Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

Late Registration April 28, 2013

Filed under: Music — Micah Griffin @ 10:41
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Wake up Mr. West. It’s time for your sophomore album.

Heard ‘Em Say

A belief of mine is that the opening track of an album is way beyond important. It colors your view of the entire album. Frontload an album with something great and the good vibes take you through. Songs about being black in america never get old for me. Especially when they’re as well crafted and divergent as this song is. I can’t get enough of it.

Touch the Sky

duuuuuuuuuuuuuude, these horns. What’s better than an awesome intro. Two killer songs in a row. First pianos  then horns. I love horns. The world needs more big brass sections. This was also my introduction to Lupe Fiasco.  This song is just throwing good vibes everywhere. It has a weird sort of nostalgia feeling that’s difficult to pin down. If more radio rappers talked for serious about how they grew up in the game and the struggles they went through and the life they were living at the time I might listen to the radio. It’s so rare to hear someone as big as Kanye was even at this time just talk about the mundanities of every day life for someone trying to get signed.

Also, love Curtis Mayfield

Gold Digger

Jamie Foxx really thinks he’s Ray Charles, which is cool with me. This is a song that’s much smarter than it’s given credit for. On it’s surface it’s stupid hating stuff or whatever, about gold diggers and other shit stupid people say, but you gotta listen to it. You might learn something, like Kanye West learning about the way small super insular dating circles of celebrities. Shit’s a trip. This song isn’t about people, it’s about that really fucking weird subsection of pretty rich people.  The second verse does perpetuate misinformation about how child support payments actually work. I have some books on the subject if Kanye is interested. Thing is, it’s noted that gold digging is a hustle and if you gonna be out here treatin women bad and like they’re some sort of commodity this is the life you live and you can’t get anything close to mad about them flipping the game on you.

The third verse is awesome. The way the beat switches up here is actually a pretty classic trick, doesn’t make it any less effective.  It’s just a separation of parts. Simple and beautiful. It’s there the whole time. Listen on vinyl.

BROKE BROKE BROKE FI BROKE WE AINT GOT IT

Drive Slow

I’m going to attempt to put into words something that doesn’t work in a literary medium. The way the beats drop on this song, in conjuction with the oregon, with the synth voice in the background, with the saxophone note coming in occasionally  with the midi clarinet, the high hat hits. All of it, it’s wizardry. The slow motion of this song without actually being chopped and screwed, it’s. . . I don’t know. It’s really great. The first time I heard this song I didn’t hear a single word Kanye said. Sometimes I still miss the first verse. This is what good music does.

The thing about hearing music you’ve created pump out through someone’s speakers is so real though. That shit gives you fucking super powers.

Paul wall was a thing, you remember that?

That beat is still kicking it, and it doesn’t change. I’m always suckered in by interplay between two rappers. The sort of two man game that springs up has really high potential.

Then it gets screwed. And I died. My spirit just left my body.

My Way Home

A common track found it’s way to Kanye’s album. Weird. Common is cool. Sometimes too boring and caught up in being common, but often times just really good. He is so good at what he does. Just a slow and steady flow of rhymes. Then it’s just a beautiful old R&B song. Like, this Kanye is my favorite Kanye.

Crack Music,

This is my Kanye. This is my Rap Music. This is my life.

This is what I live for in music. This is a religious experience. From the hard basss drum kicks with the smooth snare into the high hats all the way to the synth horn to the lyrics. This is where I fell head over heels in love with Kanye West. Want an introduction to radical black theory? Listen to this song. Seriously. This is the intro to black nationalism. This is a pure distillation of everything I had to learn outside of school and my parents as a child. Right up into the questioning of God, which is something that was not something to do in thinking about the sort of prototypical black american experience.  The thing about the black panthers is spot on. The stuff about just the grimey parts of growing up in substandared living conditions hits hard.

Then we get poetry and with the beat behind it it’s a crucial piece of the entire song.

Roses

This is the only song you need to dispute everything everyone ever says negatively about rap music. Everything. The beginning is so painful and just overloaded with thick emotions. I know how it feels to sit around a hospital room not knowing what’s going on and if someone is going to make it and how long every second feels. All the things we say to each other in that situation, the deep hopelessness that exist because there’s NOTHING you can do. You manufacture things to do and try to learn everything you can knowing that it is all ultimately useless.

