Friday, April 23, 2010

Hoes On My Dick Cuz I Look Like Jesus

A lot of yall have probably been wondering where Lil B is going with this whole "I look like Jesus" thing. (Yeah, I don't see the resemblance either.) Before I explain, let me just say that:

Man, I'm God, I look like Jesus, and I'm coming with that fucking heater. Bitch, suck my dick

has to be the greatest ad-lib intro into a rap song in years. Anyway, when I saw this song I thought to myself, "oh my God, Lil B is clearly, like, me if I were a black teen rapper." You see, I occasionally suffer from delusions of grandeur, mostly because I'm kind of ridiculously brilliant (though you sure as fuck wouldn't know it from this blog), and have a habit of referring to myself as God or Jesus. Only around a few people, of course, as it's not really the sort of thing you want to do in public unless you're a recording artist or some other sort of professional attention whore. Of course it's basically a self-parodying joke as I don't actually believe in/care for God or Jesus, but still. Occasionally it even becomes this obsessive sort of fixation, especially after I've done something especially brilliant, and all I can think about for days is how clever and Christ-like I am. Oddly, obsessive grandiosity, physiologically speaking, feels just like a headache. Like when I get this way my head actually aches. Kind of like when John Travolta would think his autistic thoughts in Phenomenon. (Except those were the product of a magic genius-producing brain tumor. I don't believe tumors actually work that way.) Anyway, I kind of figure that Lil B is sort of on the same tip.

What's funny about Lil B, though, is that he has this deep spiritual Killa Priest side, as seen in 'I'm God' or this. That's one thing about Lil B I never see talked about amongst his blogger fans, yeah he's crazy and weird and whatever, freaky, freaky, freaky freaky flow, but he's also bringing back a kind of merger of spiritual and street shit that the Wu, among others, excelled at with their Five Percenter mumbo jumbo. One of my favorite moments in rap ever is on the largely dismal Wu-Tang Forever, 'The Projects' to be exact, where that little kid tells Rae, 'call me back at the God Hour.' There are a lot of things that you could do in 1997 that you could never do on a huge commercial release today, but one is that skit. I can sit here as an educated well-off white guy and be like, Five Percenterism is some retarded self-serving ghetto shit, but there is a wonderful empowering quality to a religion where all its adherents, mostly underprivileged people, even little kids, are all Gods. You look at rap today and back at Guru's catalogue and one thing that's missing that rap had then, besides the metaphysical concerns that album titles like The Realness or The True Meaning suggest, is religiosity. I imagine some of that is still in the underground but on the street or aboveground level, no one's really doing that anymore. Except for Lil B.

As Seen On Youtube

I was listening to Juelz's 'Murda Murda' and I saw this comment:

Dis da shit!What happened to music??
Everyone talkin how GREAT drake and wayne r....
They WACK there used to be bttr songs out there!In 2001-2006 nd then music just CRASHED!rap music iz GONE and i HATE that!RIP rap music
Those good old days in 2001-2006 when there were bttr songs out there. What really got me though was reading the Source's review of Hard To Earn, where the critic writes that the album (just four mics!) "is definitely a welcome breath of fresh air during this otherwise stale period of rap." The stale period/year that brought you Illmatic, Resurrection, Ready To Die, Outkast's first album, Tical, Do You Want More?, The Main Ingredient, Dare Iz A Darkside, On The Outside Looking In, Keith Murray's debut, Bone Thugs' debut EP, and the quite respectable Blowout Comb. And best of all, this classic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tray's Personal Reflections on Guru

I wish I could make this piece more poignant than it's going to be, but oh well. So, the summer I failed out of Duke, I decided that I was going to work at a family friend's beachfront arcade down the shore, as we say in Philly when we're talking about the Jersey beach. Specifically, in the Victorian town of Cape May, the southernmost point on the Jersey coastline. This is one of the funnier streets in Cape May:

Victorian cookie-cutter low income housing.

And this is a pretty awesome picture of the arcade (h/t

The idea was that I would live in a tiny room adjoining the garage of the arcade-owner's elderly mother, show up to work every day at 9, and give people prizes in return for the tickets they'd racked up playing skeeball. I guess I was supposed to spend my nights on the boardwalk romancing slutty freshmen at the local community college. To be honest I was actually pretty excited about this job, it seemed like the archetypical shitty job/summer at the shore experience I'd been missing out in this life. Honestly, still to this day I wish I was spending my summer picking fruit instead of working for a Court of Appeals judge. (Sorry, Joey, I'm the sharpest legal mind in the rap blogosphere. Even though I probably did just get my first A- ever in law school. I'm such an embarrassment to my race/mother.) Anyway, though apprehensively excited about the job, I was obviously fairly miserable at the time, having been depressed enough to fail out of college in spite of being, like, the brightest little Jewish boy on the planet. And in fact, as it turned out I didn't get to keep the job, because I was a slow prize-giver-outer and they needed to give the room to some mad genius at fixing arcade games. That guy was one of the strangest people I've ever met or ever will. All that by way of context.

