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[thewire] black 'n' white (was Year-End list)

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  • A.S. Van Dorston
    Listen to the entire Missy Elliott album and it s not as consistent as Supa Dupa Fly, but better than her second album. I think it was good -- I ranked it
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 7, 2002
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      Listen to the entire Missy Elliott album and it's not as consistent as Supa
      Dupa Fly, but better than her second album. I think it was good -- I
      ranked it about 81 in my list. I think my original question was, is it
      possible that Miss E, Jay-Z and Cannibal Ox were near the top of the lists
      because they were the few token black artists, so they carried extra weight
      in some minds? Let's say if those albums hovered just below a critic's top
      10 or 20, they might be accused of having homogenous taste. So perhaps the
      ranking gets inflated for the sake of "balance." Or perhaps not. Why not
      put N*E*R*D at the top -- is it possible they aren't "black" enough,
      because their album represents a synthesis with rock music, which is
      considered "white," despite the valiant efforts of Hendrix, Isley Bros,
      Funkadelic, Bad Brains and now Black Jack Johnson Project, to reclaim it?

      Just questions, not any sort of theory.

      By the way, Black Jack Johnson Project is on tour now, playing on Wed. at
      Metro in Chicago. It's Mos Def (Black Star), Bernie Worrell (P-Funk), Will
      Calhoun (Living Colour), Dr. Know (Bad Brains) and Doug Wimbish. Teach
      those punkass rap-rockers how it's done.

      Fast 'n' Bulbous Review
      N*E*R*D, In Search Of . . . [U.S. Version] (Virgin) 10-
      N*E*R*D, In Search Of . . . [UK Version] (Virgin) 9+

      "No-one Ever Really Dies," says ultra slick hip hop producers Pharrell
      Williams and Chad Hugo, a.k.a. The Neptunes, a.k.a. N*E*R*D, they're just
      reborn into a hot rock band. Those expecting the same bouncy mainstream
      production that made big hits for Kelis, Jay-Z, Mystikal, Beenie Man and
      Ludacris will be surprised by the visceral, dirty feel of this music.
      Virgin released In Search Of last year against the band's wishes. The
      domestic version is quite a bit different. Listening to the two
      side-by-side, track-for-track, I can see how N*E*R*D would be pissed. It
      sounds like the UK version is a demo. A very polished demo, but two
      dimensional when compared to the fullness of the US version. The awkward
      skits were taken out and the song lengths tightened. Most importantly, they
      replace the stiff, dated drum machine with a real drummer. Many tracks that
      recalled early 80s electro, now sound fresher. And they swing. And they
      rock. Hell, sometimes they destroy. The new and improved N*E*R*D sounds
      both looser and tighter, with a harder overall mix. Besides the lame skits,
      nothing is missed from the previous version. All the cool samples and synth
      lines are intact. The end result is a stunning album that updates the
      spirit of Sly & The Family Stone, The Isley Brothers, George Clinton's
      Parliament-Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield and Prince's more rockist moments,
      without plundering them for musical ideas. They also strive to bring back
      the lyrical weight of prime seventies Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, with
      their own brand of Buddhist-B-boy social consciousness. While it's tough to
      top the masters, N*E*R*D comes close. "Lapdance" is a not-quite successful
      metaphor for politicians as 'ho's, but the intensity of the music brings it
      up a level, rivaling the urgency of Public Enemy circa 1989. A delicate
      Duke Ellington "Caravan" synth melody during the chorus is a brilliant
      touch. "Things Are Getting Better" recalls the sunny, sing-songy hip hop of
      A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers. The rapping is
      nimble and witty, the synth lines fat and heavy, and the rhythm funky as
      hell. I look forward to the extended dance mix. In the sarcastically
      chivalrous "Brain" ("I just love your brain"), they take a choppy rhythm
      guitar line similar to the recent P. Diddy single and space and drag the
      chorus like a psychedelic garage nugget. The new version adds some prime
      scratching near the end. "Provider" is one of the few tracks that don't
      differ too much from the original version. It's a blues ballad that tells a
      dealer's tale in the tradition of Curtis Mayfield's Superfly. With a couple
      new wave breaks, the song is moving. "Truth Or Dare" vastly improves the
      old version by adding heavy staccato strings used like a guitar symphony
      adding much needed dramatic effect. "Tape You" gives a new meaning to home
      taping, when the singer's come on is to ask her to let him watch her kick
      it all night, to a slinky, sexy, rubbery rhythm, of course. "Baby Doll"
      adds an awesome, heavy bassline to the lightly loping reggae-ish synth
      lines. "Am I High," which was originally a sleepy, stoned groove, added a
      harder funk edge. "Rock Star" takes on the collective egos of N*E*R*D's
      music biz peers and completely shreds them to pieces. The power of the
      original version is magnified by a savage Bad Brains-like guitar and drums
      riff, following the introduction, "Fuckin' posers!" "Bobby James" is yet
      another peak, a first-person narrative junkie blues about a 17 year-old in
      a downward spiral. It avoids cliché and schmaltz by focusing on believable,
      realistic details, carried by an elegiac high-pitched chorus that truly
      rivals Curtis Mayfield. The album closes on another uplifting note with
      "Stay Together," complete with the best use of snare drums since U2's
      "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The song builds and holds an ecstatic level with
      yelps, Beatles harmonies and keyboards, and then winds down to a single
      voice. In an era when pop artists say and mean nothing, N*E*R*D raises the
      bar. Even when measured against heavyweight classics of the past, In Search
      Of . . . is a massive album.