This is another frontloaded rap song. The reasons behind this one are different though. it is supposed to leave you with a different feeling than you had at the beginning of the song. He stops rapping on a purely happy note and that changes the timbre of the melody for the next two minutes. Nothing in the music actually changes, but just the spark of good news gives this an entirely different feeling. That’s just good music.

Bring Me Down

This song has a whole lot going on in it. There’s this dancing of the piano and strings over good old fashioned hip hop drums that carries a lot of feeling with it. Brandy is putting it fantastic work here as well, and her voice is well suited to what is going on here.  As toned down as this younger Kanye West is you see the path he’s taking. This song, as much as the album as a whole, is a confidence builder. It’s sort of a self reassurance exercise.

The opening line here is six levels beyond brilliant. It needs a standing ovation. Listen to it again.

I still have a sort of love for this early Kanye where songs played with conventional set ups by frontloading them.

Addiction

This is just a song that I like.  It’s so understated. It’s just Kanye’s voice and not as many bells and whistles going on. It’s a song about sex. And it’s not objectifying and it’s not skeevy in really any way. It’s just a song about sex. That’s awesome. There are so many places this song could fall apart and it doesn’t. I didn’t realize it was Etta James in the background until I was listening to an old album of hers and just heard the line. It’s also about drugs and alcohol, but in the context of sex as well. People should strive for this sort of thing more. Nothing against lude sex songs, but there’s something very nice about a song being this subdued and relaxing. There’s a negotiation for a threesome that’s hilarious.

Diamonds from Sierra Leone [The Remix]

Shirley Basset really could belt it out in the 70s. She kicked the shit out of all those James Bond Songs.

This song is so fucking real. This applies to so much more than just diamonds. It’s about everything we do in life. Diamonds, gold, leather, shoes, computers, smart phones, clothes and jeans, and cameras and all that shit. All of what we do is built on exploitative labor and the histories of these labor markets are just gross and disgusting.

But are we going to give any of it up? Nope!

Hey! It’s Jay-Z! What’s he rapping about? Jaz-Z? You got it! Did you know he sold cocaine? He’s also a business. Which is true. I love when Jay-Z verses on Kanye tracks just keep going.

We Major

FUCK DUDE. This is my jam. This gets me up in the morning when I can’t muster it much myself. This gets me to work when I’m not really feeling it. This gets me out of a bad funk. This song makes my day better. Just turn the volume all the way up and let it soak through you.

Now, it’s annoying that he traffics in the stupid women are someone else’s property thing with the idea that you won’t like creepin on chicks when it’s your daughter.

The rest of the song is dope though.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else actually says. We’re just having a good time here. Just having that trumpet circulate through the blood stream is enough. That synth drum hit is so staccato.  The harshness provides cotrast for the rest of the song.  Really Doe just lays down life affirmation in the chorus.

Yo. The end of this song just raises the spirits of eveyone who hears it. This is how you should get dressed. Kanye can talk to me as much as he wants on track though.

Okay. Just sing along now. Roll the windows down on the car and belt it. Throw all your cares away.

Hey Mama

Kanye cant’ sing, but that’s PERFECT for this song. The childishness of singing this for his mom is too much. I’ll probably tear up half way through this. This is black music for real. Not everyone has great moms, but some people do, and it’s great when you get songs like this. Black women got it rough, and don’t get nearly the respect they deserve through the whole of American Culture. That thing about his mom supporting him even though he went the opposite of the way she wanted for him hits close to home. The sort of longing and hope of this song mixed with the sort of regret of not pleasing her sooner mixes perfect with the realization of all of his hard work and how much of the credit for his success she deserves. It’s super touching and super heartfelt and just great. And fuck everyone who hates Kanye. It’s cool also, because as specific as this song is about Kanye and his mother, it’s totally designed to work as a reflective tool for the listener. It works.

Celebration

I love these strings. This is just another feel good song. That’s part of why I love Late Registration so much. So much of the album just feels good. Just relaxing party stuff. Not wild Andrew W.K. parties, but the kind where you might actually be able to hear the person beside you while talking.  I love these short verse songs. Just like four five bars of verse and a small rotating chorus .

Gone

Uh oh! I like when Kayne just raps. Kanye rapping about how obnoxious Kanye is is high class Kanye. Kanye knows he has a big ego, and that he annoys you, and he doesn’t care. He interweaves his life with the fictional story of other people with fictional stories of himself with real stories of other people with random rap music rhymes and lyrics.

