Back in the Trenches

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Right, so I haven’t updated this thing since Thursday. I’ve been busy here, back in Denmark. And now it’s business as usual as I head towards the dirt fields of Roskilde. Last year was the deluge, but this year is promising to be sunny all the way, so there’s that — also, I will as always be writing criticism for Rapspot.dk, so those of you who read Danish can follow my itinerary over there. Next week I’ll be back in England, on the grind, and activity on here will probably ramp up as a result. Got a lot of interesting material in the pipeline, so stay tuned…

Photo: Bo Pee.

Picks of the Week

“I see Benjamins and a billion other big head people/ I’m a natural born hustler, Marcy Projects motherfucker/ Turned professional journalist reportin, live from the gutter/ My girl, carry boxcutters, rubbers, shoot up with undercovers screamin’/ FUCK THE WORLD, why, cause, don’t nobody love us/ Shawn Carter, Sean Bell, what’s the difference? Do tell/ 50 shots or 50 mill’, ain’t no difference go to hell/ So, BRRRAK, lick a shot for, BRRRACK Obama, change gon’ come-ah/ I’mma buy the whole hood llamas on me/Roc nation army, million strong and the mantra’s gon’ be/It is whatever it’s gon’ be, on three/ Shawn, in the Hum V, y’all can call it cold warm/Declarin, I’m free, bumpin ‘Pac and the Outlawz/ I’m flyer than all outdoors, I ball out pours/ I buy, champagne companies, I’m past buyin out bars/ But I do that, I’m so past, G5’s and G4’s/ But I flew, back, back and forth like Aaliyah (rest in peace to ya)/ Takes a nation of millions to hold us back/ But when your boy reach a billion it’s a wrap (off of RAP?) YEAH!”

— Jay-Z freestyle over “A Milli”

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • The New York Times: Inside a 9/11 Mastermind’s Interrogation, Scott Shane. A fascinating, if lamentably incomplete look behind the scenes of the CIA’s overseas interrogation of 9/11 suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, focusing on the interrogator Deuce Martinez who developed what was regarded as a special rapport with Mohammad and other suspects.
  • The New Republic: Postcards from Nowhere, Jed Pearl. A trenchant modernist criticism of postmodernist artists Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Olafur Eliasson amongst others, as well as the exhibition spaces that host them. There’s a lot to disagree with here, but Pearl’s argument is both impassioned and intelligent and well worth a read. Thanks, Dirk.

  • Vibe. Once again, the link to the “A Milli” freestyles that was linked to in our review of Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III. Check out Jay-Z, Corey Gunz, Jadakiss, Lil Mama, Chris Brown, LL Cool J and a bunch of others spitting over the beat of the year! With comments by producer Bangladesh.
  • Hype: Kring/Weneethryl år 25.060

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    Fredag d. 27, i morgen, holder galleriet Rumkammerat reception på en udstilling af en af dansk tegneseries mere idiosynkratiske og originale kunstnere, Paul Arne Krings originaler fra den nys udsendte Weneethryl år 25.060 (Forlaget Forlæns). Uden tvivl årets mest uventede og skæve udgivelse — Kring har ikke lavet tegneserier i snart mange, mange år, men har derimod efterhånden opbygget sig godfather-status blandt danske dukkemagere. Weneethryl år 25.060 således opfølgeren på det 35-år gamle kulthæfte Weneetryhl år 25.025 og skal i øvrigt ses for at tros.

    Receptionen løber fra kl. 16.00. Vel mødt!

    The Sun Also Rises

    new_york_edelman_sebastian.jpgAt moment there’s a rare chance to see a little-known work by Titian in London. Partridge Fine Art is displaying a Saint Sebastian from his hand as part of a a major show of old master paintings (runs till July 18). I haven’t yet been, but I’m familiar with the picture, which I’ve seen in New York. It is quite beautiful and especially the wonderfully evocative, moist evening-lit landscape is remarkable, and leaves no doubt that the master himself painted it, even if assistants may have been responsible for laying in the figure.

