In It for Love
Homeboy Sandman: The Good Sun (High Water Music '10)
He's a believer‑-once withdrew from a freestyling contest rather than rhyme to a gunshot beat. He's a vegan who forswears cursewords and caffeine although not reefer, brags about how poor he is, and is avowedly "not pop." But he's no ascetic. His songs come equipped with brief melodic hooks, his rapid rhymes brim with delight, and from gravelly to singsong his flow is always ready for whatever comes next. Sandman has heard the insult knuckleheads aim at every rapper who makes them feel guilty: "Maybe you think I'm whinin' like BeBe and CeCe." But he knows he rhymes for love and for the fun of it, and so will you. A MINUS
Homeboy Sandman: Subject: Matter (Stones Throw download)
He says this EP's subjects matter because no other hip-hopper has touched them, and except for the opener about his creative process, he's got a right, as in the one about his material possessions that includes his sock drawer. His beats stick, and even when he's merely rhyming there's a musicality there: "Carpe diem/As a.m. turn to the p.m./The zone I be in/Muy bien." From the grounded erotic obsession of "Unforgettable" to the down-in-the-flood nightmares of "Soap," he's got a vision. And nowhere is his subject matter more materialistic‑-philosophically, and maybe even dialectically‑-than in "Canned Goods": "Other food spoils much quicker/The spoils go to the victors." A MINUS
Ryan, I tried constructing my own version of Stephin Merritt's best recordings from each of the past 100 years thang and gave up after running into a wall with some titles. Plus, and I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, no two attempts will result in the same version since much of the pre-1920 stuff is songs rather than recordings. So I'm interested in what you came up with for:
1906 "Love Is Like a Cigarette" (Victor Herbert) - I have a version by Duke Ellington on a CD called Solitude. No clue who's singing. Did kd lang ever record this?
1908 "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" (Joe Howard) - I have two versions: Perry Como (with Ted Weems & Orchestra behind, I think) and Joan Morris and William Bolcom from a stiff but useful (coughs) compilation called After the Ball.
1912 "That Shakespearian Rag" (Buck-Ruby-Stamper) - Never found it.
1914 "I've a Shooting Box in Scotland" (Cole Porter) - Great song but the only version I found was a crusty, ghoulish duet between Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby recorded in the 1970s. Spent cash money on a crappy 3-disc set to get it too.
1915 "Play a Simple Melody" (Berlin) - Blanking on which one I found, if any, but I see some versions are up on youtube.
1918 "The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag)" (Gershwins) - My notes say my version is by Ella Fitzgerald but I can't recall hearing it.
1920 Musique d'ameublement (Satie) - Got (some of?) this from Yukato Sado: L'orchestre de Satie - Orchestre des concerts Lamoureux. Creepy stuff if you bear down on it which you're not really supposed to do.
1922 114 Songs (Ives) - All of them, Stephin?
1927 Show Boat (Kern & Hammerstein) - I have the 1988 3-disc studio cast recording where John McGlinn "reconstructs the show as it ran on opening night, November 15, 1927, including every song, the original orchestrations, and all underscored dialogue." And the very first word of which is...
1930 "Love for Sale" (Porter) - Julie London!!!
1936 Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) - I think mine features Bowie which seemed appropriate.
1937 "My Funny Valentine" (Rodgers & Hart) - Matt Damon, of course!
1942 "Be Careful, It's My Heart" (Berlin) - The one from Holiday Inn.
1947 "Be a Clown" (Porter) - From the masterpiece that is The Pirate, of course.
1948 Four Last Songs (Richard Strauss) - Can't recall which version. Maybe Kiri Te Kanawa (sp?)? Fell on deaf ears anyway.
1951 "4'33"," a.k.a. the silent piece (John Cage) - Well, to be silly, I found a recording from the Amadinda Percussion Group.
1999 Fox, Inc.: "Obvious Fake" - Yeah but why Fox, Inc.?
Out of this birth, we got tales of parties and The Message and Rakim asking to get PAID. A lot of people wanted to get paid, just like James Brown and Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. This became a lyrical trope in so much of early rap. And rap evolved-- into a thousand splendid splinters. I loved Digable Planets and Public Enemy. I loved De La Soul and The Notorious B.I.G.. And I love now Shabazz Palaces and Watch The Throne. I don't find Kanye and Jay-Z's exuberance ideologically incompatible with my own politics and I could care less about Gucci, Margiela and Audemars. Jay-Z has a line in Ni**as in Paris,: "We ain't even s'pose to be here". I can read a lot into that.
College rap, indie rap, Canadian Rap, gangsta rap, African rap, Eminem...here at EW, we look for great music everywhere. In a perfect world, I would love to see Chuck D as well off as Jay-Z. But in an even more perfect world, I would love to see DJ Kool Herc not have to worry about his medical bills. At the Jay-Z/Eminem show at Yankee Stadium, after we had seen Kanye, Nicki, Beyonce, Mary Blige, etc, Jay announced that in the front row was one of the founders of hip hop, here in the Bronx, none other than DJ Kool Herc! In the Bronx, the circle was complete and capitalism was on full display.
Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I'd never amount to nothin', to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin' in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin' to make some money to feed my daughters, and all the ni**az in the struggle, you know what I'm sayin'? Uh-ha, it's all good baby bay-bee, uh
(rhymes with French word for mouth)-bag.