KNOCK KNOCK

WHO’S THERE

KILLA CAM

KILLA WHO

KILLA CAM

that’s not how knock knock jokes work Cam’Ron.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of Cam’Ron.

Consequence fucking kills it. Just how this story unfolds with rapping about a non event that ends up in the worst way is so great. Especially after whatever the fuck Cam’Ron did.

Then we get music. And is the song gonna go on for three minutes with no more rapping. It would be in keeping in line with the rest of the album,

but no. Surprise.

It’s Kanye West. Ahead of his time. Sometimes years out. Still with the talking about how hard it is to do what you want sometimes. Sometimes fame isn’t great. The struggle to get up off his cheap ass sofa is real.  Getting fired from taco bell for giving out free food is real. This is just sort of an onslaught of good rapping from Kanye here at the end.

He gone.

Silence.

Diamonds From Sierra Leone

Yeah, we’re back. This is the version without Jay-Z. That means we get a WHOLE OTHER VERSE. Cool, no? I think so.

I love Kanye talking about how mad he was about the grammy. He did get robbed though. Like, for real, he got jobbed.  I love the idea of plaques for Kanye saying Kayne. I love how unrelenting he is about how good he is and how much people fucked up by sleeping on him.

We Can make It Better

This isn’t on the US version of the album.  This song is the truth though. I like songs about doing better. There is so much stuff in here just for black people though and it’s wonderful and dangerous.

I love the mini verses. A bunch of good rappers not overstaying their welcome. I like it. Talib rocks it. Q-Tip comes in and is cute and adorable. Common is common and it’s surprising how good he is in this short format. Rhymefest shows up and kick ass here too. Just good work all around.

Late

Aww yeah hidden track.

There’s some awesome musical theory stuff happening in this song. His second verse on the track mixes up lyrics on purpose. Not says them wrong, but you could read them in a different chronological order. His voice is working at odds with the beats which are working in harmony with the bass line and come across to the sample of the whatnauts. This is all you can really ask for from a

ahahahaha

 

bonus mode: Check out Late Orchestration. It’s so good. Live orchestra and Live DJ make so many tracks on this album so much better. His energy on this concert recording is just fucking phenomenal.

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College Dropout is really good

Filed under: Music — Micah Griffin @ 08:46
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I mean, yeah, we knew that nine years ago, but I think it’s worth coming back to.

The way I decided to do this was to go song by song and only write as much about the song as I could fit into the time it takes to listen to it.

The skits are funny, I don’t really deal with them because I NEVER listen to the anymore. I listened to them this time around to see how they flow with the album, and they work surprisingly well without destroying the pace, which happens less often than I like with rap albums.

We Don’t Care

As the first thing you hear from Mr. Kanye West on his debut album “We Don’t Care” is kind of brilliant. It lets you know what this album is sort of all about. It’s a rare thing these days. It’s a rare thing in general. All the themes about being broke, the things you do to survive, the facts of living in a culture of drug dealing without being an actual part of the drug dealing, the shit that is the American school system, and how much he likes his mom. It’s all here. Along with the desire for a much much better life.

That’s important. It’s important to this album and it’s important to the rest of Kanye’s career. “We Don’t Care” sets the stage for the just absurd level of stunting that goes on in “My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy.”

With music, the first song on an album goes a long way. It’s hard to come back from a terrible first track, and a brilliant opening can cover up a lot of mess. People still out here thinking Thriller one of Michael’s best albums largely on the strength of “Wanna be startin’ somethin’.”

All Falls Down

Thing 1. Lauryn Hill is amazing. This isn’t her, but that’s where it’s taken from, and any excuse to wax poetic about her is great.

Anyway, still on the college sucks tip and the first verse doesn’t take a step out of place. He doesn’t overstay his welcome on the subject (which is something a lot of dude rappers could learn). It isn’t that dudes can’t rap about the struggles of black women at all, but since it ain’t your struggle it really isn’t your place to be around dictating and shit, and this verse kinda gets that well. Then the focus turns onto Kanye and from Kanye to the world kanye grew up in. It’s really touching and hits you in the heart. Syleena is cool people too, much respect to her.

I’ll Fly Away

I said I wasn’t doing skits, but whatever. It’s not a skit, it’s an old church songs, and one of my favorites. It’s also noteworthy for making sense with spaceship coming right up next.

