“Started from the Bottom”
Here at the Chocolate Grinder, we’re typically concerned with breaking new artists and gathering aural tidbits that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Drake does not fit into either of those categories, but his latest clip for “Started from the Bottom,” which he helped to direct, is so incorrigibly absurd that it deserves a shout-out. On one hand, it’s a pastiche of rap video clichés: you’ve got the “rags-to-riches” storyline (complete with ghost-riding a whip out in the snow), the non-sequitur, poorly-integrated skit inserted in the middle without any explanation, and plenty of vaguely misogynistic scenarios involving the ladies (apparently telling a girl she looks like your dead ex is a good pickup line; who knew?) But the locations and situations that Drake/Drizzy/Champagne Papi/Jimmy from Degrassi use to frame his narrative are so out of sync with those put forth by the song that you can’t tell whether he’s thumbing his nose at convention, establishing his own context, or is simply just plain confused.
Just like a bad Lisa Frank sticker collage, none of the visual components of “Started from the Bottom” match up, resulting in one heaping pile of self-serious silliness that warrants a watch solely by account of its inanity. From the dubious youth-league soccer match that opens the clip (I think the kid scoring the goal is supposed to represent Drake killing the rap game, but it’s hard to focus on metaphors when you’ve got the giant Toronto Parks & Recreation logo filling up half the screen), to the sloppy editing that creates the illusion that Drake is simultaneously flying his plane AND chilling on it, the laughs keep coming. I especially enjoyed the strange parallel drawn between “the bottom” and what appears to be an otherwise enjoyable job at a Walgreens-esque store in Toronto. I worked at CVS, and we did NOT have the privilege of a confetti deluge every night after closing, so I think Drake’s complaining a bit too much.
This might not be The Room of rap videos — as far as I know, that holy grail of god-awful hasn’t been found yet — but it’s definitely at least Gigli. And if you’re looking for further proof that nobody will ever surpass Lil B as the rightful heir to the hip-hop crown, just take a gander at this clip. And don’t ask me what any of it means.
• Drake: http://www.drizzydrake.org
I’ve been wondering when Heavy Hawaii were going to get off their asses and actually release a debut full-length. The time has come! With “Airborne Kawasaki,” the band has picked up the pace and finally gotten their heads above water. Which isn’t to say they’ve lost any of their waterlogged charm. Matt Bahama’s gargling-water vocals are still intact. The guitars and drums still sound recorded from the other end of a high-ceiling concrete room. And the 1960s pop tambourine hits and doo-wop harmonies still glue together the reckless, lazy garage rock sound. Oh yes, this is a good sign of things to come, finally!
Listen to “Airborne Kawasaki” below and look for the full-length LP, Goosebumps on San Diego’s Art Fag Records on March 19.
Pink Flame [mixtape]
Sorry I’m so late on this Lil B Pink Flame mixtape, y’all. I mean, I’ve had a good amount of time to listen to it, and this is how I feel:
I feel like nobody understands me. Like, even though I can work around that through humor or creativity (ehh, maybe), I cannot seem to be in the positive numbers of people who understand what I talk to them about. And I’m not suggesting: “Why don’t you just UNDERSTAND me?? Why don’t you GET me???” I’m talking about, “I want this green,” and then someone is looking at me like my skin is green. OR, or, like saying, “Man, I’m really happy about [whatever],” and then the person breaks down why I SHOULD be happy. I’m a very patient person. As well as extremely non-competitive. Drastically non-competitive. I live the most maybe/neutral/okay existence ever. So when people give me their “two cents” on whatever it is I am saying, I usually nod and smile and tell them thank you, because it’s important to make people feel needed.
