If we want to commit an act of poetic innovation in an era of formal exhaustion, we may have to consider this heretofore unimagined, but nevertheless prohibited, option: writing poetry for inhuman readers, who do not yet exist, because such aliens, clones, or robots have not yet evolved to read it

November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

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There are more contradictions on “New Slaves,” where he says “Fuck you and your Hamptons house.”  But God only knows how much he’s spending wherever he is.  He’s trying to have it both ways — he’s the upstart but he’s got it all, so he frowns on it.  Some people might say that makes him complicated, but it’s not really that complicated.  He kind of wants to retain his street cred even though he got so popular.  And I think he thinks people are going to think he’s become one of them — so he’s going to very great lengths to claim that he’s not.  On “New Slaves,” he’s accusing everyone of being materialistic but you know, when guys do something like that, it’s always like, “But we’re the exception.  It’s all those other people, but we know better.”

“New Slaves” has that line “Y’all throwin’ contracts at me/ You know that niggas can’t read.”  Wow, wow, wow.  That is an amazing thing to put in a lyric.  That’s a serious accusation in the middle of this rant at other people: an accusation of himself.  As if he’s some piece of shit from the street who doesn’t know nothing.  Yeah, right — your mom was a college English professor.

He starts off cool on that track but he winds up yelling at the top of his voice.  I think he maybe had a couple of great lines already written for this song but then when he recorded the vocal, but then he just let loose with it and trusted his instincts.  Because I can’t imagine actually writing down most of these lines.  But that’s just me.

But musically, he nails it beyond belief on”New Slaves.”  It’s mainly just voice and one or two synths, very sparse, and then it suddenly breaks out into this incredible melodic… God knows what.  Frank Ocean sings this soaring part, then it segues into a moody sample of some Hungarian rock band from the ’70s.  It literally gives me goosebumps.  It’s like the visuals at the end of the new Superman movie — just overwhelmingly incredible.  I played it over and over.

Some people ask why he’s screaming on “I Am a God.”  It’s not like a James Brown scream — it’s a real scream of terror.  It makes my hair stand on end.  He knows they could turn on him in two seconds.  By “they” I mean the public, the fickle audience.  He could kill Taylor Swift and it would all be over.

The juxtaposition of vocal tones on “Blood on the Leaves” is incredible — that pitched-up sample of Nina Simone singing “Strange Fruit” doing a call-and-response with Kanye’s very relaxed Autotuned voice.  That is fascinating, aurally, nothing short of spectacular.  And holy shit, it’s so gorgeous rhythmically, where sometimes the vocal parts are matched and sometimes they clash.  He’s so sad in this song.  He’s surrounded by everyone except the one he wants — he had this love ripped away from him, before he even knew it.  “I know there ain’t nothing wrong with me… something strange is happening.”  Well, surprise, surprise — welcome to the real world, Kanye.

It’s fascinating — it’s very poignant, but there’s nothing warm about it, sonically — it’s really electronic, and after a while, his voice and the synth are virtually the same.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: next city: storage city

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You are currently reading If we want to commit an act of poetic innovation in an era of formal exhaustion, we may have to consider this heretofore unimagined, but nevertheless prohibited, option: writing poetry for inhuman readers, who do not yet exist, because such aliens, clones, or robots have not yet evolved to read it at my nerves are bad to-night.

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