2012 was a good year for hip-hop heads not least because it was a year that saw the emergence of Joey Bada$$, a preternaturally-gifted rapper from Flatbush who (incredibly) turns just eighteen later this month.
Thinking About Frank Ocean
CHICAGO — In the summer of 2011, back before his blown-up image started selling thousands of records, I discovered Frank Ocean while looking through a batch of new releases, through a then-mysterious single called “Novacane.” First I was drawn in by the lyrics, with their Kubrick references, subtle wordplay, and evocations of a young man so passive-aggressively alienated that cocaine, Viagra, porn stars, sex, and even music can all go parading past him like a perfect L.A. daydream and he feels absolutely nothing. Then I realized I was addicted to the rich, polished keyboards and the expressive melody they provide. The song is a formal triumph. What sounds like warm commitment is in fact Ocean relishing his emotional isolation, digging his heels in further and further and liking it. This is a dangerous message, especially when kids are already using your records to escape the world in the first place. Sucker for dangerous messages that I am, I fell immediately in love.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (December 2012)
This month, reviews of Kendrick Lamar, a collection of international dance music, Miss Pooja, Bat For Lashes, the Funkees, Elle Varner, Pitbull, and Gudda Gudda.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (November 2012)
I hate to say this after Obama’s reelection, but my faith in popular taste has been shaken a little: except for Fiona Apple, none of the biggest sellers this month are worth your time. You could think of these records as the music industry’s way of stealing your money. Or you could simply refuse to buy them. BitTorrent, the world needs you.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue: Run-DMC Special
CHICAGO — Inspired by Michael Tatum’s Downloader’s Diary, where Tatum has so far published two full-artist reviews, I tried my hand at this form, and this is where it got me. It’s a great excuse to extensively play records I otherwise wouldn’t have enough time for, not to mention a way to understand a type of chronological progression that most people listening to music retrospectively often miss. Why I picked this one specifically I’m not quite sure, but it was worth it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Run-DMC, the hardest-rocking band in hip-hop.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (October 2012)
This month, reviews of Twin Shadow, Bob Dylan,The Rough Guide to Highlife, Istanbul 70, The Sheepdogs, Orient Noir, Deadmau5, and Jens Lekman.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (September 2012)
This month, reviews of Flo Rida, Ab-Soul, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Purity Ring, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Blood on the Dance Floor, Frank Ocean, and Lee Brice.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (August 2012)
This month, reviews of Curumin, Tyga, Rye Rye, Waka Flocka Flame, Clams Casino, Patti Smith, The Gaslight Anthem and A Place To Bury Strangers.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (July 2012)
This month, reviews of Far East Movement, Loudon Wainwright III, Kimbra, Lee Ranaldo, Norah Jones, Royal Thunder, Rhett Miller, and Nicki Minaj.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (June 2012)
This month, reviews of Plug, Silversun Pickups, Issa Juma & Super Wankiya Stars, Allo Darlin’, Yuna, Amadou & Mariam, Odd Future and Beach House.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (May 2012)
This week, reviews of Esperanza Spalding, Madonna, Black Dice, Spoek Mathambo, All-American Rejects, Rusko, Jack White and Chromatics.
Fagen’s Critical Catalogue (Apr 2012)
This week, reviews of Die Antwoord, Sleigh Bells, Gotye, Karantamba, Frankie Rose, Fun., Todd Snider, Cloud Nothings and more.