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Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Not to be too snide or anything, but Pitchfork sure does act like it's "just heard of this great new thing called grunge the kids are into" sometimes. Viz, in regards Dizzee Rascal:
As is the case when describing and categorizing music, a genre label is often attributed, yet the artists beg to differ. Where Dizzee and The Roll Deep Crew are concerned, that label has been "garage". Although that's essentially the case, some, including Dizzee, contend there's a whole new subgenre emerging from the garage legacy. This new genre uses the garage signature tempo of two-step with "an influx of bass driven, minimal, often off-key tracks, and emcees chatting on a flex about life, decidedly similar to their hip-hop cousins," according to UK Music Worldwide. In other words, it's not your everyday hip-hop.
...that Simon Reynolds has been talking about for, oh, six months or so (or more, I just got lazy). And the term "Gutter/Gutta Garage" seems to be sticking pretty well. So c'mon folks, this isn't something just busting out.
Really, the whole Dizzee Rascal review was weird. Aside from blatantly ripping off Reynolds' "gutta-garage-as-the-new-punk" thing and making the way too easy Streets comparison, it's just so wide-eyed. It sounds like indie rock's version of, say, Newsweek's coverage of "moshing." Know what I mean? There's nothing wrong with not knowing stuff; in fact, that's great, as long as you go into things admitting that and looking to learn and like that. But that's not really Pitchfork's style, nor the review's, which is condescending, first, to Dizzee ("Dizzee already longs for the innocence of childhood" - *cough*), and then second to the readers. "We've heard about this thing called UK Rap, let us educate you about it..." Which is fine if you do, in fact, know about it, but that's just plain ol' not the sense I get here.
In fact, I think it kind of proves my point about Pitchfork and their anti-mainstream bias; I actually was going to bring it up to Matt LeMay if I'd ever responded to his letter, i.e. "Well, I bet you're not gonna treat Dizzee Rascal like you treated Liz, and they're both pretty pop..." And oh lookie! Which is not to say that the Liz album is necessarily as good as the Dizzee album, but it is to say that the big difference expressed in their reviews is that they know a lot about Liz (0.0 only because she made Exile) and they don't know jack shit about Dizzee, so he gets a 9.4. Which is to say, as I have before, that rock critics like their artists mysterious, because that way they don't feel limited in their interpretations. Pitchfork clearly has no idea how this album was made or how it rose to prominence (besides a vague notion of pirate radio) and so it's this unsullied cultural object. Is it an accident that there are only three extremely vague mentions of what the record sounds like, and an endless stream of condescending lyrical quotes? Because the sound, to me, matters way more than the lyrics here. But that's just me.
I guess if the review gets more people to buy the Dizzee album, great, but they seem to be telling people to buy it mainly because it's the next big thing and not because of how it actually sounds. And how fucking mainstream is that?