The PCHA music question at hand: You can only listen to music from one artist for the rest of your life, but it can only be music that hasn’t been released yet. Anything this artist will appear on in the future counts, though — guest appearances, new bands in which they start, etc. Nothing from the back catalog is allowed.
So a few thoughts before we get into it:
1) You want someone you have faith will be around for a good long while, so artists of a certain age and bands who could conceivably break up soon are bad ideas.
2) Solo artists are safer than bands, because again — bands break up. You don’t want to bet your remaining life’s entertainment on Japandroids, only to see them split before ever releasing another album.
3) Prolific is ideal. Life is gonna get pretty boring with only one artist to listen to, so the more new music, the better. Ryan Adams>Stone Roses, in other words.
4) Diverse and eclectic get bonus points. I’d rather hear new sounds every couple years than the same old thing (however good) repeated album after album. Let’s call this the Ramones Corollary.
Believe it or not, we here at Pop Culture Has Aids are slightly lazy, and we also like to take pleasure in others’ misfortune. And with a year full of plenty of potential pop culture disasters a-comin’, our noses are quivering with the scent of easy articles. So, in addition to frilly man-thongs and bottles of Malort, here’s what I’d like Santa to leave under my tree tomorrow.
Last night the traveling road show/exercise in megalomania/last gasp of arena-concert relevance that is the Watch the Throne tour rolled into Kanye West’s hometown. Could the two most famous rappers alive justify the hype?
The Dilemma watched the throne, and reports on it after the break.
1. They Didn’t Phone It In
Anytime Jay-Z enters into a much-hyped collaboration, apathy and disaster are both distinct possibilities. And Lord knows Jay and Kanye West didn’t need to put maximum effort into Watch the Throne. They’re the two most famous rappers alive, they have an intriguing backstory together, and they’re both still creatively viable. They could have slapped their names on Metal Machine Music and it would have sold.
And the two tracks released in advance of the album weren’t filled with promise. “H.A.M.” is personality-free and generic. Meanwhile, “Otis” is fun but “Try A Little Tenderness” does all the heavy lifting. There’s a difference between sampling and just playing an entire song while rapping over it.
Luckily, the full album doesn’t follow suit. Jay-Z and Kanye take chances and they sound fully engaged. Jay, in particular, sounds more energized that he has on his recent solo work, as his verses play with different cadences and rhythms. The background tracks are more interesting than standard beat-and-a-hook modern hip hop, and it’s easy to tell that studio time was devoted to getting these songs to sound cool. Check out opener “No Church in the Wild” for its slinky, slightly sinister vibe.
Meanwhile, “Niggas in Paris” creeps along like something off The Chronic, and few if any songs are unworthy of examination. As Fluxblog posits, the duo’s adventurousness is likely due to Kanye’s influence. Kanye has always been more willing to take chances than Jay-Z, and that spirit of experimentation seems to have won the day on Throne.
It’s too early to say exactly how good Watch the Throne is, but it’s good, and the effort put into its creation shows.