Meta, Meet Meta.

About four years ago, I was introduced to him. A friend dropped off three books at my house while I watched VH1’s Best Week Ever. I knew the friend, it was the author of the books he brought that I was being introduced to. Chuck Klosterman was his name. In fact, it’s still his name.

I didn’t read the books. They collected dust on my shelf for the better part of these last four years until I moved out the final remnants from my parent’s house. Then, I read two of the books and some articles.

After that, I can safely say Chuck Klosterman is the best writer of his generation. Or, perhaps, he’s not. But, maybe that’s what makes him exactly that.

The generally held belief is that Klosterman represents the forward-thinking, progressive bourgeoisie class of middle American males in contemporary society. But, the opposite is actually closer to the truth. Klosterman represents everything we don’t represent, pointing out the most meta details of things we take for granted. Does the Lakers/Celtics rivalry represent every great divide this country has ever seen? How different is Marilyn Monroe from Pam Anderson? Is there a limit to how many footnotes an article can have before you’re officially distracted? How detached can someone be before they are officially considered aloof? What is it about Billy Joel that makes him so patently uncool? When did The Real World stop being about the real world and when did the real world stop being about The Real World? Is there a difference? Are you confused yet?

These are just some of the questions pondered by Klosterman, all done in painstakingly plain style and writing.* Writing, mind you, that somehow comes off as both intrinsically humorous and, yet, at the same time, mind-blowingly honest. Reflective, but intelligent. Well-crafted, but allergic to peanuts. Intentioned and simultaneously, both mundane and amoral.

Yet, despite all this, we find ourselves unable to tangle away from the web woven by Klosterman. Whether it’s essays on Royce White and the Houston Rockets, pornography, Zack Morris, or Steve Nash… this much is clear: no one knows quite where Klosterman stands on anything or anyone. Except, of course, that he loves rock n’ roll music.**

After finishing his Decade of Curious Decisions, I put a call into Klosterman’s office looking to get a comment for this article.*** He did not respond. But maybe, that’s precisely what he wants.

You see, Klosterman’s elusivity is what builds his base. It’s a reactionary tendency we all have to fear what we don’t know, like I’d imagine the Winslow family felt when Steve Urkel first came into their lives. Or, when Mos Def released anything after Black on Both Sides****.

But, like most things, the true meaning and importance of Klosterman lies somewhere in the vast middle. The happy medium of discourse that informs those of us in this super-powered information superhighway generation. He’s both a refined scholar documenting topics that interest he and his all-consuming public and a sailor-pirate pilfering the youth of time and enjoyment with verbal dexterity and extremely specific societal references they’ll feel stupid for not understanding.

Tendencies include usage of the word “paradoxically” far more than seems necessary (or, at least, in a direct attempt to avoid the simpler, “ironically”), incessant parenthetical asides (is there another kind [of aside?]), and nearly-ludicrous-yet-somehow-ultimately-vague-but-close-enough-to-some-layer-of-truth-but-also-you’re-just-happy-it’s-finally-over-so-you-no-longer-have-to-pretend-as-if-you-“get it” assertions and analogies. Oh, and he’s also a fan of making impossible to prove but also difficult to fully refute statements (and confusing clauses like that one) like, “Pras is this worst group member of any group in recorded music history.”

He has yet to (I’d imagine) make the following points, but they’re ones (I’d also imagine) he’d likely spend 10 to 15 pages circumventing and tying, inexplicably, to something like Charles in Charge:

  1. How The Fugees breaking up was the first episodic example of real-life disappointment for the white, middle-class Americans that purchased their records in the early-to-mid 90s.
  2. An essay featuring a full deconstruction of “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica and its ultimate meaning beyond a petty argument over a boy and its true meaning: the plight of the free agent in professional sports and the haggling that would ultimately take place many years later over LeBron James. Because, you see, LeBron James, is every one of us. But, he isn’t. And, yet, he still seems to be. He’s–

Some how, by the end, you find yourself convinced of his point. Or, exhausted.

You’ll laugh, that’s for certain. And, you will find yourself enlightened on some level. But more than anything, I’d imagine you’ll just be confused.

Or, perhaps, you won’t be.

 

*This may not be true.

**This is true.

***This is definitely not true.

****Any fan who says they do not understand this reference simply isn’t a fan. Or, is a cyborg from Terminator. One way or the other, that person simply cannot be trusted.

White Suburban Kid Reviews Classic Hip-Hop Albums

Dark Man X. Earl Simmons. DMX. Whatever moniker you’ve chosen to give your favorite rapper/actor/lunatic/drug addict/autobiographer/reality show contestant, the fact remains, he’s been a fun guy to pay attention to the last 15 or so years. Of course, most of that enjoyment has come in packages other than hit singles.

Like, say, this Christmas treat.

Or, this.

Or, that.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. So, without further ado…

…And Then There Was X

Right off the bat, you’ve gotta love two things about this album: it’s title and it’s cover. Like many in his catalog, this one is both oddly religious and blatantly boring (though, I personally feel “Year of the Dog… Again” is the best title of his, for many of reasons, not the least of which is that there never was a first “Year of the Dog” necessitating an again.)

Let’s get to a few of the facts… this album was his biggest selling album (then and to-date), it spawned three of his biggest hits, and ultimately the biggest hit of his career, “Party Up”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of Earl’s music. I’ve enjoyed his hit singles (admittedly sometimes not ironically) but outside of that, he’s never been a guy that produces CDs where I think, “No, I should listen to more than just the stuff on the radio.” I’m convinced, largely, that the best we’ve ever seen from DMX is what we’ve heard on radio. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

In that vein, we’re going to investigate those three hit songs. For no reason other than logic, we’ll do it in order of appearance on the CD.

