A prompt, idea, and hope

I haven't posted in a long time. I was going to write something about the genius of OutKast because their jams were basically the anthems of my January, but Dave decided to be a dick and do it first. That being said, Hip-Hop as a genre is still fair game. And I'm still going to reference OutKast a few times.

Andre 3000 proclaimed, "I'm out here knowing Hip-Hop is dead, the average nigger on my corner yelling what the fuck you mean?" in 2001 and his bold statement and foresight have yet to be disproved. Hip-Hop is dead, or, hopefully, it's comatose. It's as shameful and pathetic as our moribund economy.
Sorry, I've been a little bit morose when it comes to the genre I love so dearly since 2009 rolled in, thereby officially ending a second straight year of laughable Hip-Hop output.
The other day I was walking around Boston with my sister and was, for the trillionth time, trying to figure out exactly why Hip-Hop today just isn't what it used to be; and I, with her help, was able to come up with something that will at least satiate me and keep me optimistic for another year or two. What we came up with, as obvious as it may seem, was that Hip-Hop is no longer music for subversives, but rather is the Pop music of today.
This is to say that it's no longer N'Sync and Backstreet Boys (much love, y'all) gracing the speakers of middle school socials nationwide, but rather Kanye West (respectable), UNK (omfgod), Lil' Wayne (he is a musical punner, not a rapper), and Soulja Boy (djnfdsfo) bumping while kids are grinding for the time and popping three centimeter boners. The music that once was saturated with and was wholly comprised of feeling-- a music that was about the lyrics --is now (d)evolving into a genre where lyrics are often indecipherable from their obnoxious beats.

Now, the existence of this form of music is not what annoys me; there is always a pretty disagreeable form of pop dominating media. What bothers me is that this barely recognizable form of Hip-Hop has not really emerged as a sub or splinter genre, but has pretty much taken the place of its forefather altogether.
It can be argued that pure Hip-Hop has not been around for a while, but at least there was a strong underground scene that cradled the embers of the genre and kept them just alive enough to keep fans hopeful. But Def Jux, DOOM, Grimm, and other legendary non-mainstreamers are agin, and a fresh new crop of insightfuls has yet to present itself.

Let's put our hands together and pray that Hip-Hop follows the route of a comatose Soap stud and awakens with a newfound vim and vigor after hindsight bites him in the ass and reminds him of what he had and where he came from.



While I would never pretend to be a Will Oldham stan, I can say with certitude that he is one of the most revelatory and brilliant singer-songwriters (what a disgusting tag that is) working today. To listen to a Will Oldham production is to give yourself up to his mastery of songcraft and dense lyrical allusion and depth. His most recent album, Lie Down in the Light was an interesting turn, a considerably lighter affair than his last proper record, The Letting Go. But get ready dudes, he's unleashing the beard on this next one.

"Oh no, the bracelet doesn't come off. Now- the lotion. Give it to me."

In his recent profile in The New Yorker, and after that on p4k and assorted other intranets tastemakers, Oldham has referred to the fact that his upcoming venture Beware is the "big record" to match Lie Down in the Light, a "little record". This apparently is indicative of a increased publicity push, and judging from the first song released from the record, on WYNC's Soundcheck, a slightly more traditional Oldham seriousness. In addition to this, the cover is completely business oriented-- somehow even more frightening than I See a Darkness (which featured a fuckin' skull).

Please...Help...Moustache consuming...everything.

And if there are any Neil Young fans out there, you may have noticed something.

Not too dissimilar, yeah? One can only hope than Oldham is pulling a Lil' Wayne, and using the cover as an indicator that this is his game changer, an album to redefine his career and put him forever in the pantheon of greats (Unfortunately, Wayne didn't pull it off, which people will realize as soon as they wake up and pull their heads out of their asses). Alternatively, our boy is about to drop an album of stunning bleakness and mind-boggling grief (which is logical, considering that in the realm of Will Oldham material, Lie down in the Light is as similar as he's ever going to get to Harvest [okay stans, back off. Although On the Beach is the actual precedent to Tonight's the Night, it was recorded after, which makes Harvest the precedent in terms of artistic growth and progression. Bite me]). Whatever the case, the song on Soundcheck makes a strong case for this to be Oldham's best record in quite some time.

