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THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Eight)

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JC writes…..

With apologies for the non-appearance last Friday of this deservedly popular feature. It was down to ‘technical difficulties’.  Over now to Tim……………

It was quite late when SWC turned up at my house to give me this weeks CD. He had been to the gym first – he is in training for a half marathon in October – the last time he run one he pulled a ligament in his groin and couldn’t walk for six days (seriously he couldn’t even lift his leg to pull up his trousers) – saying that he still finished it in less than one and a half hours – which is about thirty minutes quicker than I could run it without a knackered groin. Anyway, he was popping by to drop off the CD and some files I needed for work the next day. He looked a bit flustered.

“What’s Up?” I asked him.

“Well” he said, “after I’d finished at the gym, I went and got showered and all that – and as I was getting out of the shower, I saw a man”.

Now there is nothing unusual in this, it’s a gym, its full of men. Then he continued, I realised he was just sipping his cuppa, he was probably just using what writers call ‘dramatic effect’. “He was naked – and stood in front of the mirror”. Another sip of tea. More ‘dramatic effect’.

“Then I realised he was hairdrying his balls”.

Ok the dramatic effect was worthwhile.

“Its unsettled me slightly, I mean why would you do that – he was proper going for it as well – leg on the little block thing, tackle out, full power, I didn’t know what to do, whether to look, laugh or cringe, so I kind of did all three”. Another bigger sip of tea.

“I wouldn’t mind, but it’s the second bit of strange behaviour I’ve seen from a naked man today”. Another sip.

“Go on” I say, feeling a bit like Sigmund Freud.

“Well at lunchtime, I went out for a walk to get a sandwich and I wandered down to the river to sit and eat it – and there was a guy swimming naked in the river – he just turned up, on a bike, stripped off and jumped in. There was a party of hikers wandering around too.”

“Well naked swimming is pretty popular in the countryside” I offer as consolation. Also this is true, if you are ever in Dartington, South Devon pop down to Dartington Estate and go down to the river around 2pm you will find its full of naked old guys swimming. You’ve be warned.

“Yes, but when he’d finished, he wandered over and asked me if I knew the way to bus station. Bold as Brass. Stark Bollock Naked – I mean usually I don’t give directions to naked people. I mean why he couldn’t put some pants on first, I have no idea. Got any biscuits?

Luckily SWC was fully clothed when he asked me this. I tend not to share my biscuits with naked people. Well naked men at the very least.

I changed the subject and talked about the memory stick full of music that he gave me last week. Which as usual contained a load of music by a load of bands that I have never heard of.

In the last six weeks I have received music from bands such as Demob Happy, Hippo Campus, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Wall, Whitney, The Goon Sax and Arbor Labor Union. All of which are brilliant, and are bands I would have never had listened to unless he had not offered them up to me. Suffice to say they all come highly recommended. Particularly the last two.

mp3 : Arbor Labor Union – Mr Birdsong.

mp3 : The Goon Sax –Sometimes Accidentally

These two bands have quietly released two of the finest records of the year – and I would have missed them. The first is according to SWC ‘Playful, psychedelic, joyful, slightly bonkers rock and roll’. The second – ‘the best thing to come out of Australia since Kylie”. He is right, of course about both.

Oh incidentally, The Goon Sax feature on vocals, the son of one of the Go Betweens (Robert Forster) and let’s just say the song writing gene is very strong.

SWC gave me this weeks CD – and it was ‘Late Registration’ by your friend and mine Kanye West.

Sometime earlier in the year, SWC wrote an ICA for this blog under a pseudonym on Kanye West and in doing so he completely changed my opinion on Kanye West. Not only was the music on it incredible but it was way in which he convinced me that he is worth a second, third and fourth listen. For what its worth those who claim Kanye’s antics hinder his work are missing the point. His self-importance is obvious, the arrogance is pre –prepared and that is what makes him the most interesting hip hop figure in recent year. That’s the reason why its him heading Glastonbury and not Nelly or 50 Cent (remember him?). Its soul, not sales.

I’ve come late to the Kanye party – this is officially the only Kanye album I now own – but what an album. I couldn’t tell you a thing about hip hop and as 48 and a half year old, white middle class man I have no intention of even trying, but you should own this album regardless of well anything.

‘Late Registration’ was his second album and it is a bleeding masterpiece. Seriously. Incredible. Its buoyant, enthusiastic, visionary, expansive and everything that a hip hop album (probably) should be.

