Young Spuds in a Longhorn Daze

Dave Pirner: You gotta believe that your take on things is a little bit more together than other people's. Which is kind of an egomaniacal situation, but you want your music to represent who you are. And who you are is somebody who goes up and down on this weird scale of emotions every day. And some of these emotions, you go, "This makes me what I am." And some of the other emotions, you go, "This makes me like everybody else." And you try to take what's unique about yourself and fit it in to what seems tangible.

Jim Walsh (interviewer), September 9, 1992


Rap has its limitations; it doesn't adapt well to the stage--being essentially an amateur's street gig; it's repetitious as a broken record; and the unlimited macho posing can grind down even the most open-minded spirit. And methinks the subgenre has long since worn out its welcome.

R. Anderson, July 22, 1982

If Jimi Hendrix had ever hooked up with the Last Poets, they may have created something as crunchingly potent as what Run-D.M.C. have birthed on King of Rock.

David H. Adams, February 13, 1985


[N.W.A.'s Niggaz4Life] is an album of hate-filled songs that glorify gang rape and beating women to death, an album so nihilistic that its lyrics brag about making money from those topics. It's the most vile, rancid, festering pile of crap I've heard in my life. It is also one of the top-selling albums in America for the third week in a row.

Jim DeRogatis, July 3, 1991


An example of just what sets [Babes in Toyland] apart from the rest of the stir-and-serve college rock pack came a few Mondays ago in Loring Park....As the band took the stage, a tearful [Lori] Barbero went to the mic and dedicated the set to her father, who had passed away just days before; in attendance were several of her dad's co-workers. At the same time, Warner Bros. had provided...a half-dozen "Babes clones"--young blond women dressed in vintage white wedding Katwear--to wander the crowd and force-feed ambiance for a promotional video they were shooting.

As Babes the band kicked into the first song, Babes the clones rose up in front of the recently married [Kat] Bjelland like little bad seeds.... Then the crowd took over. Midway through that first song, the Babes faithful beat the crap out of the clones and forced them from the fray, then commenced stage-diving into the grass. They know, as does Fontanelle, that there's no substitute for reality.

Jim Walsh, August 19, 1992


"Bitch betta have my money," croons Compton's AMG, he being a moderate on the female issue. N.W.A.'s Eazy-E sings about torture and murder of "skeezers" and "hos." Bandmate Dr. Dre believes the hype: He was convicted of assaulting Dee Barnes, female host of BET's rap showcase, Pump It Up! Dre felt Barnes has dissed N.W.A. by playing up ex-member Ice Cube....But here's the rub: I enjoy and endorse the music of all these artists. Where does that put me on the sensitivity continuum? If you called my woman a bitch, I like to think you'd have some trouble on your hands. I honor my mother, treat my sisters well--but I listen to gangsta rap. How do I do it? You may as well ask me what I would have done had I witnessed Dr. Dre kicking Dee Barnes down a flight of stairs. I don't know.

Jae Bryson, October 14, 1992


But if All Eyez on Me is a triumph, it is a haunted one. Time and again, Tupac claims not to fear death so much as a reincarnation back into this life and this world. Yet the CD...sounds like nothing so much as a man who has died, and somehow lived both to tell the tale and to return to the jungle. All eyes are on him, creating a claustrophobic intensity that both stretches and hardens his tunes. Rarely has a rapper's self-absorption been so justified or so compelling.

Britt Robson, March 6, 1996


Everything about the Born in the U.S.A. phenomenon cried out for the anthemic gesture, and Springsteen obliged.

The burden of the performances on the current tour is different; it rests entirely on the music. It's rare to see a popular artist step back this way, to try and shed the trappings of identity without disavowing his past work or his audience....I'm not sure anyone has ever slipped the noose as masterfully as Springsteen is doing it, at least for this moment. What's saved him is his faith in the integrity of the music and his conviction that it can give up something more if one doesn't abandon that faith. And it does.

Steve Perry, October 9, 1996


Pop music critics can be a lot like those boys who give girls reputations and then won't go steady with them....Enter Madonna, This Year's Model. In less than a year, she's garnered more negative press than any other musical act of the Eighties. That's ironic, because aside from a couple of good singles, Madonna's music is simply thin and forgettable. The real issue is her persona. Never before has it been so easy for music writers to sound progressive about feminist issues--a genuine 1980s sore spot for predominantly male chroniclers of a predominantly male form. Just sneer at the Boy Toy reference, mention how tossed-off the music sounds, and you're in. But it's become too hip to hate her. You have to suspect it. And the more she emerges from her one-dimensional music video image--with movie roles and interviews--the less the charges of sexism seem to fit. Smart, outspoken, and deliberately outrageous ("Crucifixes are sexy because there's a naked man on them"), she makes herself impossible to ignore. The effect is anything but servile and toylike.

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