September 29, 2017

Reader Review: Mobb Deep - Murda Muzik (Unreleased Version) (1999)

(So Taylor provided this Reader Review of the original version of Mobb Deep's Murda Muzik shortly after my Prodigy post, but I've been lazy about posting it. Which is still on brand for me, so huzzah! I'm consistent! Anyway, read on, and leave your thoughts for Taylor below. And as always, the italicized thoughts in parentheses are mine.)

September 19, 2017

Max Continues to Avoid Album Reviews by Commenting On Selections From Billboard's Hot 100 Chart (Week Ending September 23, 2017)

As I continue to dance around the idea of sitting down with an album and writing about it objectively, track-by-track, as most of you two have been waiting for going on nearly two years now, instead I present my thoughts on selections from this week's Billboard Hot 100 music chart, which is supposed to provide readers with an idea of what pop radio sounds like these days, but, as usual, fails miserably, thanks to Billboard's own ridiculous metrics, which incorporate sales, radio airplay, streams, how often a given track is used as a meme, flavor, thread count, blood alcohol content, and/or how much Taylor Swift factors into the creation of said track, in order to determine its placement in its popularity contest disguised as a chart of measurement.

Enjoy! Because I definitely did not.

September 12, 2017

Max's Book Club #1: Once Upon a Time In Shaolin

Although I apparently can't be bothered to find time to write about hip hop albums (will another review of mine ever grace this site? Who knows? But yeah, probably, and sooner than you or I would think *wink*), I have found myself reading more, which is nice. And with the response in the comments of my last post, in which I celebrated the late Prodigy by inviting readers to give their thoughts about his first book, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy, I figured that (a) there is still an audience for this blog, thank you very much for sticking around after over a year of no updates,and (b) some of you may also be interested in a hip hop book club of sorts. Hence today's post, which focuses on Cyrus Bozorgmehr's firsthand account of the recording, marketing, and sale of the failed Cilvaringz solo Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time In Shaolin.

As the asshole that ultimately purchased the only copy of the album, pharma-bro Martin Shkreli, is again a part of news cycles today, thanks to his recent fraud conviction and his current attempt to sell Once Upon a Time in Shaolin on eBay, I thought this would be a good time to pick the ear of your two and find out what everyone thinks of Cilvaringz, the RZA, Shkreli, and the entire project itself, which attempted to create an art-world analogue for music, and may or may not have succeeded, depending on how angry you are about the existence of a Wu-Tang Clan project that you may never get to hear. Although if this post convinces some humanitarian to purchase and/or steal the album from that dick Shkreli and unleash it onto the general public, thereby negating Cilvaringz' pretentious-as-fuck goal of assigning artificial significance to an album of his that would have never seen itself on any label's release schedule otherwise, well, I wouldn't be upset, is what I'm saying. And yes, I realize that you may have inferred how I feel about this entire endeavor with my last sentence, but the hell with it, you know I'm right.

I found some aspects of the book fascinating, especially Bozorgmehr's attempts to justify Cilvaringz's actions and the underlying subtext of The RZA, the de facto head of the Wu, in case you forgot, kind of entertaining Cilva's whims (as though there were no other members of the Clan that wanted to run ideas by him, which was fucking weird) by the mere fact that he was too fucking busy to take charge, allowing Once Upon a Time In Shaolin to happen almost through inaction on his own part at first. And then he segues into stories about hanging out with the RZA in a Buddhist temple while listening to Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) for the first time, because despite actually appearing on the fabled album (in a skit, but still), he never bothered to listen to it, and never actually wanted to, because he isn't a fan of hip hop. There's also some stuff about Cher and her guest appearance, which never personally interested me but I guess is a big deal, and there's an awful lot of ink wasted on trying to make Shkreli come across as a decent human being who was merely playing the "role" of "a complete fucking dick". But whatever.

I'd love to know what the rest of you two think of the book (so you may want to read it first), or even the album itself, since, as far as I can remember, I've never opened up any sort of forum for Wu stans to talk about how upset this move made them. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and we'll chat. And if this works out, maybe we can keep the book club running...

EDIT: ADDED 9.15.17
I wrote my above comment about this being a failed Cilvaringz solo as a passive-aggressive dig, but as it turns out there's a chance that, as with everything else, I'm right. And so the saga continues. 

EDIT #2: ADDED 9.21.17
This story will never end, apparently, as Wu-Tang "affiliate" (I use that term loosely, as most of you two will have never heard of him even though he's actually been featured on this very site) M-Eighty throws a monkeywrench into the machinery, adding a layer of doubt on Shkreli's "sale" of the album. But at least M-Eighty wants to release the album to the masses, so maybe we'll be able to finally listen to it and then dismiss it entirely, as it will be just a Cilvaringz album with maybe a handful of good performances (mark my words).


(Purchasing the book on Amazon helps support the blog, thereby providing me with more money to try to keep the site running.)

