…and not even much of one, I’ll admit, but these two songs have been getting a hell of a lot of play lately so let’s all enjoy them together. I took my wife out for Chinese tonight and then went and bought books rather than worrying about blogging, so this is what you get. 🙂
It must be so weird to be Jay-Z, guys. He is, by any standard, one of the most successful and well-known rappers of all time and an insanely talented businessman to boot, and he still managed to somehow marry up, to a woman who is better than him at damn near every single thing the two of them do. Don’t get me wrong; I married up myself, and my wife is also better than me at goddamn near everything. It ain’t a bad thing. But to be as successful as this guy has been, and still be #2 in your house? Crazy.
So here’s the thing: although I don’t talk about her all that much I am a big fan of Beyoncé. I’ve phrased that very deliberately. I am a fan of Beyoncé, not so much of her music. As an entertainer, she’s amazing, but I’m not necessarily going to reach for Dangerously in Love when I’m looking for something to listen to. She’s had a couple of songs on each of her albums that I like; sometimes a couple that I really like, but Lemonade was the first of her entire records that really clicked for me and even then if I’m playing it it’s to listen to Daddy Lessons or Formation and not to listen the whole way through.
And despite all the good stuff I just said about Jay, I’ve always thought he was kind of overrated as a musician. Him and Nas both fit into the same headspace for me, guys who have been around forever and been obscenely successful in hiphop (although Jay is a level beyond Nas, I think) but who I just don’t think are as good as everyone thinks they are. Don’t @ me. I bought 4:44 just like everybody else. The dude’s still huge. I don’t get to decide that, and he doesn’t have to give a shit what I think. But still.
So it’s kind of fascinating to me that Everything is Love is my favorite Beyoncé album and my favorite Jay-Z album, and by a substantial margin. I have always and always will preferred hiphop to all other forms of music, and it turns out that when you take Bey’s talents and turn the dial a few notches toward rap you get something that I really fucking like. Here’s how much I like this album: I’ve not only had it on damn near constant rotation in my car since I downloaded it, but when I’m not listening to it I’ve been revisiting everything else I have by both of them.
I dunno if I even really have anything else coherent to say about it. I’m terrible at reviewing music; I always have been, and it’s not like this album needs my help, right? If you were gonna cop this one you had it two hours after you found out it existed and nobody is going to try it based on Oh, Luther liked it! But still. Do it anyway. This is something special, and these two need to make music together more often.
Yes, I know good and goddamn well it’s Friday out there in the “real” world, but Thursday and Friday are my weekend and I have to go to work tomorrow so to hell with your normal human days of the week. It’s Sunday, motherfuckers, let’s rock out:
Ask me to name my heroes and two names will come to mind very quickly: Malcolm X and Abraham Lincoln. I’m always interested to see how fast people catch the fundamental similarity between the two men: they’re both damn near entirely self-educated. I’ve had more than my share of formal education but in a lot of the things I find important I’m an autodidact, and it’s a quality I deeply respect in people.
Which explains my attraction to Alexander Hamilton, or at least the version of him that Lin-Manuel Miranda has created in HAMILTON. I mean, the fundamentals of the story are basically correct, and Hamilton is undoubtedly a supreme autodidact, but he’s not quite up there with my heroes mostly because, while I’ve read tons of speeches and writings by Malcolm X and Abraham Lincoln, I’ve mostly read stuff about Hamilton, and that represents an important difference to me. At least at the moment. I need to reread the Federalist papers sometime.
But, yeah. This guy? I wanna be this guy:
How do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write every second you’re alive?
I wish, y’all. I don’t write enough, and the feeling “I don’t write enough” has been a goddamn constant in my life basically since I left college despite the fact that I’ve had, at the very least, an active blog for for nearly that entire time. I don’t write enough, but I think about writing constantly. I am never happier than I am just after completing a written piece– distinctly happier than when I’m actually writing it, a sentiment I suspect most writers will recognize.
Writing is torture. Having written is the purest bliss. 🙂
Anyway. We went to see HAMILTON for our 10th anniversary a week ago and somehow I haven’t talked about it here yet. Walking in, I had large portions of the soundtrack memorized and my wife was at least reasonably familiar with the whole thing, and I think both of us were concerned that the cast being “wrong” might impair our enjoyment somewhat. I’m glad to report that that concern was basically nonsense; my wife actually walked out preferring the Chicago cast, or at least their voices. I wasn’t quite there, but I spent some time raving about the performance of Jonathan Kirkland, who plays George Washington. The guy’s physical presence is outstanding; he towers over the other actors in the show, and he does a tremendous job embodying someone who was so personally forbidding that Hamilton himself once actually made a bet with a fellow Constitutional Convention-goer about whether he was brave enough to slap him on the back. The “son” scene in Meet Me Inside was so much better than I’d thought it was going to be from the soundtrack. Washington just stares at Hamilton, and Hamilton folds like a cheap suit.
I mean, okay, not surprising that I liked seeing the most successful Broadway musical of my lifetime live, but still: I know the tickets are expensive, but if this show is near you? Go see it. It’s worth it.
I’ve been trying as best I can to stay away from the computer for the last couple of days on account of a Star War happening in the very near future, a Star War that I would prefer to go into knowing nothing about. You may recall my review of The Force Awakens; yes, you can expect a similarly exhaustive post about Last Jedi once I’ve had a chance to digest it.
In the meantime, appreciate this fucking tour de force from Black Thought, who is an insane magical marvel of lyricism and breath control. This man apparently takes in oxygen through his skin: