally the laughingstock of the radio station I worked at during college. The fact that it owed its existence solely to being a source of upbeat, superlative blurbage for press-packet & cd-sticker usage was painfully evident. The cirque-de-soleil-style contortions used by the writers in order to come up with new ways of saying "the next big thing!" or "even better than the last big thing!" were occasionally impressive, I'll admit, but as a trustworthy source of information about music, they were great car salesmen. Same goes for, if I recall correctly, HITS magazine, which did basically the same thing but (again, if memory serves) produced better promo comps."
My own blog-predecessor: my mom's old boss from when she worked at the Ingham County Library, a guy named Richard, who would send out a mimeographed newsletter every few days with comments on the movies he'd seen recently--not reviews, as such, just personal commentary, obviously written mostly for the joy of writing it, but distributed to all the librarians he liked.
Matthew Perpetua adds perspective on the MP3 blog:
"Those old CMJ New Music Monthly cds were a big deal for me. As a teen, they helped to shape my tastes, and when I started doing Fluxblog as a full-time mp3 blog, they were a key template for what I wanted the blog to be, both in terms of acting as a sampler of obscure music, but also in the critical voice that I wanted to use. The CMJ house style was clear, concise, and critical, and never posted overly harsh reviews or snotty bullshit. It seemed that even when the reviews were lukewarm, they were trying to get the reader interested in hearing the record for themselves.
Another key influence was a series of threads on the Barbelith Underground community called the Song Pimpin Club, which was going strong during the Audiogalaxy period. This is where I found the basic format for the blog—a link to a song, with commentary which tried to get the reader interested in hearing the song. That was the whole challenge of the thread—to get people interested, because we all agreed that it was too easy, lazy, and boring to just post links. If you Google it, there should be a couple of them lying dormant on Barbelith's back pages. It's definitely proto-MP3 blog stuff."
"I recently was talking to someone who cited Suck as a primary precursor of blogs, and I'd have to agree. While there are certain differences from blogs (regular article-style posts, mainly) there are a lot of similarities, from the use of pseudonyms to the particular obsessions (culture/politics/personality) to the one-big-column-o'-text format. Hell, they pretty much created the form of "article with references you won't get unless you click the links" as well as "article whose links comment sarcastically or critically on the text." Plus, unlike a lot of the things cited so far, this was actually on the Internet, which seems meaningful to me. I think Reason even appropriated the title of Suck's Friday multi-item posts, "Hit and Run," for their blog.
How good was Suck? Real smart, real funny, and Filler just ruled the school, speaking of cultural criticism by women. It was maybe the most direct blog ancestor on there, given the way it mixed criticism with personality and (to a degree) biography, or at least the way biography and culture intersects."
"Re: OG blogging, non-theory-laden edition. In about 1995, a couple of fanzines—HIOQI, Norm Arena's influential Anti-Matter, Outpunk and Bikini Kill, among others—switched it up and started writing about things in a tangental, narrative style. Things became PERSONAL. Fanzines went from aping legitimized forms of HOW MUSIC/CULTURE IS COVERED, and married it with what was starting to emerge, giving rise to "perzines" (i.e, personal zines). Some perzines were Burn Collector (my band mate Al's zine that has been going for about 8-10 years) and Cometbus, which had come into real influence and prominence in the mid-nineties. More and more zines were like travel-zines, "what I did today" stuff, people writing about their lives and tying it to culture, BUT more important was the writing in the first person about nothing fancy. Now, at the zine stores, that perzine style outnumbers every other type or genre of zine. This also kind of explains emo. I blame most of this on eight years of Clintonian armchair comfort. We were allowed to be self-obsessed because things were not so bad. (Or so we thought—right?) The first-person narrative was a big trend and I remember, circa 1996, catching real heat from people about how my writing in my zine was about me, about my opinions, NOT ABOUT the bands and like, who did I think I was? Those were the traditionlists, holding out in the foxhole. I remember it well. I think it all just got upgraded with the technology."
Julianne Shepherd, who was recently traded from Portland to New York for an undisclosed amount of cash and several minor leage double dutchesses:
"Dude, my personal pre-blog heroes are/were fanzine creators: Rollerderby/Lisa Carver, Mimi Nguyen, Darby from Ben is Dead, Pagan Kennedy, Tobi Vail/Kathleen Hanna, Christina Kelly in SASSY magazine, and J. Hova—basically the stone agers of the '90s fanzine brushfire (that might just be my age showing here) who inspired at least one generation of personal/political/critical writers, and made it OK to write outside trad journalistic precepts. (They're kind of the Gloria Steinems of my formative years; they gave me a voice and showed me my opinions were valid and relatable. And so it worries me when there are only, like, five women with music-y blogs in the entire country; it's also somewhat isolating.)
Um, also—rap music?! An art form combining personal narrative with social perspective, whose rise ran parallel to the fast-tracking of pop culture in America? You could look at pop-culture references in rap as coming from the "links" fam, except you get to fill in your own blank. Wouldn't you just fall over with happiness if Jadakiss had a blog?
And Cindy Sherman. You know half these people are making shit up, anyway."