July 13, 2017

Reviews in Bulk: R.I.P. Prodigy Edition

The recent passing of Albert "Prodigy" Johnson was a severe loss for the genre as a whole. I'm not going to spend a lot of time cherry-picking my favorite bars or tracks, as that's been done all over the Interweb already, but regardless of how I felt about the man's later output (both by himself and as one-half of the formidable Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep, who was in the midst of a tour when the man passed away), Prodigy was one of the finest emcees to come out of New York in the 1990s, and, unlike a lot of your favorite rappers, the man had legitimate classic records under his belt. His cold, calculated-but-aloof flow will easily place the Mobb's finest works, the breakthrough The Infamous and its follow-up Hell On Earth, onto Best Albums of All Time lists for decades to come, and the man still had some bangers following all of that.

What follows isn't a new write-up, as I, admittedly, haven't listened to any new Prodigy work in quite some time (upon hearing the news, The Infamous and Hell On Earth were played back-to-back immediately). Instead, I've compiled a list of all of the Prodigy and Prodigy-related reviews I've written to date, in the hope that you two may discover or rediscover the man's body of work, which absolutely deserves all of the attention its received. Some of the photos may not work anymore, but I can't be bothered to fix any of those links at this time: besides, this is really about the writing anymore.

For the hell of it, I've also included what I've written about his rhyme partner Havoc, in addition to Mobb Deep affiliates Rapper Noyd and the Infamous Mobb, which gives you that much more to comb through.

May 25, 2017

Wait, Max Finally Posted Something New, And It's Another Article Following XXL's 2012 Freshmen Class?

(So here's the thing: my hiatus is still a thing that is happening. Sorry, but it is what it is. However, the past year-and-a-half have seen some false starts, such as this article I started last fall that I never bothered to finish. I've chosen to clean and press it in an effort to actually get some page views, maybe?, but when you view the song selections, keep in mind that this is something out of my nonexistent vault, and that I obviously realize that, say, Future has dropped eighteen more albums' worth of material since the time I originally took pen to paper. And so.)

This year (again, remember, I wrote this in 2016), XXL's annual Freshman Class list contains no less than two artists I have honestly never even heard of (even as I write this annotation), one that I have but don't give much of a shit about, one comedian-turned-rapper, and several rappers who all sound the same to me, and yet are each probably going to have their superstar moments, because life is unfair and hip hop is terrible. It actually made me miss the relative simplicity of the class of 2012, whom I've been following each year of their careers since making the cover of a magazine that nobody gives a fuck about anymore: at least some of those guys (and the lone token woman) rap

And with that, let's look at where the 2012 class is now, five years removed from their first taste of fame. Have any of them exploded? Imploded? Sure, whatever, who cares; this is just an excuse for me to make fun of artists that I hate while promoting the one that I actually like on here. As usual, insert the standard disclaimer about how I don't know if the series will proceed beyond this year here.

July 30, 2016

You can figure this out.  I have faith in you two.

Depeche Mode - "Lie To Me"
Clams Casino - "LVL (Instrumental)"
Radiohead - "True Love Waits"
Neon Indian - "Annie"
ScHoolboy Q - "Dope Dealer" (featuring E-40)
Ennio Morricone - "Overture" (from The Hateful Eight
The Smiths - "Jeane"
BADBADNOTGOOD - "Flashing Lights"
Sia - "Cheap Thrills"
Copacabana Club - "Love Is Over"
Pusha T - "Trouble On My Mind" (featuring Tyler, The Creator)
Crystal Castles - "Empathy"
Puff Daddy - "Money Ain't A Problem" (featuring French Montana)
Portishead - "We Carry On"
Bauhaus - "She's In Parties"
Drake and Future - "Diamonds Dancing"
Kevin Gates - "I Don't Get Tired (#IDGT)" (featuring August Alsina)
New Order - "Guilt Is A Useless Emotion (DJ Dan Edit)"
Garbage - "Even Though Our Love Is Doomed"
Nice & Smooth - "No Delayin'"


December 18, 2015

Yeah, I'm Taking A Break Now

Well, it was bound to happen.  I've been on quite a tear since February, writing two posts a week, even with the new features that focused on specific songs that were a transparent ploy to not review albums.  But life's a motherfucker, and last Tuesday I finally blew a deadline, and thus ends the longest consecutive writing streak this blog has ever seen.

I had planned on taking a break anyway after the new year, because goddamn it, I deserve one, but now I think I'll need to push up the hiatus.  So as of right now, I'm taking a step back.  Hopefully, I'll come out of the other end of this sabbatical with new inspiration or something.

In the meantime, feel free to fill the comment section with another round of what you have on your current playlists.  That was a pretty popular feature, so I figured I'd recycle it pretty quickly, as I am one of those Natalie Portman-esque assholes that believes that the right song can change your life.  I'm not able to provide my own random selections just yet, but I'll pop up in the comments soon to add mine to the mix.

Enjoy the holiday season, and thanks for reading!