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.

Wednesday, June 28

[HH3os] The Atrocity of Brazy Pablo Still Life Exhibition trio

(2nd round match-up 9 of 9)

Limping along to the finish line…

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
(released February 14, 2016; #5 on 2016 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
FROM BITCHFORK!:
Kanye's second child Saint was born in early December, and there's something distinctly preoccupied about this whole project—it feels wry, hurried, mostly good-natured, and somewhat sloppy. Like a lot of new parents, Kanye feels laser-focused on big stuff—love, serenity, forgiveness, karma—and a little frazzled on the details. "Ultralight Beam" opens with the sound of a 4-year-old preaching gospel, some organ, and a church choir: "This is a God dream," goes the refrain. But everything about the album's presentation—the churning tracklist, the broken promises to premiere it here or there, the scribbled guest list—feels like Kanye ran across town to deliver a half-wrapped gift to a group birthday party to which he was 10 minutes late.
Yeah, that sounds entirely right, except then Pitchfork went on to clarify this and be like “AT LEAST IF WE GOT A RUSHED ALBUM IT WAS A KANYE ALBUM OMG KANYE IS AMAZING EVEN WHEN STUPID” because they were afraid to go all-in on the truth, and actually made this their #5 album of the year last year. (This was released *officially* on my birthday, which makes me feel sad for some reason.) I think the rushing off to kid’s birthday party present is one of the more apt descriptions I ever read at a Pitchfork review, because The Life of Pablo is exactly as they described.
In my previous music listening ways of ipod playlists, I separated out tracks, and by far the only song off this album that gained traction with me was the opener, “Ultralight Dream”. Hearing the album in prepared order was weird though because it meant Kanye came out the gate with his strongest song, and then almost immediately negated the Kirk Franklin preaching to the broken end moment by rapping about bleached anuses on super models in the very next song. But the saddest most immediately hodge-podged moment to me is the Max B call. Max B is a cult hero MC who’s likely spending the majority of his days in prison moving forward, due to some shit. As Kanye was building up to releasing this fucking album, he made a single tweet about waves (or something like that) which of course triggered immediate Twitter backlash calling him out (Twitter is great for calling people out over dumb shit) for stealing Max B’s style. So obviously Kanye sets up a call to Max B getting his endorsement for Kanye’s album. I imagine Kanye had to reach out to mutual peeps, who then gave Max advance notice in jail, who of course – being a guy in prison with his freshest days with his fattest gold ring well in the rear view – jumped at the chance to stroke his own ego by being featured in a prison phone call vignette on a major hip hop album in 2016. And all this done so that Kanye could sooth his own ego for getting called out by anonymous motherfuckers he doesn’t even know on Twitter. Every time that track came on, it just made me sad, for Max B, for Kanye, for Twitter, for all of us. We have become entirely fucked, in superficial ways woven so deeply in our day-to-day, that we can’t possibly realize it well enough to entirely undo it. We are fucked. And through the sadness of that collective doom, second round through, The Life of Pablo was a sad THREE STARS (***) for me, the idiot with a website.

YG- Still Brazy
(released June 17, 2016; #22 on 2016 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From Pitchfork:
The album is mostly a status update, examining how the collision between YG the gangster and YG the semi-famous millionaire disrupts his life in Compton.
I don’t know, he acted like he had money but he was still pretty amped on petty crimes, which is refreshing. Too often young criminal elements become flush with cash through other endeavors and lose their taste for petty crime, but crime is as often about the adrenaline as it is the pay-off. In fact, a lot of petty crime (even many larcenies, including low level drug distribution) is not really worth it financially. And there’s nothing shittier than committing crime to do some simple shit like pay your electric bill cut-off notice tomorrow, realizing you are right where you started almost immediately afterwards. There’s this myth that crime somehow has big pay-offs and you’re free from the worry, but no, a lot of hustling is constant hustling which never stops and actually becomes mundane hustling if you can believe it. Thus, it’s nice to hear a young man stay dedicated to his work with an ethic that goes beyond the dollars. THREE STARS (***).

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
(released September 27, 2016; #11 on 2016 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
From ya boy Pitchfork:
But Brown sometimes lapses into his Old flows, that idiosyncratic style where he falls off beat, gets in front of it, or simply yells above it. He avoids the frat-baiting EDM songs like “Dip” and “Smokin & Drinkin” that pocked Old here, even though singles like “When It Rain” (more vintage Brown than anything from the past five years) and “Pneumonia” flirt with that sound. But fortunately they’re too rough around the edges, too jumpy, too dark to soundtrack a scene like this. 
Yeah, I’m not sure Danny Brown has completely strayed from his trademark (as supported by degenerates) style in a while. He seems to be conflicted with it a lot, but at the same time why change? Seriously, if people are going to give him drugs and sex and also he can make enough money to subsist on, why would he be motivated to do anything more? Does it get repetitive? Sure. But there’s also nothing like him, for better or worse, so fuck it. I think sometimes, we (and I am horrible about this, for what it’s worth) expect too much from artists, and think they have some grand artistic drive. A lot of times they’re just wandering through life like we are, getting stuck in roles they maybe like maybe don’t, and just keep doing the shit because nothing else has stumbled into their way yet. THREE STARS (***)!

THE WINNER: I made everything three stars totally arbitrarily. No way I pick YG over these other two albums, because YG’s shit could be replicated by plenty of gangsta ass datpiff mixtapes, whereas there’s nothing like Danny Brown or Kanye West. And to separate those two, I give the nod to Kanye, because there’s no real separation of Danny Brown’s last three albums really. Like you could lump them together and pick out your favorite 10 tracks for a playlist and have it covered. And Kanye, despite his pretentiousness, at least has a different (usually co-opted) style to each album. So fuck it, The Life of Pablo advances in this stupid meaningless process. Somebody tweet Kanye and let him know. I got him blocked on Twitter.

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