      At 06:22 PM 1/7/02 -0600, you wrote:
      >In a word: ditto. I haven't even read the review in question, but I've been
      >loving that "Get Ur Freak On" single, and the whole album. Man, pick up the
      >CD single and check out the instrumental version. It's splendidly jittery,
      >with these weird silent gaps at the start and this kooky B-movie vibe
      >toward the end. It's only "mainstream" in retrospect -- i.e., because it's
      >popular. There isn't much on pop radio that resembles it.
      >
      >At 11:55 PM 1/7/02 +0000, Simon Smith wrote:
      >
      > >Without wishing to drag up an old argument, the only obvious difference
      > >between the not-very-cutting-edge Missy and Jay Z and the
      > >not-very-cutting-edge Electralene and Will Oldham (obviously there are
      > >stylistic differences, but that didn't appear to be your complaint, given
      > >that you all seem to have wide-ranging tastes) is one of skin colour and
      > >obviously that's NOT what you're basing your judgement on (no sarcasm
      > >intended, honestly!!!) So what IS the problem?



      Fast 'n' Bulbous Music Webzine
      www.fastnbulbous.com


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Marc Weidenbaum
      N.E.R.D. s In Search Of is a great record. It didn t come out in the U.S. yet, I don t think, aside from the Lapdance single. It s due out later this month
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 7, 2002
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        N.E.R.D.'s 'In Search Of' is a great record. It didn't come out in the U.S.
        yet, I don't think, aside from the "Lapdance" single. It's due out later
        this month or early next.

        Marc

        At 07:38 PM 1/7/02 -0600, A.S. Van Dorston wrote:
        >Listen to the entire Missy Elliott album and it's not as consistent as Supa
        >Dupa Fly, but better than her second album. I think it was good -- I
        >ranked it about 81 in my list. I think my original question was, is it
        >possible that Miss E, Jay-Z and Cannibal Ox were near the top of the lists
        >because they were the few token black artists, so they carried extra weight
        >in some minds? Let's say if those albums hovered just below a critic's top
        >10 or 20, they might be accused of having homogenous taste. So perhaps the
        >ranking gets inflated for the sake of "balance." Or perhaps not. Why not
        >put N*E*R*D at the top -- is it possible they aren't "black" enough,
        >because their album represents a synthesis with rock music, which is
        >considered "white," despite the valiant efforts of Hendrix, Isley Bros,
        >Funkadelic, Bad Brains and now Black Jack Johnson Project, to reclaim it?
        >
        >Just questions, not any sort of theory.
        >
        >...

        - - -
        Marc Weidenbaum
        www.disquiet.com
      • A.S. Van Dorston
        It came out in UK and made the lists of The Wire, NME, MOJO and possibly Uncut and Q, but usually not as high up as Missy or Jay-Z. You ll be happy to know the
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 7, 2002
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          It came out in UK and made the lists of The Wire, NME, MOJO and possibly
          Uncut and Q, but usually not as high up as Missy or Jay-Z.

          You'll be happy to know the U.S. version is far superior to the UK version
          (see review in original post, or www.fastnbulbous.com/nerd_in.htm)

          Tony

          At 08:02 PM 1/7/02 -0600, you wrote:
          >N.E.R.D.'s 'In Search Of' is a great record. It didn't come out in the U.S.
          >yet, I don't think, aside from the "Lapdance" single. It's due out later
          >this month or early next.
          >
          >Marc
          >
          >At 07:38 PM 1/7/02 -0600, A.S. Van Dorston wrote:
          > >Listen to the entire Missy Elliott album and it's not as consistent as Supa
          > >Dupa Fly, but better than her second album. I think it was good -- I
          > >ranked it about 81 in my list. I think my original question was, is it
          > >possible that Miss E, Jay-Z and Cannibal Ox were near the top of the lists
          > >because they were the few token black artists, so they carried extra weight
          > >in some minds? Let's say if those albums hovered just below a critic's top
          > >10 or 20, they might be accused of having homogenous taste. So perhaps the
          > >ranking gets inflated for the sake of "balance." Or perhaps not. Why not
          > >put N*E*R*D at the top -- is it possible they aren't "black" enough,
          > >because their album represents a synthesis with rock music, which is
          > >considered "white," despite the valiant efforts of Hendrix, Isley Bros,
          > >Funkadelic, Bad Brains and now Black Jack Johnson Project, to reclaim it?
          > >
          > >Just questions, not any sort of theory.
          > >
          > >...
          >
          > - - -
          >Marc Weidenbaum
          >www.disquiet.com
          >
          >
          >
          >
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          >
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          Fast 'n' Bulbous Music Webzine
          www.fastnbulbous.com
        • Vincent Bergeron
          ... not ... I think very little records are groundbreaking. Few records this year, that s the thing. The Acid Mothers Temple by example are nice wall of
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 7, 2002
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            >
            > And I really can't see how anyone can talk about 'commercial' music, and
            > then express an interest in Electralene, who have made a great record, but
            > are hardly ground-breaking (ditto Low, Will Oldham etc ... all good, but
            not
            > really cutting edge).
            >

            I think very little records are groundbreaking. Few records this year,
            that's the thing. The Acid Mothers Temple by example are nice wall of
            sounds, but nothing new under the sun , Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth, My Bloody
            Valentine, old psychedelic...

            -------Vincent Bergeron-------
            vincent.bergeron2@...
            ------------------------------
            http://www.altmuziq.cjb.net
            http://www.mp3.com/Vincent
            http://www.mp3.com/collageseries
            http://vincentbergeron.cjb.net/index.htm
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