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.

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6 Jan '03 10:43:40 PM

Three comments on The Blueprint 2:

1. By the time "Poppin' Tags" ends, without fail, I no longer feel as if I've been listening to a Jay-Z record. Part of this must be down to the style of the track; even though it seems a little thicker and less rhythmically clicky than any proper dirty south I've heard, it's still pretty distinct from most of Jay's past beats (maybe because it's Kanye West producing - I don't know if he's ever done any beats like this before). But he exacerbates the dominant effect the foreign style has by dropping his verse first, then disappearing (except for some yelps) for the rest of the six minute track to let three MCs more at home in the style than him rhyme.

2. The production on "I Did It My Way" confuses me.

3. Just how are we supposed to take Big's verse on "A Dream"? I'm not talking about the question of whether or not it's crass or deep to take a dead MC's verse and drop it in, Natalie Cole style. I like that part of it here, and think it works - somewhat strangely, since by now I've still heard The Blueprint 2 more than Ready to Die, and though I like Big as an MC I can't really profess any special love for him or interest in his death. No, it's not that stuff I'm worried about though it is important to think about. It's the way the verse is edited. The original in "Juicy" goes "time to get paid / blow up like the World Trade". Here that line is edited, audibly cut off right at the end of "the". "World Trade" disappears, and Big picks up the verse with the next line. There is no explicit mention of this in the rest of the track.

I don't know what to make of this, or rather, what I should make of it. (I do know how I react to it.)

6 Jan '03 07:51:08 PM

I was wondering the other day when it became de rigueur for "remix" to mean, in certain cases, "the same mix basically only with some different verses over the beat and maybe the chorus parts moved around". But maybe that's always been one of the meanings of "remix" and I just never knew.

Anyway, as per our earlier discussion re world pop reform, I need an MC to guest on Einsturzende Neubauten's "Dingsaller". I find myself at a point of indecision. I am expecting some scatological rhymes based on the title, as well as some "dings alla y'all". I mean, come on. It's only natural.

Some funny German words, possibly in a funny German accent, would be ace too.

But only a few. Maybe kinda "watch while I freak it in Korean".

6 Jan '03 08:39:42 AM

I'm not sure whether I have to retract my fuck the Village Voice now that I got a ballot, since I had to bother them and spend a day arguing with Chuck Eddy to get one. Either way, I've submitted it now, and changed my old lists substantially.

1. Sonic Youth - Murray Street - 20 (DGC)
2. Herbert - Secondhand Sounds: Herbert Remixes - 20 (Peacefrog)
3. Dave Holland Big Band - What Goes Around - 10 (ECM)
4. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse - 5 (Roc-A-Fella)
5. Tom Waits - Alice - 5 (Anti)
6. Cee-Lo - Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections - 15 (Arista)
7. No Doubt - Rock Steady - 10 (Interscope)
8. Bobby Hutcherson - Dialogue - 5 (Blue Note)
9. Eminem - The Eminem Show - 5 (Aftermath)
10. V/A - Total 4 - 5 (Kompakt)

1. No Doubt feat. Lady Saw - "Underneath It All" (Interscope)
2. Eminem - "Without Me" (Aftermath)
3. No Doubt - "Hella Good" (Interscope)
4. Louie Austen - "Hoping (Herbert's High Dub)" (Peacefrog)
5. Cee-Lo - "Gettin' Grown" (Arista)
6. Nappy Roots - "Po' Folks" (Atlantic)
7. LL Cool J - "Lollipop" (Def Jam)
8. Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland - "Dilemma" (Universal)
9. Clipse feat. Sean Paul, Bless & Kardinal Offishall - "Grindin' (Selector Remix)" (Star Trak)
10. Freiland - "Frei" (Kompakt)

Each entry on the albums list also gives the number of points, minimum of 5, maximum of 30, assigned to the record, as per the Voice's requirement to split up to 100 points among up to 10 records. Singles don't get points (I'm not sure why).

If I can come up with anything, I hope to write something about everything here that I haven't already written about. At the moment I can say something about the trouble I had making lists, though. Not the general trouble that I always have, but some particular trouble with these lists, in this year.

I didn't listen to as much new indie (or as much old indie really) in 2002. Lots of my old favorite bands didn't release new albums, which probably would've had a good chance of showing up in this list. (But, note that Low and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I think - released new records that I didn't even buy, so it's not guaranteed.) But at the same time, I didn't really care to try out anything new, either really new (like all this garage rock crap or post-punk revivalism), or stylistically familiar to me (like, uh, whatever it is I didn't try). My limited energies were directed elsewhere.

