Following my Grimshaw horror of yesterday – which sounds pleasingly suggestive of an H.P. Lovecraft excerpt, The Grimshaw Horror,
‘Running from the room with my nerves jangling, all my senses in appalled revolt, I had but one phrase worming through the synapses of my shattered mind. That thing… IT HAD NO EARS.’
and so on. It’s ok, it’s ok. I’m over it. It does disturb me, but I’ll rise above it. Actually, between changing CDs this morning (Outgoing: Purple Rain) I was partly pleased to note that Grimly commences his ‘Wakey wakey People of Britain’ 7am segment with a spoiled Pharaohe Monch jingle (“G-G-Get Up!”). ‘Partly pleased’ and ‘spoiled’ in that although reminding me of a great tune it was a radio Bowdlerisation, a coy approximation of a daring choice, and in that it was about to be followed by Kelly Clarkson, which is kind of semi-proof of something, I ah-ha’d at the radio, as if proof or indeed semis are needed at such a time in the morning on one’s way to work in the car.
Look, I have to put up with this stream of bollocks all the time. Listen to the babble, bobbing pink and playful across the pebbles.
– a more subtle flow of musical consequence insinuates itself today. As I wound the car through Ryedale, I was listening to the CD I’d changed to: MC Solaar, the Prose Combat album.
Prose Combat was one of my lost Golden Age collection, part of a batch of CDs stolen from a flat in Partick, Glasgow late last century, along with everything else from L to Z, a consequence of partly-shelved alphabetisation and hurried thieves. About a couple of months ago I found a copy, incongruously, among the Kelly Clarkson and Steps albums in the ‘three for a pound’ CD section at the St. Leonard’s Hospice shop in Acomb. Le result! Delighted.
Solaar, Claude M’Barali, is a Senegalese/French rapper, born in Dakar, brought up in France and a Francophone rapper. He’s still recording, according to the online, so I shall be pleased to chasse down some of his later works, of which I have been ignorant.
Prose Combat is nearly 20 years old but it still sounds very fresh, some era-specific early ’90s soul jazz warbling on quelques tracks notwithstanding. The rapping in particular is funny and articulate, offering a welcome contrast to some contemporary commercial rap – such as the new 50 Cent single, My Life, which I have observed on radio and video a charmless three times this week. Fiddy’s tune also features Eminem, who is in typically vituperative form, and quite cheesily, Adam Levine, the singer from Maroon 5, who in his refrain adds unwelcome notes of Jamiroquai where you were already hoping for less as more.
I mean, not to get too sidetracked here – and I do not pretend to any kind of authority in matters rapular, incidentally, it’s just mes pensées, in’tit? – but, as an aside, the appeal of 50 Cent kind of baffles me. With regard to this particular record, you have self-consciously stagey ‘like a movie’ references indicating a degree of sophistication, distance, and the ‘who hunts the hunted?’ helicopter chase motif in the video adds some sort of sense of a commentary on fame/artistic drive paranoia. Yet these jostle for attention with a humourless and aggressive street “sewer entrepreneur” persona, literally a peddler of shit, that spends its time bullying the listener into ‘accepting and respecting’ the unpleasant content. A kind of witless and insistent hustling. In fact, if this IS a persona, added to the knowing asides about ‘confusion’ and ‘illusion’, the whole is actually quite contemptuous of its audience.
My Life, as well as sounding like the score to a movie that would just make you sigh with despair at the protagonist’s relentless will to consume (as distinct from hunger), with a video that does everything possible to amplify this, has lyrics that are resoundingly, epically angry, the sound of their fury as a consequence signifying nothing. They seem to be offering a glimpse into the mood of a colossally wealthy writer, rapper and producer, who, as he drives around in a big, expensive car, contemplates how, since he became successful a decade ago, is now, mysteriously, being snubbed by former protégés and overlooked by the public, despite – perhaps, paradoxically, because of! – having sold 40million records, furthermore threatening to flip out and go ‘Michael Myers’ on those opposing, as if all this doesn’t make him sound like a sort of irate attention-seeking Ronald McDonald of rap, armed and up a water tower on the brink of psychotic carnage because someone said his burgers taste awful.
This response is not intended to be ‘full of hate’, per the lyrics, and I am certainly not threatening to kill anyone because they might disagree, but seeing as 50 Cent seems to be addressing by extension all critics in My Life, I think it pertinent to enquire by return why one might be expected to, never mind respect, actually give a fuck about such monotone posturing.
More bollocks! Bob-bob-bobollocking along, pink and floaty, clacking in the foam, shining in the sun.
Anyway, back in the car, the sun, mais oui, was shining off the snow in the valleys and warming my face as I drove along the long and winding road, motoring through the villages of Yorkshire en route to work, digging the beats. MC Solaar juggles his themes mellifluously, with wit and dexterity. At one point I was actually giggling at the facility, the lightness of touch with which MC Solaar delivers lines like these:
Oh! Belle, elle est belle, elle est bonne, elle a du bol la demoiselle,
Elle se trouvait des défauts, je trouvais qu’elle était belle.
J’en garde des séquelles mais je sais qu’elle sait
Que le silence est d’or, et dort, alors, je me tais.
–From the song Séquelles
(My cack-handed translation:
Oh, she is beautiful, she is fine, she’s lucky, this girl,
she finds faults with me, I find her beautiful.
I keep the aftermath in mind, but I know that she knows that
silence is golden, and she’s sleeping, so I just shut it.)
Something like that? It’s also all in the delivery. In fact, here’s a nifty video from the YouTubes, with further traduction of the paroles, Ms Gainsbourg playing the Belle, and MC Solaar’s voice, all of which are a far better use of your temps.
MC Solaar, Séquelles: