Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I'm working on a buncha pieces (including the previously referenced one regarding Amy Grant), plus working on my Pazz & Jop comments (pre-tallied ballots from the ILXoisie over here [page about 2/3 of the way down]), plus just busy busy busy with work and the bf and life which is oh-so-good in veryveryrainy southern California. So you'll get more posting when I get to more posting. Deal? Deal. In the meantime, check out Jess's ginormous year in review - and oh, look, Matos has his up, too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

If Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's Crunk Juice doesn't prove to you that Lil Jon is more than a one-trick pony, you're clearly not paying attention. Yeah, it gets a little samey in spots, and yeah, without guests, the lyrics get a bit tiresome, mostly-to-all aggro, Alpha-male posturing. [Getting "crunk up in the club" is not that all that different from moshing at a Bad Brains show.] But a key is that Jon knows that he's not a great rapper. Like Quincy Jones or Jermaine Dupri, Jon's best behind the boards, which is why this album is liberally larded with guests, from Jon's make-'em-say-"Yeah!" pals Ludacris and Usher to the likes of Eightball & MJG and R. Kelly. "The Grand Finale" alone features Nas, Ice Cube, T.I., Big Bun (of UGK) and Jadakiss. Now, that's heavyweight. It's also indicative of the standing Jon's got in the industry right now - talk about "political capital."

"One Night Stand" is a let's-do-it-let's-not-fall-in-love slow jam which not only presents a potential new talent in female vocalist Oobie, but also departs from ballad convention by having a seismic "boom!" every 8 bars. It's followed by "Aww Skeet Skeet," about which you just need to know this: Lil Jon does go-go, well. Just listen to that 808 on "In Da Club" (not a 50 Cent song), hoovering away like Beltram on "Mentasm." Oh, and not only does Rick Rubin man the boards for "Stop Fuckin' Wit Me"... he samples two Slayer songs in doing so. Crunk rock, in-fuckin'-deed.

If you can, get the double-disc version of Crunk Juice, where the second CD is a collection of remixes which Jon's either done or is featured on. His infamous "Lean Back" remix featuring Eminem and Mase is here, as are a pair of takes on first single "What U Gon' Do" and two takes on "Roll Call," both featuring - I'm not making this up - Bad Brains. See, the thing is, Lil Jon isn't just the merchant of crunkness. He's actually pushing things forward, forging new paths. He doesn't need your respect, but he deserves it. Crunk Juice is 2004's second-best hiphop longplayer (behind Trick Daddy's wower Thug Matrimony, and ahead of the likes of Dizzee Rascal and not-the-savior-of-hiphop-but-nonetheless-talented Kanye West). Drink up. A-

Susan Sontag, 1933-2004. R.I.P.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Thomas Inskeep, your votes have been recorded.

Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:

1. Erlend Øye - DJ-Kicks - !K7 (16 points)
2. United State of Electronica - United State of Electronica - Mannheim (14 points)
3. Gretchen Wilson - Here For The Party - Epic (13 points)
4. R. Kelly - Happy People/U Saved Me - Jive (13 points)
5. M.I.A./Diplo - Piracy Funds Terrorism, Volume 1 - Hollertronix (12 points)
6. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose - Interscope (9 points)
7. Dykehouse - Midrange - Ghostly International (8 points)
8. Junior Boys - Last Exit - KIN/Domino (5 points)
9. Trick Daddy - Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets - Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic (5 points)
10. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse - Geffen (5 points)

Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:

1. Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell - "Drop It Like It's Hot" - Doggystyle/Geffen
2. Alicia Keys - "If I Ain't Got You" - J
3. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - "Rubicon" - Virgin (UK)
4. Big & Rich - "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" - Warner Bros.
5. Destiny's Child - "Lose My Breath" - Columbia
6. Mya featuring Chingy - "Fallen (Zone 4 Remix)" - Interscope
7. Jay-Z - "99 Problems" - Roc-A-Fella
8. Usher - "Confessions Part II" - LaFace
9. Gretchen Wilson - "Here For The Party" - Epic
10. Kanye West - "Through The Wire" - Roc-A-Fella