Now back then I didn't have a car, so the plan was for me to take a train from Philly to some point in Jersey, and then, novelty of novelties for this pseudo-privileged, insanely suburban kid, take a bus from that point to Cape May. Many warnings were issued to me about the sorts of people I might sit with on this bus. I'd brought my CD player with me, and back in 2004, as those of you from Philly just may remember, 30th Street Station had an fye. Those were really the golden days of music sales, when rappers used to beef over how many platinum plaques they had and even train stations had CD stores. Stores that routinely made you pay 18.99 for an old album at that. So I picked The Ownerz and went on my merry way. It's hard for me to articulate the comfort that album was to me on the bus ride down to Cape May and later that night when I sat alone in my little room in this arcade-magnate grandma's garage, but at the time it meant quite a lot. The Ownerz is not a perfect album, the second half is largely rather bad and I hate 'Skillz,' but the first seven or so songs (which was all I could hear anyway with my broken CD player) compare favorably, if not to the heights of their own catalogue, to most any album of that decade. The whole thing is steeped in a sincerity, a warmth, a righteousness that's genuinely righteous and not overbearing on some Lupe shit, that the slacking on occasion in Premo's production is well beyond forgivable. A song like 'Rite Where U Stand' that's ostensibly a battle rap/about killing people is really about - as the sample in the beginning of the song goes, how do I explain this to you? - those moments in life of moral clarity where, like Hav says in 'Get Dealt With,' one sees who's who, who's real and who's not, but not in the cartoonish sense of 'Who's Real,' in a really real sense. Later that summer I started listening to Cam and would never again be the same as a rap listener, and I still believe that the Cams and Guccis of the world serve a purpose, but the moral sustenance that Guru and Premo brought to the table is definitely something on short supply in rappers of that ilk and in today's hip-hop. Though shit, it was on short supply even in Guru's heyday. At any rate, I'll always have a soft spot for The Ownerz and for Gang Starr because of what they meant to me that day in that long awful summer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blogging WorldStar/Onsmash

My interest being piqued by the appearance of videos from JR Writer and J Hood, at one time two of my favorite up and coming rappers, on the same day, I decided I would take a break from studying Property and listen, though I know better, and see if they have anything left in the tank. I also am making the questionable decision to listen to a new Sauce Money song. We will see how that goes.

As you may recall, JR Writer, AKA the Writer of Writers, was the young tyke who memorably rapped Cam to a draw on the first track of Diplomatic Immunity 2. He also made some pretty great mixtapes, took nonsensical internal rhymes and multis to a whole new level, and reached some kind of apotheosis of the Dipset aesthetic when he rapped in baby talk on 'If Only You Believe' to describe the experience of fatherhood:

It's a miracle from seein' the birth next

To seein' the burp (yes!), first words, even the first steps
Goo-goo ga-ga, hoo-hoo ha-ha
peek-a-boo, I see you, you-who papa...

Subsequently, however, the Writer of Writers' writing got kind of sloppy and he put out a number of albums on Koch, all of which sucked. Or at least I think so having only heard the first. Anyway, now JR is 'Back At It'... and the results are very discouraging. His trademark squeaky voice seems to have disappeared with puberty, his flow is no longer so eccentric, I didn't hear a single funny punchline, and ironically and rather sadly he boasts that "I can do hooks/while your whole tape sounds like a Dr. Seuss book." Still more sadly, he rhymes

I've been a great, how can yall pricks relate
What yall know about Hot 9, 9 minutes straight?
Been a while, but there's a time and a place
My timing is great, I define what it takes

Ah, the tragedy of the has-been NY mixtape rapper. Speaking of has-been NY mixtape rappers...

J Hood also once had quite a bit of promise, what with his quirkily grimey inflection and way with a punchline. He also had a tiny little head and a face like a mosquito. This added to his gulliness. Then J/Jae got himself in trouble with his big D-Block brothers and they decided to end his career and not let him out of his deal. Only a short while after Jada had that shit fit on the radio about how he might toss a stainless steel refrigerator off a skyscraper and kill Diddy with it because Diddy wasn't giving him his publishing. Oh well. Anyway, poverty seems to be bad for J's rapping. I guess this is what six years ago we used to call a "club song." Back when Joe Budden was so confused about how to make one that he actually called a song "Club Song." Six models in this video and only one is borderline doable. The same is probably true of the women at any club that would play this song. That's about all I can say about it.

Talk about unfulfilled promise. The Sauce Money of 'Bring It On' could've made a pretty terrific album. [Excerpt from a puff piece on his debut from the time: "Fiercely determined, Sauce never gave up on his dream and the result is the multi-layered Middle Finger U. on Priority Records, which will undoubtedly take its place alongside other monumental debuts like Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, Nas' Illmatic and DMX's It's Dark and Hell is Hot.
"] As we know, that didn't occur. Instead he made a bad album and wrote 'I'll Be Missing You,' which isn't really an achievement to his credit but did, I imagine, allow him to live a comfortable lifestyle. Today, Sauce Money is simply very fat, so much so that he sounds an awful lot like Fat Joe. I guess when you blow up your voice goes through changes. Appropriately he's accompanied in this video by a plus-size model. She licks his sideburns at one point. That's sort of gross. The production would've been okay in 1998. The rapping would've been a little more than okay around the same time. You can still tell he has talent though. At one point he says, "if I want it, kings I unseat 'em and rains/reigns become a slight drizzle." Which isn't that good or anything, but hey, his mind is still working. The track is also happily free of pathetic references to the days when he was quasi-important.

Apparently Styles has an album coming out May 18th? I like how all Styles songs begin with conversations between himself and his engineer, Poobs. I also like how Styles never evolves as a rapper at all, technically, thematically, whatever. He's still the same guy with the same eight ad-libs ("uh-uh!"), same elementary yet unorthodox flow, same concerns, etc. Unfortunately Styles has a weakness for shitty piano beats and lachrymose hooks sung by bad singers, and the verses are very by the numbers Styles. Why don't I leave the hood, why don't I leave the corner, rusty blades, D-BLOCK, uh-uh, etc. etc. And this is the first single. Oh well, it'll have 6 good songs and he'll keep making great mixtapes.

