Things That Are Great

May 22, 2009

1.  Finding 200 dollars I didn’t know I had in a savings account

Its like Im a rich dude suddenly

It's like I'm a rich dude suddenly

I don’t know how it got there but nobody’s gonna hear any complaints from me.

2.  The Ramones- Rocket to Russia Forget about a debut album, this is the Ramones record.  “Rockaway Beach” is under-appreciated–one of their best songs–and helps make this a perfect summer album.

3.  Eddie Campbell’s Egomania

This is maybe the most attractive format for a magazine I can imagine; it’s a shame it only lasted two issues.  The first one (I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of the second one yet) has the first two parts of a comic on the history of humor that I wish Campbell would have finished.  The rest is composed of a few articles–one a fascinating interview with Batman ghost artist Lew Sayre Schwartz, another an investigation of a painting in an Australian pub by Classical Realist Jules Lefebvre, and lastly an article by Campbell’s daughter Hayley on the premier of the From Hell movie.  Campbell describes the magazine as “Egomania… in which I make the extraordinary presumption that the contents of my noodle will be of interest to others.”  Oh, but they are, which is why it’s really too bad the magazine folded.  Of course Campbell’s blog has more or less served the same purpose, but it’s not quite the same.  There’s something very appealing about the mix of text and comics in the magazine.  Of course, what I’d really want, even more than for Campbell to continue the magazine, is to have my own such magazine, Simon Reinhardt’s Egomania if you will.  The only problem is I don’t imagine I’d have much in the way of readers, or a way to fund it.  Any sponsors?

Five Things More Interesting to Me than Writing Final Papers

May 5, 2009

So school is wrapping up which means I have a boatload of work and nearly zero motivation to do it.  I’ve spent enough time with all of these classes that I’m not really terribly interested in writing one more paper for them, but it’s going to have to happen anyways.  Here are five things on which I’d rather spend my energy, time, and thought.

1.  Watching movies: I’m not a huge movie buff but every once in a while I go on a tear of watching a lot of old movies.  I just saw Mean Streets, which I embarrassingly had not seen before, and liked it more than pretty much anything.  I’ve got some more good stuff on deck, and at this point I’d much rather lie down in bed with a cold drink and watch The Maltese Falcon than write another paper about Don Quixote.

2.  Lil Boosie’s Thug Passion mixtape: I’ve been really feeling this tape for the past few days. Boosie’s really great, and Thug Passion has a lot going for it.  I’ve been meaning to do a post about it just to get my thoughts down in writing and haven’t really had the time that it would take to do that in a satisfactory way.

3.  Eddie Campbell’s Alec comics: I want to reread these books because they’re some of my favorite comics, and they seem appropriate to the kind of mood I’ve been in a lot lately, but they’re pretty text-heavy, and these days when I have time to not be reading or writing for classes I’m trying to spend it on stuff that doesn’t use much brain-power.

4.  The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño: I finished reading this about a month and a half ago but it has really stuck with me.  It’s one of the more engaging books I’ve read in quite a while. It’s looking like I’m going to be writing at least part of my thesis next year about Bolaño, and at this point, I’m much more excited about that than anything going on in the classes I have left for this year.

5.  Drawing: Not much to say about this, but I haven’t logged any good drawing time lately, and it’s a downer.  I’m hoping to draw a whole lot this summer.

McCain/DOOM 09?

May 1, 2009

He talk to himself when he need someone to hate on

the black McCain campaign negative debate-a-thon

-DOOM, More Rhymin’

“No doubt,” says the father and admitted McCain voter. “If something ends, then something’s gonna start. So it’s like, what side are you on? Do you feel like your world is ending? Or do you feel like, ‘Wow, it seems like that’s ending and it’s the start of something new.’”

-DOOM, interview with Rolling Stone 

We (and by we here I mean I) tend to assume that the artists we like share certain basic political views, even though it’s often not the case.  I was certainly surprised to see DOOM shouting out John McCain-I think that, aside from Jeezy’s brief flirtation, which he quickly disavowed and atoned for, it’s the only instance of a major rapper announcing support for McCain.  But all this has been covered in a variety of places, a while ago, and I’m not that interested in the “did he really mean it?” or “how could he?” questions.  Rather, as Born Like This has been slowly burrowing into my subconscious, resonating more deeply with each listen, I’ve been thinking about how DOOM’s McCain endorsement, sincere or not, informs the album. It seems fitting to me that an album so far (and so willfully) removed from the current rap zeitgeist would reject the biggest consensus figure in hip-hop right now.  While most rappers want to be compared to Obama right now, the narrative DOOM has constructed around his career is a lot closer to McCain’s life story than his opponent’s.  It doesn’t seem too far of a stretch to me to equate DOOM’s years of stewing in obscurity in between the death of Sub-Roc and the release of Operation: Doomsday with McCain’s time as a POW, if not in magnitude then at least in function.  This is not to say that the two of them underwent the same thing, merely that these periods of disappearance occupy a similar place in each one’s career.  Obama is the ultimate status symbol, upward mobility taken to the highest possible end; he’s also a model of crossover appeal, one that seems to have been anticipated by the early success of Kanye and duly noted by Kanye’s would-be successors. None of these trends have much to do with DOOM though.  His music, especially on Born Like This, is a lot more negative than the cartoon samples and nerd friendly costumes would imply. Doesn’t it make sense that DOOM would identify with a guy who basically ran as the Count of Monte Cristo, with a campaign built on resentment and ill will? So if you haven’t heard the album yet, take some time to listen to it, it’s pretty great, and all the more so when you don’t have to live through the corresponding administration.

