The Songs We Can't Escape
T.I. feat. JAY-Z, KANYE WEST, & LIL WAYNE
"Swagger Like Us"
Oh, why not recycle an M.I.A. utterance for the four hottest spitters in the world? She made it a hot line; can they make it a hot song? Not quite. Kanye gets things going in fine, arrogant form; Jay-Z grabs at his crotch; Weezy bunts a bored advertisement for himself; T.I. toasts the others, fucks around, signs off. "Event" hip-hop majesty shouldn't come off this underwhelming, unless the underlying goal is to float this cloudy dungeon Kanye beat for novice mixtape MCs to devour, to top the deities—which wouldn't be too tall an order.
"Love Lockdown (live)"
He raps, he sings—but only the latter here, and through Autotune at that. This Kanye is more dully monotonous—in production and thematic terms both—than the vainglorious jokester we've become so accustomed to over the last few years, and I'm still not sure I care for him. One gets the impression that he doesn't much care, either way.
YOUNG JEEZY feat. JAY-Z
"Put On (Remix)"
Ammunition for folks who insist that rap is endlessly vapid and repetitive. Sitting through this version of the single—without Kanye West's Donda-centered verses—is a lot like watching too much fucking C-SPAN or cable news election coverage: It drives home how empty most pop/political discourse really is, how tropes are recycled into mush, how battering a nail with a hammer over and over again turns it into something unrecognizable, and ultimately, useless.
Folks still ridicule and admonish Nine Inch Nails for "Closer," but Trent Reznor merely boiled romance down to the bare, porn-lit essentials: "I wanna fuck you like an annnnimaaal!" Metro Station, like just about everybody else who writes pop songs about nookie, overdress the pursuit of poon to the point of insincerity about what lies at the finish line and how quickly the protagonist wants to get there.
PLAIN WHITE T'S
See above, pretty much, except that Plain White T's are purvin' in Monkees masks. Sorry—mainstream music is sorta letting me down this week; if someone told me that all five of the songs in this week's column were actually created by some malevolent artificial intelligence, I wouldn't bat an eyelash.
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