Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Unlikely, that is, because psychologizing paper-thin characters never really seems that profitable to me.
(Though I am reminded of something I heard somewhere once about Dickens, which I will attribute to Tom, about the characters being nothing more than a collection of nervous tics which are brought to life by vibrating at high speed. Something like that might be said of the personas like Pusha T and Malice - or plenty of MCs with flashier character traits and tics - though I certainly wouldn't want to imply that they sound excited or anything ("tics", "vibrating").)
Matos is right about Clipse's attitude - the way they're so matter of fact, professional, remorseless. That makes Pusha T's "wow" in Let's Talk About It stand out. It's even a little bit surprising to me, maybe: the lesbian sex he refers to is enough to disrupt the facade when most everything else on the album is not. I'm not sure whether to take this to say more about Pusha T (unlikely) or about the big careening wobbling system of stuff that makes up gangsta rap (and by extension, because of its audience, the whole of America oh yeah that's right I said it thinking big tonight here yup).
And some comments on individual albums and singles (some of these opinions have changed or developed already!):
1. Sonic Youth - Murray Street - 20 (DGC)
I asked a friend if he wanted to go see Sonic Youth. No, he said, they're old. I put my headphones back on. I put my headphones back on a lot last year. It was that kind of year.
4. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse - 5 (Roc-A-Fella)
"A Dream" cuts "World Trade" from Biggie's sampled "Juicy" verse -- "time to get paid / blow up like the" -- and it does it audibly and awkwardly. So it's my favorite 9/11 song. I know everyone has emotions and shit, but what I really want to hear is the stutter, the confused lapse of speech and moment of silence that comes from knowing something fucked up has happened, but not knowing what's ok to say and what's not ok. (Jay blows it later on the title track, but that's not really a surprise.) [The parenthetical was dropped - I think that was a good idea.]
7. No Doubt - Rock Steady - 10 (Interscope)
I'm glad teenagers have this to listen to. I wonder if the boys avoided it as assiduously as my friends and I avoided the first No Doubt album. Hopefully teenage boys are smarter now. (Oh, wait.)
1. No Doubt feat. Lady Saw - "Underneath It All" (Interscope)
I think this might be perfect.
2. Eminem - "Without Me" (Aftermath)
I heard two songs in 2002 where it seemed like everyone in the room knew all the words: "Baby Got Back", at a party, and "Without Me", in a bar. I don't think the same thing will be happening with Em at parties in 2012, but then again, who cares?
3. No Doubt - "Hella Good" (Interscope)
I would like an 80s revival this way, please (see also: Cee-Lo).
5. Cee-Lo - "Gettin' Grown" (Arista)
I would like an 80s revival this way, please (see also: No Doubt).
6. Nappy Roots - "Po' Folks" (Atlantic)
Lazy in more than one sense of the word, but one of those senses makes up for the other one.
7. LL Cool J - "Lollipop" (Def Jam)
I liked this but I really just put it on my list because it has that Neptunes sound from the future on it (beeow beeow) and I want more records with that sound on them. I want it everywhere. I am totally serious about this.
8. Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland - "Dilemma" (Universal)
Usually I harbor some lingering resentment for songs that I come to like when they annoy the hell out of me but won't stay out of my head, or off my radio. This is too sweet to resent.
9. Clipse feat. Sean Paul, Bless & Kardinal Offishall - "Grindin'
(Selector Remix)" (Star Trak)
Will you understand what I mean if I just say that I think Pumalicesha-T is a good MC but "he" doesn't seem very exciting to listen to? That's probably part of the point, I know, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The two remixes on the album improve on "Grindin'" in this regard, but are also unfortunately slightly more torturous. So on most days I choose the Selector remix as a "happy" medium, because it has toasters and toasters make me happy. (I'm not sure if I am supposed to be happy here, though. I'm also not sure if I want to keep listening to this a lot, or if it matters.) I hope Kardi's next album has more woozy, swoony multitracked harmonies like the ones that start his verse here.
Another one (the play's middle-America run hit Minneapolis in January 2002, unfortunately long after it had first run in New York - but it "made its impact" (the Voice criterion for record votes, despite year of release) on me last year):
Reasons the Rude Mechs' stage adaptation of Lipstick Traces is a zillion times better than the original book:
1. laughter = best possible litmus for understanding goofy beliefs of various european weirdos
2. dramatic device of shit-there's-a-lot-of-confusion-here-let's-keep-going way more punk than 500 page book from harvard university press
3. dadaist glossolalia way better live (and its appeal immediate for anyone who's heard a missy record)
4. "twentieth century in four and a half minutes" section worth laughing, crying, screaming, jumping for
5. actually made me buy a sex pistols record (eh)
Someone please please please make sure this thing sees print so I can carry my very own copy around in my pocket.
A comment I submitted to Pazz and Jop that didn't make it:
In the fall I asked each of my undergraduate students to list, along with other stuff that was supposed to help me tell them apart, five records - all time favorites, current favorites, albums, songs, whatever. Of about sixty students (only two of whom said "I don't really listen to music"), five mentioned a Weezer album. Five. There were three blue albums, one Pinkerton, and one green album (and, happily, no Maladroits). This means something, but what exactly is unclear to me.
Django's song-ending chord twang = Neptunes bwoo bwoo bwoo sound ca. 1935
List of things thought (by my roommate) to be required upon hearing Django Reinhardt (it is a short list):
1. dancing mouse
The 2002 Pazz and Jop poll is now up. My ballot is here (with singles and albums autoaccidentally alphabetized, see here for the ordered version), and the one comment I got in is on here. Interestingly that's the one comment I thought would get in, the one I wrote which was especially topical and meaningful and stuff while also being about something high-profile enough to be mentioned by others this year (holy shit can you believe it three is the loneliest number oh wait), just barely. The other ones, I don't know. They were forced because I didn't have any jokes at hand and didn't really feel like saying anything and so made some stuff up. We'll see in a minute here if I think I should post any of them now.
So, Wilco. Rock critics are so lame.
Three records I have been enjoying thinking about playing lately: Nirvana - In Utero, Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express, Miles Davis - Bitches Brew.
Soon I hope to be able to enjoy thinking about playing records I have never before heard.