[16 July 2008]
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
—William Carlos Williams
There’s something undeniably beautiful about the literal, namely its starkness in the face of constant literary pulls and perversions. Yet there’s almost always a hint at something deeper, more tragic or similarly affecting. Williams injected a nervous sense of foreboding into “The Red Wheelbarrow” with four words: “so much depends upon.” That’s it. These subtle twists, seemingly so pedestrian, are what create the enormous dichotomy between God-des and She’s second record Stand Up and anything considered remotely worthwhile.
God-des and She are an eponymous female rap/soul duo out of Madison, Wisconsin, whose style can only be described as mindlessly blunt. God-des’ lyrical stylings can most closely be compared to the lovechild of Eminem, Lil’ Kim, and utter incompetence—you never knew incompetence was down with three ways, eh? Flowing about George W. Bush, various Hollywood non-beefs, and various sexual encounters (e.g. the eating-pussies-for-dummies “Lick It”), God-des stumbles through each and every song, grasping for the wit and power of her shock-rap contemporaries without ever finding an iota of intrigue.
Most telling is the atrocious “Hollywood”. Superlatives taken with half a grain of salt, this is the worst rap song written in 10 years. The production is a blur of bumbling bass lines and senseless police sirens. God-des vomits out words—directed toward (famous) people that have had absolutely no consequence on her life—in what seems an attempt to avoid the melody altogether. Her list of targets includes, but is not limited to: Tom Cruise, 50 Cent, Dr. Phil, and Fred Durst (!!!!). What? Fred Durst’s family members don’t even acknowledge he ever had a career at family get-togethers. Aside from the track having been made sometime before the turn of the century, God-des’ most revealing and searing comment toward Hollywood?: “Hollywood, nobody tells the truth in Hollywood / The girls all have fake boobs in Hollywood.” Urm, no shit.
Though every rapper/album have rough spots, God-des doesn’t get any better through Stand Up. Her constant defamatory phrases are inane and worthless, sounding more like my brother and I arguing over a game of beer pong than the serious protests God-des intends them to be. “I Hate Your Ex Girlfriend” is atrocious even by LiveJournal standards, while “Hey Mister President” is a completely uneducated protest against George Bush and the U.S. government as a whole. It’s this chest-thumping vitriol makes God-des’ pseudo-emotional tracks (“Inside Your Eyes”, “This Is The Life”, “Love You Better”) disingenuous.
The only redeeming aspect of Stand Up is the fact that She can write the hell out of a hook. Her voice is a grounding pole set against God-des’ ranting. On nearly every track, She belts out soothing melodies with her boisterous croon, minimizing the effect God-des is sure to have on your brain cells.
But I suppose it’s difficult to completely lambaste God-des for the sheer absence of subtlety that makes the literal so beautiful; it’s clearly not her forte. But Stand Up suffers irreparable damage due to God-des’ inability to say anything even remotely eloquent.