by Big Flowers
A Retrospective on Music Writing’s Month of Madness
Being a journalist post-mass-media poses challenges, and to weird oneself into a niche poses its own in hand with the former. To write concrete observations of past musical manifestations in straight up just words in a time where much is scrolled past on the way to something a bit more spoonfed is a rare task to find appealing, at least from my vantage. Writing about an underground form of hip-hop when you have no pre-clickbait era priors/credentials is a no-man’s land stroll through a vacant paradise: beautiful but often on vacation. I’ve found a lot of pain in touristic tendencies. Community has a heavenly way of allowing you to just be a traveler, not a visitor: passing through and sharing for the time being but neither renounced nor fully embraced by the indigenous culture. By that I mean that it seems if you move with the essence of community in mind, the weirdest places can become so welcoming.
All the way into my own rabbit hole of writing tweets about albums that I heard based within a corner of a single genre of music, I found a network of some of the most compelling journalists. Entering the calendar’s runt, each of these writers specialized in some study of Afrocentric music, showed teeth ready to sink into a cabbage of a challenge. This, mind you, in a time where challenges have become ice bucket levels of cold to the touch. After taking up journalism in any serious capacity, February presented me with the Music Writer Exercise (#MWE), an effort thrown into motion by Twitter’s own Gary Suarez.
Music journalists sitting at the top rung of their narrowing ladders down to those like me who simply and freely hobby along; all hashtagged the most delicately bite-sized morsels of wordplay and education every day of the month. The challenge was simple: pick an album and write one tweet about it. By virtue of the incident audience, the challenge was primarily occupied by those writing about hip-hop. For me, as a participant, it was less about the albums being highlighted, and more how they were written about. I was focusing on the angles taken by the writer stylistically, grammatically, syntactically and through leet-speak era abbreviation, all to convey the most coded information in the least amount of characters. It enforces the ideals of minimalism in a field where the concept of ‘just enough’ is not often guaranteed. Limitations that symbiote with minimalism often generate some pretty powerful innovations.
As a spectator as well, I saw such an inventive usage of the modern typed English language, something so contorted and different from its origin that it beckons its own dialect, and for that, I like to think #MWE is one of the only things I’ll ever proudly hashtag. I still scroll through the tag on the search result pages of twitter and find new accounts of an album I’ve never heard of, and may never, all so cleverly fit into a bird shaped hole, and so ingeniously cohesive to the meta-theme of the challenge. Through an annual, character capacitied, mass retrospective on a certain sect of music, you can exhibit modern language in all its glory. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard about it, or looking too closely, that much I can wear, but my writing is inevitably and immeasurably changed because of it. Thank you Gary, here are my tweets.
PS: I’m not changing any formatting or grammatic incorrectness, and I’m only including the first tweet for the albums that had me break that regulation.
Old Grape God – HOME[sic]
prismatic expansion of an already hyperelastic and galactic-depth diversity within his discography, Old Grape God bends atmospheric chaos into industrial sawtooth & halogen, spitting neurodivergent over deconstructive disco. wild and untamable 4×4 ambience bound by rubber
Kincee Babyface Pearlis – Nplatonic Enèji â
deep in what seems like a cybernetic jungle, the keen and apt still dominate the hunt. slack-jawed and masked up, with fractures of facial features protruding from the clay, KBP careens off-kilter, lyrically gnashing veteran experience with a dusty, all-at-once homecoming
Sister Sledge – We Are Family
very much an example of studio music at its finest, backed by the instrumental engine of CHIC, We Are Family is a meteoric, (passively?) anti-Moroder stance on 70’s club music, desexualizing to make place for sentiment and reason, honesty. drowned by the single. album fucks.
LUCKI & Filthy – WAKE UP LUCKI
what seems like an answering-machine callback to a long-pillared vacancy of self care, Lucki is rubbing eyes while ambling through the hallways of his experience, brushing shoulders with past iterations of self he can’t see his own face in anymore. not desperate, but crying
Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear
a time capsule into the generally acceptable fallout of a celebrity breakup while the idea of American celebrity was still being carved from the popular phenomenon of being a globally recognized artist. the happiest heartbreak wrapped in afrofuture silk sonics. marvins bag
Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach – Money Jungle
hearing 3 individuals on analog instrument (one of them being a very stripped drum set) perform in an intimate understood setting, each respectively at their crafts’ peaks, it’s powerful to say the least. swooning from mingus’s chaos to duke’s lively traipse, tied by roach
Bktherula – LOVE BLACK
first time I’ve given myself a full listen of this project. regret the tardiness. bk is orbiting in a different solar system than the one that allowed duality, now it’s all or nothing doubled down on the digital belligerence with manic-neon joy-stick intention in a real way
Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD – Sour Soul
say what you will but to me this is the best ghostface album,so far removed from WTC prime that it’s success has to be attributed to the CONTINUED excellence and curation penchant, opening up the process to contemporaries and paying homage to those w him in time BBNG snapped
TV On The Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
a masterful play with tonal gradients, anti-pop, melodic interference among analog walls of sound, there is a viscera of a journey within RtCM, a black hole of rock music generating a generational gravity which bends even the most fluorescent light
The Strokes – Comedown Machine
comedown machine is one of the last great rock albums, it’s nothing like the tropism of a clusterfuck that follows it, there aren’t any songs which scream convention and most of them exist as g-pop while still being baskable to a more seasoned audience. my fav Casablancas
SeFu – The Sword Drew Blood
in his own words “you gonna wish you heard it when it dropped.” in my words, one of the more experimental examples of iconocentric minimalism found in an album proximal to Earl clone allegation. in my partner’s words, “is this still seFu? it’s rlly nice morning music.”
Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
within Detroit and beyond, thanks for being Danny Brown ain’t nobody can do that again. some clickbait list not about to erase the bruiser presence. ran back AE today and nah there is not the space for half of todays artists without the work he put in before it was “normal”
Da Brat – Funkafied
a volcano of “you will take me seriously even if I have to stomp it into you” clad in oversized upstate down, Da Brat champions fraternity among a scene much more patriarchate. Brat blows bellows of gale-force wind under the fragile foundation of male-dominant rap.
Jon Bap – Yesterday’s Homily
every time I visit this album, it still shrinks away and shrieks at me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be musically aware enough to consider this palatable but there are blistering moments of pop that will break you through the militant math and lucid soul, contorted thru bap-ism
Slick Rick – The Ruler’s Back
a more comfortable seat in the throne, the Ruler depicts the world as he sees it now, after ascending to the crown that was always there to begin with, but has been manifested through his human work and observation. gilded in ways, golden in most, this album fucks.
Sharkula – The Salads are Tasty
the most au natural cross section of a rapper as an organism, not a profession or a creative outlet. therapeutic, comedic, degenerate yet terraced within its regulars, this is a melange of all things that exist and are perceivable with a reductionist’s beauty in mind.
Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red
a masterful glimpse into the decision making process of someone so painfully a part of the one percent of the music industry, WLR dismantles the idea of general pop in a way that potentially made Carti a pariah for his own sound. my personal favorite of his time in this
IONOYOUTELLME – Another Man’s Trash
a substance-free psych-hopped painting of a greying and disposed trope of hip hop in New York, with canvas and soul stretched skeletal over subway lines and borough borders, AMT is an altruistic magnet for those still seeking to move and shake with their tongue & teeth
YUNGMORPHEUS – Speaking Tree Language
the whole album feels like a night with a dude who’s rapping while getting a contraband bag off cannabis in pre-legalization prime, but he leaves you in the studio w the beats running when he goes to make a sale. you’re left for a few to ur own devices to digest every verse
Bloodmoney Perez & Messiah Musik – Second Hand Accounts
in a way that mirrors Rene Redzepi’s assimilation of French technique to magnify and develop a truly Copenhagen cuisine, BMP borrows hip hop (a black technique) to responsibly give account to a puerto-rican experience in a jagged quartzite punch to the tympanic membrane
Chango4 & way2wavybaby – Planet 9
a non-binary playground constructed in binary code, the solar system’s farthest reaching event exists on planet 9. when I hear the term Buffalo-music this and it’s proximal neighbors like @FREAKTHEMIIGHTY and others come to mind, not Griselda. neon-strobe fantasy in orbit
Lord Kayso – MOOR CHORES
Geng disagrees but I think this is so violently a New York album that it transcends its geography and becomes indicative of a universal metropolitan experience. I use the term sonder; every individual has an account as bejeweled as this album. few have spoken it this elastic
LordGlacier. – Legends From Temple Kanata
akin to veteran presences like @QuelleChris this project lenses community curation with focus set to speakeasy release of inhibition and cinematic color-grade. worked on mainly during the artist’s 16th solar revolution, this is a very distal and unripe, but integral fruit.
Cities Aviv – Man Plays the Horn
to me, cities aviv resembles pure moderation. relative to TCS, this album is just as whirling, but much more whimsical. sonic shadowboxer ornate with ancestral jewelry, the man continues his constant return to self and awareness, trumpeting something traceable
Rahiem Supreme & Ohbliv – Black Keys Wit Melodies
in a very real way, Ohbliv defines so much of the future of soul-derivative production. that’s why I found BKWM and what brought me to one of the most cathartic and divulgent rappers of the modern day. rahiem v8 dashes over some of the most supple yet world bending samples
Moor Mother – Fetish Bones
liberally applied chaos, juggernauted poetry of social mutilation and the duality of tragedy, compressed to a concentrate and then force fed into a synthesizer. a precipitant of both pain and passion, Fetish Bones is a fracture against status quo. futurism guised as violence
Liiight & Blue – BlackBoysLookBlueInTheMoonLight
doubling up today: Liiight is in the midst of carving his own identity personally and musically at this point in time, which is all the more reason the raw, naked, stripped-soul collaboration with friend Blue, radiates opulent among the dawn of their career
D’angelo – Voodoo
It feels very weird to consume Voodoo with the understanding that the next 15 years would be radio silence for Dangelo. having that perspective tho allows a compact lens on how influential his first two projects rippled for the next decade+ in Afrocentric music. audiosex.
Armand Hammer – ROME
perceivably the most coiled and potentiated iteration of AH. an onyx monolith of municipal vantage blended with acrylic-drip poetic accounts of unrecorded footage and unreported stances. a hallmark of the moral vitriol and unrelenting demonstration now pinned to their names.
Drive Safe – R(demo)
carved out of over-compressed spatial footing, headspace implosions and the sanguine evaporation of angst, embracing the everpresent. strummed, sung, stitched w/ sentiment as the engine, R(demo) is glacially texan, pausing you on your trespass through someone else’s folklore
Inevitably, so much is left out from the context and detail of what each album possesses and succeeds at, but that to me is where the real meat of the challenge is. That’s what made it fun. How can you boil it down even more? There are -3 characters left in your tweet how are you saving your space? In ways that remind me of speedrunners going to nearly neuroticizing lengths to save frames on a meme category for a 30 year old game, it’s individually gratifying to fulfill the tweet character limit. Where this format and challenge will be missed: brevity, reductionism, more refined minimalism and a broader vernacular are all coming to fruition in much of what I do and I can safely attribute that to Music Writer Exercise 2022.