Kid Sister, Ultraviolet (Downtown)

Now that Kanye's proven himself to be kind of a douchebag -- one whose last album did not even come close


I've Been Listening to Bishop Allen, Madvillain and Kid Sister

Kid Sister, Ultraviolet (Downtown)

Now that Kanye's proven himself to be kind of a douchebag -- one whose last album did not even come close to achieving its lofty artistic goals -- having a collabo with the dude on your new album might not be the career jumpstart it might've been, say, three years ago. In fact, "Pro Nails," the track that features Kanye, isn't even the best track on the record; "Get Fresh" is. Still, it can't hurt, and besides, Kid Sister (Melisa Young) is good enough on her own to deserve all the attention she's been getting (with some help from her brother, Josh Young, who is in Flosstradamus). Admittedly, I didn't see her live when she hit Neumos last month -- Hollis Wong-Wear, who did, was unimpressed by her live performance -- but fuck it: the record is pretty damn good, if not quite the masterpiece all that hype implied it would be.

No, it's not perfect, but I'd argue that Arular wasn't either, and look where M.I.A. is now. As with Arular, there are a couple songs I don't dig, but most of the tracks are catchy as fuck. A lot of the beats on Ultraviolet remind me of early '90s club jams in the best possible way, paying tribute to all that was good and fun about that era. Autotune, on the other hand, does not make a discernible appearance on the album at all, which gives me hope that its terrible, ubiquitous presence in commercial hip hop is finally on the way out. I'm with Jay-Z on this one: vocoder abuse is sucking the life out of the genre. It's a tired gimmick hack MCs use to obscure the fact that they can't rhyme worth a shit. While Kid Sister still has some room to hone her craft, what she's offered up so far has been nothing but promising, and I can only hope that young, fresh artists like her will be able to render Autotune-reliant MCs obsolete once and for all.

Madvillain, Madvillainy, (Stone's Throw Records)

The prospect of a new Madvillain album is pretty damn exciting -- more America's most blunted, motherfuckers! Doom plus Madlib! Get excited! As you might imagine, this news made me want to dig up my copy of Madvillainy, an album that's managed to become a classic in six years. I hadn't listened to it in quite a while, and the same thing always happens to me when I revisit a masterful hip hop album I haven't listened to in a while: I proceed to listen to it over and over for a week straight. This is hip hop at its best: no motherfucking Autotune, no lame refrains, just a dude who can hold a mic and knows his way around a dictionary and another dude whose production skills can do that wordsmithery justice.

Bishop Allen, Grrr... (Dead Oceans)

Before Grrr..., I had mixed feelings about Bishop Allen. The band has a tendency to jump right over the line that divides "precious" and "nauseating," which is why I have unchecked about a third of Bishop Allen's songs on my iTunes. Since I doubt my tolerance for overly-earnest pop music has increased in the last two years -- if anything, it's decreased --it must mean that Grrr... is really awesome. It's bright without being blinding, sweet without being saccharine, and these songs have that perfect pop bounce that The Broken String lacked (in other words, it's a lot easier to dance to.)

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