If this isn’t the best MLB/Parliament/Jimmy Buffett collab post you’ve seen today, please keep it to yourself and let me keep up the charade. Don’t hurt my feelings.
Citizens of the universe, recording angels, I have returned to claim the pyramids and also to remind you that Dave “The Cobra” Parker fucking ruled and I absolutely HAD to do a tribute post. (T-shirt courtesy of Homage – thanks, guys!; glide in my stride and dip in my hip courtesy of genetics – thanks, Mom and Dad!)
I have zero allegiance to the Pittsburgh baseball Pirates, but I know the importance of names like Stargell, Clemente, and McCutchen, and I damn sure know the importance of Dave and his shirt of interplanetary galactic radness made possible by the combined efforts of the cotton industry, the really pure coke of ’70s northeast America, and George Stanley Clinton, jr. I just watched the 30 for 30 about the ’89 World Series, during which I realized that Rickey Henderson isn’t the only Athletic I adore – Dave was also on that squad that swept SF, prompting me to remember the existence of this picture and then do a tribute to him.
[I didn’t have a Pirates uni to put behind me like Dave in his picture, but the A1A album by Jimmy Buffett will do, as it contains “A Pirate Looks at Forty” (the song that made me realize Buffett can write a great song and is more than just “the ‘Margaritaville’ guy who sometimes gets thrown out of Heat games”)].
Good for talking about when stuck in an elevator with: Pharoahe Monch (I’d say DJ Scratch since he made the beat, but I wouldn’t be able to recognize DJ Scratch in an elevator), Daniel Dumile, jazz bros, Hofstra alumni (heh).
Stupid:“Yearnin” is included on the 1989 CD reissue. That’s my actual cut, as it features Dolphy’s brass plea for me to take my dress off. It should’ve remained on The Blues and the Abstract Truth instead of shoved onto an album crafted to be a tribute to a murdered civil rights leader (recorded the year after he was murdered), and as a result I have huge beef with RCA and its subsidiaries.
STUPID: No cover model credit. It would not have killed you, Chuck Stewart, to have given a nod to your beautiful subject. I mean, for this one and this one and this one, the name of your selected model is in huge print right on the cover.
Questionable: “‘Black, brown and beautiful’ is the way I feel about my people. All of them.” All of them. All of them? (Probably not.)
Lady stuff: “Pearl Kaufman playing a piano line of 7½ minutes duration without raising a cry for help.” I’d also include the contribution of the lady on the cover, but there’s no credit for her.
Jazz game George Foreman: Oliver Nelson, who sired 2 boys and proceeded to call them Oliver Jr. and Nyles Oliver.
Can’t do the cover recreation for the following reason(s):
Movin roughly, straight to the desert, San Antonio. That’s what happened in June, when I took my uppity liberal feminist California self down to Texas. It was a work trip, but I capitalized on having my hotel room and plane ticket paid for by using every minutefucking carshoping freaks will get inside of my Lacville ’79 trying to breathe in promethazine fumesRap(ping)-A-Lotdisproving stereotypes put in my head by a thousand Texas rap songs going record shoppin! I also insisted on pronouncing it “San Antone” during my entire stay just like Ike did in What’s Love Got to Do with It, because I’m adorable/insufferable.
Don’t ever go to Texas, it’s an awful place (outside my comfy comfy hotel room bed, above) – unless Devin is your tourguide and he takes you to meet Bun B’s second-grade teacher who remembers him as a bright, quiet boy, or Dev arranges a tour of Cowboys Stadium that ends with you punching Jerry Jones square in the mouth. San Antonio Antone is deep in the heart of Texas (which would make a great line in a song), and prior to going there I knew little about it apart from the fact that the Spurs have a player named Tiago Splitter and the guy in ZZ Top without the beard has the last name “Beard.”Now, however, I am aware of a lovely store called Hogwild at which I purchased some records (below).
Best Ant Banks Connection (the break in Spice 1’s “Clip and the Trigga,” a song that opens with I’m 22 with a motherfuckin beer belly so I’m guessing the boyfriend prospects for me in Hayward are pretty slim. I’m still prowling the Bay; nothing can stop me. Richmond, lock up your sons and husbands.)
Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson, 1980 (Arista…uh, 1980).
Ain’t no such thing as a superman, Gil said once, speaking the truth. Ain’t no such thing as a space-cadet cowboy duo in the future, doing some programming of keys in the belly of Herbie Hancock’s church/laboratory, I said once. Then I saw this album cover, which made me say Finally!, a photographic rendering of What 1996 Logan Imagined Future Del and Future Madlib (Rap Ziggy Stardusts) Looking Like in the year 2387, Hanging Out Together, Bringing Messages from the Other Side.
Billy Preston, Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music (A&M, 1973).
Most Obvious (and kind of insulting to our intelligence, really) Album Title. Sorry, Billy.
Best Personnel Credit: “Banjo – Dennis Coates.” THERE’S A BANJO CREDIT. FUCKING DOPE. Billy, born in Houston, is also the Texan with the Best Hair in this particular record haul. I’m trying to remain calm in spite of the big biiiig Texas news I just heard about (UPCOMING SCREW EXHIBIT AT THE U of HOUSTON).
Best Use of 9th Wonder! Billy’s cover of “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” was flipped n bounced by 9th on “Let It Be Known,” a song by World’s Third-Best Grouchy MC (Next to El-P and Pimp C), Sean “punch n—s through school buses” Price (with Phonte). This is a Dylan song with the line “He not busy being born is busy dying,” which my 16-year-old self found to be terribly heavy and meaningful; I mean, it really put 10th grade into perspective for me. These days I hear it and think Gosh that sounds like something Drake would say in his awful Canadian monotone.
Quincy Jones, Mode (ABC, 1974).
This one’s unremarkable, a compilation of some ’60s jazz pieces that neither the Pharcyde nor Doc Oct flipped/bounced, ho-hum, but it’s Quincy nonetheless and that makes it the Best Excuse for Me to Post Some Quincy. “Kitty with the Bent Frame” is obviously a song about the sexual arching of a female’s back, yes? We’re all grown-ups here; let’s just get right down to it. And knowing Quincy, I’m guessing Kitty is a lady with pale skin and blondish hair, yes? Just a guess. Knowing Quincy. “Kitty” is a track from Q’s soundtrack to Dollar$, a heist film that is just begging – BEGGING – for a Curren$y tie-in. Monsta, get on that, please.