Spaceship

My. Fucking. Life.

But really, like anyone who’s been black and worked retail. It’s more universal than that, but the specifics really hit home to being black and all the fucking garbage you have to put up with just to make minimum wage. Managers stay on that racist shit up and leave you with this need to commit acts of violence but it’s all bluster because you know how poorly that’s going to go. That’s been at the root of the American black community power dynamics and domestic violence and all that shit from the start. I like how succinct it is put here. And the part about how they stay throwing you out at black customers like you gonna sprinkle magic negro powder on them to get them to buy stuff from you is so spot on and so annyoing.

This was my introduction to GLC, and to this day I’ve only ever heard him on other people’s stuff. I like him that way.

Jesus Walks

This is fascinating work. There was that time when rappers and R&B folks woud randomly appear on gospel tracks, and some would include super overt religious shit in their albums and a lot of it felt ham fisted and didn’t work. This is what so many of them were actually aiming for.  This isn’t a song about religion. This is the kind of song skinny white people write and get praise and adoration for. This is that introspective look into Kanye’s relationship with jesus and the fact that it’s not preachy and not about how much he feels god working powers in his life all the time is a credit to him and this song.

Never Let Me Down

Hey it’s Jay-Z! He’s so doing that Jay-Z thing where he talks about how awesome Jay-Z is and how not awesome everyone else is and how he became awesome, and you know what? It still works. He’s a really really good rapper. The chorus kicks in and he just keeps rapping and it melds together so well. 

Then comes fucking Kanye West. I love Kanye talking about his mom all the time. I like how appreciative he is of where his people come from. Not black people as a whole, but his in specific.

Hey it’s J Ivy. This is my entire view of what slam poetry is. The fact that kanye can turn J Ivy into a rapper is woderous. He’s just doing what he does and kanye fit the entire song around it and it all works. That and J Ivy is just speaking entirely in fire while he’s here takes the whole experience up a notch.

Hey! it’s Jay-Z again! I love when songs just keep going. Hey, Jay-Z; still awesome. And his history, still awesome. I love Jay-Z.

Kanye would break gospel music in half. All these gospel rappers and producers trying to get the kids need to just stop and go home. Bow at Kanye’s alter then end your careers.

Get ‘Em High

I’m not really into Talib Kwali. I know, as a fan of rap music, that I’m supposed to be into Talib, but he’s just never been my thing. In particular I don’t like this verse. I hate the reference to the birth control patch in such a sex shaming way. Like, this whole song is about men trying to go get sex and he’s shaming this woman for using birth control. It’s a big turnoff and puts a damper on the whole song for me.

Shoutout to Black Planet though. Does that website still exist?  I’m not sure it does.

New Workout Plan

The intro to this is funny, and that’s a problem, because it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot of social stuff going on and the intro sits right on the line. The entire song sits right on the line. It’s totally an issue of it’s making fun of something that’s infinitely make funable, he just goes about it from a direction that I wouldn’t.

One thing that’s undeniable is that the background beat to this forces dancing. The drums and violins work in perfect unison to create a danceable beat, which is cool, because that’s how workouts work best.

My name is elle may, I’m from mobile alabama and since listening  Kanye’s workout tape I’ve been able to date outside the family, I been able to date outside the family, I got me a double wide, and I rode a plane.” I’m sure that white rednecks are offended, but since I grew up around them I can’t possibly be concerned with their feelings.

The dance track that’s just randomly added on to the end of this great. I’ll never forget that time I went to the club and they played an extended cut of this that lasted for at least ten minutes and it was, indeed, one of the best workouts of my life.

Slow Jamz.

Seriosuly, I know it’s getting tired, but Kanye is really good at productions. As far as rap songs go about romantic encounters, this one is pretty right. The idea of people (specifically kanye) knocking boots to minnie ripperton makes me giggle quite a bit. The way Jamie Foxx says Al Green is good times.

Twista is wonderful in cameo’s. Outside of “I ain’t that nigga” I don’t really fuck with Twista. He kills cameos though. It’s just the nature of how he raps. The speed with which he can string together lines is beyond admirable. I’m endlessly impressed with his ability to fit into this song so well. I defintiely can get with the entire point of this song though. I’ve been to too many awful parties where people never slow shit down, and it gets tired after a while. (Yes, this was in my past life before I turned 23 and became the oldest person alive). It also works as the pefect down note after New Workout Plan. The bridgework here is phoenominal. I generally prefore subtle bridges, but this works.