I decided to listen to this song from Soulja Boy and Arab just so I could have the unique experience of sitting through Arab's verse thinking, "oh shit, it's coming, a halfway-okay rapper is about to go in, he's going in, he's coming... Soulja!" You know, the way you might listen to a Juelz song in 2003 waiting for Cam to come in and just destroy everything. Well, Soulja certainly does not disappoint... in entertainment value, anyway. I hear a Gucci Mane imitation in here, a weird Master P/Silkk imitation, a Lil B imitation of course, an attempt to rap like he's from Africa, and a claim that he's more "froze than a frozer, I missed the fucking freezer." And that's all in one verse. Arab then says he goes hard like a boulder and gives a shout-out to a guy who's "his dog, just like Milo." And Otis! I believe that movie came out before he was even born.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tray Loves The New Gucci Tape, Rap's Future

Actually how I eat every day in law school (minus the strawberries).

You know, I used to have all these declinist fears about rap. "Rap is declining! There will never be another Cuban Linx again! There will never be another Infamous/Critical Beatdown/Niggaz4life again!" And no, there won't be. It's possible there may never even be a rap album as good as any of those were again but in a completely different way. I certainly can't think of one in the last ten years. But there's still a shit ton of really good rapping out there, which is more than you can say, by analogy, for movies, American ones anyway. At least one can coherently mention Andre 3000 and Pill in the same paragraph; it's not entirely a, back then there were gods, today there are midgets situation. So my hopes for the future are brightened considerably by the new Gucci Mane tape.

Irony of alphabetical ironies, by the way, and one that I think is slightly telling; in my iTunes, Burrrprint 2 picks up where Group Home - 'Up Against The Wall (Getaway Car Mix)' to be exact - leaves off. Can't get much more different than that. There are a lot of stupid points one could make about this totally arbitrary comparison, including the obvious point that Gucci is 50 times the rapper that Malachi the Nutcracker, who is only tolerable over Premo beats (although I imagine that Gucci would be pretty lost on most Premo tracks, though I can imagine an interesting Gucci freestyle over 'Take It Personal'), was, yet real hip-hop heads will give Malachi and Dap a pass while still bizarrely at most giving Gucci props for making "fun shit to listen to while you're drunk," but on a less reactive and silly note, I think what the absurdity of just how damn different Gucci's Drumma Boy phone call from jail is from maybe Premo's best track ever points up is that rap is a big variegated genre and just as you wouldn't compare Beethoven to Dre's comparably paltry musical innovations and arrive at some grand conclusion about the unimportance of rap, we shouldn't compare rap across eras and ought to just let today's shit stand for whatever it is.

So about the actual tape. This is not, by my sadly limited knowledge of Gucci mixtapes, the best or one of the best things he ever did, though I would say it's a more fun listen than his album. There's way too much 'Gucci Speaks' and 'Shawty Lo Speaks' and 'Lil Kim Speaks' for that, a couple of these songs are less than inspired, there's a song where he sings that's utterly pointless. He occasionally fails to rap circles around people (Wacka, Rick Ross) whom he should be rapping circles around and at one point is distinctly outshined by Yo Gotti. No matter. Gucci is in one of those rapper zones where he could read from the phonebook, or even, horrors, Drake's rhymebook, and the shit would come off. Just hearing this guy say "Mi casa su casa patna" is worth the price of admission, and worth wading your way through Shawty Lo and Nikki's verses to hear him do the hook containing that phrase again. (In fact I'd pay a lot to hear him do an all-Spanish mixtape.) Same with the jailhouse pay phone intro which is largely indecipherable but still hypnotic anyway, to the point where I was kind of disappointed when the whole mixtape wasn't phone raps. The disdain conveyed when he says (something like) "if you think this shit gon' flop, go and jump in the OCEAN" in his slow flow is just tremendous. Of course, Gucci actually says tons of funny shit too, such as

I've got Caucasian neighbors, that's just how I rock

Multiply, divide me, then add on the remainder
I push more weight than a personal trainer

Preposterous for you to fathom how you could block this [what other non nerdy white rapper could toss off a line like this?]

Professor, but Gucci didn't graduate from college
Your girlfriend says my earrings are erotic

I pull up in that Spyder, strapped up like McGyver
Should've brought my Phantom out but I'm mad at my driver
He's so fucking [?, turned up?]
Riding on autopilot
Smoking kush, he smilin
He drinkin while he drivin

AC blowin, feel like it's snowin (brrrr!)
Now where I'm goin even I'm not knowin

I only fuck with bad bitches because I'm very picky

I am bossin, proceed with caution, 'cause I be flossin
I didn't do that feature with you because you're not important

You're funny, just like a dummy, without no eyelids

Gucci is a lot of things, but fo sho I'm not scared of you!

Yo yo, yo nose gon' grow, just like Pinocchio
You lyin that you hot as me but that is not the troath

So yeah, actually by Gucci's standards this tape is kind of lyrically weak (perhaps because it's basically composed of throwaways). But it's still a blast. Great beats too.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Tweet Now, and Larry King Is Still A Rider

In a sensible drunken decision I have decided to tweet now. Sensibly I have named my twitter "ughnanana." I have no idea how twitter works and what all the @ and # shit means but if you want to explain that would be cool.

