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Tag: Lil Wayne

Eminem – Recovery

by on Jul.05, 2010, under Good Music

When we last heard from Eminem, he was feeding us shit.  Not in the way we had come to appreciate from him, either.  With Relapse, we dined on a hallow man’s self loathing shit.  We topped it off with shitty, uninspired beats.  As someone who had previously looked upon Eminem as a mighty figure with the potential to spark a tangible revolution, I was crushed.

When I read that he had planned to release Relapse 2, I figured it might be time to end my fanship with him.  It seemed like the most sensible thing to do for both of us.  I still checked in from time to time to make sure he was holding up.  I read that Relapse 2 was not coming out the way he had anticipated, musically.  Poor guy.

But maybe not.

Relapse 2 was so different from the initial intent, that it ceased to be Relapse 2.  Rather it mutated in Recovery. I had to listen.  I just had to sample a few tracks at least.  Okay.  I just decided to start at the beginning and let it roll.  As the music pressed on, we become acquainted with  a new Marshall Mathers – one who has had a massive weight lifted from his shoulders.  With the inclusion of strong beats, experimental departures and lyrics that are as positive as they are cutting, I felt that a massive weight had been lifted from me as well.  His lyrical denouncing of Relapse also helped.  In any case, Eminem has now returned to his rightful place in my heart.

The growth between Relapse and Recovery is immense and multifaceted.  He acknowledges a rock bottom he has known well and I mostly believe him when he reminds us of his Phoenix-like escape from that pit.  He has regained his ability to be direct, lucid and cognizant.  I think we all like him so much better when he is on top of his game.

The music, too, is far more expansive than that on Relapse or its predecessor, Encore.  There seems to be a greater focus on detail.  The occasional melodic lifts and song-singy vocal cadences give the impression that this album was designed with music in mind – not just beats.  Indeed, these songs do sometimes channel some eclectic musical greats.  “You’re Never Over” sounds fresh, triumphant and synthed out, similar to the style of B.o.B. “25 to Life,” at least musically, sounds like an outtake from Andre 3000’s The Love Below“Cinderella Man” smacks of something we may have heard from Kool Keith – or is that Gil Scott-Heron?  Oh…and listen to “Space Bound.” Isn’t that a fucking Flaming Lips song?

Don’t get me wrong.  They are not all winners.  It’s irritating, too, because it could have been a perfect offering, but for it’s girth.  Rappers just don’t trim the fat these days.  Instead they would rather fill up an entire 70+ minute CD with every single thing they possibly can, quality and consistency be damned.  I know a lot of teenyboppers and sports bar morons will disagree with me, but Eminem really really really really really really really should have cut “No Love,” a track featuring Lil Wayne.  (Yes. I am aware the inclusion of Lil Wayne guarantees this track will not only not be cut, but will likely be the next single. Groan.) If Wayne’s boring, monotone, machismo “rapping” is not enough to put you off, consider that the whole track relies on a sample of “What Is Love” by Haddaway.  That’s barely excusable in the name of irony, let alone “serious” music production.  This is easily the worst “song” of the album and perhaps 2010.

I’ll let it go, though, because most everything surrounding that turd island is purposeful, if not brilliant.  Quite possibly as good as Idlewild, the last one from our beloved Outkast (though Outkast did utilize a better array of guest appearances, with Lil Wayne in common.) There are no skits on this disc, either.  While Eminem’s skits have generally always been concise and amusing, he was correct to keep them away.  He’s a bit more serious this time, and it suits him well.

Recovery makes me cheer for Marshall Mathers yet again.  I am genuinely happy that he is doing better and I hope it only lifts up from here.  Evolved, he can now affect an audience in new ways – far beyond shock, entering into additional realms of unabashed enlightenment.

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Lavoisier – Fake Rappers

by on Nov.29, 2009, under Bad Music, Good Music, Video

I haven’t been updating during this holiday weekend, obviously. However, I can’t leave people hanging, either. And so, please enjoy this insightful lecture from Lavoisier regarding fake rappers.

It gets the rare categorization of both good music and bad music. Good for Lavoisier…bad for radio rap. Enjoy!

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Busdriver – Jhelli Beam

by on Oct.04, 2009, under Good Music

I can’t truly figure out Busdriver’s true propensity for “selling out.” He certainly has more talent then Lil Wayne, Yung Joc, Young Jeezy and 99% of all else on the idiot radio. This talent comes both in vocal ability and beats. He’s also been in the game much longer than most of today’s redundant rap robots. Yet there he sits, unknown to all the wealthy suburban thug assholes that eat up all the gangsta garbage and keep the money flowing. Busdriver deserves to be what everyone likes in a perfect world. It’s barrier breaking, catchy and far ahead of its time. He also rages quite blatantly about all those rappers contributing to the imperfect world they continually pollute.

So what is it, Busdriver? Are you truly so benevolent that pretzels and cheese are more than enough earnings so long as you can keep to the truth you’ve always perpetuated? Or is the rest of the world so simply ignorant that they have never given you the myriad of expensive possibilities you deserve? Busdriver is one of those entertainers that deserves to have millions thrown at him, all the while honoring his list of demands. You know…like Beck.

