Sunday, January 07, 2007
i just whipped up a watch, tryin to get me a rover:
Jeff Chang is the most frustrating music critic around. Can't Stop Won't Stop, his cultural history of hip-hop, asymptotically approaches perfection: it's meticulously researched, passionately soulful, beautifully written, brilliantly contextual, intellectually rigorous. What stops it from actual perfection is Chang's tendency to withhold analysis when he means merely -- out of a spirit of humility and fairness -- to withhold judgment.

His essay on Jay-Z for The Nation is no different. Chang wants to argue that Jay-Z's rise represents the diminished expectations of those who grew up in fierce ghetto poverty -- his materialism only appears like vulgarity when judged by bourgeois downtowners; to those who Cough Up A Lung Where I'm From, it truly is rising above. (At least I think that's what he argues.) Well, if so, is this revolutionary or reactionary, Jeff? I'd appreciate it if you'd think this through. When you end the piece with an extended riff on the coke-rap that's emerged in Jay-Z's wake, it's difficult to understand if you mean to say that apres Hov, le deluge or that an even fiercer social rebellion, more alienating to white America, is on the horizon. Come to some judgment, even an equivocal one, to what Jay-Z in fact represents: there's no one I'd trust more to tell me.
--Spencer Ackerman