Does Asher Roth Actually Smoke Weed? A Flycliches Investigative Report

April 29, 2009
 

There was a Hardy Boy mystery...

There was a Hardy Boy mystery...

Let’s face it, Asher Roth is pretty mysterious; there are a lot of unanswered questions about this dude.  Is he going to save rap music from all these washed-up gangster rappers?  Is he paying Eskay to do journalism for him?  Is he Little Nemo‘s long lost twin (Li’l Nemo)?  If anything is certain though, it seems to be Roth’s love for two things: college and marijuana.

But even this seems to be getting called into question lately.  Recent interviews have revealed that Roth dropped out of college after two years–maybe he didn’t love it so much as he just kind of liked it.  With this in mind, one has to wonder whether his ringing endorsement of smoking weed is sincere too.  Could he only be advocating smoking marijuana while operating a motor vehicle so that we’ll think he’s cool?  After all, would a real stoner have dropped his album on 4/20?  He probably would have forgotten about it until a week later.  And let’s face it, that whole gimmick seems less and less like genius marketing as the sales figures have started to come in.  And come on, I could have told you that.  The weed-heads I know are pretty serious about a few things–weed, mainly, but also bongs and sometimes even spliffs–but paying for new music isn’t one of them.  So far my emails to Roth’s management have not been answered, but I continue to pursue a course of vigilance on the internet for any news which might shed light on the case.  And I’d like to assure all my readers that until I get a straight answer from the man, I’m suspending all Asher Roth related content on Fly Cliches.  The people deserve nothing less.

Asher Roth Latepass

April 26, 2009

So it turns out my finger isn’t as close to the pulse as I would have thought and I haven’t even listened to the Asher Roth album yet… The fact is that on 4/20 I was not “loving college” as they call it these days, but rather barricaded in the library writing about Euripides. These are things that happen.
Anyways, it turns out that when he’s not drinking beer and eating pizza or doing his best Don Imus impersonation (and thus causing hilarity all over the internet*), Asher Roth does some rapping.  I thought it might be an interesting exercise to review his album, live on this blog, and not make a single reference to his fairly atrocious interviews, or the controversy surrounding his place in the rap world (all of which has been covered as extensively as I care to follow it here and here and a few other places too), or anything that is not on the album.  In other words, it will be just me and the music.  Will I relate to Roth because of my deep connection to his way of life, or will the whole thing just be kind of dull?  Will I sit, glued to my speakers, hooked on every word, or will I give up the whole exercise after twenty minutes?  Only one way to find out.

Lark on My Go-Kart

This sounds kind of like most white-guy underground rap only with more conspicuous references to blunts, blumpkins, and hot moms.  I guess Roth’s flow is pretty nice, more or less, but not enough to carry this song, and there is really nothing of interest in the lyrics.

Blunt Cruisin’

You know when a lot of rappers make songs about weed and they use half-clever metaphors, never actually referring to weed by name?  None of that for Roth, this is just a guy talking about smoking weed in his car.  I can’t think of anything else that has happened in this song except for the time one guy almost dropped the weed.

I Love College

Now without blatant Weezer sampling.  I am at college, but I’m even sure I love it as much as Roth, who dropped out.  The chant at the end goes “Do something crazy?” which is pretty telling of the lack of specificity all over this song and the album.

La Di Da

I half-expected Cannon to phone in this beat, but it’s actually kind of nice.  Not one of his best beats but pretty tight by most standards.  The guitar solo at the end blows though.  Roth is talking about struggling I think.  Is that like “the struggle,” cause I think Talib Kweli has a song about that too?

Be By Myself (ft. Cee-Lo)

I was originally kind of outraged that this dude pulled a guest appearance from Cee-Lo, but at this point I think they deserve each other.  This whole album kind of sounds like that Gnarls Barkley record actually.

She Don’t Wanna Man

I can’t believe I’m not even halfway done with this shit right now.  I don’t think I’ve heard a memorable lyric yet.  You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about this song; that’s because I couldn’t think of anything.

Sour Patch Kids

This song is all about being a revolutionary.  Asher: “I pose a threat to those who get too close for comfort and won’t conform.”  Not sure that’s what you meant to say, brah.

As I Em

Ironically (?) this is the most Eminem-like of his songs, and I mean that in mostly a good way.

Lion’s Roar (ft. New Kingdom and Busta Rhymes)

Holy shit, Busta Rhymes is on this.  I didn’t notice it on the tracklist, and the surprise of hearing someone who can rap is pretty nice.  Busta sounds pretty good on this for what it’s worth.

