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
Non-singles artists who incongruously got votes for 3 or more songs: The Shins, The Wrens*, Drive-By Truckers, Todd Snider, Richard Thompson
I guess I'm (one of) the villain(s) since I voted for 4 of the 5, and even started to listen to The Shins but gave it up after my list got full and comfortable. Todd got 4 mentions from me, including two stories. Thanks for putting up with our barely ordered thinking, Patrick.
#1 is easy to guess (20 votes and 1 runner-up mention out of 22 voters)
I almost didn't vote for "Hey Ya" for exactly that reason. It almost seems like a wasted vote if there was something else worth mentioning. But I could never leave alone how insanely catchy it still is, years later. Undeniable.
This list is not in order of preference. Befitting a list of individual tracks, this is the way I would program them for a mix tape, play list or radio show. The Todd Snider edits really work, including when the whole thing replays -- "And this features the hottest guitar work I can do/1, 2, 3, oh/My baby don't mess around . . ."
Hey Ya – Outkast
The Seed (2.0) – The Roots
Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott
Wicked and Weird – Buck 65
Where Is The Love – Black Eyed Peas
Andar Conmigo – Julieta Venegas
I Can't Complain – Todd Snider
All Kinds Of Time – Fountains of Wayne
Everyone Choose Sides – The Wrens
Sink Hole – Drive-By Truckers
Decoration Day – Drive-By Truckers
Typing Gibberish – Todd Snider
Beer Run – Todd Snider
She Sends Kisses – The Wrens
Sight Unseen – Richard Thompson
Why Can't I? – Liz Phair
Crazy In Love – Beyonce
Never Leave You-Uh Ooh, Uh Oooh! – Lumidee
Me and Guiliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story) – !!!
The Story of The Ballad of The Devil's Backbone Tavern – Todd Snider
Anthrax- Kimya Dawson - I had no idea Scott Ian liked The Moldy Peaches so much.
Crate dig of the year (so far): Personal Space: Electronic Soul, 1974-1984 (Numero Group) - chillwave 30, 40 years avant la lettre.
This all started when you slated me into a "twisted little cult that wastes time fawning over deeply wretched (music)." I agree that your quote might apply to what Steven Cohan calls "mass camp" in his fab book Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and The MGM Musical (Duke UP, 2005). 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.
Still, that's all slightly beside the point which means I had to jettison a long post schooling your a$$ on camp. Because it boils down to your endorsement of this: "The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful . . . Of course, one can't always say that."
Yeah duh. Not all awful albums are created equal. So if you know that, then why did you get apoplexy when I pumped What's Happening To Our World? 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.
And lo. Ann Powers asked the man himself what his most memorable dud is. Why, it's Kay Huntington! "I gave it an E for transcendent awfulness." And, of course, he's right. I sit in dumbfounded wonder at how someone came up with music as funny as SCTV's The Ramblers (http://goo.gl/TuWOm) without trying to be funny in the first place.
Same with another E, Kim Fowley. We SHOULD preserve him in a time capsule as a measure of how uniquely godawful music can be (keyword: uniquely). And if I adhered to the Milo Miles edict of ignoring E records, I would've missed pop songs as catchy as "Bubblegum" (an actual title) and, later, "Motorboat," neither requiring any camp justification.
In closing, two remarks on camp.
1. Paraphrasing Cohan, camp coheres around incongruity, theatricality, and humor. And, chica, are you ever missing the latter! Like I seriously think there are rules for rock criticism (and that they're numbered no less)!
2. It's noteworthy how your original rant calls up a camp defense. Here's Cohan again: "Camp allows gay men to undermine social categories of gender and sexuality that marginalize them by exposing the artifice of the social order which categorize them as unnatural." Or "twisted," as you might put it. We're caught fawning (such a queer image) over devalued cultural objects and wasting time, just like the numbers in movie musicals (gee, guess what my specialty is in). So when you say "nobody's wasting my time when they're wasting their time," we know you're trying to uphold your social order as the natural one. Desperately, of course. Mwah!
Lived by the "released/treated as a single" general rule. No "This Boy's Exhausted" or "Hey Julie" (or five other FoW songs). Mad about not thinking about "Wicked and Weird" or "Callin' Out" being singles. Would have said goodbye to REM (which got my sentimental vote) and Junior Senior.
