Put some clothes on that ass
Go to the Beat Swap Meet if you respect yourself
Most trained record-scavenging machines out there only need a big fat ATM withdrawal before a Beat Swap Meet. They’ll usually get coffee and a muffin too, time permitting.
This machine, however, is a lady machine, with long, misbehaving hair that needs to be smoothed down. Nails need to have a nice sheen like a pool of motor oil or candy paint; I know this from years of UGK listening. Coming through looking clean is the name of the game (UGK again), so I need to iron my clothes and “bring a pocketbook that matches,” according to my proper southern grandma. Coming through smelling like cupcakes doesn’t hurt either (cocoa butter-vanilla oil combo).
Laundry, an absolute must, is the foundation of my pre-BSM routine. (I’d take it personally if MCs ever stop rapping about the foxiness and Snuggle-fresh clothing of LA women.) I went off to wash clothes the morning of June 10, bringing along an iced coffee and that silly Parade “magazine” that comes in the Sunday paper. Normally I read strictly highbrow fare while I’m at the laundromat (WaxPo, Harper’s, Adario-era Source, Utne). I’m not embarrassed about reading Parade, though; I’m secure in myself. (Only God Can Judge Me, according to Pac, Master P, and Mike Bibby’s calf.) Besides, Parade sometimes provides pretty useful bits of information – like the fact that June 10 was THE GOD Saul Bellow’s birthday. Saul’s a great writer, known for Augie March, a white American male alienation classic, right up there with Nevermind, I suppose, and Labor Days. But Saul should be known for having a perfect name for a shouty preacher (SAUL BELLOW, c’mon), and for once saying, “Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door,” a phrase so lovely that it cannot be improved upon unless you put a squiggly bassline under it. I’m getting it tatted on my calf this weekend.
Just the way players I play, all day every day. Honestly, guys. I don’t know what else to say.
It turns out, appropriately enough, that June 10, BSM day, new/old record-gettin day, was the god Howlin’ Wolf’s birthday and the g.o.d. The D.O.C.’s, too. (Not mentioned in Parade, though lord knows they should’ve been.) I came up nicely – spent around $80, got 13 records, and didn’t have to travel more than 5 miles round trip from my doorstep. The high in LA was 76°. I smelled good (cupcakes). And I exchanged smiles with so many people, because, you see, unlike the employees of Time Warner*, Beat Swap Meet sellers and buyers – music people – do not find it unusual that a woman enjoys record albums.
* “Whose records are these?” – 3 separate technicians during 3 separate visits, upon entering my apartment.
The original-pressing “Player’s Anthem” break that’s been hard to find now lives in apt. 680! (even though the true player’s anthem is obviously either “Freddie’s Dead” or “Superman Lover,” duh, Clark Kent. And God’s favorite DJ is actually Derrick May. DUH, CLARK KENT.)
1. The New Birth, Birth Day (RCA Victor, 1972). $8.
It’s 2012 and everyone knows Queens and Harlem are the rapping-est boroughs. But it’s still fun to summon the spirit of someone jocking Brooklyn super hard in ’94 and exclaim: Biggie! Jeru! (Clark Kent and Premier both used the “You Are What I’m All About” pencil-tapping-the-side-of-a-mason-jar sound!) An automatic purchase because it’s an original pressing, as opposed to a ’90s-rap-stalgia reissue, I saw Birth Day on display when I was walking out. It was the end of the afternoon and the end of my cash supply. The allure of this damn thing made me trot (J/K; I sashay) across the street to the ATM to pull out more cash and come back. John was the seller’s name, I think. Thank you, John. The freshness of your Van Exel jersey was not lost on me.
“HAPPY LISTENING FOR YOU AND ME.”
