Tragically Mainstream

No guilt, only pleasure.

Category: Reviews

MCHG: Jay-Z needs a mid-life crisis more than we need this album.

by sethisan

It took me a while to decide what I felt about Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

The album is currently on display next to one of the original manuscripts of the Magna Carta in an English museum. Would MCHG make it to any sort of museum on its merits? Not really.

It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. There’s a Tate Modern reference. There’s yet another foray into the dad-rap genre. There’s the (obligatory) Frank Ocean and the (new BFF) Justin Timberlake as guest crooners.

It feels almost impossible to talk about Magna Carta… Holy Grail in a void, devoid of comparisons with Yeezus. These are their first albums post the Throne collaboration, and while Kanye is going strong, crafting novel soundscapes and an exhilarating new anti-corporate manifesto, Jay-Z is another matter.

Mr. Z, for a man who once spoke the lines:

No lie, just know I chose my own fate
I drove by the fork in the road and went straight

as a promise of artistic coherence and integrity, now seems to be in a place in his career where the case for taking a wrong turn or two is getting stronger with every album he puts out.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Yeezus Reviewed

by sethisan

On “Ready to Start”, a song off Arcade Fire’s third album, The Suburbs, there is a line that goes:

“All the kids have always known that the Emperor wears no clothes / but  they bow down to him anyway, ’cause it’s better than being alone”

Kanye West has always been that enfant terrible who refused to “bow down”, and consequently, has often paid the price of “being alone” – a theme frequently explored and indeed, elevated to the status of messianic sacrifice, most notably in his 2010 masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

It seems only logical then that Mr. West, having dabbled in comparing himself to superheroes and pharaonic God-Kings, escalates the analogy to the ultimate apotheosis, and this bring us to Yeezus.

Right from the near-paranormal chorus in the first track, “On Sight”, Mr. West makes it abundantly clear:

He’ll give us what we need
It may not be what we want

The song begins with jarring distortions that smack the complacent listener in the jowls, forcing them to pay close attention – Yeezy is back and he knows who’s been naughty. Read the rest of this entry »