Babel Reviews

Album Reviews from a Music Lover with Resolution

Tag: resolution reviews

Nas – Illmatic

Background
Released in April 1994, Illmatic is the debut full-length album from NYC-based rap legend Nas. While it originally sold only 60,000 copies in its first week, it has since been certified Platinum and is now considered one of the best albums of all time, hip-hop or otherwise. Together with Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, Illmatic represents the foundation of 1990s East Coast hip-hop, providing a gritty alternative to the then-popular dance-oriented sound of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice while introducing a worthy (and ultimately tragic) adversary to the West Coast G-funk of Dr. Dre, 2Pac, and Snoop Dogg.

Why I’ve Been Avoiding It
In high school, I went through a phase where I refused to listen to anything without guitars. In my warped little teenage mind, that meant absolutely no pop or rap music (even though there are totally guitars in pop and rap music). Regardless, when my musical taste eventually began to expand, hip-hop felt like a foreign language. I could wax rhapsodic about why I loved Nirvana or Weezer for days, but I couldn’t find words to explain why I kept songs like Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” on repeat other than, “It’s catchy, I guess.” Since then, I’ve come to enjoy quite a bit of modern hip-hop — particularly Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city — but getting into Nas in particular seemed like a daunting task. He comes across as the consummate rapper’s rapper, the kind of guy you can’t really enjoy without knowing the genre’s intricacies inside and out. But after a deep dive into Illmatic, I’m beginning to see what all the fuss is about.


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Spoon – Kill the Moonlight

Background
Spoon - Kill the MoonlightReleased in August 2002, Kill the Moonlight is Spoon’s second independent release via Merge Records. The album put the band’s disastrous major-label tenure at Elektra Records firmly in the rearview mirror, scoring them their first real (if untraditional) hit with “The Way We Get By.” In lieu of wall-to-wall radio play, the song was licensed to a variety of TV shows and films — including The O.C., Shameless, Stranger Than Fiction, Mean Creek, The Puffy Chair, and Hustle — significantly growing the band’s fanbase while validating their in-through-the-back-door mentality. Kill the Moonlight was featured on “Best of the 2000s” lists from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Rhapsody as well as Blender’s “100 Greatest Indie Albums” list.

Why I’ve Been Avoiding It
Discovery fatigue. When I first got into Spoon, I got into them HARD, mainlining Girls Can Tell, Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga within a week, then listening to pretty much nothing else for the next month. It was one badass month, but at the end of it, the last thing I wanted in my ears was more Spoon. They Want My Soul got me jonesing again, but I just never got around to Kill the Moonlight. Now, with the band’s new album, Hot Thoughts, right around the corner, I’m finally ready to cross this one off my list. Continue reading

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