Their cover of Womack’s “I Can Understand It” opens the album. Lovely. The New Birth version lacks the crucial “yeah-uh” that kills me every time in the original (01:11), but when a DJ at the BSM played “Across 110th St.” while my weak arms were struggling with the weight of record bags during my exit walk to the car, it was a clear sign that I had to get something Womackian before I left. I was raised by leftist heathens in a weed den, but even I have to give in when God and all the angels send a message directly to me (“Womack, Logan. WOMACK”). And there was John, suddenly, with his clean copy of Birth Day to sell me. “You Are What I’m All About” (Biggie and Jeru) and “Got to Get a Knutt” (De La, PE, Doom!) are the rap-break superstars, but there’s so much material on this record to be mined. More use should be made out of “Buck and the Preacher,” for example. Current producers are scared to compete with G Rap and Large Pro, obviously, and this is why none of them have tried to chop and loop it. What an air-tight theory. Except that nobody but me and the Ego Trip guys and you, currently reading this blog post, ever think about G Rap, Large Pro, or anyone else in AARP anymore, unless there’s a lawsuit involved and we’re forced to care out of loyalty to the old dogs. Twitter stuntery and ass injections are mostly the move in the industry now, with the scary, cold eyes of Riff Raff overseeing it all. Everybody get ready for my “Cashin Out” freestyle, which the world definitely needs. Where was I.
Birth Day‘s other standout is “Easy, Evil” (no link available at press time). It’s a better song title than actual song – a feat last accomplished by the Dirty Projectors’ “Gun Has No Trigger” – but it’s got this weird, sexy line “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doin’ ’til I’m done,” which would be perfect as a UGK hook. It doesn’t matter that Chad isn’t around! He’s still around, kinda! He resurfaces every couple of years like a new Batman movie! (It does matter that K.R.I.T. is way more interesting when he produces than when he raps. What am I to do about this? Somebody, please.)
Person on this record around whom I’d probably feel most comfortable: Harvey Fuqua, New Birth’s producer and the uncle of Training Day director Antoine. Harvey Fuqua, New Birth’s producer and the uncle of Training Day director Antoine. Harey’s got lots of music industry tales I’d love to hear, details about Berry Gordy making out-of-wedlock babies and pawning his daughters off onto the Jacksons and whatnot. He co-wrote and -produced Edwin Starr’s “25 Miles,” road trip playlist heaven. Plus I might be able to get him to call his nephew so I can find out whatever happened to Alonzo’s stunning black Monte Carlo. I still send that thing love letters and naked pics of myself.
Suitable for bonding with: Clark Kent, Premier. And Daniel Dumile, provided that I can compose myself in his presence and not shake like a naked Chihuaha. (Unlikely.)
Free line for the taking: “Beatin down Joey Bada$$es/Cracks in stacks and masses,” my take on that one part from “Player’s Anthem.” It’ll turn up on a fake-diss track that Joey’s A&R suggests to Action Bronson’s people, to reignite the Queens v Brooklyn flame, with the end result of course being that everyone gets paid. Remember where you heard it first. I’m also working on a post-iPhone-world version of “My mind’s my nine, my pen’s my Mac-10,” a line that’s so old-timey, Big might as well be talking about his quill and inkwell.
Feminist points: Minimal. The New Birth had a strong female contingency, but the men were the ones in control of the writing, production, and marketing. And when it comes to The New Birth breaks-usage, there’s little to be thrilled about in terms of feminist deconstruction. Jeru’s voice is legendary; that authoritative tone really does it for me. I admire his ability to flow beautifully while looking bored with his own genius. Jeru’s judgment about the way ladies choose to dress themselves, however, is awful. “Skin-tight jeans, everything all exposed”; then the hook kicks in, blah blah, preach, not in my house, young lady. Groan. Republican-dad raps are the absolute worst, even when there’s a Premier beat involved. The ladies of the ’90s apparently needed to be reprimanded for letting their asses show. Good thing it’s 2012 and I’m grown. Settle down with the slut lectures, J.
Side B, track 2: “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.” Sometimes I feel like I already heard someone say that, and it was on a song by GHOSTFACE. Nice try, biting-ass El Chicano.