I just received the new album from The Mae Shi, Terrorbird. I have not heard it, and I know next to nothing about the band. That's not the point. Or it's just the edge of the point. Included in the package is a CD labelled 2004 Mae Shi Mixtape. The "mix" is a concatenation of short, short snippets from many, many songs: "Another One Bites The Dust," "Cavern," "Follow The Leader," a Minutemen song, "Boogie On Reggae Woman," etc. No beatmatching or apparent theme. I am experiencing several effects:
1) When music is folded back on itself in quick, frictive turns, a big erotic mirror starts flashing and the whole field of sound appears behind you like a pond where everything is connected physically and touching one bit of algae gives you a tingly tingle that implies another tingly tingler miles away. The muchness rockets geometrically into extra muchness, leading you to believe that this is how music is to be heard, always: in a big sticky, ecstatic cloud.
2) Whoever assembled this CD has taste that parallels mine very closely. I dislike very few of these snippets. All of a sudden, I want to rush home and get my Elliott Smith and Warren G CDs.
3) I will now listen to an album that I was almost certainly not going to listen to. I have been duped, in some way, since all this mix CD has done is to announce "Look at all this great music we like!" Once listened to, it's pretty much useless; the jumpcut steez is annoying, built for neither backgrounds nor parties. But it worked.
Before I add to the blog research, two questions: Can someone help me set up a wget script that automatically pulls MP3s off a list of MP3 blogs? I am running Safari and OS 10.3, and know nothing about this ninja-style code, so please don't say "shell" and assume that I know what you mean. Thanks.
Two: Thanks for all the comments on blog history. I am familiar with some, but not all, of these texts. I am glad to know what I didn't know and to get a different take on the known.
I am still interested in sources readily at hand, pop culture syntagms that may have affected bloggers in a daily context over a longer period: advertisements, comics, TV shows, etc. I have lots of time for French language ninjas but also suspect that, along with any secret and beloved touchstones, mass media forms shaped and spurred blogthought. So bring that cheap shit and make a fellow happy.
Joshua Clover: "I am cribbing/quoting much of this info from French scholar Margaret Cohen. I think a legit case can be made for the Vicomte de Launay. This was actually a woman named Delphine, who married Emile de Girardin, in turn the founder (1836) of the first mass daily, La presse. Changing technologies were radically reducing the cost of printing (and modern print advertising had just appeared as well). Delphine adopted 'the persona of the aristocratic Vicomte de Launay to comment on fashion, politics, diplomacy and foreign visitors, what people are seeing and talking about... part of a new kind of ethnography of everyday fashionable life. She writes with an openness, spontaneity, wit, that is definitely shaping Baudelaire's vision of the modern aesthetic as capturing the fleeting, ephemeral, open, the present.'"
Best misprint of the month, from an advance copy of Unity: The Official Athens 2004 Olympic Games Album, track 9 by Wayne Wonder and Neneh Cherry: "Eyes on The Price."
Wondering if maybe if this is the greatest band of all time. The odds are good. (POSTSCRIPT: The album is surprisingly adequate. It's Courtney reorganized along Brodyist principles, with the sexuality normalized and aimed outwards on a predictable path, a la Leather Tuscadero.)
I get hella CDs. I don't have time or room for most of them, even some of the good ones. (The bad ones, as a matter of principle, still get a walk-in appointment with Mr. Glad.) Email my lazy ass and I will send you CDs of my choosing, at my convenience. (PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS SO I DON'T HAVE TO EMAIL YOU BACK ASKING YOU TO "PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS.") If you are a friend, don't email me: I hope that in the day-to-day business of being friends, we help each other already. I am looking for kind strangers long on love and short on paper who need some candy. Police yourselves, citizens, and let your conscience be your Happy Shopper. Motherfuckers who work for Cargo, the Death Star or some other oligopoly should spend their per diems on the muzik and let a shorty get on instead.
You absolutely must get Theodore Unit's 718 when it drops. This makes two essential mixtapes from Ghost in one year, and I might like this one best. (There are some overlaps and redunndacies with other Ghost tapes but, like, who cares.)
For no good reason, though of obvious sequence, the intergalactic hotness.
Via Keith Harris (allegedly on Ice City's Welcome To The Hood, though I dearly hope he didn't rhyme "Lexus" and "necklace," becuase that shit will affect your future earnings, Bently Steakworth*), Brad Zellar's slang list. I wish this list scrolled on for a million screens, like a million dreams, letting me into room after "room" of allusion, tenuous conection, inversion, distraction, phonetics and pure play.
The name of this festival kinda made my morning.
*Keith corrects me: "Ice City is North Philly. Me and Beans represent South Philly." (He said some bad words but I took them out.)
Tiny brings the pain like sausage and peppers at 3 am:
"In this shot, with the grey goatee, the samurai top knot and the gaping maw, Ed Lover looks like he should be in a Chappelle's Show skit about freebase casualties. Especially when set against that goth steakhouse wallpaper."
Courtesy of Chris Wilcha, how Eddie does it.
Later (always later with me), I will try to unpack last night. In the meantime, I advise everyone who is not Prince to just stop. Stop. We won't think any less of you. Read this in the meantime.
