1. Lykke Li - Gunshot

  2. Let’s Pause For A Moment And Appreciate H.N.I.C.

    I love H.N.I.C. because it sounds how New York City sounds to me. In my world, New York City is a land full of Steinways whose keys get struck ominously by darting rats. And on the corners of New York City stand string sections re-creating Ma$e’s “24 Hours To Live.” And the third of the sounds common in the place that’s anti-narcoleptic are the threats that echo from conversations that have taken too many wrong turns. And this album has all three of these elements in spades.

    Prodigy is the man who said he’d stab your brain with your nose bone. And on “Keep It Thoro” he utters one of the most perfect threats of violence ever put to record: “I’ll throw a TV at you, crazy.” You can picture the RCA connector taking a chunk of flesh off of somebody’s face as an episode of Teletubbies or Sonic the Hedgehog 2 plays on the screen. Prodigy and the “crazy” person animated, like Itchy & Scratchy.

    A lot of bases get touched on the album. On “Three,” Prodigy and Cormega set the scene and the scene looks like a group of guys in the projects at 3 am eating fast food out of a brown bag darkened by grease and washing it down with E&J. There’s also the great acronym, New York Pricks And Dicks.

    On “Trials of Love” we get a tale of two lovers that find out they’re both knocking Timberland’s behind each other’s backs. There’s empty condom wrappers, hidden compartments to hide phone numbers and the woman of the equation taking a little money here and there from the stacks Prodigy makes by speaking the thun language for a living.

    On “Wanna Be Thugs” you have the visual of dried blood on a victim’s face. On “You Can Never Feel My Pain” P talks about his struggles with sickle cell that 2Pac infamously made fun of. On it, Prodigy launches IV poles at hospital employees and abuses substances to numb himself.

    With “Can’t Complain” Prodigy does a convincing audio acting job playing the role of a rapper awakened by a phone call at 3 pm. It features a car ride, an encounter with the police and a guest appearance by Queens basketball legend, Rafer Alston.

    Prodigy here is simply operating. He’s not toying with some new style he hopes will give him some commercial elevation, he’s just rapping. And he’s rapping about his life and emptying out the contents of his mind. H.N.I.C. is what a lot of great albums are: a musical journal, with phone numbers in the margin, and stains from whatever was being eaten.

    This is Prodigy at his peak. He spins tales that smell like blunt ashes and look like fatigues topped with iced out medallions. It’s one of the quintessential transportation records for me. And a “transportation record” means it takes me to a specific place. That place is the largest housing projects in the country circa 2000. Where nearby the World Trade Center is still intact and Chandra Levy is still alive on the other side of the country. Nostalgia, my guy. It always makes things sound so much sweeter.

  3. Rap is likely to influence popular music for years to come. It has tremendous staying power, because it lets ordinary people express ideas they care about, in language they can relate to, set to music they can dance to.
    20/20 reporter, Steve Fox, from his 1981 segment on hip hop. Probably the best description of rap music I heard.
  4. Before I had a chance to ditch the evidence, Cus had sent Ruth, the German cleaning lady, to my room and she found the weed. Cus was furious when I came home. “This must be some good stuff, Mike. I know this must be good because you just let down four hundred years of slaves and peasants to smoke it.”
    My other favorite quote from Tyson’s autobiography
  5. Mike Tyson: “How’s taking out the trash going to make me a better boxer?” I scoffed.
    Cus D’Amato: “Because doing something you hate to do like you love it is good conditioning for someone aspiring towards greatness.”
    - From Mike Tyson’s autobiography, The Undisputed Truth
  6. Album Art

    Mina Tindle - Some Things Last A Long Time

  7. Album Art

    Lykke Li - No Rest For The Wicked

  8. On Washedness At 27

    Me saying I’m “washed” is done jokingly. But there’s always a sliver of truth in jokes. Maybe not universal truths, but at least personal ones. I’m not washed up, truthfully. I haven’t even gotten dirty yet (if you’ll allow me to be corny and extend the metaphor). But if you speak of this washedness too often it may come to fruition. You may end up living some tired, downtrodden life, dressed in some normcore uniform unironically, with the fervor you once had squeezed out of you. 

    You’ll end up with an expensive puking and urinating and shitting being that depends on the paystubs from that job you didn’t expect to be stuck in at the relatively young but not so young age you woke up and found yourself at. You’ll have these bags under your eyes that no amount of B12 can un-purple. Your body will start aching with rain showers. That’s my fear, at least. Waking up like Home Alone screaming Kevin! about that inner optimistic young you that you realize you left at home for the holidays one year, many calendar flips ago.
    That’s the worst case scenario. Being genuinely washed. Nevermind the few stray grey hairs that started springing up in your early twenties. Nevermind the not going out on the weekends to spend money on alcohol and the pleasure of listening to deafening music. That’s the joking washed. That’s the stuff for twitter that you can talk about and strike a chord with others that go through or do the same things. That’s fodder for bonding moments with strangers. True washedness will come when you let life corner you, box you in, push you into a position you loathe, make your sign the dotted line on a destiny that’s deleterious in a silent, slow, sneaky way.
    I suppose this is a very roundabout way of saying I don’t want to get that kind of old. The “that’s just the way it is” old. I don’t want to lose the confidence in myself that I can change my circumstances. That’s aging gracefully when you manage to retain a part of you that’s a more realistic version of the “I’m gonna be pro basketball player plus and astronaut plus an artist.” So, basically don’t lose your soul. Very trite, it’s almost universal, but it needed to be said. At least to myself.
  9. The Friends of Distinction - Dying To Live