When we get to Lil B’s new Pink Flame, I think I’ve finally figured out what’s going on. Lil B is the vessel in which Brandon McCartney can try to completely understand himself while totally not grasping that at all. Pink Flame, again, is the collective point/mixtape where Lil B is at in this stage of his life/career. And he’s OVERLY “okay.” He got the funk, yo; yeah he’s powered up, brahh. But can we get a break? I still like Lil B’s music, but I just think it’s time in his life to collect more than what he has said already. It’s all in there, but at this point, it’s suppressed, caged within the art he has established. I want him to break out of that art. Bring that new Based-swing or something. I don’t want him to smile and nod at what we expect him to continuously make. There’s gotta be more challenge to the Lil B adventure. He has the patience and gumption, the character and charm, the OKAY and MAYBE. He’s Martha FUCKING Stewart for shit’s sake!!
UPDATE: I legitimately just smacked my face on the door and am bleeding, and people thought it was joke.
• Lil B: http://www.basedworld.com
Chocolate Grinder Mix 72
For Collin Anderson
Our good friend and fellow TMT writer Collin Anderson (a.k.a. unicornmang) passed away last week. We made a special mixtape for him, featuring a song from each of his favorite 10 albums from 2012. Listen to it and please keep his family and his friends in your thoughts.
[00:00] Maria Minerva - “The Sound”
[03:40] Micachu and the Shapes - “Low Dogg”
[07:30] Shackleton - “Music for the Quiet Hour Part 3”
[17:43] Spiritualized - “Huh? (Intro)”
[18:38] BEBETUNE$ - “SIRI POP”
[19:48] Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland - “2”
[21:57] LE1F - “Wut”
[24:44] Laurel Halo - “Light + Space”
[29:11] Pete Swanson - “Remote View”
[34:16] Swans - “Song For A Warrior”
MV & EE
There’s nothing more frustrating than when someone does your job better than you before you even knew it was your job. Case in point: there’s a very fine little piece of descriptive writing that can give you just about every idea of what Fuzzweed, the latest record from the Vermont duo MV & EE, has to offer, better than whatever crap I’m already several sentences into here.
The best bit in this “MVEE head” Pete Coward’s review involves the notion of Blind Willie Johnson in space, and it’s such a key analogy. While the Blues of our fathers has reduced itself to sheer guitar solo wankery and Bill Murray cameos at guitar solo wankery festivals, it’s a good thing we have folks like Matt Valentine and Erika Elder to teach us that, in this day and age, the only real way for this kind of music to evoke something meaningful (read: something “Blue”) is to send that shit straight into orbit.
Fuzzweed is definitely that trip, and our first preview of the record is “Jacked Up,” a very pretty tune that shape-shifts between a pensive vamp and delicate balladry, all after you finally make your way through the freaky fog of guitar wah at the top. The album once again features a number of guest spots, notably Woods’ Jeremy Earl, and also comes printed with backlight-reactive ink of some kind, because blacklights are awesome. For an extra $2.50, you can nab a bonus CD with the record called Fantasy Set, which collects live recordings from MV & EE’s recent residency at Brooklyn’s Zebulon.
“London is Burning”
In the latter half of the aughties, King Blues were one of the most promising British punk groups, their sound a potent Molotov cocktail of hardcore, ska, folk, and reggae. Aside from their cherry-picking approach to punk, the group was notable (and notorious) for their frontman, Jonny “Itch” Fox, a loud, rowdy, self-proclaimed anarchist who, when he wasn’t screaming his face off or playing a mean ukulele, was known to contribute to anti-authoritarian writers’ collective Last Hours.
The King Blues disbanded last year, but Itch’s spirit of resistance is still very much alive; his solo work, a pungent breed of thrash-inflected rap with a tint of good ol’ UK-style dubstep, is just as acerbic as anything he’s done with his band. His new video for “London is Burning” takes that frenzied aesthetic and encapsulates it in what can best be described as a high school film production class project gone horribly, horribly wrong. The visuals are highly saturated and of poor quality (at one point, you can see the tape marking the boundaries of the green screen), the lyrics are blasted in Arial (decidedly the least punk rock font in the Microsoft Office suite), and Itch sports a cynical sneer throughout. It’s an indignant middle finger to the glossy lyric videos we’re used to seeing, and like any good protest, it’s captivating to the very end.
• Itch: http://itchsmixes.com