chaseaftersomething asked: who are your favorite music journalists/bloggers ?
In regards to the original question, I am not going to list my favorite music writers or journalists, because let us be honest clearly the blogs I read before I started writing here were Cocaine Blunts, So Many Shrimp, and No Trivia, so honestly I do not really feel like going through just listing those guys in some stupid list alongside some New York Times and New Yorker writers. Instead, I am going to post some articles that are the backbone of how I think about rap music (and most other music for that matter) or at least I feel influenced how I write about music.
So here we go:
David Drake The 30 Best Gucci Mane Track of 2008 Intro: In Ben Westhoff’s book Dirty South towards the end he talks about Gucci Mane and the high amount of respect he got from certain rap blogs; he points out that some of the hype and praise Gucci Mane might have gotten a bit out of control, which even with a dozen Gucci Mane mixtapes on my iPod I understand. But getting back to the piece by David Drake, it is one part calling out the music community for overlooking Gucci Mane and another part explaining why you should care about some heavy accented trap rapper from Atlanta. A lot has been written about Gucci Mane in the last few years, but this piece captured what was so exciting about his peak 2008 run: an audible love of rapping, a pop sense most musicians could only dream of, and releasing all this music without caving into major label or internet blog pressures, which is something he hasn’t really come close to matching in the following years.
Sean Fennessey (Pitchfork) Hell Hath No Fury Review: In ninth grade, everyone in my school had laptops, so this was when I came across a site called Wikipedia. So, I spent my computer science class looking up different rappers and bands eventually coming across a site called Pitchfork. So, on the recommendation of this review I ended up getting Hell Hath No Fury, and listening to it on a cold February night lying on the floor hearing the falsetto sung “nightmares” as I was staring up at the ceiling. In the next few years, I would see people complain about Pitchfork’s rap coverage, but I never understood why as the first album I bought on their recommendation remains one of my favorites.
Andrew Noz The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit Post-Rap Side Projects: 100% correct. Noz mentions that he cringes at the tone of the article; I can understand why as it is pretty angry considering it’s talking about a Gnarls Barkley record, but the main point of the article is undeniable. Noz comes back to this idea in a lot of his writing, as it is a firm foundation that looks for innovations and uniqueness in all of the different forms of rap music and is not willing to be stuck in what “real” hip-hop sounds like.
Brandon Soderberg No Trivia’s Song-by-Song Breakdown of 808s and Heartbreak : 11th grade was a mild year for me of too much school work, constantly visiting colleges, and actually having friends. So, 808s and Heartbreak never really emotionally hit me, but I still fucking loved the album and cemented Kanye West as one of my favorite rappers—even though he never rapped on the album. So, when I came across notrivia.com and came across Brandon’s breakdown of the album; I instantly favorited his website. Originally reading reviews of 808s and Heartbreak, I thought the album was getting dismissed as a superstar going crazy, and releasing an album that no really wanted; Brandon actual wrestled with the issues of the album, and considering the way that rap has gone the last few years this one-off album was clearly pretty important.
Kelefa Sanneh (The New Yorker) The Eminem Show Review: I’ve quoted this review before, and honestly the more I think about this review of the more it rings true for me. Not all music needs to be able to be able to bang out of a booming car system, but if I don’t want to turn a song up to 11 then part of me wonders why listen to it. In rap music, if you turn it up loud of enough you can feel the bass of a Waka Flocka Flame song but at any volume I will feel moved listening to Outkast’s “Spottieottiedopaliscious”. This review explains why I do not connect with Tyler the Creator’s Goblin or seek out the rap that inspired it, because I don’t want feel it in my chest and I don’t feel anything I want to feel, when listening to it at a reasonable volume.
Sasha-Fierce Jones (The New Yorker) Wrapping Up: Hey, did rap music stop being relevant in 2009? Well, not really but Sasha-Fierce Jones was very much on to something to start setting the grave marker for big time rap stars and the system that propped them up. I really enjoyed his original piece, but it was the discussion and other articles that it sparked that I probably enjoyed more. As different rap writers stepped up explaining why rap was where it was, and taking the extra effort to find music worth praising instead of dismissing it.
That was fun. I already quote pieces I enjoy, so anyone can go through the achieves to find other pieces I find worth reading, but I like explaining why I like and respect certain works—also I did not include any books—so I will definitely do this again.