Tuesday, August 22, 2006
So, When Exactly Did Mediocre Become the New Good?
Today is an important day in music history.

Today is the day that OutKast release Idlewild, an album that many will purchase, few will understand, and almost no one will care about when the big ball drops on 2007.

It's been a pretty good year for mixed bags getting praised as startling successes, but the loving-up almost universally expected and accorded to Idlewild is puzzling at best. The Guardian and NME can be forgiven 'cuz they're British, but the normally reliable Rob Sheffield? FOUR STARS?

Come on, people.

Don't get me wrong. When the lid on my coffin is slowly lowered, Aquemini will be one of the ten records held in my steely grasp. Despite "Mamacita." But Idlewild is nothing more than mediocre.

Is it eccentric? Yeah, sure. It's crazy, man. But it ain't "Crazy in Love." For once, with the possible exception of single #2 "Morris Brown," it's the first time OutKast have been weird in such a predictable fashion. Honestly, when I heard that it would be hip-hop with swing/30's-era touches, I expected PRECISELY the record that's being sold in stores as of today. Even the '71 Funkadelic cast-off that serves as coda here didn't surprise, if only 'cuz the boys have been avowed worshippers of the Clinton Empire since day one, a fact made ridiculously apparent by ATLiens comic-book display.

But all I wanna know is, since when were we supposed to settle for this? Is rap dead? It can't be - shit regenerates like bubonic plague. But I refuse to accept T.I. and the despicable Lil' Wayne as the new saviours, just as I resisted the onrush of backpacker bullshit post-'98. I like some Lupe Fiasco allright, but his whole act seems like it was pre-manufactured to be served in a can. And Kanye West can eat a bag of dicks. Good producer, "Jesus Walks" aside. Lousy rapper. End of story.

Where is our hero, people? Who will save us now?

Must we be forced to accept the half-assed musings of an act who once littered the landscape with cast-off gems like "In Due Time" - a throwaway soundtrack cut better than anything on Idlewild?

Someone please come with salvation. I refuse to believe that my suburban love for Run-DMC and LL Cool J should end so direly.

Posted by Mallory on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 9:32 AM |

I finally listened to this for realz this time. And yeah... I would have to agree with you all the way on this one. I do love the production on "Morris Brown". I think "Call the Law" is pretty great too, but Outkast is hardly present in that track at all (and I think the idea of chasing Big Boi around with a pistol is pretty sexxxy).

Idlewild. Eh.


Today is also the day Mallory learns that the only way to get someone to post a comment is to write something about rap.

Next up - an in-depth critique of Joy Division's gay hip-hop album!

did it REALLY take you THAT LONG to figure this out?

Why don't you write an exposé about how Pretty Toney is better than Fish Scale. That's bound to garner some controversial hate-comments.

Pretty Toney is much better than Fish Scale.

And everything on "Morris Brown" is amazing, except for whatever Big Boi's passing as "flow".

Also: we're the Eight, now?

yes, it's pretty obvious common knowledge, or so we thought, that Pretty Toney is miles above Fish Scale. But apparently a few select (MOST OF THE?) Stylus peeps seriously disagree. These are just rumors I hear since they won't let me on the stylus sta...er, super secret message board...

and yes, we're 8 strong and growing!

i have to dissent and say that fishscale is by leaps and bounds better than pretty toney. for one, there is nothing on that album that can touch shakey dog. NOTHING. Pretty Toney has its fair share of clunkers and I a lot of the acclaim around it was just in hoping that he didnt completely fall off after bulletproof wallets. fishscale is the make u a believer shit. except for the 'directions skit' thats just embarrassingly juvenile.
seriously, how the fuck you gonna open an album with 'biscuits'? compare that shit to shakey dog. seriously. cmon kids.

...I happen to LIKE "Biscuits".

I think Fishscale may be better, but I probably listen to Pretty Toney more often, right now.

Yeah, "Biscuits" kicked ass. Wasn't it ages ago when Rob lifted the belt on "N[punctuation marks]s ask why I use my Glock/Cos it's 2003, muthafucka, I refuse to box"?

Yeah, it was nice to hear him get his feet, and in terms of storytelling Fishscale wins... but it's also got a lot of beats that just exist to be bludgeoned by words. And as far as sellouts go, I'd take "Love" over "Back Like That" any time. Plus, except for "Big Girl," Fishscale fades at the end. I'll take the "pop" album, if only cos I like the fascinating misfires, beats and rhymes are on the same major level, and the bathtub skit's still unbelievably what-the-fuck.

also, I think people are so blinded by "Shakey Dog" and the first few tracks on Fish Scale, that I don't know, they don't pay attention to anything else? And while "Shakey Dog" may, to some, have been better on it's own than anything on Pretty Toney (though I DO NOT hold this opinion at all), you can't base an entire album on one track's merit! If you're in it for the storytelling lyricism, that's one thing, but to these pop-ears, it's really way WAY dense and boring. WAY.