I stopped recording Larry but I sometimes take a look at the transcripts of his shows. They're pretty awesome. Here we have Larry on Tiger's "comeback." Read through this post carefully and thoroughly because this might have been the most amazing Larry episode ever. Here we go. It starts fairly slowly and innocuously like so (but ends up insane and wild as shit):

All right, Jim, frankly, were you surprised at his performance today?

JIM GRAY, CORRESPONDENT, THE GOLF CHANNEL: ... Yes, it's -- it's very surprising. But it's also surprising that we have a 50-year-old man in Freddie Couples leading the tournament, shooting six under par, and we have a 60-year-old man, Larry, Tom Watson, one stroke behind.
So it's all been a very surprising and uplifting day here at Augusta National.

Killing me with the profundities here. Then Gray makes some more idiotic trite observations in which Larry clearly has no interest.

KING: How do you explain, despite the fact that he did things which got him terrible publicity, that he was so cheered today?

GRAY: Well, you know, he hasn't committed any crimes. He simply disappointed a lot of people with his behavior....I think that this is a respectful place where people appreciate the golf. I mean we all want to see Picasso paint. We all want to see Michelangelo sculpt. We all wanted to see Ali box. If we get a chance to see Tiger Woods play golf -- and that's what this is. And he played golf today.

So I wouldn't misinterpret the reception. But, you know, he's been torn down. It's been a tremendous fall from grace, Larry. And I think that, you know, once that happens, you build him up to tear him down and now they're building him up again.

KING: Uh-huh.

GRAY: And his play was outstanding today, so he should have been cheered.

KING: He is a Buddhist. [To be fair that wasn't actually some insane non sequitur, just a really awkward topic change to the guy who flew the banner attached to a plane that asked if Tiger really practiced bootyism.]

Then Larry gets a little pushy when some panelists won't give straight simple answers to his retarded banal questions:

KING: Jim, is there any doubt that he's the greatest of them all?

GRAY: Well, he needs to win the titles. He has 14 major championships. He is four behind Jack Nicklaus....If he were to somehow quit and play golf -- quit playing golf for the rest of his life today, there would be some in some quarters who would say he was the greatest golfer ever. But he would not have the records.

KING: All right. I'll put it this way, is he the best...

FERGUSON: He's an amazing, amazing athlete, Larry.

KING: Is he -- is he the best you ever saw?

GRAY: Well, no. I saw Jack Nicklaus. And as long as Tiger Woods is going to say that Jack Nicklaus is the best -- and I saw Jack Nicklaus -- I'm going to say Jack Nicklaus is the best. In terms of what he could do...

KING: OK, Doug, is he the best...

GRAY: -- in this day and age, I think that Tiger Woods will be the best. I'll agree with you.

KING: All right. Doug, is he the best player you ever saw?

FERGUSON: A little more unfair for me, Larry, because I only saw Jack when he was 46 and -- and won his sixth green jacket. I think Tiger's the best of his generation. I think that's the only way you can look at this. Jack was the best of his. Hogan was the best of his...

KING: All right...

FERGUSON: Jones, you can go all the way back. You just have to look at what you've got today.

KING: Thank you both very much.

Then we have some Stephen A. awesomeness:

And, you know, regardless of being in the sex addiction clinic or whatever where -- wherever he wants to call himself being -- he had plenty of time to work on his game, to practice just a little bit. I'm quite sure that he got on that golf course a little bit and -- and worked on his game....And this is his sanctuary. If he doesn't win here, then that brings more fuel to the flames. And I think he recognizes that and he stepped up and performed.

Fuel to the flames. Dude. Then Larry gets to the Nike ad and introduces one of his panelists like so:

And David Cornwell, sports attorney, known as "the cleaner." He's represented a number of athletes. Among his current clients, Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He's accused, by the way, of sexual assault.

By the way. I love this man. By the way, his first question to David on the ad was, "David, you're a cleaner. Was this a clean bit of work?" Thank God for senile people. Or prematurely senile people like Donny Deutsch, who has this to say about the ad:

Stunningly brilliant. Genius. One of the single best pieces of advertising I've seen in a decade.They took the voice of God, the voice of his conscience, his father, in a very stoic way, to say you know what, this man is carrying this with him now. Yes, what he did was terribly wrong, but don't think because you see him playing golf now that there's not a new level of consciousness, there's not a new level, hopefully, of morality. And I think it was brilliant. It was artfully, boldly, stunningly done. Kudos to Nike.

Kudos to Nike. And as Stephon Marbury would say, kudos to Isaiah Thomas. (Do you remember the video when Marbury was ecstatic because Isaiah traded for Zach Randolph? And he was like, he's a lefty fucking southpaw, together Eddy Curry and Zach will demolish the league with their righty/lefty southpaw combination of devastating post moves. KUDOS TO ISAIAH THOMAS.) But really, Donny, the voice of God? The guy is dead and they took his voice from an interview where he was contrasting his parenting style with that of his wife and they make it into this "Tiger did you learn anything from fucking 50 bimbos" shit. Come on. Then the lawyer makes some hilarious image control arguments as to why this ad was such a good thing:

I thought the ad was brilliant, as well. Another thing is, it was consistent or it is consistent with Tiger's statement, when he said that he needed to go back to his roots. What -- what better way than connecting him back to his father?

