Good Music / Bad Music

Tag: Outkast

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.

32,445 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Busdriver – Knoxville, TN – 9.22.2009

by on Sep.23, 2009, under Good Music, mp3, Video

busdriverHip hop shows, perhaps more so than other music performances, are very hit or miss. A group can either dress it up, like Outkast, or dumb it down, like Grand Buffet. The best of these offer something more than a dude and his homeys rattling off karaoke. Live instruments are always a plus. A good DJ who knows what he’s doing can win me over. Sometimes all you need are twenty or more people on stage, falling over each other or humping or whatever. There are a million ways to go on the stage. Prior to his performance, I was hoping hard that Busdriver (real name Regan John Farquhar) would not be lazily rhyming over an iPod hooked into a d/i box.

And thankfully, he didn’t.

What he did do, was take the stage at the Pilot Light rather unexpectedly, during the time that most of us thought was going to be an intermission between Abstract Rude and himself. There was hardly anyone in the room. I even thought to myself from outside, “Why the hell would the DJ be playing Busdriver if the guy’s taking the stage in a few minutes?” Ah, but there he was, crowned with Christmas lights and doing what he does. As the people outside slowly realized the show was moving on without them, they gathered round and the intensity of it all increased.

Verbally, he is pretty amazing. Far beyond all the autotuned garbage on the radio, Busdriver’s voice is distinct and his skill is often quick and always precise. Backing up that voice was a thunderous onslaught of beats and samples, which he controlled, in part, by himself. He also had a guy, apparently named Matt, at the back of the stage, working what looked like an MPC and occasional guitar. Matt seemed uncomfortable, at first, but eventually was right there with it. I can’t say he seemed to miss a beat, regardless.

One of the beautiful aspects of this set was the truly punk rock ethic to it. As Matt beat his pads, Busdriver pressed buttons and twisted knobs, throwing the whole thing into a frequent and intentional disarray. The cacophony of noise never failed to segue nicely into bouncy and epic beats, evening everything out and working the room into a frenzy.

My only complaint of the evening was the song, “Avantcore,” which I had no idea was so popular around here. It began with some strange disjunctive omission of notes here and there, which seemed interesting at first. The problem is that it never really got going. It seemed to drag on much slower than I’ve ever heard on disc. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice by the artist, but it was iffy on the stage. Thankfully, the energy of all else made well up for this single snafu of the evening.

This tour is to promote Busdriver’s new record, Jhelli Beam. Hopefully I’ll get a review of it in soon enough.

Here is the video for “Me Time,” the first single from Jhelli Beam:

Here are the rest of his tourdates, in case you want to catch him near you (and you should):

SEP 23 – BIRMINGHAM, AL @ BOTTLETREE
SEP 24 – BATON ROUGE, LA @ CHELSEAS
SEP 25 – DALLAS, TX @ THE CAVERN
SEP 26 – AUSTIN, TX @ RED 7
SEP 27 – HOUSTON, TX @ WALTERS ON WASHINGTON
SEP 28 – SAN ANTONIO, TX @ ROCK BOTTOM
SEP 30 – EL PASO, TX @ BLACK MARKET
OCT 01 – TEMPE, AZ @ CLUB RED

Lastly, here are some MP3’s:

MP3: “Avantcore” by Busdriver
MP3: “Buy 1 Style Get the 2nd Free” by Busdriver

36,728 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!