Breathe In Breathe Out

But now I’m rapping about money hoes and benz again. Yup. But even this is set apart from all the 4092380 other songs released in 2004 about the same subject matter.

Hey! You guys remember when Ludacris went hard and was respectable and shit? I miss those days, even if they weren’t real. Whatever. Kanye’s Ego just doesn’t ever stop. The innuendo in this song does that awesome thing where it makes itself beyond obvious without

I got weed drink and a handy cam. That’s the kind of night you hope never leaks online, or people don’t stop talking about it. Ask Kanye’s current girlfriend, who no matter what she does can’t get away from the fact that people watched her have sex with ray-j on a shit camera.

School Spirit

My Dad’s an alpha, both my moms are Delta, a lot of my cousins are Qs. I didn’t do the frat thing. I am never letting someone hit me so we can be friends. No thanks. I  LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. I love all of kanye’s songs about how fucking stupid college is. As someone who’s been in college for eight years now going at one class at a time, I can’t get enough of it. He doesn’t dwell on it, but the line about the head of the class working at cheesecake says all that needs to be said. College has so much going on, and so little of it has anything to do with preparing kids for futures or even learning stuff. It’s a scam, but you have to do it in order to get some menial job that you could have done without the four year degree.

Two Words

A  couple of tracks on this album are definite precursors to what happens on Late Registration.

I love Mos Def. I feel like he handles the conceit of this song better than anyone else on the album. His cadence fits the two words thing so well.

Kanye kills it here too. I love the remembrance of source. I don’t think 5 mics means shit any more. I can’t remember the last time an album got 5 mics and anyone actually gave a shit. I basically know now we get racially profiled. Yup. The difficulty of the hustle is greatly increased when everyone already thinks you’re a criminal.

I miss freeways beard. Don’t say retarded though. There really isn’t a need for that. Be smarter.

back to the violin thing. It’s magic. This is really good, but it’s just setting the table for some nasty shit to be made out of a similar style on Late Registration.

Through the Wire

Yo. Kanye got his face broke. Listen to the version of this song that he records with his mouth wired shut. Fuck dude, that’s just amazing.

Chaka Kahn is amazing. Kanye’s decision to up the pitch works much better in real life than it does on paper. Because Chaka’s voice is just about perfect. That said, kanye is a genius.

My favorite part about this song, though is kanye talking through it. It’s a beautiful insight into

Family Business

This song makes me cry. I’m a big softy. This is for the family that can’t be with us. I miss this kanye. Like, I’m glad he’s where he is. I really am. I just wish this Kanye  was able to show up again, but he’s totally dead. At least we have this on record. It just brings up all these memories of my summer vacations with my families. (I got big family and it’s expanded and shit). The sort of gospel music feel of this song isn’t lost on me at all.

Let’s get stevie out of jail.

Last Call

Fuck you Kanye first and foremost for making me do this.

Fuck you for being this good and warranting all this time I’ve spent listening and contemplating your albums.

This song is fifty seven minutes long. I love every minute of it, and I love that it gives me time to examine this album as a whole. The oral history of Kanye’s rap career is great. I just love the way he has dudes come in and say the lines of the story that they would’ve said laid over him talking. I mean. It’s just fun story  telling. I can listen to stories this way. I wish there was more of it.

It’s been said, I’m not original in anyway. This is maybe the best Debut album of all time. I can’t think of a better one. Not just in rap  music, but in general.

 

I Like Rap Music May 31, 2012

Filed under: Music,Social Commentary,Social Justice — Micah Griffin @ 19:50
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I like it. Does it have problems on the whole? Yeah. Go find me a genre that’s remotely close to as popular as rap music is that doesn’t have any problems.

I’ll wait.

Okay. Here’s the deal. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Nope. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Absolutely. It’s complicated. There are issues of misogyny and the general idea that women are pokemon, trading cards, and other collectible doodads on which you (as a man) measure your personal success. The interesting thing is how so many of our more popular rappers seem to completely understand complex theories of societal racism and have heavily examined them and the impact they have on black life in america, yet how few of those same ones look at societal sexism in anything near the same light. Same with homophobia for that matter.