We are going to Prince tonight, so I gotta move fast and retrieve my pink chaps from the "organic" dry cleaning place before it closes. I hate to think you clicked for nothing; therefore, in the honorable American tradition of getting people to work for free, I will add another blog to the fire. (I expect entries on the following topics to appear in the next few days, especially if someone else writes them: dancehall comps, boots and mashups, The Beatles, hip-hop radio part 2, and a very special update on Christian Jesusness.) Ladies and gentlemen, Franklin Bruno:
"The Arcades Project is closer to my own experience of blogging than One-Way Street, on account of its incomplete/provisional nature—all the things one doesn't live long enough to tie up elsewhere (though Benjamin presumably meant to try). I'd also like to put in a word for Pessoa's Book of Disquiet, supposedly non-autobiographical entries of one Bernardo Soares, whom Pessoa claimed was not a 'full' heteronym, unlike the names under which he wrote the poems he's best-known for. Many color by color descriptions of the sky; I think it's currently available in four slightly different English-language editions.
Re Perec: Inspired by his year-long menu, I kept a log of all the music I heard, voluntarily or not, throughout September 2002 (long before I started a blog). It didn't work out so well, in part because shopclerks and waitstaff often have no information about or control over what's playing in their work environment—if I didn't already know it, I just had to note down 'unid. trip-hop' or such."
John Shaw throws two coins into the fountain.
"On the blog-ancestry front I was going to say Benjamin's One-Way Street, but I realize he got the style from Kraus, and so did Kurt Tucholsky, whose Deutschland Deutschland Uber Alles also comes to mind. And then there's Ring Lardner's parody of Walter Winchell..."
"As for the "what I ate" mode, Georges Perec, another Oulipean, recorded everything he ate and drank in 1974 in a fearsome list (re?)printed in Species of Space and Other Pieces. (His Things: A Story of the Sixties is an anticipatory critique of the inventories of preference that comprise Friendster pages, etc: it's a catalogue, in the conditional tense, of the desires of young Jerome and Sylvie, Parisian market researchers.)
Paul Metcalf. Melville's great-[great?]-grandson, sold real estate for a living and was a genius. Zip Odes are short paeans to the States made up of place-names taken from a 1968 Postal Service Directory. Fast. I-57 is a map drawn in words of that grand interstate as seen during Metcalf's 57th year, its legend and lines gleaned from road signs and whatever else. Fast and personal. Both are in his Collected Works, Vol. 2 along with much else that's worthwhile. Collage, pastiche, episodic weirdness. Interview with him here
Evan S. Connell, in cranky ruminator mode: Notes from a Bottle Found on a Beach at Carmel, The Alchemist's Journal. Even Son of the Morning Star kind of fits, if you imagine him floating above Little Big Horn with a steam-powered laptop."
We like "Din Daa Daa" and "Melting Pot" a lot. Does that mean that The Tipping Point is a) better than or b) much different from Throwback? Related question: Do we like "Din Daa Daa" better than "Let It Whip"? No.
Like us, Annie Zaleski likes The Futureheads and Snow Patrol. She recommends two new bands: Art Brut, who apparently have heard The Fall, and Bloc Party, who have apparently heard lots of records. (Thanks to Annie for these tips.)
Philip Sherburne checks in with more blog family tree farming:
"Sebald's books might be the kind of thoughtwork you're thinking of: walking across England and traipsing from a friend's house to a run-down community library, in each place finding a scrap (conversation, book, painting) to launch thought backwards 100 years or more before it boomerangs back to his present day, picking up tangential tuftings—Conrad's biography, the agricultural history of the lowlands, etc—to deposit at his feet.
Cyril Connolly's drifting word cycle, The Unquiet Grave (originally attributed to Palinaurus), might be the kind of aphoristic thought you have in mind, except that Connolly would've hated blogs: "The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of the writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.... Every excursion into journalism, broadcasting, propaganda and writing for films, however grandiose, will be doomed to disappointment. To put our best into these is another folly, since thereby we condemn good ideas as well as bad to oblivion. It is in the nature of such work not to last, and it should never be undertaken." How very Adornian!
I do not know and don't want to suggest without qualification, but Matthews and/or Queneau may have been catalysts for Jordan Davis' Million Poems blog.
The State of the Music Business, Part 4080: Some guy in Paris has to tell me that the second best song on the Christina Milian album is only available on the British version of the CD. The song is "I Can Be That Woman" (Amazon mistakenly adds the word "Only" to the title) and it is easily 4.3 times better than "Dip It Low." Same guy reports: "As of now, it is my favoritest song in the world. It is exactly like if Daft Punk made a song for Chante Moore." I still prefer the Red Bull funque of "I Need More," but only time will tell.
In further Not Pushing Acts In America news, there is a new Rachel Stevens single. You know that she (and/or her svengali) has good taste, because she's gone from Cathy Dennis to Richard X as collaborator. Mr. x seems to have nicked a bit of Gary Glitter's "Rock 'n' Roll." This usually works, and "right now" is firmly contained within "usually." Video: very 1980s. Daisy Duke'd girls tromp through streets, watch their aggregate sexuality confound passersby, detourn wet T-shirt scenario with attractive non-Anglo guy.
