"The rapper on the stereo explained how he felt about the Real. He was attached to it. He'd never give it up."

{ Zadie Smith, The Autograph Man, Vintage, 2002 }

"then slowly the whole fresco with the spring's gold
on Ministerio del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali
at whose gate a man came out and examined me
as I copied the name down, a bald young man
in an orange windbreaker who scowled
because of my colour and the terrorists,
and because my village was unimportantly beautiful
unlike his city and the Via Veneto,"

{ Derek Walcott, The Prodigal, FSG, 2004 }


It wires the source line airport
mean to this, corporate single

How much of the music do I believe?
From whose fingers and mouth
shall we proceed?
Angular poem, freight.
Continental courage, fresh display.


A devotion to specific albums that extends over the decades, shifts intensity or intent with daily moods or suffering. The dragged-down slowness of the bass at the beginning of "Knuckleheadz" (Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, 1995) and the song's tempo set with multiple gunshots as the bass intones before the first words. Raekwon and Ghostface's verses impeccable throughout that brilliant album, which I recently purchased on CD, not having heard it since I had the cassette when it came out. I remember my year living in NYC after graduating college, seeing this verse everywhere I went: "Claiming New York was ancient Babylon / Where the sky stayed the color of grey like heron."

So much of hip-hop is dross, but specific gems glisten more intently because of this saturation of trash. Like Jean Grae's "PS" on her current album, or the brilliant "fuck you" chorus on her EP. I think of Slint's 2 albums and 1 EP as hip-hop, somehow, even if they are "post rock," or "math rock." The scream of "I miss you!" repeated at the end of Spiderland and the self-mythology of the album cover photo, floating in water with a cliff looming behind them. Hip-hop, at it's best, is Walcott's advice for playwrights to "Think poor." Improvisation and invention out of penury, with stark tools.

Looking forward to hearing The Grind Date later today.

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