On the other side of the coin, the perks are these: First of all, Busdriver belongs to himself and his moderate number of fans. The Dave Matthews Band stink of a frat following does not exist here. Also, and most importantly, whenever he raps against the evils of the recording industry and the “entertainers” they support, there is nothing false about it. He does not simply state these criticisms, he practices what he preaches. Could Busdriver be the Jesus Christ of the rap game?

Okay. So Jhelli Beam is the newest offering from our beloved Busdriver. My first impression is that it’s very difficult to imagine that something so truly unique came out of Los Angeles…a land generally only as unique as the corporate destruction they impress on grassroots goodness from other lands. However, this seems to be the deepest digging yet from Busdriver. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if this is hip hop or…something else? As far as genre goes, it’s relatively undefinable in places.

Busdriver has always dealt in obscure samples and rich, multi-layered textures. On Jhelli Beam, though, every single phrase of sound at least feels like something new. It is as if a painting, with a new flourish of color for every three inches or so of canvass. He tackles sound structures that are highly unconventional for rap or hip hop. There are tempo changes (“Scoliosis Jones”), minimalist jazz drumming (“World Agape”), African roots fusions (“Manchuria”) and nonsense that dares to be poetic, rather than hokey (“Unsafe Sextet”). Verbally, Busdriver’s cadences are always sharp, thoroughly versed and on-point. Listening, it becomes painfully obvious that neither an autotuned asshole like Kanye West nor a generally sensible bigwig such as Jay-Z have the base talent to keep up with them, let alone mimic them.

Jhelli Beam is everything that rap and hip hop could have been and should have been. Unfortunately, it was hijacked by cocaine corporate interests and watered down to the sad state it exists in today. Lil Wayne may be content to program a simple, repetitive beat loop, say a bunch of repetitive, unaffecting words over it and cash his checks. Busdriver, however, is dedicated to the craft more than the millions…and it shows.

Please do the world a favor and reallocate your money as necessary.

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The Beatles – Abbey Road Remastered (and the one thing they can improve next time)

by on Sep.21, 2009, under Good Music

51jszEU4LVL._SL500_AA240_A couple weeks ago, a remastered version of the entire Beatles catalog was released, alongside (The Beatles: Rock Band).  Considering the timelessness of their contribution to both music and sound, in general, this was excellent news.  I decided to dive in with Abbey Road, which is probably my favorite Beatles record.

Now, I suppose it’s kind of dumb to review an album that’s already been around for forty years and is, by any measure, considered a classic.  So there will be nothing here like: “Starr’s “Octopus’s Garden” seems to be much less off putting than his previous contributions, and fits well with the rest of the record, despite its overt quirkiness.”  I mean…no shit.  Right?  We all know the album.  There are, however, two main observations I would like to divulge.

First of all, the remastering job on this record is top notch.  Apparently, someone spent four years tweaking the catalog and it certainly sounds like it. Though some of the gruffness is properly still in tact here and there, it really sounds as though this is a newly produced work. But it’s not.  It’s the Beatles. As a result, there is a strange phenomenon that occurs when we listen.

See, the Beatles normally make a listener feel kind of happy.  It’s positive music, with colorful sound choices throughout.  Listening to these remasters, however, an undercurrent of mild depression sets in.  We hear not just what can be done with music, but what was done with music a long long time ago.  Because the dynamics of the sound are as crystal clear as any of the music today, we must begin to ask ourselves: “What the hell happened to music today?”

Not all music, of course. But popular music.  In the 60’s, the Beatles were on the radio and everyone loved it.   It was difficult to wrap ones mind around, for it was such a revolutionary sound for the time, and yet it was so accommodating that no one was really afraid to try.  Fast forward to your radio today and we have to settle for Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga?  Considering how much money is being thrown at trite crap like that, you’d think the coked out execs could at least afford to make it sound decent.  What the hell happened?

But I digress.  After all, this is article is filed under “Good Music” and indeed, the Beatles are.

The second and final point I’d like to hit on is something that has always bothered me about Abbey Road.  I’d like to submit it for discussion so that when they remaster the album again in 2020 or whenever, it may possibly have a chance at being debated.

Here we go…

If we are not afraid to enhance the sound of The Beatles, I believe we should also not be afraid to enhance the order of the songs.  That being said, there is one fundamental flaw with the flow of Abbey Road.  I believe now, and forever so shall, that “Here Comes the Sun” and “Come Together” need desperately to swap positions on the record.  If you do not believe me, burn yourself a copy with these songs interchanged.

As it stands, “Come Together” kicks off the album and “Here Comes the Sun” ushers in the second half.   It would make more sense to the flow if “Here Comes the Sun” started off the whole thing, leaving “Come Together” to fill in what should be an edgier, more minimalist space between “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Because.”  Additionally, this would put more songs in between “Here Comes the Sun” and “Sun King.”  Those two “Sun” songs so close together detracts from what would otherwise seem to be an intentionally woven theme.   If my proposed changes were made, we could have one “Sun” song for each half of the album.

I know most people would not have ever really thought about that.  Most people have already accepted Abbey Road for what it is and are likely resistant to the idea of this change.  But consider this: my proposed order actually is the order on some of the older cassette issues of Abbey Road.  That is how I found out, unintentionally going down that path.   Now that I’ve been there, however, I will never go back.

Switch and see!  Switch and see!


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