Day IV: Friday
"Leck Mich Im Arsch" by Insane Clown Posse (In case you weren't familiar with Mozart's poop-obsession, there is, quite helpfully, a rather long and detailed Wikipedia article on "Mozart and Scatology"). Third Man's Record Truck operates much like a food truck, except that it sells records out its window. There I picked up a vinyl copy of The White Stripes' classic early single "The Big Three Killed My Baby."
Next up, I met up with Adam and my friend Timmy at the Gramercy Theater for the Mass Appeal CMJ Take Over. The line for the event stretched around two sides of the block. While waiting in line, we met a Russian chainsmoker named Vlad, who told us we could buy a tank in Russia for 60 grand. This showcase was a hip-hop show, which reflected to some extent the current diversity of styles and content in the genre. Since the show was free, a large portion of the crowd seemed to be there just to see something free without any prior knowledge of the acts. Also, Asher Roth was the headliner, despite there being at least 6-7 more talented/respected acts on the bill. So while this show displayed plenty of what makes hip-hop, in my opinion, the most exciting, interesting genre around these days, this was far from a perfect concert, and there was plenty of bland, mediocre, and down-right terrible rap on display.
Starting things off was Alexander Spit, about whom there is little to be said, except that he wore pre-torn jeans and raps over obnoxious beats. Following him came Bodega Bamz, a rapper from Spanish Harlem, who has put out tracks with the likes of A$AP Ferg, Joell Ortiz and Flatbush Zombies, who came out for his last song on stage. His set was a definite breath of fresh air after Spit's, but while his rhymes were serviceable and his beat-selection decent, he appeared to be merely a mid-level talent in the grand scheme of today's rapidly expanding rap game.
Vice informs us that he "owns a grey Jeep and at least one gun." Like Bodega, Troy Ave is another mid-level talent, who can rock a mic without embarrassing himself, but lacks any defining characteristic to push him to the next level. The most memorable part of his set was him leading the crowd in several chants of "Powder!" The next act, Ninjasonik made me almost nostalgic for Alexander Spit. When you look up the word "wack" in the dictionary, there should be a recording of this band performing their terrible pop-rap over that Matt and Kim song that your annoying co-worker has as her ringtone. Following their set, a fight broke out between a rather inebriated girl, who took offense with the young man next to her for not even being from Brooklyn. It was far classier than Ninjasonik.
interview with Boldy on the blog Nothing Can Save You, in which he replies to the question, "Are you eating strictly off music now or is music a side hustle?" by saying, "In between the tic tocs of door knocks, rain drops, & gun shot’s, 3 hot’s & a cott, while runnin from the cops. Rap don’t feed me, so I eat from doin other things. It’s not a hustle yet it’s just something that I love to do whether I get paid for it or not. I look at it as therapy & I’m my own personal psychiatrist." From that point on, I couldn't get enough of the man. His set did not disappoint, featuring some of my personal favorites, "Home Invasion" and "I Sold Dope All My Life," as well as his recent Inglish-collab "For the Birds."
Day V: Saturday
snarky, meanspirited article about the band's earlier performance at CMJ, written by Carrie Battan, who also managed to call Lil B's recent excellent, hilarious mixtape Obama Basedgod "downright boring, joyless, and indistinguishable from hours upon hours of the rapper's throwaway material." Seriously, "United States of Thuggin'" is boring and joyless?! I must experience joy and boredom in a very different way from this lady. Here's what she wrote about Foxygen: "These kids are nothing if not serious students of their parents' record collections, and their live show read like a mid-aughts Battle of the Bands at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Luckily for them, there's no shortage of nostalgics hungry for their brand of sturdy, boilerplate psych and glam-rock tunes." Ouch. While it's true that Foxygen clearly are serious students of music history, I see this less as something to make fun of than to celebrate. Shouldn't we want our young musicians to care about what came before them? And I must disagree with her characterization of their music as "boilerplate." While the band comes from a lineage of fuzzy, exuberant psych/glam/garage rock, they have crafted their own distinctive sound. Additionally, the hilarious stage banter of their lead singer Sam France, and the clear fact that they're having the most goddamn fun when they're on stage sets them apart from any band I've ever seen live.