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“Improve the Technology of Record Players. ’Cause I Mean, Common Needs His Slow Jams, and Everything.”


I should probably have some high-falutin’, memorable adage with which to open this post. And no, not because Common needs his slow jams. I mean because of this virus shutdown.

One main thing I miss, to be honest, is sports, and in fact my TV’s only gotten turned on one time since the last Michigan – Michigan St. basketball game, and it was in my sort of faux-humorous attempt to find some Saturday morning cartoons in concordance with a listen to “Breakfast Club” by Z-Trip. I guess I’m fishing for things to say, but there’s really nothing to say, and if it seems like everybody’s constantly saying a bunch of stuff on social media, well, that’s ’cause they’re a bunch of morons. No, I’m serious.

Look at what they say. The COVID is now a POLITICAL issue. There are people out there, and they’re called Republicans, who basically think this is like a “fake scare,” ignoring the fact that this disease has been deadly around the rest of the world as well and other major countries in Europe and Asia have initiated similar shutdowns to those imposed in America. They will scour the Internet for any infinitesimal “victory” they can score over the basic humanitarian heads of our country overlooking our safety, the latest of which is this absurd list of medical facilities apparently calling the sources of death the coronavirus when actually it were something else that caused the patient to die.

They politicize everything because if they were to sit back and actually guilelessly attempt to employ their right brain within a swatch situation in life, they would experience an amount of insecure ennui as to drive them into an ostensible state of complete misery bordering on dementia, the vacuous horror of having to apply one’s earnest mind to his or her own existential framework. One person even tried to make the argument that “The flu killed 34,000 people in America in 2019.” The problem was, at this point, this past month, the coronavirus had killed 43 through the course of about four weeks, and that was even a figure obviously mitigated by the social distancing reform that had been enforced at least several weeks prior. Wow, who’d have thought this guy wouldn’t have an argument after all?

Now, I’ve been dabbling in a little music criticism, listening to a LOT of music but I really don’t just mindlessly drivel out a feebly semantic transcription of my half-catatonic music-listening brain onto this site, as a general practice, even though it might seem like I do. The main existential quandary at this current time I’m facing is that I really can’t stand the new Fiona Apple album, especially troublesome since it actually got a PERFECT rating on Metacritic, something almost unthinkable (To Pimp a Butterfly fell short at 96/100, to put things in perspective).

And I don’t get it, at all. And no, I’m not some misogynist snit with his undies in his loins, at least not this particular time: I’m a vocal and ardent fan of the song “Jonathan” on her last album as well as much of Extraordinary Machine like “O Sailor” and “Oh Well,” to name a few choice cuts from that. I realize it’s subjective and everybody’s entitled to their opinion but sh** an event like this should UNITE people, not get people fishing for obtuse ways to praise this album like referring to dog barks as “invigorating,” which the Rolling Stone scribe saw fit to do, or thinking it would for some reason be good for the new Apple project to have “no pop forms,” as the Pitchfork girl put it. So like, the songs aren’t catchy? But they have dogs barking? So it’s like Pet Sounds but the songs suck?

Well, it’s SORT of like Pet Sounds but the songs suck, except throw in like an eon or two of this cu** bit**ing about her personal life, screeching like an annoying hyena into the microphone and also exhibiting blatant racism, making the titular “Shameika” character into a sort of bespectacled freak show act to which Apple was “exposed,” per the cruel machinations of the world, in her high school career.

I’ve been listening to a lot of LIVE lately, which I suppose in on par with something like ordering a woman into a kitchen and then riding on a black man’s back across Manhattan to get to a croquet party, in terms of 21st century PC… they seem to be generally the most hated band on the planet other than Pearl Jam (don’t even get me started on their new anal bum cover), that Steven Hyden of the A/V Club particularly removing a stick from his craw and splattering it onto his essay “Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation” with some blindly hateful verbal inertia toward the band. LIVE is a band that started playing gigs in New York in the mid-’80s under the name First Aid Kid and for the ’94 breakthrough Throwing Copper scored Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads as producer. And I was just thinking about this: everybody accuses them of being poppy (when they’re not just straight-up “accusing them of being popular,” which believe it or not happens with considerable frequency) but I was thinking about this: no other band would have opened “Lightning Crashes” with that gentle, serene rhythm guitar part, with every other instrument tacit. It’s popular music within the realm of radio rock but only an unconscionable nitwit would be so near-sighted as to call it cheap or formulaic. The A/V Club dude seemed to take offense at the song being used for the Oklahoma City bombing ceremony, apparently just owning a natural opposition to things like commerce and existence, and whatnot, but should LIVE really be punished for creating the perfect soundtrack to tragedy, particularly seeing as the album was issued all of three weeks after Kurt Cobain’s death?

