Even Though I Hate Them, I’m going to word-vomit all over you about Pitchfork and Rolling Stone: the year end list has no end
Let’s talk about Joey Bada$$ because Pitchfork just decided that his mixtape, 1999, was only “Honorable Mention” worthy. The more they do, the more Pitchfork pisses me off. But I guess we all need a little fuel to our fire. Why even put the record on your list if you are just going to take a load all over it anyways? Let’s think about this: Joey Bada$$ was only SEVENTEEN when he made this record. As far as I can see, this is more music than any of them over at the P4K (ugh, someone used that once as an acronym and I still hate it) has ever done. We know that they don’t have a comments section and we know they are the new Rolling Stone (in fact, their success stories are a mirror of each other. It’s only a matter of time that we start paying for The ‘Fork.) Pitchfork tapped a market that needed to be tapped – indie music news, etc. – at just the right time and in the end, they are profitting, becoming what they hated about the music (publication) industry in the first place. Rolling Stone used to be one hell of a magazine. Wenner brought us Hunter S. Thompson. He also published Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of The Vanities” in chapters in the mid ’80s (a book that ALL of you need to read. You can buy it in any bookstore for $7. Or here.) But Wenner ALSO fired Greil Marcus – yes, that Greil Marcus (who you should ALL also know about) – for giving a bad review to Dylan’s Self Portrait record. Rolling Stone might have broken up Cream and ripped Led Zeppelin a new one – but at least they were actually reporting (wait, what they were saying was still dumb.) They spew out all their favorites, keeping the heavy hitters and the heavy advertisers happy. Meanwhile Peter Travers will call any movie a masterpiece just to get a pull quote. Wenner is a man obsessed with fame. I guess you could say that it all ended when he moved Rolling Stone from San Francisco (ummm, hello, he dropped out of UC Berkeley to start RS. He’s not a stupid man. Then again, he also publishes US Weekly) to New York City. Note that their year end list caters to exactly who they need to cater to: Bruce Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young and – their neighbors from Oakland, CA – Green Day. Why they put Uno! in their top ten isn’t a mystery. We know why. The instituted ‘Rolling Stone History of Music’ is so annoying and not controversial – they are not news. RS is coverage stamped on the brain of every baby boomer. It is what keeps their magazine alive (and FM classic rock radio alive). I can pin point the actual moment I fell out of love with them forever: when they went from newspaper to glossy right before the 2008 Presidential Election. Their minds are closed, and have been for so long, that there is no turning back. They are the machine. Damn the man. I guess, at least, at least they gave us this.
And here I was supposed to be writing about Joey Bada$$. You know, the $’s in his name don’t even bother me. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops them in the next few years. Jo-Vaughn Scott was born in 1995. While that sinks in, let me tell you that this kid knows how to speak better than anyone else I’ve ever heard speak. His lyricism on “Hardknock” is impervious to the bull shit that Pitchfork is trying to call him on: “Too much pressure/God bless ya when the semi wet’cha/They told me boy dress up I’m givin’ too many lectures/And I’m puttin’ in too many effort in my nouns and verbs/Like they gon’ catch up fuck what you must heard.” I could go on. The production on his mixtape is fresh, as it sounds classic. “Pennyroyal” [below], produced by MF DOOM, is a highlight. But so is “Survival Tactics” – which Pitchfork actually called Best New Track. Featuring Capital STEEZ, a member of the Pro Era collective that Bada$$ is bringing up with him. STEEZ steals the show on many occasions. He’s got great lines like, “I’m in Marty McFly mode/so tell them that the future’s back,” and “Finger to the president/screaming fuck censorship/if Obama got that President election shit/them P.E. boys ’bout to make an intervention.” I mean, there’s some J. Dilla on this record too. Which is smoother than ever. When I listen to this record, I feel like I’m learning something. Not just because I’m a white girl from the suburbs of New Jersey. But because these kids actually care about what they’re doing. It shows and tells.
As much as I hate Pitchfork and like to complain about them, they’ve introduced me to artists I probably never would’ve found otherwise. Damn them. (Also, @PitchforkMe is an entire feed devoted to tweeting lines from reviews. You won’t believe what they actually write over there until you start following them. It’s hysterical and mind-wrenching.) Just like Action Bronson, I also found Bada$$ by way of The ‘Fork. Funny that they’re both hip hop. Bronson released Blue Chips (which Pitchfork put it at #32 on their year end list and, actually, bad mouth it the whole time. UGH) back in March. The ‘Fork compared him to Ghostface Killah. Which I think, pretty much did it for him. Bronson raps a lot about food – as he was an up and coming chef before he quit the biz – and his lyrics WILL indeed make you hungry. I just saw Bronson at the Howard Theater here in DC and wrote about it too. The tracks on this tape are versatile mental floss. When you listen to it, you thank god that hip hop like this still exists – instead of that disgusting, overplayed “Bandz Can Make Her Dance” track. Blue Chips is full of tracks like “Tan Leather” [below] that have piano tracks fitting between his gasps for air. You will groove. Then you’ll get hungry when he talks about “rosemary bread/lightly toasted/drizzled with vinaigrette” and even hungrier at “stuff dutches/and it’s pullin’ like a cigarette.” The “I Only Have Eyes For You” sample on “Thug Love Story 2012” really does mean never having to say you’re sorry. Mixtapes are the only way an artist can do entirely what they want, they can use the same track to rap a few different verses into a few different songs, that is if they have the proper producer. Pitchfork may be a little bitch these days, interviewing Paul McCartney, Wes Anderson and now Judd Apatow, but they might actually know what they’re talking about? I haven’t decided yet. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong blogs because NOW everyone talks about Bronson. Clearly, I need a new crowd.
Just because I spend most of my time writing about rock music doesn’t mean that I don’t – or can’t – love hip hop. I love Odd Future, and am giddy about the upcoming Earl Sweatshirt record. I wrote about their track “Oldie” back in May. Any collective of whomever or whatever that can make a ten minute album-closer as strong, subliminal and mind morphing as “Oldie” deserves that you stop everything and listen to it for ten minutes. I also love Danny Brown. The filthier the hip hop, the better. Define that as what you will, but likely after listening to some Danny Brown, you’ll know what I mean. I like Wu-Tang and Nas just as much as I love Das Racist. (Hey! Bronson features Kool A.D. on Blue Chips. We love that. But we don’t love that they “just” broke up.) And even though he’s an ass, I love Kanye. (A lot of that is because of this man.) My thing is, I don’t like drum machines. Sure everyone uses them. But you’re only doing it right when I don’t notice. I am unable to get into the Kendrick Lamarr record that everyone really loves. Sorry, I guess.
Did I mention that Action Bronson also released Rare Chandeliers this year? It actually just happened. You can download it for free here. Bronson is currently touring abroad. So he’s clearly doing something right.