2. El Chicano, Viva Tirado (Kapp, 1970). $7.
Bullfighting, in the words of Chicago fetus Chief Keef, is that shit we ladies DON’T LIKE. For the record, we do not care for those Subway commercials with adults talking like little kids, being cold, Mitt Romney, Drake, or people coming at us crazy (which includes Mitt and Drake, politically- and musically-speaking) either. “Viva Tirado” is about a bullfighter. Cringe. I don’t like. However, it is a scientific fact that women love drums in general, and women with exceptional hips love congas. So when the god Andre Baéza enters the picture, bullfighting somehow becomes tolerable. Women with exceptional hips and great taste in music, by the way, genuinely love the musical productions of Scoop DeVille – the son of the man whose hit song is based on “Viva Tirado” (there’s baby Scoop at 00:31 and throughout!). Tony G, an LA institution like Fred Roggin and dads at the mall in Kobe jerseys, produced “La Raza” and “Mentirosa” which means that, like me, he was cool with Mexicans and Cubans.
Feminist points?: I can’t think of anything overtly feminist about this album. Tangentially, however, I could point out that the liner notes mention that it was recorded at at 3840 Crenshaw. Formerly a restaurant, the address is now home to a Social Security office – which, in providing benefits that act as a safety net for thousands of LA women and their families, is a place with feminist/humanist connotations.
Suitable for Bonding With: Houston Los Angeles old heads.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Baéza, the conga player. Drummers just understand me.
Nov. 25, 1970. Reagan’s just been reelected governor of my state, and it’s not even the cool Reagan who wears checkered Vans. The prosecution has just rested in the Manson trial. The city seems a little, I don’t know…tense? On the plus side, “Super Bad (part 1)” is #1 on the charts, and Pharoah records Thembi at the Record Plant. Then he goes and stands on some rocks and looks at the water like Madlib’s weird old uncle who rents a room in Port Hueneme.
3. Pharoah Sanders, Thembi (Impulse!, 1971). $14.
Listen, the jazz cat knows women. “This album is dedicated to and named after Thembi Sanders,” it says in the upper-right corner of the inside (gatefold!) cover. This is a classic “I love you, wife” dedication and I am powerless against its charms. While nothing tops the Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess dedication from bookwriting cat Raymond Chandler, the jazz cat knows women. Create something, name it after us: become immortal in our hearts.
$14 is normally outside of my price range but Thembi‘s got a KMD bassline break and Lonnie Liston Smith, two things that occupy the “obsessions” part of my brain. It also boasts old-timey names like Cecil McBee and Clifford Jarvis on the credits (bass and “bird noises,” and percussion, respectively), both of whom sound like they were either quarterbacks for the ’52 Packers or members of the ’71 Globetrotters.
Feminist points: Lillian Douma, a LADY, was a co-engineer on this record, making her the Syd tha Kid of the ’70s jazz world! (This is how I explain it to my 13-year-old cousin, to try to get him interested in ’70s jazz). For extra credit, there were female pharaohs in ancient Egypt, so Sanders gets feminist points just by association.
LOL: “Production and engineering by Bill Szymczyk,” a man whose name’ll get you 500 points on Words with Friends. He produced people like The James Gang and Bill Walsh, and then right in the middle of his discography is this Pharoah Sanders record. Love it.
Suitable for bonding with: Weird old jazz guys who close their eyes when they’re talking to you and trying to remember details about that show at The Lighthouse in ’61. And Dante Ross, on account of the KMD factor – though Dante would not allow any bonding to take place because that would interrupt his constant name-droppery.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Lonnie Liston Smith, astronaut and boss – bosstronaut – whose credits on Thembi include “Fender Rhodes” and “shouts.” Delightful. There’s also an appearance by Chief Bey on this album. He is Mos Def’s uncle, maybe.
Art Blakey said, “Whatever truth drops on, it eventually grinds to a powder,” which you’ll recognize as the inspiration for my future coke-paranoia-themed mixtape (Truth to Powder). Harry Fraud, send me some beats.
4. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, 3 Blind Mice (Blue Note, 1962). $4.
I recommend Tom Cat for true Blakey percussive loveliness, but 3 Blind Mice‘s personnel includes THE GOD Wayne Shorter, plus THE GOD Billy Collins wrote a poem about it, plus it’s got face sweat on the cover along with Art looking heavenward. I mean, what was I to do. I had to get it. The Muslim held most dear in apt. 680 is Ghosty. (He’s a Sunni.) But the Muslim with the best album-cover face sweat is Art Blakey.
