Monday, February 09, 2004


  • A well-written album review that lays into the LP/artist can be a work of beauty. The NY Times Ben Ratliff takes Norah Jones to task for putting out a blank and bland sophomore album. Some of my favorite lines that Ratliff drops:
      "She reflects, she wonders, she grows wistful; she considers falling in or out of love, and when she pledges it, as in the song "What Am I to You?," she does so in certifiable clichés about skies falling and butterflies."

      "The persona in her songs — let's not call it Ms. Jones herself, because her life couldn't be this dull — might have lived practically anywhere in the developed world, at any time during the last century. Somehow Ms. Jones's work has managed to make a virtue of vagueness."

      "Perhaps what listeners respond to in Norah Jones isn't the honesty of the acoustic sounds, but the limited emotional range of the music."
    Good stuff, good stuff. (spotted at Jeff Chang's blog)

  • Ok, so the Grammy Awards are done and can I just ask a few key questions?
      1) Evanescence? W T F? No wonder 50 Cent stormed the stage, rocking his Gorilla Unit t-shirt and basically saying, "fuck all ya'll." This is just more proof that the Grammy Awards operate on some strange logic that I hope I'll never understand.
      2) "Shake Ya Tailfeather" for "Best Rap Peformance by a Duo or Group"? C'mon - did any of the voters actually listen to that shitty soundtrack song? Maybe they were dazed by all the ass that got flashed at them in the intro of the video but this particular award was ridiculous.
      3) I love Coldplay as much as the next guy but um...their album came out in 2002, they already bagged their Grammy(s) in 2003 so why they hell is "Clocks" beating out "Crazy In Love" and "Hey Ya" for record of the year? Hua makes a great analysis - maybe Beyonce and Outkast split the vote, leaving Coldplay an easy run for the award but even still - "Crazy In Love" and "Hey Ya" both DEFINED 2003's pop music year in ways that "Clocks," excellent as it is, will never be able to do.
      4) Outkast wins "Best Album." And everyone still thinks they're going to split up. Well, if Simon and Garfunkel can get reunited, one can still hold out hope for Andre and Big Boi.
    Hua puts the smack hand down too on his blog. Peep this zinger: "The Black Eyed Peas are this generation of collegiates' Fugees, only they suck." Ouch!

    Plus, J-Smooth's running commentary on the Awards show are not to be missed either.

  • Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" is an incredible song. Kanye West produces one of his most sublime tracks ever - those falling piano keys are an amazing touch and Alicia sounds great crooning over it - this song totally captures the soul spirit of the Chi-Lites or the Philly Sound. But girl - please stop talking over the song! Who the hell cares if your cell phone is breaking up? Or that you use milk instead of water for your hot chocolate? Girl, you are not Barry White who could get away with yapping over the music because, well, he was Barry fucking White. As Alicia Keys, sing honey. Play the piano. But don't go on for half an hour about what you did during your day - none of us care. The monologue makes better sense in the context of the video, which aims for a cinematic narrative (and stars Mos Def as the object of Alicia's affection) but even there, the monologue goes on for far too long. I should cop the song's instrumental and acapella and just edit out the inane patter.

    Updated: My man Rawj wrote to suggest that "You Don't Know My Name" owes more of its excellence to the Main Ingredient than Kanye per se, arguing that Kanye basically just looped 8 bars of the Main Ingredient's "Let Me Prove My Love To You" to make the song. I took a listen to the portion of "Let Me Prove My Love To You" that Kanye uses. You can easily hear where Kanye crafted his beat from but I actually think he accomplishes something more for Alicia's song than just looping an "obvious" sample. Most people wouldn't listen to this track and think, "oh, beat" - Kanye heard the potential and tweaks the song to make it work. You listen. You decide.

  • This feature is already a few months old now but I can't pass up a story on Asian Americans and sex - in this case, pornography. Wantedlist.Com is a Netflix-like DVD-by-mail company, except they truck exclusively in porn. It's actually an entirely simple (and therefore brilliant) idea - avoid the shame and embarassment of lurking in video store backrooms by having porn shipped to your home discreetly. Actually, the long defunct Kozmo (I still shed a tear for them) had this idea on lock - apparently, porn was one of their biggest cash cows (that and home-delivered ice cream I suppose) but unlike Kozmo's failed business plan, Wantedlist is likely doing quite good for themselves simply because they've been one of the first to really make a name for themselves in the market. What's the Asian American angle? Well, the company was founded by Anh Tran and Danny Ting - here's an Asian Week feature on Tran and Ting.

  • Tran was an Asian American Studies major at UCLA - dude needs to hook up with UC Davis Asian American Studies professor Darrell Hamamoto who has produced the first Asian American porn movie. (I'll have more to say about Hamamoto's film after March, when his short Yellocaust is screening at this year's S.F. Int'l Asian American Film Festival along with Masters of the Pillow, the "making of" documentary about Hamamoto's film.