WTT: the The Car Test

Ha. This jerk.

I like to think I’m made of fairy dust, hips, pure love and 808, but in fact I am human. I’m only human. The jerk above and his friend made a record, and on it they flash and stunt, and cry a little, and overall they try to grip hard to that thing they’re losing, that Scorsesian ability to make jerks seem appealing. Watch the Throne is a ghost that has nothing to do with my life, like those awful Transformers movies – no real storyline, just a bunch of explosions and cars and slow, panning shots of ladies’ asses. But I’m only human. So I had to give this thing a listen. Here, then, is a song-by-song breakdown of exactly how long it’ll take me to jump out of your car when you put Watch the Throne on the Kenwood with me in the passenger seat:

1. “No Church in the Wild”63 seconds; I wanna hear an internal-struggle song about being torn between hedonism and a more meaningful life, I’ll listen to “Cadillac on 22s,” thankyouuuuu.

“You’re gonna put Frank Ocean on a song, and you waste that voice of his on this drivel?” I say out loud to you in my naggy voice (you’re a stand-in for the true object of my frustration, 88-Keys, who is no doubt the man behind the boards here. 2011 Kanye lacks the restraint required to make such an understated piece of music – 2003 Kanye had that restraint, but wishing for his return is not going to make it so.)

“What’s a mob to a king?,” Frank sings, “What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything?” Knock it off, Frank. Nobody cares. More importantly, I ask you, what’s a goon to a goblin??  I can only tolerate about 1 full minute of this, but still, it’s got some pluses: a) the presence of Frank’s voice, underused as it is, and b) an interesting beat. I can’t tell if I like it or not but goddammit I keep listening to it and that’s gotta mean something, right? Ooh and pitch it up and that BPM would make “That’s All” the perfect song to mix into it when you have your next BBQ. 

2. “Lift Off”22 seconds.

Oh hi Beyonce, glad you could join us. You’re beautiful but boring, a spinning, perfect ballerina inside a jewelry box. And oh my, what’s this? Looks like you brought some ascending, triumphant synth stabs with you! Nice. J and K are trying to appeal to the “persons with breasts” demographic with this one, I see. Except that J and K should stop insulting my intelligence and just call the song “Pandering to the Ladies (The Lady Song).” I mean, really; let’s just lay it all out on the table, gentlemen. I can hear this thing playing at Forever 21 already. (Rap they don’t play at Forever 21: Curren$y, Wacko n’ Skip, Keith Thornton, Terrence Thornton. Just like God intended.)

3. “N—s in Paris”42 seconds.

Margiela, hot bitches, Derrick Rose’s crotch getting some love (verbally – not in any other way. Goodness gracious.): this song sounds like the daily goings-on in apartment 680! That’s not enough to hold me, however. Aw damn. Once I hear the full hook, which is pretty great even though it has Michael Bay explosions and I’m already tired of hearing Aziz Ansari’s future rap song based on the phrase that shit cray, I open up the door and I’m gone, gone like the wind…if the wind wore jeans that are too tight and if the wind cared wayyyyy too much about jerks who make rap music.

4. “Otis”half a second. (no link; IT DOESN’T DESERVE A GODDAMN LINK)

“HOW BOUT WE JUST LISTEN TO THE ACTUAL ‘TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS,’” I yell when I hear the opening strains of track 4. You had to know this was coming; I’ve been bitching about this song for a week now! And since I don’t know when to quit, I just keep going. HERE’S TODAY’S NEWSPAPER HEADLINE FOR THAT ASS: LOS ANGELES WOMAN GETS MIGRAINE UPON LEARNING OF CHICAGO MAN TAKING CREDIT FOR PRODUCING A SONG WHEN REALLY HE JUST ADDED FUZZINESS AND A DRUM TRACK OVER A CLASSIC. Then I feel bad; you kind of like this song – it is chopped-up very nicely, I’ll give you that – and I just yelled at you about it. I put my face in my hands. Yelling’s not normally my thing; I don’t know what came over me. I am truly sorry. You’re still reeling, though, so then I try to sing a funny little song or tell a joke to lighten the mood. If you’re still annoyed, which you probably won’t be because I’m adorable, and have you seen my hips?, I’ll put my hand on your hand – trying a little tenderness, if you will – as a sign of apology. The actual “Try a Little Tenderness” is playing at this point, since I always get what I want. Then we make out, and things get especially hot during the drums at 2:34! Yay.