Weather Report, Black Market (Columbia, 1976).
Best…Use of Zawinul? I don’t know; don’t tell my dad or Madlib, the two men I’m always trying to impress the most with my musical knowledge, but I’m really not that into these guys. It feels right to have some in my collection, though – like the broccoli in my fridge’s crisper that I’ll never eat.
Redd Foxx, Sly Sex (Dooto, 1960).
“Sly sex” is that thing that happens on a hot day or a hot night when you appeal to my basest animal needs by putting Fresh on the hi-fi.(Then you watch what happens next, which is always me doing my impression of a King of Diamonds professional. HI MOM).
Best Useless and Comical Assist Attempt by the Internet: the Discogs search box inquiring Did you mean Freddie Foxxx? when I typed in Redd’s name,thereby making my whole day better.
No, I did not mean Freddie, Discogs – but I can understand why you’d make that assumption.
(Discogs understands me in a way few ever will)
The Crusaders, Street Life(MCA, 1979).
The Crusaders get Most Convincing and Un-ironic Display of Enthusiasm Before a Night on the Town with that album photo. Aw, so excited! They look so happy because there’s nothing else to do in Texas but get dressed up to go ride mechanical bulls and play beer pong.
They also get the win for Best Band Name (but sometimes I wonder if this was a mistake, the wrong choice; is The Persuaders actually the better name?). Anyway, street life: it’s no jet life fool, but it seemed to work for a lot of dudes in 1979. That title song is a true great, a joyous driving-and-singing classic, even though street life isn’t so much the only life I know. Prod sang it awkwardly in a hook once, sort of convincingly I guess – but it’s nothing compared to his secret song off his secret 2011 album (“Reading Logan the Phone Book Out Loud Life”). And that Randy Crawford, boy I tell you – she had this soft-hard thing happening with her voice, making me jealous as hell but no so jealous that I can’t write a little post of admiration in her honor on my humble blog.
1824 N Main Ave San Antonio, TX 78212 (210) 733-5354 Neighborhoods: Nowheresville; Republican Hell; Tobin Hill; San Antonio College adj.
Pros: Good records; cheap records; no competition from the locals; staff was nice to me; cab driver waited for me outside while I shopped and didn’t leave the meter running. Aw. Cons: TEXAS.
The phrases “I love your sundress,” “sugar bunny,” and “church girl on Sundays; freaky on Mondays and Fridays” are enough to get me through the dreary workday. Also “word life,” which needs to make a triumphant return.
Son of a BITCH, now that’s how you start a profile piece about a rapper who’s already been profiled a thousand times by other periodicals.
Mos Def, “Travelin Man.” Because it is beautiful, and because “we both on assignment to unearth a diamond” gets me every time, and because the NC/SC/Cali/Chicago/Virginia/DC/Philly/Georgia part is fun to rap along to, and because I’m guessing mos of the time he and his other world travelers are getting from one continent to another via JET.
Yesterday in the paper there was a review of a new collection of essays by Edward Hoagland.
“(He) is a writer who has spent more time observing with gratitude than opining,” says reviewer Susan Salter Reynolds,
“‘Life is moments,’ he writes, ‘day by day, not a chronometer or a contractual commitment by God.’”OH SHIT, TIME TO DO AN E-40 POST was of course my response to this.Moments like the song above coming on the radio, perfectly-timed and making my car’s tinny speaker system seem like something ten times more expensive? Those kinds of moments, you mean? Basically I’d just like to take a moment say Thank you, LA Times book review, in conjunction with Power 106 programmers. It all came together perfectly. I read that Hoagland sentence, then got in the Civic and heard that E-40 and I drove off into the sunset. Which brings me to the week’s first award –
1. Best Use of Bass (week of 06/12 – 06/19): “My Shit Bang,” E-40.
For achievement in convincing me that my shit bang even in a 13-year-old Honda coupe, I had to start the list with the English Professor (I attend Baller U – class of 2014, cuddie). 40’s also my Favorite Story-telling Cool Uncle and has a permanent spot on the List of Dudes Who I’d Like to Read the Phone Book to Me Out Loud.
My shit bang My shit thrub I’m a motherfucking beast I’m a motherfucking hog Pull up with the slump Or should I say black truck soundin’ Like I got an alligator in the back Paint wetter than melted ice Rally and hockey stripes burning rubber at every light mean muggin’ like fuck your life. Best Use of Alligator. And, without a doubt, Best Use of “Thrub.”I’d also like to recognize 40 as having this week’s Outstanding Non-Perfect Vocal Moment (the way he gets out of breath at 00:51, when he says hog – PERFECT; thanks for keeping it in the song, producer ToneBone from Los Angeles, CA).
2. Best Nonrap Appreciation that Translates Perfectly as a Rap Appreciation:
“The Magritte work that I always return to is The Treachery of Images, because we have it at the LA County Museum. It’s a kind of touchstone of his. He’s affirming the slipperiness, or as he calls it the treachery, of images, of language – that a word and an object have no necessary connection other than that we collectively assigned that word and that object to go together. I really appreciate his word play.”
Is this me talking about 40, or Baldessari talking about Magritte in The Guardian? Aha, I have posed a difficult question, because it could be either. Except we didn’t collectively assign “gouda” to mean money or “elroy” for cop – 40 did, and we just followed along because he’s got that charisma. Signifiers and the signified can be a frustrating concept; it takes me back to my days as a co-ed. If my Lit 101 teacher had just used the example of an alligator to illustrate how the same thing that describes the knocking-ness of speakers can also describe a scaly thing that comes from a swamp, I would’ve had a much easier time with the whole concept of structuralism.
3.Best Hat; Most Blatant Display of Love for Eric Wright; Most Effective Pandering to Elderly Rap Fans; Best Use of Typeface; Best Use of Los Angeles Design Archetype When It Comes to Hats: Jeezy at the Hot 107.9 concert in Atlanta over the weekend. (That hat. LOOK AT THAT HAT, HOLY CHRIST). Outstanding Achievement by a Non-LA Resident in Making This Blogger Smile.
Normally I insist that a gentleman wear his hometown somewhere on his person. I do not care for fluid allegiances, dudes who forsake the home team because the division rival’s got better colors. REP YOUR SET, PLEASE. Have a little conviction. And yet I do not have a problem with a Georgian wearing the name of a city to which he does not belong. I’m complex like that, I guess. Or just in a really good mood.
