Shel Silverstein on Kanye West’s The College Dropout
It turns out that Jay-Z’s producer
Is as cocky as a rooster
Dropping albums as an homage
To his dropping out of college
Rhymes are tight, Beats are brilliant
His career should be resilient
To the plagues of hip-hop fame
Like feuds with 50, or the Game
Or race-based presidential scolds
Or shutting down 19-year-olds.
I think he’ll play it safe; he sets his sights
On selling wax to whites.
* * *
Kurt Vonnegut on Sufjan Steven’s Illinois
Illinois is a state. It looks like this:
It is also an album by Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan Stevens is a singer and songwriter with a lot to say about Jesus. He told a bunch of people that he was going to make an album for each of the 50 states, which is a very silly thing to say. So far he has made two. This album uses a lot of bells and funny horns and sounds like winter. Listening to it is like sitting in church with mittens on. Mittens look like this:
* * *
Ernest Hemingway on Radiohead’s Kid A
I put the needle on and poured a drink and sat in the chair. The first song sounded mechanical. There was a keyboard and a voice but I wasn’t sure which was which and then there was another song that sounded like something you’d hear in a nursery and then a bass solo. The singer’s voice was high and the lyrics were about loneliness and the future. I turned the volume up and went to the window. It wasn’t rock and roll, but it was good.
* * *
William Shakespeare on Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion
What boon is this?
Thy shim’ring cover doth contain
A wonderment of harmonies.
Why play guitar? Why drums?
Why verse or chorus?
‘Tis deconstructed Instruments
That speak unto my educated ear.
Tightened pants and fauxhawk molded
Forth I go, beneath the speakers
Thank the stars this disc appeared
Their early stuff was way too weird
* * *
David Mamet on Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism
TWO MEN enter.
This album’s fucking great.
I said it’s a fucking great album.
The guy’s voice sounds like a little kid.
A fucking kid! But the lyrics are so …
Fucking deep, right?
Fucking deep, exactly.
Great fucking album.
* * *
Stephenie Meyer on Jay-Z’s The Black Album
“I’m retiring,” the rapper said—in what seemed to be a sincere tone. We believed the silver-tongued-giant, but his lilting-voice hinted at something more, deeper—a rebirth. He wore a tight, black baseball hat low over his eyes and a loose-fitting, firmly pressed suit. Flows came easily to him, boasting with bravado and swagger. 99 problems were what he had. From darkness, there was to come a response: One word: “Holla,” warbled high and clear in the air that was the air of the nighttime.