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Nate's back. Yeahhhhh! And in this Christmas season, I recommend Daddino's Family Treasury of Christmases Past as some fine holiday reading.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Yes, yes, I'm still here. Busy with Christmas-y stuff, but still here, marvelling over the shock-and-awe mindfuckness of M.I.A.'s Piracy Funds Terrorism, Volume 1 mixtape, reading some pretty good books, such as Orland Outland's latest novel and John Leland's history of "hip," and truly loving some records which you probably think I shouldn't (Amy Grant is involved - more soon). Oh, and finalizing my Pazz & Jop ballot - the truest sign the holidays have arrived, don't you think? Hope you're in the midst of as superb a holiday season as I am.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Subjects for further review: "1, 2 Step" by Ciara featuring Missy Elliott

Can Jazze Pha do any wrong these days? Another shockingly good production from the Dirty Southerner, one that makes you think "Planet Rock" is about to bust out of it. And alarmingly - I say alarmingly because I'm one of the few I know who loathes "Goodies" - Ciara pulls it off, cooing just so, doing just what the track needs. Missy stops by for a shot of Hypnotiq.

Subjects for further review: "He Gets That From Me" by Reba McEntire

Video- and song-wise, no one can sell this brand of country tearjerker the way Reba does. And not only will you buy it, you'll buy 10 copies - that's how well she pulls it off. A future classic.

Addendum: I'm reminded by CMT's airing of her new "God's Will" clip that Martina McBride is damned near remaking her career as a singer of nothing but this brand of tearjerker. And it basically works, though McBride really could stand to diversify a bit.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Subjects for further review: "Fantasy (Blaze Shelter DJ Mix)" by Earth, Wind & Fire

An entire generation of deep house starts here.

Subjects for further review: "Point of No Return" by Exposé

A rainbow sherbet treat of a Latina pop single, this was Miami's commercial side in the late '80s. They were the true Miami sound machine.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I was considering buying Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz' Crunk Juice anyway, particularly in its 2CD+DVD incarnation (more remixes = more potential fun), but after reading increasingly godlike Kelefa Sanneh's review, I believe it's just become my next purchase. [Which means ahead of Ultimate Kylie and the UK deluxe reissue of The Lexicon of Love, in case you're wondering.] I'm thinking that the "great producers rightnow" list current goes Neptunes, Kanye, and Lil' Jon. Feel free to argue.

Subjects for further review: "Charlene" by Anthony Hamilton

Where Maxwell's the city slicker, a little effete and brainy, Hamilton's his country cousin - and I do mean couuuuuntry. But I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing. No, it's more an Otis thing. Hamilton's a gutbucket soul singer, and I still find it hard to believe not only that he got signed by a major, but that it's Jermaine Dupri's major no less. "Charlene" is an "I'm sorry" song, but done so uniquely, so Anthony-ly, that it stans above the huddled masses. I hear a classic - by which I mean, I hear this on R&B stations in 15 years. Shit's deep.

Subjects for further review: "If I Could Make the World Dance" by R. Kelly

Floating on a cumulus cloud of Marvin-esque '70s soul, Christgau's vehement objections be damned. He even comes thisclose to out-and-out biting "What's Going On."

The music writers at London's Daily Telegraph's have compiled their list of the best covers ever - and while I certainly don't agree with all of their choices, it'd make one hell of a mixtape, don't you think?

Walter Yetnikoff was one crazy motherfucker. The president of CBS Records from 1975-90, he shepherded Michael Jackson from being, well, just another Jackson to being a global superstar - and he took personal calls from everyone from Springsteen to Streisand. He also fucked, drank, and snorted nearly everything in sight, and (cliché alert) lived to tell the tales. And oh, what tales he's got to tell. His autobiography, Howling at the Moon (written with David Ritz) is a dishy hoot, serving up embarassing stories about the aforementioned stars and many others, alongside some superb inside scoop on the biz of record retailing. Yetnikoff pulls no punches - least of all with himself. Frankly, he comes off in these pages as a sometimes brilliant supreme asshole. He cleaned up his act (at least the booze-and-drugs portion of it) 15 years ago, and now seems at relative peace. But what a life he's crammed into 70-plus years. Thanks for sharing, Velvel. If you care an iota about the record industry, read this book. A-

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