josh blog

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.

newest | archives | search | about | wishlist | flickr | email | rss

28 Jan '02 11:27:26 PM

The Annie sample on "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" strikes me as profoundly weird, more than anything else. I had never heard this before, except for the live version on Unplugged. I was expecting it to be more sing-songy, but unlike a lot of the sampled vocals on, say, The Blueprint - even those which are sped up or otherwise manipulated ("you don't know/what you do") - the sample here is eerie and disembodied, shrill. I would like to say it's manic, but I don't think that's right. I think that somehow this is intensified by the beat and the bassline, the way they constantly hang behind. And the thing is so damn slow!

The Swizz Beatz stuff isn't nearly as gut-wrenchingly, amazingly brutal and forward-thinking as I was anticipating, but then I guess I really had no idea. It's still at the very least interesting, though, sometimes captivating. I don't know what the song's called, but one of them I especially like (not sure if it's a Swizz Beatz thing). The guitars tread this strange line between being hard and funky, and not playing where I expect them to, defusing the funk and leaving behind that other kind of funk-by-absence that's so prominent in, like, loads of post-gangsta rap.

Here's a tentative reason why it can be more interesting to listen to commercial rap than to underground rap (in the special case where the underground rap isn't "message" rap but just wanders off into abstractions or fantasy or Kool Keith-style psychological abnormality): the way that commercial rap obsesses over (or APPEARS TO OBSESS OVER) guns, money, hoes, etc., is immaterial, as many have said. The fact that it constantly portrays people acting immorally, or notably, sexistly, is also somewhat immaterial IN THE FOLLOWING WAY. The fact that the acts or moral decisions portrayed ARE immoral, by our standards, is not so important as the fact that the performers are (or are constructing personas which are) doing moral reasoning, as it were.

This is not a new idea to anyone, I expect, but it deserves more thought.

Also, the other day I hard something - maybe at the end of "Money, Cash, Hoes" - that reminded me of a movie. Now I suspect it was reminding me of a Ray Liotta voicover in Goodfellas - stupid on my part, since I just watched that again like a couple weeks ago. "FUCK YOU, PAY ME!"

And more: the Talking Heads sample on "It's Alright". Maybe there is something extra sweet about the recognition of a sample when it comes quickly, but not immediately: I heard the track for the first time today, not thinking, and suddenly realized a minute or so in that I was thinking of another song. A short few moments later, struggling to remember, I realized it was the Talking Heads. Compare to the situation where a sample is familiar, but you can't recognize it for a while and eventually have to be told, or just run across the source again. In that situation, once you find out, you just feel a little dumb, because you didn't get it sooner. In the opposite situation, when you recognize the sample immediately, the experience isn't as pleasurable because there's no resistance. Compare to, well, just about anything where there's some chance to struggle for success. Or completion. (Sex.)

How does this kind of experience linger on once the song is known? Or once the sample is recognized? Is there any residual effect at all?

28 Jan '02 11:05:57 PM

Listening so far today: American Analog Set upon waking, and Jay-Z Vol. 2 on the way to school and while working. Then a bit of Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues.

28 Jan '02 11:04:57 PM

Jess said he fixed his archives but he is a LIAR. Despite this, have a look-see at his Beta Band review, which I enjoyed.

(Also his mentalist singles list.)

(Mentalist because it's so long, and numbered, not because he likes them.)

28 Jan '02 11:03:08 PM

So Solid Crew have been the talk of Freaky Trigger-related sites and folks lately. I only wish that their music was easier to get in the states.

See e.g. Marcello's review of their new mix release. I find his mention of the music as "celebratory" interesting just because it's a label I've found in the past doesn't always apply well to my own favorite or usual music. Sometimes to my dismay. But it does apply better to a lot of the music I've liked in the past year or so.

It also makes me think of John Coltrane's Meditations, which I am going to put on soon since I've been reminded of it more than once in the past week or so. Coltrane's "celebratory" is probably better suited to a party of one, though, which may seem out of keeping with many usual uses of the word.

28 Jan '02 05:29:53 PM

This morning I have been listening to the American Analog Set and singing along to the melody loop to "Magnificent Seventies" in a faux-arena-rock guitar-crunch voice.

28 Jan '02 06:34:40 AM

More listening: Smog again, then Ellington's "Black, Brown, and Beige," then AAS's From Our Living Room to Yours, then five Massive Attack singles on shuffle (probably "Risingson", "Safe from Harm", "Sly", and uh two others), then more American Analog Set.

28 Jan '02 06:25:09 AM

Last semester I had a philosophy of music class that met in the music building, because we needed a room with a piano in it. One day while wandering around the basement looking for the music library, I passed by lots of music students and busy practice rooms. Being around all the busy and happy people, and more importantly, the sound of musicians practicing, reminded me immediately of being in high school and playing, in a way I hadn't thought much of for a while. It's been more than five years now since I decided to stop practicing, and playing, altogether. I had just graduated from high school, and barely played all summer long except for a few times and a bit on the Fourth of July. Despite this I tried to work up an etude at the last minute, in order to try out for the university jazz band. I made it past the first tryout, but not the second, where we did some section playing with a full group and soloed a bit. This left me feeling dejected and frustrated, not just because I failed, but because I had characteristically hoped to succeed without putting in enough effort. I decided that, because I couldn't maintain my level of playing without practicing more regularly than I cared to, I would just not bother playing at all, and give that time over to the rest of my life.

Walking past all the practice rooms, hearing people starting and stopping, playing scales, dozens of people playing different music all at once, took me back to the time I spent playing and practicing in high school. It reminded me of the feelings of pleasure and well-being I had so often from challenging myself, working and playing with others, being around like-minded people, feeling the power of actually making music instead of only listening to it. It made me miss it.

27 Jan '02 09:33:45 AM

Listening all night while writing (something else), by the way, has been Red Apple Falls since that's what I'm writing about. But I'm switching back to The Doctor Came at Dawn since the chug-chug and horns on Red Apple Falls will distract me too much now that I am going to sleep.

27 Jan '02 09:32:04 AM

This here Salon review of Beanie Sigel's The Truth takes note of his tendency to end-rhyme, as they should, and notes that despite this being a usually tired and lazy way to rhyme, it actually works for him. Again as they should. Because it's really obvious. But what they don't do is really satisfactorily explain, for me, why it succeeds. I mean, Boots Riley, for example, seems to do something pretty similar, but I don't care nearly as much for his rhymes (or flow, which is a related thing). Does it have something to do with the more monolithic grooves on Party Music, as compared to The Truth? Does it have something to do with Beans' slower and more careful flow - one where the rhymes are perhaps not as emphasized as in Boots' incessant rhyming caused by the faster and shorter lines?