“Can anybody tell me exactly what a talk box is, how it works, and how it’s different from a vocoder? I’ve heard that they’re dangerous in some way, but I’m willing to risk bodily harm in order to get my voice to sound like Roger Troutman.”—John Walker Lindh, “the American Taliban,” in a 1991 online post as quoted by Dave Tompkins in How to Wreck a Nice Beach (via desnoise)
I love pointless, end of year lists, don’t you? Here’s mine: some of the stuff I felt strongly about (one way or the other) this past year. Plus a whole bunch of other things I’ve been either enjoying or hating.
MOVIES: WINTER’S BONE—a terrific adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s even more…
In modern times, we seldom celebrate our colonial mentalities. We tend to hide them away under euphemisms. Christmas charity singles, however, provide a rare peep hole into the decayed core of the former colonial powers: the moral decrepitude still stands, where the empire has fallen. After abdicating all responsibility for why the world population is so polarised and why the Western nations can enjoy times of mass excess and extravagance, we throw on paternal hats and sing some utterly offensive tripe.
Nothing is worse in this respect that Bob Geldoff and Midge Ure’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” A song who’s very title echoes the modus operandi of the Christian missionaries who were instrumental in tearing Africa to pieces. A song that refers to the world’s poorest as “the other ones” and “them” - blatant and unexcused orientalism - from Liberalism’s most compassionate. It beggars belief that in 2010 this is still played, en masse.
Not only is it still played — at my daughter’s mostly Black public school in Brooklyn, New York, it was the centerpiece of the children’s “holiday show.”
“One way James [Murphy] changed the way we work is by having us commit to an idea and not hide behind what he calls ‘blurriness.’ Things like dance music, or AC/DC, are so direct, but people are afraid of that, so they drench their songs in production or affectation. Even if it’s cheesy, either commit or don’t do it.”—
Free Energy lead singer Paul Sprangers, as quoted by Steve Kandell in the Jan./Feb. 2011 issue of SPIN (via desnoise)
Really wish these dudes would take this kind of commitment to their lyric-writing too. There’s a reason I rock Thin Lizzy & not this stuff & it’s that “Dino’s Bar and Grill” feels like a real place. In the few songs I’ve heard of Free Energy’s, it’s some real abstract nonsense. (Feel free to correct if this is a misconception)
There is some GQ blog post [imagine link here] criticizing D.C. political insiders and reporters for sharing their favorite music of the year. Oh no! You’re not allowed to have an opinion on or enjoy music if you don’t write about it professionally, apparently. This type of shit would be annoying if it wasn’t so boring. Get jobs, people.
Eh. I dunno about other folks but to me its more like, wow, critics have a lot of clout w/ the ‘thinking man’ crowd. Its not that their shit isnt cool enough — its that its all cool. its all very respectable & cool. Thoughtful dude’s music. I dunno. I guess what’s most weird about it is that it’s all the same. There’s not much of a diversity of opinions. Seems noteworthy to me.
People who cover or practice politics in Washington are too busy for a lot of what makes the lives of normal people more pleasant: exercising, eating right, dressing well, having a functioning social life, among other things. They don’t get a lot of reading for fun done, or see movies…
“They’ve got their little categories, like ‘conscious’ and ‘gangsta’. It used to be a thing where hip-hop was all together. Fresh Prince would be on tour with N.W.A. It wasn’t like, ‘You have got to like me in order for me to like you.’ That’s just some more white folks trying to think that all niggas are alike, and now it’s expanded. It used to be one type of nigga; now it’s two. There is so much more dimension to who we are. A monolith is a monolith, even if there’s two monoliths to choose from. I ain’t mad at Snoop. I’m not mad at Master P. I ain’t mad at the Hot Boys. I’m mad when that’s all I see. I would be mad if I looked up and all I saw on TV was me or Common or The Roots, because I know that ain’t the whole deal. The real joy is when you can kick it with everyone. That’s what hip-hop is all about. … They keep trying to slip the ‘conscious rapper’ thing on me. I come from Roosevelt Projects, man. The ghetto. I drank the same sugar water, ate hard candy. And they try to get me because I’m supposed to be more articulate, I’m supposed to be not like the other Negroes, to get me to say something against my brothers. I’m not going out like that, man.”—Mos Def on being called a “conscious rapper” (stolen from wiki)
It’s no secret that 2010 has been the year of the Fela. The successful production of FELA! the Broadway musical, the reissues of Fela Kuti’s Music and other Afro-Beat acts has brought the culture into the spotlight. What better time for former Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra member Chico Mann to drop his second album of homegrown electro Afro-Beat. I am in love with how Chico educates his listeners by bridging Spanish/English lyrics over Afrobeat Rhythms, Cuban musical blends, Latin freestyle of the 80s, and synth-heavy electro beats. Music truly comes from the same tree and Analog Drift is a fine example of that.
Yeah, the other thing about the Kanye/Diddy comparison is that with the latter, you get snotty “pass. thanks for offering, though” replies that dismiss Last Train To Paris unheard. Because it’s so obvious that Diddy’s a joke - or a mere businessman, if you’re being generous - rather than an auteur, like Kanye, right? And if you’re the kind of person to whom this sort of prejudgment is obvious, then it clearly doesn’t matter what’s actually on their damn CDs. Critical consensus has already accorded them their statuses, already put them into their boxes. I guess it saves you from using your ears or your brains.
“My idea is always to reach my generation. The wise writer, I think, writes for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (via my dad - thanks dad!)
So, the first half of Pitchfork’s always fascinating list of the best songs of the year is up. I wrote the ones for Toro Y Moi’s “Blessa” and Drake’s “Over.” David Drake (who wrote up The Diplomats’ “Salute”!) described my take on “Over” as “fairly backhanded” and that’s probably accurate. Though I really do like “Over,” I also have to confess that it’s very, very dopey. And most of the time when I hear it, I just hear ST from G-Side going nuts over top of it.
Ha yeah my review of “Salute” was fairly backhanded too. I think there’s a fair amount of balkanization going on with hip-hop tracks on the site right now, like folks who do vote for rap are pulling in lots of different directions.