Oh my God. This is a man (and a dead man), and you're making it sound like he's a bar of soap that Nike's associating with some pretty-ass flowers. Even Larry, in his usual dense cover all the bases way, sees some issues here:

KING: Isn't that a little weird, though, the voice of a dead person?

JOHN SALLEY: Well, yes, that's like, you know, but I've watched movies of some people who have passed, also. And I've seen some things on, you know, when you show it. Yes. [Yes, John Salley has seen some things on you know when you show it. I love how that statement could be about anything. Most obviously porn.]

KING: OK. Let's see if Stephen makes this a complete agreement. Stephen? [Let's see!]

SMITH: Well, I -- I do completely agree. I think it was absolutely brilliant. But I think that what a lot of people have failed to recognize, you've got some people that -- what -- that they sit around and they talk about how, well, you know what, it's kind of creepy or what have you.

And I said wait a minute. All of us have loved ones, some alive, some who have -- who have passed away -- that we hear them talking to us at key pivotal moments and junctures in our lives. And the fact is, is that that was the situation with Tiger Woods.

Yo but Stephen, we may hear dead people talking to us at these key pivotal moments and junctures, but this is an AD for fucking golf balls in which they are blaring a dead man's voice at US. It's a little different. I mean, "buy our golf balls, our big sponsor feels bad about cheating on his wife, he hears his dad's voice in his head, do not feel ashamed to wear the clothes of our serial cheater sponsor" is kind of crass. Later Stephen speculates that Nike made the ad to show their other athletes that they'll stand by them. To which Larry goes, "Stephen sees motive in all things." To which Stephen replies, "No question!" I love it when the two dumbest sports pundits in the world collide. Actually make that the second and third dumbest pundits in the world, because you've also got John Salley:

But Kobe's gotten past it. Kobe, people are backing, not even talking about it. They're just going to say now that we know that Tiger used to like, you know, like sex.

Yeah, he used to like sex, but not anymore. He went to a clinic and treated that shit away. Now he and his wife sit at home and make cupcakes. Then Donny gets mad about the head of Augusta talking shit about Tiger and wants to know if Augusta has any Jewish members or if it just discriminates against blacks and women (because that would be okay):

But before I get off that, also, Larry, can your research people check and see if there are any Jews in Augusta?
Because I'm nauseous about -- about this Payne guy, also. I was so violated and disgusted by his speech, the way he was spanking Tiger. So I knew we've got one African-American there, no women. Can we check and see if there's a Jew in Augusta, by the way?

Dusted and disgusted, Donny was. I'm telling you, when people go on Larry King, they do coke in the green room before the show. It's the only explanation. Then we get an absolutely insane discussion of whether men don't give a shit about Tiger's evil ways and whether women's views matter. Seriously. Donny and Stephen say the men were never mad at him. Salley says even the women were never mad at him because "the women love a gangster. They love the bad boy." To which an UNIDENTIFIED MALE replies, "a lot of them do." I so hope that was Larry. Then Donny announces that "the women don't matter. The products he sells - razor blades, video games, golf clubs - it's all men. It doesn't matter." What happens next is simply indescribable:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is fun, guys.

SALLEY: We've got a whole new thing. This should be a Viagra show.

KING: That's right.



SALLEY: Oh, I can't say that. We've...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry, that's called...


SALLEY: -- help you better. [??????]

KING: Well, I'm -- I'm losing control here.




I wish I knew what happened there. Then Larry starts introducing some metaphysical doubt into the proceedings:

can he win this tournament, John?

SALLEY: Yes. He's going to win this tournament.

KING: Going to win?

SALLEY: This would have been the greatest week...

KING: How do you predict a golf tournament?

Salley then explains that Tiger's going to win because people are excited that he's playing and because Salley's watching the tournament on TV on a Thursday even though, and I quote, "no one ever watches TV." You would think Larry couldn't top that. But he does. By asking a LAWYER if Tiger might have a tough time on Friday because the rains will make the greens... faster! Faster! Have you ever tried to putt on a soggy green? The ball barely moves. Yet Larry goes in:

With the rains there occurring tonight, those greens will be faster tomorrow, David, he might have a rough time tomorrow?

Again, that's a lawyer he posed that question to. A sports lawyer, but still. And being that he knows nothing about the game, he says that Larry is right. Just so amazing. Then Donny makes a plea for adultery:

Larry, once and for all, can we stop being shocked when men of power are adulterers, like multiple women? It goes with the territory... I want to see the guy win the Masters. I don't care what he does with his other putter frankly is probably not my concern.

Then Salley bizarrely replies:

Well, like you said, his putter tomorrow, if he gets more control of his putter, and, you know, he'd shoot better.

I don't think he even knows where that double entendre is going. Then Stephen A. predicts that Tiger will go back to fucking bitches:

I've said it on your show weeks ago, months ago. I'll repeat it again, Larry, just in case you didn't remember. Whether the number 7, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19 or whatever number amount of women, or whatever amount of women he had, you don't go from that to zero. I don't care what anybody says.

Just in case you didn't remember Larry. This is just orgasmic. After the break, we learn that Salley was, according to Larry, "nodding his head viciously no" while Stephen made his remarks. I'm not sure how one does that. Salley being the dumbest man on the planet replies, "well l didn't say viciously." No, Salley, you didn't SAY viciously because you didn't SAY how you were nodding your head. You just did it. Larry said that. Then Larry says in his opinion Salley was viciously nodding. Then Salley admits it:

I was viciously because Stephen's obviously speaking from experience, what he's talking, but you can't really say what somebody else is doing. You can't really go and put that on somebody. That's not -- it's not fair that you're going to go and just put a stamp on somebody, like, you're this and that's your way, people can change.