Jeezy also gets Best Historical Tie-In, as this week is the 40th anniversary of upstanding moral human being Richard Nixon’s completely logical and well-planned “war on drugs.” If Nixon were here today he’d argue that coke raps fund terrorism. I’m pretty sure he’d hate Palin, though, so he and I would at least have that in common.
“Ha, look at that dude’s funny-lookin stoic smiley-face on his hat! I don’t know what it means but it’s cuuuuute,” I said to myself, before realizing I’ve gotten slightly off-course in my mp3 habits. Been listening to too many 20-year-old MCs and worshiping at the altar of Georgia rap. I need to get back to my cranky-old-90s-reminiscing Cali roots sometimes. Plus I just love a black-on-black fitted, thank you and good day.
4. Best Use of Weezy: Jay Wayne Jenkins having Dwayne Carter come on through to the live show to perform his verse, AKA Jeezy at the Hot 107.9 concert in Atlanta over the weekend – specifically, this moment in his set, which got him so many cool points. And have I mentioned that HAT?
The best BEST part of this whole thing is the fact that there is no Wayne introduction, no stopping the music for maximum drama, even though that would certainly be warranted since Wayne is the most hugest rock star in the galaxy (Internet) right now. Wayne just starts in. Unheard of! I screamed, out loud, sitting right here as I type this, when he came out on stage – literally, this eruption of pleasure from my throat the moment I saw Weezy, even though the video is calledJEEZY BRINGS OUT LIL WAYNE HOT 107.9 B-DAY BASH. Weezy and I, we have our ups and downs; he’s a man who sometimes falters (those pink shorts, working with Travis Barker, hanging out with Dirk, putting all those babies in women). But he knows how to redeem himself through sheer charisma. It translates to success and incredible likeability. That’s how when he was 16 he bought his first Mercedes-Benz, somethingsomething thousand something and their girlfriends. You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the women (the blogging women, to scream in response to you showing up and kicking your verse on Internet video).
I love this moment so much, it’s like I orchestrated the whole thing. I’m the puppeteer. I’m the Bill Graham of 2011 southern urban radio birthday shows. “Places, gentlemen,” I said to them, “Readyyyy, annnnnnnd AMAZE THE CROWD.” These radio station shows are so consistently dull, and the sound on the videos so consistently bad, that I don’t hardly ever watch them. Once every 8-10 years, though, you get some magic. Like me with this website. I don’t post nearly enough, but when I do, I pretty much come correct every time. (I’m the Terrence Malick of rap blogging.)
5. Best Set Claim: Jeezy in “I’m Ballin.” (song #2 above)
Summer’s mine, winter too I’m poppin’ bottles in the club, that’s what winners do.
40 balled outta control; Jeezy’s just ballin. Just doin a lil ballin, that’s all. You know. NBD. Gotta start small. 40’s got 10 rap years and 50 lbs on Jeezy; don’t wanna step on The Scrillfather’s toes. Plus he’d make fun of a Compton hat on someone from Atlanta.
Jeezy bypassed repping a block/neighborhood/city/state and went straight to an entire season. “Keep your Hollygrove, your Cedar Block; I’m claiming an entire 3-month section of the calendar year,” he says, “Now who’s fuckin with that.” (“PS: yeaaauuughhhh”)
6. Most Amusing/Stubborn Trend: What I like to call “brain raps.” But not just brain raps – braggy, one-upping brain raps. This’ll be the summer of rappers increasingly outdoing each other with descriptions of places a girl went down on them, if songs like “Racks on Racks” (YC: while talking on the phone), “Ballin” (Jeezy: in the backseat of the Phantom), and “Session” (Tyler: while watching The Berrics – plus the giver is someone’s parent, for which he earns extra credit) are any indication.
7. I got that Dilla, Premo, Swizzy flow. Most Sacrilegious and Delusional; Most Infuriating to Anyone with Taste and Good Sense: Wale in “I’m on One.” IN FACT, HIS FLOW IS NOT WELL-SUITED TO ANY OF THOSE PRODUCERS. Well, maybe Swizz.
Most Incorrect too. Replace the “I” in that sentence with “T3,” “Guru,” or “DMX,” then come back and see me.
I find Wale to be so intensely unlikeable as a human being that it’s hard for me to admit this next thing, BUT: I do like that N—s George Foreman grillin’/Shit I spit that rope-a-dope line. Everybody wanna hear a good Ali rap now and then; Wale knows. He’s got some good sports references. I can appreciate that. He also gets points for using “geechy” in a song circa 2011. However, this does not detract from the fact that he just seems like such a rude person. He’s the dude that says “AY. (pause) AY!” as a flirtation technique when you walk by and when you don’t respond he calls you stuck up or goes psssshhhhh (which means “She’s stuck up”). I’m speaking for all ladies with that one.
8. Best Closing Salutation: RZA in an interview by The Guardian.
It also gets the honor of Least Cynical Moment of the Week, and it slowed the world down for a sec and reminded me what’s really important. I have a tiny bit of a problem with the sentence that precedes his goodbye (RZA’s need to announce that he’s our collective daddy figure. It turns me off.) but I still find this quote amazingly comforting. RZA says Wu-Tang forever right before he walks away from you. What a freaking superhero. I imagine that having a conversation with him would result in me being so happy, my enthusiasm would make me lose control of my limbs and my ability to speak clearly. I’d want to go in for a hug but I’d lose my nerve. The result would be an awkward handshake/dap combo.
9. Best Use of Curren$y. Curren$y of the Week. Best Curren$y I Done Heard Since I Last Did a Curren$y Post: Curren$y, “You See It.”
Marvel at my stance at your girl What she think, she can’t even respond Cause her mind is now mine, fool I ain’t lying, let’s just cross the couch Sleeping with my shoes on just in case I haveto wake up and be out Once again it’s on Mama bring my bong to the game room With nothing but some panties on And them Bape socks that I gave you Never once on probation but your man’s on his papers Spendin’ them, stackin’ them, feelin’ them Wrappin’ em, lightin’ em, never passin’ em.
