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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]

MUSIC

 » 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
Jean Grae & 9th Wonder
Jeanius
Blacksmith

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 20, 2008
Like Lil' Wayne, we know that Jean Grae is hungry. We know how bad she wants it, how bad she deserves it, and how her willingness to rhyme over just about anything has been the one constant roadblock on her road to a true landmark album. Although she still hasn't quite made it, the new, long-delayed Jeanius is the closest she's ever gotten in her frustrated, outspoken career. Her 2002 debut, Attack of the Attacking Things, was too dull to leave the underground and a follow-up EP overcompensated with slicker tracks (including an out of place Cannibal Ox) and a near-miss at erecting a Kelis-style Angry Persona on the pettily profane "Haters' Anthem" (chorus: "Fuck you/ fuck you/ fuck you/ fuck you").

With Jeanius, the talent in question has returned to the drawing board: "Feeling like it's Groundhog Day/ gotta try again." Grae (born Tsidi Ibrahim), didn't exactly need to step her game up, as there's no doubt she was rhyming as sharp as the wicked playground taunt "232's" ("You bore me to pieces you feces mouth/ And yes it's still shit if I mispronounce it, bitch") or the victimized account "American Pimp" years ago. She's just as entertaining on an industry rant as she is when threatening to give Mobb Deep a booster chair. It can be odd how often this advertised-as-aggressive MC blends into the music, though. Especially for an artist so outspoken and hungry about publicity; Grae was recently selling her services for a flat rate of $800 USD on Craigslist after numerous threats to leave the industry altogether. Don't sigh, it's as classic a hip-hop trope to pull that shit as the old-school cover art she remakes in Jeanius' album inlays.

But even with persona, skills and sense of history intact, the real Jeanius here is 9th Wonder, credited in the artist name for a reason. The hit-or-miss producer (Murs, Jay-Z) finally breaks Grae's beats open with the melody and twist to retain outsiders as well as beat junkies. This aural affect is a bit lo-fi, but it's gorgeous; slot it next to Common's Kanye-produced Be. As for the rhymes, female MC'ing has always been a wide-open game and Grae's always hugged the edge of greatness. Think Eve back when she was the Roots affiliate Eve of Destruction, albeit one who never went on to become a Ruff Ryder. In this playground she gets her due. Now if she could only do this on an album without a man in the title and relieve me of my postfeminist guilt, that would really switch the "Jea-" in the title for a "Ge-."

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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