Showing posts with label crunk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crunk. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

video review: 'ZUU' by denzel curry

So yeah, this was fun - I'm a little pleased that I didn't really get much backlash to this one, but we'll see where that goes...

Anyway, Billboard BREAKDOWN is up next and then probably some country on the docket, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

album review: 'ZUU' by denzel curry

I'll admit I wasn't expecting this.

Granted, I'll admit that might as well be a tagline for most of my experiences with Denzel Curry - from a smoked-out, nerdier brand hip-hop to the hyper-aggressive but potent as hell bangers of Imperial to the more stylized and diverse TA1300, his sound has only expanded and shown deeper wells of potential to grab a bigger and bigger following, so I guess I'm not averse to the 'coming home party banger' project that plays closer to a mixtape feel. Hell, one of my issues with TA1300 was that the experimentation felt a little undercooked, so maybe streamlining on a 'back to basics' mold could connect, and he's got a penchant for melody and hooks that puts many of his peers to shame. And considering how much I've really been looking for a "fun" hip-hop project over the past couple of weeks if he's going to drop something looser and overloaded with summer bangers, I'm be intrigued - I'm not sure I've heard Denzel Curry sound like he's having fun on an album in recent years, and I'm always conscious of the depth he'll slip between the lines. And while I'm not expecting him to give Sage Francis or B. Dolan a run for their money given how they came off This Was Supposed To Be Fun, I wanted to hear this regardless, and it was short enough to go down easy - so what did Denzel Curry deliver with ZUU?

Friday, June 21, 2013

album review: 'omens' by 3OH!3

Let's talk about the concept of liking something.

I know, it sounds incredibly basic and simple, but the more I dive into the critical analysis of works - particularly of satirical material - the more I find that the rote concept of liking something has become stupidly convoluted. Let's attempt to make this conversation a little simpler and disregard the mouthbreathing assholes who make comments like, 'If you like something / are a fan of something, you can't be objective!'. This line of argumentation is really goddamn stupid, mostly because it has its roots in a weird place: a desire for 'objectivity' that seems to be linked to the belief that 'human connection = bad' and that 'critical opinions = bad', mostly on the principle that nobody can be truly objective about anything, so thus everything is subjective and thereby illegitimate, with the illegitimacy easier to spot if you show any vestige of emotion towards something you might like.

Okay, this is horseshit, and for some very basic reasons. It's a nastier version of 'everyone's a critic', except that the purpose of a critic is never just a simple yay or nay, but to elaborate why a work of art works or doesn't work. If something can induce an emotion, subconscious reaction - either positive or negative - it is the critic's job to interpret that reaction, and use his human experiences to describe that context. As I've said before, I tend to use personal pronouns more than most when writing about my opinions on various albums - and the reason for that is because ultimately my reviews come from my point-of-view and I'd like you all to understand the context in which I deliver my opinion (you can debate all damn day whether it's 'informed' or not). To me, this sort of 'you're a fan, your opinion is illegitimate' might have some weight if the critic cannot articulate why he likes/dislikes something in a clear manner, but too often it's used as a defensive mechanism by people who want to be heard, but are too lazy or stupid to put anything thought into their argumentation. 

And thus, as a critic, I feel a certain degree of responsibility to not only convey my honest, unfiltered opinion about why I might like or not like something, but the rationale behind my liking of that material. I want to understand why I like something, to perhaps uncover something about myself I never realized, or about how that artist managed to affect me. That's also why you'll never seem me appreciate something 'ironically' or just to be contrary. For example, let's talk about my favourite musical of all time, Chess. Are there problems in this musical? Oh, absolutely - most of the various rewrites have serious structural problems, it tends to be a little broader than it should be, and one could argue that given the end of the Cold War, it has lost some of its relevance to the modern age. But despite all of that, I still love it because all of the things that work about the musical outweigh the flaws and it has the balls to embrace intellectual sincerity and end on a downbeat note. I could definitely go at greater length why I love this musical, but the point is that I'm definitely still a fan even though I can point out the flaws.

But too often in modern society, we're told that if we want to be a fan, we should shut off that critical voice. Indeed, we must show unequivocal support to an artist or be roundly castigated by the fans the art touched on a visceral level. Most of these fans aren't going to put the thought into contextualizing why they felt the way they did - and to some extent, that's okay. Film Critic Hulk actually wrote a superb essay on the subject on the levels in which we experience art, and I highly advise you all check it out, but he made two points I'd like to emphasize. Firstly, it's okay to view art in on a purely visceral level - it's not inherently worse than the critic who's looking for deeper themes and meanings. But the second point - and the one I feel is paramount - is that there should be a degree of awareness why we feel the way we do. To quote, 'GOOD MEDIA CONSUMPTION IS ABOUT AWARENESS... BUT GOOD MEDIA DIALOGUE IS ABOUT CONTEXTUALIZATION.'

