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
Comprehending and relating to a critic isn't just discovering "hey, we like a lot of the same records." For me, they key is "does the critic make me hear what she or he hears, even if I don't feel the same way about it?" If that's the case, then you have a reading relationship and have a pretty good idea if you're going to like the book/album/film/whatever even if you haven't experienced it. And Bob is one of the very few people who showed me how this works with music.
Once long ago I fretted to a wise old editor that our sometimes marathon sessions working on a piece indicated they were bad work. He said something like, "Baloney. I usually don't have to change a word in an essay by Mr. X, every sentence is clear, but the whole thing is slick and empty as hell."
And working as an editor, I found that making "get them to hear what you hear" into a prime goal was an excellent way to help a writer stop worrying about whether I agreed with them or not. And make them better critics. (I think there's all sorts of different ways to accomplish this goal, btw.)
And what about Jelly Roll Morton's Doctor Jazz?
Third point of order: Neither is Dr. Octagon. However, Dr. Octagonecologyst could be adapted into an excellent feminist horror movie.
Once they post the podcast for today's radio show on 90.3 WCPN I'll add a link here to it.
P.S. I hope Bob has a second to drop us some thoughts after he gets back home, because I'm sure he's going to be plenty busy over the next few days. Party on!
Second point of order: Dr. Dre does not teach, nor is he a licensed gynocologist.So let me get this straight. Are you saying I can't trust what I've learned from Dre about the 'hood and p*ssy? Damn.
Dear Justin aka Big K.R.I.T.:
I wish I knew world philosophy better so that I could be more confident that "One second on the clock and the shot's all yours/Hit or miss, we take the risk" is the updating of Goethe's boldness quote it sounds to be. Or at least, the updating of Springsteen's "Ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."
Either way, with your permission which I'll presume is granted since the download is free, I plan on running that sample through my brain and out my mouth on a frequent basis in the immediate future. I know that a lot of people already know what you say is true but I also personally know a lot of people who don't, or more accurately don't apply what you say in the durable way that improves their lives. So I plan to keep running that one for a while now.
[NEXT PARAGRAPH BEING BLOCKED -- FARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
[NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS BEING BLOCKED -- DOUBLE FARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
Point of order: Cam is a doctor and a teacher.
Second point of order: Dr. Dre does not teach, nor is he a licensed gynocologist.
Not happy, not happy.
Yeah, but if we're really going to be Catholic, we can't call him doctor as that, too, is a specific title, reserved for those the church deems great theological teachers.
P.S. And theology aside, the title doctor does really belong to us teachers. Bloody physicians stole it from us.
P.P.S. Congrats future physician Irene.
Can't say I've given it my full attention yet, but can say that it sometimes reminds me of Dramarama. Loved them, especially the one that rhymed "paranoid" and "Uncle Floyd."
P.S. Evidence that internet friends can be true pals: the venerable Dr. Cam P looked over my personal statement for me. Isn't that nice? Thanks again Cam.
P.P.S. My dictionary consultation (no shame in prudence--sometimes) tells me that in the Catholic sense, venerable is used as a title for "a deceased person who has attained a certain degree of sanctity but has not been fully beatified or canonized." So, in response to whomever was talking about sainthood last post, if Cam dies without showing off his magical powers, he'd be officially The Venerable Doctor Campbell Patterson.
Rockism is essentially a prejudiced attitude to any form of popular music that doesn't conform to the values of rock music (in the most narrow and conventional sense of the term.) The most obvious example of this is the tendency of middle-aged fans of 'classic rock' to describe any music that involves the overt use of electronic instruments as not 'real music'.
Dude, there's a cure!
Been on a road trip-sans computer etc.-I know how much I was missed.
Catch up time.
1) SF-Gregory Benford "Timescape" mind bending.
2)Camp-people laughing at "The African Queen" in all the wrong places-what morons
3)Irene-med school-no "finger" in med school--good luck
4)If only I cared about 25% of the music our host reviews-thumbs down-bring it on-
of course there's Wussy and Art Brut etc.-so shut up Greg and be happy for what
5)WTF is Alan Baker
6)The beats keep coming-too bad not one memorable song surrounds them
7)Road trip listening
"Some Girls"(remastered and bonus disc) A+
Xgau's A- is nuts.
Art Brut "Brilliant!Tragic!"A-
Glasvegas "Euphoric Heartbreak" A-
Jeffrey Lewis &The Junkyard "Em' Are I" A-
Todd Snider "Agnostic Hymns" A-
Springsteen "Wrecking Ball" A
If you want songs from the above-figure it out yourself-
it's much more enriching
8) April 15, 1912 (100 years ago)-something sunk in the North Atlantic-if you're interested- the documentaries on the screen this week look tremendous.
9) As reviewed in the NY Times Book Review-a novel- "Arcadia' by Lauren Groff- good read. I guarantee it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the recipient of the inaugural Istvan Laszlo Memorial Award for Contrary Impertinence........... Alan Baker!!!! At least our original persona non grata stuck around long enough to display a discernible sense of humor and an appreciation of good jazz. Whether or not the latest incarnation will return at a later date in a more sociable frame of mind remains to be seen.
Tell us big fella, does your churlishness just exist in cyberspace or do you play a schmuck in real life, too? If you're amenable, we have an honest-to-goodness physician on board who'd be more than happy to prescribe you some new meds.
Thanks for sharing Irene's good news Nick. I'm guessing you're out celebrating but sign in and toot your horn girl!
Here I am at 1:40 AM dutifully typing away. Hmm, maybe it's me who's the schmuck.........
Carry on night owls, West Coasters and early-rising Europeans; I'm outta here.
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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