6Feb/1115

Blog Watch Edition 2: Head Or Gut

This is a weekly feature in which I spotlight weak arguments, overdetermined conclusions, fallacious assumptions, and questionable leaps of logic from all around the rap blogosphere. Please email any relevant links to thun.nation@gmail.com

No, this is not a review of Illegal’s classic Chi-Ali dis. Today’s edition focuses on a pair of reviews from different sites, focused on different releases (in this case recent offerings from Lil’B and Curren$y), utilizing different approaches, that are united by a shared love of overdetermined claims and a strange tendency to engage in armchair psychology. More details after the jump.

Lil B – Angels Exodus: Amanda Bassa’s review is a cascade of generalizing assumptions about Lil B’s music and the mental capacity of everyone not named Amanda Bassa. She starts out with the presumptuous “the masses flock to the kid, most likely thanks to sheer entertainment value,” a claim burdened by the curious pair of implicit assumptions that “sheer entertainment value” and other characteristics like originality or talent cannot reside in the same artist and that the masses cannot be attracted to both. These assumptions predictably inform the rest of the review even in instances where a greater familiarity with Lil B’s admittedly vast body of work would render them useless. In order to reluctantly praise the album Bassa feels compelled to claim that it is a complete aesthetic and moral departure from Lil B’s previous work, incorrectly  reducing the entirety of his pre-Angels discography to ” ‘Woo! Woo! Swag!’ adlibs,” “references to cooking,” “name dropping of celebrities” and “pursuing sexual romps with his male listeners’ female companions.”

When limiting her focus to the album in question, Bassa’s false binaries continue to fester. She lauds “Motivation” and “Exhibit 6” as examples of “cohesive content”1 for the sole purpose of contrasting them to songs like “Vampires” and “All My Life” remix, whose faults are attributed to being “Based.” The idea seems to be that Lil’ B’s music suffers whenever he records a song that resembles the music he made prior to the Angels Exodus epiphany that Bassa invented to justify her mildly positive appraisal of the album’s most conventional songs. Interestingly enough, Bassa does not believe that Lil B’s supposed “artistic and mental growth”2 is complete or sustainable, as she warns that the poor guy is simply prone to relapse.

Bassa’s conclusion is quite damning for both artist and listeners: fans expecting misogyny and profanity will be instantly turned off by their absence3 while their social betters will shy from “off-kilter methods of blending rapping with simply speaking and his “skewed perspective on life.”4 After reading this review, I have learned precious little about Lil’ B’s latest work but I am now intensely curious as to why Sassa is unable or unwilling to imagine an audience of listeners with a greater grasp of nuance than she displays in her review. Any guesses, readers?

My Gut Reaction: Curren$y – Pilot Talk II: From what I can tell, Max’s “gut reactions” are unedited, real-time reviews of albums. I am not sure what he considers to be the exact merits of this approach. The internet is already littered with short form assessments that eschew thoughtful economic prose in favor of uninformed, glib pronouncements. Any validity that might be salvaged from a long form response lies in its usefulness as a chronicle of the act of listening, responding, and interpreting. If the reviewer’s preconceived notions about the album’s quality or meaning are challenged or even refuted during the course of a single listen, then the readers might benefit from a play-by-play description of that process. The problem, however, is that such a transformational experience is a tall order for just one listening session.

Listeners do not need reviewers to tell them how to instantly respond to a piece of music. They are enmeshed in networks of  friends that serve this purpose. Max’s gut reaction is less an insightful narrative about the distinctive experience of listening to Pilot Talk II for the first time and more a rant about how his cursory examination confirmed the misgivings he developed prior to listening. His responses to individual tracks reflect his stubborn adherence to his initial sense that Pilot Talk II was released too soon after Pilot Talk, that the album is somehow rushed, both in an artistic and business sense. Instead of analyzing Curren$y’s techniques in terms of how they succeed within the contexts of individual songs, Max continually reminds us about how the repetition of words or phrases tests his short patience, as if to suggest that Curren$y has outstayed his welcome simply by releasing two albums in a single calendar year.

