The Home Row Keyed – April 12, 2012Posted by Chul Gugich
Last week I used my big blog connections to get passes to a screening of Clueless at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cinematek. That sounds like an only moderately charming engagement until you learn that the screening was to be immediately followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Amy Heckerling and star Alicia Silverstone (!!!).
The angle I posited to the BAM press person was something along the lines of: I’m interested in exploring how the modern movie soundtrack carries less cachet in the internet age as opposed to the 1990s when every “event movie” was accompanied by a corresponding “event soundtrack.” I didn’t end up making the screening and hence that’s not what this week’s column is about. So, sorry to get your hopes up there. But I promise it’s in the works. As is a week-long investigation into why Public Enemy failed to resonate with the 15 year-old version of me; working title: “One Week With Flav.” Until then, here’s what’s got me keyed.
The Dirty Slums (mixtape) – Slum Village
T3, the only remaining “founding” member of Detroit’s Slum Village, often sounds like he’s desperately clinging to a musical life raft in the interview skits on The Dirty Slums, the new mixtape from the beloved Motor City crew. The words “evolution” and “continuity” are thrown around, suggesting there’s a legacy to keep intact — which, of course, there is — but when such a natural occurrence as death is the primary terminating force in the momentum of your music, it’s okay to just let history do its inevitable thing and move forward with new endeavors. One hopes T3 isn’t using the Slum V name for a last-ditch grab at relevance.
Still, TDS is a pretty good listen. Producer Young RJ’s beats have a harder, grimier edge than Dilla’s estimable soul slaps, and the lyrical gaps left by Baatin’s absence are filled by bonafide stars presumably happy to ride for the late rapper’s crew. Cameos by De La Soul, Rapper Big Pooh, Phonte, and even Phife Dawg (!) kept my interest level high. A guest shot by Black Milk on “Just The Past,” however, had me yearning for the handshake that never came: if past transgressions could be overcome for the sake of getting T3 and Elzhi back in the studio together (along with a full-time producer like Black), the past could well become the future.
Detroit Revolution(s) – Clear Soul Forces
Speaking of Detroit…Clear Soul Forces, the upstart rap quartet from Motown, recently dropped their official debut LP, Detroit Revolution(s). I’ve likened them to freshmen NCAA basketball players with unlimited potential but who still have a few rough edges around their games. That’s certainly true on Revolution(s) which is always entertaining (the lyrical dexterity is incredible) despite the frivolous turnovers (too much rapping about rapping). Get it for your own price, here.
“EMG (Everything Must Go)” – El-P
Finally, I was reminded the other day of El Producto’s upcoming May album, Cancer for Cure (for which there is an entertaining and informative blog curated by the artist himself, here), and decided in my caffeine-addled brain that it’s the album I’m most looking forward to in 2012 (well, that and this guy’s). And then I decided that I wanted (nay, needed) to hear El-P’s 2007 monument to Bomb Squad futurism, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, only to find that somehow, some way, inexplicably, the album didn’t exist in my possession. A few clicks of the mouse remedied that and soon I was happily on my way.
All this to say: As I spin my way through contemporary hip-hop I’m generally struck by the overwhelming lament that the rebelliousness that spurred the movement since its inception is going further and further the way of the dodo. OFWGKTA elicits an OMG every now and then, but they’ve already taken flight to more richly populated waters like Adult Swim. Thank goodness then for enduring artists like El-P, who refuse to get in line with the clones, or, when they do, do so on their own terms.
“Everything Must Go.” It’s how I usually feel about ninety percent of rap music out these days.