The next time some crusty old "true school"er gives me the tired line about Southern rap being borderline minstrelsy bereft of any ideas beyond shuffle stepping and rims I'll play them this right after I punch them in the throat. On the most politically charged track off of his new solo album, II Trill (released May 20), "Big Dick Cheney" comes across like a Texan Ice Cube circa AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted with a damning tirade against preachers, police, and politicians which manages to mention Sean Bell and Larry Craig over a paint peeler of a beat. If, as a prominently displayed t-shirt in Bun's new "That's Gangsta" video states, "Smart is the new gangsta," this thing is gangsta as fuck. A strong capper to a roller coaster twelve months that saw UGK's first number one album and Grammy nomination overshadowed by the tragic death of Pimp C, Bun shows the world how a true legend stays strong. This is one to spend your money on.
*Bonus: Here's some video of Jay-Z and Bun B performing "Big Pimpin'" in Houston last month. Watch for Houston holding it down for Pimp C. Shit gives me chills. And, oh yeah, it's still UGK 4 life!
The Jam - Beat Surrender
I have a simple personality test that I sometimes use when I meet new people and the subject turns to music. If in response to the question "What is your favorite Jam single?" they say anything other than "Beat Surrender," I automatically place them in the "People Who Are Wrong" category. So far, it's worked fairly well for me. This may be the most perfect example of how a band goes out on a high note.
Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone (Fred Falke Vocal)
There's a line from a Hunter S. Thompson essay (cliche, I know) about the Roxanne Pulitzer trial that has always stuck in my head where he describes "cruising the beach at dawn in a red Chrysler convertible with... a head full of bogus cocaine and two beautiful lesbians in the front seat beside me, telling jokes to each other in French." With his recent Music For My Friends EP and remix work for The Whitest Boy Alive, Ladyhawke, and Swedish hipster-fave-of-the-moment, Lykke Li, it seems to me that Fred Falke has spent the first half of 2008 attempting to create the perfect soundtrack to Thompson's scenario. This is dance music that's more suited to top down, ocean view driving than a dark club, but Falke adds just enough French house touch to remind you your sundown destination is still the unisex bathroom stalls of a sleazy Euro disco.
The Move - Blackberry Way
Often forgotten in the roll call of 60s psych pop and eternally overshadowed by the band that arose from its ashes, The Move was the brainchild of Roy Wood and a rotating cast of musicians and lead singers that would finally include Wood's fellow Brummie, Jeff Lynne. A bitterly sarcastic riposte to the cheeky chappy fun of The Beatles' "Penny Lane," "Blackbery Way" nevertheless wraps its farewell to a terrible day in an inescapably upbeat melody. The song topped the British charts in 1969 and for the most part marked the end of The Move's pop era. After this, things got a bit heavier, a bit proggier, and the stage was set for Wood, Lynne, and drummer Bev Bevan to create the 70s arena rock behemoth E.L.O.
Going on three months after its initial release, Usher's "Love In This Club" is still a reliable staple at any club where you have to wear a collared shirt and pay to sit down, and with new remixes featuring T.I., Lil Wayne, and Beyonce dropping within the last month, it doesn't look like it will be going anywhere any time soon. I've been told this MSTRKRFT remix has been doing well with the fitted-hats-and-limited-edition-sneakers crowd, but I've yet to hear it out anywhere myself. Beginning and ending with some very sub-par Daft Punk aping that doesn't sit with Usher's vocals at all, the remix seems like it is going to be an epic bit of failure until a Supertramp-style electric piano break shows up at the 1:30 mark and takes the whole proceedings somewhere rather sublime. I'm not sure that even saves it, but it is definitely an interesting listen on a "Boy, this could have been something kind of great instead of kind of half-assed" tip. Keep working on your mustaches, boys!