Let Me Tell You ‘Bout This Country Shit

k.r.i.t. has practically been on my blog

Now granted, I of all people am not an authority on country shit. Sometimes I get confused and think my time in Southern Indiana gave me some sort of cred, as after four years in the area my Great Lakes accent faded and I stopped talking out of my nose 100% of the time, downgrading to about 90%. I occasionally said “pin” when I meant “pen” and “flowrs” instead of “flow-ers.”

My real country friends are quick to remind me that even my Hoosier cred is sorta in doubt; the main stealer-of-my-IN-cred is a friend named after a Bible personage and has a big, red, Amish lookin-beard. He grew up in a town where it wasn’t unusual to see dungareed men out with horse and buggy, and where the kids hung out at the gas station on Friday night, as it was the happenin’ place to be. Indeed, I don’t know nuthin’ about one gas station towns.

Anyway, someone who can tell u bout country shit is Mississippi producer Big K.R.I.T. About a week ago, everyone in the hip hop blogosphere went bat shit for his new album. Since I am a little slower to these things, it is only since yesterday that I have been bat shit for it. K.R.I.T. WUZ HERE (<—download from that link!!!) is an album of sweaty cruisin, bass thumpin, dirrrrty southern-ass beats. It’s laid back and breezy, and maybe a lil’ dank. Which is to say, it sounds like a day in Mississippi probably feels.

Everyone keeps heralding K.R.I.T. as Pimp C (of UGK) reincarnate, and that’s fine and all, but to me he sorta sounds like T.I., sans the fury. The tune “Country Shit,” a stuttering, bouncy, and at times, str8-up heroic declaration of what they got down thurrr in the South. He begins by inviting the listener into his narrative and elucidating some properties of country shit: “Let me tell ya bout this supah fly/dirty dirty/third(???) cold/muddy waters…” (I apologize for the question marks–sometimes this shit is so country, I can’t understand what is being said.) This is followed by an imperative: “Shorty, pop that pussy! If you wanna.” I appreciate  the ladies have a choice in the matter. Seriously.

Big K.R.I.T. is one of many Southern rappers who has immortalized his geography & lifestyle in a deeptrackkk. Other wonderful songs within this genre that come to mind are Outkast’s “ATLiens,” from the 1996 album of the same name. Obvs, ATLiens was an appropriate title for the ATL resident weirdos. Many hallmarks of Southern life are noted within this song, including an archetypal Southern meal: “If you like fish n’ grits, n’ all dat pimp shit, everybody let me hear you say oh yeah-yer.” Oh yeah-yer.

Clipse, ever despairing, have a down-trodden song dedicated to their home state: “Virginia.” It begins:  “I’m from Virginia, where there ain’t shit to do but cook.” Later, it is noted that “there ain’t shit to do but look.” In addition to cooking and looking, drug dealing and murder also happen in this song.

Overall, I’d much rather learn about country shit from K.R.I.T. or OutKast than from Clipse, but I guess it just depends on how fucking morbid and misanthropic your worldview is.

Anyway, wanna hear these songs? Here is a jank-ass myspace playlist of them.

Several Songs Daftpop Enjoys Right Now: The Series, Part II

Young Jeezy: Only like Malcolm X if his motto was "buy any jeans necessary"

Well gee, it’s been a minute since I wrote on this blog. I’ve been sitting, thumbs a-twiddle, waiting for bloggerly inspiration to come for weeks now. Finally I realized that I of all people should know that blogs need not be the medium for deep thoughts (for instance, my last post was about Clash of the Titans).

In accordance with my lack of inspiration, and perhaps my recent lack of sophistication, I will discuss some notable songs of the moment… Ahem.

Welcome to Several Songs Daftpop Enjoys Right Now, The Series! (It needs a better title, but I’m working on it. Woman can only do so much in between work deadlines, smoke breaks and caring for needy dogs.)

1. Jeezy feat. Clipse: “Illin

Jeezy’s got a new mixtape out, for anyone who cares. I don’t, but I stumbled upon this track, and was taken aback by its sonic otherness. “Illin” features an insanely warbled, gnarly violin sample; it’s something from your nightmares, or maybe a zombie debutante ball in Baton Rouge, 1914. Jeezy’s husky, lumbering flow rarely conveys much of anything; the content of his rhymes is often self-aggrandizing bullshit, sometimes heart attacks, and one time about black presidents and blue Italian sports cars. But here, Jeezy is forced to hustle a little due to the presence of his guests, the every-day-they’re-hustlin’ rappers of Clipse. Jeezy + Clipse makes for a visceral clash of personalities; Jeezy’s verse is essentially about how effortless being him/being rich is, while Malice and Pusha sound anguished and paranoid, per usual. If only Clipse could learn a little something from the dumb self-assuredness of Jeezy, and Jeezy could maybe get a little writerly ambition from Clipse… then everyone would win.

