Music’s 3 R’s 10.14.12: The Apologetically Truncated Edition
Hello, Babies. I’m your party host with the most and no need to boast Sean Comer, and I’ve accepted that fact. Welcome to Music’s 3 R’s.
To begin, my sincere thanks to Jeremy Thomas, Larry Csonka and Ashish. This week started with the track creaking uncomfortably beneath this Midnight Train to Phoenix, rolled right on through shards of track whipping past the windows and taking out the dining car, and concluded with the train flying loose and into a mid-air collision with a low-flying 747 of nuns and orphans delivering puppies to Third-World refugee camps. OK, I kept the exaggeration to a minimum, but it’s still embellishing that things hit the fan at my day job Friday (after flying screaming at the fan all week through personal issues and a crippling lack of sleep) and the big wheels of 411mania granted me an extension on The R’s.
Through and through, this is a team that understands that life sometimes intervenes in the creative process, and rarely when feasible to find a suitable stand-in.
Nevertheless, it’s with my apologies to The 411 Nation that I deliver unto you this week a decidedly abbreviated 3 R’s. The code I live by stipulates, as articulated by Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements, that I “always do my best” – even on days when that “best” isn’t quite on-par with other days’. I could’ve given you all an even more delayed edition packed with news, but instead, I’m elaborating with alternating swirls of snark & sincerity on my chosen most Right, wRong and Ridiculous moments from the week in music.
So reach down between your legs, ease the seat back, ignore that “Thud” and “Yelp” from beneath your tires, and let’s do what normally would’ve done about 12 hours or so earlier by this time…No, not that…Please, sir, put your pants back on.
Jay-Z: Nirvana Held Back Hip-Hop (Sean: You Say That Like A Bad Thing…):
Considering whose entertaining and critical work I’m highlighting at the bottom of this week’s edition, this will seem like awkward, even hypocritical juxtaposition.
Take my word for it, though: when Jay-Z reportedly spoke with veteran, exalted hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams for the Neptunes genius’ coffee table book Pharrell Williams: The Places and Spaces I’ve Been and said that Nirvana’s rise of grunge briefly stymied hip-hop’s own tide in the early ‘90s, he’s not entirely wrong.
Nor, one would hope, was he saying so as if that’s something to lament.
“First we got to go back to before grunge and why grunge happened,” Jay-Z said. “Hair bands dominated the airwaves and rock became more about looks than about actual substance and what it stood for—the rebellious spirit of youth….That’s why ‘[Smells Like] Teen Spirit’ rang so loud because it was right on point with how everyone felt, you know what I’m saying?”
The hip-hop legend goes on to point out that Cobain was an avatar of his time’s discontent among his generation, a figure from whom the world couldn’t tear its eyes. That said, here’s where interpretation of Jay’s words comes up for debate.
“It was weird because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know Those ‘hair bands’ were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, ‘We got to wait awhile’,” he added.
Well … “yes” and “no.”
If nothing else, the relevance grunge and hip-hop ran neck-and-neck. Grunge became the unmistakable symphony of Generation X’s middle-class discontent. Meanwhile, hip-hop a few years earlier had shattered mainstream political consciousness on the backs most notably of Public Enemy’s politically charged, militant Afrocentrism, Ice-T’s unflinching and sneering “6 in the Mornin'” and “O.G. Original Gangsta” before that, and N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton…to name just a few.
Lest anybody forget that The Beastie Boys were also there to stay by this point.
Still, Jay knows this. He’s no fool. He likely means that it would be a few years before hip-hop would be the alpha pop-crossover genre. He’s right, too; grunge indeed was the nail in hair-metal’s coffin for many a year, and despite some quasi-ironic revivals and some stalwart faithful who will never let it die entirely through the years, it’s never again found that same apex. Even in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, hip-hop had to share the mountaintop with boy bands, latin pop, swing and techno at various points.
But to say it “stalled” hip-hop? Hardly. Hip-hop and grunge share a kindred spirit of restlessness, disenfranchisement and disenchantment, but in different dialects. One appealed strongly to predominately young, black audiences. Another? Middle-class white kids who felt disillusioned by their parents’ generation’s agenda. Each had an impenetrable claim on a core audience, and spoke to that demographic first and foremost.
If it stalled anything, it was the appeal to fly-by-night fans. You know very well the ones I mean. They were hung on grunge in the ‘90s because it was the talking point of the moment. Years later, they probably drifted into the aforementioned briefly flavorful waters of the latin and swing surges. They never really “belonged” to anybody to begin with. Those were the fans merely leased to one set or the next. After Cobain’s death, there’s even the fair chance they suddenly were among those championing the brilliance of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. before their respective deaths, and even after. Not long after that, $50 says at least few will never admit how many Master P, P. Diddy and Jermaine Dupri (OK, maybe not JD) albums and singles they paid good money to own.
Hip-hop came out ahead, honestly. Its pioneers and most outspoken names have retained their respect and relevance even when it perhaps wasn’t the Number-One genre on the charts. It might’ve waned in crossover mojo not for wanting quality contributions, but because something else just met that perfect storm and rode it higher. However, it’s never waned in significance among its core audience.
