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.

Thursday, March 2

[HH3os] Registering the Coming Haze B. Purple trio

(2nd round match-up 1 of 9)

Thus, three albums have already vanquished a first round of 3-way foes, and danced their way unto this… a second round of more of the same. Being in the beginning (of my mind thinking, as well as the intro to this shit) I mentioned it being tied to Pitchfork specifically and the gentrification of the internet in general, this second round, in addition to my ever-insightful and highly-intelligent cultural criticism of these artistic works of hip hoppery, I’ll go back and revisit whatever the fuck those esteemed clowns at Pitchfork initially reviewed on these thangs. Because why the fuck not?

Cam’ron – Purple Haze
(released December 7, 2004; #9 on 2005 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)

Let us start with quote from initial PF review:
The ugliness of Cam's world is never more evident than when he's talking about women: "Any girl I get, I totally open 'em/ Brain and they legs, cokin' and dopin' 'em". Cam's misogyny comes through the speakers like a slap; it's jarring and frightening and sad. But Cam isn't heartless; a few of the songs have an air of weary lamentation, like Tony Soprano driving home after killing his cousin, wondering how it came to this: "I give you a earful, it's tearful/ Told my mother I hustle, and she said, 'Be careful'.”
It should be pointed out that immediately afterwards the reviewer mentioned how much like a Takeshi Kitano movie Purple Haze is, which compounded my personal “wtf?” This all is internet expert analysis, but also applying the progressive gentrified mind policies to Cam’s style. His misogyny – which is open, unhidden, and unapologetic – is “frightening and sad”. I can’t deny that it’s not problematic, but fuck man (bonus pts to me for accidental combo use of exclamation words “fuck” and “man” which are patriarchal and oppressive, subconsciously), I’ve encountered so many politically righteous progressively minded totally abusive to women assholes in my life. They get away with it though because they launder their misogyny behind secrecy. THIS IS THE GREAT ACT OF U.S. CULTURE – the laundering of our fucked up shit behind complicated expression of this fuckery.
But the quote goes full internet gentrifier though, by comparing Cam to Tony Soprano, that great beloved pop cultural saint of the redeemable sociopath. Tony Soprano is beloved because, though he is psychopathic selfish piece of shit Mafioso overlord, he like, eats food and shit. Or doesn’t totally beat the shit out of his wife. You know, he’s making progress, and that’s all we want is to take horrible shit and make it a little better.
Fuck all that. Just reading the PF review makes me embrace Cam’s warm spring flows even more. This album remains a blossom of redbud flowers from the middle of Harlem, and it’s sad that project kids can shoot each other up left and right for decades, but if they ever turned a gun on fixie riders circa 2005 when this was bumping, it would’ve been front page news and militarized police would’ve swooped in with a vengeance and we might’ve gotten President Trump four years earlier.
SEVEN STARS!

Beanie Sigel – The B.Coming
(released March 29, 2005; #32 on 2005 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)

Again, from our super-intelligent friends at Pitchfork:
Beans recorded the album in the weeks between being found guilty on a federal gun charge and beginning his one-year sentence. When that sentence ends, he'll stand trial for attempted murder. He could be inside for a long, long time. Fittingly, The B.Coming is suffused with a sense of dread and regret and emptiness.
I enjoy how Pitchfork is pals enough with Beanie Siegel that they call him “Beans”. I envision that during this sad year when their boy Beans was in federal prison, Pitchfork made the drive out at least every other month to check in, make sure Beans was adjusting well, and put a few dollars on his kiosk card for honeybuns and ramen.
For me personally, the thing that drags this album down on second review is the exact thing the Pitchfork review acts like ain’t no thang – there’s a fucking guest rapper on every fucking track. At times it works (Cam’ron, over a Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive” sample), and other times it sucks ass (Snoop, in mailed-in-for-$10K radio-friendly rap hook recitation mode). But I guess if you’re slapping a full album together quickly in the weeks before heading upstate (metaphorically speaking, I do not know what direction Beanie Sigel was incarcerated from Philadelphia, and the fact it was fed makes that even more complicated), you’re gonna purchase a lot of guest features to flesh it out. Who knows how much of that was done after “Beans” was gone? He might’ve just recorded shit in a mad flurry, then executive producers finished putting the puzzle together. I’d actually like to know because that changes the artistic merit of the whole thing, as well as who gets artistic credit for it all. The album certainly sounds sort of forced together, but it is forced together well enough to appear consistent in focus.
Beanie was in and out of jail up through 2014, and after stint in halfway house appears to have tried to settle down in Pleasantville, New Jersey. Has Pitchfork visited their boy “Beans” lately? Beans got shot late 2014, lost a lung, and was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, where was Pitchfork. His last album was from 2012, thus their last justification to review him, and in that they – aside from calling him Beanie now, no more Beans – say his post-prison album is “disappointingly skimpy on personal details”. How could Beans do this? We lived vicariously through his street stories, which were obviously a little too real, and we waited anxiously for our boy Beans to get out and share his prison misery for our consumption, but he left us hanging.
(It should be noted that last time playing through this album for this HH3os shit, I mentioned how Philly rap going from Beanie to Meek Mill was sign of gentrification. I had overlooked at the time a story from last fall where Beanie got knocked out backstage at a show by one of Meek Mill’s protective associates. I do not fault Beanie for this. Anybody with enough money can hire giant swole ass monsters to knock fuckers out for them. There’s no shame in being knocked out like that. It’s happened to me at least twice myself.)
Second time running through this album twice though, and it’s like TWO STARS.

