Recently, I experienced a crisis about critiquing music. Since my boyfriend is a musician, we frequently have back and forths about bands and music styles. During one of our last exchanges he said, “What if somebody else out there loves it?” Instantly, I caved and felt a sudden surge of dirtiness. Why was I criticizing other people’s art with my own idiosyncratic subjective reaction? For quite a few reviews after that conversation, I walked with water glider sensitivity over bands, trying to picture myself as a person who could stomach things I clearly hated. I was constantly aware of the artist’s feelings, what their friends might say, and pictured them at home wrapped in high-thread count sheets screaming at pieces of paper “Fuck you, you don’t understand. You just do this because you can’t create music yourself.” Then I heard the Sucka MCs and something in me took a healthy Cujo turn.
Cynthia Sowers, an old college instructor of mine, used to talk about how drastically our conception of the artist has changed since the Middle Ages. Back then, art was a trade like many others and as such viewed as kind of a functional community property rather than the product of the God-touched. Basically, artists were people who worked like anyone else and didn’t expect to be exempted from the day-to-day rules and constraints of the commoners. Nowadays, artists are puerile, egotistical wounds who, once they’ve achieved a certain level of fame, expect an entourage of cronies following them around and to make sure that any cracks which might bring in the harsh light of reality and truth are duly spackled. Artists seem to believe that by virtue of making a commodity that can give transcendence, they are more special than the moments and people who bring transcendence in our everyday lives. Somewhere along the way, we got it in our heads that when a musician or a painter puts something out there for public comment (to be sure, they want public money) that only the crass and “untalented” would dare say “Hey, that sucks.” For many artists, Art is not a democracy, but the province of an infantile naked emperor who insists that every day is a fashion show that only he can win.
Having said that I recognize that my opinion is one of many, that you may disagree. Because unlike a typical pop star, I don’t think I’m better than you, smarter than you, or have more insight than you. And I don’t think you should pay me tons of money to do what I do simply because you can’t or don’t want to do it. I’m just a kid with a decent sense of humor who loves music. I just wanted to toss out a helpful piece of advice to all artists: It is not all about you, if you truly love what you do you don’t need the entire world licking your ass in order to do it. So I know that someone out there loves the Sucka MCs, thinks that they’re an incredible band, and waits with baited breath for their every release. For all of those fans, all I have to say is, God help you.
The Sucka MC’s bio contains the following revealing quote: “The Sucka MCs are tired of being persecuted. Since the beginning of time, my people have been repeatedly dissed at shows and house parties. Those same people would turn around and use our styles in a commercial arena.” I myself had not known about their persecution, but I’m glad to see that discerning music listeners elsewhere in the world have taken to storming the castle with torches, tar and feathers. If someone is truly ripping them off and making money from it, then they are musical alchemists and should given mad praise for what is surely a feat of stunning wizardry.
Da Albumsounds painfully homemade, a bad garage sale of a record. “Y U Wanna Be a Rapper?” provides a perfect example of the records overall immaturity. All of the emcees rap as if there isn’t track beneath them to flow off of and as if writing lyrics is just a matter of jotting down your very own trickle of consciousness. Like most of the songs on Da Album
, it sounds like people just randomly spitting verse over jalopy beats with no attempt at coherence, innovative word use or impressive rhythm.
Much of the record seems to hinge itself on jokes that aren’t really funny, betting that the listener will forgive the lack of skill in exchange for a few one-chuckle cheap shots. “Jump up and Down on My Nuts” does not make me laugh and needs verbal Viagra. If I liked a song on this record (and I don’t) it might be “Dairy Queen” which sounds like a song Beck wouldn’t have bothered recording. Many of the songs, including “Another Round” and “I’m a Sucka” make reference to the aforementioned persecution. It occurred to me after several listens that perhaps this was satire. And then I thought to myself, even if I got it, I wouldn’t get it. Shitty records are shitty records, even if the creators fancy themselves clever by half.
What’s most difficult to endure on the record are the spates of offensive lyrics. I’m hardly politically correct, I can easily separate the fact that talented people can be moral morons because I fully understand that talent is a jonesing crack whore at life’s bus stop. “Don’t Bend Over (Cus You Might Get Shot)” pulls out the obligatory faggot jabs, the insecure masculinity, and the threats of senseless violence. Without the talent, these Iowan emcees sound like frat boys begging to be misunderstood.
I would be more forgiving if my friends had made this record, drunk, on a whim, and never forced me to listen to it again. But they didn’t, so I’m not.
// Notes from the Road
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