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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
MF Doom
Live from Planet X
Nature Sounds/Metal Face Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


April 11, 2005
Live hip-hop is generally terrible. Instead of spitting the rhymes the way they do in the studio, most MCs just end up shouting into the microphone; instead of smooth flows, you get garbled gibberish. A lot of times, the rapper brings five or twenty guys from his crew out on stage with him, too, and every single one of them has a mic - so there's not just one, but a score of dudes shouting, making most songs if not incomprehensible then certainly not true to the sound of the record. Add to all this the fact that there's rarely a sound check, so the beats tend to sound awful, with either the bass turned up too loud or some other aspect that makes your ears hurt instead of your head nod.

Just like with everything else he does, though, leave it to Doom to be different than almost anyone else in hip-hop. Live from Planet X is a concert recording, and, lo and behold, it actually sounds like he knows how to make a live show sound right. He never shouts into the mic; he has such complete control over his voice that it sounds just about exactly as it would in the studio.

For hip-hop in particular, this is key: since the words are so important to what the music is all about, if everything's unintelligible, the whole thing becomes kind of pointless. Doom obviously understands this, and as evidenced here he clearly respects his own lyrics enough to give them the treatment they deserve on stage in front of an audience. His rhymes aren't exactly easy to say or particularly simple, either, so this is a major accomplishment.

As for the songs, this is pretty much an MF Doom greatest hits set. There are songs from Operation Doomsday, Mm…Food, the Madvillain record, and even a couple from the Viktor Vaughn and King Geedorah alter-egos. Live records are generally enjoyable for fans only, and this is highly likely to please anyone familiar with the material. However, it's not that bad of an introduction to MF Doom for those that haven't heard him yet either, since this actually sounds good and since you can hear standouts like "Accordion," "Operation Doomsday," "My Favorite Ladies," "Rhymes Like Dimes," and "The Fine Print" all in one place.

Not to say that Live from Planet X is perfect - it was recorded out of the sound board, and while this makes for a decent home listening experience, you do lose most of the crowd responses and reactions. That's not a huge problem, but hearing if the crowd was singing along or if they were shouting anything out would have made this a bit more interesting of a live document. Also, the entire set of about 15 songs are all on one 38 minute track (which isn't exactly iPod friendly). Maybe Doom was trying to make a point by doing it that way, but it's still rather annoying.

Despite minor flaws, however, Live from Planet X is still really solid. MF Doom has made his career as a unique and tremendously creative force, and in the process he has basically redefined hip-hop for the better, so it shouldn't really have been any surprise that he'd be able to do the same thing for the live version. Next time someone like me says that live hip-hop is generally terrible, there's at least one document proving the contrary.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz

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