Skip to main content

99 Problems

As people posted their thoughts on national security late Sunday night on Facebook, I decided to break things up with a little humor.

"Breaking news: Jay-Z is now in my music library. For those that know me, this is momentous."

If you're keeping score, thinking I've backpedaled and have joined the League of Meh, well, this isn't the case.

I'm still in the dark as to why people (read, people my age who have and will never deal with inner-city life conditions, hustling, or racial discrimination) with incredibly particular views on albums by Wilco, the Arcade Fire, and Spoon choose to go into a verbal lovefest with almost every kind of hip-hop out there. Something doesn't sound right when a final mix on a Wilco record means it should be torn apart critically while some rapper who sings about oral sex using various metaphors is called a "genius."

In other words, yeah, I still don't get it.

But as a drummer who has loved to play funky beats when not playing straightforward rock beats, the roots of hip-hop have been with me since I was a teenager. I've enjoyed the more pop friendly hip-hop I've heard since the early '90s because of the melodies. And whenever a hip-hop artist performed live with a real band on MTV, I almost always wanted to watch. Usually, the drummer would deliver feels and beats that no drum machine could ever accomplish.

I also credit my recent of reading Dan Charnas' excellent book on the history of hip-hop as a business, The Big Payback. Even though it's more about the business than the music, he mentions the thought process behind the trailblazers who saw hip-hop as much more than a novelty. Without going on endless diatribes, he explains how someone like Rick Rubin could love making hip-hop classics while also working on Slayer's Reign in Blood.

Keeping this fresh in my mind, I can't lie about how much I've always liked the hooks to "Big Pimpin'," "Empire State of Mind," and "Hard Knock Life." That's why I had no hesitation over the weekend to pick up a copy of Jay-Z's greatest hits compilation.

I still don't buy into the braggadocio found in a lot of hip-hop (including Jay-Z's music), but hip-hop is something I think I have a clearer understanding of now. But don't be placing any bets on when I'll be praising Lil Wayne.


Popular posts from this blog

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catherine Wheel

Originally posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 Despite managing to release five proper albums, Catherine Wheel was one of those bands that always seemed to slip past the mainstream rock crowd. Yes, they got some nice airplay in their day, but people seem to have forgotten about them. You may hear “Black Metallic” or “Waydown” on a “classic alternative” show on Sirius or XM or maybe even on terrestrial radio, but that’s about it. For me, they were one of most consistent rock bands of the ’90s, meandering through shoegazer, hard rock, space rock and pop rock, all while eluding mainstream pigeonholing. Led by the smooth, warm pipes of vocalist/guitarist Rob Dickinson (cousin of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson), Catherine Wheel featured Brian Futter on lead guitar, Dave Hawes on bass and Neil Sims on drums. They weren’t a pretty-boy guitar band, but they weren’t a scuzzy bunch of ragamuffins either. Though the band hailed from England, Catherine Wheel found itself more welcome on American air

I ain't got no crystal ball

I've never been a big fan of Sublime's reggae-punk-ska, but I feel bad for their hardcore fans. Billboard reports that a four-disc box set featuring previously released and unreleased material is on the way. How is this a bad thing? Well, the number of posthumous vault-raiding collections greatly outnumber the band's proper releases. That usually isn't a problem, but the quality of them is very suspect. When they were together, the band recorded three proper albums, Robbin' the Hood , 40 Oz. to Freedom and Sublime . Sublime would be the band's breakthrough record with the mainstream, but that success was very bittersweet. Shortly before its release, frontman/guitarist/songwriter Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose. In the following years, the effects of apparently a bad record deal have yielded compilation after compilation. Here's the rundown so far: Second Hand Smoke (1997) Stand By Your Van -- Sublime Live in Concert (1998) Sublime Acoustic: Br

Best of 2021

  Last year, my attention span was not wide enough to listen to a lot of LPs from start to finish. Too much went on in 2020 to focus on 10-15 albums, so I went with only a couple to spotlight. Well, 2021 was a little better, as I have a list of top four records, and a lot of individual tracks.  (I made a lengthy Spotify playlist ) So, without further ado, here’s my list of favorites of the year: Albums Deafheaven, Infinite Granite (listen) Hands down, my favorite album of the year. I was not sure where Deafheaven would go after another record that brought My Bloody Valentine and death metal fans together, but they beautifully rebooted their sound on Infinite Granite. The divisive goblin vocals are vastly pared-down here, as are the blast beats. Sounding more inspired by Slowdive, the band has discovered a new sonic palette that I hope they explore more of in the future. It’s a welcome revelation. I still love their older material, but this has renewed my love of what these guys do.  J