Could we itemize all the ways in which that comment was one of the greatest things said on TV?

1. I WAS viciously!
2. Stephen's obviously speaking from experience, i.e. Stephen obviously has fucked a lot of bitches and struggled to reduce his bitch-fuck count.
3. You can't say what somebody else is doing. You can't really. It's not fair.
4. Don't put stamps on people. They change. Young Bleed however would like to disagree with you:

The only thing that could top this is if Larry interviewed DJ Khaled. Actually the only thing that could top it is what happened next. Donny announces that we should stop caring whether Tiger does or does not fuck mad bitches because "Tiger Woods doesn't exist in my consciousness because of what he does or doesn't do with women. The only reason he exists in my consciousness is to watch him play golf." What can one even say about such brilliant logic? Stephen A. decides to have a shit fit about it.

SMITH: I can't -- I can't take this anymore. First of all, we're on THE LARRY KING LIVE show to answer the questions that he asked. The man asked me a question, I gave him an answer. He didn't ask us to come on and express how we don't care. He asked us --


DEUTSCHE: What I'm saying is we don't care.

SMITH: What I'm saying is the man asked me a question, and I don't believe that you go from that many women to zero. Simple.

DEUTSCHE: And my answer is whether he does or doesn't, who the hell cares. That's an answer.

SMITH: I agree with that. Will you care about stuff that you're sitting on air? You're here. You obviously care enough to answer.

These guys just have to be high. A, Stephen can't take this anymore? What? B, panelists have a moral/professional obligation to care about stuff that you're sitting on air? It's like the culture of insanely stupid analysis of inanely stupid topics is evolving and growing as these guys speak. Centuries from now people will watch this episode and see it the seeds of the decline and fall of America. Like where in the fuck is this world headed?

But it gets better! Salley then suggests that Tiger will "pick them better" in the future. Smith gets pissed and goes, "oh, so he's going to pick them better now?" Salley starts talking about a girl he saw on Maury Povich. He then says that he aspires to be like Larry and asks, "who's your TV daddy? Who do you really want to get money from?" Smith gets more pissed. Salley says he's just mad that Larry is styling on him. In purple duds. In HD. Larry closes and says he'll have this panel back "because I am basically a masochist." Anderson Cooper comes on to say that he'll be talking to Sean Penn about the situation in Haiti. He also claims that teachers may be going to jail in Wisconsin for teaching sex ed. "How did this happen?," he asks. "Well, we're keeping them honest." That's a responsive answer to your own question there.

Then Dr. Laura shows up to talk about bullying and that is a bit of a letdown. This did happen though:

KING: You were bullied, am I correct? You were bullied as a kid?

SCHLESSINGER: I -- yes, pretty severely when we moved into this neighborhood on Long Island. It was mostly one religious persuasion there and my mother was a nice Italian Catholic, a drop dead gorgeous woman from Italy, a shiksa. And she was married to a Jewish man and that's a shiksa, and that's a bad thing.

And I really took the grief for that because they would say horrendous things about my mother and I would try to defend her and then I got picked up in fistfights and thrown down a flight of stairs. And I had my fun.

Sounds fun! Laura's acting retarded on TV like whoa. Laura then compares what happened to this bullied girl to Christians being thrown to the lions. Larry points out that not all teenagers are bad people:

As we know, not all teens behave badly. Case in point is our "CNN Hero of the Week," a big-hearted bookworm who helps abused and homeless children. Mackenzie Bearup lives with an agonizing and incurable disease but spends her time easing the pain of others by sharing her secret for relief, reading. And she's only 16. Watch.

Oh ho ho it's magic, you knowwww, never believe it's not so.... Larry, Larry. What a magician. Never believe he can't sink to new levels of insanity. It's time for a JR Writer break:

Laura concludes by talking about her new book that's coming out. Apparently it's about revenge. Laura sagely observes that "revenge is mostly sweet in your mind. It's not that sweet when you execute it." Larry bids her goodbye:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the internationally-syndicated radio host, best-selling author and a good conversation. But a terrible topic, bullying.

Terrible, terrible topic.

I'll Be Your Black Panther All In Your Dreams, or, Blogging About Premo While Drunk From The Night Before

Remember how good Famlay's 'Skrung Owt' was? Where is Fam-Lay now? I just thought of that as the phrase "come on, space cadet" drifted through my mind. He also had this one other really great song the beat of which Noz once likened to the sound of a shipyard. I wish I remember what that was called. There's this amazing write-up on The Smoking Section comparing a song by A-Rab to a song by Lil B, flawed only slightly by its authors' apparent view that Lil B is some kind of bad rapper, that you should really read. Perhaps it's because I'm drunk but I actually laughed out loud when I read that in the Arab song, Arab actually says "you hard nigga? Faggot on the low/my money, my time." If I were not white and not surrounded by little gay law students (literally, little gay law students) I would so go around just saying that to everyone. Constantly. It's like, what in the world was he thinking linking these two concepts together.

