Sunday, April 29, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Jeff Weaver?


He throws two seams and elicits screams
The Angels went and waived him just last year
But, in the World Series last
He pulled Game 5 out of his ass
so the M's went and dumped $8 mil. at his door
so he came to town, and instead of keeping his era down
he decided he'd become a ground ball pitcher

He's always getting shelled
But in the past has pitched quite well
He's always first to everything
especially to get pulled
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Jeff Weaver's not an asset to the Mariners

I'd like to say a word in his behalf
Jeff Weaver makes me laugh

How do you solve a problem like Jeff Weaver?
Do you assign him to Triple A and send him down?
How do you find a word that means Jeff Weaver?
A shitty pitcher! A number six starter! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep the ball out of his hand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Jeff Weaver?
How do you keep the ball out of his hand?

When on the mound, he's confused
Out of focus and abused
And you never know exactly where his head's at
Predictable as clock work
with his stuff should be doing dock work
He's a BP pitcher! He's a joke! He's a World Series Champion!

With his 18.26 ERA
and "pitching to contact" his new way
He couldn't throw 86 mph past a girl
He's soft throwing! He is wild!
He's a riddle! He's a child!
He's a headache! He's an ex-Angel!
He's a girl!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

El-P: I'll Sleep When You're Dead (Review)

5 years is a long time, man. Jesus, El, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

El-P's first solo jawn, Fantastic Damage, is one of the most creative, best produced hip-hop albums of all time. And while I had always been a fan of El since his Funcrusher Co-Flo days, I didn't see it coming. His production prowess was always lightyears ahead of the majority of his peers, and the Co-Flo instrumental album, Little Johnny From the Hospital, then, later, Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein, displayed an adept skill for combining "sitars, pots, and pans" into a fascinating soundscape of cohesive chaos; but no one was prepared when he stepped his game up further for 2002's seminal Fantastic Damage. That album is as advertised: an astoundingly beautiful, dope-as-fuck, mosaic of sound that employed everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink and managed to fit together perfectly in spite of itself. It remains as the most groundbreaking hip-hop album, production-wise, since the Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the 36 Chambers (and before that, Dr Dre's The Chronic, preceded by Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back).

How do you follow up an album like that? Was his sophomore release, I'll Sleep When You're Dead, destined to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors, Wu-Tang Forever, 2001, and Fear of a Black Planet, as great albums -- arguably masterpieces -- which just didn't quite match the innovativeness and refreshing originality of what came before? Tell you what, take five years off from recording and you definitely take a lot of that pressure off yourself.

Is I'll Sleep When You're Dead a better album than Fan Dam? I don't know. Time will tell. It is definitely a tighter affair, clocking in over 15 minutes and 5 tracks shorter than Fantastic Damage. The songs flow together more cohesively, which I guess is saying something in comparison to an album which I consider to be flawless. Also, El is definitely more cocksure on the mic, possessing a swagger that we've in the past only caught glimpses of. Similarly, ISWYD's production often ventures into bolder territory than Fantastic Damage did (again, that's saying something), while still retaining that densely-layered, signature El-Producto sound.

Here is the biggest compliment I can pay I'll Sleep When You're Dead: it is the best hip-hop album released since -- whaddya know? -- Fantastic Damage. I'm still going to pick Damage as the better album, but we're talking Star Wars vs. The Empire Strikes Back/The Godather vs. The Godfather Part II-level comparisons here.

5/5 *_*, naturally.

What follows is a track-by-track breakdown of the album. I'll probably run out of gushing adjectives after about the third song.

Note: Much like Radiohead's last studio album, I considered I'll Sleep When You're Dead to be a prosaic title (and possibly directed at Bush). That is, until I heard El in an interview explain the title is what he imagined New York City would say if it spoke to him. Then it became profound. If Bundang ever spoke to me, I'm sure she'd say, "Go to fucking bed already."