And aside from some great beats and music (as poppy as it was), the skit things KILL on Pretty Toney. Listen to Last Night again, shit.

I think the main thing we're getting out of this is that at least Ghostface is at least semi-consistent and OutKast fell the fuck off somewhere in the middle of Stankonia.

And "Biscuits" rules, what choo talkin' bout fool?

For those deluded into thinking that Fishscale falls off after "Be Easy": listen again! The last six songs are its dirty weed-clogged heart: "Clipse of Doom," "Jellyfish, "Big Girl," "Underwater." These days I just begin the album at "Jellyfish," which besides containing Cap's best rhymes since 1997's "Triumph" is probably Ghost's best love song.

PS: "Back Like That" is the most marvelous of sellouts (whatever that term means)

oh alfredo! no!

Be Easy is about where I stop listening, and even a bit before that, things get kind of sketchy. The last part of the album is near-unlistenable! Clipse of Doom and Jellyfish are at least kind of interesting, but after that. Goodness!

I like Fish Scale a lot, in that it's got a lot of great songs on it-- i'm partial to R.A.G.U., Be Easy, Kilo, The Champ and Shakey Dog... but as an entire album, it just doesn't match the intensity or coherentness as a WHOLE ALBUM that Pretty Toney achieved... noooo way.

How do things get kind of sketchy?

it just starts feeling like it's falling apart. Like "9 Milli Bros" is so damn dense, especially following up the trio of great tracks in the beginning. "Columbus Exchange" and "Whip You With A Strap" have a few good lines each, but for the most part are repetitive and boring. I love the skit with the little kid telling ghost to shut the fuck up (and wonder just how cool that kid will feel when he's old enough to realize that he was talking back to ghostface), but that heart street direction skit makes me want to just turn the whole thing off. I'm bipolar or something?

It's not that I didn't like the album. I subtitled my personal blog after a line in R.A.G.U. before the album even dropped. It as a whole is just not anywhere near the same level that Pretty Toney was.

So I really am the only one to enjoy all of Fishscale, huh? "Shakey Dog" to "Nine Milli Brothers" to "Back Like That" to "Clipse of Doom" to, yes, "Three Bricks".

I listen to Pretty Toney more often because it's shorter.

God, Cappadonna sucked. His not sucking on Fishscale is a major stumbling block for me. When he didn't drop anything as terrible as "Niggaz start to act choice, but Duncan Hines
didn't know Betty Crocker had them two nines" I felt like he'd just won the Boston Marathon.

Yeah, OutKast has seriously fallen off, right about wherever Mal said. The last truly great thing Andre's done is Slimm Cutta's "It's OK".

i swear. we are going to go to blows over this ghostface shit.

am i the only man in america that thinks 'three bricks' is dope? sure rae's verse is all on some overplayed scarface shit, but its ill as fuck.

long live fishscale.

i also prefer'back like that' to 'love', the 'im not just saying that cause BET's on' makes me cringe.

I'm just going to take this moment to remind everybody that alfred thinks hot chip are "too white" but loves the shit out of some fleetwood mac.

moving on, I like Back Like That, but Three Bricks is just, er... one Brick.

And if you start talking shit about Scarface we really will come to blows - 'Face is one of the few that can play the gangster screwface and not come off half-cocked - mostly 'cuz he and Ice-T originated this shit. You talk bad about either, I'm loadin' up rounds.

oh boys boys boys.

I bought some raspberry and orange flavored creamsicles last night. who wants one, and what flavor?

i meant scarface the film. the whole woman on the bed, the chainsaw, guys bursting in with guns....

the geto boys were guilty of some over-scarfacification too.

and "Three Bricks" was a terrible way to end that album. and way not-dope.

Thankfully my burned copy of Fishscale ends with "Underwater."

Fleetwood Mac's rhythm section is blacker than you'll ever be, my own true love.

You are so not allowed to touch me where I pee anymore.

I misread that as "You are so not allowed to touch me when I pee anymore."


ian's got some kinky ass shit going on up in his head.

p.s. you boys better keep that touching and peeing to yourselves once mallory gets here. I don't wanna be annnny part of that

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The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.