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

Straight from Pitchfork’s original review:
Those who claim Kanye West's antics hinder his work are missing the point. His self-importance is obvious, but the arrogance that comes pre-packaged with his insecurity is what makes West the most interesting hip-hop figure of the past five years.
The entire review is West apologia, which the internet was famous for up until some point past year and a half or so, but to PF’s credit, the entire review was so on-Kanye’s-tip that I couldn’t find a really glaring part of snippet out. They’ve been consistent in jocking Kanye hard as fuck from the beginning. The weird thing was reading about all the white people shit that I, as a true down ass whiteboy, wasn’t aware of: that some other dude co-produced this whole album, thus shaping it further than Kanye’s limited vision (PF’s insinuation, not mine) would’ve left it; that the stupid fucker from The Voice sang that wack ass hook on the first song (I had wondered; I figured it was a British pop R&B dude but I guess those hadn’t started existing yet in 2005). All this knowledge actually threatens the integrity of my shocking feels about this album, because normally I hate Kanye stuff, but I found this – even second time going through it two times – surprisingly enjoyable. But it does have tons of that violin orchestration pop music trickery that white devils have been using since the 1940s. Was I tricked? Did weird old Swedish guys ghostwrite Kanye’s lyrics?
Kanye the rapper remains entertaining but also kinda like having a good friend who tries really hard really earnestly to play soccer but is not naturally all that great at it – you are happy when he appears to be competent, and ecstatic in those moments where he transcends his lack of natural ability to appear great. I am going to pretend I did not learn that Yakub’s fingerprints were all over this album by reading the PF review though, and consider it SEVEN STARS. (My friend who is an accurate star rater says limitations to five stars for reviewing purposes is total bullshit.)


THE WINNER: Well, according to my highly-non-scientific evaluations, both Cam’ron and Kanye got seven stars. What separates them? If I choose Kanye (like I initially lean), then perhaps I am co-signing gentrification of the internet, and having Yakubian fingerprints of the shineface all over everything, but unseen on surface marketing level. But if I go Cam’ron perhaps I’m not being entirely truthful to my own feels, and going down the road of contrarianism (a popular route in digital era). But are these my own feels? I am product of digital era as much as anybody, though I did not grow up as digital native. To me, Cam’ron is Cam’ron the hilariously lackadaisical rapper who says amazing shit almost accidentally by design; to my children (or at least the oldest one old enough to fuck around online all the goddamned time) he is the U Mad meme guy. What happens down the road when he is just the U Mad meme guy, and people’s cultural memories are taken from all these fragments? I guess, despite my plans to go Kanye here, even as I started writing this paragraph, in honor of my old man shaking his fist at the sky because he was raised deep water boom Baptist and doesn’t feel comfortable ordering shitty ass Starbucks coffee half a block from where you used to be able to buy dimebags back in the day when “Ill Street Blues” was the hottest instrumental of all-time, and go with Cam’ron. Perhaps I am betraying who I’ve become, but I’m not sure how I became this, or if I’m comfortable with it entirely. I think I’d rather buy a shitty dimebag and go sit by the river, as high as dirtweed would allow, instead of progress. Cam’ron and Purple Haze wins.

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