That bong/panties part! Curren$y thinks he’s bossed up, like I’m going to respond to an order to be a sex robot. STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO, CURREN$Y, but really I mean please continue telling me what to do please. The song as a whole is forgettable, lacking something I can really swoon over – like the fuzzy THC bass of “Montreux” and that drum pattern of “Success is My Cologne.” But this week’s Best Curren$y has that nice power dynamic in its lyrical content. Bring my bong to the game room in just your chonies. Rakim’s the soul controller; Curren$y’s the mind controller (i.e., the soft-female-body-parts controller. That’s how this soft female operates, anyway). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take my boyfriend his medicine, which he will need in order to get relaxed yet focused for his upcoming billiards game. He promised he’d read me some more of the phone book tonight (he’s on “J” already!).
10.Best Use of Horns Since Trick Daddy’s “Shut Up”: Big Sean & Kanye, “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay.”
Kanye’s not a Dude Who I’d Like to Read Me the Phone Book Out Loud (he’d go to the “Dick” section for last names and try to be funny, true to his 11-year-old boy tendencies). This week he has the honor of earning Best Impression of Waka by an 11-Year-Old Trapped in a Prissy Adult Male Chicagoan’s Body. I should say Best Impression of Drumma Boy too, since that beat is so severely jacked I worry that Kanye has trouble sleeping at night. His conscience just terrorizes him. Anyway, the song is lazy and cliche-ridden, Kanye West is the least sexy person in music, and why the fuck would I listen to a song about listening to Marvin Gaye when I could just put I Want You on the hi-fi and lounge around in my panties and Bape socks. Duh.
Best Excuse for Me to Post My Marvin Gaye Denim Photo Series: Big Sean and Kanye West, “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay.”
Let’s Get It On (AKA “the denim-shirt session”) was recorded here. Jesus knows I don’t go west of La Brea if I can help it, but I have made a special trip to honor Marvin. The ghosts are still around, I can feel ’em when I walk by.
Also if you are a Marlboro smoker you are that much closer to being like Marvin and maybe we should go on a date.
11. Remember when everyone used to say Nas’ shortcoming was picking post-Illmatic producers who couldn’t provide a good enough canvas on which to paint his verbal pictures? Yeah. I had a feeling you would. Me too.
The whole point of that sentence was to compare today with 10 years ago as I say “I’D LIKE THE INSTRO OF ‘NASTY’ FOR THIS WEEK’s SECOND-FINEST* LOGAN-WALKING-DOWN-THE-STREET ANTHEM PLEASE.” No lyrics; just Salaam Remi. I can do without the lyrics, and it’s a Nas song. Never thought I’d see the day. Today’s world is an odd place. Nas can still read the phone book to me, though, in that sandpapery Queens drawl.
12. *Finest Logan-Walking-Down-the-Street-Anthem (week of 06/12 – 06/19); Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Buddy Leezle, “Drug Dealer” (via GrandGood). This one’s such a delicious headphone banger, you’ll see, though it might take a couple listens.
Do I automatically like a rap video if it’s animated? Am I that easy? Other self-questions this week (i.e., things I stated, out loud, to myself in disbelief):
13. Juicy J, read me the phone book please! Also what does Anwar do exactly, other than be attractive, charismatic, and have perfect dreads? At least Waka puts out mixtapes and shows up on TMZ sometimes. Anyway, this week’s Best Use of THAT SOUND: “Make It Happen,” Juicy J & Casey Veggies.
That liftoff sound. 00:26 – 00:30.What is that sound called? It’s on every mixtape from the states of Georgia and Alabama. It’s gotta have a name, right? Email me, somebody. I’ll send you a dirty picture* as a big fat thank you.
Aya is the landlady at my home, apt. 680. She did not give this to me because she has a crush on me and admires how I’m thicker than a Violent Femmesbassline; rather, she did it to “welcome me to the building.” Also, I’m pretty sure she wants to take a shower with me. To welcome me to the building.
I take a photo of her gift, and almost caption it KEEPING IT 100 before I come to my senses. My god, that was a close one.
I sport a t-shirt tribute to my second-favorite human with a dollar sign in his name. I wait and hope and wait for a Curren$y tribute song to Jason Terry. Neither of these events seems as important to others as they are to me. Story of my life.
2 weeks ago: the new way for me to entertain myself becomes listening to Curren$y talk about different denominations of bills over an old soul record. Five dollars, one dollar, six dollars for a plate, a lady needed a dollar, but guess what, Curren$y didn’t have a dollar, he had a $10 bill. WHATEVS DUDE JUST KEEP TALKING IN YOUR SYRUPY ACCENT WHILE I CLOSE MAH EYES AND LISTENNNNN.
The weeks fly by. I’m still thinking about him and his denominations-of-money story and that song over which he told the story. I cherish my gift certificate, worth a large denomination. I daydream at work about what I’m going to buy with it. There are so many choices. I also learn that Curren$y’s an Alpha (hence the handsign). Nice hat, by the way. Hey, what does Ghosty call dudes who shop on Fairfax? SUPREME CLIENTELE. Unrelated: I also realize that only 1 letter separates dope friends from dope fiends. I wonder if I get an American flag bikini like I’ve been craving, is it a tribute to blind gross jingoism, or a nod to Jasper Johns. This is a typical daydream pattern for me while at work, thank you.
I find the song! You still with me?
Even better, I find the song in real life*! (*online, in round black acetate form, suitable for purchase)
“New”/”still sealed”! This throws me off, as people using quotations for emphasis always does. It makes everything sound fake, or like a joke. Air quotes.
Wiz has a “sick flow.”
I “don’t” spend too much time pondering the poststructuralist use of language in rap songs.
Nice to meet you, Logan. I’m a cop, and I’d like to “help you find the person who broke into your car.” (have sex with you)
I also find that other record with the break for that other song online. I don’t rap on beats; I spit pictures,Curren$y says. God I love him. It too is ready for purchase. And shipping. To apt. 680, where I live. Upstairs from the landlady who has a crush on me. Curren$y Currently the search is on for either, or both, Curren$y breaks. Gang, that settles it. I’ll see you at Amoeba this weekend (after a shower with the manager).
I ♥ASS said the bumper sticker I saw today while out driving – except, can you believe it, the heart was upside-down, like an ass! It looked just like a nice, curvy bottom! Teehee. It was a message just for me. Religious types say God works in mysterious ways; I just say Well, there it is – a sign that it’s time for me to finally do this Kool Keith post.
