Friday, December 01, 2006

We do it for respect because no one will give us money

I am a man of moral fiber and principle. Of course, said morality is admittedly loose; I would actually go so far as to call it malleable. There is, however, one thing on which I have remained steadfastly firm: I do not write album reviews.

I get asked questions concerning my stance on reviews (and my opposition to writing them) fairly often, and I always respond with subtle variations of what has become the party line:

My opinion is of no particular import.

There are a lot of things that influence whether or not one enjoys a particular song or album, and the vast majority of these are purely subjective. Just because I may know a bit more about an artist than some, just because I’ve maybe discussed his music or even briefly interviewed him doesn’t make my thoughts on his offerings any more valid than those of anyone else. In the end, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.

Still, I am not above sharing my impressions, my own simple, personal impressions. That is, essentially, the cornerstone of Hipster, please!: a nerd’s-eye view of the music and culture of the geek people.

So, when Beefy, an artist whom I enjoy and a person who has treated me like a friend from our very first exchange, asked if I wanted a sneak-peak of his new album, I jumped at the chance. Though anyone who listens to Just Another Lazy Podcast has already heard the bulk of Tube Technology, Beefy has been adamant about keeping several of the tracks under the tightest of wraps, and getting to hear those jewels a few days early was too sweet a deal to pass up.

Here is my breakdown of the album's contents, both the songs you know and the ones you don’t. They’re simply my opinions, and I hope you take them as such.

1. “1-800-NERDCORE”: Beefy starts off with a track that doesn’t so much defend his thoughts concerning the sanctity of nerdcore as remind us of his established position on the subject. Thematically, the song toys with annoyance without actually shifting into fully active aggression, and the rhymes remain tight even when Beefy’s flow speeds up past the expected level. Baddd Spellah’s production gives the track a definite sheen, with that dynamically layered Spellah style shining through. It’s an excellent introduction that slyly reminds listeners that this album promises to be vastly different than Beefy’s previous works.

2. “Tub of Tabasco”: Though there appear to be subtle differences between the two, this track is still as tight and good-natured as it was when it premiered on Rhyme Torrents Vol. I. It makes an excellent counterpoint to “1-800-NERDCORE.” This also marks Drown Radio’s first appearance on Tube Technology.

3. “GP”: “GP” (with its Scrubs dialogue intro and MC Router guest verse) was recently leaked on JALP. It lampoons the bling-obsessed shtick of mainstream hip hop culture by giving a nerdcore make-over to its rampantly conspicuous consumption. Beefy receives a +1 bonus for rhyming “bloggin’” with “noggin.”

4. “Outside Paradise”: This Beefy/DJ Snyder track ably won its recent Song Fight! The flows (both lyrical and musical) are vicious and the lyrics self-effacingly brilliant. That’s inconsequential, however, owing to the fact that Beefy is a goddamn friend-flooder.

5. “Feel So Good”: “Feel So Good” begins with a voicemail from an anonymous, horny stranger (who sounds a bit like Fanatical), and it’s bold Doc Pop (under the continued guise of Drown Radio) provided beat serves as an excellent transition between the aforementioned “Outside Paradise” and the two tracks to follow. While not the most lyrically complex track in Beef’s repertoire, this has all the earmarks of an excellent party song.

6. “Webcomic Junkie”: While the chorus accompaniment for this track is startling at first, this song definitely breaks from the mellower groove of earlier offerings. There’s a conspicuous lack of love given to John Allison’s Scary Go Round, but other than that it capably (and amusingly) covers all the Webcomic bases.

7. “Chun-Li”: I know very little about Skoch Tape or Street Fighter, save that both are adored by the bulk of 2nd gen nerdcore and tiny Asian women alike. The production for this song continues to shatter my pre-conceived notions about what a Beefy track should sound like. Another +1 bonus is earned for the inclusion of “in ur base killing ur doods.”

8. “Nerdcore for Life”: Nerdcore News' Gabriel makes a surprise appearance in the opener of this Snyder joint (which just so happens to be the title track from the forthcoming nerdcore documentary). In my opinion, this song is only a couple of guest verses away from being the ultimate spiritual successor to MC Frontalot’s magnum opus “Nerdcore Rising.” My only caveat concerns the life/life couplet that rounds the chorus, but the rest of the song is so strong that I can easily dismiss that very minor complaint.

9. “Bit Pop”: Beefy and Shael Riley have a long history, as do Beefy and cover songs. Therefore this track is should come as no surprise. While I wouldn’t rate this as highly as the original, it is good to hear Beefy get his sing on à la “Creative Process.”