That said, rap music is still about time and place and a social consciousness. It confronts social issues (whether positively or negatively) way more than pretty much any other genre of music. So many songs are just one person spilling out their feelings in a long dialogue with the listener. This means you get all the fucked up shit that goes through people’s minds. All the good and bad that goes with it, all the internalized struggles, and most importantly, you get to see growth in thought process. There’s a good song by Big K.R.I.T. that talks about pimping and misogyny and how get got to be where he is and the use of the words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ and how he knows it’s bad but that’s the world he’s in and all of the everyday stuff that comes with being in that world. It’s something you don’t get to see in a lot of music.

Know why the misogyny and homophobia is hit on so hard? Because the rest of it is too positive and critical for white folks to handle. Listen to stuff like Killer Mike’s “Reagan” or “Pressure.” Those tracks bring absolute heat and knowledge about police brutality, private prisons, the birth of the welfare queen myth and a bunch of other societal racism problems. There’s songs about how the drug game is an easier path to take than going to college. One of those things requires money and privilege you never had and can’t get, the other require you just to be fast, smart, and strong. One of those leads to a $25k a year job and the other has the potential to lead to big money and big cars. When you’re likely to end up in jail for whistling at a white woman or looking a white man in the eye why not sell drugs?

The rappers with the problems I’ve stated above don’t make up all rap music. In fact, they make up less and less of it. They’re the most popular ones, but that has less to do with rap music and more to do the people who promote rap music, the record labels, the radio stations, and a bunch of people outside the creation of rap music.

Ask yourself what’s worse; A man writing a song that has issues of misogyny all by himself and producing that song unilaterally, or a team of producers and an entire band doing a song about misogyny and how awesome it is? Not that either is good, but I find it odd when society stands on the roof tops and decries rap music while lauding Nickelback for some unknown reason. There is so much misogyny is mainstream pop and rock music that goes ignored in favor of trying to destroy an art form dominated by black people.

Here’s the secret. Even in the misogyny laden rap tracks, there’s more uplifting verses about black women and how awesome they are than you’ll ever get anywhere else. There’s this weird culture around it, but a lot of these dudes seem to love black women. Not just as sex objects, but as pillars of the community, mothers, sisters, daughters, role models, freedom fighters, drug runners, business people, drivers, snipers, organizers, and a bunch of other roles. Once you survive being denigrated for the first thirty years of your life you become a GOD. I am actually going to examine that and write about it later.

The other secret, once you leave traditional record labels the entire thing flips upside down. There’s an entire world of non problematic rap music. Shit is great. But white people don’t want to listen to it. White people are far more comfortable with Lil Wayne. It fits their image of black masculinity and black people in general a lot better. There’s also a lot of black women rappers out there too. There are even queer people of color doing rap music. It’s fucking WILD.

Basically, I say a bunch of that to say this.

Lay off. When you get ready to criticize the entire genre of rap music think about how many times you’ve criticized every other genre of popular music. Think about why you hear so much about the misogyny in rap music and not in other types of music. Think about how little you hear about the positives of rap music. Think about the number of white people directly profiting off the things you hate so much and how instead of going after them you’re going after black people who would be doing a large number of things if they weren’t told by life and society that this is how you can get out of your bad situation. Booty Butt Cheeks sells records. Think about why that is.

Once you’ve done all that, shut up. Cause I don’t want to hear it.

And to whoever said that the Beastie Boys made you feel like rap music loved you back? FUCK YOU. Seriously. You’re acting in racist ignorant buffoonery. Black people made plenty of awesome rap music before they showed up. Black people made plenty of anti sexism songs. In fact, a great many of those black people were women. Those black women whom made it possible for the beastie boys to sell records. But you didn’t feel  loved until some white frat boys showed up acting like regular old white ass holes. Gotcha.

 

Things I liked in 2011 (Part 2 of ?) Music (Part 1 of 2ish) January 4, 2012

Filed under: Music — Micah Griffin @ 20:47
Tags: , , , ,

It is no great secret that I love music. I love it in many different varieties. I think good music is the best. Much better so than bad music. I don’t care whether or not this is the first year in which I heard the album, all the albums on this list are things that I listened to a lot this year and had not listened to a great deal in the year or years prior.

