May 20, 2009 § Leave a comment
Several years later “Stan,” Marshall “Eminem” Mathers’ song about a fictional fan-cum-stalker whose obsession with the white rapper he identifies with, and whose fan mail he does not return, then turning the fan onto the idea of killing his girlfriend, proves an interesting lens with which to review Mathers himself, as well as Asher Roth, a similarly pale-faced newcomer, and somewhat of an obsession of rap bloggers.
For Roth, though, the public interest seems to end there, unlike Mathers who had the novelty of being the first actually-pretty-talented-white-rapper on his side. Few others than the aforementioned rap bloggers seem concerned with Roth, as proven by his debut record, Asleep In The Bread Aisle’s, opening week sales. We got to see saw rap’s Dane Cook/Katy Perry being smashed by Rick “Street Cred is so 90’s” Ross, as well as tween sensation Hannah Montana, and, the third item in The Amazing Kreskin’s envelope of Weirdest Trio of Records To Have Something In Common, Depeche Mode.
Weeks after Roth released his record, we see the reemergence of Eminem, via numerous appearances on the somehow-relevant Jimmy Kimmel Live! show promoting his comeback record Relapse, which built relatively little positive buzz after three lackluster singles having been dropped, a term fitting of this trio of shite music. From the brainless “Crack a Bottle,” the outdated-before-he-wrote-it celeb basher, “We Made You,” and most recently the slasher-pr0n-rap track “3AM,” which I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as being a shameless money-play for some Saw 9 soundtrack money, the only message audiences could really piece together is that there’s been something seriously wrong with rap’s Howard Stern, a man who would rhyme anything so that people would listen. These are the two remaining active major label white rappers, one at the start of a career that may not live to see the 2010 midterm elections, and another, if his own hype is to be believed, whose mortality has been tested repeatedly thanks to his own bad habits, so let’s look at their releases, not for any State of The White People address, but just because the records have similarly little to say, while posturing as if they’re seminal, and I mean that in the way that neither of them would use the word, masterpieces.
There is no direct corollary between Roth and the fictitious Stan, despite the jokes I’ve made in private, as Stan is someone with actual troubles, and Roth seems to be a man of few problems. His primary bone to pick with society is simply that he’s neither respected nor taken seriously enough and that he’s tired of comparisons to Eminem, which he claims are solely based around their shared complexions and inflections, words he rhymes with little effect. Why do people make these comparisons so often? Well, it’s for a reason that Roth won’t admit, simply that he’s the most boring personality on the planet. Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen recently compared Roth’s sense of humor to Family Guy, in that both are reference heavy, fact, and that Cohen thinks that they both have a sense of humor that are not what he’d deem funny, merely funny-ish.
To briefly tangent, I’d say this claim is off, as Family Guy actually has at least a few decent-to-great punchlines in every episode, and that Roth’s style is more of an American Dad thing, in that the formula is written on the table and easy to read, but the author has nothing original to put into it. I can’t recall an actual punchline on the Roth record. Does anyone, anyone, even know why it’s called Asleep In The Bread Aisle?
Whereas Stan, written to be someone with problems similar to what Mathers was rapping about at the time, had girlfriend troubles and piss poor parenting, Roth slogs through a horrible life that nobody would ever want to live of … bad days where he forgets his iPod (I’m serious, it’s the least creatively named song ever: “Bad Day,” mostly a paycheck for singer Jazzy Pha, whose bank account seems to be suffering in the interim between Ludacris records). Also on the quite short list of what we’ve also learned from Asleep, maybe it named as such for it’s somnabulatory effects?, is that Roth has a mother who literally handed him The Slim Shady LP while he was doing the laundry, in a moment that just smacks of something that would happen in some bizarro High School Musical spinoff where Zac Efron raps.
