(out of 5)
Um, so, what's the deal? Is Jay-Z going to show
up on every other Roc-a-Fella release to remind us
that he’s still alive and rapping, no less
than a living legend, “cuz everyone wants to
be Hov/and Hov is still alive?” Well, no offense,
Mr. Carter, but right now I’d rather be Kanye.
Yeah, you heard me right. So necessary indeed.
After all, it was Kanye’s production that brought
life to many of Jay-Z’s best singles (including “H
to the Izzo” and “Heart of the City”)
with his now-trademark high-pitched vocal accompaniments.
And while Jay-Z is still trying desperately to establish
himself as Jay-Hova—the savior of East-Coast
rap—Kanye, refreshingly, is a great deal more
humble, even daring at times to give his props to,
of all people, Jesus.
Maybe it has something to do with the car accident
that nearly took his life and had him rapping for
a time through a wired-shut jaw (bravely chronicled
in “Through the Wire”). Whatever the
reason for his humility, there is no cockiness to
get in the way of Kanye’s already well-established
talents, and they are on full display on College
The album opens strongly with “We Don't Care,” which
I’m just going to go ahead and call this year’s “In
da Club”—not much of a stretch actually,
right down to the hand claps and the lyrical reference
to 50 Cent. But where 50 Cent expressed his fondness
for hugging and, um, getting shot, Kanye sets a tone
for the rest of the album by addressing both the
hardships and the scapegoatism of growing up on the
streets (“Drug dealin’ just to get by/Stack
your money ’til it gets sky high”).
Kanye goes on to rap about further ironies in love,
religion, the music industry and, as the title suggests,
higher education. Unfortunately, his derision of
the latter rarely approach anything more poignant
than what one might find scrawled above the toilet
paper dispensers at most any established university.
The truth is, while dropping out of college and making
chums with Talib Kweli may have worked for Kanye,
it’s probably not as wise a move for, let’s
say, your typical CS major.
Still, Kanye manages to coax some humor out of
his diatribes and most importantly, he infuses
his songs with a soul and sincerity that supports
his bid as one of the best producers in mainstream
hip hop today. Plus, now, as the world is only
just beginning to hear, he can emcee too.
(out of 5)
The four members of Tokyo’s neo-psychedelic
collective Ghost have been making challenging and
engaging music since 1991, but, sadly, they have
gone largely unnoticed, not unlike an actual ghost.
So although you probably didn’t know they had
gone anywhere, they’re back now with one of
their best achievements yet: the thrilling, ever-changing
Hypnotic Underworld. It is a fitting title, as this
album is just as hypnotic as it is underworldly.
(These reviews practically write themselves.)
is a perfect balance of the experimental beats of
acts like Shalabi Effect and Godspeed You Black Emperor,
and some more accessible ’60s-esque
pop songs. (Think Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as an
example— there is even a cover of Barrett’s “Dominoes” to
close the album.)
While some people may lose patience with long instrumental
passages like the 13-minute “God Took a Picture
of His Illness on This Ground” that opens the
album, such tracks are meticulously executed and
quite haunting and rewarding for those with a discerning
And when the aforementioned first track finally resolves
into the fuzz-bass of “Escaped and Lost Down
in Medina,” it just makes it that much more
powerful. This is certainly an album where the journey
is more important than the destination.
In fact, for those already accustomed to this genre
of music, Hypnotic Underworld really is a must-listen.
Rarely does music both surprise and please as consistently
as it does here. And just when some may find the
album to be getting “boring” or “repetitive” (though
I would never use those words), Ghost responds with “Hazy
Paradise” or “Piper,” both of which
would require some sort of a stone-cold heart in
even the least open-minded listener to not be enjoyed.
And now, as it was inevitable after my first mention
that Ghost is from Japan, if I might close with
Ghost makes good music
Maybe you will like this band
If not don't sue me.