Beware comes out on March 17th on Drag City.


Some things about Can't Stop Won't Stop

I finished Can’t Stop Won’t Stop a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about it little by little for a while now. I was expecting it to be something different—to name each band, sub-genre and trend in hip-hop and have Jeff Chang tell me everything I needed to know about it. I was expecting him to passionately examine the Run DMC/Aerosmith video and devote 2 to 3 chapters to the Biggie/Tupac conflict. I was pleasantly surprised though—“Walk This Way” was mentioned only in passing, and I don’t think he ever talked about Biggie, and Tupac was only mentioned as the son of Black Panther Afeni Shakur.

Instead the book was a 500-page dive into Black American history in the late 20th century. Beginning with chaos in the Bronx, i
nto the Black Belt in Long Island to gang wars in LA, he discusses hip-hop’s intimate relationship with conflicts in Black America. It’s awesome because Chang is really smart, basically, and isn’t afraid to forge a connection (that I find a lot of people are really reluctant to forge, for really fucking obvious reasons) between hip-hop and activism. The last chapter led me to believe this, at least. He also includes a portion of the (I think) historic interview with Ice Cube and Angela Davis. If you have access to JSTOR, I would sincerely recommend that you read that shit (search “Nappy Happy”).

Except this book doesn’t really discuss contemporary acts—I guess why waste ink on T.I.?—but I sort of want an update. What does Jeff Chang think when he turns on MTV today? Is he OK with it? Should G-Unit have a Minister of Information? I want him to tell me if it’s even appropriate to consider these primarily moneymaking endeavors on the same level with Public Enemy. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that he would say NO, but I guess I’d want him to elaborate.
Also, why does he think that neo-soul is a feminist answer to the uber-masculine mainstream hip-hop? Oy vey (lolz).



I've been listening to OutKast an outrageous amount recently, and I continue to be surprised by their breathtaking intelligence and skill. From Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to their most recent song with Raekwon, they have a stunning amount of truly transcendent material, and even at their worst are better than most of the shit coming out of the South or any other area today. So in honor of my newly heightened amount of respect for the group, I'm throwing up a list of their ten best songs, as far as I'm concerned.

1. ATLiens - ATLiens

The best song from their first great album
, with Big Boi backing up his boasts of greatness with his most skilled verses yet, and 'Dre lays out what will be his M.O. for the rest of his career in one of my all time favorite verses.

"Softly as if I played piano in the dark
Found a way to channel my anger not to embark
The world's a stage and everybody's got to play their part
God works in mysterious ways so when he starts
the job of speakin through us we be so sincere with this here
No drugs or alcohol so I can get the signal clear as day
Put my glock away I got a stronger weapon
that never runs out of ammunition so I'm ready for war okay"
-Andre 3000

2. Return of the "G" - Aquemini

A scathing critique of gangster culture from rap's most astute critics, matched with a skulky, brooding beat held down by a thumping drum loop and a surreal, hazy chorus. Also, attached to one of their funniest skits.

"Return of the gangsta thanks ta'
them niggas who got them kids
who got enough to buy an ounce
but not enough to bounce them kids to the zoo
or to the park so they grow up in the dark never
seein' light so they end up being like yo' sorry ass
robbin' niggas in broad ass daylight get down"
-Andre 3000
3. Rosa Parks - Aquemini

One of their catchiest songs ever, this was the song I could put on at parties in high school that was guaranteed to provoke a positive reaction amongst all my friends, which is not to say it's not up to lyrical par--Big Boi's verse is one of his best. Also, it has the best use of a harmonica solo I've ever heard (Sorry Blues Traveler). (Note: To people who download this song, the skit at the end is really the intro to Skew it on the Bar-B, featuring Raekown)