Anyway, I saw this Premo mix from Sach on Passion of the Weiss and the whole shit was post-98 Premo except for two songs. All stuff from the era when getting a beat from Premo was like the capstone of a rapper's career and he'd scratch the rapper saying something into a hook and the rapper would ruminate on his long and illustrious career. Sorry I repeated a word there. Like 'Invincible.' (Seriously, you have to love rappers and their outsized sense of importance and self-worth. I mean, the invincible untouchable CNN? They made one album.... it was good.... kind of sounded just like certain other albums made by way more talented artists that were much better... and then that was that. And then they come back and they're the invincible, untouchable CNN? That's why I love rap.) So over there I wrote, fairly coherently (it's weird, I get more drunk as the day progresses):

The symphonic, sheeny, ‘Nas Is Like,’ ‘Sixth Sense,’ Moment of Truth Premo to me is just an infinitely less interesting producer than the Premo who made ‘Who’s Gonna Take The Weight,’ ‘Rappaz R N Danja,’ ‘Brownsville,’ ‘Black Cowboys,’ ‘ALONGWAYTOGO,’ ‘Supa Star,’ etc. Somewhere between Hard To Earn and Moment of Truth, his beats get a lot more predictable and to me basically become the aural equivalent of really good comfort food. Whereas listening to Hard To Earn or Livin Proof is a pretty challenging experience.

Which I think is very true. (I should think so, I said it.) And raises the always fun "what are Premo's Greatest Hits" question. In that regard, I'll tell you an absurd story about myself. When I failed out of Duke, I really wasn't that badly off, just depressed as shit (and not even that depressed by the end of the semester but enough damage had been done). Naturally, however, I wasn't too happy about being kicked out, and told no one I knew from high school, though people did eventually find out in a rather traumatic and upsetting way, but that's a different story. Anyway, on top of lying about still being at Duke, I started lying to people at Duke about what a great time I was having back home, and eventually lost touch with reality to a great extent, although I don't really think I was ever full-on delusional. One of the odd stories I made up, no idea why, is that I met a gorgeous girl who said she'd fuck me if I made her what she considered to be a perfect Premo mixtape. This never happened, but for some strange reason I actually started making the tape, and at this point it's hard for me to entirely remember that the girl never existed. Mental illness sucks. Fortunately no longer a problem (much). Anyway, to come up with a serious list I'd have to actually go back and listen to the Gang Starr/Jeru albums, but here is a very preliminary sketch of what I think are Premo's best tracks.

Too Short - In The Trunk (Premo Remix)
Jeru - Come Clean, Me Or The Papes
Nas - N.Y. State of Mind, 2nd Childhood
Bone Thugs - 1st Of The Month (Premo Remix)
Fat Joe - Shit Is Real (Premo Remix)
Group Home - Supa Star, Up Against The Wall (Getaway Car Mix)
KRS One - Rappaz R N Dainja
Crooklyn Dodgers - Return Of The Crooklyn Dodgers
Jay-Z - Bring It On, Intro/Hand It Down
M.O.P. - Brownsville, Follow Instructions
Craig David - 7 Days (Premo Remix)
Jaz O & The Immobilarie - Love Is Gone
Teriyaki Boys - You Know What Time Is It
Gang Starr - Manifest (Remix), Who's Gonna Take The Weight, The Place Where We Dwell, ALONGWAYTOGO, Mass Appeal, The ? Remains, Words From The Ghetto Child, Rite Where U Stand.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Tiger Ad

What is the Tiger sex scandal about? I think it's always been pretty obvious that the only reason Tiger's affairs are a scandal is that he's a black man playing a white man's sport, and married to a white woman. Emphasis on white man's sport and white woman. Nobody cares that Michael Jordan cheated on his wife; most people don't remember he had a wife. No one cares that Kobe cheated on his, that Shaq cheated on his, no one cared when Superhead talked about fucking a married Allen Iverson in her book. No one even cares that there are people in the NFL who killed people. That's just what basketball and football players do. And fine, it is, and I'd be okay if the reason white people didn't care was because they just didn't care about athletes' infidelity (why should we? These guys aren't preachers or even politicians), but I'm afraid the real reason is something way more along the lines of, "those guys are animals married to other animals, who cares if Animal A is unfaithful to Animal B, I still enjoy watching him jump with his freakish animal skills." How else do you explain Tiger? It isn't even that golf's this more genteel sport and that we expect more of golfers or tennis players, no one gives a fuck if Phil Mickelson cheats on his model wife, if Andy Roddick cheats on his long-time model girlfriend. It's not that Tiger's such a big star that he plays by different rules, no one cared about Muhammad Ali's infidelities. It's that he's a black guy playing a very white game and married to a seemingly nice, non-bimbo Swedish woman and therefore he's got to be extra well-behaved. I mean, when else in the history of the fucking world has a man given a press conference to talk about cheating on his wife? I can think of Bill Clinton and 80s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. If you actually think about it for a second it's utterly absurd. People act like 20 cocktail waitresses is a lot of cocktail waitresses. How many times have you heard some idiot on TV say that "the women keep coming and coming"? We're talking about 20 women over a six year period, that's about a new waitress every three months. And that's a sex addiction he needs to be in a clinic for, when maybe 50 such women throw themselves at him a day? It's pretty absurd.

