Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-02-01


Death Grips: No Love Deep Web (Third Worlds download EP, 2012) So maybe how you explain these guys is this: the Gravediggaz grow up--or get serious, which is not necessarily the same thing. Either way, who knows how they'll keep on keeping on--nonstop rage wears out fast even when it's mixed with the humor obsessives like this deny themselves. But on their third album in 18 months, independently released online with an obscene downloadable cover because the major they suckered into a contract refused to put it out so soon after the last one, synth maestro Flatlander adjusts one of the most compelling aural signatures in electronic beat music. There's more space in these tracks, and unlikely hints of sweetening both orchestral and distaff that come as laugh moments whether the lunatics running the asylum think they're funny or not. Their weak spot is sex, a theme that imbued with their rage occasions misogynist spew crueler and stupider than their parricidal spew. Were they really to grow up they'd sidestep it altogether. Or else get funnier as if they meant it. A-

Kassa Overall: Stargate Mixtape (Greedhead download, 2011) I admit, some might find this one ethically dubious. Seattle-raised, Harlem-based, Kool A.D.-linked rapper and drummer (jazz drummer--Vijay Iyer mean anything to you?) appropriates hooks provided to such worthies as Wiz Khalifa, Jennifer Lopez, Keri Hilson, Rihanna, and a gorilla-pitched Katy Perry by the Norwegian popmeisters name-checked in the title. Every one is improved markedly even though Kassa's not quite an A-game rapper himself. Really, what a tasty way to get your empty calories--in songs about your cousin's cancer and making love to the A-game rapper who picked up your laundry. Which consisted entirely of white socks. A-

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