Monday, November 28, 2005

When I fall, I get right back



- Sorry: Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been vacationing real hard over the past few days and, prior to that, was dealing with real life. Schitt has been hectic, but we’re (i.e. I’m) back in the building with more useless talk about nothing.

- Jones and the Stencil: My dude Jones from the infamous Caps and Jones has joined his DJ lover partner Caps and homeboy Nash on their wonderful lil’ bloggeroo the stencil. Jones’ first post is pretty pathetic, though. We’ll let it slide this time, but step your game up!

- The Roots: As bad as pitchfork can be, sometimes they get schitt right on the money. For example, here’s a perfect review of the Roots’ career disguised as a review of their greatest hits record. The prose is on the money. The numerical rating is somewhat not.

- Free Darko: Rumor has it that Free Darko is about to undergo some serious changes. Could be good, could be bad. Only time will tell. Update soon.

- I Keep the After Party Swervin’…: …Not quite like Michael Irvin.” I, for one, believe the dude.

- The Birds: The Seahawks won a game that they totally didn’t deserve to win. But, hey, a win’s a win. This clip of Shockey reacting to one of Jay Feeley’s THREE missed field goals is priceless. “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh… yeah… wait… oh… no… no!” The Seahawks might actually get to the Super Bowl this year. Needless to say, they will undoubtedly get crushed by the Colts, but still. Getting there is half the battle.

- Heard Em Say: Kanye’s “Heard ‘em Say” video featuring Bill Plimpton on the pencils. Video coming out around Christmas is by Michael Gondry.

- Go! Team vs Kevin Shields: Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine is finna remix some Go! Team tracks. That’s what’s really dude. Apparently RJD2 is getting in on the action too.


-e

22 Comments:

At 7:22 AM, Blogger kc said...

What's wrong with the Roots?

 
At 7:31 AM, Blogger emynd said...

I wouldn't say there's much "wrong" with them. As far as I'm concerned, they make mostly boring and safe rap music that's easy for folks who don't like rap music to consume. Again, there's nothing particularly "wrong" with that and they've got a handful of really good songs (i.e. "Clones"), but they're pretty darn over-rated. Basically, I just don't think that the Roots are all that important or interesting. They make mostly boring music that somehow convinces a lot of people that it's more interesting than it is because of the silly fact that (OMG!) these guys play instruments instead of sample. Perhaps the greatest irony is that their most succesful songs (like "Clones") are songs that are built off of samples and NOT based on the live instrumentation.

-e

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous aaron said...

The dismissive way with which The Roots are being treated in light of these two discs (which are contract-fillers, obviously, especially in light of Jay-Z's "left" imprint picking them up)is a little misguided. Sure a lot of the newer stuff is gump, but I'm not sure anyone can debate how strong Do You Want More!?!?? is. The recent dismissiveness is akin to writing off Low End Theory because of The Love Movement. Isn't there a huge 'positive effect' left on the Philly scene from 1992 when the Roots were actually making relevant music? Nobody else at the time was balancing out the Will Smith association. Isn't DYWM an interesting/important record, for being one of the first to bring that sound (Stetsasonic didn't break ground like that...) to a bigger audience, in an era when most major media were slagging hip hop as "not real music" for the simple fact that it used samples? The prolonged after effect might be a little frat-party, but i don't think you can write off the entire career as insignificant.

 
At 8:39 AM, Blogger emynd said...

Isn't DYWM an interesting/important record, for being one of the first to bring that sound (Stetsasonic didn't break ground like that...) to a bigger audience, in an era when most major media were slagging hip hop as "not real music" for the simple fact that it used samples?

Why is it significant that the Roots brought the sound to a "bigger audience"? Did it have any effect on the trajectory of hip-hop? Not really. And why? Because it garnered a larger audience largely by betraying the aesthetic standards that hip-hop had stood for for several decades prior.

When we say "bigger audience" we mean "a non-rap music listening audience." "Do You Want More?" was, if anything, a momentary blip that allowed folks who didn't like rap to like a rap group almost solely because they played instruments and didn't rap about much of anything. And, additionally, the "bigger audience" thing is kind've moot since they acquired this largue audience by subscribing to aesthetic standards that hip-hop music largely didn't subscribe to previously (and, notably, still doesn't). I don't mean to imply that the Roots somehow compromised their integrity or anything by doing this, but the fact of the matter is, the Roots became popular because they made music that fit into rock's aesthetic standards. They made music that non-rap listeners could like without having to actually confront the aesthetic standards that rap music functioned on and still functions on. I don't think that that's much of a significant contribution to rap music.