Now, I'm sure some of you are wondering why on earth I'm talking about this at all. Well, the frustrating aspect of this whole conversation is that the accessibility of certain art can be limited by the choices of the artist, and the intentions of said artist can be misinterpreted - often completely in the wrong direction. This is a particular issue when it comes to satirical material, which is often designed to make a point regarding the genre or subject matter, and does so by apeing some of the conventions, aesthetic, or tropes of said genre or subject matter. I wrote extensively regarding Pain & Gain and how the audience probably will not get Michael Bay's point in that film: that he's not looking to glorify the lifestyle on screen, but to viciously satirize and condemn it - and yet, because of the way he presents the material, most of the audience won't get that message.

Now this leads to a very interesting conversation, as you can say the best art is meant to be enjoyed and experienced in a variety of ways. But if the artist set forth with a determined message in mind and the audience takes in the exact opposite of that message because they're experiencing it on a different level, is that a failure on the part of the artist? Keep in mind I'm not exactly a fan of the 'Death of the Artist' theory, but one has to acknowledge that sometimes the artist isn't intimately linked or aware of all of his/her influences in the artwork - even the best artists can fall prey to this. 

So ultimately, who is right? Well, as a critic, I'm not sure I can give you a direct answer to that question, because it's extremely difficult to see other perspectives outside of your own. I totally understand why people look at songs like 'Fight For Your Right To Party' and see them as glorifying the frat-boy douchebags who embraced the motto, instead of the Beastie Boys' true intention of satirizing that movement. Similarly, I get why some people think Ke$ha is a vapid bar slut, when in reality her music is satirizing the vapidity and emptiness of that lifestyle. But in both of these cases, I can definitely see the argument that one can experience the same visceral pleasure on either levels - and in the end, I can definitely see The Beastie Boys and Ke$ha being okay with either interpretation.

So with all of that in mind, let's finally talk about 3OH!3, the electro-pop 'crunkcore' act that is trying to do what The Beastie Boys and Ke$ha are doing, but can't quite make it work.

I should explain. Having their major label debut in 2008, the duo 3OH!3 struck up controversy with their hit song 'Don't Trust Me'. When accused of misogyny by critics on that album, 3OH!3 immediately made a defense that they were intending this material to be read ironically. Yeah, that song is misogynist and sketchy and goes way darker than it can believably pull off, but if I squint and turn my head sideways, I can sort of see what they meant. But here's my big problem with that defense: they may have intended to have that song be viewed ironically or on a different level, but viewed in that context, there's nothing that can be gained from the song other than the transgression, and that makes their justification seem hollow. I'll immediately confess I have something of a weakness for loud, obnoxious party music and crunk, but the fact 3OH!3 never could even resonate at that superficial level suggests that the duo can't back up their irony defense.

So why don't I like them? Well, besides the cowardice of hiding behind the irony shield - something Ke$ha, I should add, has never bothered to do, instead letting her fans interpret her material in multiple ways - they really don't distinguish themselves from the rest of the electro-pop slurry that clogged up the radio in 2008-11. Sure, they're obnoxious, but the problem is that they aren't looking to say anything with that obnoxiousness, and their songwriting lacks the sophistication or chops to rise above shallow party jams. And even on that standard alone, viewed from purely an alpha-male douchebag viewpoint, the beats are glitchy and haphazard, neither of the duo have great voices, the production is a mixed bag, and the lyrics are asinine. I'll admit they aren't quite at the level of gutchurningly stupid, worthless sound like brokenCYDE, but I don't really see anything unique that 3OH!3 provide to the modern pop landscape, particularly considering the club boom is over. 

And I really quite surprised that somehow they managed to pull another album together, ominously titled Omens. What do I think?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

album review: 'wild ones' by flo rida

Short version: it's a short review, because there's really nothing to say about it. While there are some signs of promise, there aren't enough to make the album worth a damn.

We all have guilty pleasures. Yes, even you. Don't even pretend that you don't. Even as you shake your head with disdain, you know that there is something that you just like despite - or indeed because of - its flaws and failings. I feel the admission of said pleasures is important to one's development as a critic of anything, not only because it humanizes the critic, but it also forces us to delve deeper into the question of why we like something. 

And by now, if you've been reading these reviews, you probably have an idea of my guilty pleasures already, but just to clarify them, I enjoy bubblegum pop (this is your S Club 7 and Aqua), boy bands and the occasional girl band, cheesy hair metal and folk/symphonic metal, and a musical every once and a while. 

But besides these, there's one guilty pleasure that I have a fair amount of guilt in admitting - mainly because I still have a hard time explaining why I like the genre. Is it because of the high energy, the potent dance beats (albeit often limited lyrics), or because it's music solely for the purpose of raucous partying amongst a demographic I have never and will never fit into.

Yeah, I'm talking about Southern crunk music.