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How Big Is Your World? Some New Rap

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-DJ Paul featuring Lord Infamous “She Wanna Get High”

You know that Todd Barry joke about how musicians always talk about how, on the next album, they’re gonna go “back to their roots”? Well this is Three-Six actually doing that—terrifying production, bad-ass album cover, lots of Lord Infamous—and better yet, not hyping it or promising anything special. Especially welcome is a return to the group’s odd social observation, where they for no reason necessary touch on some sort of wise reality of life and then base entire demonic club raps around it. Here, it’s how some vaguely “artsy” quiet chick’s pretty fucking nuts and’ll be really into “bumping” whatever’s passed their way, which is kinda true. Shit, it’s not Dreiser or nothing but it shows Paul’s thinking about stuff.

The vague Bollywood influence on the beat here is how Three-Six once sold-out, not by diving into a trend and losing themselves a la “Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)” but grabbing some tiny piece (usually the wrong piece too) of a trend and thinking that would be enough to make them superstars but not giving a shit when it doesn’t. Don’t doubt “She Wanna Get High” was made in light of Slumdog Millionaire’s success or M.I.A’s increased prominence.

-Gucci Mane “1st Day Out”

Titled “1st Day Out” instead of “I’m Back Bitch”, the song goes from another brilliant tiny details, funny punchlines Gucci/Zaytoven song to a moving, hard-headed description of his first day out of jail–It starts with “a blunt of purp”—that’s also, still a brilliant tiny details, funny punchlines Gucci/Zaytoven track. Those laundry list of cars and weapons and wealth are less Gucci talking shit and more an inventory of all the crap he’s not been around since he was gone or upon returning, is making sure is all still there. And the beat’s as paranoid and gleeful as Gucci himself.

The rest of the Gucci Glacier tape’s new-old songs and it would seem, upcoming collaborations, but it sounds a bit like the point before the point where Gucci stops being Gucci. Hopefully that’s wrong, but this is less the Black Eyed Peas coming to Gucci and more Gucci trying to enter into the world of regular “popular”, “good” rappers which means not being quite as interesting and sort of sounding like a guy who wants to be famous.

-Ciara “I Don’t Remember”

The new Ciara album’s bizarrely dated, like it should’ve dropped in 2007 when retro-futurism and House shit still felt sort of interesting and hadn’t reached its apotheosis with soul-less art student Pop from Lady Gaga. When the uh, fucking Chris Brown feature shows-up, it’s like “Really? You sure this album came out this week and not this week last year? You know he like, beat the hell out of his girlfriend a minute ago…” And then, Fantasy Ride ends with “I Don’t Remember”, a way too real “I got drunk and blacked-out” ballad.

“I Don’t Remember” is irredeemably confused and detail-oriented, like there’s no way to come out of this song not feeling fucked-up and sad and you just want it to stop really. It’s the running, morning-after monologue you have with yourself as you half-recall all the dumb shit you did or maybe didn’t do while drunk last night, only Ciara was maybe even raped?! Polow Da Don’s beat is wisely under-cooked and when it sort of builds-up, you don’t want it to because it’s just making the ugly truths of being drunk of your ass louder and more palpable.

-Benny Stixx “Being That Drunk”

The connection between this and “I Don’t Remember” was a coincidence, these are just the tracks I’m thinking about or listening to a lot this week (although this entire group makes a good mix, mail me, I’ll send you a zip if you want), but this is just a Baltimore Club expression of the same feeling. Ciara’s sort of quoting the melody and desperation of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” on “I Don’t Remember” and Baltimore’s Benny Stixx consults Petey Pablo for a dance song not as concerned with the girls in the club, rocking-off, or what brand of sorta kinda pricey liquor’s being ingested, but with the fucked-up feelings that fuel it all. When Baltimore Club takes-on the everyman confusion and minor failures of life (most famously: Rod Lee’s “Dance My Pain Away”), it’s particularly invigorating.

Musically, “Being That Drunk” does all the right things as well, following the Club music blueprint when it should and going left-field at all the right moments too. The sparks of raucous vocals yelling-out “Yeah” and other gutteral shouts of approval and encouragement and the main shuffle of drums tie it to tradition but then, he bravely lowers the BPMs a tiny bit and there’s these weird-ass bells that zig and zag around Petey Pablo’s sing-song flow, like “Born to Run” turned Club.

-Camel “Skylines” (Live BBC Sight & Sound Concert)

Camel are one of those weird, straggler Progressive Rock groups, not quite artsy enough to get picked-up by avant-music fans and not straight-forward and poppy enough for Classic Rock, they’ve just sort of been loosely forgotten about or at least, slept-on. Let’s hope Camel’s straggler status is more appreciated now and thanks to this month’s reissues of Raindances, A Live Record, and Moonmadness, that might happen.

This is a live bonus track of “Skylines” but the joke about Camel is they’re these precise, jazzy weirdos and so they don’t do anything live except play a little faster and strike the drums a little harder. But their live sound is also just different enough to help them out a lot–if you get one Camel release, get A Live Record. The warmth of their music’s a little warmer and they can’t keep to metronome-timing quite as closely and so, these little peaks of humanity push through. “Skylines” just begins on one wandering sound of warmth, bounces to another, pauses for a beautiful whoosh of synths, punctuates the whole thing with proto-Drill n Bass drums, and wraps up. Not perfunctory by any means, but just like awesomely, transcendently, dipped in morphine, work-man like music. If you like Ratatat or Lindstrom and don’t like this more, you’re bullshit.

Written by Brandon

May 8th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

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