Show Don’t Tell or Tell Don’t Show?
I’ll probably elaborate on this thought later: after looking at the way Christgau was pouring out reviews every week throughout 2011, I wonder if I might change my approach in 2015. I opted to listen to fewer albums and spend more time with them. In a way it has been frustrating, so maybe I’ll listen to a lot more and rely heavily on gut instinct, rattling off A MINUSes after only two or three listens. We’ll see.
Love both of these guys. They couldn’t be further apart on the alt-rap spectrum concerning storytelling, but both have distinctive styles, fantastic production, and great back catalogs. My hip-hop coverage this year has been dismal, so here’s a little snack as I try to catch up.
HOMEBOY SANDMAN – Hallways (Stone’s Throw): Brooklyn’s Angel Del Villar must be on some kinda quest to show his word-slinging suits any style—why else have eleven producers over twelve tracks? Starting by copping Jackson 5’s “So simple as 1, 2, 3,” he continues for thirty-four lines uninterrupted with unique rhymes every time, adding a syllable in each successive lyric til he’s moved from six to eighteen, only stops when he’s “already said ‘street.’” And yes, he may have brought us the cynical “Illuminati,” but in a surprising turn of anti-antiestablishmentarianism remarks “We are the 99% locally / We are the 1% globally,” so the irony of laundry list recitation of readily available amenities in “America, the Beautiful” is that he’s not being ironic, possibly a bigger ‘fuck you’ to the hip-hop community than calling black people cowards. I don’t mind for a second he’s all “tell don’t show” with basically nothing here approximating the periphery of story—should his wordplay stay as clever as this, he can lecture all he pleases. A MINUS
SERENGETI – Kenny Dennis III (Joyful Noise): The fourth (that’s right) entry in this saga doesn’t have nearly as much rapping as any of David Cohn’s other Dennis adventures, instead heavily featuring instrumental passages by return producer Odd Nosdam and narration by Workaholics’ Anders Holm as on again/off again partner in crime Ders. The story goes: Ders and Dennis team up to form Perfecto, a hip-hop duo performing at malls wearing neon biker shorts. Predictably, Dennis’s ego and testy temper get in the way, leading to dissolution, and various hijinks ensue. I won’t say more about the story, instead suggesting you listen to Cohn’s character development from Dennehy to now, and see that he’s created a character infinitely more interesting than, I don’t know, Slim Shady. A MINUS