While many were smart enough to never listen to the album itself (obviously, I can’t include myself in this grouping) and simply hate on Roth’s obviously brainless single, “I Love College,” it’s the album’s second track “Blunt Cruisin’,” that may be the single biggest blight upon the able-eared since “Hollaback Girl.” It’s an ode to white kids smoking out their parents SUV’s and driving around town with timeouts for freaking out when the cops show up. Nobody ever gets arrested or in trouble, though. In Asher Roth’s Amurrrica, getting busted for possession isn’t even an afterthought, it’s a neverthought. Once he’s mentioned cops enough, the song cycles back to the chorus, a braincell obliteratingly unimaginative list of pot smoking tropes. And in the sole moment I chose to rewind a song on the album, the chorus is accompanied by a weird repeated aside, wherein one of his friends in the background keeps referring to Roth as Rabbit, an easter-egg-ish reference to Eminem’s character in 8 Mile, which only reinforces the comparisons to Mathers that Roth bemoans on “As I Em,” which is where the millionth sword in the coffin is plunged as Asher uses his I’m Not Eminem track to copy Mathers’ cadence. This is what Roth takes as “clever,” and it’s the moment where you delete the album from iTunes. Way back when, Eminem warned of “a million others just like [him] who cuss like [him] who just don’t give a fuck like [him]” and it seems Roth doesn’t fall into this category, if only he did, he wouldn’t be so damn boring. Rehashed rated-R will always be better than brand new PG. The obsession with Mathers rings true in Roth’s work as well as it was supposed to be a part of Stan’s life, but odds are, we won’t be fortunate enough for Roth to provide himself the same ending, a long fall off a tall bridge, that Stan was given.
These barely there blips of a We’re-Both-White-Aren’t-We-Postracial-Yet message are the only thing Roth has to hold onto, and that’s as tenuous a base to build a mentality on. At least with Eminem, the career was built on a house of fucked up trailer park hickery. But now, said child abuse stories and parental drug abuse have let Marshall Bruce Mathers the 3rd to their only logical conclusion, living long enough to becoming your own worst enemy. A sentiment I copy-paste from Harvey Dent’s motto in The Dark Knight, and the explanation for Eminem’s undoing. His recent drug abuse has turned him into what he built a career antagonizing: a completely humorless celebrity. Eminem used to find his punchlines in beating up on the world around him, and then people would laugh. Now, he’s just giving himself an incredibly detailed beatdown, and nobody’s laughing. The minimal presence from affiliates Dr. Dre and 50 Cent seem to be proof that Shady’s lost the support of his former allies, like Rumsfeld and Cheney getting it from all angles these days.
Even the now-token weed track, “Must Be The Ganja,” isn’t as close to being as funny as it should even be, as it’s as boring as Roth’s listing of pot smoking terms, made even more grating thanks to the track being one of the many examples of Mathers putting on his “Exotic Foreigner” voice. You may remember the Nameless-Middle Eastern-Territory-Accent from when you first heard the delivery of the words “you make my pee-pee go, da-doing-doing-doing” on Encore’s “Ass Like That.” The accent hasn’t gotten any more interesting since, and neither has it even been explained why Eminem wants to spend a solid portion of the album in this voice. Admittedly, Relapse is a much better record than Encore is, and that’s simply because it’s without a song whose chorus is based around a grating Pee-Wee Herman laugh, but that song, the first single from Encore, “Just Lose It,” at least had enough of The Funny to mock the trite rap moment where half of the beat drops out and the rapper speeds up. Now what’s supposed to be funny about Eminem? There’s not a single laugh in the Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon bashing track “Bagpipes From Baghdad,” which is as inexplicably titled as Roth’s album is.
But the bloody core of Relapse is the idea that the years that have passed since Encore, or possibly earlier, have been a long downward spiral for our anti-hero. In interviews, Mathers blames a lot of his descent on the death of Proof, the D-12 founder who was portrayed under the name Future by Mekhi Phifer in 8 Mile, who was shot in the head by a club bouncer in Detroit. Meanwhile, Eminem’s home town of Detroit has sunken into Fallujah-like-state, something that’s worth bringing up because it – and the same can be said about Proof (né Deshaun Dupree Holton) – doesn’t get a single mention on the record. More of focus is Mathers’ issues with those responsible for his upbringing.
