Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2010-12-31


Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot . . . The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam, 2010) Last things first: I wish I could never again hear the jocularly misogynist David Blaine skit at the ass end of "General Patton" in my entire life. But it's not tracked, so insofar as the pervasive albeit incoherent musicality of this overrated good album calls me back, it will always be there to waylay me. Granted, so will a succession of enjoyable songs with plenty to offer. But direct comparison to any post-Aquemini OutKast establishes not Andre's superiority--that's ambition and always has been--but the congruence of two timbres and deliveries that resembled each other far more than did the big boys who put them across. I feel the juice of Big Boi's "dark fudge brownie with the nut of your choice" and cheer when he mocks "coke-ayena." But without OutKast's synergy, few of his many good moves are slam dunks. "Like a crocodile walking round with alligator skin"? Couldn't have said it better myself. A-

Eminem: Recovery (Aftermath/Interscope, 2010) The comeback is for Eminem, not Slim Shady--and for Marshall at his most martial. His most confessional as well--he admits Relapse was "ehh," admits he came this close to beefing with Wayne and Kanye, admits "I'da had my ass handed to me." No matter how cleverly he's rhyming, which varies, he could use subject matter beyond married-to-the-game and his traditional obsessions. But with Shady in the shadows, rarely are these themes lifted by Em's long-recessive sense of play. Bringing the proceedings over the top, however, are the three final tracks: Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" hook depositing some bodily fluids on Em's conjugal seesaw, "You're Never Over" nailing Marshall's love for Proof, and the bonus boast "Untitled" renewing our love for Shady. And delivering the best music qua music in 77 minutes is none other than Lil Wayne, whose 16 on "No Love" would be the funkiest thing here if Wayne didn't then hand Eminem his ass back by inserting acutely timed grunts and such for the rest of the track. A-

Peter Stampfel & Baby Gramps: Outertainment (Red Newt, 2010) "way over a century of knowledge of American music, way over a century's common ground," but also, "I enjoy the possibility of going nuts" ("Bar Bar," "Ghost Train of Freak Mountain"). ***

Peter and ZoŽ Stampfel: Ass in the Air (Jolly Olga, 2010) the new originals are precious, the remakes worth the reminder ("Demon in the Ground," "We're Still Here"). ***

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