So Nike stands by Tiger, and why the fuck not, who can better sell sports gear and golf balls, and now that they have a hold over him, being his biggest and only huge sponsor deal left, they actually get the guy to stand for 30 seconds and sniffle into a camera while audio of his dead father plays asking him what he's learned. If you were going to lose respect for Tiger, now is the time. Imagine if someone came to you and said they'd found some audio of your deceased father and they'd like it if you'd stand there while dead Pops gave you a little talking-to about cheating on your wife on national television. If you do that for them and consent to your father's voice being used in this way, they'll give you a ton of money. Who accepts that? And the worst part of it is, you know damn well that Tiger didn't put up a fight, probably didn't even mind the idea, but rather is thinking, "aw shit, what a clever idea, this can build up my brand back because now I'll seem HUMAN. As I have not in my insanely robotic and overcoached statements on this matter." A lot of commentary on this ad tomorrow will say that Nike is pimping Tiger, that this is all about the (white) corporation doing really sick shit so they can salvage the value of their black pitchman, but Tiger acquiesced and probably for the same reasons that Nike thinks this is a good idea. Which of course it is, the ad is brilliant. Through this ad, Nike becomes not only the brand of Just Doing It, but of life as the school of hard knocks, of learning your lesson and facing up to shit like a man (which is another flavor of Just Doing It), of painful defeat and the big comeback. It's probably the best sports ad in years. And easily the most reprehensible. Then again, maybe not. Consider Tiger's agency in this regard. Let's suppose that Tiger is sincerely sorry about what he did, and wishes he knew how to say so more articulately. Maybe he likes this ad, not just for the sake of the money it will save him, but because it's his way of saying he's sorry, the only way he knows how, through the voice of an ad agency. If so I think you have to respect his choice, though I don't see why he need apologize to us, and I'm not crazy about the use of his father.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Boring Tray Weekend Story

I was going home from the gym to change into something to wear at our one bar when I was stopped by a familiar voice that asked, "is 23 your favorite number?" And I was like, what, why, and she was like, because your screenname is traydeuce on toplawschools. It only occurred to me, like, 20 minutes later that she should've been asking me whether my favorite number was 32. But anyway I explained that my name was Asher which became Ashtray which became Tray and one day when I was listening to Cam's 'Family Ties,' by no means one of my favorite Purple Haze songs but a song with its moments to be sure I heard Cam say something about a trey-deuce and I was like, THAT'S my new AOL screenname! (Plus some numbers I'm not giving out here.) And she said, I think I know that song, and I was like, ohmygodareyouaCamfan? And she said sort of, and then compared him to Drake... which was a relief because I don't really want to become infatuated with anyone in the weeks before I leave so any huge flaws in this quite charming girl, like liking Drake, were quite welcome news to me. After changing into my douchey preppy outfit and loafers, I walked over to the bar and on my way what do I hear but a nice Drake song. Dear readers, I was just appalled at what a bad rapper Drake was. Drake, not, like, really being a rapper, but rather more of some kind of robot who seems to have applied the lessons he learned in acting class about enunciation and clear diction to his recording career, says everything so clearly that if a car is speeding by you you can hear everything he says exactly and go home and google the lyrics and find the song. This is actually pretty rare if you think of all the times you've turned on the radio and heard some cool song by Gucci or OJ you wanted to download when you got home and you listen and listen hoping to hear some clear understandable phrase you can type in to Google, and it's just like, ssdfjsdwgesdgfBRICKSsdfwewettesyeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Which is cool, that sort of thing has grown on me. Now some rappers have clear diction, like Nas or Jay, but none sound like they're on a stage heeding the lesson of their high school theater teacher to say everything twice as slowly as they think they should so the granny in the back can hear. Drake however does, and this really underscores how much his lyrics suck. He also has this habit of EMPHASIZING every word at the end of every line, sometimes because these words are supposedly clever punchlines, but sometimes just because that's just what he does. So when the car passed by blaring these lines my jaw just dropped at the suckiness on display:

We just took our first trip to the AMALFI COAST,

couple days on the beach then it's ADIOS,
killer, just look what i DONE ALONE,
you would swear we planted trees the way the MONEY GROWN,
we been busy like some bees no HONEYCOMB,
and you could probably feel the breeze when the MONEY'S BLOW'N

We been busy like some bees no HONEYCOMB?? You can't be serious. On that note, see this hilarious list of top ten fake Drake lyrics. Favorites include "you only move grams - wheelchair," "I run this paper business - Michael Scott," "Just do it. Nike," and really best of all, "[corporate slogan] [corporate name]." Can't you really hear him doing the last one? Corporate SLOGAN, corporate NAME... jump around, you are in the house of PAIN....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Those Are Not For Suzi, Those Are For The Gentleman

I've been meaning to do a full-scale piece on Saboteur, probably Hitchcock's most underrated film (nobody, not even the French critics who liked Topaz, has ever to my knowledge mounted a defense of it) and sort of an intriguingly off-key minor masterpiece, but as exams come, and then the week after that I'll be working for a judge on the Third Circuit, I don't know if I'll have the time. So in the meantime I wanted to leave you with these frames. Saboteur is one of Hitchcock's many wrong man thrillers (a crime is charged to the wrong man), though it's not very thrilling and we never feel much sympathy for the wrong man. In this scene, the wrong man is arrested at the home of the right man, the titular saboteur. As the right man, the bad man, exchanges smarmy pleasantries with the police, his baby granddaughter reaches to the handcuffs on the wrong man's wrists, as if to remove them, and begins to cry. To which the bad man creepily says, "no Suzi, those are not for Suzi. Those are for the gentleman," as he gives an evil look at the wrong man. It strikes me these images are among Hitchcock's most powerful and haunting of evil, injustice, but most interestingly, and this is a theme that comes up throughout the film, a kind of intuitive, innate sense (here on the baby's part) of right and wrong. Which raises really interesting questions as to how this Rousseauvian belief in man's innate decency fits into a filmography that's generally been seen as putting forth a pretty pessimstic and dark view of humanity.