Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Jay-Z

Pitchfork says meh, Graham says yeah, but until I actually hear it, I'm going to split the difference with a myeah.

A much as I want Graham's take – "The beat is ridiculous both in the sense of its overwhelming dopeness and the expectations that would seem to be built into it... [Jay's] flow continues to be miles ahead of anyone else working today in the mainstream (and probably the underground...)" – to be right, and as much as one should always mistrust Pitchfork, especially when it comes to hip hop, this sounds all too plausible:
The stubborn Hov-apologist side of my brain wants to inflame lame excuses. It's better than "Change Clothes"! It's not easy to flow over this shit! [...] But, really, we've been waiting two years for this. There's no excuse. "No two alike like a snowflake," he says, obviously not referring to his own lyrical output. With few B.I.G. lines left to plunder, Jay recklessly reverts to his own past. Seasonal updates. Gold bottles. "The king's back!" And, of course, the Jordan obsession, which is getting creepier (and lazier) by the verse.

[UPDATE: Listened to the track a couple of times last night, and I’m going to have to go with Pitchfork for this one. The beat is interesting – maybe a little too interesting: these self-hyping, horn-heavy “events in sound” get tired fast. But the fault really lies with Jay – at his best, the man can ride a beat as if there’s only half the earth’s gravity in the vocal booth, and he clicks here a lot during the verses, but mostly it sounds like he did it all in one take at the end of a long day. The beat just keeps getting away from him.]

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