Big Boi

April 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm (1)

There’s some label trouble with Big Boi’s new album, Sir Luscious Left Foot Saves The Day: Big Boi said in an interview that it was just him wanting to get all of the elements of the project in line, and, judging by the incredible range of guest stars on the album released so far, his story checks out. Just the slow and steady cultivation of a pop behemoth, an artist seen in the public eye, which is the most interesting thing about the album’s release. Compare this to the more recent example of Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreaks being slowly leaked, just exploding from listening parties to leaked copies the days after, and it’s clear how albums are made these days: In the public eye.

With a completely transparent process, the entire process becomes part of the enjoyment: and compared to Kanye West just beginning to share too much of himself and his music on TV, Big Boi has taken the lesson of multiple leaks, in between mixing and mastering, and given a remarkably conservative album: his neo-classic confidence compared to Kanye West’s genre smashing catharsis. With a range of leaks (that may or may not make it onto the album) either sampling literally from the past (“Royal Flush” and “Shine Blockas“) or made with synthesizers and vocoders from the past (“Fo Yo Sorrows” and “Shutterbug“), the album stakes up an aesthetic of playful manipulation moreso than any other hip hop album lately: it’s no accident that it’s also one of the funnest around.

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Forum Rhetorical Strategies Before They Were Cool

July 15, 2009 at 3:20 am (1)

For the forum comics reader lamenting the raping of one’s childhood (who would probably be very far away from this blog), I present Alex Toth, 1991, who lamented the dirth of entertainment’s moralities both before it was cool to link it with the apocalypse, and to also provide a reasonable framework for the apocalypse (logically, he gives it a couple generations for Shadowhawk to turn into the Anti-Christ), and while he does imply that comics need to be changed, he spends more time in lament than imperative, a slyer move when one’s target is an industry instead of its itinerants.

Oy.

If only he drew this manic condemnation in minimal black and white style, an inferno creeping up with background images of children reading about Speedy shooting heroin turning into vicious mosnters. For an artist at once concerned with both storytelling detail, innovatingly dropping backgrounds out of his frames to intensify moments and plopping details into a comic’s setting to slow it down, all while obsessively focused on the formal aspects (just read through any of his Zorro comics and look for the lighting source in each comic. Characters walk around a room, shadows remain fixed, and proportions are scrupulously maintained). Which is to say that he abandons all of these conventions besides the usage of no verbs to make his adjectives more exciting and powerful, ironically inverted to his common dropping of the background’s nouns to foreground a story’s verbs, in this small prose piece. He instead becomes the grumpy old man (whose work) we all know and love telling Howard Chaykin his comic skillz are terrible, and the gentle fan humbled that he even got an insult from the man.

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Okay, my OTHER favorite type of superhero comic came out this week.

July 9, 2009 at 3:19 am (1)

I have definitely been getting back into comics lately these days, but mostly it has been like me finding a good price of those spiderman/Carnage/Silver Surfer issues on ebay instead of ones that are interesting to blog about. An exciting situation carries an artist well versed in costume designs but little else, my review would glumly say before scans and scans of pure, Cosmic Carnage, and any detached, critical thought evaporates from my gleeful eyes.

This trend, however, changes with this week’s comics in a big way. May I introduce the best idea for a 12 issue comic event since Solo or maybe even Big Numbers:

Wednesday Comics #1

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Another Reason why Target is twenty times cooler than Wal-Mart

March 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm (1)

Wal-Mart got AC/DC and Guns and Roses exclusive selling rights: Target gets frickin Prince! And charges $12 for two CD’s worth of Prince stuff! Plus a bonus disc of his own protege stuff. I’m just going to have to fight back all urges to actually buy music there.

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Linkblogging, linkblogging. It’s like news, but without journalistic integrity or objective events to report on.

February 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm (1, Comic Books)

I direct all my readers (you’re there, right!?!) over to Jog’s review of the latest Alan Moore Epic.

It sounds like a formal ball to untangle more than the blunt thematic push of the first couple volumes, but it doesn’t read as exhaustingly as the Black Dossier, and looks to be a solid addition to the LoEG saga in style if not in ideology, the latter of which Jog discusses at the end of his review, when talking about two characters, Orlando and Raffle.

First is the politics inherent in Moore’s portrayal of Orlando, a person occupying both genders who (in Jog’s words) can only seem to fit in a stereotypical dichotomy of male as combative and female as effete. He makes some pretty serious assertions that Alan Moore is (un?)consciously reductive of homosexual mindsets as found in his representation of Orlando, who is “set up in Black Dossier as torn between the sensuality of his feminine nature and the warlike thrill seeking of his masculine side; a little pat in the dichotomy, but sure. Unfortunately, the Orlando glimpsed in this comic is always male, and little more than a chatty, sashaying fop who — surprise!! — turns out to be hell in a fight at the end.

It’s remarkably close to stereotype, and even then only one part of a generally tee-heeing approach to male homosexuality that chafes against Moore’s oft-voiced yen for social justice and liberated eros. I eventually got to the point where I wondered if Moore deliberately omitted mentioning the averred gay subtext of Raffles’ character (perhaps so the League wouldn’t seem too gay) or just expected us all to know that already, and thus left it unstated amidst complaints of Orlando being a “he-she.’

I’ll get back to Orlando, but Jog pretty much describes Moore’s poor representation right there. I knew nothing of Raffle’s character before this, but the character after whom Raffle was modeled was George Ives, who was a progressive gay rights campaigner in the early 20th century, much before it became a national issue of the United States. Moore, who culls arcane bits of knowledge and tradition of fictional characters, the author whose art requires books of annotations, doesn’t seem to mention anywhere of Raffle’s homosexual sub text, especially when Raffle’s creator went to great lengths to provide it with some?

At least, I’m just going by Wikipedia, that other compendium of another’s interpretations of pop culture. When describing Georges Ives as the role model of Raffles, Wiki mentions that Ives is a discrete gay, even though a lot of Ives’ actual wikipedia page has most of its actual information involving his orientation. Raffle, however, did not read Ives’ histories of sexuality very well: although Hornung “may not have understood this sexual side of Ives’ character”, Raffles “enjoys a remarkably intimate relationship with his sidekick Bunny Manders.” At least if Hornung’s representation of Raffles lacked substance, he did not deny that part of the man. Alan Moore, however, seems to distort this lack of knowledge to a stylistic extreme, not even referencing an intimate relationship with a sidekick. The question on my mind is whether or not Moore is saving the reference for a later issue in the series.

It doesn’t seem too likely. (edit: 7:39 PM: especially since I just remembered that the series takes place over three teams and three time periods! *ulp*)

In an opportunity to demonstrate an advanced (or at least experienced) knowledge of gender, he sees a transvestite as bipolar, as agressively effete and feminine except when manliness is required in a life and death situation? This is an almost insulting paradigm applied to gender, and this comes from the author of Lost Girls, whose book practically begs to have eros unrepressed, cannot bring the same liberation outside of the bedroom? He determines his character’s identities by their deviant sexuality?

With a simple view on gender often comes an even more dangerous view on orientation, but it’s not like Moore does worse than rudely omit here.

I should mention that I’m most looking forward to actually reading the issue, though!

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December 1, 2008 at 10:01 pm (1)

Plok finally got his big Millar post down. And it’s pretty big, and long, and introduces concepts not fully fleshed out until after they’re used as incredibly important concepts guiding his readings of Millar’s comics.

BUT, here’s the awesome part: it starts by defending Millar and his controversies as acknowledging the commonly accepted boundaries of what can happen in a superhero comic (Heroes the example of the perfect, normative superhero media: I agree), and how, at his worst, he’s a graffiti artist more concerned with desecrating the landscape than using its much-viewed urban real estate as a platform for underrepresented media, and at his best, the graffiti art is kinda good to look at.

But (there’s always a but), this pointing out of superhero genre cliches ISN’T too subversive anymore. Marvel publishes The Age of Sentry, fer chrissakes, not to mention their multitude of Marvel Essentials that prove inadequacies of the publisher much more than essential, character defining moments. It isn’t enough to point out plot or character inconsistencies and laugh at them, no: Millar becomes even more rebellious than his peers by taking these concepts as dreafully serious! See: Ultimates and Wanted, which ingrains transgression not just through having what the villains consider

But (Oh how Millar surrounds even his critical tendencies with T&A!), all of this wanton destruction, often at the risk of critical and audience appreciation, eventually comes to a point where the critic can no longer point out Millar’s own work as good of any kind, and must paint over the subway wall with iridiscent pink and gang signs. So: Plok ends his piece by saying that all of this anarchy eventually leads to death and doom, but it shouldn’t, because it’s art aware of its form and using it to broadcast a politically subversive message.

In short, throughout the entire essay, we’re being told that what Millars doing is very good, even though it’s actually bad, and Plok goes through hoops to tell us how transgressive and sloppy it can be. But Iron Man is the champion of Civil War despite the evilness of his agenda, America is the bad villain of Ultimates 2 that turns all of its heroes into incarcerated neurotics, but we cheer for them when the evil Russian menace is defeated. And Mark Millar gets championed at the end of the essay, even though his agenda is reckless and terrible compared to the long term considerations of Morrison and co, because the opposite, not supporting innovative comics, just helps Heroes excel even more.

And it ends with Plok disparaging the reader for wanting more out of the story than what he’s already listed as its positive qualities. I can almost forgive the ending of Wanted, now (but, I’m sure, when I go back to read it, the codification of Millar’s work gained from Plok’s readings will vanish as the work resumes, and I lose my suspension of disbelief as my own rules of Millar’s work return; such is solipsism.).

I kinda feel weird not writing this as a comment on his site, but it’s really more a review than an actual piece of discourse. Check it out!

***

I promise I got a lot of posts just cooking under the surface, especially the one about Of Montreal’s SKeletal Lamping and what makes it a frustrating, transcendent, but mostly sloppy new album. When I finish a couple finals related madness over the week, I should return with semi-daily posting.

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Thankfully, The New Yorker is There to Validate My Taste in Hip Hop

November 24, 2008 at 4:01 pm (1)

They like FlyLo, too (well, at least Sarah Frere-Jones appreciates his innovations if she isn’t as enamored by the entire product as I am), and, this is the kicker, it’s for mostly the same reasons that I do!

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November 24, 2008 at 1:47 am (1)

I talked a little bit about hip hop as cartoony music if taken to a sampledelica extreme: here’s a great example. All the vocals were taken from a movie, whose scenes are even sampled and recreated by the director here, all strictly adhered to until the facade of strict reinterpretation fades: the cast gets together for a conga at the end, and it’s perfect:

Also: the Flaming Lips Live, because there can never be enough videos documenting their shows. Stick around for the nun around 8:15:

For a more lively set (but worse performance), check out this cover:

Next: Of Montreal’s New Album.

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November 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm (1)

We can only hope!

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Thoughts on Entourage- Part Two

November 6, 2008 at 12:06 am (1)

The first one’s here or below. I think I actually talk about recent episodes in this one.

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