Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-06-14

2011-06-14

Blaqstar: The Divine EP (N.E.E.T./Interscope/J.B. Starr Productions EP, 2011) You may remember this Diplo-backed B'more DJ from Maya, where three of his productions were relegated to the bonus section that sealed the damn album. (Did you like "Illygirl"? That's his.) A full-length is projected, and he's just dropped a free mixtape that demonstrates his range in that scattered mixtape way. But there's nothing scattered about this EP, which slipped out unnoticed on M.I.A.'s vanity label in January. Simple, obsessive electrobeats are augmented by pitch-corrected chants and marked with minimal lyrics. "Oh My Darling" is "about" a fantasy dancer, "Rider Girl" steals Rye Rye's car keys, (Ricky) "Divine" invites the licking of ice cream, "Wonder Woman" licks a gun instead, and it's my inconvenient duty to report that the iTunes version adds a somewhat peppier song that I recommend even though it changes up a tone that I'm free to suspect is what sipping sizzurp feels like because I'll never find out. A

Frank Ocean: Nostalgia, Ultra (free download, 2011) A high point many admirers never mention sets the tone--the lead "Strawberry Swing," where the alienated young r&b pro rewrites the sappy Coldplay single without underplaying its lyricism or, as promised, its nostalgia. "I've loved the good times here" is a sendoff worthy of the "dying world" Ocean calls home. His romantic laments are models of texture, respect, and profound loss, their beats subtle, seductive, weird, and seized like time whether he's deploying "songs for women" that are soon trumped by Drake's, not feeling a porn-moonlighting dental student and her "novacaine," or annulling a courthouse wedding solemnized just before his bride turned in her term paper on hijab. Swagga his Odd Future crew: "It's Smooth Ass Music About Bitches, Relationships And Being A Rich Young Nigga . . . But In A Swagged Out Way." Lord he's so over their heads. A

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