RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, February 27

[HH3os] We Got Late Donuts Registration For Cheap trio

 
 (1st round match-up 3 of 27)

The internet is a seemingly unending compendium of useless “information” accumulated through self-important content manufacturing (there is little creation involved), and I am no different. But this thing (this site, this brain of mine, this HH3os project, really anything) is exactly that factory line that is moving along already and it would be deemed too costly to stop it unless somebody got crushed in a mechanism. That somebody will one day be me, but today is not the day, so here’s more unnecessary false world expertise on things that don’t matter but are somehow still considered “the culture”.

Kanye West – Late Registration
(released August 30, 2005; #2 on 2005 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)

I will admit right up front that on the whole, I strongly dislike Mr. Kanye West. The title of genius is pretty easily tossed around in our era of greatest ever superlatives ever, and it has generously been applied to Mr. West, both by himself as well as others. (I don’t think a single West album missed out sitting high on Pitchfork’s Year End lists during his entire career, so they are part of the quick co-sign, for sure.) I think he’s pretty overrated regularly, and this has only compounded his own delusions (as well as other sufferings due to familial situations, both from born family as well as legal bonded one). I am speculating here, but I imagine his art is his escape, but at this point he’s so tied to so much dumb shit, he never can fully escape enough to really work on shit. But he’s got to hold onto that genius title, and force it on everybody like a marketing campaign, which causes it to rippled around him from other feedback loops. It’s fucking weird.
That being said, the older in Kanye’s discography you go, the harder it is to not love the music, regardless of your thoughts about the artist behind it. This album is like that – catchy as fuck, and not necessarily in the trash way most ear worms become ear worms. This is a very good album, and though due to my primitive boom baptism upbringing I am averse to feature syndrome (of which every album is now afflicted), there are few examples of how carefully the feature has been curated better than this album. Feature syndrome in today’s era means you get sent a file and you send back a file and all the featured never actually share space outside what gets cut-and-pasted together in an audio version of photoshopped. But I’d guess most every feature on this album involved sitting together, input given, and figuring that shit out together. Example: no way “Drive Slow” ends up this fucking good without some dialogue back and forth between Paul Wall and Kanye West about the whole chopped and screwed culture.
And yet at the same time, as good as this album is, it’s hard not to imagine it – once you scrub the curses and n-words – being background soundtrack in every Aeropostale (and similar spaces) on Americanized Earth. Like this early era Kanye West is pure neo-liberal propaganda, down to loving diamonds but not wanting conflict diamonds but still loving diamonds, so how do we continue to love our privileged affluence but feel good about it? Thus, even though I love this album, I still feel conflicted, and ultimately – as I always do – I actually feel sorry for Kanye. He’s a tortured person, and unfortunately I doubt he has very much control over his artistic outlets at this point, which only exacerbates the torture, all while holding onto that precious sense of self with precocious grip.
Still though, FOUR STARS.

The Clipse – We Got It For Cheap Volume 2
(released late 2005; #15 on 2005 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)

I’m from Virginia, where ain’t shit to do by, I don’t know, fuck around. We’ve never had much make the national radar in terms of hip hop, outside of pop rap factory outputs from Timbaland (including Missy Elliott) and The Neptunes. And I guess The Neptunes technically includes The Clipse, but fuck if it’s not hard to think of them as same clique. So we Virginians of the bottom tiers of socioeconomic existence (aka the 99% lolol) tend to revere The Clipse.
This is a mixtape, not an actual album, but hip hop has been so good in the past 15 years about fucking up the difference between the two, that “mixtapes” get included on lists like this. The actual definition between the two stays blurred, and honestly I don’t give a fuck about the definition because I’ve heard artists say they make more by having well-known mixtapes (thus they get booked for shows more often, where they actually get all the money, unlike record deals where they may end up making little to no money unless they blow up huge), so fuck it, whatever makes good music (but not necessarily G.O.O.D. music).
This is a pretty great mixtape, and standard Clipse (complemented nicely by Clinton Sparks and the Re-Up Gang flows at different tenors). But at the same time it suffers from the limitations of mixtapes (yawning ass interludes, very famous beats feeling slightly desecrated because why even fuck with that beat in the first place). But if this was the era where Willie’s on Southside was still selling mixtapes, or Angie’s Records even further down Hull had the mixtape/tobacco pipe cover-ops still going on for all the crack paraphernalia and other things you could get in the back room, I’d buy the fuck out this mixtape, and let my tape rock until my tape popped.
Easy THREE STARS, warm spring Friday, brand new t-shirt on, its whiteness crisper than a thousand fucks.

J Dilla – Donuts
(released February 7, 2006; #38 on 2006 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)

Perhaps this will be considered blasphemy, but I don’t mark out for this album like most internet hip hop sociologists do. Dilla was great, and the first martyr for beat-making as art (may he rest in peace), but still, listening to an entire album of just beats feel incomplete to me, even if it is Dilla. I say this as someone who often times prefers instrumentals for background music (Premier, early RZA and his disciples, Alchemist… honestly I love so many producers as amazing artists even trying to list a few to prove my loyalty to beat-making as art feels pointless.) But instrumentals themselves are an ingredient to larger meal, and without the rest, it’s just an ingredient. I mean, you could do the DJ Shadow-method thing and sample movie snippets and shit like that and manufacture a story of a meal, but even then you really need the fuller explication of actual MC verses. The difference is like adding curry powder to some lentils, or adding cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, red pepper, cardamom to the lentils, and letting it slow cook for 5 hours minimum. Huge difference in end result.
Perfect example of this on Donuts is “One For Ghost”, which as standalone instrumental is a pretty great beat, no doubt about it, but even as you vibe to it, there’s room for something you need, and it feels unbearably obvious that it’s not finished as a song, even if the beat is. That thing would be adding Ghostface writing an ode to beating on children, and then it all makes more full sense.
None of this I’m saying is meant to disparage Dilla though, nor rocking instrumentals, because when certain shit hits (notably on Donuts for me is “The Twister (Huh What)”, the beat causes blood energies to fill your dick, and patterns of thoughts shoot straight from dick energies into the tongue, completely bypassing spinal cord and even brain, and you just start jabbering words at the stars above, and this is raw essence of spiritual freestyling, where none of it was thought or planned but beat combines with internal flow of energies to overrule all rational explanations for how songwriting is traditionally done. So even though Donuts feels lesser than what I may have listened to otherwise in this trio, that does not mean it is not immensely amazing in the lane it occupies.
THREE STARS (but daytime, so you don’t really see them, as you are missing the night).


THE WINNER: Kanye’s Late Registration, rather easily, shockingly to my own expert biases.

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