Random review: Can't Stop Won't Stop

I've got a lot to catch up on, so I'm doing this little "random review" feature to sound off on a few things I've been entertaining myself with lately.

First off, here's a quick review of Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation.

It's not really fair. I'm a music junkie. Not so much a dance or grafitti or social climate junkie. When I hear the phrase "hip-hop" I generally think Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy and Notorious B.I.G. and not some of the other trends that have been tagged with the hip-hop name. This probably makes me lame or inauthentic and so I guess in my inauthenticity and lameness, I'm not really the target audience of this book.

So here it is: I found a lot of the book a little dry. The early history was a fascinating look at hip-hop parties of the 70s that really jump-started what became rap music. Some of the tension of the times – particularly during the Rodney King verdict and the ensuing L.A. riots – was an interesting read. I finished the part about Public Enemy in two days (compared to the months I spent slogging through some of the other parts of the book). I liked the N.W.A. part. But generally I found the book to be too ambitious, trying to attack too much information at once so that it's overall impact was weak. Since I read the paperback version, I can say that the graffiti interludes without being able to see any of the art were particularly painful. Honestly, Chang would have made his points more effectively by separating this book into three or four more specialized books.

What's worse for me, from a more selfish point-of-view, my search for the definitive hip-hop music book must continue. For now, the best overview of rap music for my dollar is actually a 3-minute song: "Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme" by Edan off the album Beauty and the Beat. So if anyone can point me to something better, I'd be happy to look into it.


Special Guest Star

I was bestowed the honor of guest star in CiN Weekly's (er) weekly video about things to do in and around Cincinnati (appropriately titled "CiN's Picks). In this clip, I play "fake Rich" and that's probably all you have to know about this scene.

You can check it out by clicking here and hoping you have the correct video player...enjoy!


Blog hiatus...over?

"Sometimes, when artists are creating the most consistent and finest in creative output, they need a break." I believe it was Michelangelo who said that. And then what did he do? The freakin' Sistine Chapel, that's what.

Sorry folks, as stated in the post "Blog Abandoned!," my side interests have been consuming most of my time lately. Plenty of updates (books, iPod, cardio cinema reviews) to come.

I think my distress about hearing about Western Bowl (sign glowing above) facing possible demolition put me in a non-blogging funk. Gina recently mentioned this item, and it made me realize I gotta step up my game.

Here was my brief tribute to Western Bowl in an e-mail when I first heard the news:

“...the pageantry of the Hoinke Classic, the knock-you-on-your-ass Margaritas from CancĂșn, the bowling pin shaped Miller Lites? Too many good times to be demolished. I'm gonna go chain myself to the neon sign after work...”

And it's true. I did. OK, not really.

Recent Ronsonville Listening List:
"When Your Mind's Made Up" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the soundtrack to the movie Once)
"The Couples" by The Long Blondes (from "Couples")
"Who We Be" by eMC (from The Show)
"Breaker" by Retribution Gospel Choir (Low's Alan Sparhawk's side project)
"Ladies of the World" by Flight of the Conchords: