After sitting through an hour of the Sucker Free Sunday countdown on MTV2 just to see David Banner smile at the end of his ridiculous video in order to cure myself of Alexander, I’m now listening to the music I spent all weekend downloading. It took me roughly five hours to get all 40 minutes of it, but so far it’s worth it.
But first, a word on what’s going on in rap music today. First of all, I still remain convinced that Young Buck and Mike Jones are better than most folks out there. I can’t tell you why I like them better than most, but I do.
David Banner I like regardless of his talent because he’s just cute as hell. It’s the menacing look and the awesome facial hair AND that, according to Comcast, his real name is Banner Crump. Banner Crump. That’s a name, folks.
There’s some kid who’s name I kind of slept through who has a song about independent women, which was fairly catchy, but Trina frightens me a little, so I went back to sleep.
But, in general, everyone seems to have grabbed on to this “Let’s sample noises from kung fu movies” trend and so the count down seems evenly split between songs featuring kung fu noises, songs featured on the Hustle & Flow soundtrack (or at least featuring clips from the movie), and 50 Cent videos.
I’m a little afraid to dis 50 Cent but I’m going to anyway. Can just one person explain to me what makes him so special? I know he appeals to young white boys who want to feel all tough and for some reason women are attracted to him, but I mean musically. Please, I will give 50 cents to the person who can help me understand what makes him innovative or special. What the hell should I be listening for? Because, as I’ve said before, he seems like a one-hit wonder who’s managed to stretch himself into a lucrative career. So, I think I’m missing something.
Anyway, so let’s get back to the dead folks. As much as I love old blues, my knowledge of the genre remains somewhat limited, due to my perpetual lack of funds. Pretty much, if Elias doesn’t make sure I hear it, I probably don’t.
So, though I know all these names, this is the first time I’ve ever heard Tommy Johnson or Memphis Minnie or Bill Broozny actually sing.
Tommy Johnson’s voice is much deeper than I imagined, much fuller. Everything I’ve read about him makes him out to be kind of a sickly drunk, which kind of made him frail to me. I thought he’d sound like that–frail. I was wrong. His voice is a lot deeper than most Delta bluesmen.
I’m really digging on this St. Louis Bessie Ann Smith who’s singing “He Treats Me Like a Dog.” She’s got a piano accompanying her and her voice is so big that it seems frequently like the recording is too shallow to hold her. It strains as the fullness of her voice. You can imagine she could sing in any bar in America and not need amplification; she just projects so well.
I knew Memphis Minnie would kick ass and I really like “Where is My Good Man At?” There’s some fun guitar picking here, too. Nothing too fancy, but good fun.
But listening to Cannon’s Jug Stompers doing “Minglewood Blues” has me wondering. Does that song remind me of the noise of passing trains because of the trains that pass out back here with their clickity-clack that matches the the rhythm of this song? Or because it’s impossible for me to hear a harmonica without thinking of trains? Or were they inspired by the noise of the trains and using that rhythm on purpose?
A lot of the other songs I’m listening to have a rhythm suitable for dancing so close to some fine man–step and swing your hip, step and swing your hip–or for walking. They have rhythms that seem to fit with life’s other rhythms.
But “Minglewood Blues” has a noticeably mechanical sound, like the rhythm it calls to mind is not made by our bodies, but by the noise of our machines.