Maybe… um… they’re GOOD. Ahem. Just a thought. Sorry.

Oh yeah, this post was supposed to be about Common. Just to shoot back to the mid-’90s, when everything seemed so salient and people needed record players like they needed Fred Astaire movies, Common emerged as pretty much the premiere Chicago emcee, with a sick flow like Twista merged with a natural gift for storytelling and a sort of sound ghetto superego, as I’d like to call it.

But Common didn’t TRY to be perfect. He’d rant about how much he hated white rappers and while I don’t agree with him semantically on that, obviously, as a huge Beastie Boys and Eminem fan, I can at least respect that he’s being real and you know what else… when he says something I DO agree or connect with I can be that much more certain that it’s coming from the heart and so actually means something, to himself and to the listener as well.

And I mean, the guy wanted to make some puppies. And that’s real. Just listen to “Breaker 1/9”… it’s a song about when you have a date over but this annoying friend won’t go away (“But you insist on stayin’ and playin’ Genesis [1] / I gotta put an end to this / Poltergeist (yeee) / Haul a** / And don’t come knockin’ on my door / With the cocka-doodle-do [2]”.

And I just have to believe in Common (by the way his whole album One Day It’ll All Make Sense is an achievement and full of actual conscious hip-hop, for that matter) because I don’t know what else to believe in these days — I mean I’ve had it up to here with these morons on Facebook trying to furnish opinions in politics about this deadly pandemic, trying to produce this two-bit, irrelevant “research” as if it makes them intellectual when they probably found it on the Bro Bible or something like that.

Also, straight-up: nobody seems to flow like this anymore. Kendrick Lamar had a killer flow but he seems to have realized how stupid people are and how it’s not even worth putting out galvanizing hip-hop for these ox-headed morons who think semantically about things like disease and music (not to mention the fact that they were stupid enough to think “Humble” was a good song despite its misogynistic verbiage which you’d think would clash with today’s grotesquely PC rule paradigm). At some point Common’s flow becomes the beacon of my dissipating musical appreciation and so my instincts tell me to do whatever I can to preserve this phenomenon and any surrounding elements that might put vital emcees in a position to keep spittin’.

The slow jams, in “Breaker 1/9,” are supposed to drive off the pest, so Common can “Bang cock [3] / Better yet knock Italy [4]”, but I can’t help but wonder… would he be playing these on CD’s? CD’s kind of sound like sh**. And tapes sound even worse plus you can’t skip right to a certain song and the same is the case with vinyls (although like I said everybody thought they were frisbees in the ’90s anyway) so there he is playing it on a CD and the girl probably thinks it sounds like sh** on his terrible little boom box because sugar it really does.

Well, this is what I was thinking about: record players PRESUMABLY are a total pain in the a** to purchase, carry, set up and play music on (I wouldn’t know since I was reared on teats of Hootie and Cranberries CD’s and now have assimilated to the exorbitantly convenient and sonically passable age of streaming, clearly irrelevant to Common’s mid-’90s sex-capades), but what if they weren’t? Right now they’re definitely a “fad” on the part of people who again just can’t live up to the haunting reality that they’re really just not that important of a person if they don’t alienate other people in their everyday life, and production is pretty low, presumably driving the cost up.

There is certainly the factor of their sound quality superiority, hence making them applicable to this post, and as a side note I’d like to submit that the lack of even an ATTEMPT at technologically improving them (making them smaller, automating them so you can indeed skip to tracks by way of a computerized mechanism guiding the needle, maybe even putting multiple albums on one vinyl object) represents the EPITOME of snobbery. It’s like a being that has its orifice placed squatly within it’s a**-crack.

Well, the truth is, the CD’s SOUNDED good to Common in the ’90s [5], sort of like how bologna tastes good to a poor kid who just came home from school lunch. But I’m trying to do the right thing for the enterprise of music, here, for some odd reason (I didn’t exactly have any other plans for the day, I admit), and as Kanye once taught us, “Slow Jamz” [6] are invaluable in life. I mean, sometimes that’s what life is. You really want this annoying, smelly dude to go away. So I will.

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[1] Here he denotes the then-popular gaming system Sega Genesis.

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[2] This is apparently to mimic a rooster call illustrating this dude’s habit of annoying him at all hours of the day.

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[3] Common can be pretty foolish and phonetically showy and here he’s just juvenilely citing the Thai capital of Bangkok because he thinks it’s amusing.

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[4] This is of course his off-beat rendering of “knocking boots,” Italy being the boot-shaped country then in form.

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[5] Although I’ll never forget Consequence of Sound’s ageless CD-bashing rhetoric of claiming that the fact that only 89 million of them were sold in 2017 proved their obsolescence.

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[6] College Dropout which wields this song has really grown on me in the last year or so.

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