N.Y. Times: "North Korea will suspend nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment at its main facility as part of a deal that includes an American food aid package."
Can't wait to hear how the @ss clowns currently running for the GOP nomination will spin Obama's latest foreign policy coup.
Nor was I with the sapeur Papa Wemba's before he was convicted of people smuggling.
Holy Ned! This got past me somehow. What the fook happened?
Quick notes on some titles and performers mentioned around here (and a couple not):
Various, Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM
Cam mentioned this a while back -- four discs of just what it says, roughly chronological with very well-designed and meticulous packaging. All in all, though, still reference library, even for most Afropop zealots. A bit of the same problem I had with many of the Nonesuch Explorer series -- folkloric and impenetrable for outsiders except in an eat-your-peas manner. (One thing a couple quick listens suggests, though, is the power of the marketplace -- might be wrong, but on the whole the performers here sound a tad fresher and more talented than the usual Nonesuch players, who were often kinda the best-available, I've long suspected.)
Finally figured out the proper way to let Skrillex and Omar Souleyman into me -- headphone albums. Favorite aerobic soundtrackers for the past week or so. Or course, the other heavy rotation went to Juno Reactor, Beyond the Infinite, so I think I'm still stuck in the dance past for body-shaking.
Etta James, Matriarch of the Blues. Y'know, when Bob's right, he's right. I kept this a dozen years ago because I cheered the song selections (and thought the cover art had panache), not because I thought there was much indelible about the performances. When you come back and realize there ain't gonna be no more -- man, do the details glisten in the air.
[Surprise No. 1: Somebody else on the eccentric Private Music label that I would put in a word for is, wait for it, New Age priestess Suzanne Ciani. Her anthology the Private Music of Suzanne Ciani is one of the very, very few in the style I play with great pleasure. Take it or leaf it.]
NRBQ, Ludlow Garage 1970
Live in Cincinnati. The only second snapshot available of the original, Columbia-era lineup of the band, when Steve Ferguson was at least as much the leader as Terry Adams. So they do Sun Ra and Roland Kirk and Little Richard and Hank Ballard and (more ill-considered) Wilson Pickett and Billy Stuart and sturdy enough originals. Heart's always in the right place. If it sounds appealing ...
[Surprise No. 2: Somebody I'm getting into -- at least temporarily -- that I would never have suspected -- Charlotte Gainsbourg, Live & Unreleased. Goes to show you never can tell.]
Just saw that Frank Ocean confirmed that Don Henley threatened to sue Frank if he performs "American Wedding" again. I know this comes as no surprise--just more evidence that Henley is a (rhymes with French word for mouth)-bag.
Kenny: I sincerely hope that you end up choosing to stick around.
Just to be clear, because I intend to back off right now: I've made four responses on this thread, none of them respond to an aesthetic claim with a political claim (in fact my responses carefully re-use the terms that were given to me), and the term "serious politics" was not introduced on the thread by me. With all that said, I will shut up, do some work, and return only when I have something to say about music.
Sorry for being difficult. There’s a reason I need to remain calm before I post, and this is not a calm week for me. I don’t know whether EW is right for me or whether I am right for you. But I know why David loved you all.
New Todd Snider: Never has such rage been packaged in such affable good humor. (Think: Randy Newman meets The Mekons.) Zeitgeist: "Good things happen to bad people."
EDIT: But that was one my best zingers! Oh, well... done, sir. (And thanks for the warning--I hadn't considered that that might lead to banishment.)
Edit: Pardon rep here, but the post below was slow coming up and I don't want to use my own deleting function because deleting a (spam) post may have started the Great Witness Massacre.
One crucial question is "capital." There are simply no two ways about it: rock and roll was a product of capitalism, and though I'd like to say capitalism at its best, the capitalists involved were often thugs or goniffs and occasionally criminals pure and simple, and regularly cheated their artists, although not always as shamefully as is sometimes assumed. Moreover, the materialism of hip-hop stars has a long history in rock and roll (not to mention African traditions of personal display)--it's just that they're better at it. Me personally, I'm very frugal and almost totally uninterested in the sartorial. So I'm not at all comfortable with the brand-name festishism of contemporary hip-hip, with Jay and Kanye among the worst offenders. Nor was I with the sapeur Papa Wemba's before he was convicted of people smuggling. Nevertheless, all three of the just-named were and even in Wemba's case remain great artists.
Another crucial question is pleasure and what Simon Frith long ago called "the struggle for fun." But I really am busy and would like to leave that alone for a month or two if it's at all possible.
Different league, sure. The majors as opposed to the minors? If capital gets to define major and minor, imagination and accomplishment, then maybe so. Perhaps then I'd better say my people are playing a related, but for all that different, game.
Secondly, at this moment I have nothing to add to the current hip hop discussion (LAME I KNOW) but I did want to say that I think the discussion is awesome. I hope it continues. a lot of good thought-provoking stuff here.
First, I've been away for a bit so I am just recently learning of David's passing. This is a terrible and unexpected loss and I wish the best for his family and friends in this difficult time. I have been going back through his comments via EW and the wonderful post Jason created and have enjoyed his insight and spirit.
Just read the article Xgau referenced and was moved.
Todd Snider's new record streaming at the New Yorker.
One of the world's all-time most stunning and therefore worthwhile sentences.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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