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Full albums:

  • The Strange Boys, And Girls Club1
  • Pete Rock, PeteStrumentals and Soul Survivor II2
  • tUnE-yArDs, W H O K I L L3
  • Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front4
  • Leaders of the New School, T.I.M.E.5
  • Action Bronson, The Program EP
  • Asher Roth, Pabst & Jazz
  • Nas, Illmatic

Random Excellence:

  • A Tribe Called Quest, “Footprints”
  • Saves the Day, “This is not an Exit”
  • Raekwon, “Canal Street”
  • The Hold Steady, “The Sweet Part of the City”
  • Foo Fighters, “Alandria”

Songs of the Week:

  • Van Halen, “Dancing in the Street”
  • The Roots, “You Don’t See Us”
  • Steve Winwood, “Split Decision”
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “On and On”
  • Notorious B.I.G., “Just Playing (Dreams)”

Reviews:

1. Let’s not beat around the bush here: this dude can’t sing. He’s also backed by a band pumping out some truly awesome music as influenced by the 1950s as the early 2000s. It’s fittingly garage rock and incredibly aware to the point that I can get over the fact that I wasn’t really a big fan of his voice at the get-go. His voice is sort of like Joe Strummer’s: The first listen makes you wonder how those assholes calling themselves The Clash got away with calling themselves “the only band that matters,” but you don’t want to listen to anything else after a couple of listens.

2. ILLER BEATS THAN A FUCKIN’ UFC MATCH INSIDE A HOSPITAL.

3. Seriously, I had to look up whether this vocalist was a boy or a girl. She or he did a whole lot of singing that I abhorred, though shim was lucky the beats were pretty good. And yet, that’s another major problem I have with this album: I feel like this is part of the same Lana Del Rey movement. We have our white women (s/he) singing about the hard times they’ve faced while living in the ghetto. They’re stuck in some place right between faking it to make it and actually living in a ghetto that has become so symptomatic of the “hipster” diagnosis.

I’m not saying it’s really a new movement, I’m just frustrated by the execution. Stealing from black musicians is by no means a new trend; Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones are guilty of a kind of black hero worship that frequently borders on blatant theft. But holy fuck could Plant sing, Jagger entertain (and sing better than average), Page pull the hottest riffs out of Satan’s eardrums, and Richards concoct the hip-shaking grooves to end it all.

And then the plight of the hipster makes it okay to envision Williamsburg or Portland or some other bullshit place with access to a million different amazing things the heart of eternal suffering. I think I understand part of it–there’s a very real chance I was clinically depressed while living in Crown Heights, but it was way more terrible than Williamsburg–but I think I’m frustrated that the mentality is not so much, “Hey, everything’s fucked up! Let’s dance!” but more “Everything’s fucked up and I’m sad.” Because, no, young female white privileged person, you did not grow up on welfare. Your life was not getting pregnant at 16 and debating whether or not to even bother with a GED. You didn’t steal clothes that you turn around and sell so you can eat.

Yet, I know it’s supposed to be symptomatic of our times: the Occupy movement was pretty much crushed by a billionaire who thought it was a personal insult. The Republican debates continue to happen seemingly on a nightly basis because no one really seems to be able to express what they’re really angry about. Instead, they talk about gays, taxes, and moon bases–because if we can’t fix our own country, we might as well fuck up the moon? So I understand why this is the kind of album than dominate all the super-indie charts for “Best of 2011,” but I just can’t sign up.

Someone remix that shit with a rapper lacing the track, son. You know what? Somebody teach that mist-her how to spell, too.

Deep breaths.

4. Sometimes I wonder if Busta just has a terrible taste in beats. Dude’s pretty great at rapping and a lot of the material from his cannon will probably always be considered classic material, but I bet 90% of his instrumental CDs sell $0–and not because no one buys CDs any more. This really is a particularly good album, but sometimes I was so distracted by what was supposed to be bolstering him that I overlooked his raps.

5. This is sort of like what Ice Cube is to N.W.A. or Q-Tip is to A Tribe Called Quest. Sure, it’s catchy as fuck and kind of a masterpiece from a very specific era, but there’s no way Busta Rhymes wasn’t coming out on top–he ran this rodeo.