1) Tasmanian Pain Coaster

The album begins with a sample of David Lynch's Fire Walk With Me, then El lyrically paints, amidst eerie, dystopic computer sounds, a picture of New York City at night. By the time the chorus hits, the listener is thrust headfirst into a sonic barrage of boom-bap drums, haunting synth jabs, and spiraling, grinding blips and beeps, like kitchen utensils in a blender. And then...The Mars fucking Volta, ladies and gentlemen. Simply an astounding opener. Seven minutes of perfection.

2) Smithereens (Stop Cryin')

The song's prologue includes someone -- possibly El himself -- grunting "Ungh!" like Master P. Woah! Then, bring the noise as sirens permeate. Frenetic drums propel El's rapid-fire delivery. "Why should I be sober when God is so clearly dusted out his mind?" The time-signature, pace changes seem almost effortless in their mastery. It shouldn't work, and yet it so clearly does. Producers of music in every genre should take pointers from dude.

3) Up All Night

Another fast-paced, hard-hitting, sonic assault. By the way, in case you didn't hear him the first time, El's from Brooklyn. "I might have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night." The comparisons to the early Bomb Squad production style is wholly apt (a comparison I made 5 years ago upon first listening to Fantastic Damage, and which I'm fucking sick of reading ad nauseam in every review or article about El's works).

4) EMG

I heard this a while ago, on El's MySpace page. Sounds like Rick Ruben -- circa 1986 -- on acid. On acid! THAT is how you respect the architects. "Get over here and buy, you ho." Is this the first Don Quixote reference in hip-hop history? Gotta be.

5) Drive

Crashing drums and plinking piano keys. "Jesus of NASCAReth" Oh no, he didn't!

6) Dear Sirs

I don't know quite exactly how to describe this. Is it an interlude? A mesmerizing track lurks beneath El's spoken word-esque diatribe. He spits venom as the pace quickens and guitars wail. I know this is directed at his nation, but I like to think he's addressing the Miami Heat (and that's the final word for me on the season. I think).

7) Run the Numbers

This is on some 'Laserface's Warning' shit. Aes Rock guests. I'm bobbing my head like a motherfuck right now. It takes guts and skill to make na-na-na-na-na-na-na sound dope. It's impossible for me to pick a favorite track from this album, but this is Sunday's top pick. The epilogue is on some 'TOJ' (possibly my favorite Fan Dam track, btw; it's either that or 'Constellation Funk') metamorphosis shit.

8) Habeas Corpses (Draconian Love)

The concept here could easily have been a mess of corniness. Doesn't happen. Like Slick Rick met a b-grade sci-fi flick and smoked sherm with the cast of Monty Python. "You know, you look really pretty without handcuffs on." "She can clean my gun and I can help her clean the floor." Just astounding.

9) The Overly Dramatic Truth

Call it emo rap if you want, but this song just fucking rules. El rhymes about a girl he can't get rid of, and underneath his "truth" lies hints of a confused, misdirected man who doesn't know what the hell he wants. Reminds me of someone I know.

10) Flyentology

A working example of faith versus physics. Whoo! This Trent Reznor-assisted track is fucking bananas. El has never sounded more comfortable on the mic. His skills here are preternaural*. As an aside, the album's guests never for a moment distract from El's vision. Atheism never sounded so dope.

11) No Kings

Return of the boom-bap. Ugh. Ugh, ugh. "Fake aliens, from lyin' saucers." Dig it!

12) The League of Extraordinary Nobodies

Reminiscent of Fan Dam's 'Stepfather Factory'. After the slow-building first few bars, a guitar hits, is yanked out in place of distorted giggles, and returns as the pace slows, then quickens. Lather, rinse, repeat. On the second, all-too-brief verse, a triumphant horn sings as the show closes. Damn, I really wish this track was longer. My single complaint on a tremendously sublime album.

