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Full Albums:

  • Bill Withers, Just as I Am1
  • LCD Soundsystem, Live at Madison Square Garden2
  • Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers3
  • U-God, Golden Arms Redemption3
  • Toro y Moi, Underneath the Pine4

Random Excellence:

  • Ghostface Killah, “Nutmeg”5
  • Big K.R.I.T., “Country Shit (Remix)”
  • Sleigh Bells, “Rill Rill”
  • Saves the Day, “Bones”
  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Wu Tang: 7th Chamber”

Songs of the Week:

  • Big Pun, “Twinz (Deep Cover 98)”6
  • Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands”7

Reviews:

1. My goodness, the production on this album is phenomenal. From the strings to the guitars to the signing, it’s just a beautiful collection of music. It reminds me of Songs in the Key of Life in the sense that I’m also very clearly not the only person who feels as strongly about it. At every turn there’s at least a snippet that has even become a musical archetype: you don’t know why or how, but you know this song. For just one example, see the seventh footnote here.

2. Of course it’s because this recording’s from his fourth and last night, but James Murphy just sounds tired. He sounds full of joy and gratitude, but he’s ready to sit behind the recording board once again. LCD Soundsytem might be calling it a night, but they sure as hell went out with a bang.

3. On Wednesday, two friends and I took MTA’s X22 bus from 42nd Street out to Staten Island where we saw the Wu-Tang Clan perform. Sure, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s dead and neither RZA nor Method Man could attend, but I was still on the secluded side of Staten Island where the tiny stage had 8-15 of the most important rappers in the recent development of the DZA.

It started off with Raekwon. Then Ghostface came out and they did “Criminology.” Then Cappadonna. Then Masta Killa so they could do “Ice Cream.” Then Cappadonna did a song of his own I’d never heard of because I don’t follow him because he didn’t enter the 36 chambers–not for me. And just as I was getting nervous this was going to be the whole “Wu-Tang Clan” performance, Ghostface said this was just an appetizer. And out came Inspectah Deck, U-God and GZA. They did some of their own songs (“Duel of the Iron Mic”) but also the classics (“Protect Ya Neck” with audience members to fill in for the missing rappers). The rest is blurred by sheer elation, but it made me realize I still don’t listen to enough Wu-Tang.

So I listened to these two on Spotify and they are just so incredibly different. Honestly, U-God’s album’s kind of terrible. I don’t think he’s even rapping on beat on “Stay in Your Lane.” I’ll admit “Dat’s Gangsta” and “Rumble” were pretty impressive, but some of it was just so disappointing, particularly considering how many lives he changed with his verse on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’.”

Somehow that doesn’t happen on ODB’s album. The majority of the songs are either excellent or good enough. It’s by no means a perfect album, but listening to that after the U-God album was like a breath of fresh air. But don’t get me wrong, Golden Arms’ redemption came in the form of the memories of Wednesday night I’ll probably carry with me forever.

4. I had the same problem with this one as I had with his previous album. The stuff that’s great on it is phenomenal, but I don’t really like much else. It feels like too much of a jumble. But the new hotness is “New Beat.”

5. So Ghostface names all the first solo albums of the other members then starts naming all of his albums except Supreme Clientele. When we all yell the name of the missing puzzle piece, he just rips into this song. And of course when it came up on random while I was jogging the next day, I had the most awesome flashback. That boy Ghostface is charisma incarnate, yo.

6. DJ Jasmine Solano played this one during her warm up set. Even when Mick Boogie followed up her set with amazing songs (including some of my favorite Pete Rock & C.L Smooth jumpoffs), I still couldn’t get over this one. I played it on repeat at work about five times. Pretty incongruous for my workplace, but it’s just so good. Big Pun just crush a lot–dude got mad puns, yo.

7. The intro of this song is the entire basis of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Sure, Dr. Dre threw on some keys, but can you blame him? Actually, there’s no one to blame, both songs are a sheer delight. Mr. Withers was truly a master.

Comment:

I think I made this abundantly clear, but I saw the Wu-Tang Clan on the 28th and it was amazing. Also amazing: I listened to 12.5 hours of WTF with Marc Maron–only 10 episodes with about 30 left.

All that shit’s heavy, yo.

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