The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sadly, My Chevy Is Only Ridin' Moderately High

There are times when I wish that Weird Al Yankovich was still in his prime because there's a great song to be made making fun of Southern coke-rap music. I'm not sure when it was, but at some point over the past few years watching mainstream radio rap seemed to turn into the same thing as watching cartoons. Unbelievable, over-the-top and purely for laughs. I really wouldn't even know where to begin criticizing the genre because I can't take it seriously as music. Forgive me if I sound weird, I've been dealing with the ramifications of hearing to the Rick Ross CD for the first time. And wow, what a doozy.

If Southern Coke-Rap were Boy Band music, Riss Ross is would definitely be the O-Town of coke-rap. O-Town was one of the last groups of the boy-band trend. By the time they rolled around, boy band music like Southern Coke rap has already been saturated by success stories. T.I. would be the Backstreet Boys, hanging around for a few years without making a splash and then suddenly sailing to unseen heights for someone so minimally talented. Young Jeezy would seem to be N' Sync of the genre, an instant and baffling success right out of the box. (Speaking of which, this might be the least surprising headline of all time.) Li'l Wayne would be 98 Degrees just because. And Rick Ross would certainly be O-Town. If you'll recall, O-Town were the winners of an MTV Making the Band, much how Rick Ross has seemingly won Jay-Z's never televised Making The Southern Rapper Show. The only difference being that while O-Town got a recording contract with Lou Pearlman, the evil mastermind behind The Backstreet Boys and N' Sync, Ross got a contract with Jay-Z, the mastermind behind Jeezy.

At any rate, this album sounds like must've cost a fortune. Supposedly, Kanye West, Just Blaze, and Cool & Dre all did tracks for it and it shows. The beats are pretty good with a few exceptions and god knows how much Scarface must've cost to sample, but this might be the most empty album I've ever heard in my life. After a cursory listening of Port of Miami, here's what I've learned about Rick Ross: he likes hustling, he likes dealing blow, he likes cars (a lot), and he likes ho's. If you like hearing about spinning rims than this is the album for you. If you like guys who pronounce the name Ross, "Rowsssssss," than you will probably like this album. If you like hearing rappers talk about Moet than you'll think this CD is brilliant.

O-Town went triple platinum and I'm sure Rick Ross will manage to do the same. But hopefully, just like the squealing 13-year old girls who had sufficiently gottten their fill of puerile and saccarine songs about love by O-Town's second album, hopefully people will do the same with Rick Ross. Every bubble has to burst.

It might be the most boring CD of the year. It might be the most boring CD I've ever heard in my life.
Okay, moving onto more interesting news. Did anyone know that Ann Coulter was a huge deadhead. I know that the story's a bit old, but if Lance Bass coming out of the closet is the least surprising story of the year, Ann Coulter admitting she's a huge deadhead is the most.

But it gets even better, Jamband Magazine asks her what other music she's into and she replies:

"All the usual – String Cheese Incident, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, New Potato Caboose. I can't really tell you all the groups I like because have an iPod so have a lot of songs my friends send me and I never really know who I'm listening to. But I try to keep up with what the young people are listening to these days (I love saying that). There’s Jet, Cake, Outkast, 50 Cent, Black-Eyed Peas, Lord Alge, Beck, Kanye West (I like his Jesus song), Missy Elliot, and Eagles of Death Metal. I'm five years behind, aren't I? I'm very busy!"

The idea of Ann Coulter listening to the Eagles of the Death Metal's Death By Sexy album is deeply awesome. She claims she doesn't smoke pot in the article, but then again she claims that McCarthyism was a good thing, so she obviously says a whole lot of ridiculous bullshit. But read the article, the woman knews her Dead. My theory: she's definitely a stoner and judging by her love of the Eagles and Missy, "she gets her freak on." Weird.

In other news, if you haven't already, you should check out the new LA Observed. Kevin Roderick, the site's editor has expanded their local business coverage and sports coverage, explained here. And the people he's got to run them are an even bigger coup for him, as he's getting former Los Angeles Business Journal editor Marc Lacter to write the business blog. For those who don't know, Marc Lacter knows as much about business as anyone you could ever hope to read. If you even have a passing interest in the workings of Los Angeles, I highly advise you to check out the site and their new offerings.

This week Pitchfork reported that the Swan Lake collaboration between Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes, Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade and Dan Bejar of Destroyer officially has a release date, November 21 on Jagjaguwar. I know it's a little ridiculous that the guys from Frog Eyes and Wolf Parade formed a supergroup called Swan Lake, but their album's called Beast Moans, so I think they have a sense of humor about it. Besides, I don't care what they call themselves. This is without a doubt my most anticipated album of the rest of the year. As I'd said 8,000 times before, Spencer Krug's Sunset Rubdown project is my hands-down pick for best album of the thus far. And with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar, I don't see how I'm not going to love this album.

