Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Street Sweeper Social Club (Tom Morello/Boots Riley)

  • Street Sweeper Social Club [SSSC, 2009] **
  • The Ghetto Blaster EP [SSSC EP, 2010] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Street Sweeper Social Club [SSSC, 2009]
Rap's smartest revolutionary has lost some of his zest for life because a) Tom Morello knows only rage, b) collapse is just around the corner or c) there's a black president ("Clap for the Killers," "The Oath"). **

The Ghetto Blaster EP [SSSC EP, 2010]
For Tom Morello to swap Zack De La Rocha for the smarter, funnier, savvier, flowinger Boots Riley looked better than it sounded on the resultant album, due partly to Riley's loss of lyrical bite and partly to the musical falloff from Coup to mere Rage. But on this apparent afterthought Riley sounds as mad as ever, calling out the pres by name and declowning himself on "Scars (Hold That Pose)": "This old ripped jacket is 'cause I am an artist/I'll burn rubber on you if my car'll get started/Third month avoiding landlords is the hardest/It's only funny 'cause you don't see where the scar is." And this being an EP, there are killer covers. "Paper Planes" is subtly revised from a song about how they'll take your money to a song about how we will. A verbatim "Mama Said Knock You Out" becomes a threat. "Everythang" was a Coup song to begin with. A-