Jay-Z/The Lonely Island
They ain't no joke
Jay-Z: Magna Carta Holy Grail (Roc-a-Fella)
After too many plays, this holding action won me over. Deeper than catchy, Timbaland's music is the precondition on an album that pits Basquiat against Blue‑-black man as artistic rebel versus black man as family stalwart. But the breakthrough only came when I started grinning every time I heard him advise his daughter regarding the Basquiat in his kitchen: "Lean on the shit, Blue, you own it." And though later he swears, "I love my niggas more than my own blood," nowhere is black more beautiful than in the person of his own wife: "Sleep every night with Mona Lisa/The modern version with better features." In short, family wins both times. Give it up to the one where Beyonce pledges gangsta devotion and, best of all, the one where the would-be billionaire looks back at the betrayals of his own departed head of family with something that feels like dread. B PLUS
The Lonely Island: The Wack Album (Republic)
Struggling for cred as aging rappers will, they stumble occasionally. Some of these ideas obviously seemed funnier when they brainstormed them‑-the Bloomberg rap that could be any cartoon mayor's, the incomprehensible "Spell It Out," the flat conceit of not giving a "honk"‑-and many come down well on the amusing side of hilarious. But most are amusing, and a few‑-the Robyn-fueled dance instructions of "Go Kindergarten," the manly boasts of "Diaper Money," the you-only-live-once-(so-watch-it) advisory that builds to "Two words about furniture: killing machines"‑-are as inspired as anything on Incredibad, where they wouldn't have fit because the rappers were younger then. Best DVD extra: the gay marriage-themed "Spring Break Anthem." B PLUS
Thank god they are working on the
PHP scripting language and the MYSQL database.
I repeat thank god.
And also glad we cleared up the greatest artists of the
20th century question. I was losing sleep over that one.
PS Damn. Where's that stupid smiley face when you need one?
But I'll still go with my first choice -- Mahatma Gandhi -- for similar reasons to Ioannis' commentary about Einstein. Except that I'd add that Gandhi was clearly a performance artist on the world's biggest stage for the world's biggest stakes. And yes, by that I mean peace, love, nonviolent decision making and problem solving, cultural recognition, economic power, and personal independence. All core ingredients to any long lasting creative environment.
Let me explain: artist of the century for me is more than the creator of "the greatest" art. Instead it's someone who inspires ideologies across media and who resonates as a force of good within our culture (I don't know enough about other cultures to play this game outside of American culture). Armstrong was that force. Chaplin too--far more so than Keaton, I would say. Watching Disney films with my daughter, I am in awe of both the craft and power of many of them. Pixar, too, though perhaps they should be considered 21st century. And reading Philip Norman's Shout, I feel like I finally really understand the impact of the Beatles, and especially of Lennon. If we're talking strict aesthetic beauty, I would also nominate James Brown. But he doesn't have the extraordinary cultural weight--not like Armstrong, Chaplin, or Lennon anyway. Same with Miles. That's where I'm coming from.
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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