Two artists took over a great deal of my life this past year. One of these people were new to me and the other is a long time friend. First to the New

Josh Ritter is sort of a folkish singer songwriter type. I hate 98% of singer songwriter types. I hate 99.8% of singer songwriters with guitars. Dude and guitar (this is irrespective of gender) acts are as likely to make me impale my own ear drums as to tap my feel along with whatever drivel they’re playing. I don’t care about your lost loves or you whining, get out of here with that garbage.  Fortunately Josh Ritter is free of such simpering mess. Also, he has a much better handle on the guitar than a lot of his compatriots. I wouldn’t call him a great guitarist or anything, but he uses it in the making of his music better than most singer songwriters.

One huge thing in Ritter’s favor with me is that he has a great number of live albums available. It hurts him not that his particular brand of music lends itself greatly to live performances. His songs are able to vary greatly from studio recording to live solo show to a live duet with his right hand man Zachariah Hickman to a live show with the Royal City Band. I love live music and so this works for me. Whatever, talking about music quickly goes from “this is why this is good” to really stupid pitchfork reviews talking about the ephemera of music, and I cannot imagine that does any good for anyone who actually enjoys music for music’s sake.

YOUTUBE VIDEO TIME!

Josh Ritter is a boss, it’s difficult to tell from youtube videos and all how his concerts all go. I’ll wager you’ll be hard pressed to find a performer who puts more energy into a live show and is anywhere close to as infectious as he. It’s quite a remarkable show to be a part of. It’s the best concert I’ve been to that didn’t involve copious amounts of horn;(bugger your grammar) and I figure with four whole songs to fill up your time you would like a brief repose before more music here. So the next post will be about my old music friend whom I could talk about until the piggies came home.

 

NaNoWriMo Week 1 November 6, 2011

Filed under: Books,Music — Micah Griffin @ 20:40
Tags: , , ,

I’m a little behind this week but that’s expected. I did learn a most excellent and valuable lesson. It goes something like this. If you come up with a completely and totally awesome idea you need to have a damn good reason for it to exist. There are a lot of stories that have really cool world conceits, points of view, or other little tricks that they use. The problem with most of these is that when the book isn’t written completely around this cool idea the idea is often super way cooler than everything else in the book. It’s either that, or the books just feels wandery and off. I had to have a real discussion with myself on whether or not to use my awesome idea. The thing I came up with is that I always have the opportunity to write other books. I had a chit chat with myself and found out that I can reconfigure some things to completely rework the story around my new idea. This meant doing a lot of digging up around the little that I had written, but since I a little behind already it isn’t that big a deal.

 

On a completely unrelated note here’s a song I like. because I probably listen to as much music during NaNoWriMo as I do during any other time of year.

 

On The Nature Of Creating Your Own Content October 15, 2011

Filed under: Books,comics,Movies,Music,Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 13:35

One of the most pejorative pieces of advice thrown out by jerks and well-meaning people alike is that if you’re not happy with something you should do it yourself. I understand the idea. It’s something that on a low-level I agree with. It’s how one of my favorite book series ever got written (Imaro by Charles R Saunders).
Here’s the problem with that. Not everyone is meant to be a writer, or director, or producer, or actor, or any of that stuff. Not everyone is the traditional creative type. It’s not incumbent on each individual person who isn’t being served in the market to  be their own market. You can’t silence someone with that. That’s the problem. The phrase “If you don’t like it make your own” is too often used as a silencing measure. It’s telling the under served market that it’s their fault they aren’t being served. That because they traditionally don’t have the funding or backing to create their own content they can’t complain when the people who have always had the privilege of being served ignore them. It ignore the likelihood of being picked up and being able to make money on any endeavor is much less likely if your story is catering to a very under served market, or is serving them in a manner that the people with the funding don’t feel comfortable with.

So yeah. It’s good to make your own content if you can. And by all means, if you have the faculties to create your own content of any kind, do it. It’s one of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences ever. The thing is, if you don’t, then don’t stress about it. Keep on pushing for more of the types of content that you want. Don’t let anyone silence you by telling you that YOU have to be the one to do something you don’t want to do.That all the ills of whatever medium you love fall on your shoulders because you lack the time, skill, money, or desire to do that thing.

Cause here’s the other thing they don’t say. Doesn’t matter how good it is, your thing will never get discovered or become popular. That’s all luck. For every break through success there’s fifty to a thousand people trying just as hard and who’s product is just as good. The lie is that it’s your fault this thing doesn’t exist, and that the only reason people aren’t reading it is because it’s not good enough and you need to work harder. Because only good things get recognized, and all the best things are found, supported, and made successful.