“I got it from the Animals In Distress Charity Shop in Dawlish for 50p”. He said. “Better than a pair of hairdried bollocks that”.

Quite.  Here’s some tunes

Touch The Sky

Gold Digger

Diamonds From Sierra Leone

Crack Music

The Skinny

Bought From Animals In Distress – Dawlish

Price – 50p

Money Left £6.50

Weeks Left – 2

And because we have £6.50 left we have raised the price of the last CD to £3.

TIM

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #065 : KANYE WEST

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A GUEST POSTING BY ROUGH S.F aka GANG$TA RHYMES

Kanye

This is that Goon’s Shit. An Imaginary Kanye West Compilation by Rough S.F aka Gang$ta Rhymes

I hear what you are saying about Kanye West.

“Kanye West is an asshole.”

“He’s a self-absorbed prick who rants just to get attention.”

That sadly is the point with Kanye West, I don’t like his public persona, but I tell you what, I’m not going to sit here and deny his talent. Whether this is behind the production desk on the mic – he has this magnetic quality that always keeps you wondering what he is going to do next. This is the man that put a Raekwon (a member of the Wu Tang Clan) and Justin Bieber on the same record and made it work. Somehow. For the only time in my life, I listen to a record with Justin Bieber on it. This is also the man who launched ‘Yeezus’ by releasing ‘New Slaves’ a brutally angry record about racial segregation in American prisons by plastering his face all over random buildings all over the world.

You think he cares what you think of him?

He’s the man. Now I’m not stupid enough to argue that just because you win an award you are any good, I mean some years ago, Lulu won an Oscar. Lulu. Also I think Gary Barlow has three Ivor Novello awards for songwriting. Gary Barlow – but Kanye West has won more than 20 Grammys. How many other artists have won that many?

He’s the man. I’m also not stupid enough to believe everything the music press right about stuff – I mean ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’ by Coldplay was voted Album of the Year by seven mainstream papers when it was released. But Kanye West has more records in Rolling Stones Top 500 albums of all time than any other rapper. Pitchfork magazine voted two of his records in the Top Ten (1st and 8th) greatest records of this decade. Time Magazine voted him one of the most influential people in the world last year, and yet still people say he’s shit.

He’s the man. I’m also not stupid enough to say just because people copy you or be influenced by you that this is a good thing. But. When West released the Daft Punk sampling ‘Stronger’ he single-handedly paved the way for a disco and electro revival in the States in the latter part of the ‘noughties’ (sorry, terrible term) and paved the way for a new breed of hip hop acts to change the way it looked at life, much of the ‘Gangsta’ persona has been dropped, acts like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Future and Drake arrived and Hip Hop changed, and in the last ten years it’s been better than it has been for years and years.

Whatever you all think, let’s face facts. Kanye West is one of the greatest hip hop acts of all time. He is as bold and creative artist as ANY of the boys with guitars we all adore. His sound continues to evolve with each release. His albums range from soulful (College Dropout) through autotune hell (808s & Heartbreak) to the experimental genius of ‘Yeezus’. So he is an arrogant self-publicising wankpuffin, who cares! He is a rapper, that’s what rappers do. So what that he has a mouth the size of the Brooklyn Tunnel, He’s a rapper. Get over it. So he dissed Taylor Swift and married a Kardashian. He also dissed George Bush, funded numerous inner city charities (google the Kanye West Foundation), and helped to launch the careers of several excellent rappers through his constant work and involvement in the American Hip Hop scene. Alongside Jay – Z and possibly Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West is probably one of the most influential people in the world right now – whether you like or not. So – here it is, a Kanye West Imaginary Compilation. Enjoy it you muthafucking jive turkeys.

Side One

Jesus Walks – From ‘The College Dropout’ (2004)

They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus—but Kanye did just that, and made a certified hit. It also got praise from critics and fans alike. The drums on this are perfect, the gospel chants are unlike anything else in hip hop. The fact that this is as religious a song as you can feasibly get without turning a bit Cliff Richard is incredible.

Niggas in Paris – From ‘Watch the Throne’ (2011) (with Jay Z)

By 2011, West had become a rap icon. So when he linked with his mentor Jay-Z to record the collaborative ‘Watch The Throne’ album, it was merely a shits‘n’giggles LP recorded for their own amusement. Such opulence was apparent on album anthem ‘Niggas in Paris’, which introduced the term “cray” and reminded us all that we’re mere minions to the throne. That shit cray.

