Big K.R.I.T./Childish Gambino
Pimps 'n Wimps‑-Not
"I ain't rap about dope nor do I sell it," raps a Mississippi "country boy" who's more mixed about pimping‑-maybe unreadable, maybe of two minds, maybe blurring the pimp sound and the pimp hustle. The sound he's definitely got down: a rich, comfortable funk he transports south from Willie Hutch's The Mack. And as befits someone who believes N.I.G.G.E.R. stands for "Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism" and gets life satisfaction from rotating his tires, his sound equals his hustle. Some may think his rhymes are too simple. I find "Some thangs are forever, nothin' ever last/Like the risin' of the sun or when Big Mama pass" pretty deep myself. B PLUS
Childish Gambino: EP (free download)
"Set the game ablaze I'm an arcade fire," Cheezy boasts, but because he "don't wanna be alone," he joins a clique of "freaks and geeks" where he's "down with the black girls of every single culture/Filipino, Armenian girls on my sofa," only they're not thick enough, so he'll "make music for wack blacks to blast back" until he finds "a small chick with a fat ass" ready to "make out with a Gap ad" who's "not a thug a/k/a what they pretend to be." Of course, the Gap ad in question isn't exactly a geek anymore. He's a stand-up comedian bringing intelligent rap to the masses, one one-liner at a time. B PLUS
To Ryan M.- as regards the failure of the left to mobilize
in Texas as compared to the right-isn't there some kind
of reasonable middle somewhere? With common sense as its guiding
Dan W.: I started way towards the back end, with the acronym track, and found that the lyrics that the album rolled out on were just what I'd been looking for. As for the sound, I like this description from Tom Breihan, published in Pitch4k.
In a sense, Big K.R.I.T. is like a hip-hop version of a group of rock revivalists. The same way that, say, Band of Horses turns dusty Neil Young guitar epics into something simple and comforting, K.R.I.T. trades on our collective memory of mid-90s Southern rap and turns that into brilliant invitations to nostalgia. At the end of "Sookie Now", we hear a sample of Don Draper philosophizing in "Mad Men": "There is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash-- if they have a sentimental bond with the product." K.R.I.T. included that sample to draw attention to his younger rap peers; he's the type of old soul who still complains about "ringtone rappers" sometimes. But it could just as well describe the Pavlovian attachment some of us have to a beautifully looped-up soul sample. And Return of 4Eva is absolutely packed with cascading looped-up falsetto harmonies.
Meanwhile, Big K.R.I.T. is a total blank for me.
There's always good stuff -- always.
It's said that as alarm systems become more sophisticated, criminals need to up their game to be able to break into houses and businesses. Pop music is the same way. As the industry becomes more resistant to creativity and spontaneity, good musicians find smart ways to either sneak daring stuff into the mainstream, or find delivery systems outside the industry to peddle their wares. The push and pull between the two is one of the things I find most fascinating about pop music.
You always hear "It's been the worst year for music since..." It was the running gag of all of Christgau's essays. And yet I've been listening to a lot of 1993 lately (cause, why not?) and I'm loving it all. There's always good stuff -- always.
I confess I'm pretty stressed about how people treat each other too. ... Even my favorite band sounds strange nowadays.
Seems to be one prime essence of the impulse to critique pop tunes.
I do have a thing for Amy Adams
Gosh, she was just precious in the movie. Adorable wardrobe too.
I am adopting "Me Party" as my personal theme song
I didn't get to see the movie, but my wife did, and she plays the soundtrack almost every day. This one's my favorite so far, but I do have a thing for Amy Adams (she sings it with Miss Piggy).
"The Year When Rock Just Spun Its Wheels"
Still, guy has a point.
For example, I plugged a very small hole in the reference library by picking up two albums by founders of '80s hardcore-punk/thrash-metal, Cryptic Slaughter's Convicted and Money Talks. True, they're half-meatheads and half-savvy provocateurs (best: "Nuclear Future" and "Set Your Own Pace"), and I haven't heard a good deal of Caramancia's designated fodder, but I savor the brand of piss 'n' vinegar Cryptic Slaughter is full of and suspect it is off the market for good. Cryptic Slaughter benefit from the essential of ace hardcore -- a drummer that's precise and beyond hyper. And, really, this is all I will need by them. ("Whaddaya mean, stupe? That's half of what they recorded!!" "Shuddup, pickle dick!")
I guess what I'm driving at is that, yeah, I can see the mainstream of rock being more distant from the foundations and of a different kind of impudence these days than ever before.
Yet another thought is how far things had changed since doo-wop groups got together on street corners (junior- and high-school halls really) and Cryptic Slaughter gathering as like-minded soccer teammates.
(Has anyone else here needed a spoiler alert?)
So, after the Muppets save their theme park with a telethon, what did they do next? The movie doesn't show us, partly because the creators had no idea. While watching the credits, it's nice to see all the costars mugging for the cameras, but even the movie realizes it's a nostalgia act. Even back in the 80s, The Muppet Show was one of few surviving variety shows and its vaudeville roots looks really antiquated now. After seeing The Artist and Hugo, a lot of this year's movies seem to be arguments for film or television preservation and not a revival of older forms to make new films.
Does this argument make sense to those people who saw these movies? This isn't to say I disliked them (I'd give A- to The Artist and Hugo and a low B+ to The Muppets), but I think the current economic environment is giving a lot of original movies (as opposed to sequels or blockbusters) a disturbing lack of faith in the power of their art.
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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