Elsewhere, Max engages in wild speculation about the choices that inform Curren$y’s music; every element of the album he finds faulty is attributed to one of three fictive concepts: a rush to finish the album to meet a release date, Curren$y’s weed habit, and a vague master artistic plan concocted and overseen by producer Ski. To some, such flimsy guesswork and easily countered reasoning might be amusing to read, but as I’ve already suggested, the same level of amusement can be conjured up in an AIM chat or message board discussion about the album. What does this kind of review purposefully add to what we know about Curren$y’s music or how to listen to it, especially when the “last word” is presented as axiomatic truth and not an invitation for further analysis? — Thun

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Related Posts

  1. I’m guessing she meant “coherent?” Actually, I have no idea what she meant, come to think of it. []
  2. Do other rappers get indirectly accused of being mentally deficient or otherwise stunted prior to recording songs that appeal more widely to reviewers? []
  3. Because they must be inherently dumb and stubborn, right? []
  4. Take THAT Eazy E, Bushwick Bill, Masta Killa, Rass Kass, Kool Keith, and Divine Styler!!! []

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17 Responses to “Blog Watch Edition 2: Head Or Gut”

  1. hl says:

    Ouch! “Blog Watch” is like the hiphop internets summer jam screen. lol Good read, but now I have to go back and read the Lil B and Curren$y reviews you linked.

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  2. done says:

    your just right with these man, and that hip hop isnt dead dudes the worst. hes dead popular for some reason tho.

    your neglecting to mention the intended humour in his reviews probably wont help your argument if this ends up bein one of those comment section debates with the author ala those meta “a labarynth, a maze” cocaine blunts posts from a while back. once he goes “you completely missed the irony” or whatever theres not much responses other than the kinda lame “probably cos it wasnt funny and that still doesnt negate the other stuff i said bout your awful reviews”

    hiphopdx do good interviews tho

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    • Thun says:

      I did address it, I just didn’t give ascribe intentionality. Intended or not, the humor is stretched thin over the course of the play by play narrative. I get it, he thinks the album has some sloppy moments and it’ll resonate if he blames them on Curren$y’s heavily advertised vices. But the problem is that he is homing in on them as problems in order to justify his original thesis. Thats not ironic humor, that’s just fallacy, and bad reviewing. But I’m preaching to the choir right now I guess.

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      • done says:

        yeah he never seems to really make any strong arguments to why he doesnt like it or have any insight at all into it really. you come away from the review with no more than that its not too his taste, which isnt really a review at all. all that comparing, blaming on outside irrelevancies and prejudice just makes for a lazy opinion peice disguised as actual journalism/objective reviewing.

        which i wouldnt really mind if it had funny or interesting writing but it doesnt. its like dude saw bols sarcastic album reviews and decided to do his own take without realising that peole read em cos bols an entertaining arsehole, not cos they actually care bout his taste. voicing an unpopular opinion just cos is pointless.

        with the internet evryones thinks theyr a journalist now, and while in some ways theyr still accountable with comment sections and all, that shit can be written off as trolling/hating. thats why objective posts like yours are important and more people need to do them, so long as they dont get all sensitive and resort to politickin and blog beef. iv seen eskay and gotty get theyr panties in a twist more times than i can count when theyr questioned in any way. least gotty has a sense of humour tho, eskays gotten a bit e-thug occasionally which made for some laughs but still.

        really sorry if the namedrops set off them dudes google-alerts or whatever

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        • cenzi says:

          I think you are both arrogant and idiotic.

          Max’s site is just that. His opinions. It isn’t journalism, and you are the retard for thinking so. It clearly states “music commentary”.

          Thun, your arrogance has hit a whole new level. Its one thing to belittle everyone and their grandma on your forum, but a whole other thing to take it to a website. T.R.O.Y. reborn should just be called T.H.U.N., since the other guys are just putting in quick links with a couple of sentences for reference. My guess is that they are too scared to write something not as “intellectual” as you. Congrats for scarring everyone with your intellectual dictatorship.