The nursery rhyme about the mice has a truly horrific story of origin (a Catholic queen murdering Protestant dissenters), which just serves to make it more entertaining and tragic. This is simply the power of melody – it’ll make you forgive a horrible story that angers you, or just make it go down a little easier, in what feminists such as myself know as the He’s Not Talking About Me Theory (ho raps, violence-against-hoes raps, side-chick raps – they are pleasing and fun, because the MC is never talking about me). Today I’m referring to it as The Wham! Theory. “Everything She Wants” is a song about a greedy whore that a poor, defenseless man marries. He’s captain-save-em. He takes 4 whole minutes to whine and cry about it, the material is so morally repugnant, there’s really no point to the song at all, and it fucking bangs so hard, with fun chord progressions and that great synth-y bass from what I’m told is the Linn LM-1? (Dave Tompkins with the future information-confirmation assist here. Thanks in advance, Dave!). I’m trying to think of a way I can draw parallels between Art’s hard bop (jazz influenced by R&B, with more hip-friendly, bluesy rhythms than bebop) and Wham!’s shiny, electronic, we’re-not-gay-we’re-just-British pop of the ’80s. Who says you need an profound reason for an “Everything She Wants” interlude, though? And how come George Michael never gets credit for his production skills?
Suitable for bonding with: Cornel West, Pete Rock, Madlib, Mark Gonzales, David Byrne, skate shop employees in Portland and SF.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Wayne Shorter, superboss and the Jazz Messengers’ musical director, who once said, “If all you have in life is music, then you haven’t got music.” I feel comfortable around music people who are secure enough in their musical-ness to say things like that.
5. The Sons (Capitol, 1969). $9.
This one’s got a break used by charming pornographic goofballs The Beatnuts, who’ll remind you that rappening is, in fact, what’s happening. Or at least it was back when Relativity Records was poppin. To get that simple, clean melody for “Straight Jacket,” the boys slowed down The Sons’ “Boomp Boomp Chomp” – a song with the satisfying one-two punch of a Dilla-esque title and a quick, sustained hi-hat that makes me file it in the same place in my head as the intro of “Boogie Nights” and “Hot Music.” Marsalis!
I play “Hot Music” when Clams comes over just to remind him of what goddamn DRUMS sound like. But then he just goes back to making those “Eyes Without a Face”-ish instrumentals because that’s how he stays paid. So I should probably just be quiet.
After forming the Sons of Champlin, then disbanding it, Bill Champlin became a member of Chicago. It was pre-”I’m a Man” and -“Street Player” Chicago, though, so that fact is a bit of a throwaway. He did cowrite EWF’s “After the Love is Gone,” which proves that just because a man looks like a cross between Huey Lewis and Ian McKellen you shouldn’t assume he can’t write a floaty ’70s makeup sex jam. Bill Champlin also convinced an entire band to call themselves his sons, a feat that I dare you not to respect. Champlin sonned his bandmates, then ordered them to do this song, best one on the album.
Suitable for bonding with: JuJu, Les, C-Rayz Walz. I don’t know how often I’ll listen to The Sons. If I clamor for white men who bleed funk, I’m listening to The Talking Heads or The Mothers. But it was a great find – a rare original pressing, including the lyrics booklet with pictures of unshowered Americans of European descent just like the ones who live next door and breathe up all my air at Trader Joe’s.
Oh hey there, Sara and Justin and Ben! WHAT’S GOOD.
The Iceman and The Duke of Earl, just walkin through the forest in some tweed and leather, probably writing some hits. No big deal.
6. Gene Chandler & Jerry Butler, one & one (Mercury, 1971). $4.
Do you speak fluent Yancey? You are basically telling the world that you do if you bought this after 2005.
