It’s almost as if Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are a Faygo-soaked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, powerless to effect the drama in the world around them, forced to carry out actions that were predetermined without their consent or approval. Forced to content themselves with being psychopathic pawns on a chessboard they can barely see.
Insane Clown Posse, due to the fiercely independent nature of their career, have done all of their growing up in public. After two EPs of generic gangsta rap under the moniker Inner City Posse, the crew was struggling to differentiate themselves from other Detroit rap groups. Two key things happened to make that possible. The first was hooking up with Mike E. Clark, who produced much of their debut full length, Carnival of Carnage. The second was a dream Violent J had, in which spirits from a traveling carnival appeared before him. J and Shaggy 2 Dope were charged with warning the world of the Dark Carnival’s approach. That new mission–and the new name–gave the Insane Clown Posse more than enough to differentiate themselves from the other local crews.
The mid-90s were a time when kids in Michigan needed someone to look up to, too: the closure of the GE plant in Flint started a ripple effect of poverty across the state. Detroit itself had long since stopped booming, the industrial districts largely abandoned and left to rot. In the suburbs, places like Zug Island were mythical destinations you didn’t quite believe were real. Detroit was a distant continent one only visited for brief glimpses of culture. Eight Mile Road was the dividing line.
2016 sucked in a lot of ways for a lot of people. Not the smallest of ways was the closure of Other Music, and a good handful of New York’s most beloved music venues, including the sudden death of Palisades. In the darkest times, though, the brightest of lights shine through. Here are ten glimmers of hope, to send off a dark year.
You’ve got to go see your family sometimes. You’re not a monster. Even if you’re a monster, you’ve got other monsters you need to go see, once a year or so. Chances are, in a year like 2016, those other monsters are just as scared of you as you are of them. And, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you’ll almost certainly have December 25th off from work, so you might as well end the year with the family.
Don’t you miss the halcyon days of the sample, the good old early 90s, where commercial rap artists based new pop hits around elements of earlier hit singles? Don’t you get a sick satisfaction when a tune comes on in the store, and you can’t tell right away if it’s the “original,” or the later sample? Here are six samples that do their source material justice.
Sometimes, brevity is king. An old saying, one kicked around the entertainment business, goes: “Always leave them wanting more.” Holy Ghost, Modern Baseball’s excellent new album, a clean eleven songs in 24 minutes, has me thinking about classic albums that exist as a complete statement, without exceeding the thirty minute mark. Here are six of them.
Times are Gettin’ Tough, ‘Bout Time to Start Runnin’: Four Bands That Made One Perfect Record, Then Quit
The classic career trajectory for any long-term musical artist is as follows: Artist spends entire life writing first album. Album is raw, snarky, full of poetry. Brash. Artist strikes a chord in the cultural zeitgeist. Artist is suddenly a household name. Pressure is on. Artist has six months to write follow-up album. Follow-up album either tanks, or The Artist grows under pressure and their sound grows/improves over the course of a few albums. The Artist enjoys a few years or a decade of glowing success, anywhere between three and six albums wherein the new music is informed by the old music, but builds upon it. Then, Parenthood, or Divorce, or Creative Differences enter the scene, and The Artist’s mission statement is warped. That old, raw snark is gone, replaced by pressure from The Label to keep churning out The Hits, to keep The Cash rolling in.
Eels’ singer threatened Brook with physical violence. Never forget.
Bob Dylan’s Love And Theft. Ben Folds’ Rockin’ The Suburbs. They Might Be Giants’ Mink Car. The Moldy Peaches’ S/T. Here is another look at four records that were released on September 11, 2001.