Posts from 3rd March 2001

Mar 01

Two bits of admin

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Two bits of admin:

– now I’ve got a proper archive sorted out it’s time to work on NYLPM’s first ever redesign. This means a much-expanded links list on the sidebar, among other things. So if you run or know of a good, regularly updated music site, now is the time to bug me about it.
– I am very much back into the idea of running reviews on NYLPM, so calling all contributors: post away! And if you want to contribute yourself, that e-mail link works for you too.

LUDACRIS – “Southern Hospitality”

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LUDACRIS – “Southern Hospitality”

Watching the devil: Greil Marcus doesn’t seem to have much time for hip-hop now, but way back in ’92 he wrote one of my favourite rap reviews ever, taking time to pick apart the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me”, in particular the final verse, where Bushwick Bill meets a giant on the street at Halloween, who turns out to be the devil, or something very like it. That devil vanished (leaving Bill feeling “just like a fiend”), but in “Southern Hospitality” he’s back, and this time he’s the one on the mic.

“Cadillac grilles, Cadillac mills, check out the oil my Cadillac spills” thunders Ludacris as the track starts, an extraordinary, resonant opening that makes the rapper sound twenty foot tall. Desert-dry Neptunes beats, the ghost of a pan-pipe and an electronic hornet buzz are the backdrop to this half-sermon, half-gloat, as Ludacris places himself midway between Stagger Lee and JR Ewing: one part tycoon, one part pimp. His delivery is harsh but measured: you are in his country now, he owns it, and that means he owns you. If you were feeling fanciful (but not so fanciful) you could call “Southern Hospitality” the first great record of the Bush era, as Ludacris sings a Dirty South where money is power, and where Ludacris has that power, and knows it, and knows America knows it. “If you sweat in your sleep then you sweat for me”: pure evil, and essential listening. Especially for Greil.


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“all my girls at the party, look at that body,
shaking that thing like you never did see,
got a nice package alright,
guess i’m gonna have to ride it tonight.”

thus begins janet jackson’s new single, “all 4 u.” it’s also an infectious hook line that serves as a strong counterpoint
to the chorus melody. but as a guy and a “music critic,” these lines trouble me. why?
– do i object to be objectified? to being reduced to my anatomy?
– does janet’s wispy, “little sister” voice, when combined with the above, sound utterly inappropriate?
– do i just not like the word “package”?

i don’t mind the first one: frankly, i’d love to be used for my body. the second reason is my main problem with it, and essentially with all of janet’s attempts to be sexy. from the rolling stone cover to “anytime, anyplace” to this, i’ve never found her attempts to be some sort of black madonna to be effective. her public persona is far too shy and she always shirks away from discussing sexuality. a great example: on the velvet rope, she covered rod stewart’s “tonight’s the night” and much ado was made of her not changing the pronouns. great idea, sure, but to sell it, you’ve got to talk to the press about it, tell them, i don’t know, that you’ve always been bi-curious. janet went out of her way not to discuss it at all; it doesn’t make her look like a tease, it makes her look like a prude.

there’s something peculiar in the way janet flaunts her sexuality, as if she has something to prove — to us, to herself, to her family — like she is ms. jackson and, oh yes, she is for real. these lines and the chorus, which suggests that janet’s all yours (sexually!) if you just ask, seem to be her most egregious use of sexuality to date. the song itself brings to mind a word that i’ve used far too often recently to describe her word: “pleasant,” as opposed to, say, “good” or “inventive,” and let’s make no mistake about it here, janet’s work with jam & lewis in the 80s was quite inventive and groundbreaking, not so unlike aaliyah’s current partnership with timbaland. there’s a sample of change’s “the glow of love” and you’re in no immediate danger of having the chorus stuck in your head, though the quoted lines above are a different matter. it reaks of laziness, which bothers me as a drop-off in the work of jam & lewis in recent times has become measurable.

imagine if, as tom said to me, robbie williams were to do a similar song where he says a girl’s got nice knockers and he wants to knock her — i’m not a songwriter, obviously. what would the reaction be? it might become a sort of anthem for the fellas — i’m sure he’d love any controversy it’d kick up, love to talk about it to the press, unlike janet — and, so too, maybe this is just a song for da laydeez, and they’re welcome to it. girls, it’s all for you.

oh, and i REALLY hate the word “package.”

Here’s What I’ve Been Doing All Day

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Here’s What I’ve Been Doing All Day: laid up with an injured knee, a hurt back and a stinking cold, I’ve spent my day doing something I’ve been putting off for ages and re-organising the archives properly. Every single review we’ve ever done (almost) now has its own link, and there’s a selection of some of our finer discursive hours, too. The font is really small, but it has to be really. Enjoy!