What’s that you say? A girl with high self-esteem and several Women’s Studies courses under her belt should know better? A porno-fiend caped rap crusader will only make me cry into my Hello Kitty blanket? He’ll eventually find the hips of another woman to get enveloped in, so I should move on? Oh dear, I’m sorry, I’m sure you have valid points but Keith just arrived and I can’t hear you over the sounds of our vigorous lovemaking. He’s good to me. He doesn’t charge me for twice-daily pelvic exams. He wears a cape (rad), and doesn’t name-drop even though he is friends with Ced Gee and Doomsy (SO RAD). And he’s dependable – Keith’s bread and (sexy) butter is brag-raps, conquest-raps, songs about spanking and biting, tales of headstands and whipped cream, lube and rope, Silly String, stripper shoes, librarian shoes, insisting he gets to be both the cowboy and the Indian when we play cowboys & Indians, insisting I ride the mechanical bull while eating frosting out of the can without a spoon, and for putting his left leg in and shaking it all about. He also goes, um, deep when it comes to romance, but nobody seems to notice. He’s not known for his emotional-connection raps. After years of listening to him and obsessing, though, I’m telling you: Keith wants to make sweet, tender love to me until the sun comes up, and watch this, I can prove it:
1.You’re blonde and weird; let’s get naked, dollface. You’re Dutch/Argentinean, yes? Or wait, no – Persian/Irish? I love you. – “Break U Off,” Diesel Truckers (2004).
“Don’t get me wrong now, I like ’em blonde with long hair They call me Suavere, I like her underwear She don’t mind posin, she don’t even care I like her atmosphere, plus she’s out there The type of girl to break out, yo we outta here House and closets, model with a lot of gear She love to clown and pose, spread ’em on the chair Talk on the rooftop, when she wanna feel some air… With a see-through nightgown, she got to be Spanish Brassiere, baby come over here The mamacita, lick the ice off her back when I freak her She look Brazilian sometime, her face look unique-a.”
Long blonde hair with an ethnically ambiguous face? UH OF COURSE THIS SONG’S ABOUT ME so it had to start the list. Indulge me, please. She’s (meaning me, the romantic lead) blonde, “plus she’s out there,” meaning she might just be the type to have a pic of Harold Rhodes for her laptop background and a blog in which she obsesses over rap lyrics. It would also help if she had an absurdly feminine body shape, but this combination of qualities is just impossible to find in an actual human lady. You’re dreamin, kid.
Blonde girls are like unusual, highlighted birds to Keith. I get it. He’s from the Bronx; blondes are probably rare there. Keith was apparently so smitten he had to take to the microphone and count the ways he loves his fair-haired oddball baby doll space cadet(te?), including her ability to make love to the camera. It is a common theme in sex songs. The big thing on the radio right now is “Double Dip,” an awful/catchy song about repeat coitus. When you texted that pic of your backside to me, the dude says, My reply was like, “Give that right to me.” Points for straighforwardness, sir, but none for romance, originality, or mastery of words that rhyme with “me” (there are about a thousand, for the record). It is boring. Just a boring series of words over an awful/catchy beat. By contrast, Keith somehow makes “spread ’em on the chair” sound fresh and witty, like no other young lady in history thought to pose nakedly for her man, to put her leg like that, open her mouth a little, yes love, just like that – gorgeous! (snap, snap). The fact that he asked me to wear a Hello Kitty onesie and some thigh-highs just before I mounted the mechanical bull and started posing? Just part of the romance, baby.
Basically just a list of all the things he likes about his lady, “Break U Off,” also gets a nod for the lines “Tastes so good, her body like Krispy Kreme” (yum!) and “I love your sweet eyelashes” (aww).
“Answer the phone, honey You lay on my chest like Max Julien, Cleopatra status Coke bottle shape, Miss Nubian Watch your sheer nightgown in the bathroom light With camel toe showin, I can tell you tight Loose jeans don’t work, my job is to convert.”
Never in mah life have I heard an MC who pays such close attention to a woman’s sleeping and lounging garments. Keith does this over and over in his verses – descriptions of cotton and lace, silk, that satin thong in “Sexy Girl.” He loves drapey, soft things on skin, and he’ll tell you about it over a beat. How sweet. This verse made Top 10 because of that attention to detail, and because of his appreciation of a nightgown, an old-timey garment that your grandma wore, as opposed to one of those lace bodystockings from AA or a corset or something.
3.I like to hear your voice sometimes – not just type messages to you on my phone’s tiny keyboard. – “How Sexy,”Dr. Dooom 2 (2008)
“I met you, wanted me to buy porno girl you had it in your hormones Last night before you talked to me on the phone I asked you twice to bite my ice cream cone C’mon be serious- this ain’t typin a few words back and forth like kids; we grown.”
YES. THIS. “We’ve seen each other naked,” says every girl in the world, including the girl whose blog you are currently reading, “can we sometimes talk, please? Hear each other’s voices?”
I saw a funny bumper sticker about ass! And I made cupcakes, do you want one? I had a dream that I had a kitten! What do you think French Montana and Push Montana talk about at the annual Montana Family Picnic? That new Jeezy n’ Freddie has a lower BPM than I normally like but man when I hear it in the Civic it makes me wanna get back in the narcotics game, like the “Black Betty”/airport scene in Blow! They’re having a Dudes Who Will Not be Seeing Logan Naked conference on stage at the Meadowlands! (well, except for Waka. I believe “He could get it” is the expression-?). 9th Wonder adds “Member of the Universal Zulu Nation” to his self-intro (“Producer/teacher/rapper…”); is that true?? Does he still adhere to the 15 Beliefs, or is he a detractor? There’s a human who calls himself “Black Cobain,” the fuck is that about! They play Frank Ocean on Power 106; is this dope, or a sign of the apocalypse? Dude oh my god Spader simply killed it on The Office!That story about Pyrex is so interesting, and it’s a perfect mix of rap music and science, my two greatest loves! I got ____ and ____ at Amoeba today, and then I brought them home and laid them on my floor and rolled around nakedly on them! Wait, why’d your phone go to voicemail again? Hey boy, let’s talk, cuz WE GROWN. I mean, aren’t we?
It’s not that I’m chatty; it’s that the world is amazing. I think about some dope, weird, silly, dumb stuff and I want to lay it on you in actual conversations once in a while. Actually, I think about all kinds of nice stuff I wanna lay on you, conversationally and otherwise. RAWR.
4.You’re not boring, even when we’re doing boring things. – “Telephone Girlfriend” again
“In the living room, on the couch and sofa Mature female, you act older No problem at all when I walk with you to the mall Circle the parking lot, you park and hot(? I think) At night you booty call, we order things from Pink Dot.”
