Big Baby Gandhi
Smart Dumb Kid's Progress
Big Baby Gandhi: Big Fucking Baby (free download)
Like his patron Heems, this Bangladeshi-American is from the part of Flushing "where the smart kids act dumb and the dumb kids act dumb." He just acts dumb in a smart way. You could say his lo-fi debut favors degraded rhythm samples and soprano voices, only from the boat-rocking "Been Around Ya Girl" to the deep-soul "Summertime Thing" to the Indian-children's-song-plus-keyboard(???)-loop "Woof Woof" you'd be missing a lot. The flow seems effortlessly idiomatic, only not South Asian idiomatic, whatever that would sound like besides Heems. The rhymes bespeak a brainy slacker with an analysis underway, only he's watched so much porn and heard so much hip-hop that he's dumber than need be about sex. Here he's all "she's chokin' just hopin' to provoke a nut," there he's telling her he was only kidding about that handjob. Figure by now he's here and there both. He is a kind of famous rapper, after all. A MINUS
Big Baby Gandhi: No1 2 Look Up 2 (free Greedhead mixtape)
"Terrorist with no turban/Lyricist with no sermon," he admits he'll be proud to graduate from college and with the help of two resourceful young beatmakers I never heard of cleans up his production like he's ready to go pro. But for all his "Get $$$," he hasn't quite managed it yet. He's still a kid getting his thoughts together one surprise rhyme at a time, weeding out enough sex and dope to make room for a holy Bollywood "Long Ass Intro," a law-abiding uncle who kept him out of the army, a joke he jacked from Fall Out Boy, and other evidence of grown manhood. A MINUS
Just a few words about cyberpunks--not sure if everyone already knows all this, but they were very rock and especially punk influenced. Bruce Sterling in his intro to Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk anthology observes that many cyberpunks "are in love with style, and (some say) fashion-conscious to a fault. But like the punks of '77, they prize their garage-band esthetic. . . Like punk music, cyberpunk is in some ways a return to roots."
In that collection, Pat Cadigan's "Rock On" is worth checking out, though it would take me a while to say what it's about. But Sterling in his later Zeitgeist has a smart Spice Girls subplot (about pop and marketing), and William Gibson used to namedrop Steely Dan.
And now back to my Easter breakfast, listening to, guess what, Patti Smith doing Easter.
As for Kay Huntington, I wouldn't say I'm a fan per se (!). But come on - is it so off-putting that I'd want to hear (and proselytize for) an album our host once awarded an E MINUS/A PLUS? It's not like I was pumping Aorta. Remember the first rule of rock criticism: better godawful than bland.
But it kicked off a nifty book discussion and so I'd like to share some of my favorite book lists, two silly, two serious.
Most Unusual Books Ever Published
Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year
Best American Novels, 1950-1999 (unorthodox, largely avant list from film theorist Steven Shaviro; includes Valley of the Dolls)
And more in line with the spirit of EW, Best Pop Music Fiction, Selected by Greil Marcus, stuffed with obscure, fascinating stuff like Keith Abbott's "Spanish Castle," a novelization of The Harder They Come (wha??) and David Helton's King Jude which I've been dying to read for eons.
Best (damn near only) fiction I've read recently: Mildred Pierce; Valley of the Dolls
Apropos of nothing: Showgirls is one of the greatest films of all time.
In it, Lethem mentions that he felt he needed an excuse to start writing to Berger and so he came up with the ploy that he was working on a biographical sketch about "the now-forgotten writer Bernard Wolfe," a friend of Berger's.
Wait a sec -- why does that name, far from forgotten or unknown, ring such a bell for me? I checked around and sure enough, Wolfe was the guy who had co-written Mezz Mezzrow's Really the Blues (1946), a book that had blown my little mind when I read it in the early '70s and had been a huge influence on the Beat generation. Just as important, Wolfe was celebrated in serious sci-fi circles for Limbo, a 1952 dystopian book considered the equal of any and something I've been meaning to read for decades. Also noted as a groundbreaking use of cybernetics in sci-fi. It has been reissued and is on it's way to me. I recall the other Wolfe book that intrigued me way back when was The Magic of Their Singing (1961), but I can't seem to find out anything more about it.
Anyway, interesting coincidence with the EW discussion last night.
I haven't read Ursula LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness in years but it stayed with me. It's about a world where gender is literally relative, so you become more or less one gender or the other according to the person you're with.
I also like Kate Wilhelm--a little hard to explain what she does, which is why I like her.
Did anybody mention Bruce Sterling? Psychologically realistic and funny SF, at least the stories that are set on earth.
And then Samuel Delany's kinda Joyceian nearly 900 page Dhalgren.
On the subject of recently silent Witnesses, I was wondering where my fellow Europeans had gone - Ioannis? Walter? Ziggy? Chris Monsen? [Edit: I see from Chris's website he's on "hiatus" but will be back soon.] At least Alex is back. Hope everyone is OK. The other Liam from Australia has also been quiet of late.
Bad art can have its rewards, but it's probably better at poem length rather than novel length (cf The Stuffed Owl anthology, which is pretty funny I think).
I actually did say so but in a (snaps) camp way that went undetected as "guts." It still had the intended effect - a move away from interweb griping towards augmenting my Must Read list.
But b!t(h, if you want to go up against a queen re: camp (still using Sontag?!?), I'm down. It'll have to wait 'til tomorrow night, though. Swamped today.
Two things, though:
1. "And that may be the first rule of kevin john rock criticism"
I actually stole it from Robert Christgau from his review of Yaz: Upstairs at Eric's (which he got wrong; solid A, that).
2. In what more substantial, less time-wasting mode of listening did you hear Kay Huntington's album? Don't tell me you came across it w/o Xgau's help.
Jon, what are your three favorite albums of all time?
“Only because it seems so culturally important to be able to say who you are: I definitely identify as bisexual,” she says. “Every interesting person I’ve ever read about, sexuality’s all over the map for them. It never was clearly defined. I’ve always just kind of existed in that world of openness. But right now, in terms of the political climate, and with a number of young gay suicides, and with don’t ask don’t tell not being repealed, and with so many politicians still being so aggressively against gay marriage, it is hard not to at least identify in a way that lets people know, ‘It is OK whoever you are.’ It’s weird, because no one’s actually ever asked me. People just always assume, like, you’re this or that. It’s like, ‘OK. I’m bisexual. Just ask.’”
Here's the link: http://goo.gl/yzA5n
I love Sleater-Kinney so much--I think I saw them in concert more than any other band, and, more than that, feel so privileged to have done so. The first concert of there's I saw, for Dig Me Out, would've made a fan out of anyone--Corin blew the doors off First Avenue with her voice alone. Carrie instantly became my guitar god. Actually, she kind of still is. What a band.
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.