[ Thursday, March 09, 2006 ]
Random thoughts on new albums
-As much as it pains me to say, the new Public Enemy record - REBIRTH OF A NATION - is really bad. Easily the worst thing they've ever done, and probably the first PE disc that seems basically worthless, particularly in relation to their other stuff. I probably shouldn't have been surprised, since the whole album was produced and even written
by Bay Area MC Paris (he of "Bush Killa" fame) who, though he's good, is hardly Chuck D. Unsurprisingly, the only track worth a damn is Flav's, which is another club-banger that almost makes me forget about all his damn TV shows.
-After all the confusion about when his next album was gonna come out, Scarface has now put out two albums in three weeks. The first, THE PRODUCT: ONE HUNID, is great, and I've talked about it before. The second, basically a multi-artist mixtape called MY HOMIES II, is good, though spotty. I'm glad to see the true "King of the South" (sorry, T.I.) putting out so much quality stuff, since he's distinguishing himself as one of the few hip-hop legends who seems comfortable being neither the new big thing nor the irrelevant dinosaur. 'Face (and the Geto Boys) does quality work, none of which is embarrasing or old-hat.
-Hank Williams III's STRAIGHT TO HELL is a fine-sounding dose of rip-roar, but I'm still waiting for him to either write or cover songs that match his hell-raising persona and gritty arrangements. For right now, I think I'll stick with James Hand's THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.
-Van Morrison's PAY THE DEVIL is - like so many of Van's late-period works - a pleasant, inoffensive waste of time. Not bad, not good, not annoying, not interesting.
-A well-connected friend got me a copy of the new Prince album, 3121, which comes out in two weeks, and - on first listen - it sounds like a winner.
On the box right now: Wilson Pickett/Sam & Dave/Booker T. and the MGs, LIVE 1967 & 1969. A red-hot bootleg with stellar sound and performances so thick you can eat 'em. Good god almighty!
Dove With Claws [2:57 PM]
[ Tuesday, March 07, 2006 ]
I saw DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY last night, and I was floored. While it's not quite the classic that its clear influence WATTSTAX is, it's damn close. The performances are uniformly astounding: Jill Scott, Mos Def and The Fugees particularly stuck out. In fact, The Fugees reunion is just as emotionally satisfying as one would hope, and their renditions of "Mona Lisa" and "Killing Me Softly" give me hope for their reported plans to record and tour together. Chappelle is funny and real both onstage and off, with some hilarious moments (his battle with the MC from DC is priceless) and some of his statements about the nature of being black, talented and rich in America are as smart on the subject as any recent scholarship.
Beyond the film's myriad riches, the most significant contribution of BLOCK PARTY, to me, is simply its warm and enriching energy. While I have as many criticisms of "conscious" hip-hop as anybody, seeing these talented performers at their best, having a good time, and trying to bring the beloved community back together (if only for one rainy NYC afternoon) gives me tremendous hope. I'm so glad to be living in a time with artists like Mos, Common, The Roots and Erykah Badu, and I'm particularly
happy to have a messenger like Dave Chappelle blessing us with wisdom, self-reflection and some of the funniest fuckin' shit of all time. See this movie. Immediately.
On the box right now: Mos Def and Talib Kweli, BLACK STAR.
Dove With Claws [11:36 AM]
[ Monday, March 06, 2006 ]
Let's hop in Doc Brown's DeLorean, and go back three or four years ago. We'll find me, probably in front of a computer in a dorm room or apartment. Tap me on the shoulder, get my attention, and insistently say the following words:
"Hey, in the year 2006, Three 6 Mafia will win an Academy Award."
I'll assuredly laugh in your face. Say it again:
"No, I'm serious. In the year 2006, Three 6 Mafia will win an Academy Award."
I may hesitate for a second, but I probably still won't believe you. Try one more time:
"Dude, I'm not kidding
. In the year 2006, Three 6 Mafia will win an Academy Award."
If even this fails, leave me to my mysterious ways, and let me be surprised like the rest of us.
Memphis in the house
On the box right now: Jessi Colter, OUT OF THE ASHES.
Dove With Claws [7:48 AM]
[ Sunday, March 05, 2006 ]
Don't really care much about this year's Oscars, but I'll surely watch anyway. I haven't seen all that many of the nominated films (of the contenders for Best Picture, I've only watched MUNICH and CRASH), and - for perhaps the first time I can remember - there's not one film or performance that I'm actively rooting against
. I'll watch anyway, though. Three 6 Mafia's gonna be the first hip-hop act to perform in the ceremony's history, and I imagine there might be something nice about Richard Pryor. Then again, I'll watch if only to see if Jon Stewart's funnier than he was when he hosted the Grammys back in 2002. Which reminds me of something...
Am I the only one who was pissed when Stewart followed the triumphant medley from O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? - a medley that featured Dr. Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss and others - by mockingly blowing into a moonshine jug? He should know better, and I'd like to think it wasn't his idea, but it just seems of a piece with an all-too-common tendency among even the smartest American funny people to take cheap shots at the South. It stuck in my craw that night, it remains stuck there, and I'm hoping that it won't be joined by anything after the show tonight.
On the box right now: Keith Richards, ULTIMATE COLLECTION, Disc 1. Home-made mix of the true king of rock and roll.
Dove With Claws [11:07 AM]