Bad Day (ft. Jazze Pha)

“And it just keeps going.”  You’re telling me, brah.  Did Jazze Pha actually produce this, or is he just singing on it.  If it’s the latter, I think Roth may have gotten played.  Ditto if it’s the former.

His Dream

I think the function of this guy is to make me reconsider all the prejudices I’ve had against people who’s taste in rap I disagree with.  The idea that anybody is “an Asher Roth fan” makes people who just listen the Roots and Native Tongues seem totally okay.

Fallin’

Listening to this album, I think I can understand what it’s like for people who don’t like rap to listen to, say, a Jadakiss album.  Jada has punchlines though.

Perfectionist (ft. Beanie Sigel and Rock City)

Is Beanie that hard up for cash?  And furthermore, did Asher Roth even know who he is?  The best thing about this song is Sigel, and the second best is that it’s the last song on the album.

In conclusion

Much as I dislike the guy, I’m gonna have to say that Asher Roth is not a threat.  I can’t really imagine anything besides the singles on this album getting much play, it’s all too bland.  If I had to guess, I’d say this guy is done within a year or two.  Maybe he can go Hollywood with Kid Cudi?

 

 

*Just what is a “fuck-boy” anyway, and when did a journalist become something people pretended NOT to be?

Liquor Store Mascot

April 24, 2009

Real talk all over this tape.  Maybe not as good as “Goodbye America” (what is though?) but it’s still too early to tell for sure.  More soon after I get a few more chances to listen to it.

(Download on Nahright)

New Content Coming Soon

April 18, 2009

In a few days, I will emerge phoenix-like from the ashes of my comprehensive examinations and post some bloggish stuff here like a liveblog of the new Asher Roth album (assuming I can find somewhere to download it).  I’m hoping to do occasional writing here until the school year ends and start writing more frequently after finals, so stay tuned.

A great confluence…

March 6, 2009

frome72

…of something I didn’t like in high school and something I don’t like right now: Jeffrey Brown is doing the cover for the Penguin Classics edition of Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, one of the worst books I ever had the misfortune of reading.  I like to take it as a simultaneous confirmation of my opinions of the artist and the book that they’ve come together like this.

To be fair though, despite my distaste for a lot of Jeff Brown’s comics, the cover is pretty great.  He can draw like hell when he wants to and it’s actually quite a clever cover.  Whatever, I still hate that book.

Old Songs That Aren’t By Rappers But Sound Like They’re Referencing Rap Songs

February 28, 2009

“Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street

That was really shook.”

-Bob Dylan, “Watching the River Flow”

Bob Dylan says you ain’t a crook, son.

Weekly Top 5 (Feb. 21-27)

February 28, 2009

5.  Young Jeezy- Circulate video: This could be my least favorite of the many videos Jeezy’s released for The Recession, but it’s still pretty unimpeachable.  I think it’s a testament to the depth and staying power of the album that it’s spawned so many videos (seven, I think?).  His previous albums are both albums I liked a lot, but it’s hard to imagine as many songs from them meriting single/video treatment (this is more true of The Inspiration than it is of Thug Motivation 101).  I said last week that Jeezy’s videos exist on the fine line between depressing and awesome, but this one is pretty much straight triumphalism.  I can’t think of a less ambivalent Jeezy video than this.  I read somewhere that it was sponsored by a vodka brand, which would explain this, but it’s also totally reasonable to change the tone up a little bit at this point.  Also worth considering: the possibility that all the pro-America imagery and feel good-ness of the video is Jeezy’s fuck-you to Bill O’Reilly.

4.  Watching old Soulja Slim videos on Youtube: Awesome way to kill some time.  Get em before they get taken down.

3.  Letters to Cam: Another good week for Cameron Giles, with the leak of I Used to Get it in Ohio and Cookies With Some Apple Juice, the video for Ohio, this great interview from DJ Booth, and, most importantly, this hilarious video put together by It’s the Real.  In pretty much everything Cam’ron’s done since the release of the Public Enemy #1 mixtape (more or less), there’s been a lot of humility, in a way there wasn’t in his Purple Haze era music, videos, or publicity.  Both videos he’s dropped for Crime Pays have been low-budget (understated, even) affairs, and he’s now portraying himself as an average guy more than a boss in a fur coat with a Lambo.  This video plays into the general trend as well, with Cam’ron poking more fun at himself than any of his questioners, a bunch of white teenage girls.  Cam will probably never actually make the sitcom he’s been talking about in interviews, but this is a sign that such a thing could be pretty good if it were ever to happen.

2.  Hold Steady-Atlantic City: The Hold Steady are my favorite rock band around right now, pretty much the only current rock band I care about actually. This is a good cover of one of Springsteen’s best songs. It’s cool that they make a Springsteen solo song from Nebraska sound like the E-Street Band are playing on it.

 

1.  Walkin’ on the Moon- The Dream ft. Kanye: This song is a jam.