Archive for November, 2010

Two Reviews-Girl Talk and Kanye West

the cover.

So last Monday was pretty nice.  A new Girl Talk album out of nowhere?  Yes please.  I haven’t reviewed anything in a good long while, and here was something new giving me the opportunity to beat all of those official reviews to the punch.  Right on.  So how is All Day?

Pretty damn good.  The songs actually sound like songs instead of a bunch of shit mashed together.  He really slowed down for this one.  Maybe that’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I love it.  Right from the get-go, I could tell this was going to be different.  The album opening mash lasts over a minute.  It was great.  I actually get to listen to something awesome like Rude Boy/Waiting Room instead of hearing 20 seconds and wondering what the rest of the song would sound like.  Of course, this patience thing can be a double edged sword.  There’s no saving Souljah Boi and Black Eyed Peas songs.  It just can’t be done.  Stop trying.  Quit.  Please.  Same goes for the Phil Collins.

A lot of time is spent trying to recreate old tricks.  Looking for the next Lil Mama/Metallica moment?  Yeah, there’s about four of those.  Biggie anthems and 70s rock?  Check.  Radiohead samples?  You fuckin know it.  Some samples come across a little too obvious, like we knew it was coming.  Guess that’ll happen when you’ve accumulated 800 mini-mashes already.  The good news is that parts like these have mostly replaced the more obnoxious “30 songs in 30 seconds” that made up the less listenable parts of (or all of) the previous albums.  It’s no quantum leap in any way.  There’s still an excessive amount of 80s power ballads and bunches of people just shouting “yeah!”

All Day excels with unfamiliar territory too .  For example, Ludacris shows up three times, and each part kicks ass.  I only recognized the first one, a War Pigs/Move, Bitch mash.  The others work because he’s letting the music breathe a bit and develop more naturally.  All Day manages to make a lot of awful rappers sound good.  It was the fourth or fifth listen before I realized a part was B.O.B.’s shitty hit single “Nothing on You.”  Turns out there was a good rapper buried in that tomb of overproduction.  He even makes Drake sound good once.  I fuckin hate Drake.  In my defense, he does appear twice and the other part kind of pisses me off.

It’s a dense, grueling record, but it’s worth it.  All Day sounds more like an actual album than anything Girl Talk’s done prior.  Probably the best one yet.

And then this came out…

My, ahem, Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Everything about this album is nuts.  Mr West went all over the place on this one.  When it’s good it’s great, but when it’s bad, it’s fucking awful.  Luckily, there are not any truly awful songs, just a handful that go on way too long.  It’s big, bad, and doesn’t give a fuck what you think.  Yeah, that title is incredibly gay, but it’s not gonna let you hold it back, Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.   (From now on, My Beatuful Dark Twisted Fantasy will be referred to as My Fantasy Ass Job)

Moreso than anything else, My Fantasy Ass Job is bold.  How bold?

Lex Luthor in Prison bold.

Kanye seems to indulge in every impulse he gets, looking for something that’ll stick.  Being him, almost everything does stick.  It’s a hell of a record.   Musically, every track impresses.  Lyrically, it’s a big angry ball of arrogance, spitting in the face of good taste.  It’s easily West’s best album since Late Registration, but it’s the work of a guy at his most decadent, hedonistic, and most of all, evil.

 

He’s taken the ego to the next logical step-supervillain.  On Power, West claims “every superhero needs his theme music.”  I’m not sure what stunt he’s trying to pull, because he sounds like a good guy on maybe two of these tracks.  Jason Greene wrote that Kid Cudi’s influence was all over this one, so I’ll see his Kid Cudi and raise him a Jay-Z.  My Fantasy Ass Job is Kanye’s new and improved version of Blueprint 3.  The blueprint apparently being “Throw shit at the fan, but only if the fan is made of diamonds.”  Jay always came across as so smug, rapping about nothing but money with an aw shucks attitude.  It was a record drunk on its own hype.  Kanye at least has the sense to know what to do with the money.  The lavish production budget wasn’t wasted on designer jetskis.  If it sounds like a brass band, that’s because it probably is.  For all the money stuffed into this, it still sounds surprisingly fresh.  Nothing ever gets buried in Kanye’s pleasure pit.

Presumably what the pleasure pit looks like.

I don’t hate the supervillain stuff, but it keeps everything so heavy and dour.  This aint the Kanye West who had a sense of humor or gave a shit about poor people.  We get every other possible position he can twist himself into, but Your friend, Kanye is oddly absent.  Apart from the whole “detachment from humanity” thing, complaints just boil down to nitpicking.  “So much head I woke up in Sleepy Hollow?”  What’s that supposed to mean?  There’s a few more Sleepy Hollow related rhymes around here and it doesn’t sound like anybody’s actually read it.  That stuff always bugs me.  Also, “All of the Lights” has 11 guests including Rihanna, Kid Cudi, and Elton John.  It’s impossible to pick all of them apart, and MIA is missing.  I know she’s missing because Fergie shows up obviously trying to sound exactly like her.  I have to wonder why Kanye couldn’t get the real deal.  He spent a few million dollars on this thing recording in fucking Hawaii of all places, and he couldn’t get MIA?  Would’ve been cool.  However, credit must be given where credit is due.  Fergie doesn’t do half-bad.  I know, I know.  I ain’t mad at her, but I ain’t glad at her.

I am glad about Rick Ross.  Mr West makes everybody sound incredible on this one, but Devil in a New Dress transforms Ross into a rapper as good as he says he is..  Shit man, way to go.  I didn’t think you had it in you.  This is even cooler than the time Young Jeezy became a demon on the last albumWHOAHOLDUP.

It just occurred to me than Drake is nowhere to be found on My Fantasy Ass Job.  But The RZA is, and Raekwon, and Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver, and Pusha T and Elton John .  Nice.

All of the Lights isn’t alone in its excesses.  Nearly every song is a tad bloated.  Runaway, so good when he was doing it live, goes on twice as long as it has to and I could do without the “beautiful death” coda on “Power.”  Are fuzzed-out autotune solos cool?  Maybe for 30 seconds, but certainly not 5 minutes.  The one song that I do want to keep hearing forever only lasts 3 minutes.  Sigh…  It’s so good, my biggest complaint is that I want more.  It’s a true monsterpiece, a city devouring gelatinous blob.  But if you set your mind to it, it wouldn’t be hard to just go into Audacity and cut out the “Nicki Minaj quoting Neil Gaiman” intro, the end of “Blame Game” where Chris Rock talks to a sex slave for two and a half minutes, and separate Runway into two songs, throw “The Joy” and “Good Friday” into the mix for that wee bit of humanity, delete the second half of Runaway and we’d be set.  That’s it; I’m gonna go build the better Monsterpiece.  Shit already comes with 12 covers.

*Checked and saw that MIA appears on a bonus track on the deluxe version.  So that’s an improvement.

*Update-So in the time I started writing this and the time I finished,all of those bonus tracks disappeared from the Amazon and Wikipedia pages.  Maybe they’ll turn up on Watch the Throne.  Who knows?

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