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
Did Bill Evans never grab you, Robert?
I'm just curious because I've never heard any critique of Evans aside from praise from his claque. I'm on neither side, really, but still interested to hear an opposing view.
how does everyone feel about Kendrick Lamar?
The brief sentence about Drake being concerned exclusively with money and the city that he's from (Toronto) made me recall a commercial for an NBA video game he appeared in. In it, he's proclaiming the awesome nature of the Miami Heat, despite the fact they are most definitely NOT from Toronto and LeBron and company were fresh off their 4-2 loss in the NBA Finals. I take it Mr. Graham was paid for his services (which satisfies one of his two conditions), but if there is one thing I hate more than Miami Heat fans... it's fair-weather Miami Heat fans. No wonder I thought Take Care wasn't very good.
It was a tough realization for this indie/punk lifer that the guitar kids just weren't doing it for me these days, but it's undeniable that there's some mild crisis point ongoing in that world, which I see very little evidence of changing anytime soon. But the beats keep bringing it, both above- and below-ground...
Yeah, no kidding Jason. No kidding.
And Where's Walter? Still mad at Springsteen maybe?
Picked up Father Creeper as well as the new Amadou & Mariam. I'm excited to dig into them both, Spoek especially. Kudos to my hometown label for finding this guy and bringing him to the label. South african music on a Seattle label, I'm sure there's a story there somewhere.
As some may know, my Seattle Sleigh Bells concert was cancelled due to illness. I was really looking forward to seeing them too.
Next up, Todd Snider. From the setlists posted on Toddsniderlive, where you can purchase audio versions of the show, it doesn't look like he's playing as much of the new material as owners of two of his live cds would hope.
By the way, the one to play before you give up on Bill Evans is Sunday at the Village Vanguard (which doesn't lose much in its expanded 3CD Complete version). I'm not a huge fan, nor much of a piano trio devotee, but that's one undeniable record.
Now that White Denim have screwed the pooch the only exciting tomorrow with a conventional-ish guitar-rock lineup I can think of off the top of my head is Vampire Weekend (unless No Age counts).
Musical styles sag and cease for many reasons. I have to feel one affecting rock is the complete lack of danger around the music any more. Starting a rock band in high school is about as controversial as going to the prom (with a same-race, hetero date).
Speaking of moribund rock forms ...
Both the prog fans who regularly read EW should check out The Joy Formidable, The Big Roar (kind of a toy version of Battles in need of a few more ideas and non-gloop lyrics, the title "The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade" catches strengths and weaknesses) and Timworld, Dhoom, which features my friend Michael Bloom (also noted rock crit) on bass -- can't endorse the vocals, but the playing at these live gigs entrances, esp. on the title track.
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.