          This whole “Blog Watch” is pretentious and TROY is exaggerating their own sense of importance in this online hiphop world.

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          • cenzi says:

            and thats my gut reaction.

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          • Thun says:

            You have every right to think I am arrogant and idiotic. I’m not sure what you seek to gain by calling me that while at the same time caterwauling about the TROY forum’s terrible meanness or my supposed intolerable personality, though. Makes you look a tad hypocritical and childish.

            I didn’t criticize his post based on an assumption that it constituted journalism. I criticized it based on it being a review of an album, because that’s actually what it says on his site. That he calls it “commentary” means that his views can’t be criticized? Is that your stance?

            Really? The other members are scared to write? They are scarred by an “intellectual dictatorship”? For real?

            At which point has TROY exaggerated its importance? If its unimportant then people will ignore it, right? How is this post belittling anyone?

            You’ve bemoaned the TROY Forum and my personality as you interpret it for a while now. Are you going to continue reiterating the same stance until the sun explodes, or clarify your stance in a meaningful way? You’ve had ample opportunities to regale us all with your gut reactions.

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          • done says:

            “so long as they dont get all sensitive”

            ha relax man. calling peolple “arrogant” and “retard” is kinda personal when we both were just making objective commentary. keep that shit for message boards and the nah comment section

            what thun wrote wasnt accurate cos it was hyper-intellectual, prententious or made use of extensive vocabulary, he just made good points. yeah its not that serious, but no ones claiming thuns this big authority on how to blog properly. he just had opinions on some bad, misleading and possibly negatively influencing writing and backed them up with convincing, informed arguments. something neither amanda or max ( in particular) did in their significantly more “arrogant” in tone (especially if you take them at face value and cant differentiate between criticism and personality traits) reviews.

            this stuff needs to be kept in check, if theres no healthy, honest discussion amongst different blogs stagnancy and conservatism in music criticism thrives. its no longer 2002, saying
            “Max’s site is just that. His opinions. It isn’t journalism, and you are the retard for thinking so. It clearly states “music commentary”
            isnt really relevant when a significant number of people are increasingly getting most, if not all of their music writing online. “music commentary” is just as open to criticsim and discussion as serious, objective journalism.

            and man if people are scared of voicing their opinion next to someone they think is more “intellectual” then them then thats the fault of their own lack of self esteem, not the person whos best able to articulate themselves by using a lot of big words. a more extreme version of that kinda attitude that got bush elected twice “least he doesnt think hes better than us with all his book learnin”. fuck that. if you dont have anything interesting to say with or without a big vocab and correct grammar than dont speak. and dont blame the cunt who just happens to have been an english major

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          • Teddy C.D. says:

            done = Thun?

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          • Teddy C.D. says:

            Just playing, saw your comment at the bottom, done.

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          • philaflava says:

            “since the other guys are just putting in quick links with a couple of sentences for reference.”

            you continue to take shots at me and i don’t care, just letting you know that i’m not blind.

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  3. Ivan says:

    Beef.

    It’s what’s for dinner.

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  4. hl says:

    Regarding the Lil B review, you’re dead on. Amanda doesn’t seem to be familiar with his music, which wouldn’t be a problem if she wasn’t comparing Angel’s Exodus to his previous work.

    The Curren$y review was initially entertaining, but I couldn’t read the entire track-by-track break down of the album. Reviews like that are exhausting to read and even more so to write.

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  5. done says:

    oh. i typed my thing before i saw yours. so yeh there was no need, especially when he was talkin bout you in the first place. um im aware you can speak for yourself sorry bout that ha

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  6. done says:

    Teddy C.D.: i just dont play that “arrogant retard” shit son.

    is cenzi the one that always has them arguments with mercilesz in the unkut comment section?

    if so i retract my previous statement and fully regret if anything i said may have dissuaded you in any way from voicing your opinion in future.

    them dudes are the business.

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