Also a while back the Fork threw 3 and a half stars at The Clipse's new single, "Wamp Wamp." Wow that song sucks I don't know where the Clipse fall in on the boy-band/coke rap scale. Perhaps they're Color Me Badd. You can stream it there. As for the quality of the song, Pitchfork's writer claims "when Push initiates with 'No hotter flow dropper since Poppa,' nobody's blinking.

I blinked. As of right now, I can think of roughly 278 "hotter flow droppers since Poppa."


Does anyone remember this dude, Ken Jennings? The guy who won 74 straight Jeopardy! matches. Well, it turns out he's sort of awesome. Apparently, this week he crafted what might be the most intelligent "dis letter" ever, aimed at the show and Alex Trebek. Yes that's right, he's calling out names.

In the letter, he claims that Trebek is "the Dorian Gray of syndication. You seem to think `change' means replacing a blue polyethylene backdrop with a slightly different shade of blue polyethylene backdrop every presidential election or so."

Ouch. That's the genius of Ken Jennings, he'll insult you and you don't even know it. I'm onto you Jennings. I'm onto you. And I respect you.

Lastly, I wanted to touch upon the disappointment that is the new DJ Shadow album. I didn't even throw up a picture of it because quite frankly, I'll probably never listen to it again. I don't even want to think about it. DJ Shadow is Endtroducing whether he likes it or not and going off and making a hyphy album doesn't mean he's evolved as an artist. Somebody should show him tapes of Neil Young and The Rolling Stones trying to adapt to the 1980s. It doesn't matter how good of an artist you are, going with the times will inevitably lead to massacres like Shadow's new Outsider album.

Seriously, Shadow doing hyphy feels like Keith Richards in flourescent colors. It just doesn't work. The most frustrating thing about the album is that there are snatches of real brilliance buried in there. An occasional breakbeat and sample that makes you pause for a moment, an apolocaplyptic synth outro that might close out a song.

But it'll be side-by-side next to a song called "Turf Talk," or "3 Freaks." Private Press was better than everyone thought it was, but it was plagued by stretches where Shadow just meandered and lost focus. This album is the oppostite, mostly scattershot and rambling with the occasional bit of excellence. Skeet on Mischa compares it to a RJD2 or a Prefuse 73 album, which are definitely valid points. But the crucial difference in my eyes is that I'll take guest rapping appearances from guys like Blueprint, Ghostface, El-P, or Aesop Rock any day over any of these no-name hyphy headache inducers.

Sadly, the man who claimed that hip-hop sucked in 1996 has made an album that perfectly captures why hip-hop sucks in 2006. Faddish regional bounce music filled with empty braggadocio and screaming and hollering. I remember this when it was called 2 Live Crew and to be honest, I didn't like it then. Even his one guest spot from Phonte of Little Brother is wasted as it devolves into a senseless spoken word piece of sorts. This album is a mess. If you liked Endtroducing you'll hate this album. If Rick Ross made the most boring album of 2006, this is easily the most depressing.

13 Comments:

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Zilla Roc. said...

Weiss:

If you hate the Shadow album, then you need to pick up the latest issue of URB with Mr. Josh Davis on the cover.

In the feature piece, he comes right out and explains why he made "The Outsider," claiming that he'll probably lose alot of fans and that he doesn't give a f*ck. He's reached that point (30 years old) where he wants to make radio rap songs that represent his backyard. Even the video for "3 Freaks" looks like a local rap video shot for $200.

I agree with you on unique, important artists bending to the times. Their respective albums sell for that small period of time, but when people 20 years later look over the catalogue, they almost always get skipped over ("Grafitti Bridge" by Prince is a great example).

I think Shadow can knock out downtempo, break-sample songs in his sleep and he got bored with it. After "The Outsider" makes him some money but alienates his old fans, maybe he'll come back to his bread and butter. "Six Days Remix" is still the shit.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Joey said...

Love the title

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger Joey said...

Also, I haven't been around much lately. Sorry. Been busy.

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger Dan said...

I think Shadow should have released The Outsider under a different alias. That way, you'd know it's Josh Davis, but you'd know right from jump that it was on some different shit and that you shouldn't compare it to Endtroducing. Sort of like how techno artists like Richie Hawtin or Aphex Twin have all different alias (like Plastikman and what not) to differentiate between styles and moods-- that way, you know who's producing it, but you know not to expect Plastikman sounding things from DE9 or whatever. And also, atrocities like Outsider don't tarnish an out and out classic like Endtroducing by being mentioned on the same discography page. I fear for someone five years from now who's never heard Shadow but has heard good things about him and stumbles into the record store and cops Outsider rather than Endtroducing by accient and wonders what the fuss is all about.

At the very least, I hope Shadow still rips it live, cuz when I saw him on the Private Press tour, he just killed it.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger spinachdip said...

I gotta say I'm befuddled by the Outsider too. But then again, Shadow never had a "sound" per se, and it was as much about the process as it was about the final product too.