13) Poisonville Kids No Wins/ Reprise (This Must Be Our Time)

The perfect closer -- the yang to 'Tasmanian Pain Coaster''s yin. I think it's about El abstaining from heroin usage while his friends succumbed to its call. I think. I'll have to check the liner notes; thankfully, for an MC who's esoteric lyrics have always been a challenge (and a pleasure) to decipher, the lyrics are included. Check for the awsomely beautiful keys on the reprise.

Final Word: I know it sounds trite, but even if you don't like hip-hop music, GET this fucking album. 'Nuff said.

* Or is it "inhuman"? Word to K-Hot.

Impending Sense of Doom

I'd like to dedicate this to Red Alert. On some Deborah Winger has cancer shit, The Miami Heat are dying young. Fine. Grace periods and shaving cream. Better luck, uh, next year?

Dwyane Wade: [holding up a sign] I'VE BEEN BUGGED. PLEASE FIND IT. Tell Gary Payton I love him.

There. Is. No. Crying. In. Basketball.

There is, however, vindictiveness. I hope Scott Skiles gets flesh-eating bacteria.

Free Chris Quinn!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fear and Loathing in South Beach

Warmups: I'm listening to The Foo Fighters 'Come Back,' drinking a can of Welch's Sparkling Strawberry (but only by coincidence), and smoking a Dunhill Light. I'm also wearing a DARE T-Shirt, and I'm not trying to be ironic. I feel you need to know these things.

1st Quarter: To paraphrase Free Darko's Bethlehem Shoals, it's been a weird year for me and the Miami Heat. The reg seaze began almost simultaneously with some pretty weird shit in my life, and while I tried to stick it out on some basketball IS life shit, I couldn't maintain the pace like George Wendt in a potato sack race. I tried to balance things, but eventually it became too much for me. I know! Me!

I had to put b-ball on the back burner. I had to put a LOT of things on the back burner.

2nd Quarter: Still not ready to get into the ongoing (winding down) aforementioned circus of my life*, and perhaps I never will, but as November rolled into December, and December rolled into the new year, I couldn't help but notice that the Heat's season was eerily playing out in a similar fashion to my own. And if it weren't for the fact that I almost singlehandedly willed the Heat -- with a little help from pickled chili peppers and some kid named Dwyane Wade; perhaps you've heard of him -- to an NBA title last summer, I'd chalk it up to coincidence. But I can't do that. The Heat and I have a symbiotic relationship. If I were to tell you what happened to me on the day Dwyane went down, you'd be positively stunned.

Anyway, metaphyisical silliness aside, the Heat's season became a metaphor for The Life of Spark. Or perhaps it was vice-versa. Regardless, I didn't have a whole lotta faith to spread; I gave up on the season. Shit, I didn't see a game for like 2 months, the Heat were floundering, Melo was on lock, Yao was taking ESL at the Mayo Clinic, Wade was in therapy, learning to jack off with his left, I don't even wanna mention What Timmy Hardaway Said, and Ziggy was in prison for shooting up an electronics store. I told you that fucking synthetic ball was cursed. Like the old dude warning camp counsellors to steer clear of Crystal Lake, I told y'all.

Halftime: Kobe got shot at his record release party...Don Nelson's new favoritest song is 'Picture Me Rollin'. I'ma put that lil factoid up on his Wikipedia page**...On some Halloween II shit, I came face to face once more with a monster: the vespa*** mandarinia...The Raps survived a scare, only because the NJay-Zs shot just as poorly as they did (btw, Sam Mitchell CotY? Surreal. Fuck, I really wanted Jeff Van Diet Coke or Rick Carlisle coaching the Raps soon. Not gonna happen)...Screw Wikipedia, and here's why: I recently edited Tayshaun Prince's page to add that he enjoys ("fucking loves" is the exact term I used, iirc) Sun Chips, and that shit was deleted. He so fucking does love Sun Chips! My brother saw him in Philly, coming off the team bus, munching on a bag, and when Tay stopped to signature sink ink, my bro asked, "Tay, you like cheddar harvest or sour cream n' onion better?" Prince replied, "Doesn't matter, yo. I'd eat these shits even if they were whole fucking wheat, seven grain. Rip loves 'em, too. They're all we eat! We keep soliciting Frito Lay to let us endorse their wholsome snackfood, but they never call us back. I guess they think we don't fit the profile of your typical Sun Chips eater, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom****." So fuck Wikipedia. They can't handle the Paul Pierce...

3rd Quarter: Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the lottery. The Heat went on a 9-game win streak (mostly to fish fodder, truth be told), and, suddenly, the sun began to shine again on Planet Spark. For a minute, I was like MC Hammer in the Pumps N A Bump video (arrrrgh!). But it was all just a dream. Riles's magic fucking card pit wasn't gonna salvage a trainwreck of a year. Now we're down 0-2 to a hungry Bulls squad (the Alkaholiks got rhymes that'll make ya say "Deng!"), and things aren't looking very promising. So, once again, I gotta grab my piece...

4th Quarter: I got no chili peppers in the fridge; not gonna evoke the hallowed words of Andy Defresne, not gonna threaten to be an Indian giver towards my born-again love for 'Toine, not gonna do a lot of things. My mind is St. elsewhere: I have not the energy nor the passion to give a rally cry. I wish I did. There is still a chance to turn things around, though. There's always a silver lining. If the Heat's season REALLY mirrors mine, it's gonna be irie for your 2005-2006 NBA Champions.

Overtime: Luke Walton looks eerily like the love child of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It's not even funny. Similarly, Jason Kapono (I call him Kapodonna; where's the love?) looks like Bill Simmons.

* Look into semantics man, look into 'em closely.

** Nothing, however, can beat this for sheer audacity (not my work; peep the last 3 paragraphs; the first two might be true; the last is on some Dwight "Casual's Fear Itself is the best Hip-Hop album of all time" shit and then some):

*** If I ever have another girl, I'm so naming her Vespa.

**** "Then he sighed forlornly" is what I was told.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The bear head in Azamet's fridge

Note: I'm going to get around to putting up the comments sometime soon, so if you tried posting a comment, say, last December and are simply fucking dying to see it, bear with a little while longer, 'kay? I'm also going to use the word 'fuck' a lot.

Fact: the Sapporo Silver Cup -- 6,100 won for them shits; yeah, that's how I roll -- is impossible to pour into a glass without dripping all over the floor like me when I'm taking a shower and suddenly realize I left the towel in the linen closet*. Death, taxes, and the Sapporo Silver Cup wetting the floor. You can't learn that shit on the Internet. Until now, I mean.

"Hi, my name is Dwight. I like Hip-Hop. I dig it so much, I capitalize that shit, like the word Providence in old books like Robinson fucking Crusoe, nah'mean? Not that junk you hear on the radio all the time; I like that old boom bap, you know? That real shit. That bust the way you feel shit. Y'heard? It's a way of LIFE. It can teach you how to eat your kids and beat your wife. Q-Tip said that. By the way, my favorite rap album of all time is Casual's Fear Itself. Either that or whatever Stereo MC's album has 'Connected**' on it."

I don't wanna stir up any sort of controversy here, but word is Cho Seung Hui had some serious Ilsan ties.

If you ever meet me (god knows you've thought about it; PS - I don't kiss on the first date unless you buy me a cocktail with an ingredient that sounds Italian), and I start quoting the Borat film and laughing to myself, please give me a break. I live in Korea, remember. That shit was just released on DVD last week. On the other hand, my Air Force 1s are back in style. Give me several years and these acid wash jeans will be, too. Zach Morris will forever be immortalized, then. More immortalized, I mean.


Dream: KRS ONE is nominated for an Oscar for portraying the Phantom of the Opera/Paradise (exactly which remains unclear), replete with a purple velvet suit, fedora, and cape. Cut to The Blastmaster swimming on the beach with Leo DiCaprio and two Victoria's Secret models. Cut to KRS doing the underwater boogie with one of said models, then suddenly realizing she's drowned. I need to see a shrink. It's either that or stop eating kimchi hot dogs at four in the morning before going to bed, and we all no that's not gonna happen anytime soon.