What's much more significant is rap groups that forced "bigger audiences" to accept the music on its own terms like folks like Jay-Z have done and, more recently, the Houston stuff.

By the way, this is nit-picky but I think it was Illadelph Halflife that really brought the Roots this "larger audience" you speak of and I really really enjoy a good 80% of Illadelph Halflife.

-e

 
At 8:58 AM, Anonymous aaron said...

this happened at least once:

"hey what's this"
"the roots"
"this sounds like hip hop, but different"
"yeah they play live instruments"
"can hip hop people do that?"
"yes"
"oh"

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger kc said...

What is "safe" and/or "boring" about them? You are right that a lot of their fans are not hip hop aficionados, but a) that hasn't always been the case, and b) why is that a knock against the Roots?

Is there a blogger conspiracy against all the conscious rappers? Lets assume that Common, Talib, the Roots, etc. are not saying anything that is profound and/or groundshaking. Does that mean they aren't making good music? And who are we comparing them too?

i just turned on the radio and had my choice among the hip hop stations between "Laffy Taffy" and "Oh I think they Like me". More Roots please.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger emynd said...

What is "safe" and/or "boring" about them?

Their music! First of all, they're not "conscious" rappers. They just rap about nothing. Actually, that's not entirely true. They rap about rapping, which is way more boring than people rapping about nothing. Anyway, people mistakenly think that if you aren't saying something potentially offensive, then you're "conscious." This simply isn't true. What's so politically provocative about the Roots' music? What "conscious" schitt do they rap about? Nothing dude. I don't think there's any debating that.

As for their actual "music," it's pretty clear that their live instrumentation isn't really all that interesting (it's just a band playing hip-hop beats minus all the tone and timbre nuances that a sampler can capture) and their most adventerous beats are sample-based.

You are right that a lot of their fans are not hip hop aficionados, but a) that hasn't always been the case, and b) why is that a knock against the Roots?

It's not a knock against the Roots. It just speaks to what type of music they make.

Comparing the Roots to "Laffy Taffy" and "I Think They Like Me" is apples and oranges.

-e

 
At 11:38 AM, Blogger Drew said...

When I was a bit younger, I fucking loved the Roots for the following reasons:

1) I thought they represented "real hip-hop," therefore I thought I was cool for liking them as opposed to someone like Nelly or something;

2) When someone who didn't like hip-hop asked me what hip-hop was good, The Roots was always the easiest shit to say:

DUDE: What are some hip-hop artists you like?
ME: Oh man, the Roots, dude. They're REAL hip-hop. They represent.
DUDE: They represent what?
ME: You don't understand the STRUGGLE, man! Fuck you.

3) They did Nirvana covers at their live shows, which made me think that maybe BT and ?uesto were as disaffected as I was.

Basically, I liked the Roots so I could tell people that I liked the Roots. Pretty lame, no? Now that I've grown up a bit, I realize that while they're not the worst click out there, they're certainly not the earth-shattering iconoclasts I once thought they were. I totally agree with the whole "rapping about rapping" idea. That's exactly what they do. I'm not saying I don't enjoy some of their shit still, but I'm tired of people trying to attach some type of cultural Black Lily mystique shit to them when in reality they're mostly run of the mill.

Also, don't tell OKP I feel like this.

 
At 11:44 AM, Anonymous garrett said...

my only comment on this whole roots as hip-hop's first conscious band etc. is that 'illadelph halflife' was their thoroughest joint and yet it got lambasted by live band purists (yes, sadly, the main reason the roots enjoy such wide popularity is their following of jam-band dirt merchants)for doing an album with a boatload of samples (as emynd so cogently pointed out). as to tariq as a lyricist...dude may not really say nuthin'....but his delivery is among the most nuanced in hip-hop.......one

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger David said...

Honestly I think pfork's sudden anti-conscious rhetoric as part of the 'now we like crunk' thing can be pretty distasteful. I've been a "the roots are overrated" dude for more than a minute but I still like more than ONE song of theirs. I mean, "U Got Me," "Silent Treatment," etc. They are a good band, they have an interesting take on rap music, but just as I don't want to see people put them at the center of the rap narrative I think its lame to totally dismiss them the way Sylvester does in that article.

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger David said...

I mean, I had some ridiculous opinions on hip-hop when i was a Roots fan, but I still really LOVED "Silent Treatment," for musical reasons, and its still one of my favorite songs, regardless of what other rap I'm willing to engage with.

