Spoek Mathambo/Big K.R.I.T.
Think Positive--Or Not
Spoek Mathambo: Father Creeper (Sub Pop)
Although I slotted this Soweto-raised 27-year-old's 2010 Mshini Wam as promising kwaito electro, I never imagined it promised a hip-hop record so dark it reveals his labelmate Shabazz Palaces for the arty pothead we can assume he is. Contra the nervous crits who claim to hear a "palpable feeling of hope" or "summery highlife melodies" (highlife, eh? I've heard of that‑-African, right?), even the sweet opener about the sexual maturation of a guy who was feeling it before his pubes came in ends ominously. After that come evocations of oppression only more brutal because they're sometimes dissociated‑-blood diamonds, why we hate our crap jobs, the deadening surrender of the tricking American hip-hop makes light of. The music suits because it's also dissociated‑-beaty enough to keep your foot tapping and your subconscious involved, but devoid of the escapist joy that is the miracle of so much Afropop produced from equally horrendous daily struggles. A
Big K.R.I.T.: 4Eva N a Day (free download)
He was just Kritikal, but the Mississippi underground had trouble pronouncing that word‑-check out the consonant-averse "1986" intro to understand why‑-so he made it Big K.R.I.T., claimed it stood for King Remembered in Time, and continued a rapping career that imagined high school coaching as a fallback. No hip-hopper has ever been bigger on getting up when you're down and making every minute count. Could get tiresome, but on a no-cameos mixtape Def Jam couldn't clear, his proudly drawled, lucidly conceived preachments go undefeated. Almost every soulful track grew on me, with the clincher "Down & Out," one of his periodic explanations of why sometimes he sips and smokes instead of trying yet again. A MINUS
speaking of pitchfork, they're streaming the new Yuck single "Chew". real nice. great guitar song.
aahhhh goddammit. we we're considering "Through the Wire" as 2003? I mean, i know it was released as a single then, and so was "Slow Jamz," but the album was 2004 (which i thought was our governing criteria) and it was prevalent in P&J's 2004 poll, not 2003.
cuz if themz two 'Ye singles were game, the front end of my list would be very different.
Michael, I don't have the liners for Personal Space yet. But I was stunned to discover it wasn't some Altered Zones (RIP) comp. Just imagine a lo-fi version of Sugar and Poison and you're halfway there. Like chillwave, the singing is crummier than you'd expect so some of it amounts to difficult listening. But it keeps calling me back...from the basement...where maybe Jandek is learning some soul riffs...
Jeff, Camp - Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader, edited by Fabio Cleto, repeats some of the material in Bergman's collection. But it's longer, later and indispensable. Many of the essays in Out Takes: Essays on Queer Theory and Film, ed. Ellis Hanson, address camp. And Alexander Doty's Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture is a scream (in more ways than one).
Oh Leonard Leff has a terrific essay in Cinema Journal 47, No. 3, Spring 2008 called "Becoming Clifton Webb: A Queer Star in Mid-Century Hollywood" about, in part, how Webb camped up the family film. Got me to watch Sitting Pretty (1948). OMG! Blew my mind!
Look: it's now beyond clear that Huntington-love floating around EW is not the same as Shaggs-love. But I would argue that was impossible to tell at the outset. And I still think it's a form of special pleading, which good camp doesn't need.
But it doesn't work on a ragingly homosexual male for whom camp is his lifeblood. In short, you wrote off the wrong b!t(h.Okay, information accepted. Enlightened, selective ignoring of each other should follow.
One function of camp
Is to defuse this bad force:
You're being willfully bullheaded if you can't parse the difference between Xgau's review of that album and, oh, Metallica's Load. Or, more precisely, if you can't see why his What's Happening To Our World? review would entice you to listen to it while his Load review makes you glad you dodged a very boring bullet.
Yeah, yeah, I'm a humorless, camp-hating, social conservative who just got back from his puppy-stomping session. I'm not losing any sleep worrying about such accusations.
I just talk up records that don't need any excuses or special pleading. Here's a couple that are very good, and very camp, that could and should be enjoyed by anybody of any persuasion:
Jo Thompson, Slender, Tender and Tall
Frances Faye, Caught in the Act
(I do want to add that this idea you can't dismiss any album without having heard it first is one of the ultimate critics-are-worthless routine.)
Drive-By Truckers: Decoration Day n/a
Lil' Jon: Get Low Feb 19, '03
Wrens: Everyone Choose Sides n/a
Kelis: Milkshake Aug 25, '03
Constantines: Nighttime/Anytime Jul 8, '03
Justin Timberlake: Cry Me A River Nov 11, '02, don't care, it rules
!!!: Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard ?, '03
Outkast: Hey Ya Sep 9, '03
Blood Brothers: Ambulance Vs. Ambulance Mar 11, '03
MIA: Galang ?, '03
Strokes: 12:51 Nov 4, '03
Madvillain: America's Most Blunted ?, '03
Beyonce: Crazy in Love May 20, '03
Basement Jaxx: Lucky Star Nov ?, '03
Rapture: Sister Saviour '04, apparently, damn
TV on the Radio: Staring at the Sun Jun 25, '04, alas
Postal Service: District Sleeps Alone Tonight Jul 8, '03
Shins: Fighting in a Sack Dec 14, '04, really?
Coldplay: Clocks Dec 10, '02 supposedly, and significantly less wild than the Taliban irregardless.
This is either a hilarious takeoff on circa-1964 folk music, complete with sensitive vibrato, hard little guitar parts, and very moderate good intentions, or--more likely, unlikely as it may seem--one of the most atrocious records ever made.
Why would anyone a. not be curious about this, b. be so eager to police other people's curiosity and c. recast that curiosity as "ironic enjoyment" (pretty nonsensical in my case - how can I enjoy the thing ironically if I haven't heard it yet?)
'SAAAY, PAL, DO YOU LIKE SHOEGAZE?'
FTFY! Grammar police away! *Flies off* (When people draw out consonants, in makes me ssssso mmmmmad!!! )
After Kevin John's fun fun fun post, I'm now moved ask Alan why his favorite albums list didn't include any Kay Huntington (or the last Owl City record). You go, KJ!
(Also, could you elaborate on Personal Space?)
This is either a hilarious takeoff on circa-1964 folk music, complete with sensitive vibrato, hard little guitar parts, and very moderate good intentions, or--more likely, unlikely as it may seem--one of the most atrocious records ever made. Perfectly awful, right down to liner notes and cover portrait--Huntington, a dyed-looking Minnesotan blonde who appears very reluctant to celebrate birthdays, is wearing a red minidress. Noted primarily as a Remarkable Occurrence, which I trust someone at United Artists is already investigating. Pick: the apparently unsarcastic "Right to Poverty." E
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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