Pretentiousfork (AKA How Pitchfork is wrong)

There is probably no better place to discover new, cutting edge indie than pitchfork, the online magazine that thrives on being that annoying dude who posts “First!” on the comment thread that is the independent music scene. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. When reading album reviews on pitchfork, you’ll see a score out of 10 that you can immediately refer to (saving yourself minutes of having to sift through pretentious cultural references), but there’s more that goes into a score than “how good is the music”. You have to keep in mind that if a reviewer feels a band has “hype”, the album score will be 2 points lower than it really should be. If the band has embraced anything in the “digital realm”, their score will be inflated by 1.5 points. If a band is famous, deduct 3 points from any score. Most of all, if it’s a review of a hip hop artist, throw any continuity or sense out the window because pitchfork has about as much streetcred as the star of the “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” video. Better yet, make that The Offspring.

So I introduce to you a potential Katuwapitiya feature:

Pretentiousfork: How Pitchfork Is Wrong

Lil’ Wayne – “Tha” Carter III

Great rap album? Or greatest?

Great rap album? Or greatest?

Now if you’re a fan of hip hop, you’re well aware that “Cash Money” was a rap crew that came along in the late 90s with a very clear goal: to destroy hip-hop (currently, that torch is carried by Soulja Boy). They were able to do this with an amount of bravado that would make Slick Rick cringe. With a hit that caused black males to put their hands together like pigeons and go “Brrrrrrrrrrrrr“, they were also able to make some long for the return of the good ole’ days of parachute pants and choreography.

That being said, amongst critics, there is no “rapper” right now with more popularity than Lil’ Wayne. He’s swimming in grammy nominations, blogomania, and most of all, he’s basking in an 8.7/10 from pitchfork. (Note: The “hype” factor did reduce this album from its real score of 6.7 to a 4.7 but Lil Wayne’s embrace of digital music is amplified by sheer volume of material, hence the additional 4 points)

Now let me go over how pitchfork is wrong.

Obviously, the album features Lil Wayne. No amount of growth as an artist can remove T-Pain as a guest vocalist (who definitely shines with a chorus stating “got money, and you know it, take it out your pocket and show it, throw it, this a way, that a way, this a way, that a way”), No amount of symbolism can give the words of “lollipop” some sort of deeper meaning than a clichéd-immature sexual innuendo.

In the review, I find more noteworthy lines than I did in the actual album. Pitchfork talks about “the extraterrestrial fetishism of “Phone Home””. Could they be referring to: “Lock, load, ready to aim at any target/I could get your brains for a bargain/Like I bought it, from Target”? Or the gem: “I’m rare like Mr. Clean with hair/No brake lights on my career/I never had life and I never had fear/I rap like I done died and goin’ to heaven, I swear”. Or maybe, they’re just loving the “eclectic unpredictability of it all.”

They continue: “lush ballad “Comfortable”… doubles as its most crazed and pained.” Craze and pain? I must have missed something in “Yeah, it’s no sweat no sweat/I will never 1, 2, 3 4-get/About you, your love, your sex…You know I work you out like bowflex”.

Pitchfork then refers to Lil; Wayne’s legacy (and I’m assuming it has nothing to do with the increase in sales of Amelie) and mentions how “his anguish burns as hot as his punchlines.

“told her to back it up like erp erp
and make that ass jump like shczerp shczerp”

…feel the burn…

Now it wouldn’t be a pitchfork review without some pretentious out-of-place vocabulary to jazzercise the latter half of the review. Of particular note: “After dozens of listens, the record’s overflowing minutiae– from Fabulous and Juelz Santana’s overachieving cameos to Wayne’s hilariously apropos kinship-” . Aha! Apropos indeed. Hear hear.