Same song, different romantic scenario. Romance doesn’t have to be dinner upstairs at El Cid (though the empanadas are so SO good) or getting flowers at work; it’s living-room lounging, buying dumb stuff together at CVS on Tuesday after work, then you rolling your eyes during one of my Power 106 dorkout sessions while sitting in traffic (“Racks on racks on racks, LEH’GO”). If the person you’re with is fun even when you’re doing the most mundane things, you’ve got it – a magical, perfect coupling, a lovely picture of relationship beauty – and you should hold onto it. See also: the person you’re with embellishing life accomplishments just to make you smile (“First man from New York City housing to have his face on a $30 bill”), and that person also somehow being more interesting than the NBA playoffs (“I turned the Lakers off, you can’t stop my afterparty/A fifth of vodka and latex, drink your Bacardi” – “Regular Girl”).
This track also includes massaging, a thing that is both a classically romantic gesture and a thing that dudes are deliciously skilled at because they have more upper-body strength than women. It’s science. “Baby oil on your toes while you get wet to my flows” gets an honorable mention as well, simply because I love it. Hi Mom!
Until he says “I love your purple onesie” or “Darling you look spectacular when we’re in apt. 680 and you poke your hip out like that,” I will have to settle for “I see a packed house in different color bodysuits” (“Don’t Crush It”) as the best lyric Keith wrote with me in mind. That cover model, by the way, is Spantaneeus Xtasy. She has starred inCrimson Thighs, Butt-nanza, and The Boobcage 2, which is poorly made and does a terrible disservice to the first Boobcage (don’t even bother with it, I’m serious).
5.Wack rappers be quiet. The world is wondrous and so strange and I’d like to tell you about it with my patented colorful and stylish narrative technique. – “Plastic World,” Sex Style (1997)
“As I do see…(??) wack beer commercials Some rappers are bought and puppeteered like the Ninja Turtles From Manhattan I heat up, yo light up Times Square I make noise like open high hats on your cheap snare No promotional shows, girls wear cornrows People with hooded sweaters on crack keep me on my toes I walk with straw hats, fake glasses in the projects Bring my ghost image so tense on the line of scrimmage Playing my numbers, waiting for the 5 to come Spaghetti out the window, people acting dumb Fire hazards wake the neighbors, your family’s nosy I come and go as I please on blockhead MCs You bought new sneakers, no car, scrambling on the corner I’m not the star you are, the city’s fallen far By mechanism, you’re on my tip Stay off my penis, you’ve duplicated me for years.”
Go weird or go home, that’s what I always say. Keith lost that nice bouncy “Poppa Large” flow somewhere along the way – spring of ’95, I believe it was – and goddammit if he didn’t made up for it with lyrics like these. References to a drum kit, terrible MCs who are inexplicably successful, and the weirdos prowling the city: this song is romantic because to a lady English major, interesting, well-written rhymes are the sweet love-nectar of life. Also, good storytellers are the highest form of human. Good storytellers get women naked, if they storytell in a way that is romantic yet non-corny (a tricky mix). Sex Style was dope stuff, late-’90s weird-hop, streamofconsciousness-sex-hop, and Keith had no challengers, really (except RA, maybe? at times? Slick Rick and Too $hort, no – they ruled the ’80s sexrap industry but mostly they put out plain old intercourse verses, free from BDSM and mechanical bulls and other Keith-ish weirdisms). Just wait til 2009, though, when a scrappy young buck from the Bay will stroll in and announce he’s Paris Hilton and his chain look like lightning – he’ll polarize the Internet! Anyway, Keith is the rap Trav Bickle, describing NYC as cluttered and greasy and sin-filled, but instead of making me recoil in disgust when he talks about how dirty it is, it makes me want to go there. (This also serves as a metaphor for our sexual life together.) Oh and “stay off my penis” is just funny; no two ways about it*. Romance cannot survive without some humor thrown in.
*I should do a post about mentions of penis in lyrics over the years; seems like a good use of my time but I have a feeling I’ll just keep putting it off. I should also listen to more Gang Gang Dance and finally read The Executioner’s Song but that is probably not happening either.
6.Brokest rapper you know (hi Sean P!) – “Let Me Talk to You,” Masters of Illusion (2000)
“I respect you for going with me to Burger King, riding with me in my lil jalopy. Stickin by me, through thick and thin. Goin to White Castle and stuff…ridin around in like a little ’65 Chevy. Can’t afford them Benzes, we can only fantasize.”
We forget Keith’s a real person sometimes because of his superb, otherworldly brain, the fact that he was so spacey Thelonious stopped taking his phone calls and he got kicked out of both the Cosmic Echoes and the Arkestra*, and the fact that his overall demeanor is like that of an alien doing an impression of Al Goldstein doing an impression of a dude asking for change in front of the 99Cents store at Willoughby and La Brea. But if Keith’s cut, he bleeds. He likes waffles for breakfast (oh god Keith me too! Me TOO we are meant to be togetherrrrr). He turns up “Owner of a Lonely Heart” when it comes on the car radio for a life-is-wonderful rockout sesh just like everybody else. And he likes his partner to appreciate him for more than his money, because he is huuuuman and he needs to be looooved/just like everybody else doessssss. Keith likes playing games but only the sexy kind, and if you are a lowdown dirty female thinking that you can manipulate him into catching feelings and paying your student loan bill, well, you will probably get a mean-spirited rap song written about you. He wrote groupie-decimating “Dolly and the Rat Trap,” remember. We’re all aware that when the feelings are real and the love is true, cash is often a nice supplement to a romantic relationship (thanks, Jay-Z and Fabolous songs from 10 years ago!). But when cash becomes so terribly important that romance needs it in order to stay alive, why, that’s not romance at all! Love don’t live here anymore!, say all the other songs by Jay-Z and Fabolous.
Again, the details of a sexy courtship are what Keith is so good at, uh, nailing (har) – “Bringing extra underwear to the picnic,” “Drinkin cups of tea by the fireplace,” the importance of doing certain things to her in certain places with care and enthusiasm (I cannot describe these actions or these places here, as I am a lady). And reciprocity, darling: “When a woman loves a man,” he says, “she’ll clean the grime off your feet.” This is true. And when a man loves a woman, he makes a cute cartoon video to accompany one of his most romantic songs. PS, Keith! Benzes are cornball and I like you better without one. I’d rather bob my head in a ragtop (preferably a monkey-green one*) any damn way. * This is something I just made up and found amusing. So it stays in the post.