Gene and Jerry didn’t really dominate any hearts or ears with one & one, probably because it was 1971. Marvin and Sly and Funkadelic were doing it absolutely to death at the time. It’s hard to compete with Maggot Brain, you feel me. But Gene, the voice, had THE voice. Akon’s got Gene’s picture in his wallet like a prayer card. He stares at it before he goes into the booth to try to reach that upper-register sweet spot, solid and high (Barrington Levy; Frankie Lymon; the guy from Supertramp). Jerry, the songwriter, is from Chicago and has always insisted on putting his own voice on recordings despite its limitations, instead of letting his gifts as songwriter/arranger simply send his messages to the world. Jerry Butler’s the Kanye of Cabrini-Green.
one & one lacks any true bangers, but good lord: Dilla Dilla Dilla. It’s comforting to think that his beats continue to inspire the diggingest of diggers and the J Dilla Foundation continues to get donations because of this man’s beloved status – even if me buying a 40-year-old record on a lovely June Sunday results in no funds actually ending up at the organization. (I am also comforted to think that Nate Dogg’s family is maybe getting some extra money from the licensing of “Till I Collapse” from the Savages trailer that shows every 12 minutes on my television. The music industry is fair and nobody ever gets fucked over. Rainbows, kittens!)
Notes from an annoyed feminist: Women love the voice, according to Q-Tip, who is from Queens but is not Action Bronson, Nore, Simon, Garfunkel, or Monch, so I’m not all that familiar with his work. Brothers dig the lyrics. How silly! What a limiting thing to say! Linden Boulevard, you lost me with that one. Disrupting Q-Tip’s entire theory, I adore the talents of Gene (voice) and Jerry (lyrics) equally, even though I am a lady. My male buddies feel the same way about Gene and Jerry, enjoying each man’s contributions irrespective of anatomy. We all need to taste life, enjoying it fluidly, unbound by gender roles or societal constraints. Let’s be swingers, ok? But just when it comes to DatPiff and our record collections. Voice, lyrics: love it all. Kittens, rainbows.
Suitable for bonding with: Ha, Dilla nerds. (“You Just Can’t Win” is the grandfather, or perhaps the wise old uncle?, of “Glazed”). Owning this record means you’ve signed up for a lifetime of bonding with these people. Good luck with that. (They’re nice enough; just a little intense.)
If your nickname is “Fats” you’re either a jazz professional or a large, inept man in Miami who insists on releasing grunt raps.
7. Lou Donaldson, Mr. Shing-A-Ling (Blue Note, 1967). $11.
HOLY HELL IDRIS MUHAMMAD ON DRUMS, back when he was Leo Morris, went the shout of the outspoken lady who lives inside my head when I saw that unmistakable pink and green on the cover. The real-life me, however, said nothing, due to being raised right (taught not to scream like an idiot in public). I just clutched this one to my lovely bosom and asked how much. Original pressing; I thought it would be at least $20. Nope – just above $10! And all I had to do was trade sexual favors! FEMINISM, YALL.
“Ode to Billie Joe” is the reason for this purchase, with
Idris’ Leo’s shuffly drums making me feel like I’m in the marching band if the marching band were made of Bond girls in bikinis who are librarians in their spare time, think about Wham! songs at work, and happen to love coke raps. Snare snare, shuffle shuffle shuffle, til it gets to that liquid center around 02:40, the hot magma. That’s when the bass kicks in and I realize I’m not meant to be in a marching band; what was I thinking. I’m meant to take Stage 2 at Magic City. Throb throb, bassbass throb.
Ignore the fact that the woman who wrote the song was not actually named Bobbie Gentry and probably didn’t have any working-class southern roots. Her father was definitely a senator, Republican of course, and she went to prep school and once kissed a black guy so she felt like she could write songs about struggle and heartache. She made millions. That’s just how the music industry works, sweetie. Even in 1968. Wake up. Bobbie was a semi-cold piece of work, however, with all that big black hair. Plus she wrote her own material and lived my fantasy life of lounging in some tight pants with nothing but her daydreams and a hi-fi to keep her company, and for this I must respect her.
Suitable for bonding with: Kutmasta Kurt (“Ode to Billie Joe” begat “Sex Style”). Feminist points: KEITH THORNTON. Bisexuals on stage eating Fruit Loops, pornographic thespians, the ladyboys of Thailand: Kool Keith is accepting of all types of femininity, and he’s one of the top 10 most feminist MCs ever*. Raps by guys like Keith and El-P and Danny Brown will always be more inherently feminist than those by Drake, because they don’t pander to us.
*Just relax and let it marinate. I’ll do a full explanatory blog post in the future if you guys beg for it.
8. Cold Blood, Thriller! (Reprise, 1973). $5.
I clearly got a bad copy of this, because I see ZERO songs produced by Quincy Jones, hey-oooo! You’ve been a great crowd! GOODNIGHT!
Impossible: The first 10 seconds of “Kissing My Love” has allegedly only been looped once or twice on major-label rap songs (??). IMPOSSIBLE. Im possible. Internet, you a goddamn liar.
I am not allowing my hips to reach their full potential because: I have yet to walk down the street to this. I’m too busy walking down the street to this, you see. The entire melodic structure and overall hotness of “Loco-Motive” makes up for the previous release from that new Nas album (the Rawse-tainted “Accident Murderers”). That’s the one with Nas’ terrible line about dudes who “rubbed each other wrong like a bad massage” which is so pedestrian it actually angers me and should be relegated to the inevitable Bieber collab. (No disrespect to the god, though! Wax Po issue 51 available on newsstands and online now!)
Hustlenomics professor: ME. Finding Thriller! at all is rare in 2012; finding Thriller! for $5 in the middle of a major city, surrounded by record dorks who want it so bad, is the result of such a tight hustle that people assume I am tricking or have a record shop connection. I have neither; it’s just the patience hustle, sprinkled with a little dumb-luck hustle. Best hustle of all, though, is the one belonging to Cold Blood’s singer Lydia Pense, who got the band to name their 1974 album Lydia. Tight work, doll. This would be like Curren$y getting the 504 Boyz to name one of their albums Shante Franklin.
Suitable for Bonding With: Dudes who love everything embodied by Cold Blood – breakbeats, the Bay Area, songs about getting down, and yellow-haired ladies who show their midriffs. So, Danny Brown.
9. Chairmen of the Board, Bittersweet (
“Fuck Off, Motown” Invictus, 1972). $5.
Greedy bastard Berry Gordy is directly responsible for this album.(Royalty disputes. Control disputes. Of courrrrrse. Berry doesn’t enter into disputes about anything else, silly.)
I’d also like to thank Berry for my girls The Honey Cone and Parliament’s Osmium – two things that directly resulted from the Great Holland-Dozier-Holland Middle-Finger-to-Hitsville Peace-Out of 1968. You have to assume that some of these songs, exceedingly Motown-ish in melodic structure, sprang from the house of Gordy, though – like “Men Are Getting Scarce,” which has one of those tense, panicky openings at which H-D-H-at-Motown excelled (“Bernadette,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love”).
It’s not their fault, but Chairmen of the Board get feminist points deducted because “Give Me Just a Little More Time” is used on that goddamn mop commercial about a lady whose life is passing her by because she cannot stand living with a dirty floor. That fucking floor rules her entire world. Even when she gets the new, quick-use mop, allowing her lots of free time, she chooses to spend this time sitting on her front porch with a cold drink because the housechore goblins have stripped her of all life-force. Blaming Berry Gordy for this whole charade just feels right, so let’s go with that. Anyway, the lady should be using her free time having a super-hot love affair and then going through some heartache, with the closing move of walking away from her man in slow motion, looking at him over her shoulder while “Bittersweet” plays. Please erase any Kanye associations from your brain and only acknowledge this, the one true version, complete with heavenly tempo change right around the 2-minute mark, hands in the air if you ever been in love of the hurtin’ kind, C’MON:
Suitable for bonding with: Kanye West. Lucky me.
Also suitable for bonding with Lee Stone, who used a Chairmen break on Method Man’s “The Motto.” I wouldn’t be able to pick Lee Stone out of a room of people, but I love him for being Nyshiem Myrick’s production sidekick and somehow never becoming a member of The Hitmen and padding Sean Combs’ bank account. That’s some integrity, Lee Stone. A person still listening to Method Man in ’04 probably also has plenty of integrity, along with an intense loyalty I shall never possess. I’m pretty sure the rest of us gave up on Mef around ’99-? He owned ’94 and maintained his stats for the next 4 or 5 years, rap game Olajuwon. And now he is old and has the classic old-rapper problems duo of irrelevance and unpaid back taxes.
