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:

One of the many positive aspects associated with my new job is the commute. I spent five years approaching the same spot in the centre of London (Fetter Lane, just off Fleet Street) from different boroughs, using different tube and bus lines and cycling combis, and can’t say I ever really enjoyed it, a year and a bit of giggling on the District Line with J aside. All things considered, a 20-minute drive through Yorkshire is quite an improvement.

(This is all relative to ‘not having to commute at all’, of course, but we’ll gloss on over that, as well as the fact that the A1079 is not the winding up and down glee suggested in the opening credits of ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ but a frustrating not enough dual carriageway split into speed-restricted sections to avoid the massive pile-ups when cars stop to take sharp rights down Storking Lane to Fangfoss or whatever. Without wishing to get all Jeremy Clarkson about it, there can be too much prescription. In the last few days I seem to keep getting stuck behind the driver who has misinterpreted the national speed limit on A roads (60mph) as being ‘about 48mph’, which makes sense seeing as they think ’40mph’ means ’32mph’, and given that they just left a 40mph zone and there’s a 50mph zone coming up in 100 yards and 48 is the mean of these… My apologies to Europeans for the imperial measurements, and mathematicians for a possibly erroneous use of ‘mean’ and the other numeracy issues.)

Among the great thingery of this commute is the actually having to have a car, something it has taken me 19 years of being able to drive to arrive at. Even then I swithered. One doesn’t need a car in central London, where we was, not really. York is pretty notorious for the snarl-ups on its inner ring road. If school were nearer, in the same city, I’d get the bus, or walk. However, for where I work, walking would be a step too far. A bus ride would mean being up, out of the house and on the bus at 06.37 to get to work for 7.10 (simply, no), or getting to work at 08.45 (a capital ‘L’, underlined three times, in the register). There is no train – up yours, Dr Beeching! – so car it is.

The car is not just a necessary evil for commuting, of course. A comment J and I have made frequently in the short while since we got it is the classic new car owner observation that while it was not something we had particularly missed having previously, now we’ve got it… why, its a whole new world! A hundred thousand things to see. Etc.

Brimham Rocks, for example

Another great thing about the vehicle is the capacity to listen to CDs, which never seemed to get played in the house any more. Last year, or jings, it might have been the year before, anyway, recentlyish, some friends and I did a compilation club, where themed CDs were lovingly put together, covers made, distribution to contributors, lovely lovely lovely. I’ve been enjoying those immensely, driving along at 44mph, periodically flicking on the wipers and generally mulling whatever morning mull issues, to a diverse and occasionally deranged set of sets.

Today I re-found a completely classic City Slang promo compilation, a freebie picked up in a record shop in 1995. I’ll scan the cover, which has the band names transliterated into Cyrillic. This reminds me of being about 11 and making a sign for my bedroom door reading ‘No entry!’ in six languages, including a heroic and entirely nonsensical HO EиTPY. The sign must have lasted at least five minutes ’til my dad took it down for my cheek, as well as the inaccurate Russian. I think I’d just seen a documentary about Berlin or something.

Anyway, this CD was a great drive home tonight, so hurrah for City Slang. In the spirit of sharing, and there only being seven tracks, here is that 50 Years City Slang Tuesday night play list for your edification and entertainment:

Built to Spill – Reasons

I think always preferred the track ‘Girl’, and ‘Car’ would of course be appropriate, but this is good Spillage,, with a single still image ‘video’ that just made me start giggling.

Superchunk – Hyper Enough

YASSSSS! Su-per-chunk! Su-per-chunk!

Seam – Tuff Luck

It’s not much of a vid on the ViewTube, a mellow tune though, which does call to mind slippers and sheep, now I come to think of it.

Guided by Voices – Motor Away

QUADRUPLE YASSSS! One of my actual all time top ten desert island back of neck tingling life changers. A nice video tribute here too.

Freakwater – White Rose

Simply cannot find this anywhere, so here’s ‘Drunk Friend’ instead. Let me know if there’s a vid I’ve missed…

Lambchop – The man who loved beer

Drily heart-breaking sentiments, only to be improved by getting full of beer.

Tortoise – Along the banks of rivers

A lovely tune to close. Particularly effective at 44mph with the windscreen wipers on, evening sun trying to get out over recently-ploughed fields, seagulls rising and falling.

Ladies and gentlemen: цитъi cланг!