For anyone sleeping, Cathy Dennis co-wrote "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and "Toxic," as well as Stevens' first single "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex." Two words: Nobel Prize. But not just for the hired work. Dennis entered my consciousness with D Mob's "C'Mon And Get My Love", one of the best of a certain kind of hybrid dance single that was appearing in the dance shops just as hip-hop became the big news, the big business and the larger youth meme that would grab the US while house took the UK. When the expansion was complete, dance stores had undergone mitosis. Customers no longer had to rub up against unknown parties in search of their particular fix. That helped push along the trend known in branding shops as "wack monomind living." The gay disco scores reverted to their core custom, funk nerds started zines and eventually went online and hip-hoppers started their own sullen, narrow-minded niche shops to make absolutely sure that any fun or homoleaning vibes got crushed right out of the genre. But in 1989 and 1990, right on the edge of that plate shift, great singles kept coming out: Ruthjoy's "Don't Push It," Electribe 101's "Tell Me When The Fever Ended," Candy Flip's "Strawberry Fields Forever." Fuck's sake, a few were even on the radio. [Cue nostalgic whimpering.]
SUNDAY: 12 innings, sunburned knees, a new plastic batting helmet, a previously owned, gently used (way too gently—12 innings, dog!) game ball generously lobbed our way by outfielder Rolo Avila, but no win. Sam's theory: "DJ Boston is on the disabled list, so nobody could hit a home run!"
Reading this, I realize I will never have to read a whole bunch of other things, even though I have no idea what those things are. Those four people who have been maintaining that New York is not morphing into LA will have to step up their game severely if they want to be taken seriously.
MONDAY: Our reflex is to hate but today we congratulate. Serializing a novel, for free, is dope. And I can't hate on this year's choices.
But my hate runs alongside my love like one of those ill-fated bad guys shadowing Bond's Hovercraft, poised to jump aboard and get smoked by Jimbo's Personal Utility Rocket. On today's Brian Lehrer show, two pollsters, one Republican and one Democrat, were being quizzed on news that Tom Ridge is fitna to bumrush the election in the case of terrorist attack. (Before I hate, it bears mentioning that his request is procedurally appropriate. There are provisions in state law for delaying elections in extraordinary circumstances, but nothing on the books to address chaos surrounding federal elections. [At least this time they're asking permission to countryjack us, one's imaginary friend thinks in a moment of cold comfort.] And, as Madrid suggests, a terrorist attack will affect election results. Since the easy money is on Bush if shit blows up in early November, a postponed election would likely not benefit Bush.)
Lehrer asks the Democlaat if strategists are gaming out the odds for a post-attack election and, if so, who they pick to reap the biggest benefit. The dishwater donkey offers the same Clintonian demurral he's dropped twice already—"I am sure all three of us here today hope and expect that the elections will proceed as planned"—and then adds that he doesn't know a "single strategist" imagining contingencies like terorrist attacks and cancelled elections. One can only conclude the strategists he pals about with LIVE IN FUCKING CANDYLANDISTAN. Who isn't thinking about outcomes like this?
I can only hope things get better when Ned Sublette appears today on Leonard Lopate. His book, Cuba And Its Music, is a fricking monsterpiece and his pre-publication preaching at the 2003 EMP was some elevated shit.
I have to wait till erybody—I mean ERYBODY—is out of the house before I can put on Jacki-O.
I'm one track into the new Boyz II Men album, Throwback, and I already feel like holding a bake sale for them: a straight, untweaked cover of The Dazz Band's "Let It Whip." They've skipped VH1 and gone straight to weddings and bar mitzvahs. Damn. Oh, wait. This is all covers, this album. Doesn't much alter the impression, frankly.
"I got two words for you: Karl fucking Kraus! Die Fackel, a self-written, self-published newspaper quoting ridiculous items from the press and then ranting brilliantly around them, is widely accepted by scholars to be the major precursor to The Minor Fall, The Major Lift.
I found the German text of Kraus' notorious commentary on the sinking of the Titanic. Here are the headlines and the last section of the piece, roughly translated (there are undoubtedly puns and jokes I don't get):
'Great Victory for Technology
Silver Cutlery for Ten Thousand People
God Did Not Study Shipbuilding….
Sixteen machinists and the head machinist prayed on their knees, waiting for the Titanic to go under.... The lights were still burning on the ship, which was now turned almost completely on its head, its rear half looming 150 meters over the night-black sea, like a tower raised toward Heaven... And the band played on: ‘Nearer my God, to thee…’” It is inhumane to give God jurisdiction in this area. One feels sorry for those who, in their ultimate misery, felt the need to represent themselves as comrades dying side by side, settling accounts before the big crash. One must lament a world which actively prizes the idea that chit-chat in those final minutes was dedicated to finance. Optimists build a funeral pyre for a machinist on his knees! They beat a retreat from this momentous battle, which decided the fate of their flotilla of progress, back to the terra firma of “joy in life,” until, smoked out of all figurative foxholes, from the rescue of passengers to the rescue of the wireless to the rescue of clichés, they could no longer save themselves from drowning in naked shamelessness. Any pretext for their brazenness toward Nature was burst. One will no longer have faith in their ships. Providence answers on the wireless, but not as expected. They sold out God to the machine, and he came down like the Deus ex machina, leading this blessed object to its complicated end.'
It turns out that a German author named Gerald Heidegger, no kidding, anticipated my K. K. argument in a 2003 article called 'Karl Kraus und die Blogger.' He writes (I use this time the Netscape translator): 'In the InterNet one will intensify one hundred after year the Kraus's style of interpolating strange and own texts.' He goes on to compare Kraus to Andrew Sullivan: 'Kraus like Sullivan refer in relation to a certain intellectual field the position of the Ketzers: Kraus, the way companion of many years of the Social Democrats, that in the 30's Dollfuss defended, the Jew, who over-throws itself radically with the Judentum, etc.; Sullivan, the gay republican, that socially liberals, but falcon with regard to foreign policy.' I think I see."
The first responses to my question:
Jordan Davis: "The daily expository theme, as instituted at Harvard in the 1830s then carried over to all the institutions with Harvard-envy over the next few decades. The record on this is The Elephants Teach, a history of creative writing in America. Also, Senator Graham's lists."
Clint Newman: "Photographer Walker Evans was a compulsive list-maker. Simple personal poetry. I think some are compiled in Unclassified, some sort of collection of his writing. (He translated Baudelaire and other French writers). Here's a decent overview."
Peter Culley sent two quotes with a framing note: "The formal accumulation of fragments a blog represents becomes interesting over time not only at the immediate level of narrative, image, or designation, but for the resonances it creates. The way in your blog, for example, that the record of your listening builds against the ground of your looking. The way the space between Jordan's blogs becomes an experienced entity."
"The open limit is a designation that I walk through in a kind of network looking for a site. And then I select the site. There's no criteria; just how the material hits my psyche when I'm scanning it. But it's a kind of low level scanning, almost unconscious. When you select, it's fixed so that randomness is then determined. It's determined in uncertainty. At the same time, the fringes or boundaries of the designation are always open." — Robert Smithson
"Zeppelins float in the darkness beneath ancient cosmological maps; the entire anachronistic discordia concors is dedicated to finding the most startling relationships between images that are worlds apart. The Atlas proposes an art of the in-between, what Warburg called the 'iconology of the interval'. God, he famously declared, resides in the details; the inhuman presence that hovers in the darkness between these images is, says the philosopher Giorgio Agamben, 'the dark demon of an unnamed science whose contours we are only today beginning to glimpse'. " — from Brian Dillon on Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas."
"Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities might also fit. It's a sprawling novel without anything resembling a constructed plot, but on every page is a brilliant observation about human behavior reflected in the manners of pre-WWI Viennese society. It was smuggled out of Germany and then passed around for decades before it was published. That makes it sort of blog-like. It was published in Germany decades later, and was only recently translated into English. [Ed.: This translation from 1953 was the first.] Check out this appreciation written by, of all people, Harvey Pekar."
And looking into the black hole of the present moment, Keith Harris: "In my darker moments, I think blogging has turned us into a nation of Larry Kings."
My links are back! Please visit my friends over there. They're fabulous and they're all on some kind of summertime roll.
Arto Lindsay's average melody shape and vocal delivery is indebted to the same as heard in August Darnell's "I'll Play The Fool," which is available on this excellent compilation. You know how I love Darnell. It isn't changing.
Gisele, always on the hunt for deviance errors, suggests I may have sexed up the Milianalism dossier. After some pleasant data cleaning, I add this caveat: Bitches, IT IS SUMMER AND I NEED MY R&B. I am so NOT getting what I need from the radio, so it is to be expected that I will overcompensate with the objects at hand. And I can't wait for clowns to release singles on their timetable. I need "I Need More" on the morning show NOW.
My enthusiasms sometimes overtake the objects being enthused over. Coffee'd up and thinking straight, we put our A team on It's About Time. I overvalued "Someday One Day" and "Highway," though I still like them. "I'm Sorry" lands on wack, despite the tight Poli Paul beat. Joe Budden—he's good. We're happy to see him replacing Ja Rule as forklift. (THIS JUST IN: Further gross and complicating evidence that art is complicated.) "Peanut Butter & Jelly" should be better with a name like that, though it's on the right track. I love "Dip It Low" a little more than it deserves, likely on sonics. "Dip"'s disappointing "the way to a man's heart is through his stripper pole" sentiments are balanced out by "I Need More"'s "all herbs to the curb" philosophy. The song is "Toxic, part 2," musically, and "I Cram 2 Understand U, part 2," conceptually. Check the genius pacing and killer reward delivery system—Bloodshy & Avant like everything in their salad that I like in my salad. The last two songs, "I Miss You Like Crazy" and "Oh Daddy," are crap. The album will surely drop down a place or twenty-five on my list. When it gets cold. (PS: When will somebody realize that R&B ballads, unlike country and rock ballads, rarely chart and are just dragging albums down?)
Fuck this shit.
I do not know who Bluebird are, but their song "Falling Back To Earth" kinda rocks. (I am trying vainly to fill the void left by Buckcherry and Cell.)
Regular correspondent Joe Gross writes:
"DO NOT sleep on Canned Heat. They were one of the, if not THE, first rock band made up of serious, nerdy record collectors (in their case, blues 78s). At least those who openly identified as record collectors. This is of historical value, weight, etc. and can be said to lead to say, I dunno, Sonic Youth maybe. This is also the reason that "Goin' Up the Country" was based on an old Henry Thomas tune (the wonderful "Bull Doze Blues").
Also, a few key members were introduced to each other by that other blues nerd, John Fahey. And C.H.'s performance in the Woodstock film just fucking smokes."
This communication triggered a memory: At some point in the 1970s, Joe Bussard sold Canned Heat so many vintage 78s from his collection that he was subsequently able to buy a pool, a fixture he regularly credits to their patronage.
His tour was fantastic, so we wish David a speedy recovery. (There are no coded messages in this. I just mean it. Do check the typo in the last line of the Reuters piece, though.) I hope he doesn't mind that The Sands quoted "Ashes To Ashes" in a song.