10. E.L.O., Face the Music (United Artists, 1975). $1.
MECHANIC ROCK, YALL. I know so many of this stupid band’s songs from my time spent waiting in the lobby at Jiffy Lube.
E.L.O.’s got evil cachet but it’s that crazy-old-person concept of evil (Satanic backmasking). It’s a clownish, silly kind of evil. So it makes total sense that El-P, supergrouch and master deconstructor of concepts, uses “Fire on High” for a break in a song about the way life wears a man down to the point that he keeps razors and angel dust on his person, I mean the whole song’s so serious that it does a loop-back and somehow becomes clownish and surreal, two of El-P’s fave things, next to cigarettes, the word fuck, his cat, and Cipro.
E.L.O.’s also got the ’70s prog hair, and Jeff Lynne produced some pretty good Tom Petty stuff (though Jeff Lynne is no Iovine or Rubin when it comes to Tom Petty production). This is an impressive list of facts about E.L.O. Impressive indeed. It’s just that this doesn’t solve the case of my missing enjoyment. I own 3 or 4 of their records because I’m open-minded and willing to give anyone a chance. But they are terrible. I mean, in the words of headband aficionado and current global analysis object Frank Ocean, Sweet baby Jesus, E.L.O. is a terrible, boring band.
“Evil Woman” sucks, apart from that banging piano intro. On the feminist front, I cannot legitimately complain about the “Evil Woman” lyrics, because they are too stupid to entertain. “Ha ha, woman – what you gonna do/You destroyed all the virtues that the lord gave you,” goes this terrible piece of music written by professional songwriters who have Romney-sized buckets of money, “It’s so good that you’re feeling pain/But you better get your face on board the very next train.” Just my face, E.L.O.? Or the rest of me too? I’m awarding “Evil Woman” Most Feminist Song of my record haul, just to annoy the band because this is the opposite intention with which “Evil Woman” was written. Ha ha, E.L.O. Women have all kinds of tricks up inside of us. You’re just scratching the surface, dummies.
Suitable for bonding with: El-P, as if I need yet another thing over which to bond with him when we run into each other at that store that sells Camels, Chomsky books, black-market iPad replacement parts, cat food, sandwiches, and old DAT machines in pristine condition.
Suitable for bonding with Curren$y too, though (it says “Copyright Jet Music” on the credits, which is a 1975 nod to the empire Curren$y would build 3 decades later). By the way, I’d love to hear a Curren$y x El-P something, thank you, and I am not referring to a song in which one of them gets a “featuring” credit by simply chanting the hook. I am comfortable and cozy around music people, but THE WORD “FEATURING” USED INCORRECTLY IS LOWDOWN AND DIRTY. Until you can convince Premier to go back and re-title it “Mass Appeal (feat. Da Youngstas),” the Hook Chant shall cease to merit a “featuring” credit. Good day.
I would not have purchased this record were it not for:
“Special thanks to: Ellie Greenwich.” AMEN, BROTHER.
11. Pato Banton, Never Give In (Primitive Man, 1987). $1.
THIS IS TO ALL YOU FUCKIN BUGGED OUT COKE HEADS, someone comment-shouts under “Don’t Sniff Coke.” This is an individual who understands that coke always brings with it, to steal a NBA-draft-day phrase from Jeff Van Gundy describing the Washington Wizards, a huge knucklehead factor. Freeze, rock, etc. Don’t do it. It would be nice to say that I grew up on Pato, my parents had a deep appreciation for the intricate rhythms of UK and Jamaican reggae and finding this record in the dollar bin was like getting a piece of my childhood back. Alas, no. Everybody, including me, snatches Never Give In outta the dollar bin because of “The Sounds of Science.” C’mon. I’m not a complicated woman. That song also made me get a Range Rover and drop an orange like Galileo. Plus I have a fondness for not giving in. Jimmy V taught me. And really you can’t go wrong with buying anything with the (fake) last name Banton on the cover. [Same rule for the (real) last name Hayes. Lil Scrappy is all over my TV in 2012 on a reality show, talking about how he left this lady for that lady and he now needs a hot single, but I can make lemonade out of his whiny southern lemons by savoring good old snappy "Money in the Bank," produced by Isaac's son and accompanied by a video fulla Banner screwface.]