5. “Gotta Have It” – initially, 12 seconds. Then I let it warm up, and boy am I glad, because if I had gone with my first instinct I would’ve missed the very, verrrrry Pharrellian spare-change-jingling-in-your-pocket breakdown just before the 2-minute mark.

The Whatchu need, WhatWhatchu need draws me in, and the Takeumonhome about halfway through convinces me to ride this thing out (thank you for keeping the James Brown fires burning, Mr. Williams!) Unfortunately, I’ll probably still pout all the way through because when you said you were putting on a song about needing to have it, I thought I was going to hear THISSSSS:

Even more unfortunately, once the thing comes to an end I return to my senses and remember that if I wanna hear some JB all chopped up, goddammit it’s gonna be one J.  Yancey who gives it to me.

6. “New Day”4:39. That’s the whole thing! (I like it; I want it to go on and on).

Nina Simone saying Breeze driftin on by, echoed coos, plus Robert Diggs, plus a narrative theme that cleanses me, kind of un-does all that gross consumerism I feel since I acted on impulse and bought that Alexander Wang bag. This song is wonderful, pretty, heavily-bottomed (ROBERT DIGGS; I just told you). “And if the day comes I only see him on the weekend,” J says about his pretend-son, “I just pray we was in love on the night that we conceived him.” Aw Shawn. It makes me get a little teary-eyed, probably because I have a mean case of melody-specific autism and because of my still-vulnerable emotional state after catching some very intense feelings over Mike Mills’ Beginners when I saw it Sunday.

7. “That’s My Bitch”3:22 [just because I’m curious to see if what every ex-boyfriend says about me is true (that I really do like every song with the word bitch in the title)].

Q-Tip’s drums doing an impression of Pharrell n’ Chad’s drums in ’01 sounds nice, and then the drums from “Apache” come in and they always sound nice. But even though the best advice I can always give myself about anything in any situation at any time is DON’T OVER-THINK IT, LOGAN, I always fail in doing so. Track 7 is no exception to this. J on non-white feminine beauty: “Picasso was alive he woulda made her/That’s right….Mona Lisa can’t fade her/I mean Marilyn Monroe, she’s quite nice/But why all the pretty icons always all white?” Oh J, I’m so glad you asked – it’s probably because of Madison Avenue, our special American kind of racism that has a mutually beneficial relationship with our special way of  commodifying women’s bodies within a free-market culture that convinces us to buy things we don’t need, and because your friend K raps constantly about pretty white icons as if they are the standard of beauty. (Beautiful ladies of color name-checked by Kanye in “Christian Dior Denim Flow”: 8. Beautiful ladies with my skin tone: 12. The defense rests, your honor.)

8. “Welcome to the Jungle”A solid 2 and a half minutes. Get ’em, Swizz!

That GODDAMMIT right after J’s verse will stay in my head for the foreseeable future. I like that. Your shoes are still are ugly, though.

9. “Who Gon Stop Me”4 minutes; almost the whole thing, because it’s produced by the “Man Down” guy and because the rhyme patterns keep changing and I want to hear what comes next.

Alas, it’s too slow and it’s got tense buildups and shuddery breakdowns for no reason, rhyme patterns that change for no reason, and that thing J does where he just makes labored breathing sounds into the microphone every third line is really on display here and I hate it. UH-HUH. UHH. AH. The one thing I’ll probably always remember about these 4 minutes in your car, though?  “Heard Yeezy was racist, well, I guess that’s on one basis: I only like green faces.” Cute.

10. “Murder to Excellence” – 2 minutes, 4 seconds. Too preachy, but people like it when kids sing on hooks, including me, so I let it play and play. And at 01:48 it sounds like the  “Make Me Wanna Holler” intro, so that’s nice.

11. “Made in America”17 seconds. Just enough time for me to realize the drums are never coming in, not ever. (I get hyped when I hear a drum roll. And I get un-hyped when I hear yet another song in 2011 that sounds like a video game.)