"Many a day has passed, the night has gone by
But still I find the time to put that bump off in your eye
Total chaos, for these playas, thought we was absent
We takin another route to represent the Dungeon Family
Like Great Day, me and my nigga decide to take the back way
We stabbing every city then we headed to that bat cave
A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya
Bull doggin hoes like them Georgetown Hoyas
Boy you sounding silly, thank my Brougham aint sittin pretty
Doing doughnuts round you suckas like then circles around titties
Damn we the committee gone burn it down
But us gone bust you in the mouth with the chorus now"
-Big Boi

4. Humble Mumble - Stankonia

All that really need to be said here is that I still get chills. Every single time the song hits 1:35, the new drum loop kicks in and Three Stacks drops an absolutely jaw-dropping verse that I can't even begin to do credit in describing it. This would be far and away my number one if the last two minutes weren't some girl screaming. Stupid hip-hop divas.

"Too Democratic, Republic fuck it
We chicken nugget, we dip in the sauce like mop and bucket
Blue-collar scholars, who'll take your dollar and wipe my ass wit it
You livin for the lotto never hit it
I met a critic, I made her shit her drawers
She said she thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol
I said "Oh hell naw!" But yet it's that too
You can't discrimi-hate cause you done read a book or two
What if I looked at you in a microscope, saw all the dirty organisms
living in your closet would I stop and would I pause it? Whoo!
To put that bitch in slower motion, got the potion and the antidote
And a quote for collision the decision.. is,
do you want to live or wanna exist?
The game changes everyday so obsolete is the fist and marches
Speeches only reaches those who already know about it
This is how we go about it"
-Andre 3000

5. Gasoline Dreams - Stankonia

Oh man, to have been a hip-hop fan when this song first hit the world. An furious, guitar driven, banger that comes out of the starting gate with an ass-kicking agenda and the most brutal chorus OutKast has ever unleashed.

"Don't everybody like the smell of gasoline?
Well burn motherfucka burn American Dreams
Don't everybody like the taste of apple pie?
We'll snap for your slice of life I'm tellin' ya why
I hear that mother nature's now on birth control
The coldest pimp be looking for somebody to hold
The highway up to Heaven got a crook on the toll
Youth full of fire ain't got nowhere to go nowhere to go"

6. Player's Ball - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
7. Wheelz of Steel - ATLiens
8. B.O.B. - Stankonia
9. Art of Storytelling (pt. 4) - Gangsta Grillz: The Album
10. So Fresh, So Clean - Stankonia

It's been a long time since we had some new material from these dudes to pore over, and I personally can't wait till their rumored solo albums drop. Big Boi's supposedly comes out in February, and no news on 'Dres. It's also rumored that once their two solo discs drop, they'll head back into the studio as a team. Finally! Let's hope it's true.



Hey Guys. Big Gulps, huh?

(Hey Y'all. I'm very, very late. I'm exhausted from doing nothing on break apparently, and for that I apologize.)


So the most / second most anticipated album of the year (as far as me and pretty much everybody is concerned) is out. Reports are in that it's pretty great (see above), and I wholeheartedly agree. "Summertime Clothes", "My Girls", and "Brothersport" seem to be the hits thus far. I'll throw my weight behind "Summertime Clothes" as my favorite, and probably in my top 5 favorite songs of the year. It's skewed pop genius is even more addictive than it initially appears, building through a pulsing, creeping, head-nodding verse to a joyous exultation of a chorus that kills every time through it. Animal Collective still have a few tricks up their sleeve, throwing in more than a few sound effects to spice everything up, but the song's formality in structure has only been seen a few times before in their catalog. Fortunately, it works even more beautifully than their more expansive, meandering work. The rest of the album is also fantastic. Get the leak if you have the means, and then BUY THE ALBUM.

Animal Collective -- Summertime Clothes

Other recent thoughts:

Of all the bands I've discovered in the past two weeks, Gang Gang Dance stuck around the most. Saint Dymphna is great, I'm very excited to dig into their back catalog.