If there has been anything close to a constant presence in Eminem’s lyrics, it’s been his mother, who he seems to have forgiven in some small way, but still needs to disparage. The twisted tales of Mathers parenting range from mom drugging his childhood meals on, “My Mom,” to Marshall accusing the man she brought home to become his father-in-law of molesting the fuck out of him in his pre-tween years, on “Insane.” A track that will rattle even the most jaded of listeners, as it’s quite the topic for the rapper with some roots in homophobia to wait until now to bring up. It’s much more shock than awe when it comes to actually sitting through the songs. It’s obvious Eminem’s purpose is to make the listener uncomfortable, but it’s for no reward or any purpose, other than maybe trying to earn sympathy if the audience somehow believes him, as there’s a lot of The Unreliable Narrator going on, in a He’s Lazy Way, rather than anything better.
For both of these albums, the beats feel like an afterthought, which isn’t a big deal for the unknowns who put the Asleep in Asleep In The Bread Aisle together, while it is somewhat the Dr. Dre produced Relapse to be this sonically uninspiring. The big pop songs on the album have at least some urgency to them, both “We Made You” and “Crack a Bottle,” which, while suffering from being pop-ishly hollow, are still better than the album’s darker beats, like “3AM,” which doesn’t do much, barely conjuring a mental image of the scratched film of this Less Than Average Detroit Chainsaw Massacre.
Eminem’s rise was right before the celeb-blogging epidemic, and one wonders if it could have lasted in the modern day news cycle. The second single for the album, “We Made You,” builds itself on the most obvious of jokes. Jessica Simpson’s put on weight, Kim Kardashian has most of her’s in her posterior. Lindsey Lohan’s dating a woman who looks like Steve Perry with a buzz cut. Eminem’s lost his zeal for cracking jokes so much so that when it’s time to cast his Palin lookalike, whose lyrical joke is based purely on saying he wants to nail her, he pulls Lisa Ann, the pornstar that Hustler already cast for their porno Who’s Naylin Paylin? His copying and pasting of a porno’s box cover is beyond weak, and quite disappointing. The song reinforces the old trope that rehab turns people into the kind of boring mouthbreathers spending their weekends watching Grey’s Anatomy and laughing along to Jeff Foxworthy. Eminem isn’t there yet, but for what he started out as, he’s fallen very very far.
The only place where it seems Eminem can really offend anymore is in his homophobia, mostly used here to attack lesbians because they’re not all over him, and the previously mentioned stepdad nonsense, which is the last I’ll mention of it. He’s done this before, but now there’s nothing close to humor involved, nothing close to the half chuckles he gave with the line “strike a still pose and hit you with some ill flows that don’t even make sense like dykes using dildos,” from “Any Man” off the Rawkus Soundbombing II record, which shows how far you have to go back to actually get impressed again. The song where this comes into play, “Same Song & Dance,” is just “HEY LINDS! UR STILL CUTES, SAM’S A MAN, BABY!” on a text message from Detroit to LA. From where we stand now, Eminem’s next stop is US Weekly Exclusives. If I can write the epilogue to Stan, I’d assume the kid is down there, burning in hell, and he can’t believe he killed himself over such a chump.
February 19, 2009 § Leave a comment
So tonight, during the 3rd or 4th bit on Olbermann he mentions that Michael Steele, newly elected first black RNC Chairman has decided that the way to fix the G.O.P.’s image and numbers is to go Hip Hop. My first thought was “… no way. Michael Steele watches The Daily Show?”
