Records: Mexicans With Guns’s Highway to Hell (Stones Throw, 2011) on red, Bon Iver’s Blood Bank (Jagjaguwar, 2009) on Black and Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-a-Fella, 2010) on black.
Places of Purchase: Both Kanye West and Mexicans With Guns were purchased through the Internet (from Amazon.com and the Stones Throw store, respectively), while Bon Iver was purchased in person at Main Street Music in Manayunk. True story: the clerk I bought the record from had accused me a few weeks prior of making a list of records to go home and download when I was just making a list so I would know what I wanted to come back for when I had the money. The record was somewhat of a revenge purchase, my way of saying to the clerk “I am of your cloth, but I am not like you, for I expect the best from my fellow man while you only anticipate the worst. Shame on you and the life of darkness you’ve created for yourself.”
Thoughts: Mexicans with Guns is an emerging dub-step / techno dude who I do not know that much about. While the record’s b-side, “La Guitarra,” is a pleasant-enough song that suggests that the group has the potential to be a more accessible Matmos or Secret Mommy, I bought the record for “Highway to Hell,” which is my favorite rap song of the year. Bun B and Freddy Gibbs trade verses on this thugged-out funeral durge and the world-weary gangster delivery the rapper use rival their best work. Goddamn, I love “Highway to Hell.”
I heard “Blood Bank” on the internet joke program Breakfast at Sulimay’s and loved it immediately. I don’t think much of “For Emma, Forever Ago” and “Blood Bank” is still my favorite song the dude has done, but Blood Bank suggests there might be more to Bon Iver than I originally estimated. The best example of this is “Woods,” which sounds kind of like that gal from Imogen Heap, but way, WAY better. So good, in fact that Kanye West used it as a sample for the last proper track on his instant classic…
… My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Hearing “Woods” in its original setting gives me a newfound respect for Bon Iver, but it also cements my love of West, who has time and again proven himself to have an impeccable ear for samples and beats. Fantasy is both not nearly as crazy and exactly as crazy as people say: it finds West exploring the idea of celebrity and how it impacts relationships, the concept of what being a “rapper” really means and seems to expel the demons he began addressing with the death of his mother and the release of 808s and Heartbreaks. More than that, however, it finds West getting the most from his collaborators, be they Bon Iver or Rick Ross, who almost redeemed an entire career of mediocrity with his verse on “Devil in a Red Dress.”
[Ed: Nate also included this video for your viewing pleasure.]