Most of all though, the kicker to the article is its ending: “Wayne updates what it means to be the best rapper alive-”. By “update”, I’m assuming pitchfork means “drag that title through the mud”.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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13 thoughts on “Pretentiousfork (AKA How Pitchfork is wrong)

  1. […] K. on Dec.01, 2008, under The Music That I Love January 14, Latest Update: “Pretentiousfork (AKA How Pitchfork is wrong) Part 1“.  A new weekly feature, Part 1 talks about pitchfork/the media’s praise for […]

  2. Ben L says:

    This is really unfair. Hip Hop is a genre that relies on many different elements. While you might not like Wayne’s lyrical content, there’s a lot to be said about his flow, and style. Also the reason his rhymes sometimes don’t appear fully coherent is because they aren’t supposed to be. He freestyles every single track which gives him a style more reliant on lyrical punchlines. Also, Pitchfork isnt the only publication that gave this album great reviews. And to attest to their “cred,” pitchfork has different writers based on genre. Each of their writers does, in fact, know a great deal about the style of music they are reviewing. I don’t always agree with their opinions, but I do think Pitchfork always brings something to the discussion when it comes to album reviews.

  3. K. says:

    While I agree that hip hop relies on many elements, I feel that Lil Wayne’s flow is lacking. He does have style, but it’s not one that screams “the greatest rapper alive”. I’d give that title instead to Black Thought of The Roots, Common or countless others that have much better wordplay while also having incredible flows that don’t rely on sorry excuses for “punchlines”.

    What he does to make his tracks shouldn’t factor in, I’m only listening to the final product. Should I really care that Jay-Z only needs one take? Or would I rather listen to a Black Star song?

    Pitchfork isn’t the only one, certainly, but I feel that they’re the most pretentious in their reasoning and I stand behind that. I was going to comment on the writer himself but if pitchfork supports the material enough to put it up, then they also share the views of the writer.

    If someone really knew about hip-hop they’d focus on things that made/make the genre thrive (and how they’re lacking on Tha Carter III). Not tacky punchlines, not a gimmicky ‘freestyle every verse’ premise, and they’d immediately see through the ‘i give my shit away for free so blogs will support my label release’ marketing campaign.

  4. Sheni Fonler says:

    I second the Black Thought nod. I haven’t heard anyone who can keep up with him. I also can’t figure out why the hell L’il Wayne is so famous. He’s an OK rapper, if you like mediocre rap that doesn’t really say anything.

  5. Ben L says:

    Look, I love Black Thought and The Roots. I’ve seen them four times and own most of their albums. I also love Lil Wayne and appreciate him for what he is. I just really think it comes down to a style of rap that you just don’t really like. When I hear Black Thought freestyle, it’s not necessarily deep or cohesive, but instead lyrically brilliant in a different way. This is the same case with Wayne and when you listen to songs like “Dr. Carter” or “I’m Me” I think his abilities really shine through.

    Also, I think its kind ridiculous to knock him for having a big ego. Rap is a highly competitive genre where people are constantly trying to prove that they’re the best. Just about all non-mainstream rappers are guilty of this as well. I doubt many people would take Wayne remotely seriously if he claimed to be “The Third or Fourth Best Rapper in the Past 5 Years!”

    For a long time, there has been a section of rap that “doesn’t really say anything.” But I would still say artists like Dr. Dre , Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, The Geto Boys, Tupac, and Notorious B.I.G. are all some of the greatest rappers of all time. Most of these guys have relied on nothing more than a glorification of gangster culture. Look, I love story based and socially conscious rap a ton, but I also love mainstream and gangster rap. Just different facets of the same genre. There is no pure form of hip-hop and there will never be.

  6. Eric B. says:

    Personally, I think you’re just taking Wayne too seriously. Most of this review felt like a targeting of his lyrics, which when you listen to someone like Common or the Roots, obviously is going to pale in comparison of Wayne’s most of the time nonsense lyrics. With the production and the fact that Wayne seems to have FUN on the mic, Wayne’s punchline style works. It’s fun to listen to. Hardly innovating, but still a lot of fun to listen to.

    What stuck out the most for me was your claim that “if pitchfork supports the material enough to put it up, then they also share the views of the writer”. If you spent even a bit of time at Pitchfork’s site, you would see that each staff member is unique in taste. Some had Tha Carter III in their Top 10 of the year, others didn’t. It’s logically wrong to assume that if ONE writer thinks Tha Carter III is a 8.7, then the entire staff MUST think it’s a 8.7. Your beef is with the writer rather than the site.

