Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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On Kate & Anna McGarrigle's The McGarrigle Hour (Hannibal), a bunch of middle-aged people sit around singing chestnuts instead of roasting them on an open fire, taking up tunes they know and enjoying ones they don't. Berlin and Porter and Stephen Foster meld sweetly into sea chanty and Bahamian spiritual; the children and a few shy oldsters are cajoled into showing off their own musical handiwork. Although Kate and Anna were plenty salty on 1996's Matapedia, unruffled sociability is the ideal here, so there's no sex and only gentle jokes. Rock and roll future it's obviously not. But the warm mood is seductive, especially for Kate's hammy ex Loudon Wainwright, finally singing for the simple pleasure of it. And the old friends who drop by add extra flavor. You can almost hear one of the sisters exclaiming, "Why Linda Ronstadt, I declare--where have you been keeping yourself?"


Apparently, the New York rapper Canibus built up such expectations outrhyming the likes of Wyclef and Common when he guested on their albums that his own solo debut, Can-I-Bus (Universal), fell flat with hip hop fans. How else explain the quick sales descent of a CD where the metaphors keep on coming and the musical effects are just as witty? Canibus is an old-fashioned battler--arrogant, articulate, impolite. You want to know how good he is? He's so good you'll strain to make out every detail of his boasts about how good he is.


Between the Why Do Fools Fall in Love soundtrack and her protegee Nicole, zaftig-and-proud Missy Elliott is one of r&b's hottest producers. But her niftiest collaboration yet is with the veteran rapper MC Lyte. On Lyte's Seven & Seven (EastWest), the Missy duets In My Business and Too Fly launch an hour of funk you can call lusty-and-proud.

Playboy, Oct. 1998


Sept. 1998 Nov. 1998