Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm the operator with my pocket calculator

Why you gotta give me shit for liking that Kraftwerk song, man? Kraftwerk is serious (and isn't their website precisely how you envisioned it?).

Some retards poached the shit out of my car last night. Michelle and I spent a good half hour scrubbing dried yolks off my windshield earlier. I'm not a violent person by any means, but if I ever catch anyone egging my shit again, I'm going to have to murk them with the Little League-size Louisville Slugger I brought up to school for this precise reason. Bitches.

I wrote up Late Registration for my college paper this week. Wrote it in pretty general terms just for the sake of the article (probably would've talked about Paul Wall more otherwise, just because). Feel free to tell me how out of touch I am.

In hip-hop, hype breeds hate. And there has been no artist more hyped in the past few years than Roc-A-Fella’s golden boy Kanye West. The music media branded the producer-turned-MC the savior of mainstream hip-hop upon the release of his acclaimed 2004 debut The College Dropout. Stellar reviews notwithstanding, enormous expectations fostered an unprecedented backlash from both hip-hop bloggers and fans in general. In other words, a lot of people hate this guy’s surgically-reconstructed face. Lucky for him, even more love it (now that the swelling’s gone down). West’s feverishly anticipated sophomore record Late Registration is sure to create just as many polarized opinions and hateful online diatribes.

While Jesus-piece-bearing Kanye was first lauded as the guy that could close the chasm between popular and underground, his preppy, marketable image, outspoken opinions and tiny backpack jacked him into the mainstream stratosphere. Some fans worried that Late Registration would be too weighed down with high school girl singalongs (a la “The New Workout Plan”) to catch any discerning critical acclaim. Said fans are dummies. This album is good good.

Late Registration extends the autobiographical anti-college narrative West began with his debut. This time, he replaces Dropout’s sardonic-but-annoying Lil’ Jimmy skits with less sardonic, more annoying chants from the Broke Phi Broke fraternity. Thankfully, these unnerving asides are easy to dismiss; it’s pleasing enough to soak in Kanye’s now-signature soul samples paired with his intricate but palatable drums.

Kanye opens with “Heard ‘Em Say,” an unremarkable ditty featuring Maroon 5 crooner Adam Levine trying really hard to sound like Stevie Wonder. “Touch the Sky” marks the start of the real album; boisterous bongos and a cheerful horn sample back Kanye’s boastful but undeniably positive lyrics. West is quickly growing into his potential as a writer; while he still drops the occasional groaner (“…and her fat friend, her nickname is minivan” on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” etc.), his smarmy-charming diction and off-kilter flow seem to work as a seasoned team here (“The doors were closed/I felt like Bad Boy’s street team/I couldn’t work the Lox”). The song also features a decent verse from protégé Lupe Fiasco, which is probably the daintiest rap name since Prince Markie Dee.

This summer, radio stations and clubs have been spinning the crap out of “Diamonds” and the Jamie Foxx-accompanied “Golddigger” single. Skeptics will be happy to know that Late Registration is not reliant on these commercial hits to exist as an excellent effort. Other surefire singles include “Drive Slow,” which features a syrupy, candy paint-coated verse from Houston’s Paul Wall (the gutterest white dude of them all) and the anthemic “Bring Me Down,” driven by an impeccable cameo by a no-longer-preggers Brandy.

The best non-West verse on Registration belongs to none other than Jay-Z on the “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” remix. Everyone knows that if S. Dot contributes his renowned laissez-faire bars to your song, you will automatically sound better by association (ask Young Jeezy). Other solid contributors include Cam’ron on some loveable dovetailed nonsense (“Gone”), a solo Common on “My Way Home” (West just provides the beat) and Nas on the slightly long “We Major.”