  7. K. says:

    While each writer may be unique, Pitchfork blatantly supported the views of said-experte by naming Tha Carter III the 11th best album of 2008 (separate from the individual lists you refer to):

    http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/148001-the-50-best-albums-of-2008?page=4

  8. Shut your bloodclot mouth says:

    Dude I’m surprised they let you out of a damned zoo. You must be fucking retarded to put this shit online. You clearly know nothing about rap or anything its based on. Clearly rap critics who criticize albums as a day job are WRONG, whereas you, a common moron, have a better understanding of this. Just because you don’t like something DOES NOT mean it isnt good, simply not to your tast.

    Here’s an idea… go and try to LISTEN to the tape, rather than taking random ass opinions of a couple of lines and posting them. I honestly didnt like lollipop either, but Wayne’s got much better stuff. And btw lollipop can have a deeper meaning than you think, but ur mind is clearly to narrow to comprehend them.

    You can’t say Wayne got no skill, because he’s on top of the rap world (NO YOU DUMBASS THAT’S NOT A SEXUAL INNUENDO!!!!) and he could outrap most of the rappers who tried, so go back and listen to your fucking country/jazz/whatever the hell you usually listen to and butt the hell out of rap cuz clearly you dont know shit.

  9. whom says:

    Yes.

    Yes.

    10/10.

    Yes.

  10. Erbavore says:

    “You must be fucking retarded to put this shit online. You clearly know nothing about rap or anything its based on.”

    And you’re clearly trying to cover your lack of intelligence with bland insults and bad words.

    “You can’t say Wayne got no skill, because he’s on top of the rap world”

    He’s on top of the rap world because the real world happens to be abounding with flaming, vain trolls, like yourself. Just like 99% of the rest of the rap industry, Wayne tries to make himself sound like the most powerful rapper around. He does this by telling you he gets far more ass than anyone else, and that makes him cool, because he can afford to pay strippers, and, if you don’t want to embarrass yourself, you sure as hell better approve of his material.

    “and he could outrap most of the rappers who tried, so go back and listen to your fucking country/jazz/whatever the hell you usually listen to and butt the hell out of rap cuz clearly you dont know shit.”

    You’re a moron, nothing more needs to be said about scum like you.

    “Rap is a highly competitive genre where people are constantly trying to prove that they’re the best. Just about all non-mainstream rappers are guilty of this as well. I doubt many people would take Wayne remotely seriously if he claimed to be ‘The Third or Fourth Best Rapper in the Past 5 Years!’ ”

    Why the fuck does any musician need to be claiming anything about themselves? Real musicians compose art, and the musicians that aren’t clinically retarded usually realize that art is interpretive, and you simply can’t be “the absolute fucking best one around” within the industry you’re a part of. The rap industry is competitive because most of the big names belong to, well, arrogant pricks. They aren’t artists, they’re morons.

    I’ve got Pitchfork open in a separate tab, I was looking at a review of a Kanye West album. I just couldn’t understand how the material received a score superior to some Radiohead albums. I stumbled upon this blog post after seeing if anyone else found it odd that Pitchfork so curiously fondles shitty artists, and, luckily, somebody does. I mean, wtf? It’s like somebody intelligent holding a Miley Cyrus CD to high regards.

    SOJA BOI GO TELL ‘EM YAH! *flails*

  11. K. says:

    Honestly, Pitchfork is a victim of hype that they don’t understand. They’ll give “Hot Fuss” a 4 out of 10 because they don’t appreciate the British press calling the Killers amazing but then they’ll give “The Carter III” amazing reviews because they simply don’t have any solid foundation in hip-hop.

  12. […] after hits like Beverly Hills and Pork & Beans, but this takes the cake. Weezer featuring Lil’ Wayne- Can’t Stop Partying. Rivers Cuomo, you might as well be the lead singer of Faber Drive/Cobra […]

  13. […] which was probably the highlight of my short blogging career. I also got some great hate-mail from a post about Lil Wayne that included gems like “Shut your bloodclot mouth” and things that are too vulgar to […]

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