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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.
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 » 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!
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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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Lupe Fiasco
The Cool

Rating: 8.9/10 ?

February 13, 2008
Once in a while I find myself reading somewhere about what a stuck-up douche Lupe Fiasco is. By rap fans. You know, the same people who purchase albums by people who craft entire albums around boasts that they've killed people. It's kind of hard to take anyone seriously who works up more visceral annoyance over an avowed, drug-free skater nerd with a penchant for five-dollar words. And I'm no enemy of glorified violence; got myself plenty of niceties for the music of Ghostface, Clipse and Lil' Wayne, and those dudes are sexist bullies. But I'm not gonna pretend the Wu-Tang Clan would be laughing with me in the off-chance we got to party. I'd be the hazing victim, easily. One of Ghost's most captivating songs is about an ex he "held there, fucked while she was bleeding." What philosophy are you clinging to, annoyed ones?

Yeah, this guy annoys me too. I don't need "skater-rap" anymore than Panic at the Disco needs underage sex, and I certainly don't need a song complaining about how dumb Lupe's peers are. Or a folktale of an anthropomorphic cheeseburger dealing "grams" of fat like keys. Or a lame concept about a corrupted hero come back from the dead to saved us from a villainess with dollar signs for pupils.

Now I have to admit defeat; I've grown so cynical from the lack of quotable rappers and the dearth of concept records that pull themselves off (hey American Idiot!) that I wasn't prepared for every last one of Mr. Fiasco's bluffs to flush out right. But if there's one thing this guy can do right, it's handle a concept. He pulls out juicy puns on the burger tale like De La Soul circa 1991, languishes in hot-boxed Parisian hotel suites like A Tribe Called Quest in their prime. Even his marked-for-death collabs with Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and Queens of the Stone Age sail. He's so good at sticking to themes and worming his way through his own ludicrous plots that I'm actually scared of his threats to retire, which are all over the record.

Sometimes I tend to forget what I was looking for from music in the first place, and instead settle for what it gives me. I got into rap at the dawn of the millennium, and scooped up Like Water For Chocolate, Stankonia, Phrenology, Jurassic 5, Black on Both Sides and Both Sides of the Brain (that's Del, gents) like any other rockist nerd who needed politically correct excuses for these guys to not play instruments. But excepting a few wonderful Roots records, I can't deny that positive-interest rap has barely dropped something this worthwhile since then, and the reason for that is beats. If you're interested in new noise, look away from Timbaland already, grafting the umpteenth "My Love" synth onto "The Way I Are," and feel up Soundtrakk's bent-string blues licks, Alshux's space-camp phasers, Chris Paultrie and Derrick Braxton's collated found sounds.

Admittedly, the music is what makes Lupe's pretensions palatable. Maybe a good deal of rap fans won't want to cop to that, but no one's denying the kid can write (and The Cool is selling, too). If Wu fans want a comic book, he's already at work on the graphic novel, straight down to the revenge plot where he turns bullet holes into screaming mouths. And no one that psyched to deliver on his promises could be that big of an asshole, really.

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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