 

Naw, but for real though. Someone had to write this. September 6, 2011

I wake up Early in the Morning. Hop up in a foreign, Wave to them haters like what’s up

Say What’s Up.

No really, what’s up?

No, this post actually isn’t about M’Shulla or TPain. It’s more about the tide. Y’know, the thing the moon kind of has control over? Water and stuff. Actually this post kind of has everything to do with M’Shulla.

This post is about creativity and the creative process. This is about the thought process that goes into everything. This is about the unconscious thought that goes into every creative decision that’s made. This is about the creative process that goes into consuming media. The conscious and unconscious thoughts you bring into your experience. Mostly It’s about something I recently did with all the media I own and something I will be doing going forward.

I’m just taking stock. I’m not crusading for issues, I’m simply taking notes. There are things I’ve definitely noticed, and things that I only feel like I notice but am not sure if they’re there in a lot of stuff. So as I read, and watch, and listen, I’m also charting. It’s going to be like science. I’m not going to outright try and annoy you. Just mention things. Like how many black characters are in your comic book. How many women have speaking lines. How many Chinese characters are in your tv show based on a civilization where the dominant cultures are American and Chinese. What the depiction is of any LBG characters. Are there any TQ in the book? Who has agency in this piece? Is the woman who is the focus of your song a person or a lovely sofa? How many times is the person of desire referred to as a sex object?

I’m mostly just curious. Hopefully someone will know other questions I can ask as well. This is about discussion. This is about knowledge and understanding.

See, I had an epiphany the other day. It’s something I’ve always known, but the point wasn’t driven home until listening to a podcast where a particular song is played for laughs. I thought about the word choice of “Speakers going hammer. Bammer bammer Boom” and realized (to deep emotional pain in my heart) that someone actually had to write that out. Maybe he used a ouiji board, but even still, thought went into that. I’m not saying a lot of thought. I’m just saying those words came out of his mouth and he said “okay.”

Every single part of every creative process is a choice. Sometimes you’re squeezed into a certain box, but you still have a choice in how things play out. Let’s say as a writer you’re mandated to kill a character, you don’t have to show them being brutalized. Say the studio exec wants you to make your songs more mainstream friendly. If you spend enough time in thought you can rejigger your message to still go hard and have catchy beats behind it. When you’re writing a book, the character that appears and gives the main character their morning coffee five or six times in the book can totally be transgendered. (side note. If you’re a member of the trans community and happen to know a copy editor that can tell me the proper English conjugations for thigns, that’d be great.) I understand tropes, but your film noir doesn’t HAVE to start with a dead woman on a bed in a pool of blood. Nope.

It’s little decisions like these that can change a lot about the way a story is interpreted by the reader. It can mean the world when it comes to grabbing certain audiences for your music. A lot of it is just about thinking, though. I understand how easy it is when you get to brainstorming to fall into what’s safe and what’s been done before. Not just done before, but what is socially seen as “just what happens.” It’s very easy to write a story where every single character is heterosexual and white. (here’s an example. Just as I was writing this I decided not to use the word straight when referring to a person that engages in heterosexual practices. It doesn’t change anything in the culture, but it was a choice).

If you put a gun to my head and asked me (and this is a fucked up situation we’ve gotten ourselves into) what my favorite Marvel/DC book that takes place in the future is, and I’d say the 70s KillRaven, for one major reason. M’shulla. Marvel made a decision (unlike DC) that I existed in the future. Not only did I exist, but I was a  badass. Sure I was the sidekick character, but I was there. Yeah, my hairstyle choices hadn’t changed since the war of the worlds, but I was there. I wasn’t overly sexualized and didn’t speak in jive (well  more jive than anyone was speaking. This was Marvel in the 70s). The Legion still has a HUGE problem when it comes to that. Their future is soooo white it hurts.

This post totally spiraled out of control from the main point, so let’s do a middle school speech style recap.

In conclusions, everything that happens is a choice. Who characters are, what instruments are used, who preforms actions and who has actions preformed on them, how many times do you say bammer before you say boom. These are all choices that must be made in the creative process. All of these choices have an effect on how the consumer interprets the creative project. I just want to chart some of the choices that are made.