A few weeks ago, Jon & Co. had a segment where Samantha Bee went to a bunch of brand consultants to try and figure out how to rebrand the Republican party. Her result has a name, it’s name, is Reagraham Lincool:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
My second Reaction was, well, they already have Daddy Yankee on board. That must count for something. Oh, wait, Daddy Yankee is a nothing and a nobody.
There’s not much more to say than this: Thank You Michael Steele, for as long as you have any power or title in the G.O.P., we will see Democrats kicking ass. Oh, and that Notorious GOP thing, I lifted that from KO, better than his Political OutKasts riff.
December 13, 2008 § Leave a comment
Here’s some classic (1997) Clipse, before they were angry at record labels (or maybe before they were mad at lackluster sales?)
So there’s a mini feud going between Tom Breihan (formerly of Status Ain’t Cool, the last remnance of worthwhileness at the village voice, now of http://dipdipdive.blogspot.com) and The Clipse about Breihan’s review of the Play Clothes Mixtape, another fun yet sadly disposable download brought to us by VA’s greatest. Their previous almost real album length releases WGIFC vol. 3 and Clipse Present: Re-Up Gang were worse than this new bit, I have to admit, but this little feud has brought to life a debate I remember having with, or well, being the middle man between it felt, a couple of my former college newspaper editors.
Note something for a second, with the exception of the blog where I was informed of this whole spat* I havn’t provided links to any of the above. That’s how little I think of said mixtapes and my former college newspaper, which hasn’t put an issue online since May of this year. I’m actually at home sitting out my college alumni holiday party to be home blogging on a Friday night pissed off that people still talk about music as appealing to one gender or another.
Thing is, once upon a time, Clipse were able to do girl records, or something like them, anyway, in a way that didn’t just turn the songs into morbid jokes. With breakout single “Grindin'”, Malice and Pusha established the dead-eyed coke-talk they’re still running with six years later. But they also made “When the Last Time”, one of this century’s greatest club jams. On that and a handful of other Lord Willin’ tracks– songs released in 2002, when the duo had something to do with the commercial rap landscape– Clipse seemed totally genuine talking about how club night was one of the reasons they loved life, and their cold monotones worked just as well on frothy dance-pop tracks as on harshly mechanical tough-guy shit. That was them on Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You”, after all.
Breihan at Pitchfork in his 7.3 review of Road to Till the Casket Drops
And then someone from the Clipse camp, probably Malice or Pusha, came back with a post here, and the money quote of that We Rap Fuck Everything Else being:
The Clipse used to make good girl records? The Clipse have always made good records, period. Unlike many of our peers, we don’t get in the studio with the aim of making a club record, or a record for the ladies. In fact, if you’ve followed our career, you’ll note that even our most popular, club-celebrated joints contain dangerously hard subject matter.
But it’s not even exactly about what one gender wants, it’s actually about danceable records, and whether or not that comes naturally in one’s music and can one have a career without making club records.
Currently, Clipse are having a rough time making a career either way, I guess you could say. I mean everyone’s having trouble selling like they used to these days. Britney sold 505K and that’s supposedly a brilliantly executed comeback. And then, there’s Busta Rhymes, the actual focus of my anger, who rumor has it is trapped in that Tom Cruise confined location, who made a single called, believe it or not, “Arab Money.”
Here’s the Official Video:
And then there’s this absurd clip from a recent Busta Concert, where the washed up homophobic lyricist does the silliest thing he’s done ever, he dances while waving his hands in the air, but his gut swings more than his arms do:
Okay, Busta, is this your attempt to do a dance record? No need to answer, we all know what’s up here. You made the laziest dance since the Lazy Susan One Step. I seriously want someone to check Busta into rap rehab (make him listen to, my least favorite song of all decade, The Sweet Escape, until he promises never to try to make a club dance track again). Or better yet, Busta: RETIRE ALREADY. You’re past your fucking prime and even worse your expiration date. Sure, for some reason Sasha Frere Jones draws attention to “Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water On ‘Em)”, which would be decent if it would have been released on some WWF entrance music cash-in. Yes, Busta’s best work is basically Pro Wrestler Entrance Music now. Ugh. Wake me up when ‘Till The Casket Drops comes out.