From a publicist email:
"A MTV News piece on the "Coolie Dance" rhythm will run today during TRL, which airs between 5pm and 6pm. It'll also be on DFX, which airs between 7pm and 8pm. The segment will run throughout MTV/MTV2 tonight and tomorrow. Guest VJ Will Ferrell will intro the piece which includes producer Scatta Burrell on all segments except TRL, which is a shorter version of the piece."
From an anonymous source in a NY state restaurant:
"Usher. Major cheap tipper. Latest sojourn in restaurant involved showing up with no reservation at 7 PM on a Thursday night, taking a 4-top for just him and his date, and insisting on having the table next to him kept open for his security goon. Two iced teas, two salads and two hours later, he leaves a 5% tip! The waiter involved had to be restrained from popping off some remarks as Usher swept gracefully out of the restaurant. Other extreme—Jay-Z. Always calls half hour ahead to make sure a table is ready and keeps his goons in the car. He is charming and friendly to all, once inviting the star-struck busser to get Beyoncé's autograph and always tipping large."
Tobias and Gotham all up in the Times this week. The web version doesn't have the photo of my brother, so go on out and get that hard copy, swinging singles. Odd that nobody told Jonathan or Tobias about the choice beforehand, though it hasn't exactly worked out badly. Very glad to see reproductions of two TFJ photos, which were partially repsonsible for me picking up the digi eye last year. Not so sure about this word "freedom."
Checked in with Hot 97 this morning, which only seven short years ago was on some kind of hemp-fueled expressway to the skull of all funk memories. Come back Foxy Brown and D-Dot Angelettie—all is forgiven.
No longer. Now it's Missjones and Assorted Clowns LLP asking listeners to suggest their own reality shows. ("Pimps Gone Wild" was one median response). The computer-controlled playlist is no different from what anyone with Acquisition and the latest Billboard charts could (and did) assemble: Slow Motion. Overnight Celebrity. On Fire. Through The Wire. What. The. Fuck.
So we turn to free-standing CDs, which people still manufacture. And send to me. We learned this:
Infinite Livez: Why we will, not happily but with little hesitation, take Lloyd Banks over the under.
Christina Milian, It's About Time: I don't mean to blaspheme, but this is what Dangerously In Love was trying to be. We'll get back to that. First. Can you imagine me shrieking like a small woodland animal? (That sound.) I am doing that. Bloodshy & Avant—artists of the motherfucking year. "Toxic" was enough manna to keep the kid fed for the forseeable, but "I Need More" is one of those songs that makes me feel like the future is going to be bright and I am going to wear shades beacuse the new titanium people don't know how they shine. The future folks can't see the difference between ringtone, rock, pop and bongo fascism and I can't find my eyeballs because the Grimace smacked me on the back and I found myself on the hovercraft doing The Popcorn with a lawyer. Holy. Fucking Shit. And the Joe Budden track is exactly the kind of hybrid Hot 97 was living on in 1997. Remember Memphis Bleek on "Once In A Lifetime"? Like that. And the ballads all sound like the scene in Alien when everybody wakes up outta the pods, which is what all R&B ballads should sound like. Eighteen tracks of ProTools harmony and ferocious alienation. (Please check this update.)
X-Ecutioners, Revolutions: A#1 sign the wackness has covered your manse like ivy: The best track features The Blue Man Group.
Snow Patrol: Kinda great now. Not so good before.
And album called Paris—The Sex, The City, The Music. This album was called Discovery the first time. That said, you'd think it could work out all over again under different management. It did not, which means you already know what it sounds like.
The Black Album: Pete Rock Remix: Just like Paris, sex and tunes seem an easy three-way to line up, this presents as a fairly easy lo-res mash to pull off. And somehow Quo (what's his status?) doesn't do it. I don't recognize the beats, so they may be of BBE vintage, which would explain things. Are they from the INI album? I don't think so. Whatever they are, you won't hear "T.R.O.Y." under Shawn. Too bad. Obvious don't scare us.
The Fontaine Toups, self-titled: Conflict alert: This album was recorded and produced by Adam Lasus, who owns Fireproof and assisted with overdubs and mixing at last week's Sands session. But he ain't paid me and I like this record just fine. And I didn't much care for Versus.
Clearlake, Cedars: Why isn't this record huge? What happened? "Almost The Same" is so the jam. Ach, I must versify my love:
"Almost The Same" is so good.
Goddamn, you clowns must stop.
Stop releasing that wack shit.
You are not Toots, and that is not "Pressure Drop".
SFJ in not writing band bio shockah!
I was thinking about blog precedents yesterday.
Not the obvious diary stuff, but some kind of prose that moves fast and stays personal or, if not personal in the "what I ate" mode, then at least committed to a language that goes faster for the few than the many. And I suppose we should factor in some degree of "influence," meaning the liner notes to the third KK Null record won't do. Nah—scrap that restraint. Anything will do.
Thinking very quickly and then moving on, these occurred to me: Some of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems; some of Xgau's Consumer Guide entries; several different liner notes. (There's a Dylan album that has Bobness which reminds me of Olivia Fairweather, but I don't know which one. Oh, vice versa, pedants.)
You have the impression I lose or ignore the things you send me, but it just isn't true. I'd love your input htis time. Really oh really.
