Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-01-18


Girl Talk: All Day (Illegal Art download, 2010) Less fun than Feed the Animals because the sample pool is less obvious, but deeper, if stolen party music can be deep, which in his shallow way is what Greg Gillis believes. With the predictable scad-and-a-half of exceptions on an album that claims 373 sources, the strategy is to provide verbal content via the most unpoetic strains of hop-hop--marginal Dirty South club records, say Project Pat's "Twerk" or Young Berg's "Sexy Can," of which most fans from outside that world were unaware--and beats/grooves/IDs via canonical rock: U2 and the Ramones, Iggy's "Lust for Life" and Miley's "Party in the U.S.A." Of course, since these won't necessarily provoke enough partying in the U.S.A., there are also actual beats a level below, drums and that sort of thing. Multifarious posteriors notwithstanding, the lyrics are less raunchy than on Feed the Animals--rated R, not X. As a result, Gillis's vision becomes less orgiastic and more humanistic. Track 10 features Springsteen and Nirvana, track 11 Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day," and the finale goes out on the daily double Gillis could have conceived the entire record around: the tough-guy sentimentality of UGK's gangsta threnody "One Day" over the mods-versus-rockers universalism of John Lennon's late-hippie hymn "Imagine." Suffused with hope that someday we'll join him and the world will live as one, Gillis dares Yoko Ono to tell him otherwise. A

Nicki Minaj: Beam Me Up Scotty (Trapaholics download, 2009) This 2009 mixtape, not the more recent Barbie World, is why if not where hards decided a biracial female was street enough. Without undue popping of coochie, she quickly establishes herself as a highly unsisterly, rabidly materialistic "shopaholic" set on becoming "the black Hannah Montana." That way of putting it should have alerted hoodrats unworthy of her hiney implants to the scope of her ambitions; on the other hand, so should "behind every bad bitch there's a really sweet girly-girl." Even her materialism is relative: "Tell Michelle I got my eye on Barack Obama/Tryin' to get that Madonna/You know Hannah Montana [a theme?]/Could find me sittin' Indian-style with the Dalai Lama/I'm meditatin' I'm in cahoots with a higher power." One does wonder, though--once you rhyme "Dalai Lama" and "higher power," do you need Hannah Montana anymore? A-

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