Ke$ha Writing A Memoir…:
Chapter One: That Time I Peed In A Bathroom Sink…
Chapter Two: The Other Time I Peed In A Bathroom Sink…
How does somebody who comes across as only borderline literate get a book deal? I want proof this special little snowflake can spell “book.”
Calling into question whether it’s better for some people to read “anything” rather than not reading at all, Ke$ha has memoirs forthcoming.
The blonde flash-in-the-pan “Tik Tok” singer who demonstrated in 2009 that she has no idea what Mick Jagger looks like (since she sang about creaming her drawers over guys who look like him…say it with me, now: “Ewwwwww”) will reportedly release My Crazy Beautiful Life Nov. 20 via Simon & Schuster to coincide with the release of her new full-length album Warrior.
How “crazy”? How “beautiful”? Let’s ask Ms. Shakespeare herself. In words that would make even The Immortal Bard shed a tear…
“In less than three years I’ve gone from being the worst waitress in LA to live my childhood dreams of singing my songs to people all over the world,” she said in a statement. “Sometimes, it feels as if the last few years have encompassed a few decades. You might have heard my voice on the radio, seen me onstage and on the red carpet, or in a music video, but that’s only a part of the story. In these pages, I’m revealing a more complete picture of what my life is really like. It’s not all glamorous and it’s not all pretty, but it’s all real.”
Me thinks nobody explained adequately to Simon & Schuster the summary meaning derived when the words “one” and “album” and “wonder” are combined to describe the irritating little flash-in-the-pan.
Oh, and clearly she knows the like minds of herself and her audience. To keep the book appealing, it promises lots and lots of pictures to make all those big, hard words bearable.
Might I instead recommend Cash by Johnny Cash, Shaky by Neil Young, When I Grow Up by Juliana Hatfield, or Joe Nick Patoski and Bill Crawford’s Stevie Ray Vaughan biography Caught In The Crossfire.
Hell, John Cusack’s birthday was also this past week. High Fidelity. Nick Hornby. Go.
…And Also Lands The Cover Of Vibe:
Because when you think hip-hop, you think Ke$ha.
Someone explain this to me. Seriously. Eminem and the cast of 8 Mile reunite (of course, less the late Brittany Murphy) to reminisce in a special double issue on one of the critically better regarded and financially successful hip-hop-centered films of all time. Considering Eminem preceded Three 6 Mafia by becoming the first rapper to win an Oscar (Best Original Song) for the film, who gets the cover?
Yep. This happened. She’s the first living white woman to be featured solo on the cover of Vibe…despite precious few f**ks given about anything she’s been up to since 2009. Amy Winehouse was featured posthumously in 2011, and prior to that, Gwen Stefani shared the cover with Pharrell Williams.
Presumably, she’s been experimenting with further alcohol-based oral hygiene substitutes during the three years music has been blissfully free from her.
If what she told Vibe is true and no less than Andre 3000 and Snoop Dogg have told her she’s a good rapper, then that alone saps about 99% of either’s credibility. I can no longer take anything either says about the genre at face value because they’ve tried to claim that of all the possible (and likely ridiculous) positive things anybody could say about the grating twit, she’s a “good rapper.”
“The first record was a celebration of partying and being young, but this record’s a better look at my personality,” Ke$ha said. “Whatever, I drink like a champion. But I can also do other stuff. I have a sense of humor about my lyrics. I’m not a train wreck, I’m just having fun. The first record, people tore me a new a–hole, and were f—ing steady on my balls, and tried to make me feel like I was such a piece of s—. I did some soul-searching, and realized nothing I’m doing is negative, it’s actually super positive. You can change people’s mood in a three-and-a-half minute song. So why not spread positive energy and be funny? Let [the haters] be miserable.”
May the credibility of Vibe, Andre 3000 and Snoop Dogg rest simultaneously in peace.
Well, to borrow from 411 great Mitch Michaels, that’s the quick and dirty. I promise a much more thorough edition next week. But to take us out this week, a couple treats.
First off, I’m asking one last time for a little help. I’ll be gaming 24 hours straight as a part of Extra Life 2012, a campaign to benefit Phoenix Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. As of this writing, I’ve raising $437 much-appreciated dollars from friends and family, but there’s still time to raise more by this coming Saturday Oct. 20-Sunday Oct. 21. Check out the video below, then head over to http://www.extra-life.org/participant/247Sean and give what you’re able.
Second, I’d like to give you a little something extra starting this week and going forward – namely, I’d like to share with you a few great music-centered web shows of which I’ve become particularly fond, and I think you will too. This week, I introduce to many of you, from ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, The Rap Critic.
Daren Jackson is an artistic, intelligent, eloquent fellow who fairly – but often, bitingly – dissects the very best and worst of hip-hop young and old. This week, he takes on Lupe Fiasco’s “B!tch Bad” to wash the previously horrid taste of 2 Chainz’ “Birthday Song” out of his mouth. Give him a look, subscribe to his Blip.TV channel, and check back to ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com weekly for more reviews.
Until next week, never dull your colors for someone else’s canvas.