Party Up (Up In Here) – Well, for starters, what’s with the parenthetical information? It’s like D’Angelo’s “Untitled” for some reason feeling the need to have a (How Does It Feel). Actually, it’s not quite as stupid as that.* But, it’s close and it’s equally unnecessary. The party couldn’t be going on anywhere else than in here, that would have been illogical to think otherwise Earl. Tsk, tsk.

The song itself is produced by Swizz Beatz, one of his first few enormous hits (the others being “Jigga My N*gga”, “Ruff Ryders Anthem” and “Gotta Man”).  Verse one starts off in classic Earl fashion, dropping the beautifully crafted warning to potential foes:

If I gotsta bring it to you cowards then it’s gonna be quick, aight
All your mens up in the jail before, suck my dick

Well, then.

Moving on, we get the incredible rhyming of “nine one one shit… dumb shit… some shit”.  Pure, genius.

General theme of the song: He’s fairly angry at everyone (namely, other rappers). And he’s about to lose his cool, up in here (specifically, everywhere).

What These Bitches Want (feat Sisqo) – I want to apologize. If you clicked on the previous link, you went to “What They Really Want”, the edited version of the song we all know and love. I couldn’t find the unedited version, but in some ways, watching this video achieves the same humorous goals and then some.

I have so many things to say about this song and video, I’m just going to do it list style.

  1. This is my second favorite DMX song (in terms of pure enjoyment), just behind “How’s It Going Down”.
  2. This is my favorite DMX song (in terms of humor).
  3. Sisqo’s robotic dance moves, coupled with his denim (maybe?) pants, are priceless.
  4. This was the first time, I believe, I’d ever seen under-boob (Veronica, at the 1:46 mark).
  5. That second verse, where he straight-up lists 46 women is absolutely epic (that includes “About Three Kims”, which frankly is a hotly contested point of debate. Did he mean that he had sex with three different women named Kim? Is he joking about how there’s been so many women, one Kim felt like three? If he is telling the truth, how good are his approximation skills?). After he lists them all, he’s even bold/crazy enough to claim that “they were all treated fairly”. Indeed, Earl. Indeed.
  6. This video is clearly happening during the summer, and yet Earl refuses, in the street scenes, to be in anything other than a (seemingly) velour jumpsuit. Granted, no t-shirt but come on. Ditch the tough guy, for once.
  7. This is one of the many songs in DMX’s rhetorical, question-based genre. (“How’s It Going Down”, “Where My Dogs At”, the next song in this list…)

General takeaway: Earl, if you’re question is, “What do these ladies want from me?”, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the answer is to not be having random intercourse with at least 45 other women at the same time, regardless of your touring schedule.

What’s My Name – This song is hopelessly idiotic. It could’ve very well been a 27 second song. That’s how long it takes for him to answer his own question, one I’m sure no one was asking. You know, honey, I bought this CD but the artist’s name is no where to be found on the packaging, CD art, or tracklisting. If only there was a whole four minute song dedicated to solving this conundrum…

You see, to me, Earl Simmons missed his true calling. Sure, he did fine in the music game, but what he should’ve been doing was voice work, reading books on tape. His voice, along with Christoph Waltz and Christopher Walken, turns just about anything into a more enjoyable anything (See above: Red Nose Reindeer, Rudolph the).

DMX is like Dave Chappelle, in that everything that he says, no matter what the intention, is almost always humorous. The difference, of course, is that Chappelle is a comedian and Simmons is not. But, I can’t help but wonder if this whole thing, this whole career is some sort of Andy Kauffman-esque rouse. That, in fact, Earl Simmons, is just a nice boy from Mount Vernon, NY who wanted to be in show business but didn’t have the chops for it. So, instead of trying the endless, often fruitless cycle of busing tables and hustling to auditions, he decided he’d create a persona that would allow him to live his life as a never-ending drama played out in front of the world.

Or, maybe he’s just Dark Man X.

*The only people that benefited from D’Angelo’s parenthetical title were deaf people, I’m convinced.

Sean Combs Would Be Proud

I see you playboy.

Alright, so it’s been a minute. Things have been going on work-wise and life-wise that have prevented me from posting as frequently as I’d like (or, more accurately, as I’d like to lie about liking). That all said, we’re not dead or gone. But, things are going to be a little different.

The man once known as Puff Daddy once said “Can’t stop, won’t stop.” I doubt very seriously he was referring to this blog (though, with Diddy, you never quite know), but the saying applies nonetheless.

I don’t know if I’m going to be posting multiple times a week as I have in the past, but the content will continue. Sometimes at a once a week pace, sometimes more frequently, sometimes less. If you’re thinking, “Oh, thanks for the update. So to clarify, you have no idea what schedule you’ll be posting at in the future and things will pretty much remain the same”, to you I say… well, nothing. You’re right. But, to hell with you for being such a snarky prick.

So, I’m going to try to keep it as close to once a week (or so) as I can. This Thursday we’ve got another installment of White Suburban Kid Reviews, this time featuring everyone’s favorite Earl. Next week, we’ll have a Chuck Klosterman-styled review of Chuck Klosterman. Not sure if that one will work. We’ll see.

Alright, thanks for the support. See you once a week. Or, more often.

Or not.