7.I did this for you, and that for you, because I’m a nice person. Oh and did I mention I have a Seville? – “Supergalactic Lover,”Black Elvis/Lost in Space (1999)
“Diamond rings with roses, I put pearls in your noses Put you in heels, paid your school loans and tons of bills I ripped eight thousand threw a stack up in the fireplace You couldn’t believe it, your mom was there with a sad face… I walked in with cape, with jewels on, you know I’m the captain Outside by the Cadillac three brothers rappin, soundin wack and I kept on steppin, legend status, you know my rep and I see you at 8, turn your pager off, don’t be late… Supergalactic lover Comin from the projects on the hill Supergalactic lover *In my monkey-green ragtop Seville”
“Darling let me tackle that Chase bill for you, and here’s somePhillip Lim stripper-librarian heels in a pretty oxblood color. I’ll pick you up at 8:01 PST in my Detroit-made sedan.”
“OH NO, I couldn’t possib—AW DAMN. WELL, OKAY KEITH, if you insist.”
I can pay my own way but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the offer – even though a supergalactic lover will always take a back seat to a superman lover in my heart.
The student loan hustle is one of the greatest ever concocted by the federal government. What a pain. I need relief. I’m willing to accept cash aid as a form of this relief. I also like pretty, overpriced shoes. And it’s my dream to be able to stop my days of worryation. And I like Cadillacs. And even though I do not even give a tiny bit of a fuck that Thom Yorke sometimes shows up and spazzes out at the Low End Theory, because he is boring and because it’s not the year 1997, ’98, or ’99, I do give a big huge fuck about everything Keith still does even though it’s not ’97 or 8 or 9. The captain put spaceship pictures up on the wall and paid my student loan balance, so if he tells me to turn my pager off, I’m doing it. Being bossed around by someone with more money than you adds an interesting power dynamic to a relationship, and can manifest itself in some pretty intense ways in the bedroom. Or, um, so I am told? (Hi again, Mom!). This one also contains the best mention of “ragtop” since “Bombs Over Baghdad.”
“You made me who I am now, my mind is under all different types of enjoyin weather in the deep relation Your feelings are ready for elevation I need you now to meet me at the station I need you nowww to meet me at the station You gotta be there on time… I can’t think no more, I cry to myself by the bed I can’t sit by the sink no more Your perfume lingers in my room with the overjoy and pain I think about you even when it doesn’t rain”
People who don’t like road trips are soulless, like Republicans and Serato users. Jot that down. Remember it always.
There’s lots of “let’s run away together” in Avett Brothers songs, Band of Horses songs. Fleet Foxes. Bon Iver. Elliott Smith. My Morning Blitzen Trapper Drive-By ugghhh too tired to finish the list. I have numerous bearded boyfriends with albums full of white girl swoon-y road trip classics. And then there are songs that just make you feel like running away with someone when you hear them (Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band, Bill Callahan, Cass McCombs, side A of Anodyne). You’ll notice that there are no rap groups, or individual MCs, among the musical persons I just named. Keith steps up in this case, though, courting me by tapping into my deeply feminine need to leave it all behind. Even though this song has some horrible singing and Keith kind of phones it in lyrically – lazy cliches about riding horses, analogies about love being like a car or like the road on which you’re driving a car, and he even rhymes wife and life (a wack ’80s R&B move, a lazy cliche) – in the end he saves the day with the “let’s run away together” lazy cliche. Because it works, that’s why. Responsibility and the daily grind are not romantic (grinding daily, however: very romantic). The whole getting-the-you-know-what-outta-Dodge/Echo Park life plan is a cliche for a reason, people: the laydeez love it. I am a lady, and I’m telling you it’s a fact.
That “I can’t sit by the sink no more” line is so sad and touching too. Shit just got really real; DAMN. (All her lady-things are there, you see. Her lotions and perfumes. Brings back memories for the kid. Aw Keith.)
9.Your face appeals to me, as does your commitment to your education. Also I have a rescue fantasy. – “Fine Girls,” Black Elvis/Lost in Space (1999)
“I like your pretty eyes Tell me where you get your hair done, your face so clear With fourteen carat diamonds in your ear He beat you up, I’ll eat you up, reheat you up Come fix your life, make you my wife, improve in time No wine and dine, don’t waste my time, mature your mind… You’re that fine girl from high school, college graduate Lady always on my mind, girl can you imagine it?… Come here girl, I wanna talk to you I wanna tell you a lot of things”
“Come here girl, I wanna talk to you” is standard game kicked at the bar/club/grocery store/DMV (or so I’ve heard about and seen in movies; dudes don’t talk to me, unless they’re at Amoeba, over 55, and looking for that same Mighty Diamonds record as me and keep bumping into my ass in the aisle. Or unless they’re married. Or a cop). But when it comes to Keith and that Bronx lilt of his, such a line is extraordinary and not at all standard. I wanna tualk to you. He’s so specific about what he likes about this particular lady, too – the eyes, the nice skin, the college degree. This song is like his version of “Ice Cream” but without the part complimenting the girl’s rude, crabby demeanor. Keith likes ’em sweet. It all ventures into cliche territory, and because it’s Keith he’s still able to triumph, showing up at my door with some In-N-Out, a nice handwritten note, and something water-based in order to reduce friction between body parts. Horoscopes are a big collection of cliches too, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make me feel good (today for Aries: “The one who recognizes that there is something special in you will capture your heart.” AWW).
10.No means YES. – “Sexual Intruder,” Personal Album (2004)
I had to honorPersonal Album somewhere in this post just on the strength of its song titles (“I Do What I Want”; “A Black Kid Who Think He’s White”; “Girl Wanna Kill Herself”). I would not have been able to live with myself otherwise.