I’m reading a Spector bio and I’m pissed at this song as if it were an actual person. “Nailing the whole edifice to the ground like metal tent spikes in a storm were the drums,” says page 113, “A clean, hard backbeat was the cement in the Wall of Sound.” Riding in your car, I hear this drum-less demonstration in lameness that Kanye made on his SK-1 during the commercial break on a rerun of The Office last Thursday night, and I can’t stomach any conversation about the weather, the movies, the NBA lockout. I am that disheartened. I wanna hear some tinny melodic prettiness, I’ll put on something “Sleng Teng”-related. I wanna hear some drums that’ll give me a brain aneurysm, I’ll bypass J n’ K and go straight to Vietnam Sadler. (This one also includes Frank crooning “Sweet Father Joseph, Sweet Jesus/We made it in America/Sweet Baby Jesus, oh sweet baby Jesus.” I swear to Christ, and sweet baby Jesus, even, that I will never forgive Frank for this. Sold your soul for a paycheck, buddy.)

12. “Why I Love You” – UGH. A third of a second? A half-second? And can someone please tell me if it’s humanly possible to un-hear a song?

Brought to you by the good people at Red Bull and Edge Shaving Gel, when I hear this I feel like leaping off a mountaintop on my snowboard while Sal Masakela provides commentary over the slow-mo footage. When I hear this I do not, however, want to walk down the street, dance next to a parked car while someone films the whole thing, ride in a car at 12 MPH, take my dress off to lounge on the couch, take my dress off to make a baby, vote, punch someone in the face, sob, fly a kite, hug my mom, gun down Radames, take the stage at Magic City, or write a paper about Chomsky (things all good rap songs songs should make me want to do).

13. “ Boringest Illest MF Alive”zzzzzZZZZZZZ. Oh I’m sorry; I didn’t realize there was music coming from your speakers. Dullsville.

Obviously I love K’s “You in line behind Curren$y/Yeah you after money,” FUCK YES A CURREN$Y REFERENCE, but in the end, it’s not enough to save me from naptime when you put this song on. Anyway, if I wanna hear some female vocal operatical theatricals, I’ll listen to Xzibit’s “Paparazzi” (which, I must acknowledge, I first heard on an old 411 video shown to me by Jackson; thank you, little brother!). Cut it off; put on Jet Files or Jackie Moore or let’s see if Art Laboe is on. I’m feeling lucky, like maybe he’ll play some Flamingos.

14. “H.A.M.” skipped. In apt. 680 it’s called “J.K.W.C. (Japanese Kids Watching Cartoons)” because this stuttery thing gives me a seizure. On the other hand, it makes me feel like I just jumped into Tron and that’s pretty fresh.

15. “Primetime”exactly 2 minutes; no longer.

I don’t care what none of yall say; I still love em (“em” = Kanye’s HAHs). And out of respect for No ID, who produced it, I had to give it at least 2 minutes. But just 2 minutes. This was also the rule for my 808s and Heartbreak listening session, remember?

16. “The Joy”NO. 

This is the way the album ends; not with a bang but with a whimper. At this point in the evening, I’m outside your car, walking with my heels in my hand, and you’re driving next to me at 2 MPH, asking what the fuck my problem is. I wasn’t raised to have screaming fights in public, so I keep it classy. “For my thoughts on ‘The Joy,’ please refer to my dissertation on ‘Otis,’” I snap. Then I raise my fists to the night sky and yell PETER PHILLIPS OF MOUNT VERNON, NEW YORK, you oughta be ashamed of yourself. I gave this song 7 seconds, some precious moments of my life that I’ll never get back. I should’ve spent those seconds scrolling through your iPod to find the original that was copied and pasted all sloppy-like into this piece of hot garbage.

Anyway, through it all, I laughed; I cried; I learned to experience freedom through the power of purchasing luxury goods. But other than “Gotta Have It” and “New Day,” I wish I had just stayed in and listened to the Three Tough Guys soundtrack (while wearing my TAF Jorge Ben shirt and NAF bathing suit and LUAF sandals. 

(New As Fuck; Lace-Up As Fuck)

“Bitch I’m ten toes in it” – Gibbs, in a song about, um, my toes?
HA, j/k. It’s about Isaac (“The Coldest”).

“Hung Up on My Baby.” SO MUCH MORE than just the moment at 00:29.


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