I'm not sure any criticism gave me more to think about than this. Very difficult for me to understand.

Decent music journalism recently, in the NYT magazine (Andrew Bird) and New Yorker (Will Oldham). What a baller Will Oldham is. The piece also got me into Viva Last Blues, which is fantastic.

Not sure why it took me so long to start reading Dusted, but it's excellent.

I am so excited for the next Grizzly Bear album, I don't know what to tell you. Department of Eagles, and the prospect of seeing them live on the 18th (Boston. Anyone want to come?), is the only thing keeping me going.

I'll be back in full soon, I promise.



"They'll all laugh at you."

I'm writing this while watching "The Exorcist" alone in my basement, with all the lights on. I have to do this because honestly, I'm just too scared to give my full attention to the movie. Here's the thing: I love horror films. Apparently. Who knew? Until recently, I'd always thought I hated them. But really, I've just always been bad at them. I get way too scared way too easily. I can't sleep, sometimes for days; my neck gets tired of whipping around to look behind me every five minutes; I can't look in a mirror without my heart racing. It's just never been worth it. But now, suddenly, I've decided that it is.

A month ago I watched "Silence of the Lambs", and that was the movie that started all this. All my anxieties and overwhelming fears were still there - I still was scared to turn the lights off afterward, and I still checked to make sure all the windows were locked before I went to bed - but I realized for the first time

Okay, wait, sorry, I have to interrupt myself for a minute. I stopped in the middle of that sentence when I realized that I really wasn't paying any attention at all to the movie and I probably should. So I just shut my computer and watched for a while. And now, twenty minutes later, I'm back up in my room, shaking. I just looked and saw that the lights in the room next to where I was sitting were flickering a little bit. I completely freaked out, shut off the TV, grabbed my knitting and laptop and ran upstairs to my room. This was just a perfect example of how I cannot handle scary movies in the very least. Seriously, I couldn't even finish the fucking movie, and now I'm convinced Reagan is hiding under my bed with Mischa Barton or something. My heart is still racing. But -

but I realized for the first time that I love that feeling of my heart racing. I really do. I don't know why, obviously it just means that I'm terrified out of my mind, but there is also that tinge of exhilaration that comes along with it. And what I'm discovering right now is that sometimes, that tinge alone is worth it. Sometimes that's what you need to get out of your safe zone. Sometimes it's good to pause every time you hear a random creak in your house; it's good that your heart starts thumping harder when the wind blows a door open. Sometimes it's good to run into the bathroom and brush your teeth as quickly as you can without ever looking into the mirror before sprinting back to your room and leaping into bed so you don't come within a foot of what could be underneath.
Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.

Of course, there are different kinds of horror movies. Bloody ones, zombie ones, mindfuck ones, etc etc. The big thing here is suspense vs. surprise. There's that whole Hitchcock bomb-under-a-dinner-table thing that I can't seem to find the exact quotation of online, but I'm pretty sure my film professor didn't make it up - surprise is when you see two people talking at a dinner table and all of a sudden it explodes; suspense is when you first see someone put a bomb under the table, and then you have to watch the (unknowing) people talking while you wait for it to explode. Or something like that. Both of these elements are necessary for a successful horror film. Surprise and suspense have to work with each other and complement each other to make sure that the viewer is alternating between sitting on the edge of their seat and jumping out of it. We have to have that feeling of anticipation while we're waiting, knowing that something is going to happen...and we still have to not be ready when it does.
Admittedly mainly for the purposes of putting off sleep for a while longer, I'm going to use three examples to demonstrate the different ideas/effects of suspense vs. surprise.