    Possibly identical with a canvas sent to the duke of Mantua in 1530, and in any case roughly datable to around that year on the basis of its style, the figure of Saint Sebastian as we see him here very close to the one Titian painted as part of his Saint Nicholas altarpiece, now in the Vatican. The most likely scenario is that it was developed for that composition and extracted for the present canvas while the larger composition was still being completed (there is disagreement as to when the latter was finished, but it seems most likely to have been in the mid-1530s). It is thus a prime example of how Titian would recycle his inventions, extracting them from one composition and inserting them in a different context. Though by no means an uncommon practice amongst Renaissance artists, Titian’s way of doing it was highly original and bears witness to a constantly fluctuating creative mind, rethinking and reworking his ideas again and again throughout his career.

    Get Carter

    tha-carter-3_t.gifThe buildup has been ridiculously protracted and expectations concomitantly bloated, but Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. aka. Lil Wayne’s long-awaited sixth official solo album, Tha Carter III does not disappoint. It’s no It Takes a Nation of Millions or Illmatic, but could well be a Blueprint. In other words, not a masterpiece as an album, but still a thoroughly convincing statement of ownership on the part of its protagonist, with ample material shooting for classic status. Arguably the greatest, and certainly the most outstanding rap talent of his generation, Weezy here ups the ante of an already impressive career, taking his shit to superstar level.

    Back on a Balance

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    The latest album by the Minneapolis hip hop group Atmosphere, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold, seems to mark a fine maturation for the pioneers of suburbia rap. This is not so much due to it being radically different from their earlier work, but rather because it refines some of the elements that has made the group so unique since they first emerged on the scene in the mid-90s. The front man, Slug, has toned down his ironically rakish charm and focuses more exclusively on the propensity for the melancholy and the creative approach to storytelling that have always been amongst his chief strengths. Add to this producer Ant’s foray into live instrumentation and the depth this gives to his rather spartan production sound, which of late had become almost unforgivably repetitive. Surprisingly, however, these new developments were hard to detect at their gig, with labelmate Brother Ali, in London last night.

    Natasja under Kreativ Bogføring

    natasja_seidel.jpgDansk Folkepartis tilegnelse af Natasjas humanistiske opråb til det danske folk, “Gi’ Mig Danmark Tilbage”, i deres seneste annoncekampagne, er ikke blot udtryk for en usmagelig mangel på respekt for den afdøde protestsangerindes eftermæle, men for to centrale karakteristika ved den propagandastrategi både Folkepartiet og regeringen med succes har benyttet sig af i deres kamp om kulturen, eller “sjælene” som vor Landsfader så malende beskrev det for nyligt.

    For det første er der tale om den velkendte strategi, hvor tænderne trækkes ud på ens opposition ved tilegnelsen af dens retorik og politik, og den derpå følgende forvrængning efter egen interesse, ofte til ukendelighed. Dansk Folkeparti er et langt stykke ad vejen bygget på denne idé. For det andet er tildragelsen af Natasjas refræn et typisk eksempel på hvorledes retorikken vendes på vrangen således at det politiske establishment fremstår som som den tapre underhund. Vi hører hele tiden, hvordan pladderhumanismen regerer på bjerget, til trods for at vi ikke har oplevet stort andet end eskalerende materialisme og forråelse af debatten om samfundets svageste de seneste 10-15 år. Hvis det gentages ofte nok, er det sikkert rigtigt.

    Det er opløftelsen af den tidligere skatteministers kreative bogføring til styrende princip i kulturkampen. Og nu var turen så kommet til Natasja, der som resultat er blevet overdraget til brug af Enhedslisten. Et måske logisk og i hvert fald forståeligt valg fra hendes arvinger, men unægtelig lidt ærgerligt for en sang der rækker langt ud over partipolitiske skel.

    Foto af Natasja v. Carsten Seidel.

    Cyd Charisse RIP


    One of the greatest sensual dancers of the Hollywood musical has passed away. Indelible in Singin’ in the Rain, where she appears in just one scene — the deliciously surreal dream sequence set piece of the movie — and irresistible in The Bandwagon where she weaves silver screen magic with Fred Astaire (see exhibit A above). Read the New York Times obituary here, and Manohla Dargis’ appreciation here.