Sunday, April 26, 2009

The franchise of Star Trak sales.

I have a couple things on my mind, so I don't want to spend too much time on each topic, so let's begin. I imagine that many of you have heard the new Clipse/Kanye song by this point. I suspect even more that a few of you are none too enthused with the Thornton brothers at this stage in the game. As I am someone who likes "Kind of Like a Big Deal," I must say I'm a bit puzzled by people who don't like it for a few reasons. First of all, since they really came onto the rap scene in 2002 (we'll ignore "The Funeral" for now), Clipse have made a lane for themselves and others beating to death cocaine double entendres/similes/metaphors/etc. Think about "Wamp Wamp," Pusha's whole second verse was about pampers, Santa's snow, and Jo Jo Dancer. What we have here now are a couple references to the "flame and the flask." They're more concerned with what the lifestyle has afforded them than with describing how they got to where they are. I see why this could frustrate some, but consider UGK's Dirty Money. Bun B lays it flat out here that each UGK record was a part of a bigger story. Knowing that Clipse are guys who know their rap music, I wouldn't be surprised if Till the Casket Drops follows the same bigger scheme. Also, does anyone remember the couple songs they put out back when HHNF was supposed to come out at the end of 2004? Those sounded nothing like what was on Lord Willin' (they lacked the "metaphysics," if you will), and were essentially big celebrations. Of course, their train got derailed and, realizing they needed to develop more of a narrative in their greater body of work, Clipse retooled the album to go into (what some would call excessive) detail and the lyrically lyrical phase. Another, less important point: this song has a chorus. These two love to talk about how their first single is a "disruption to radio." While this is certainly different from what I think the radio plays (I haven't listened to the radio in months, to be honest), it's a fairly straightforward song. So, while I am sure there are those of you who are telling your friends, "I told you these guys had nothing to say," consider that this is only one song and that there is a bigger narrative they aim for. Some of you might say at this point, "What good is an album in this era? These guys need to adjust." That is a point I don't know if I can argue with. But, that UGK 4 Life exists and is good, I can still hope. It's not like I am the one concerned with sales.

The other topic on my mind is Keith Sweat, of all people. After being exposed to rapper XVII by Noz a while back, I decided to check out the dude's first album. I couldn't actually find a readily available copy, but I heard a fair amount of it on Rhapsody. Pimp C is all over that thing and has some amazing skits where he extemporizes about haters, women, Don "Magic" Juan and anything else on his mind. Towards the end of the album he makes reference to a chorus on an earlier song (and also the truth?) where he says he "just bought a house next to that bitch Keith Sweat!" He later says, "Yea I be in Atlanta... taste the banana." Inspired by that, I have been revisiting Keith Sweat's work. Upon further review: Pimp was right. What makes Keith Sweat interesting is Teddy Riley's new jack swing. To wit:

I Want Her - Keith Sweat


tray said...

I have absolutely no problem with them dropping the pyrex obsession and moving on to something else. I just don't think that this is something they're particularly good at. Talking about "what the lifestyle has afforded [you]" is really quite a fine art. You know, you can go the whole ebullient, joyous, "I'm really rich!" route, like, say, a lot of good in-their-prime Cash Money. You can do the cocky disdain for anyone poorer than you thing, like a Jay. They're trying to do the latter here, I guess, but whereas Jay could make that sort of stuff really spellbinding, they come off more like a couple of fat middle-aged white dudes hanging out by the pool, reveling in their marginally attractive trophy wives. They just sound way too comfortable and self-satisfied. Clipse are at their best when they're more... vicious. Like What Happened To That Boy, for instance.

bding7 said...

You're right about them being at their best when they come off as vicious. But what about songs like "Ride Around Shinin'" or "Keys Open Doors?" Those both are talking about their ill-gotten gains, but the sneer in their tone is present and makes the songs work really well, so I don't know how limited they are when taking that approach. Have you heard their first album, Exclusive Audio Footage, besides "The Funeral?" It's actually a lot of the cocky disdain that you're talking about, and it's pretty good, though a totally different sound and tone than their later stuff.

Like I said in my post, though, I get the sense this is only a piece of a larger idea. I also would not be surprised if "Kinda Like a Big Deal" was not the best song on the album

tray said...

I'm not actually a huge fan of those songs, but they are, at least, heavier on the sneering.

By the way, Michael Steele today explained that - well I can hardly paraphrase it, but basically, there are all different types of Republicans, and they wear different types of "GOP hat[s]," and he wears his GOP hat backwards, because that's how we roll in the Northeast! Pat Buchanan was sitting next to him making the biggest "what fucking type of drugs are you on" glare. Mike should just get a talk show already, I know I'd watch.

bding7 said...

All I can say is that I am always left nonplussed when he speaks. I guess, as a liberal, I should be happy someone like Michael Steele exists. But each I hear about something like this, it gets harder and harder to put my feelings into words. What a joke.

bding7 said...

That should read "each time I hear about something like this..."

tray said...

Yeah. I've seen some liberals say that Steele's a bad thing because he might re-entrench racist attitudes in the GOP, especially since he's not just some hack who happens to be black, but is actively attempting to signify how black he is, and so after he's finished the party will conclude, "reaching out to black people, big mistake!" I never cease to be amazed by the stupidity of my fellow conservatives, so I suppose it's possible, but I tend to think that Steele's eventual sacking won't have any broader effects of that sort.