Despite the album’s overall quality, several songs on Late Registration are far too preachy to enjoy. “Crack Music” finds Kanye and a non-existent Game complaining that Ronald Reagan planted government-produced drugs in the ghetto. “Hey Mama” has the artist telling the world how great his college professor mother is (“You’re like a book of poetry/Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni/turn one page and there’s my mommy”). Everyone loves their mom, but that’s a little Oedipus weird; plus, he’s an only child. Perhaps West was just trying to make up for the fact that his mom is a source of vitriolic online criticism (hip-hop blogger Byron Crawford once wrote an infamous post entitled “Let’s hunt and kill Kanye West’s mother”).

It might be difficult to discern accurate public opinion on Late Registration since Kanye haters will hate it and Kanye lovers will probably play the record until it starts skipping. Save for a few weak tracks, his content is overwhelmingly sturdy. From a musical standpoint, West is such a flawless producer that he can sometimes spit mundane verses and get away with it. Don’t be surprised if everyone from your history teacher to your nine-year-old sister buys a copy; this dude’s so popular that Suge Knight got shot at his VMA after party on Sunday. This album is going to be huge.

Speaking of the dude, anyone know anything about this Kanye/Beach Boys shit? I didn't have the patience to download very many songs; "All Falls Down" sounded alright (somewhat Muzak-ish), but the "Through The Wire" track was just the same Kanye beat sped up with this Lushlife guy rapping his own verse over it. I guess this guy is just capitalizing on the Late Reg hype and trying to get his name out. "Get 'Em High" is terrible, dude doesn't even match the verse to the beat at all. I think people stretch this shit too far sometimes; I mean, the hugest mash-up records usually work pretty well because the source material is chock-full of crazy sounds like the motherfuckin' White Album or something. In my opinion, Pet Sounds is definitely the Beach Boys' best album, but this doesn't automatically make it a good idea to use it. The Beach Boys are good (but, not solely good) because of their melodies; when you take them out completely, it's really unfair to rely on their instrumentation alone to make an interesting beat. It just gets derivative and repetitive. Oh well, I guess this guy succeeded in getting me to talk about him though.

Craigslist post entitled "Things I'd like to tell students that would probably get me fired." This teacher is so bitter. I think the best is "I don’t really like it when I see you guys in the bathroom. I’m always afraid I’ll fart or something, and then it’ll be around the department and I’ll get some lame nickname like Dr. Farts. On a similar topic, how do you know when I fart in my office? Invariably, there’s a knock on my door immediately afterwards, and I have to answer it while trying to position my body for maximal obstruction of air. And, it’s kind of a catch 22. It’s not like I can go to the bathroom and fart, because of the above issue."

Could've watched Fire Walk With Me earlier tonight but instead opted to play MVP Baseball. I can only win when I'm playing as the Orioles/against my one roommate Taylor. I've only won twice. Ever. I caught the end of FWWM, though, and my god is it disturbing. I'll have to watch the first half tomorrow, but I probably won't because I'll be stuck in the damn Collegian office for two days trying to lay out pages on Quark, which kinda eludes me sometimes.

I submitted an article I wrote about avoiding political arguments to that College Living magazine and the guy liked it. Hooray, now I can get 50 bucks to pay my water bill. I can't really remember what I wrote about off the top of my head other than the vacuous phrase I usually drop to diffuse any and all political conversations: "I pretty much respect Michael Moore as a filmmaker, but I don't necessarily agree with some of his opinions." It's vague and meaningless enough to get a Republican to buy a hippie a drink. God bless feigned indifference.

I always enjoy the posts on Razorblade Runner. Check the link there for the Kanye list. Pretty exhaustive.

I didn't catch the VMAs last night, but Siwek told me that Kelly Clarkson's performance was truly disturbing (something about how she was screaming like a maniac, then doused herself with water and messed up her microphone and preceded to scream some more). I'm trying to find some video for this. I went to the MTV site to try and see if it was on there, but I was so bombarded with license acquisitions, Diet Pepsi with lime ads and Suchin Pak's face that I got scared and Xed out of it. Maybe someone who's braver can watch and tell me what happened.


Anonymous said...

Your article sucks almost as bad as Lushlife.

Drew said...

Couldn't agree more.