Hit and Run …

Music News Spoken Word
I'm in a bit of a rush, but here are a few quick notices:

1. I've just been one listen through the new Jay-Z CD, Kingdome Come, which is released today. It's too early for a verdict as to whether or not this is another classic, but I can happily report that it's a well-crafted album, as musically complex and lyrically dense as a Jay-Z CD should be. The opening sequence evokes the opening of Reasonable Doubt, Jay's gritty 1996 debut album, and in many ways Jay seems to want to recapture that early work's spirit with this new work (three live cuts from Reasonable Doubt are also included with Kingdome Come as a bonus CD). Reasonable Doubt was Jay-Z's Dubliners, in a way; it's all about his hometown (Brooklyn, specifically the Marcy Projects), and it's filled with a rush of furtive confession. My favorite song on the new CD is "Minority Report", which contains some hard verses about New Orleans and world events. And I'm glad to see that Dr. Dre worked on several tracks -- basically, this is hiphop's greatest producer working with hiphop's greatest songwriter. Not bad.

2. I like Ed Champion's report on a new EC Comics archive series from Gemstone Publishing. Like Ed, I have found myself bizarrely attracted to the corny 1950's horror stories that made EC Comics a legend and also spawned the careers of cartoonists Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis and many others. The stories were often garishly violent and pointless, but somehow beautiful as well. Beats the "Archies", anyway.

3. A certain luxury San Francisco hotel is on everybody's literary shit list for mistaking Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o for an undesirable alien last week. I find it incredible that this kind of thing can still happen in America (and especially in San Francisco, which is supposed to be an enlightened city).

The horribly ironic and totally unconfirmed ending to this story is that Thiong'o and his friends left San Francisco for Los Angeles, where they sought a relaxing evening at a Michael Richards comedy show.

I'm outta here ... Jamelah will hopefully post something tomorrow ... happy Thanksgiving or whatever it is you're doing on Thursday.
5 Responses to "Hit and Run …"

by picaresque warbler on

JayHaha! Jay-Z's Dubliners. That's great. I don't think enough people appreciate "Reasonable Doubt" and for me that album is Jay's best, hands down.

by warrenweappa on

Richards' Rotten Remarks & Gibson'sIs there something in the water out there in Hollyweird? Must every generation deal with this blind hate of anti-Semitism and racism? At least with Gibson, he could have just taken one second to say to himself, "Now's the time to shut up." Richards should have invited the heckler onstage for a tete-a-tete without the slurs. Common sense ain't so common and hindsight's 20/20 but these bad examples are good lessons: this kind of language isn't tolerated in a civilized society.

by kkizer on

My name is HovH to the O-VI used to move snowflakes by the O-ZAs a hardcore Jay-Z fan, I think "Kingdome Come" is a good, but not great album. It's gotten some pretty bad reviews, but, in my opinion, that's only because he's set the bar so high. Is this Jay-Z's best album? No. Is it his worst? Some say yes. I say it's better than 90% of what's out there right now.After listening to it three times, there are several things that jump out at me. First, the overall downtempo-nature of the album. It seems to be more serious than previous albums, with many reflective tracks. Second, the lack of a hook to many of the songs. The beats are smooth and easy-going, but there's nothing that's terribly memorable. Third, the choice of themes by Jay-Z. It seems like the themes are retreads of previous albums, aside from the comments on Hurricane Katrina and Beyonce. More of the same, in other words. Anyway, after listening to the album several times, I'm glad I shelled out the cash for it, which, in my opinion, is all that really matters.

by brooklyn on

Kevin, in my opinion it takes a few more listens to evaluate a Jay-Z CD. It took me probably 5 listens to understand "Blueprint", for instance. So I say the jury is still out on this one, but there are at least a few great tracks. Hov will never put out a bad CD, anyway (at least he never has yet).

by kkizer on

I've listened to it a couple more times and it grows on me more and more. It's really mature, soulful and, dare I say, wise. Hell, he's 37. It's to be expected/hoped for. Think of what Dylan, Townshend and Harrison (and many others) were doing at that age.After I first listened to "The Black Album", I went over to another like-minded writer in my agency and said, tentatively, "This might become a classic." I think it is, at the very least, the most definitive of its era.Also, enjoyed your review of "Strictly Business". How about "Paid In Full" next?