We see what you're up to. You think we just wake up in the morning, poke ourselves with a stick, and look for people to hate on. Just yesterday, a kind soul asked me to "slay" this person. I do not want to slay anybody. I am all about love.
John McWhorter is a nervous saddo. He sees a bad world. Yes. We just checked. The world's bad. We can't call him entirely stupid—McMarsalis is right that Tupac is an overrated MC. But McCrouch is nothing more than a tree-killer if he can't understand why Tupac became overrated. He'd be waging a different campaign if he could explain how rage and the desire for recognition fuel a song and how the song, in turn, releases that anger and creates its own IOU of recognition. McHuntington would need to show us how the magnets of identification and funk can put mutually loathing cohorts on the same boat where Rock The Vote never could. These are only two of the reasons hip-hop is simultaneously a minstrel show, market takeover, market surrender, black power clearance sale, same old same old, and pop hit-machine. The recipe has been written down a million times: blues (rendering of singular pain as portable entertainment center), black exclusion, dissemination of duplicates, white guilt, green power. Whatevs. Dude is playing himself.
(Bites stick. Tries to see blue and purple rather than red. Takes brief, icy shower.)
Damn you, Maud!
Can we talk about label samplers? Can we talk about sex? Can we talk barefoot baseball? Can we talk about how I don't seem to understand how my new schedule works and now I'm sitting on my hands? Have I told you about the weird events on my left side—puzzled lip, sock on half of head, irregular blimps of circulation—which may be epiphenomena produced by the installation of a threaded titanium base in my lower left jaw? (Anyone who's been through temporary nerve damage, holler.) Did I tell you about Nellie and Lou? (It was pretty much the exact inverse of that linked review.) Can I dig the new breed?
Labels nowadays—there are too many. Go away, labels. Go on. Scoot. But I have before me the Neurot sampler and the Leaf label sampler and there is an averaging out in their collations that I appreciate. I am talking about the number-crunching optimization effected by any competently cherry-picked compilation, which is related to the odds built into the Nashville assembly-line 10 songs/10 unique writers ratio. Marshalling the many and distinct to complete the single and coherent is a good idea. This is one reason there are three singing people on the Sands album. No single skill set can get us to the promised land. This is why the lone gunman theory of genius often fails, especially when the Beatles are pressed into a support role. So many many great records are driven by three or four personalities and actors—nowpop, screw, bluegrass or otherwise. The problem of aesthetics as it applies to assigning credit in pop recordings is not just located in the massive raft of hidden agendas that Troy their way into an argument on behalf of Person X or Y. The indian rope burn is that a major presupposition of treating differing recordings is starting with the idea that they're created in radically different ways. They usually aren't. No matter how smart Steve Albini is and no matter how articulately he defends the rights of bands to "say" what they want to "say" (not to mention the question of who "everyone" is), there isn't a single thing about electrical recordings that is natural or simply declarative. The process is inherently assembled. And there isn't a single record made that doesn't involve at least the dyad of singer and engineer, even if the engineer is a boombox designed by someone a thousand miles away. (See also: Bring me the head of the dude who programmed the Roland 808.) Or, this: "Each jump in the dark we claim as our own, we know it's a lie; we never acted alone," from "The Wizard of Menlo Park," Un, Chumbawamba, 2004.
That's a bit off-topic, though still on-pattern, because I'm grasping at the division of labor implicit in label comps. I don't have any deep love for either post-Slint metal or post-Tortoise twinkletoes music, but give every striver their five minutes, let them drop the one hook they've sphinctered out and gather the results. The side-by-side accretion of mild differences will often enhance the larger genre's larger charms. These are both genres that exult in their genre-ness and don't particularly want to risk stumbling anywhere near the finish line. I don't respect that as a pleasure principle but if I have to listen to the stuff, at least I can get a thumb-through. I wouldn't listen to an entire album by any of these bands, except maybe for Oxbow.
(I'll stand by the paradigm, though this case study is built on sand: I was bored silly by the time I got to the end of these samplers. They are now filed with some pencil shavings and a banana peel. This theory works better when our test cases are the Sony R&B or Sony Nashville samplers. Well, no. These are actually bad examples—the songs compiled on these samplers are aimed at the finish line, and do seek to be singles.)
Alex and I agree with Douglas (who generously provides an MP3 of the text in question): The Dog Faced Herman's "Time Bomb" was aptly named. It is one of the few 90s indie singles that acted like a single. The song works as both a concentrated dose of the noise that is indie's birthright and a beautifully wound instance of the pop imperative to keep things moving. I didn't always hate indie rock. I forget that.
In further agreeance news, Joshua answers the question in exactly the fashion I hoped it would be answered. Takes me back to the day when two sevens clashed and we would heat up the transatlantic fiber optics sparring about Roxette. Dark is globally en fuego, so stay tuned on the daily while he does his thing. Paris agrees.
Further notes on boodley-oodley: My beef with Lay Mr. Lay is hardly his wack executive washroom blues genre. I've been in rental cars. I have found myself pulling in a station I'll never find again and hearing a band I'll never know the name of playing 1-4-5 through crap amps and feeling that this eternal seesaw could scissor me all the way to the airport. And I can't snap on his new Margaritaville guitar paint job. (His previous hideous guitar was painted by a famous graffiti artist and we can't figure out who loses biggest in that one.) I have plenty of ugly instruments. And I don't read his cluelessness as a function of age—never that. His project does not offend me, qua project. Blues rock could die tomorrow or live forever and either outcome would be fine. I'd rather hear Randy Joe Hobbs than the fricking Radio 4 and I'd rather hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs than Canned Heat. Whatever—minor diff, low affect story. What I object to is the Pavlovian nostalgia handoff and laziness of execution. That is my beef and the butcher what sells it.
