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Full Albums:

  • AC/DC, Back in Black
  • The Afghan Whigs, 1966
  • The Black Keys, Brothers and Chulahoma
  • Driver F, Chase the White Whale
  • Friendly Fires, Pala
  • Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne1
  • Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV2
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, The Main Ingredient
  • Terius Nash, 1977
  • Tom Vek, Leisure Seizure

Random Excellence:

  • Fall Out Boy, “The (Shipped) Gold Standard”
  • R. Kelly, “Ignition”
  • James Brown, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”3
  • Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back In Town”
  • Junior Wells, “Snatch it Back and Hold it”

Songs of the Week:

  • UGK, “Murder” and “Pinky Ring”
  • Outkast, “Life Is like a Musical”
  • Kings of Leon, “King of the Rodeo” and “Charmer”

Reviews:

1. The more I listen to it, the more interesting it gets. I’m not sure why, but there’s a jungle theme throughout and definitely addressed explicitly on two songs. But those two songs stick out so much more because they’re songs about, metaphorically, how hard the streets can be. Yet everything else is, as Kanye puts it, “luxury rap.” Maybe it’s the ability to buy “Maybachs on bachs on bachs on bachs on bachs” while still living in the same hood, trying to find that coke that turns Kanye’s black girls into zebras or a better way to discreetly “move blocks and squares,” but their vision of the jungle feels jumbled.

Is it hard on the street or are they looking back on how hard it used to be on the street? Are they even talking about the streets anymore? Is it just their life that feels like a jungle of business decisions; purchases and annexations to expand their territory? It’s entirely possible it’s all of those things, but since it’s not something they really fleshed out–or maybe they didn’t flesh it out for exactly that reason–, it probably is all of those things.

And then there’s Kanye’s Hitler fixation on and off the album. I think he should just give that one up.

2. “Abortion” and “She Will” are phenomenal. Really great stuff, but I think we’ve all started to shy away from him for a reason. It’s got the feel of an album, but the lack of editing that comes with a mixtape. It feels like he’s gotten so used to rapping about everything that he’s forgotten that not everything is good.

3. It’s like vocal gymnastics: the lyrics, the singing, the way he leads the band and, by extension, the listener. This is James at the height of his game. Every word counts, every scream is exactly where it has to be. Puts me in a cold sweat.

Comment:

A combination of running out of my allergy drugs, returning to the gym and, possibly, the change of the seasons compounded and got me sick. I tried to play it off like it was just really bad allergies, but I think lowering my immune system’s capabilities opened me up to an awesome cough. I stayed home on Thursday and drank green tea through the worst of it, battling back the runny nose–but leaving the absurd cough.

And on Friday I went to work with a death rattle and 10 hours of sleep. I might have had one of the most productive days ever. I don’t know if it was the drugs making me lightheaded or just the intense focus a full night’s sleep allows, but work felt great. And yet, most of my body felt terrible. Such is life.

A friend loaned me an Army Digital vest to go to the gym with. It weighs thirty pounds and I’m worried it’s just going to exacerbate my cough, but if I don’t start now, I’ll never start. Man, I hope I’m able to walk and breathe in the future. I guess if I grow asthma and three inches shorter, we’ll know why.

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