Runaway – From ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010)

Chilling, brooding and poignant, ‘Runaway’ was the clear centrepiece of ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. After six minutes of intricate self-loathing with collaborator Pusha T, ‘Ye emphasises the point with another three minutes of piano-laced reflection, this time distorting his vocals to the point of incoherence. Even if you hate Auto-Tune, you have to respect his artistic approach here.

Through The Wire – From ‘College Dropout’ (2004)

Before Kanye would crash Taylor Swift’s parade and highlight then-US President George Bush’s apparent disdain for black people, he was just a regular dude trying to get on. These days, it’s crazy to think that Kanye’s career almost ended before it got started. For ‘Through The Wire’, he rapped through a wired jaw, the result of a nearly fatal car accident in 2002. This track was Kanye at his most human, before all the flash and decadence that keeps the artist from fawning adoration. Oh and it samples Chaka Khan, and that is essential listening.

New God Flow – From ‘New God Flow’ Single (featuring Pusha T) 2012

While “New God Flow” is heavy on the samples (most notably Ghostface’s “Mighty Healthy”) it provided the perfect backdrop for Kanye to shed some light on the recent violence that had been plaguing parts of the States. “I’m from the 312/Where cops don’t through/And dreams don’t come true” he tells us. Kanye has always created certain songs with packed stadiums of festivals in mind – which probably explains the military call and response at the end. Heavenly.

Side Two

New Slaves from ‘Yeezus’ (2014)

My favourite Kanye moment. This is just vicious. A song about racial segregation and not following the crowd “You see there’s leaders and there’s followers/But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” he raps near the start. That, is an inspired lyric. Even if you hate rap, hip hop, anything without a guitar, applaud its genius. The song is pretty basic with this lovely little bassline running through it – but then this truck of beat drives through it to an aggressive conclusion. “Fuck you and your Hampton house” he spits – and you get Frank Ocean as well, cooing sweetly at the end.

Heartless from ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ (2008)

Due to a string of tumultuous events in Kanye’s life (relationship breakdown, mothers death, the collapse of the regime in Burkino Faso, that sort of thing), his album ‘808s & Heartbreak’ broke from his past and took an entirely different path. Favouring Auto-Tune and erm, singing over traditional rapping, 808swas a total departure. And mostly it was difficult to listen to, but then you get this.

Cold and hollow, “Heartless” probably best describes this dark yet beautiful moment in his career. The tones Kanye brought to life may have sounded heartless, but the song was really all about affairs of the heart. Tragedy in love is something every human on the planet can relate to. Bad break-ups happen, and since Kanye was living through one at the time, his honesty bled through. That’s probably why the song sold 5.5 million copies worldwide. He’s shit though, right?

Can’t Tell Me Nothing (single)(2007)

If there were one song to describe Kanye West and his career, this would be it. A statement, a promise, and a motto—“Can’t Tell Me Nothin’” set the tone for his defiant third album, Graduation; and gave West his first-ever street anthem. This song also marks the exact moment in his career when he went from rapper to international superstar. Its his finest moment.

Black Skinheads from ‘Yeezus’ (2014)

This tackles the tricky subject of a black man dating a white woman – note the reference to people ‘coming to kill King Kong’. On this song, West sounds as savage as he ever has done. He is fit to burst. He claims to be wiser than he’s ever been before and its this song that the ‘haters’ come in for particular attention. ‘If I knew what I know in the past, I would have been blacked out on your ass’ he tells them. Watch your backs, Kanye’s angry. Essential stuff.

Good Friday from ‘G.O.O.D Friday’ (2010) – features a cast of thousands

In 2010 West released a series of singles from his ‘G.O.O.D Friday’ series – which was kind of to launch the ‘G.O.O.D’ records label and gave them all away as free downloads. This was the fifth instalment and about 600 people guessed on the record. An ode to going out ‘I know the city getting ready for me’ he states and with that a classic joint was done.

He’s the man. Accept it.

GR

mp3 : Kanye West – Jesus Walks
mp3 : Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
mp3 : Kanye West – Runaway
mp3 : Kanye West – Through The Wire
mp3 : Kanye West – New God Flow

mp3 : Kanye West – New Slaves
mp3 : Kanye West – Heartless
mp3 : Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing
mp3 : Kanye West – Black Skinheads
mp3 : Kanye West – Good Friday

JC adds…….

Love or loath the man, there’s no getting away from the fact, as GR highlights, he’s made a lot of great music over the year.