Featuring Patti Smith's former New York punk-era colleague Tom Verlaine on solo guitar, "April Fool" is one of the prettiest songs on Smith's new album, Banga. Verlaine sends out long, thin, delicate tendrils of sound as Smith's voice suffuses the melody with full-throated urgency. Although Smith has said, with typical art-democratic directness, that "almost everybody in the world can sing," a few songs on Banga make you aware of what a good voice she has.
"Candy Girl," from Trailer Trash Tracys' debut album Ester, sounds like a shoegazer's modern take on Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" — the song that soundtracked the makeout scene in Top Gun. Both tracks share a similar pace and constant beating snare, but Trailer Trash Tracys' members diverge from the '80s hit by throwing in a ton of fuzz, reverb and depression. "It's 7 o'clock and my heartbeat stops, my candy girl," Suzanne Aztoria sings, her voice detached to the point where she seems sedated.
Ice-T, the rapper and actor, wants people to think about the craft of making rap music. He has directed and starred in a documentary called Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap that takes viewers from Harlem into the South Bronx, to Detroit and South Central Los Angeles. In the film, Ice-T talks to musicians like Doug E.
I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.
A white picket fence and a walk-in closet? Mobility? The promise that your kids will walk an easier road than you did? Bank deposit insurance? Equality under the law? Showing up to your 25th high school reunion with a full head of hair and a fancy title? A Murcielago and a boob job?
And what in the world does that sound like? John Cougar Mellencamp? Lynyrd Sknyryd? Bruce Springsteen? Duke Ellington? KRS-One? Elton John? Jay-Z?