Comment:

I recently updated my social playlist after a round of minor critiques and unwarranted brags by friends about the quality of their social playlists. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about your choice in music–it’s one very specific person who boasts about having the best beats playlist to all their Twitter friends, and checking in on the health of their beats reveals they only have 58 songs. For the love of all things holy, my social playlist has 340+ songs on it, is constantly in need of repair, and has never been perfect in its existence.

Deep breaths.

At any rate, I took the critiques into consideration, adjusted in iTunes and uploaded the entire playlist to Spotify to replace the older version. To my surprise, quite a few songs were not available. Then I realized it was entirely my fault.

You see, I have an unrelenting pet peeve: I find nothing in iTunes as insufferable as Gracenote’s method of citing songs. By God, Gracenote. You’re right. I was definitely looking for that one-song album where Jay-Z and Nas finally squashed their beef, came together and only recorded “Success” for their one-off EP, American Gangster.

No! You fucking fuck! Jay-Z spent all the time in the studio recording a goddamn album, Nas showed up and laced the track with a single verse! He doesn’t get to be the other half of the artist who produced that song! Sweet mother of things that are pervasive into modernity as religious idols, what did he do, handpick the producers and the song order like his name started with the eighth letter of the alphabet? Do they call him “Mister Z”? No! He isn’t the fucking album artist! He’s featured on that song for, as I’ve noted, pretty much just a verse! He gets credit for naught but being featured on the song! Sweet underworld dweller and ruler, I’ve used so many exclamation points out of sheer frustration–despite my hatred of them as well!A

And so I edit my personal iTunes library to mirror my stance on this issue. But what does that mean for Spotify? Since they rely on the same classification system, it means Spotify is equally your neighborhood helmet child. “What is this? “Hero (Feat. Keri Hilson)”? BaaaaaadurrrrB, I don’t know what that means. Oh, you like “Hero” by Nas and Keri Hilson? NO WAI, me tew. Check out these other songs by Nas and Keri Hilson”–BUT THERE ARE NONE BECAUSE “NAS AND KERI HILSON” IS NOT A BAND, YOU FUCKING SHITTY SHIT.

And suddenly, my work is doubled on two services because they use the same faulty classification system. Indeed, these smack desperately of the clichéd “White People Problems,” but they are a very real problem that I consider to be a global issue. When you’re citing someone in something as permanent and widespread as Gracenote, you have to get your shit right. It’s why I trust books like Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style or AllMusic.com: they’ve put a well-documented amount of work into correctly citing reasons why they define things the way they do. I can point to them because I knew the list of higher authorities (for my American life) is few and far between.

But if the source I’m forced to settle with is dictating bullshit, nonsensical rules, I will rebel. Indeed, it might just be a whiny-white-people blog post, but all the rules I’ve experienced dictate that they are wrong. So I will continue to edit song artists as the only silent middle finger I know how to give to Gracenote. And as such, this will also have to be the last time I write about their incompetencies, since complaining never solved most things. It’s the closest I’ve come to having full-blown OCD, and I will cling to it until they recognize the error of their ways.

A. “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes”–F. Scott Fitzgerald
B. This is a potentially offensive reference to what I imagine as an onomatopoeia that an anthropomorphic Gracenote CDDB would say out loud. However, consider how this is probably more offensive to the mentally handicapped with which you would normally associate such a stereotypical noise: Gracenote will never be as intelligent as the mentally handicapped. Indeed, the mentally handicapped kids I’ve met are always the happiest people I’ve ever encountered–they seem to be free of the burden of endless conscious decisions and stresses. I sometimes envy them. But Gracenote is just a robot incapable of emotion, deader than dinosaurs, and stupider than the Kardashian family. (BOOM! TOPICAL!) The moral of the story is, I apologize to all mentally handicapped ladies and gentlemen for deigning to classify Gracenote as anywhere near as amazing as you are. Please keep smiling and bringing smiles.

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] I think I’ve already made my feelings about this album abundantly clear, but you don’t get to shit on something without at least knowing what it is and understanding […]

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