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous blizzy said...

"i just turned on the radio and had my choice among the hip hop stations between "Laffy Taffy" and "Oh I think they Like me". More Roots please."

word. this statement is a good preface to emil complaining they rap about nothing. sorry, d4l and jermaine dupri rap about nothing.

"Their music! First of all, they're not "conscious" rappers. They just rap about nothing. Actually, that's not entirely true. They rap about rapping, which is way more boring than people rapping about nothing. Anyway, people mistakenly think that if you aren't saying something potentially offensive, then you're "conscious." This simply isn't true. What's so politically provocative about the Roots' music? What "conscious" schitt do they rap about? Nothing dude. I don't think there's any debating that."

i really don't thik this statement represents illadelph halflife or things fall apart. there was a good variety of songs on those albums. i wouldn't say its 'conscious rap' but they were interesting because they had their own thing going on.

their albums since then have been brought down by the fact that black thought was the rapping the majority of the time.


oh yeah, 'episodes' 'what they do' and 'it just don't stop' can be considered social commentary.


i have to admit that i think they were at their best when you couldn't really tell they were a band.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger kc said...

Since when does "rapping about something other than rapping" make music more or less boring. I've only heard a few songs off of Jeezy's album, but i can pretty much guarantee that the ones I haven't heard are also about selling coke.
"Sucker MCs" and "Check the Rhyme" are raps about rapping, do you not consider those to be classics?

Also, without looking at a transcription of black thought's entire rap catalogue, i beg to differ on the "not rapping about anything" comment. "Water" was about drug addiction, "break you off" was a love song, "what they do" spoke on the puffy-shiny-suit era of rap music...

 
At 12:43 PM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

I actually though that that Roots write-up was a little misdirected; It's been close to a week since I read it, but I seem to recall that the reviewer laid most of the blame for the group's lack of character on Black Thought and argued that their chief mistake was in viewing themselves as a rap group rather than as producers. While I agree that Thought is possibly the most boring rapper to ever put out five major label albums, I disagree that there's much of anything redeeming to be found in the production. And I certainly don't think that rap as a whole would have been more interesting had the Roots been landing their tracks on other artists' albums for the past decade.

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

KC--whether or not "rapping about rapping" is boring is certainly open to debate; I happen to think it is. What's not debatable is that there is nothing "conscious" (your word) about rapping about rapping.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger emynd said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger emynd said...

I didn't realize the Roots were so controversial!

Fact is, the Roots are not primarily all that "conscious." They have their social commentary moments and what not, fine, but there's exceptions to every rule and I was simply reacting to KC's statement that there's this anti-"conscious" rapper thing going on. (Truth be told, I am anti most "conscious" rap because most "conscious" rap is terrible). I can't say I read pitchfork enough to comment on their recent anti-"conscious" rhetorical tilt, but I still do primarily agree with the basic sentiment of the review though I do think the value of the production is overstated (but they've certainly made some memorable beats).

Mostly, I find contemporary rappers "rapping about rapping" to be primarily boring unless done in an exceptionally exciting way. Simply put: Black Thought isn't great enough at rapping about rapping to make it interesting. It's been done to death and only rappers that are excessively charismatic can get away with it (see Cam'Ron, Weezy, etc who--while they do often rap about drugs and such--do also rap about rapping qutie frequently). And I certainly dont automatically find all rap music about selling drugs interesting (most is crap) and all rap about rap uninteresting (most is crap though), but if you're gonna rap about rapping, you better be darn good at it. If you expect me to belive that Black Thought is contributing the same sort of innovation, energy, and foresight that "Check the Rhyme" and "Sucker MCs" contribute to the "rapping about rapping" genre when he raps about rapping, you're crazy.

He's got a servicable flow, doesn't ruin beats, and doesn't say much of anything memorable. That does not a great MC make.

I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this one.

-e

 
At 3:36 PM, Anonymous blizzy said...

holy shit emil, that last paragraph confused the shit out of me.

 
At 6:01 PM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

Hey internets: In a display that was painful to witness, Emil once told me that the Roots' heeter of a single "Don't Say Nothin'" supposedly "proves that they can beat the jiggy guys at their own game!"

 
At 7:27 AM, Blogger emynd said...

I said no such thing, Daniel. I think you're confusing me with your other protege.

















But seriously, I never said that.

-e

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

Okay, okay... I will stop lying to these people.

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger David said...

GETTIN JIGGY WITH IT

 

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