1. Panjabi MC Beware of the Boys
Beyonce Crazy in Love
The White Stripes Seven Nation Army
Outkast Hey Ya
Justin Timberlake Senorita
FOW Stacy’s Mom
Missy Elliot Pass That Dutch
Postal Service Such Great Heights
Kanye West Slow Jamz
Justin Timberlake Rock Your Body
Outkast The Way You Move
Rapture House of the Jealous Lovers
Roots The Seed
New Pornographers The Laws Have Changed
Electric Six Danger! High Voltage
Kanye West Through the Wire
Liz Phair Why Can’t I
Junior Senior Move Your Feet
R.E.M. Bad Day
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far award: The Cobeens have 14 of the same songs.
Best list: Sharpsm
Top song- 1) Hey Ya!- Outkast
The rest in alphabetic order
2) Anthrax- Kimya Dawson
3) Beer Run- Todd Snider
4) Beware- Panjabi MC w/ Jay Z
5) Bright Future in Sales- Fountains of Wayne
6) Callin' Out- Lyrics Born
7) Caroline & I- Go-Betweens
8) Hey Mami- Fannypack
9) Hurt- Johnny Cash
10) Keep Me in Your Heart- Warren Zevon
11) Outfit- Drive By Truckers
12) Pass the Dutch- Missy Elliot
13) Righteously- Lucinda Williams
14) Rock Me- Liz Phair
15) Rock Your Body- Justin Timberlake
16) The Seed (2.0)- The Roots
17) September When it Comes- Rosanne Cash
18) So Says I- Shins
19) This Boy is Exhausted- Wrens
20) Wicked and Weird- Buck 65
Also, thanks for the poll Patrick!!!
- Crazy In Love - Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z)
- Hey Ya! - Outkast
- Stacy's Mom - Fountains of Wayne
- Beware - Panjabi MC (feat. Jay-Z)
- The Way you Move - Outkast
- Extraordinary - Liz Phair
- Senorita - Justin Timberlake
- Such Great Heights - Postal Service
- Rock Your Body - Justin Timberlake
- Pass That Dutch - Missy Elliott
- Move Your Feet - Junior Senior
- Through The Wire - Kanye West
- Milkshake - Kelis
- Me Against The Music - Britney Spears
- So Says I - The Shins
- Why Can't I - Liz Phair
- Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
- Ignition (Remix) - R. Kelly
- Rhythm Bandits - Junior Senior
- Callin' Out - Lyrics Born
1. Crazy In Love - Beyonce*
2. Hey Ya - Outkast
3. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
4. Genie In A Bottle - Speedway
5. Ignition (Remix) - R. Kelly
6. The Way We Get By - Spoon
7. Danger! High Voltage - Electric Six
8. Through The Wire - Kanye West
9. Where Is The Love - The Black Eyed Peas
10. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1 - The Flaming Lips
11. Senorita - Justin Timberlake
12. Beware (Jay-Z Remix) - Panjabi MC
13. Stacy’s Mom - Fountains Of Wayne
14. Change Clothes - Jay-Z
15. Why Can’t I - Liz Phair
16. Me and Giuliani - !!!!
17. Pass That Dutch - Missy Elliott
18. Milkshake - Kelis
19. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
20. Shut Up - The Black Eyed Peas
*Single of the Year
The Seed 2.0 - The Roots
House Of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
In Da Club - 50 Cent
White Flag - Dido
OutKast featuring Sleepy Brown: "The Way You Move"
Buck 65: “Wicked & Weird”
Panjabi MC featuring Jay-Z: "Beware of the Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke)"
Christina Aguilera: "Beautiful"
Fountains of Wayne: "Stacy's Mom”
Jay-Z: “Change Clothes”
Justin Timberlake: "Rock Your Body"
Chingy: “Right Thurr”
OutKast: "Hey Ya!”
Stacie Orrico: “(There’s Gotta Be) More To Life”
Beyonce: “Crazy In Love”
Missy Elliott: "Pass That Dutch"
T.I.: “Rubberband Man”
Al Green: “I Can’t Stop”
Mary J. Blige: “Love @ 1st Sight”
Justin Timberlake: "Cry Me a River"
The Shins: “So Says I”
Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz feat. Ying Yang Twins: “Get Low”
!!!: "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)"
*6 f**king songs
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And I'm esp. pleased it leads off with the all-time overrated-outsider album, Trout Mask (I'm a Beefheart fan who thinks he suffers from too many of the wrong sort of supporters). But it's kinda mundane and anti-hedonistic in a way.
The guy offers one critic flourish that I think is quite clever (if totally incorrect). He draws a parallel between the Beatles and (say) Glenn Miller and the Velvet Underground and Duke Ellington. Miller was huge but the enduring action was with Ellington. Beatles were huge but the enduring action was with VU.
Problem is: number of enduring fans of Glenn Miller vs. number of enduring fans of Beatles.
Also, your list is very white.
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.