Archive for May, 2011

On Lil B’s Memorial Day Wishes

May 30, 2011

Lil B The Based God's Memorial Day Wishes

First things first, I love the way Lil B quotes himself in all of his tweets. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite jokes from the U.S. version of The Office: when Michael Scott puts an inspirational quote up on the wall of the conference room. The quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky – Michael Scott. I.E., Michael Scott’s quoting of Wayne Gretzky is as important as the quote itself. Anyway…

It was only a couple of weeks ago that we lost M-Bone, a 22-year old kid from Cali Swag District who was gunned down outside a restaurant in Inglewood, CA. Dude just wanted to teach the world how to dougie. Just horrible. I know his friends and family are still grieving and my heart goes out to them all.

Lil B of course sent out wishes to M-Bone, etc. But I really love his take on violence in general: “Why would you want to take someone’s life when we all die anyway?” is a very Buddhist stance. Fitting that a rapper like Lil B, who, to make a grand understatement, approaches life from his own unique perspective, would put things this way. (Lil B is The Based God, after all. So really it’s just one deity speaking to another.)

Wayne and The Game

Lil B’s tweet reminds me of one of the most flat-out WHACK songs of the year: The Game & Lil Wayne’s “Red Nation.” There’s two things majorly off about this song. One, it samples Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” (no relation to Kern pharmaceuticals), one of the cheesiest “Jock Jam” eurotrash songs this side of Haddaway’s “What Is Love.” Oh wait, Lil Wayne appeared on a track that samples that song too. (Although I actually like that one a lot. It’s good to hear Eminem starving for a change.)

The other, more obvious reason “Red Nation” is whack is of course, the gang element. I’m not going to get all Al Sharpton in this bitch and type a bunch of anti-gang platitudes at you. All I’ll say is – for a rapper who claims he’s so unique he’s not even from this PLANET, Lil Wayne is awfully enthusiastic about joining a club where everybody dresses and thinks the same. I have respect for repping for the block, repping where you came from, etc. But Tunechi would be so much more of a badass in my eyes if instead of “Blood the fuck up” he just said “Fuck Bloods.”

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.


Title Imagery Explanation

May 29, 2011

The “saying something is pretentious is pretentious” paradox means I usually avoid that word. But allow me to act pretentious for a second as I explain the selection of artwork in this blog’s header. A lot of the time I see a blog with interesting, if opaque, design choices. The more interesting the blog is, the more likely you are to wonder “Oh, I wonder what they chose that for?”

The Simpsons is mankind’s greatest artistic achievement, but The Sopranos is my favorite television series of all time. I’m disheartened when newly minted The Wire aficionados stake their affection for that show and dismiss The Sopranos. I strongly believe there could be no The Wire without The Sopranos – the first three seasons of the show, and their pioneering season-length story structures, are models against which the best shows of the present are measured. Subconsciously if not directly. Or to put it another way, The Wire is so perfect that no one ever has a favorite episode! The Wire has no “Pine Barrens,” no “Pie-O-My,” or even a forgotten weak episode like when Tony n’ the gang get all up in arms about defending Columbus Day. The Wire has no fun diversions. Each episode is a perfectly selected move in its’ season-long chess games. The imperfections of The Sopranos deepen my affection for the show the way a flawless novel of a series like The Wire doesn’t.

So the header-image choice reflects that. Also, I like collecting TV shows on DVD. And New Jersey. And the colors. They’re pretty. Though I wish they made one season purple instead of using silver twice.

AAA – Album Artwork Appreciation #1: Cut Copy’s “Zonoscope”

May 29, 2011

Album artwork for Cut Copy's "Zonoscope"

I won’t lie. The first time I saw it, I found the artwork for Zonoscope so striking I was compelled to purchase a print of it. (In t-shirt form.) The buildup to seeing this image was magnified by the fact that the album was a followup to one that I would put in my Top 20 of the previous decade.

I find the number of contradicting genre titles for music that employs electronic elements as confounding as the next guy. But under whatever category you place it, Cut Copy’s 2007 album In Ghost Colours is a masterwork. Songs like “Out There On The Ice” and “Hearts on Fire” are as emotionally resonant to me as anything disco has ever produced. And perhaps no dance song in the past 15 years can top the ecstatic peak of a rave like “Lights and Music.” (This coming from someone who can count on two hands the minutes he’s spent on a dance floor in the past year.)

A band like Cut Copy deserved the four years they took to craft their followup, and one of the first exciting tidbits about the new album to emerge was its otherworldly artwork. I know I’ve read elsewhere about Zonoscope’s resemblance to The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the iconic Japanese woodblock print. (Which I also owned a print of, in the form of a dorm-room poster.)  Zonoscope certainly does, but the striking circle-shaped frame of vision also recalls a porthole to a ship. Or a telescope. Or some fantastical instrument, a “zonoscope,” if you will.

I also love the way the wave forms off some unseen cliff that has apparently formed along 34th street, and reaches the height of halfway up the Empire State Building. From the angle the viewer sees the waterfall, it looks awfully similar to Niagara Falls.

There is also the message that society – here represented as New York City – is itself about to plunge off an unseen cliff. However we interpret it, it is a melding of sorts. Fitting that the artist who created the image was the late Japanese photomontage artist Tsunehisa Kimura. He melds nature and city with exhilarating, inspiring results for an album that melds musical genres the same way. (I’ll give you a dustpan and broom to wipe your exploded brain bits and skeletal tissue off the floor.)

BTW, here’s the full version of Kimura’s work. Truly awe-inspiring, no? In your face, Roland Emmerich.

The gospel production of No I.D.

May 28, 2011

Kanye West & No I.D. in the lab. (No I.D. is the dude on the left.)

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Big Sean’s “Finally Famous: The Album” in a couple of weeks. Big Sean has been one of the most entertaining MC personalities to keep track of over the past couple of years. He’s the best kind of combination in hip-hop – His punchlines are actually funny AND he gets to land a lot of them on top of some of the best beats the game has to offer. My favorite single released in the buildup to “Finally Famous: The Album” has been “What Goes Around,” a look-how-far-I’ve-come anthem that sounds like an album-closer. It has the stomp, and soul, of a particularly lively gospel church service. So good it sounds like a sequel to “See Me Now,” my favorite track off of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. (The remix of which features a star-making verse from Sean.)

It’s no accident the production sounds so similar. The man at the boards in both cases is No I.D., “godfather of Chicago hip-hop” and mentor to Kanye West. Kanye landed Beyonce and Charlie Wilson for “See Me Now” but “What Goes Around” hits as hard regardless. I’d cherish the instrumental alone but the Big Sean bars are the icing on the cake.

Statement of Purpose

May 28, 2011

“I don’t give a shit where the stuff I love comes from! I just love the stuff I love!” an exasperated Patton Oswalt says to George Lucas in 1994, when the comedian and filmmaker met each other via time-machine to discuss plans for the Star Wars prequel-ology. Patton’s initial point is “Who cares where it came from as long as it’s awesome?” But that second italicized line is where this blog takes its name. “I just love the stuff I love” is Patton Oswalt’s “I Want to go to there!” A quasi-nonsensical utterance meant to convey “That! That right there! That’s what I enjoy.” And that’s pretty much the goal of this blog. A place to gush about stuff I like. Because glowing reviews are so much more fun to write than bad ones.

BTW, for those interested, that Patton Oswalt bit is from this track on one of the funniest stand-up albums ever recorded, Werewolves & Lollipops. You should probably just buy it!