Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-03-11


Buck 65: 20 Odd Years (WEA, 2011) Beholden to nobody's scene or purist myths, the Halifax-spawned, Toronto-based, Paris-savvy cult rapper makes beats his way--drum tracks of course, this is hip-hop like it or not, but with whatever on top, which here comes down to mostly female collaborators whose sonics subsume their considerable verbal input. Plus on two standouts 65 goes it alone: the opening "Superstars Don't Love," which leads with a fearless three-syllable Jay-Z impression, and "Zombie Delight," putrefaction taffy finished off with the glorious couplet: "There's very little information and no answers./One weird thing is that they're excellent dancers!" He also covers the seminal Canadian rapper L. Cohen and finds a use for compatriot Gord Downie. Um, of the Tragically Hip? A-

M.I.A.: Vicki Leekx Mixtape ( download, 2010) The fact that this was overrated as part of the same extra-musical chain reaction that caused Maya to be underrated doesn't mean it was merely well-timed and, as they say, well-played. It takes a while to congeal, but for fans there's spice aplenty in the skinny beats-for-their-own-sake that dominate a first half whose most memorable line is "try to outschool us so we jump on our scooters" (on "WWW/Meds/Feds" seven minutes in, and FWIW the Wikipedia times are 40 seconds off on my version). But after "Vicki Intermission" come three consecutive songs that'll make you madder than you were already that the artiste thought it provocative, as they say, to leave the album untracked: the well-hooked "Gen -N-E-Y" followed by "Bad Girls" and "Marsha/Britney." Theme statement: "You can have my money but you can't have me." Whether she's singing it for her penniless sisters or her affluent self is impossible to tell. That's why they call her provocative. Also, um, controversial. B+

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