||[Aug. 18th, 2006|02:14 am]
I've written a good chunk of thesis, so my reward is that I get to blog.|
So, about a week ago I got a copy of Jay-Z's Unplugged In New York from the early part of this decade, and I'm blown out of the fucking water. For those of you who aren't fans of Jay-Z, please believe me that I understand exactly why: he's arrogant, over-rated, and played out like a motherfucker. Sed Contra, however, his unplugged album is like taking a lightning bolt and re-animating a fucking corpse. First of all, his back-up band is The motherfucking Roots, and for the uninitiated, The Roots are arguably the most talented band in either rap or rock and roll if for no other reason than ?uestlove (in my book the best drummer in music). A song that I thought would be impossible to do without Kanye West's production, Takeover, is rendered even more majestic with The Roots providing live music and a gospel choir adding a sense of sublimeness to the utterly trite battle rap bullshit between Jay-Z, Mobb Deep, and Nas. For the first time, I believe that Jay-Z might actually be the real king of New York.
And then I reflect on the fact that, were Nas given the same opportunity by MTV, he'd sound every inch as good.
Speaking of The Roots, if you're a rock and roll or hip hop fan and haven't heard "The Seed (2.0)" then you need to get on iTunes and correct that fact. That song is mad sexy, and the drumming is everything drumming ought to be.
In other notes, Outkast's new album, Idlewild, is quite good. I don't know if I'd call it great, but it gets an A for innovation: I didn't think it'd be possible to combine hip hop, rap, swing, and jazz into a cohesive whole, but they did it. "Call The Law" will be a bigger hit than "Hey Ya" if they have the balls to release it as a single. And, contrary to Mr. Gremillion's opinion, anyone who's listened to a great deal of Billie Holiday, Etta James, or (alternatively) some of the more obscure black female vocalists from the twenties or thirties will nigh-immediately like Janelle Monae's performance or, at the very least, figure out why she's not a dime a dozen female vocalist. For the curious, the song is quite strange: it starts with a few bars of rapping, proceeds for several minutes to be a jazz number: it's pushed forward by a pretty simple rap bass line, and then combined with jazz piano that is largely restrained until a drummer kicks in, when both go crazy. Andre 3000 raps for a minute or so, and then the song becomes a strange fusion of upbeat lounge fare and gospel. As strange as all of that sounds, the result is a song that has all of the pop sensibility of a top twenty hit with the retro fidelity of a song that's most at home on the soundtrack to Woody Allen's Sweet & Lodown (an awesome album in its own right, by the way).
But, then again, I hear that Christina Aguilera's new album is fucking brilliant as well. But she's always been an exceptional singer. Rolling Stone claims that 2/3's of it are the best big-band influenced album they've heard in a long time. Since it's a two discer, I'll probably get a copy of it: ten or so really good songs written with a critical eye aimed at one of my favorite musical time periods is okay in my book.
I've gotten a lot smarter about music and what makes it work since I got obsessed with classical music: I swear to God, a year-long study of Bach will teach you fucking structure and melody.
Oh, I got promoted at work. I'm now the DJ. Champps is about to have good fucking music. With like, discernable beats, catchy melodies, and the kind of music that cool college students listen to (you know, the music one of our restaurant's fucking demographics listens to?). What does that mean, you ask? $10 an hour and blowjobs on demand.
Okay, I lied about one of those two things.
But seriously, I emitted MAJOR sex radiation tonight while writing. If the number of births in Baton Rouge goes up in about nine months, it's because my mojo was off the fucking hook. They even felt it at Champps.