Big K.R.I.T./Childish Gambino
Pimps 'n Wimps‑-Not
"I ain't rap about dope nor do I sell it," raps a Mississippi "country boy" who's more mixed about pimping‑-maybe unreadable, maybe of two minds, maybe blurring the pimp sound and the pimp hustle. The sound he's definitely got down: a rich, comfortable funk he transports south from Willie Hutch's The Mack. And as befits someone who believes N.I.G.G.E.R. stands for "Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism" and gets life satisfaction from rotating his tires, his sound equals his hustle. Some may think his rhymes are too simple. I find "Some thangs are forever, nothin' ever last/Like the risin' of the sun or when Big Mama pass" pretty deep myself. B PLUS
Childish Gambino: EP (free download)
"Set the game ablaze I'm an arcade fire," Cheezy boasts, but because he "don't wanna be alone," he joins a clique of "freaks and geeks" where he's "down with the black girls of every single culture/Filipino, Armenian girls on my sofa," only they're not thick enough, so he'll "make music for wack blacks to blast back" until he finds "a small chick with a fat ass" ready to "make out with a Gap ad" who's "not a thug a/k/a what they pretend to be." Of course, the Gap ad in question isn't exactly a geek anymore. He's a stand-up comedian bringing intelligent rap to the masses, one one-liner at a time. B PLUS
But you might as well just listen to the Drive-By Truckers.
Has any historian written a good book on the decline of progressive traditions in places like Oklahoma and Texas? (Even into the 1980s you could find it in Texas, but now it's simply disappeared.) Dan Carter's "The Politics of Rage" on George Wallace is certainly part of the picture, but not the whole part.
I can remember when Texas politics was a stuggle between conservative and progressive Democrats, with nary a statewide Republican officeholder. Now the Texas Democratic Party is practically nonexistent. And a friend of mine who ran as a Dem in Oklahoma had to shift so far to the right I hardly recognized his politics. Texas, at least, wasn't always this bad.
R.I.P. Sam Rivers. I saw a pretty good show of his at a church in the lower east side back in 2006. His music was beautifully riotous and it contrasted the disappointing snoozefest of Granchan Moncur III. I was standing outside before the show where he was being drilled by some hyper fans about his memories of performing on some guest track on a children's album from 1989 to which he gave a confused shrug. Our eyes met and all I could muster was, "I look forward to the show tonite." To which he replied, "Who's playing?"
I'm sure the wonderful Oklahoma contingent doesn't need me to say this, and I know that the original hosannas that greeted him were quickly met by snarky backlash, but his first few records sure do hold up. And I think we're ready for a new cover of "Are They Gonna Make Us Outlaws Again?" Is there one since Hazel Dickens' early 1980s one? Bob, of course, has not only the reviews of the records but the still-moving piece on Talley playing at Jimmy Carter's inauguration. Imagine!
Jason Gubbels: Now I’m just embarrassed. I must have inadvertently let slip in one of these comments that I had mislaid my copy of my longtime favorite bedtime reading, Prudentius’ Libri contra Symmachum. Count on Jason to see that and immediately send off a brand spanking new Loeb Classical Library edition (second half anyway, but the second half rules). I don’t know why you felt compelled to blank out every line of the English translation with a Sharpie—I suspect you’re overestimating my Latin, which isn’t what it used to be, but thanks anyway, Jason. I hope you enjoy the Carl’s Jr. gift card.
Ryan Maffei: I love family newsletters, and I’m glad your dad let you write this year’s. And goodness, you have a lot to report: 78 pages of single-spaced, 9-point Times New Roman. I hope to get it finished by the end of the week (I took a peek at the end—“To Be Continued”, eh? Cool). One thing though—it came Postage Due. A lot of Postage Due, in fact.