“Lead singer up front, you feel me like The Temptations The way I gave you the world Send you to learn about the (M)oments, on a thousand vacations With you sick in the hospital, I bought you the flowers They were (B)lack (I)vory, they made you cry with heavy (E)motions Your back and night was rubbed down professional with sweet cucumber lotion, with all my time and devotion You cried about the bills your ex-man had left you with Throwin rocks into the ocean I heard your (W)hispers all the way to my ear, on a foggy night You walkin with one of your Pomeranians, 3 Dog Nights With Pitts comin you was in shock I couldn’t let 3 dogs fight (I couldn’t let 3 dogs fight)… Waitin in the emergency room for your mild concussions You knew your heart always and forever Through the (H)eatwave, your body was rushin You had to get to your own apartment, you didn’t want to say with your cousin Your mom always fussin, takin a train from the Grand (Graham) Central Station When I was on stage, nothin could stop you from faintin Grabbin my hand on the spot, you was scared under the shy (Chi) lights (Lites) With apple bottoms on, jeans fittin tight Beggin me to put on your direct light, in love like a sex slave Sippin red Alize under the purple light, sexual intruder Sexual intruder, I’m your sexual intruder…”
Weird-hop! Can’t get enough! This song is a big collection of WTF, but sometimes you need that in a relationship. Boredom kills, you know; keep me guessing and I’ll be yours forever. The whole storyline Keith lays out here, for example – huh? Was she attacked by dogs? Is her medical prognosis good? Did she and Keith do it in her hospital bed? I’ll be thinking about all that later (I’ll probably call you, since a text can’t capture the raw emotion), but for now I want to swoon over the fact that KEITH MAKES CUTE PUNS OUT OF OLD R&B GROUP NAMES. It’s romantic when someone uses a song to talk to you – in this case, Heatwave’s “Always and Forever.” I can’t believe Keith really flipped it and bounced it like that; I mean, it really is just like a dream to me that somehow came true, and I know tomorrow will still be the same, because Keith and I? We’ve got a life of love that won’t ever change, and every day (I’m hoping) he’ll love me his own special way. Keith’s mention of the Temps’ lead singer speaks to me as well, for I believe my feelings about the god David Ruffin are well-documented. Cloud Nine-era Temptations were fantastic. Puzzle People, yes of course. Psychedelic Shack, great. I like it all. But c’mon – nothing beats coked-up-Ruffin-era Temptations in my book/heart/soul.
Back to the song. Keith calls himself an intruder, and there’s a clear element of Keith as the bawss here (because sweetheart that’s what you signed up for as soon as you replied to that first MySpace message from him), but this song tells the story of a relationship between two willing grown-ups. He wants to dominate but not shame you, plus you can agree on a safe word ahead of time! A fulfilling erotic life can often involve expressions of submission, consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy role-play. Or, if you’re still just 19 or 20: it more frequently involves staring, fantasizing, daydreaming, trying to distract yourself from daydreaming, writing rap songs, and being mad at the girl while also wanting her to put on a sundress and run away with you (“Usually I just stalk you and masturbate” – Ty). The power differential between Keith and his lady is only a pretend one, and besides, he could never scare anybody – he’s got this innocence to him that’s always there, even though he says rectum a thousand times on his albums. Sometimes it seems like Keith’s talking sexy when he’s really just trying to battle (“I roll wit globs and I come real sticky”), but for the most part he keeps it pretty straightforward (“Take Off Your Clothes”; “Take Off Your Panties”; “Girl Let Me Touch You”) and a lady has to respect that. Plus that lascivious, good-natured way about him, coupled with an NY borough accent, sorta makes him the Tracy Morgan of rap-?
The Temptations, “Since I Lost My Baby.” Written by Smokey R.!
It was Robert Johnson week in apt. 680, thanks to that LA Times article and that piece in The Guardian. Also, shout to my dad for his hero-worship of Southern gentlemen of color who picked up guitars; this trait has been passed down to me, except I now have the additional tendency to worship gentlemen who lovingly speak of Pyrex and Desert Eagles and Twitter.
Johnson would’ve been 100 as of yesterday, and The Times of course had to trot out all the usual grizzled old British men to validate his place in history, which made me sleepy from boredom. The Times apparently thinks I don’t know my shit-?, as if any grizzled Caucasians who’ve sold and toured successfully are going to introduce me to Mr. Johnson’s work. Also, T-Bone Burnett? Robbie Robertson? Nobody not-boring was available to be interviewed? Prince? I don’t know…Carlos Santana? Ritchie Blackmore? Steve Cropper? Iommi? Fripp? If we want to get really crazy with it, you know, maybe get a quote from somebody under age 67 – Ginn? Tom Morello? SLASH? Anyway, I was crabby about all that but then THE GOD Neil Young popped into the article and saved the day, as he is known to do, with his quote above. That’s more like it. (Still, though, sometimes I keep going: Dr. Know? Ernie Isley?)
Following the release of “Born This Way” and “Judas,” two overstuffed singles that didn’t really hit it out of the Song of Summer ballpark (and the Song of Summer is really what’s up for grabs here), Gaga has gone and rushed out her third single, “Edge of Glory,” and, boy, if it doesn’t go down relatively easy. If the first two tracks off the forthcoming Born This Way were all jangly dance-rock, this is as smooth as an eighties jam straight off the Flashdance soundtrack, and it has the saxophone breakdown to prove it. (At this point, it should be clear this is the song Gaga recorded with Clarence Clemons, of the E Street Band.) The presence of a sax on this track raises the very real and very awesome possibility that there will soon be a saxophone battle going down on the pop charts in this, the year 2011. Katy Perry’s next single, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” another Song of Summer contender, also has a saxophone breakdown. (The Killers might want to consider rereleasing “Joy Ride,” off 2008’s Day & Age, if they want to capitalize on this new “trend.”) If for no other reason than that “sax” is an extremely fun, extremely juvenile word to make puns out of, we would be pro this development, but there is, of course, an even better reason — and that is that saxes are awesome. More sax please. More sax for everyone.
second only to Silky Johnson, 2003’s Player Hater of the Year, who once called in a bomb threat to the Special Olympics
But there may be another reason why Johnson recorded facing the wall. Elijah Wald is a musician and the author of the book Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. He says there were pre-war blues musicians who played guitar better than Johnson, as well as musicians who sang better. But Wald says that, unlike most of them, Johnson learned to play from listening to radio and records.
Sound is one of the main things that distinguishes Johnson’s sides from other records of the time. By facing the wall, Wald says Johnson might have made his vocals sound better to a later generation accustomed to high fidelity.
Also I’d really like to go somewhere and listen to Morello talk about Robert Johnson. That would be a very fine few hours I could spend.
The Guardian: You can’t hear a blues tune or a rock tune that don’t have some of Robert’s chords in it,” added another of Johnson’s musical associates in the documentary, the late Johnny Shines, “because he made them all.”