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Music

Juvenile: The Greatest Hits

Jalylah Burrell

The Greatest Hits exemplifies the narrow spectrum of contemporary hip-hop, which is to say it is heart-pumping dance music and nothing more.


Juvenile

The Greatest Hits

Label: Universal
US Release Date: 2004-10-19
UK Release Date: 2004-11-22
Amazon
iTunes

Hip-hop's primary imperative has always been the art of moving butts. Up-in-the-clubbers of today preserve the hallowed tradition founded by block party people of old. Yes, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five composed a global message that you, and you, and you clapped hands raw to but only because that beat Cowboy and company rode was fire. You need more proof? Public Enemy thwarted anti-Martin Luther King, Jr. day Arizonians courtesy of Bomb Squad sonic madness, and everybody's favorite jazz-sampling, Birkenstock-wearing, notty-headed, bohemian, now-defunct rap star's poetics always served one chief aim: movement.

New Orleans's Terius Gray picked up the rap torch on his 1998 major label debut, 400 Degreez, by moving more than 2 million units and countless asses. Juvenile, his chosen moniker (a nod to hip-hop's youth driven culture and a hint at his shallow rhyme content), burst on the scene thanks to the inventive song "Ha" and remained there care of a nation's itch to twitch. In what appeared to be a cost-cutting attempt to transform Cash Money records from an army to a navy of blinging millionaires, Juve nixed the message and evinced the music fucking up what had once been a happy home.

In honor of Juve's seven years of success and in hopes of squeezing some more cash from the unhappy artist before he jumps ship, Cash Money has released The Greatest Hits, a collection of MTV frequent rotaters. Rifled from Juve's four major label albums, 400 Degreez, Project English, The G Code, and Juve the Great, the compilation exemplifies the narrow spectrum of contemporary hip-hop, which is to say it is heart-pumping dance music and nothing more.

From the hip winding charge of the deceased Soulja Slim-featured "Slow Motion" to the soft Latin flavor of "Follow Me Now", The Greatest Hits brings back hangover-obfuscated memories of club crawling past. Of his surprisingly extensive list of hits, his debut album's singles, "Back That Azz Up" and "400 Degreez", floating on Mannie Fresh's trademark anti boom bap sound, shine brightest. Other notable tracks include "Mama Got Azz", capable of inducing reluctant laughter from even the most ardent feminists, and "Bounce Back", with its school yard sensibility. The sweaty ball [and] schtick present on "Back That Azz Up" ("I'm sweating in the draws yeah") -- a precursor to Lil' Jon's "Get Low" choral mandate ("til the sweat drips down my balls") -- demonstrates just how much influence the maturity-challenged rapper has exerted on contemporary chart-topping hip-hop and will continue to display on his upcoming solo album from Atlantic Records.

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Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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