Personal: denz, my apologies for the whole deadbeat KFL debacle; TMH, holler at an awkward, soon-to-be 29-year-old white boy with acne; Mr. T, post something, you glorious bastard, you. PS - I took a friend to the Promised Land and it was a sausage fest of high school boys, I shit you not; K-Hot, I haven't had a slice of cheese pizza in a hot minute. Your presence is required this weekend. For we have many things to celebrate, real and imagined.

Are you there, God? It's me, Q-Tip.

NBA (aka Monsieur T's garlic and crucifix): Baron Davis is on steroids. Steroids! T-Mac looks old. In a good way. I like tuna. I like ice cream. Seeing Melo Man Ace*** and Allen "Your Movies Suck Now Anyway" Ivey mesh like fish nets? Let's just say I'm rethinking my culinary ignorance. The Denver Nuggets shall lead me to Nirvana, where I will feast upon ketchup covered cookies and fried shoelaces. Are you there, Toronto? It's me, Vince Carter. Wait, Kirk Hinrich got fined 25 Gs for chucking his mouthpiece into the stands in game 1 against Miami? Didn't Udonis "New Millenial Chuck Oakley" do the same thing last spring (Ben Grimm's The Thing, Singapore Sling)? Shit is almost literary. I bet Kaptain Kirk**** reads shit like The Turning of the Screw and Madame fucking Bovary. Props. On the real, though, James Pose = goon. Respect. If no Heat player throws it inside tomorrow, Ini Kamoze style (fuck, Dwyane, butt 'em with your fucking shoulder if you have to), I'm gonna buy season one of Gilmour Girls and call it a night. Similarly, If I see a "Running of the Bulls" headline on any planet other than Mars, shit's gonna get REAL serious. Venom is in Spider-Man 3 for like 10 minutes and dies. That's a metaphor.

Basubaru: The Sox swept the Yankees, it's the Milk-Man, I got game like Ewing style. Daisuke is sorta cute, in a "that hat makes you look like a retarded baby" kind of way. A-Rod is on steroids. Steroids!

Ketchup: Was a popular condiment and it still is.

Memo to Korean sports programmers: it wouldn't hurt you to show a few playoff games now and then, capice? Granted, I enjoy the sublime beauty of Cha Yoo-Ram playing pool and some women's volleyball -- Pink Spiders represent -- every now and then, but c'mon. I hear Steve Nash likes bibimbab! Throw me a bone. Fuck it, this deserves its own, vitriolic post.

Memo to publisher: "Blood, Sweat, and Eye Water" as a title is on point, dog. Feel me!

Publisher's memo: I'm sorta feeling "I Hope You Choke On Tangerine Rinds," actually.

Memo to publisher2: It's not like that anymore. Besides, I was shitfaced in a PC bang when I came up with that.

Publisher's memo2: But it's got something. It's got legs. Like a fucking Brazilian kickboxer.

Memo to publisher3: Don't play me, Evan. This is my dream we're talking about here. It's "Blood, Sweat, and Eye Water" or nothing. Or nothing. You hear me? Get what I'm saying!

Publisher's memo3: How many real hip-hoppers in the place right about now?

Memo to publisher4: you win. You so fucking win.

June 11, 2021: I hope You Choke On Tangerine Rinds goes on sale.

Closing: I'm completely out of my mind. In a good way. In a Good Way.

* Additional fact: I have no linen closet.

** By no means am I saying 'Connected' is a bad song, btw.

*** I've created 3 unfuckingbelievable, Jack Horner approved, great nicknames in my time (4 if you include K-Hot), and they are: Ill Mare (Amare Stoudamire), Prince Paul (Chris), and Melo Man Ace (Carmelo Anthony; although, it would work a hell of a lot better if his jersey number were 1 ). Give me some dap.

**** Make that 5

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Regeneration (Back Like That)

Return of the Mac*. It's been a long time; I shouldn't have left you. I think I used that quote the last time I returned from upstate, but fuck it (anyway, what's been up, man, how's your daughter?). Redundancy works sometimes; ask Martin Scorsese or Jerry Lewis. My point is, I'm back -- prematurely, 'cause I told y'all to mark the 27th on y'all calendars -- and it's for good this time. I will not leave you; I will not falter. I. Will. Not. Fail. It might be a little longer than a hot second afore I start posting pics of seductively clad celebrities (sorry, Dad) and pregnant women eating carrots, but this is the real deal. Like the Big Aristotle. If you don't know who you are, how the hell can you be real?

Rather than bore you -- or possibly excite you -- with the details of my harrowing exile (figuratively, of course), let's get back to fucking business, shall we?

Item: denz recently posted the 'Classic' video (that's the song's name, right? I dunno; they don't have the Internet in Malasian prisons, ironically), and that shit got to me. It's a good song. Great, even. But, ironically, it's not classic. I have a time machine, so I should know. In the year 2027, no babies will be born, and no one will recall the track. However, as a full-fledged hip-hop homer, it gave me goosebumps. Yes, even though Kanye "I try too hard to do what Lawrence Parker so effortlessly does/did" West graces us with his presence (and I like West; I just think someone else -- say Chuck D or, if there were any Justice in this cold, cruel world, the GZA -- would have represented the theme better), it's dope like D Barksdale's hair in The Wire, Season 2**.

But it raises so many age-old questions: is Rakim or KRS the better MC (I'm firmly in the KRS camp, but Ra's verse is infinitely better on the track, KRS's positively weak -- comparitively speaking -- and Ra's line, finally adressing the issue of old men rocking the mic, is perfectly sublime. I'm gonna volunteer my time at a nursing home, starting tomorrow)? Has Preem lost his touch? Is Guru offended he wasn't asked to participate (my guess is fuck yes)? Does Yoda want the ears Primo stole from him back?

Ultimately, what really grabbed me wasn't the MCs, rather the video direction. Graffiti in a post-2000 hip-hop video? WTF? Hoodies? That winter coat Rakim rocks, which I swear is the same one he rocks in the 'Know the Ledge' video circa 1992? Memories, man, memories.

Song: 3 1/2 *_*; video: 5 *_*

Item: Both the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors lost yesterday. On the other hand, I have a large penis and formidable sex drive. So it evens out, I suppose.

Item: Track 12 on the new NIN disc is like the Mars Volta took heroin and were too fucked up to pick up their guitars. I mean that in a good way.

Item: Alec Baldwin was my hero for one day, until I found out he was talking to his daughter, not Kim Basinger (who's a total ho bag, by the way). Now I don't know what to think. A-Bal -- as I so dub he -- is the most underappreciated comedic genius of forever, so I'm still holding faith that his tirade was an elaborate prank; if it wasn't, I don't know what to say. Not gonna stop me from watching 'Miami Blues' and 'Sliver***,' though.

Item: Are you there, God? It's me, Sparkles.

Item: I love you all. It's so good to be back. I sincerely mean that, from the bottom of my tortured heart. I'm gonna keep rocking and rolling if you're gonna reciprocate. If not, well, I don't know what to Alec Baldwin's alluring blue eyes....

*Again, kudos and then some to the illustrious and praiseworthy Kmart. I call him K-Hot.

** Never forget.

***I know it was William Baldwin who starred in 'Sliver'. But in the Ultimate Universe it was Alec. Regardless, those alluring blue Baldwin eyes...I think I need a moment to collect myself...Hold on...OK, gay inclination diverted (postponed)...That Elijah Wood has some peepers, doesn't he?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Creepin' on ah Come Up

I don't want to give y'all heart attacks, but mark April 27*th on yo motherfucking calendars**.


* 27 is a nice number, non?

** all praises due to the inimitable Kmart

Thursday, April 12, 2007


In homage to the five horseman of the blogpocalypse that is PK:

In the meantime: