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
Sorry Irene. Alex's shoegaze comment caught my attention. I didn't think Christgauians liked shoegaze.
Miles you want my list of the top albums of 30 years or my own personal best?
See, this alone indicates your thinking on such matters is snaky -- why on earth should these be separate lists? I've never had truck with those who say "here's the Top 10 albums of the year and here's my personal Top 10 albums of the year" (what the hell is the basis for evaluating the non-personal Top 10?).
But this kind of thinking certainly lends itself to speculations like this:
even though I'm beginning to suspect this is all some sort of joke.
To which I think there is an ironclad refutation. Standards are down all over in these times, but lemme tellya, back in the day, newspaper editors were pret-ty astute at spotting crap artists. And they did not, on pain of being eaten alive by the publisher, hand out even the little bucks to outright BSers. Bob has not been pulling everybody's leg for more than a generation. Case closed.*
I don't understand this idea that if I don't like something, anyone who does must be lying to themselves or me.
Yes, this is the bratty younger brother of "why don't you like what I like?"
*Anyone who brings up Mike Barnicle will have their sacs skinned. (I do think he's a fine example of the exception that proves the rule in trad newspaper journalism.)
why let someone else's tastes skin your sack soI already have a urologist so don't be offended if I don't, you know, become a patient of yours. And I don't think skinning the sack was involved anyway. More like opening it up and snipping a few wires if I remember correctly. That was a long time ago.
My 22 year old was home visiting this weekend (he's a serious film guy) and out of nowhere said "Is Armond White just the ultimate troll?"
I found it much too difficult eating my taco with banana over the sweet sounds of Souljaboy.
OK, now that is funny. I must admit I sometimes don't know what the hell Christgau is talking about either. Such is the price of concision. But more often, I find multiple insights densely packed into those few words. Just reread the Guitar Paradise review, as good an encapsulation of the joy I find in Afropop as anything I've read. Or (even shorter), the last half of the last sentence in the Spoek Mathambo review above.
'...where it's rare, to hear men so women-positive...'
Wait, what, since when?
'Maybe, the Consumer Guide has nothing, to do with consumption, but, rather, is out of pure irony. I'm sure, Robert Christgau is smart enough, to do something like that.'
OK, this just proves how stupid your argument here is; it would be a waste of time, to do this, as that's what 17-year-old hipsters do from their bedrooms. IE, it's not funny or smart, and it's boring to boot.
'I mean, what is so tantalizing about afrobeat (which, the new album you reviewed, seems, to be cut from the same cloth)? Yes, I downloaded "Guitar Paradise," but cannot fathom it's praises. Am I not a human being, because it doesn't move me, the way it moves you, Christgau? Or, how about Franco? I just cannot get into it; I feel like I need some formal training, to enjoy it. Believe me, I have tried.'
Well, whoopdy-****ing-doo! Basically, it's the age-old argument, that dolts make too readily: You don't like what I like, and I don't like what you like, so that must make only you stupid. Urgh, give me a break! Look, a lot of African music is good, because it follows well-rounded/polished aesthetic principles, melodies, structures, etc. It's not, because it isn't mainstream. (Wow, the irony: When hipsters call smart, non-mainstream music choices--over dumb ones--pretentious!) It's not so much about your music choices, but, like Miles pointed out, it's about how well-written you can describe said music. Either, give it a try, or go back to writing shitty shoegaze songs. OK? Thanks.
Maybe the "Consumer's Guide" has nothing to do with consumption, but rather is out of pure irony.
I get how someone may find Christgau's work both terse and sprawling. If I am in a hurry, I sometimes find the reviews confounding and have to force myself not to read so quickly (the sentences parse if I take the time to let them). The quote above, however, seems more inflammatory than the mock review of earlier.
I do not judge you, Alan, if you say you dislike Guitar Paradise. I hope no one judges me for being a Kelly Clarkson fan. Personal taste is personal. Yet you seem to be judging our host or at least questioning motives or sincerity simply because your tastes and his diverge. Wow. If you are trying to say he must be joking because no one could like African Music or hip hop or any other album or type of music, the community here provides ample evidence that you are wrong.
the production grates on me when I play it at home
Yeah, good point. Catchiness aside, the vocals are of the let's-all-shout-along variety with not much of an attempt at harmony. Mind you, it worked for Bananarama and Chumbawamba, among others.
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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