Suitable for bonding with: Josh in apt. 694, who works at the dispensary. Josh, like me, prefers live instrumentation to digi-riddims but Josh, like me, cannot resist the digi-seductions of “Hello Tosh.”
Jeopardy! fact that somehow I was unaware of before this post: Sensimilla comes from the Spanish words for “without” (sin) and “seed” (similla). “Coke” comes from the Spanish word for “knucklehead.”
“Any color you want, but it’d be, like, blue and cream.” GET EM WITH THOSE WALLYS, RICHARD ASHCROFT! I also approve of that Sen Dog/SBQ/Smoke DZA/EPMD on the cover of Unfinished Business/Omar Epps in Juice bucket hat.
12. The Verve, Urban Hymns (Virgin, 1997). Price classified, like that Sade record I bought a few months ago.
Contrary to what track 4 says, everybody knows that the drugs actually do work. They work nicely. Urban Hymn‘s strings make it fancy, the lyrics make it Caucasian-mopey, and there are just enough drug songs to satisfy. That song “The Rolling People” is about me and my slutty cousin Natalie hanging out with Juicy J and some yellow pokeballs backstage.
“Lucky Man” is the best song on here, prime material for an R&B god to do a version of that makes me cry and want to take my clothes off, but I’d be a fool to ignore the epic influence of “Bittersweet Symphony.” Rocky rapped over it; I don’t remember a single bar but I’m sure there was something about purple stuff and his stunning beauty. Though successful, this whole Pretty thing remains an tiresome branding technique. Anyway, thinking of Rocky in combination with hearing Naughty By Nature’s “Craziest” on KDAY yesterday has really crystallized my discomfort regarding the lack of a Treach-like flow in 2012. We have Texas flows from New Yorkers and ’90s flows from 17-year-olds, so seems appropriate that we should have a new, baby Treach on the come-up. Let’s go, random baby-voiced teenage girls in Florida with laptop cameras. Rap game’s yours for the taking.
Suitable for bonding with: the same jazz guys I bonded with over Pharoah Sanders and Art Blakey, plus Madlib, because they all think I mean Verve Records when really I’m talking about THEEE Verve. Sigh. It’s hard to talk to space cadets.
Also suitable for bonding with people who enjoy making fun of diminutive professional rapper Big Sean! Replace every one of his “swerve”s with “VERVE” and magically turn “Mercy” into one hell of a song.
Yawn: The boring, courtroom-bitchery history of “Bittersweet Symphony.” The Verve v. The Stones is no Prince Paul v. The Turtles, trust me.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Ashcroft, the band’s chief songwriter. He doesn’t play bass or drums so I will not be having sex with him. We’ll just hang out and talk about Leonard Cohen.
13. Black Science Orchestra, “New Jersey Deep” 12″ [Junior Boy's Own, 2003 (originally '94, though)]. 99¢.
If this purchase needed justification, that justification would go in this space.
Suitable for bonding with: other carbon-based life forms who have ears and a soul and are constantly dodging wolves of insignificance.
My guiding philosophy of the day at the BSM could’ve easily been “I like nice shit and I know how to get it/Hustle, dumbass. It’s not rocket science or Quantum Physics.” Nobody likes a dude who brings 2 Chainz or Wiz along, but aside from that, Curren$y’s got that slurry charisma and he’s fantastic, my personal motivational speaker, a tiny Tony Robbins from the bayou who loves a classic Chevelle. His motivational speeches were in my car speakers during the drive to the venue; “Nice shit” refers to records available for purchase; “hustle” might mean Girl I would suggest you bring your hips, but because I am a feminist and I was raised right plus I’m just really shy, this is a corny as hell negotiation technique that I never employ. During the BSM, it was Bellow’s words that turned out to have more staying power in my brain, though. Do your best, wolves; new memories tied to these records are pending, as we speak. Music persons of Los Angeles and parts nearby: see you guys at the next one!