I guess my point is, he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do, I can take it or leave it. Maybe, I'm not sure.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Zilla-I sadly read that base and felt like a dick because I knew on a lot of levels it was directed at guys like us, the core fans. He's just so talented it's a shame to see him waste his time on this boring and trite stuff. The problem is experimentation is not necessarily synonymous with artistic growth. In that URB, I felt like Shadow is that guy we all know that has it really figured out in the 7th grade and high school, gets all the girls and never needs to change. Then all of a sudden when he's older he realizes that he probably needs to but is completely rudderless.

Dan, great pt, he should've definitely picked and alias. This isn't a Shadow album at all. Hell Prefuse releases albums on a hundred different aliases, that way you know what you're getting. Plus, he obviously has no problem doing it since he did the Unkle stuff. A Shadow album is always an event since he's only done 3 in ten years and this just felt so wasted. i just don't see why he can't make his hyphy beats and sell them on the side. It's not like if DJ Premier was making a solo album he'd put the Aguilera track on there.

Suki--I agree the man without a doubt has the right to follow his artistic impulses, but I just fucking hate hyphy. I hate to rip on the guy because he's easily an all-time great but then I just look at the Rolling Stones cover and think...this has happened before. At least this time no one's wearing neon

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Douglas Reinhardt said...

If Shadow wanted to make an album representing Oakland, why didn't he get Too $hort on it? The dude is the unofficial mayor of Oaktland.

And the thing about Shadow is that he can make an album filled with guest apperances like the first UNKLE album which was like 98% percet him and 2% James Lavelle and he managed to make a semi commercial sounding album and still retain his "sound" and style.

Besides, most normal people don't even know what hyphy is yet. Shadow should've done some stuff with Saigon or try to do some coke rap stuff. If he does one solid coke rap beat, then everybody who just got a deal with def jam will come over.

 
At 1:15 PM, Anonymous LL Cool Z said...

Dan--

You are right: Shadow should have made an alias for his hyphy mood and got that Bay Area money while not shitting on his nerdy, record collecting fans (i.e. us). But if the man doesn't care about his reputation than neither will I.

Weiss--

I forgot to speak on Rick Ross. Did you know he just went platinum on ringtones for "Hustlin?" In a way I'm glad because you can now bet that 1 million people WON'T buy his album. I call it the Joe Budden Syndrome: I worked at Coconuts when "Pump it Up" was blowing up everywhere summer '03. I was there when his album dropped and he sold well on that Tues. and Wed. Then NO ONE BOUGHT HIS ALBUM THE REST OF THE YEAR!

Def Jam went out of their way to build him up as the next star (i.e. guest appearances, numerous mixtape slots, a character on "Def Jam Vendetta"). But his album bricked hard and no one knew why. I even asked a Def Jam label rep about it and said "Man, we pushed the sh*t outta that album with posters, stickers, in-store apperances...I don't know how that failed!" He was completely baffled and HIS JOB WAS TO PUMP THAT ALBUM!

I think Budden and Ross really aren't characters that people are interested in hearing/buying into. Sure they have sureshot 1st singles but why else would you drop $13 for a boring ass rapper with zero personality and no intrigue/co-sign?

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I didn't know that about Ross and the ringtones. Hustlin is a good beat though can't fault people too much for that.

It's true I can't understand why anyone would buy this. Say what you want about Matisyahu at least there's a gimmick to speak out on. Do something to make yourself a little different. What's Rick Ross' gimmick, the beard? I can't imagine spending money on something this goddamned generic. People need to look at Wu and understand why they were so goddamned succesful. They created an entire world and an entire mythology. Sorry hearing rhymes about bricks and moving weight over and over again just doesn't do it for me.

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger KaLiBLeeK said...

I've yet to hear Rick Ross' OR Shadow's album, but it doesn't sound like I need to rush out to get those (although I finally got ahold of Dilla's The Shining and I'm impressed so far).

Ann Coulter is (one of) the spawn[s] of satan! And she terrifies me.

 
At 6:22 AM, Blogger jt castleton said...

the coulter article belongs in the onion. just ask pat leahy or bill walton.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Weiss-

Great point about selling his hyphy beats on the side. Think about all the Quannum/Solesides beats that he made back in the day (weren't those records for "his backyard" too?), and even though they didn't sound like Endtroducing but it was still cool. So if he wants to make beats for Keak Da Sneek, fine. Just sell 'em like the Neptunes or Kanye or anyone else does. But maybe his record label (especially since he's on a major now) were like "Uh, dude, we need a fucking album..."

And as said before, it's his reputation, if he wants to ruin it, hey, more power to him, he can do that. But it's not a good feeling when one of your musical heroes pisses on your face, just because he can do that too.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger chris said...

Hi. I just crash landed on your spot for the first time, did a little poking around. I dig it. You’ve got a nice place here. Just wanted to leave a fingerprint.

 

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