I should say that there were a few albums that kind of fit into this category, "old favorite bands". I loved the Mekons' last album, though I haven't really enjoyed their older ones that I've heard. The new one seemed good at spots but I didn't often feel like listning to it. I wanted the wisely-resigned-and-wearied sound and feel of the last one, and was disappointed. I enjoyed the last two Wilco albums quite a bit, but aside from a couple of spots the new one put me off. I love Sleater-Kinney, but found myself, frustratingly, unable to listen to One Beat. It took me quite a while to really like their last three albums; I hope this one opens up for me eventually. At the moment whenever I play it, I hear bad parts of rock (the style, the monstrous historical entity) that I enjoyed the absence of (implicitly) on the older records.

But, like I said, my energies were mostly directed elsewhere. Limited energies - more on that later. I haven't counted, but I'm pretty sure well over half of the records I bought this year were rap records, old or new. That's a lot more than I've ever bought before. There's more to say about this, but for the moment I'll just note that I bought lots of albums that I found uneven, but enjoyed or found interesting in all kinds of different ways. The problem is that I still tend to judge my album list using consistency of some sort (consistency in quality, tone, my response, etc.), and this left me unsure of what to do with all these records that I had been playing but wouldn't normally put on an albums list. (By way of comparison, aside from the Stereolab which I have turned considerably on, I think everything on my 2001 list is at least still pretty tight as an album, even if I think differently of it now for other reasons.)

So, there are both flawed albums (in the above sense) on this year's list, and a number of flawed ones I left off but still enjoyed somehow. The Jay-Z is flawed in some typical double album ways, sadly. I'm not sure if the Cee-Lo is flawed in first solo album ways, overreaching ways, or typical contemporary black pop album ways. The Eminem is flawed in typical contemporary chart rap ways. And then there are the ones I left off: Scarface, Missy, LL, Clipse, N.E.R.D., the 8 Mile soundtrack, the other Tom Waits, and others.

I am sure this is all quite interesting to you.

4 Jan '03 09:31:10 AM

The record is Ella and Louis. There is a quiz.

Ella is Missy. Who is Louis?

a. Meth? b. Jay? c. Luda? d. Tim?

Oops, problem, Ella is not Missy. Oh well.

4 Jan '03 09:27:51 AM

Yes, all these other songs should have the stutter right at 2:45. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. If I had meant that all songs should just have a stutter, I could've said so.

It will be kind of like a holiday. You have them on the same day every year so that everyone knows when they are, so they can get ready for the excitement, and all observe the holiday together.

4 Jan '03 07:46:56 AM

Andy has started something new.

1 Jan '03 07:04:18 AM

A confession has to be part of your new life.

31 Dec '02 06:36:10 AM

I find it interesting that the Nas spot on the new Scarface record seems to me kind of like a guest-from-another-genre spot, even though the song has a beat and Scarface does a verse on it too. It must be because of the structure and the music: in the middle, after Nas and before Face, there's a very long (relative to the rest of the song) section with singing and a devastating, delicate guitar part. Just by its presence it transforms the raps on the song.

31 Dec '02 06:34:06 AM

I might say that what makes these guest spots so wonderful is that they're not just performers guesting, but styles. I say that despite Lady Saw's spot on Underneath It All being in some sense (I can't make claims about ultimate appropriateness since I don't really know the style) in the style of the song. Maybe Bounty Killer's too, though that I am even less sure about. But. The talk of rap below means something; I want, like, Redman and Nas and Missy doing guest spots on rock records. There is a trick to this, of course; I only want them doing it if they can do it in some cool way that sounds good, not in some guy-from-Rush-decides-to-do-a-rap-song way. But what is definitely ruled out as unacceptable in my futuristic guest star pop paradise (in which incidentally we will all be housed in cities encased in giant plastiform bubbles, all the better the keep in the future pop music which will be publically broadcast in the streets and idyllic nature preserves) is rock people guest starring on other rock people's records. Rap is so much about style that rappers carry their styles around with them; you might make a grouchy case in favor of the same being true of rock-style singing, but at the moment I think the performer's individual style just isn't as modular in the sense that it's not as resilient and substitutable in new contexts. This might have something to do with the way individualism and style interact in different genres, but just noting so will satisfy me for the moment.