Joey Daniewicz: Wow. I haven’t, um, indulged in a present like this in many decades. Thanks, Joey; this should make all that Nugent go down easier (don’t tell Ted!). A word to the wise though: my nephew the Federal Marshall grimly informs me that using the US Postal Service to transport a “present” of this kind constitutes a Class B Felony. So in the future you may want to resist the temptation to include your name, address, e-mail address, and cell-phone number on the outside of the package (I enjoyed the photos of you and your friends holding said “present” and making goofy faces). Thanks, Joey. Love ya.
Bradley Sroka: To answer your question—I certainly do consider an investment opportunity a present, especially one as tempting as the one you describe. Uzbeki copper coins, eh? Who would have thought? But it makes sense. I’ve sent the check you requested to your Post Office box, along with all my Credit Card numbers, my Social Security Number, and my mother’s maiden name (you’re certainly thorough, aren’t you, Brad?). I can’t thank you enough.Next year we’ll be millionaires!
I'm a bit pressed for time--doubled over with Heesters grief, plus the E-Meter's on the fritz and I've got a roomful of pre-clears who aren't going to audit themselves--so if no one minds I'd like to use this forum to take care of my Xmas thank-yous all at once. Anyone I've forgotten, sorry--I've arranged Dream Dates with Rihanna for all of you--details to come.
Bob Christgau: Thank you so very much for the thoughtful package. Imagine my surprise when I got it opened—I had no idea Ted Nugent had made so many albums. I thought at first that maybe you were just clearing some shelf space, but the Palin 2012 bumper sticker, the Tea Party t-shirt, the Ron Paul book, the Ayn Rand poster, the Confederate flag, and the lifetime membership in the NRA make me wonder if everything’s okay out there in NYC. Do you need to talk? Anyway, thanks again—I look forward to rockin’ with the Nuge all year. Wango Tango!
Greg Morton: I wasn’t expecting this, Greg. Thanks. A bottle of Willamette Valley Plum Blaster Sparkling Wine. Yummy. But do all Oregon wines carry Instructions For Use on the label? And doesn’t “sparkling” kind of cancel out the “Shake Well Before Using” suggestion? I just don’t want anyone to get hurt.
Cam Patterson: I love a good insulting Christmas card. Thanks, Cam. Pretty funny one too: Weird-looking doctor leaning in, stethoscope at the ready, in close-up, with the words “In my medical opinion…” on the front, then, opened, the words “You’re a complete ****…Merry Christmas Fcukface!” I laughed hard, as did everyone in my family, including my very religious mother (although I wasn’t laughing quite as much when I found out you’d written the card off as a consultation and billed my insurance—how did you even get my information?). Best to you and yours.
Michael Tatum: Uh, thanks, Michael. I appreciate the Napster gift card (I didn’t even know Napster was still around!), and I look forward to taping all the shards back together—my, you cut it into a lot of pieces, didn’t you? And I love home-made Christmas cards, even ones made out of IHOP placemats, with a drawing and a message scrawled in what appears to be your own blood (little hard to read though—I can make out scattered phrases like “angel of death” and “prepare to atone”—but it’s the thought that counts, right?)
Walter Cherette: BELGIAN MILITARY MARCHES! I LOVE BELGIAN MILITARY MARCHES! THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU!
Cont. Next Post
Rogers is easily OK's most beloved popular figure to this day. But his attitude towards politics is totally lost.
Sorry Irene. Still miss my cat Obi (as in Ben Kenobi), who we put to sleep, gosh, nearly 30 years ago. Broke my Dad's heart so much he couldn't stand getting another pet.
Edit: Speaking of animal deaths, I just read Cheetah, the Tarzan chimp, died at at 80. I had no idea chimps could live that long.
Lemme throw in a plug for Larry Clarke's 1971 debut photo book, Tulsa, presciently praised by Greil Marcus way back when and as vivid a look as you're gonna get at the immediate ancestors of the baddest boys and girls I knew back in the day in MT.
I just stumbled across this well written piece by John Waters about his interview with Little Richard from 1987. I imagine it is in his book about his influences that came out last year (that I really want to read now):
Irene: I'm sorry about your cat. It's been a bad year for pets among my friends too.
Everybody else: Sorry about this awkward post.
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.