Grumby, “Used 2 Want U,” 2014.
The song is maudlin, the video a bit clichéd, and the overall aesthetic very puerile, but I still die when they clink ice cream cones (ca. 1:25).
The Nerves, “Hanging on the Telephone,” 1976.
Is it possible to listen to this song too many times?
Z Money, “Dope Boy Magic,” 2014.
A prominent rap blogger, well known for referring to other rap bloggers with oblique phrasal descriptions and dropping super sought-after YouTube gems, described this song as “wonderful,” which threw me for a loop. It is though.
Hip-Hop as a Power Tool for Self-Examination: An Interview with Starlito
At the beginning of “Nightmares,” the penultimate song on the second of Starlito’s three full-length mixtapes from 2012, the twenty-nine-year-old Nashville rapper distortedly intones, “The last three books I read were The Power of Habit, Hop on Pop, and Dream Psychology.” What follows is a claustrophobic detailing of Starlito’s nightmares—an overzealous PO, no “pot to piss in,” stuck on a label full of “extra middlemen”—atop a terrain well summarized by his recent reading list of pop science, Dr. Seuss, and Freud.
Starlito’s sound has come to be defined by his husky and lithe vocals, embrace of sample-driven soft-rock beats, and complex wordplay. He made a short-lived attempt at traditional commercial success in the middle part of the last decade (while on Cash Money Records, he made a cameo as Lil Wayne’s teammate in Birdman and Wayne’s basketball-based “Pop Bottles” video), and he has spent the past few years self-releasing music and charismatically mapping his psyche on record.
THE BELIEVER: You clearly thrive online—a twenty-two-minute music video, pay-what-you-will releases, big presences on Twitter and Instagram, and so on—but you also remain rooted in Nashville and Tennessee and turn out huge crowds for your live shows there. How do you balance the internet career, in which everyone wants new shit for free all the time, with boots-on-the-ground fan-base building, which actually pays the bills?
STARLITO: The internet stuff only goes so far; if people can’t see you, can’t touch you, they can’t gain a real appreciation for what you’ve got going on—if it’s real or not. That’s where a twenty-two-minute video comes from: it’s both trying to give you insight and showing you, OK, I’m not on television like the rest of your favorite rappers or the other guys of the moment, but I have a comparable product. Twenty-two minutes being the standard thirty-minute TV show minus the eight minutes of advertising. I’m not so stubborn to think being on a major label is what prevents other rappers from doing this, that being independent is what allows me or any rapper to kick it from a real place. Regardless of the business stuff, it’s about remaining a freethinker, a free spirit.
It’s almost overwhelming to think that I haven’t had a song on the radio in three years; I haven’t been associated with a record label or any kind of entity other than my own LLC for the last two and a half years. And I made more money in 2011 than I ever had in a year rapping; and I made more money in 2012 than I did in 2011. At this point, it’s not just about the money. If it were, I would approach things differently. But even though I’m not doing it from a commercial standpoint, it’s still becoming more and more commercially viable.
For the full interview, purchase a copy of the print issue at the McSweeney’s Store.
“The ‘paperwork explosion’ expresses both a threat and a wish.”
Jim Henson, The Paperwork Explosion, 1967.
The “paperwork explosion” expresses both a threat and a wish. The threat, an old one, is that we are being overwhelmed by paperwork’s proliferation, its explosion. The wish is to convert all this cumbersome matter into liberating energy, which is exactly what explosions do. From Chaptal’s “electric fluid” to IBM’s “machines should work, people should think” to USA.gov’s slogan “Government Made Easy,” we remain attached to the idea that someday, somehow, we can liberate this energy, put it to other uses. . . .
Yet we must not miss the ambiguity here. “Machines should work, people should think.” The message repeats itself several times; it’s the core of the film’s techno-utopian vision. We can imagine IBM executives and lawyers and public-relations agents sitting across a table from the thirty-year-old Jim Henson reminding him to make sure he includes these lines in his film. What if we shifted the emphasis just a little bit? From “machines should work, people should think” to “machines should work, people should think”? Is it possible the film might be trying to warn us against is own techno-utopianism? Read this way, the film is less an imaginary resolution to the problem of information overload in the modern era than an imaginative critique of this imaginary resolution. Machines should work, but they frequently don’t; people should think, but in this day and age, they seldom have the time.
Ben Kafka, The Demon of Writing (New York: Zone Books, 2012), 149–50.
Chinx Drugz featuring French Montana, “Feelings,” 2013.
“Give a fuck about your feelings.” I actually take this in a very affirmative way.
Rick James, “Love Interlude” / “Spacey Love,” 1979.
Warm up this morning.
Claire Denis, 35 rhums, 2008.
Foxy, “Tena’s Song,” 1978.
Feel better about life, Sunday morning.
Suga Free & Pimpin Young f/ Nate Dogg - “15 Minutes To 5” (Empire, 2013)
Suga Free is a national treasure.