albums i feel too strongly about, volume one: yes, this contains hip-hop commentary

DISCLAIMER: this may be not only one of those updates where i talk about the dreaded hip-hop music, but also one of those updates where the topic is something that no one except myself would find interesting in the slightest. but that being said, in the never-ending quest for additional content…

one thing i have noticed is that i often find myself at odds with established critical or popular standards for what happens to be either an artist or band’s “best” work, or even sometimes just a work that i think rocks that the unwashed, undernourished masses think is not. sometimes these are mildly disagreements about which it’s not really worth debating (i found Redman’s Reggie to be reasonably acceptable, but apparently no one else did, but fuck it, it’s no Dare Iz A Darkside, so i have just expended the maximum amount of energy to defend it that i am willing to), but on the other hand, there are times when i feel really compelled to defend such an album.

these are some of those times.

the Final Cut
“make them laugh… make them cry… make them lay down and die”

Pink Floyd – the Final Cut
the argument generally presented: let’s just start with something for the white folks out there. okay, so most people that like Pink Floyd simply have a low opinion of this album; i don’t know a single person, aside from myself, who seems to listen to it as much as any other Pink Floyd record, or hold it in high esteem. i’m assuming they see it as at best a disappointment and at worst a failure.

my thesis: so here’s the deal: everyone loves the Wall, and yet the Final Cut is the same kind of record (Waters working through his emotional problems with rock music), and it’s basically leftovers from the Wall (or, alternatively, can be seen as a sequel to the Wall), and, frankly, it rocks. now i admit it can be a little more preachy about the 1980s, and it’s always easier to take preachy when it’s about a different generation. but let’s not let all the drama about Pink Floyd kind of breaking up overshadow the fact that the Final Cut is at LEAST better than every single Pink Floyd and/or Roger Waters album that follows it.

how strongly do i feel about this: well, the problem is ultimately that Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here and The Wall are phenomenal and, okay, probably better records. and i will always argue Animals is their best album. so there’s a limit to how much praise i think this album should get. maybe i just want it to get a little respect? that’ll do.

Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age
“whole lotta love going on the in the middle of what? say what? what’s going on?”

Public Enemy – Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age
the argument generally presented: Public Enemy is generally overlooked now (i think i am the only person who continues to buy their albums), and maybe remembered as the group Flavor Flav was part of before he became a terrible mess all over your television. before that, they had a ridiculous run in the 1980s, but by the time Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (also known as The Worst Album Title Ever) came out in 1994, i think people were already viewing them as on the decline, with this album kicking it off.

my thesis: quite simply, this album is better than two of the albums preceding it, better than all of the albums following it, and good in its own right. you still have the Bomb Squad dropping excellent, sample-laden production you could NEVER do today; the album has a top-five opening song (“Whole Lotta Love Goin On In The Middle Of Hell”), a top-five rap song sent to a slow beat (“I Stand Accused”), and one of the all-time greatest bitter songs ever recorded (“Aintnuttin Buttersong”). there are some serious duds on the album, there is an awkward rock tune near the end, and there’s a little bit much Farrakhan-loving for people who find him ridiculous. but this album sounds phenomenal.

how strongly do i feel about this: very strongly; i can remember a time when this tape was constantly playing in my old-ass Escort, which makes me seem like a lame guy with a cassette player in a battered Ford, but it is what it is. i won’t argue it’s better than It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back or Fear Of A Black Planet … but after them, it’s next in line. it’s also the reason why i’m writing this update, if you want something to blame it on.

Quality
“what i’d say to a dead cop’s wife? cops kill my people every day, that’s life”

Talib Kweli – Quality

the argument generally presented: we’re now about to enter the world of rap nerds, because the fact is that the average dude doesn’t hate on Talib Kweli’s second album, because they don’t even know who he is. but the nerds (and critics), you see, they loved his album with Hi-Tek, and kept trashing the following ones as being less experimental and ground-breaking, and much more in line with what we’d call “selling out.”

my thesis: absolute garbage. this album features great production (including some pre-superstar-Kanye West) and some monster tracks (“Get By,” “Good To You,” “The Proud,” “Guerrilla Monsoon Rap,” the list goes on) and while it’s probably true that it’s more commercially-oriented and less “ground-breaking,” the fact is that “Get By” is awesome whether or not you can heavily market it as a single. sometimes this happens because SONGS ARE GOOD. how i feel about ground-breaking can be paralleled with how i feel about game reviewers panning games for not being innovative enough: sometimes an album or a game can just be fucking FUN.

how strongly do i feel about this: pretty strongly, but at the same time, while i could convince a casual rap listener, that guy was never the problem. and you can NEVER convince a rap nerd (and probably not a critic), so it’s not REALLY worth arguing. that said, if the topic comes up, i’m all over it. and i’m even willing to go to bat for the Beautiful Struggle, but with less energy expended. it IS notably worse than Quality.

All We Got Iz Us
“ain’t no one we can trust… ’cause all we got is us”

Onyx – All We Got Iz Us

the argument generally presented: the average person cares about one song (“Slam”) off one album (“Bacdafucup”) and if MAYBE they’re old enough to be nostalgic, they remember that second single (“Throw Ya Gunz”). they further believe that Onyx as a group offers nothing more than those two songs of any redeeming value.

my thesis: granted, i understand that “Slam” was a monster hit that overshadows everything else Onyx would ever do, whether as a group or solo. now, their third album was good, Sticky’s first solo album was good, and everything else after those was just not worth acknowledging the existence of. but between Shut ‘Em Down (solid album #3) and Bacdafucp up came this wonderful album All We Got Iz Us, which features some stellar production from Fredro Starr (which he would never replicate, for some reason) and the angriest, bitterest, saddest raps that can be summed up as presenting the following thesis: “life is shit and everyone despises us and we hope we die soon, but failing that, we hope everyone else dies. violently.” however, please do not confuse this with a Cannibal Corpse album. this one has rap music on it.

how strongly do i feel about this: this is the greatest album ever created. if you disagree, just know that you are wrong and stupid (and a bad person), and i will never let you forget that. EVER. or we can just talk about something else.

real update next week (or, uh, FOR next week), i swear! maybe i swear. i don’t know.

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