Holy shit. I just saw this for the first time two nights ago. "Carrie" isn't very suspenseful at all, really - you know something bad is happening pretty much constantly throughout the movie. The bucket of blood is obviously a prop designed to further suspense, since we know about it while Carrie doesn't, but unfortunately the aging of this film has in a way ruined that. The story is a big enough part of pop culture that everyone knows what will happen with the bucket of blood, and we know that Carrie's going to freak out about it. What we don't know is exactly when it's going to happen and exactly what she's going to do about it and jesus christ she's telekinetic, how are you supposed to predict what she'll do? And the mirror and the knives and the hand and oh god oh god oh god the hand. Talk about surprise. That's certainly a way to end a movie.


"Rosemary's Baby"
To be honest, I haven't seen this one as recently as I've seen the others. But from what I remember, this film exemplifies "suspense" for me. The music, and the colors, and the tension...I spend the entire film gnawing on my nails and jiggling my feet, preemptively grabbing the cushions because I'm sure that SOMETHING is going to happen. But it never does, at least not until the very end. As a whole, the movie is exceptionally uneventful. But in the best way possible. As boring as it maybe should be, the imagined suspense keeps me waiting and engaged and pretty fucking scared for no real reason at all. I convince myself that something's going to happen, and I spend the entire movie waiting for it.


"The Exorcist"
Okay, so, like I said, I haven't exactly finished this one yet. It's paused downstairs in my DVD player in the room next to the room with the flickering lights. So, granted, this is only from what I've seen of the movie - but to be fair, I made it through most of it. Anyway, "The Exorcist" uses both suspense and surprise together to make sure that you are as terrified as you can possibly be. We are easily lulled into the illusion that we know what's coming. Since Reagan is confined to her room for the entirety of the movie, we know that the scary parts can really only happen there, with her - so we are able to be on our guard when we enter the bedroom, and relax when we leave the house. But the film still manages to throw enough surprises at us. The nature of Reagan's demon is that we never know what's coming, and each violent act is more horrifying and shocking than the last, continually surprising us even though we've been waiting for something to happen.

Dudes, I took a sleeping pill before I started writing this because I knew I'd have trouble getting to bed tonight (yes, I AM that pathetic), and I feel it starting to kick in. Things are starting to get blurry, and that means it's time to stop blogging for the night. Oh. Hm. I just now realized that spending the hour before I go to sleep writing about really scary stuff might not have been the best use of my time...




This morning I woke up from a dream in which bands not only produced music, but also food, and you had to consume that food while listening to the music. In my dream I was listening/eating to Why? (oysters) and Deerhunter (steak), but here are some more...


1) Yo La Tengo = Mac and Cheese

It's all about comfort (HELLO "Little Eyes"!), and also that I have always thought of Ira Kaplan's guitar distortion as the creamy, cheesy sauce all over the wholesome rawk of YLT.

2) the Magnetic Fields = Bagel with Lox

As far as I know, Stephin Merritt isn't any kind of Jew, but again, distortion = some kind of creamy cheese, and I think everything bagels are the equivalent to the infinite depths of Merritt's voice, while the nice lox topping is sort of like Claudia Gonson's airy soprano.

3) Built to Spill = Hot Dogs on the grill

The delicious all-American fave, but there's just that unalienable predictability about them.

4) the Mountain Goats = Granola with Yogurt

The crunchy guitars, the hard to swallow lyrics, all coated in that sweet, protein-rich 'gurt that makes it go down so nice. Also, hippies love 'em.

5) the Fiery Furnaces = Green Tea ice cream

At first you don't know what the fuck is going on, but after a couple refreshing swallows, you sort of get lost in it.

6) Fleet Foxes = Blueberries

So they have lyrics about strawberries in summertime, but Fleet Foxes are really blueberries, I think because their harmonies have a skin, but are also really juicy, and I have always thought that antioxidants would sound like jangly acoustic guitars.

7) Television = Black Coffee

Not only does it wake you the fuck up, but it's pretty edgy, and I find that both Television and black coffee really impede my fine motor skills.

- a (who is posting on Tuesday instead of Monday, because on Monday she was at her grandparents condo in Florida, where apparently DIAL-UP is the only way to access the internet)