* Made you fucking look. Yes, I said spat, now scroll back up and progress.
November 16, 2008 § Leave a comment
I’m not kidding. Check the link. If you didn’t know, Conan is taking Leno’s slot, and moving out to L.A. while Fallon takes Conan’s old slot. This idea alone was questioned.
So, my thoughts? I’ve had no faith in Fallon as a talent in years. There was the occasional spark of The Funny from him on SNL, but his laughing-through-his-lines to funny ratio was not going in the right direction. I’ve been sure for a while that the show is doomed to fail, and bringing in a name brand house band is not a good sign that Jimmy Fallon can keep the damn thing up on his own.
I’m praying this show dies as soon as America finally realizes the powerful flow that is The Roots, so that ?uest & Co. can get back to the road show. That is, if they want to. They’ve been touring for a shitlong now. Maybe they want to take some time and take a breath.
On the topic of young white preppy boys in the spotlight that say or do things that are decent? Ashton Kutcher on Bill Maher saying that Big Oil should be the ones bailing out Big Auto. I know it’s pie in the sky in terms of probablity, but how is KELSO the first one to say this?
August 24, 2008 § Leave a comment
Firstly, new facebook, You Ugly. No Alibi Ugly.
Jeezey talkin about Life, The Gov, his new record, and Barry:
“man, fuck Fox News.”
has Mr. Jones started something?
NYTimes linking is going on here … I’m not happy about this … but, here’s a good article about wine and it’s boxed form and why that’s a good idea. You know, beyond easy transport on campus in shitty small liberal arts colleges that provide so little to do you become an alkie because at least that’s something.
Lieberman, such a prick, the AP even freudian slips it in:
“His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.”
Check the new Wired, “The future of the Electric Car” issue for the graphic on pg 92 which illustrates the 4 levels of Girl Talk track “What It’s All About.”
I wonder if there’s a corollary between Mac/Tech geeks mocking Microsoft for going with Seinfeld and Far Left Dems being pissed about Biden?
Murs has got a new record coming out, and you best support the tour, too.
Crazy Doucheneck Toby Keith likes Barack? What the eff?
Dowd wrote something competant. That’s hell freezing over that your’re feeling.
The Pharcyde, remixed by Hot Chip. What more need I say, top billing.
The Walkmen used to be Jonathan Fire*Eater. Back when they were, ages ago, I saw them play a record label show. Lupton, the former lead singer is the son of one of my mother’s best friends. Good kid, shame how things went down. Honestly, though, I’ve yet to be impressed by either iteration.
Swagger Like Us is boring. Clifford’s first single, “Whatever You Like,” the poppy wish fulfillment that it is, is miles better. Shame on Jay, Yeezey and Weezey. This should be epic. This should be Redeem Team Rap. It is not.
Music reccomendation: Q And Not U. Kind of feeling an At The Drive In sound somewhere within.
Finally, I missed the onsale, but TV On The Radio has a new album and tour. Looks like I’ll have to stub hub this one. I havn’t seen them since they played Siren, and that’s too long for me with regards to Tunde & Co.
July 24, 2008 § Leave a comment
Murs himself went onto them YouTubes to say something like, so him and 9th are giving us Sweet Lord for free as long as we support his next record Murs For President and future Murs and 9th collabos to be sold for money.
And he even admits that people will steal that record too, in the video on their site, http://www.mursand9thwonder.com/, but hey, I’m gonna be buying that record and you should too. Not that I’m going to be making a pay pal donation like the website suggests. That’s kind of foolish, if you remember when Homer went to a museum with Lisa, you know how few people are going to do a pay pal support. Maybe I will after finishing and liking the record. I don’t know. Will I brag about doing so on here if I do? Probably.
With A Passion, often, means Without Shame.