Several of sunshine's solos did start out as bonafide thoughts. You could hear motion and resonance if you strained. Silver peeked through the mud, though there was no mud. But then the monkey cheering would start, Slowhand's synapses would get the best of him and he'd drop down to muscle memories. This is pardonable. But those monkey squeaks really spavined the scene because, really, why had he bothered to tour? To make JBL a buck? Uh, maybe, sure, who knows? So Creambuddy descended as far as his tendons allowed, down to the crowd-pleasers every player fears she will be reduced to. Some are more happy than others to jump right into the shit.
Here's a parallel: I know bupkus about Derek Trucks, his Band or his past. I just received a complimentary copy of his new double live CD. I don't like his Santana-lite band or his love-the-life-you're-livin' songs that are not songs. But music drips from his goddamn fingers, and I'd like to ProTools his entire CD down to nothing but solos. I could care less that he's fifth in line after Stevie Ray and Duane and Johnny Winter and that dude who plays solos on Dwight Yoakam records. He's on fire and nobody can put him out. The package he arrives in concerns me not.
Crapton's show also sent me back to Dylan at the 9:30 Club a few months ago. Whatever may have gone wrong with Bob, whatever shortcomings are made obvious by any longitudinal comparisons, dude is not running a Happy Days jukebox, WWF announcer intro aside. His band makes a big, nasty guitar sound and the songs are, all too famously, sumbmerged inside the perversity, pehraps shortstopping some of the song's original force but also cockblocking any reflexive affirmation, which we know that Bob does not like. And and and to the and: his two guitarists, Larry Campbell and Fuzzy Zoeller, solo all night long. They never stop. You think that they will but then they do not. They think and puff and squeeze, and you know what? They kill it almost every time out. Motherfuckers are working. That is all I ask, nation of broheems. Don't put cards up your sleeve and I will find the time to salute your irrelevant ass.
What do you do when you're working with a new drummer, or an old bass player, on a song they don't know half as well as the audience? What if the drummer and bassist unconsciously vamp on "Magic Man" while the singer throws up? If a quote falls in the hall and nobody knows it, is it a reference? I know that—pick a card, any card—live improvisers do not generally want to ape an existing text, even if they quote one. And, within the sphere of mechanically reproduced recordings, there is a distinct thread of larceny, commentary and quotation that makes the game hot like we like.
Ad Rock, breaking down the present tense and dropping something: "And yes I got to say fuck the KKK." Smoking!
One problem: Even the FUCKING REPUBLICANS know enough to say racism is bad now. This party party album would be infinitely better (though not good) without the Zoom! bumper stickers. The bad engineering is one thing, the lack of hooks and boom-drop moments is another, but here's the spicy Cajun rub: These Three Stooges could have gone gold in a week with anything, including a hellacious dose of hateration, name-calling, and political drop-kicks. What did we get? Fucking iTunes exclusives! exclusives! and "Kumbaya." And their target demo is going to be running companies within 10 years.
1) If you are recording a conga overdub and the word "kegger" pops into your head, stop. Turn back. Get up. Move away from the microphone.
2) If all you're going to do is sit there and read Tape Op and tell jokes, don't. Shut the fuck up and go home.
3) I didn't actually say "I love Franco Harris."
4) If there is someone in the room who can sing and someone who really can't, record the person who can sing first.
Things I learned this week from standing in front of people while they played music:
1) Er1c C1apton says that he shot the sheriff. This is odd, because it seems like he probably has dinner with the sheriff and summers with the sheriff and, of a Saturday, motors down to the high street and shops for synthetic waffle-stitch Nike hooves with the sheriff. But maybe something went wrong with that whole insurance deal and Erick simply had to shoot the sheriff, though he would advise the young and impressionable not to follow his lead, were he given the chance to clarify his position.
2) The beat from "Tipsy" sounds much better when Dizzee Rascal rhymes over it.
7) Are all bands cover bands, since a live performance only ever approximates the pre-existing recording? Since this list uses the declarative, we will say: All bands are cover bands, since a live performance only ever approximates the pre-existing recording.
8) "Fit But You Know It" is apparently a "girls n' guitars romp," but we kinda think maybe it's just rock music.
9) What white people really, really want to dance to is reggae. Allatime reggae. Because those guys know how to party. No, honey, you can sit. I just love this song. Wooh! You remember when we first met? God, I hope our kids have a better RC than we did! Oh, look! He's going to do "Cocaine"!
10) Husbands went irrationally apeshit for high-necked boodley-oodley-oodley hammer-ons. In fact, if the entire show had been nothing but high-necked boodley-oodley-oodley hammer-ons, several people sitting in the VIP section would have fucking passed out from sheer admiration.
11) You look wonderful tonight. (This was hard to confirm statistically because of the thick and fragrant pot smoke, but apparently your brah Erikk can see the real you.)
12) Somebody actually said "C1apton is God." Like that. In The bathroom.
13) Mike Skinner told the last joke on this page.