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Posts Tagged ‘MF Doom’

I don’t subscribe to any particular theory on artistic integrity, irregardless of the medium…after all everyone’s got to paid sometime right? All this nonsense about “oh that? That’s not art” is purely subjective; each of us has an imaginary line that blurs out any artist who steps over it. I think Herzog is one of the greatest directors ever…I also think that modern R&B sucks. I’m neither right nor wrong; just an opinion that makes it obvious that I let my definition of art govern my discovery of more, as do you. In fact even similarities in taste doesn’t add an ounce of credibility to whatever it is we admire; it just means that we are people who have common aesthetical grounds and who prioritize art above, let’s say, dental insurance or casual ogling at bus stops, and hence it is only natural that we feel let down when it doesn’t serve its purpose for us.

There isn’t any universal algorithm that can determine the purity of art. Once again it’s just in our heads. Art’s the most magnanimous whore ever…it can be as pure or as ugly as we want it to be. So if you hate any aspect of any form of art, feel free to express it, but don’t go overboard and completely disassociate the medium or genre from all credibility (techno music and James Cameron’s films are exceptions because I know people who can scientifically prove that both literally cause the brain to temporarily malfunction). Of course, if you only express hatred towards art because you don’t understand why some people have to hate their jobs for a living while others get to sing, dance and act for theirs, well, tough shit, mate…life’s unfair, get yourself some tissues and call the suicide hotline.

(If self-indulgent, long-ass soliloquies don’t stop people from asking shit like why I listen to rap or why I watch horror films, I don’t know what will.)

On to some hip hop then…

Brother Ali’s Us has been hailed by many as the one of the best hip-hop albums of 2009. The collective consciousness hasn’t fucked up this time around, folks. It’s true. The raging intensity which gave his vocals a cartoonish tweak on the 2007 Undisputed Truth album is gone; instead we are treated to a more restrained MC who knows when to take it down a notch to let the music shine. The title song exemplifies this evolution, with producer Ant letting frenzied strings dive headfirst into those gorgeous handclaps as Brother Ali waxes lyrical “the worlds getting too small to stand in one place, it’s like we’re roommates just sharing a space, can’t separate and still carry the weight, gotta heal get away from the fear and the hate.” Stupid vegan hippies and tree-hugging journalists give peace a bad name; Brother Ali and his music sing glorious hymns in its praise. Give your money some real use and buy this man’s album.

*****

Daniel Dumile dabbles in schizophrenia for a living. Only WWE wrestlers of the 80s have had more monikers than this guy. The rest of the world puts up with his identity crisis because the man is a fantastic musician. No matter who he is in the studio – MF Doom, Dr Octagon,  Zev Love X, Metal Fingers, King Geedorah or Viktor Vaughn – he is almost never off the mark when it comes to crafting absurdly brilliant rap music. I’ll come back to the rest later, for now I’ll start with his MF Doom persona.  From the twisted sounds of his debut Operation Doomsday to the 2005’s hilariously conceptual Mm..Food, he’s become crazier and consequently more innovative with each album. Despite the awesomeness that were the 2003 release – Vaudeville Villain – and the more recent Born Like This album, for me, Mm..Food showcases Dumile in his finest hour. He references absurdist food metaphors and samples music from old episodes of Fantastic Four, and Spiderman. He even ropes in obscure Zappa songs for a little help on Beef Rapp. Don’t fight it, folks…and don’t you dare try understanding it.

*****

Fashawn’s one of the new kids on the block. A young MC who doesn’t believe in ripping words to shreds over grinding beats. He’s one of those who caress words gently and lets the music flirt with Fifties jazz and Seventies soul. With Exile handling the production duties on his debut Boy Meets World, word’s out that Fashawn is a name you’re going to be hearing a lot. Maybe not on Billboard charts or American Idol finales, but certainly from the lips of people who appreciate hip-hop beyond the gangsta manifesto. Ecology and the title track are my favourites of the lot, with one effortlessly riding on a haunting sample and the other sampling the Graduation song for nearly ten minutes, not once sounding redundant. How long must I wait for another Blu and Exile album (seriously, it’s been 3 years, guys)? More than patience, more than perseverance, give me rappers like Fashawn.

*****

If I had been introduced to artists like Juggaknots during the late Nineties I wouldn’t have wasted precious pocket money on those stupid Bad Boy records. I can’t believe their Clear Blue Skies album was released in 1996 and kids who started rapping post millennium weren’t influenced by it. I guess Biggie and Tupac screwed hip hop by getting out early, leaving the next two generations of rappers falsely correlating braggadocio with dollars earned from album sales. Biggie and Pac weren’t hardcore because they were popular, they actually were. Juggaknots is more like De La Soul with all the comedy edited out. Smooth, groovy and mellow enough to give you time to appreciate it fully. The title track Clear Blue Skies is just plain fantastic. The words, the music, the production…everything. If you still think you are getting more value for your time/money with cretin like 50 Cents and Akon, go and get yourself a haircut, and hope to God he misses and takes out your ears.

Watch

Brother Ali – Intro (with Chuck D), Us

MF Doom – Beef Rapp, Potholderz

Fashawn – Ecology, Boys Meets World

Juggaknots – Clear Blue Skies

Blu and Exile – Soul Amazin’

Buy

Brother Ali – Us

MF Doom – Mm..Food

Fashawn – Boy Meets World

Juggaknots – Clear Blue Skies

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Cannibal Ox’s brand of hip-hop is not for everyone. They did to West Coast Rap what Annie Lenox once did to pop music. Scare the living shit out of it. Their 2001debut album Cold Vein sounded quite unlike what the hip hop heads were accustomed to. A sound that bore some sort of resemblance to the darker moments of Wu-Tang, Dr Octagon and MF Doom. The simmering tension between their gritty beats and their cacophonist melodies added to the sense of claustrophobia and then there was this shooting pain on the left shoulder. Wait, that’s a cardiac arrest. What I meant was nobody in his or her right mind had any right capturing beauty from this sort of carnival-esque discordance. Mo’ power to the rappers Vordul Mega and Vast Aire for having dragged the bastard out, kicking and screaming.

cannibal_oxAs for the lyricism…well, thankfully they didn’t rap about poppin’ cristal and bustin’ caps, but they did indulge in a lot of abstract braggadocio . Songs like Pigeon (Eskimo metal got shit locked in oxygen shell / Words shot plated metal lungs which spun the kids’ carrousel) and Ox Out Of The Cage (I flow like arachnids on waterspouts / the circle is never seen and seldom heard about / now they put me in a cage and break me out) also have enough proof that these guys don’t share any particular stance on sunshine, rainbows, group hugs and bunnies. Even more power to them.

If you can manage to sit past the first 25 seconds of the epic B-Boy’s Alpha, you are in for a visceral aural experience. Never have I seen beauty so wonderfully abused in Hip-Hop. As fate would have it, Cannibal Ox haven’t released a studio album since their debut. Hip-Hop’s Blind Melon, I guess. Only they replaced the bee girl with, you know, actual talent.

Watch

Cannibal Ox –B Boy’s Alpha

Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy

Instead of a Blackberry, buy

This and this.

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