10. “Ego Monster”: Due to the Scrubs clips and the Hipster, please! namedrop, this is the greatest song in the history of the world. Though I may be biased.

11. “The Legend of Jones McFly”: The groove of this track is a thing of beauty, as is hearing Beefy wax poetic about his best bud Jonesy. The Amy-aided chorus gives this song a rare indie feel. As silly as this track is, the flow is fierce. It is truly a labor of love.

12. “The Sound”: Once again Doc Popular (AKA Drown Radio) brings the funk. The lyrical interplay between Beefy and Doc makes this track a textural treasure. Jaw harp FTW!

13. “Write a Song About…”: I am ethically opposed to songs with ellipses in their titles, but I will make an exception for this one. This is Beefy’s experiment in speed (not to be confused with his experiment in sound), and it works well despite its brevity.

14. “Buy This CD”: Comparisons between this song and MC Frontalot’s “Charity Case” will no doubt abound, but, with its acoustic-based hook and sing-along chorus, the two are only related on the most conceptual level. This total reinterpretation of the old Whitesican track further reminds me of just how far Beefy has come.

15. “Wonderfulamazing”: I’ve rattled off several examples of how Beefy has changed – how he has developed and grown – as an artist in this post already, and apparently the big guy understands this too. Album closer “Wonderfulamazing” is a song that simply could not have existed on previous Beefy releases. It’s one of those complicated love songs of which I’m so fond, to say the least. It dwells more on direct experience than any previous track, and it does so genuinely and without the comical pretense I’ve come to expect from the artist. It lingers over moments of missed opportunity in a way that makes the track absolutely relatable to anyone who’s ever felt lovelorn. And truthfully, if Beefy were to stop making music today, I believe this would stand out as his most powerful song ever. That, my friends, is how you close an album.

In closing, I can genuinely say is that I find Tube Technology to be Beefy’s personal high-water mark, both in regards to content and structure. While it adheres firmly to the precepts of Beefy’s own brand of nerdcore hip hop, it somehow manages to simultaneously take everything that you think you know about the artist and turns it on its ear. It is far more literate, far more polished, and far more personal than anything you’ve heard from Beefy up to this point, and the progression of the album itself acts as if to accentuate this growth.

You can download Tube Technology for free via Beefy’s site beginning December 9th. Consequently, you can pick up the album early if you attend his December 2nd show with The Goondocks and Optimus Rhyme. And, while I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, I would like to humbly suggest that you give it a listen. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“And if you compare this song to the one I made before you’d say I have a type, but there’s just so much more.”


churchHatesTucker said...

You should do more reviews Z.

GP is my new favorite song. I love the counterpose of Router's contrib. Heck, I love everything about it.

Chun Li is interesting. I know nothing about Streetfighter, but it's still a lot of fun (reminds me a bit in that way of Ultraklystron's Five to Nine.) I can't wait to hear the final version.

Jones McFly is awesome. The song's good too.

Jones McFly said...

Speaking of beef's new album, did you hear that I wrote all of his songs you might have liked?

Z. said...

Thanks, church. The whole review process seems a little strange to me, but now that I’ve done one I’m fairly certain the floodgates have been opened. I’ve pretty much been listening to “GP,” “The Legend of Jones McFly,” “Nerdcore for Life,” and “Wonderfulamazing” exclusively since I posted this, trying to hash out which is my fave. Each are superlative offerings, despite the fact that their sounds and styles are so varied.

I’m still hard-pressed to pick my absolute favorite, but, since I’m positive that Jones wrote each of the four, I don’t suppose it matters. ;)

churchHatesTucker said...

GP is the best of the lot, IMHO. Jones is a very close second. Might be first if I wasn't an old school D&Der (none of this AD&D hard-bound crap for me, thank you.)

But then, I'm going by what I heard recently, and I will say that Beefy's quality control (or is that Jones'?) is excellent. I haven't heard anything that I didn't like, and the stuff I didn't love immediately has grown on me. I can't wait to get it all in one package and spend some time with it.

More reviews Z. You can always just ignore things you don't like, if you don't want to say a harsh word.

ChurchHatesTucker said...

Ach. That sounds weird. What I meant was, review the things you like.

Z. said...

Beefy (Jones) really has gone out of his way to step up the quality.

I might do some more reviews, church, but don’t expect it to become a regular thing like the interview features or the podcast. We shall see, though.