2. Freddie Gibbs: “Crushin’ Feelins

To some, Freddie Gibbs is some 2009 hype; to others, he is the future of hip hop. To make a long story short: Gibbs is from Gary, but currently lives in LA. He is something of a classicist gangsta rapper. His beats aren’t all that dope, but he can double-time it like Twista and spins the most eloquent of street elegies. And oh yeah, he’s performing at P4k this summer. Weird!!! It can be hard to know where to start with 3.0 rappers like Gibbs–dude has no proper studio album or radio singles, just some mixtapes, all of which are epic in length–so where to begin? Start here, with “Crushin’ Feelins.” In less than four minutes of breathless, glorious raps over the fucking smoothest guitar ever, Gibbs tells you everywhere he’s lived, states his life goals, talks up his skills, and most importantly, explains everything you need to know about him: that he can “easily bring you defeat with [his] vernacular” and is “too deep in the streets to be beefin’ with other rappers.”

3. Drake: “Over

I never thought I’d cop to liking a Drake song, but here I am. While I don’t relish the concept of “Over,” (which is yet another navel-gazing extravaganza and features several of his fucking imbecilic non sequitur couplets) the scuttle-shuttle of the beat that drops at 30 seconds is as beautiful a thang I’ve heard on the radio in a while.

4. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: “Beverly Kills

Pop bliss! “Beverly Kills” is a scatterbrained but marvelously melodic ditty recalling psychedelic Californian summers, like an acid trip at someone’s 60’s hippie party in L.A. Or something. Anyway, AP’sHG might be poster-children of lofi-ness, but a friend recently commented to me that there is something very deliberate in their aesthetic; lofi for them is not tossed off or motivated by a sort of punk recklessness: it’s a production choice , a wonderful mindfulness of what is being evoked by certain sounds. This song is yet another good example of this phenom; plus, it’s just good, silly fun.

5. M.I.A.: “XXXO

I love M.I.A. so much that I get sort of befuddled when I have to talk about her. Ever a monitor of the postmodern condition, M.I.A. here comments on the identity-eroding properties of modern telecommunications. I am glad I received this warning from M.I.A.,  because I almost wrote this entire post in internet lingo and emoticons. JK! She sings in a lifeless monotone against a backdrop of menacing (if somewhat conventional) electropop. “XXXO,” both the song title and the clutch of letters meant to represent a kiss, are M.I.A.’s shorthand for the ways in which we are dehumanized by technology. The lyrics aren’t very cohesive, but the whole is suggestive: “you want me be someone who I’m really not,” “cuz everytime we try to get close/there’s always something I’m  thinking about,” “if you like what you see/you can download and store.” Seduction and the possibility of love have been reduced to a mechanization, a screen touch, a tapping away on T9.

6. Robyn “Dancing On My Own

Apart from being Swedish, looking sorta gay, and having hot shit producers, there is yet one other element that separates Robyn from the baser spectrum of pop. This is the vulnerable and self-aware emotional center of her lyrics. I suppose this center does not always hold, especially when you consider the embarrassing lyrical content and rapping affectations of “Konichiwa Bitches,” which would have benefited from some self-awareness. But in her best songs–“With Every Heartbeat,” “The Girl and The Robot,” and now “Dancing on My Own”–Robyn acknowledges, in uncomfortable detail, the desperation and various humiliations involved in being a lover scorned. She dances on her own in this ditty, whose narrative concerns going to the club in order to see her recent ex get busy with his new woman: “yeah, i know it’s stupid/but i just got to see it for myself.” She then gets shit faced and, after stumbling over some broken bottles in stilettos, the world starts spinning off its axis. By song end, it ain’t hard to imagine our song’s heroine falling flat on her lovely YET STILL REJECTED face. My suggestion is that Robyn get with also-frequently-embarrassedly-in-love/fellow Swede Jens Lekman, and then they can make sweet music together until they die.