"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Monday, November 3, 2008

The KnuX - Remind Me In 3 Days...: Review

"Hey, it looks like my apartment!"

Perhaps it’s because hip hop culture often has trouble accepting those that do not fit in with the traditional paradigm of what’s considered “hip hop”, music critics, often forced to listen to hundreds of terrible faux-Jeezy retreads, are often handed long, loving critical handjobs to what’s considered new and avant-garde in hip hop music without discerning if the music being presented is actually any good. It leads to a whole lot of shit-tastic guitar playing, car accident-esque drum and bass experiments, and horrific, fetus-in-a-blender off-key singing to be hailed as the next evolution in hip hop’s musical direction and encourages perfectly serviceable rappers to eschew what they do best to get their will.i.am on. I know I’ve fallen victim to it. It took me, at least, six months to realize that “The Love Below” was not new age musical fusion but quite possibly, the proverbial worst shit that I’ve heard in my life (not called Purple Haze, natch...). As critics and fans of the genre, we need to take care that when we praise an avant-garde hip hop album that the music is actually good and not just awful weird for weirdness’ sake Grammy-baiting hackery. Well, I’m proud to say that the Knux’s new genre-bending album, “Remind Me In 3 Days...”, does not, in fact, suck. It’s actually pretty damn impressive.

The Knux are compromised of two brothers from New Orleans transplanted into the fiery, hell-rot known as Hollywood, California and their debut album is a record that belies future promise and current delivery. The Knux play their own instruments, produce their own beats, and rap abnormally well for dudes who wear mascara in their videos (Tell me, I’m wrong, Krispy!) and adorn the type of pants that make one’s testicles hate their owner for imprisoning them in such a cruel, restrictive prison. (Seriously, people. I don’t care if the tightness of your pants makes you gay or not but it’s just cruel to shackle your genitals like that in such unholy restriction. Let your boys breathe! It’s bad enough their so close to the taint...) The record plays fast and loose with the conventions of hip hop and for the most part truly suceeds in creating a new sound and vibe. Their sound is pure glam rock as interpreted by Organized Noize with a hint of electro and Devin the Dude tossed in.

Remind Me In The 3 Days...” takes a lot of musical chances and their are a few missteps but the songs that work, really work. The uber-catchy lead single, “Cappucinno”, remains pound for pound my favorite single released this year. The song features buzzy video game synths, charging guitars, and some of the freshest rapping released all year. The two brothers, Rah Almillio and Krispy Kream, are two of the best young rappers to come out in the scene this year. Rah Almillio has the sound and tounge-twisting cadence of a young Big Boi but (It’s!) Krispy is the group's stand-out vocalist. His verses are always entertaining and funny and he has a delivery that sounds fresh and original. Other standout tracks on the record are “Fire (Put It In The Air)”, the ATLiens-esque ode to weed, the whirlwind, word-a-second “The List”, the somber “Shine Again”, and the Beastie Boy-ish “Roxxanne.”

The record isn’t perfect. At times, it’s musical experimentation can fall strictly into the horror show quality of Black Eyed Peas record or the Gym Class Heroes. “Daddy’s Little Girl” is straight up heinous and sounds as if Fergie herself stormed into the Knux’s recording session and forced them to make an insipid ode to spoiled, little Paris Hilton’s wannabes everywhere. The records that work the best are the ones with the most traditional hip hop spin but what this record shows is the promise the group has. The Knux are going to make a monster classic record very, very soon. These guys are stars and it’s an absolute travesty that this record has been pushed into Interscope tax write-off hell. It’s just fucking egregious. I’m sorry but if I were Jimmy Iovine and some hack record executive told me they couldn’t market the Knux that would be instant career death in my opinion. These guys are the next evolutionary step from Outkast so that would beyond incompetent in my opinion.

Remind Me In 3 Days...” is exactly the type of record that I was talking about when I was writing about the promise of hipster rap a few months back. Only it’s exceeded my expectations in some respects and I feel that I’ve short-changed them comparing them to the modest talents of groups like Kidz In The Hall and the Cool Kids. They’re in another league when it comes to talent and execution. The Knux are the real deal and their debut record is one of the best of the year. It’s Krispy, motherfuckers!

25 comments:

douglas martin said...

Great review, good doctor!

Although I'm one of the few that enjoyed The Love Below, you sort of conveyed into words nearly exactly how I feel about the album. Sure, the experiments don't connect 100%, but you have to give points to a group with enough ingenuity to play their own instruments and have this many tracks that DO work. It may take them a couple of records to figure it out, but they definitely get points for having one of the more original rap debuts in recent years.

And one thing about tight jeans: it's not like your nuts are in a chokehold when you wear them; it's more like they're held in the same spot and being restricted from swinging everywhere. While I'll cop to the fact that it takes some getting used to, it's not exactly torture.

And props to the Knux, who (like myself) have been wearing tight jeans since before it was considered "acceptable" in the black community.

Marcus said...

Purple Haze is clearly the best hip-hop album of all-time

DocZeus said...

"Purple Haze is clearly the best hip-hop album of all-time...made by a functionally retarded man with horrific taste in '80s pop samples."

Fixed.

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

I'm not as explosively enthusiastic as you are on this record, but I will give you that it sounds promising. The record as a whole, ranges somewhere between 'meh' to 'good attempt' imo. Mixed bag. Cappuchino is great, the list is good, and Fire is a personal fave(Rah Almillio starting the verse w/ 'well its your nigga looking jiggy, ricky raaaw / extraterrestrial hoes give the jaaaw' might be my favourite moment of the record). I prefer Rah over (iiiiiits) Krispy (checkitoutnow)- Emcees borrowing that ultra-fluid big boi bounce is a good look to me. I dont wanna hate on dudes attempting something different, especially since some of their experiments work, but yeah, their more traditonally hip hop attempts work much better than their rock mashups

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

funny that you and soderberg both compare these guys to outkast, though in vastly different ways. based on what i've heard from these guys, i'm still indifferent to the knux, their style just doesn't stand to me. maybe it's that they're now repping hollywood, a world i care nothing about. do they mention anything about their side of new orleans?

do you really like "cappuccino" that much? what about "royal flush," or "what up, what's haapnin'?" those songs grab me so much more than what these guys have made so far, though i do like "fire."

and say what you want about "purple haze" as a whole, you can't say that cam didn't rip "down and out." great line: they'll Harlem Shake at your wake.

DocZeus said...

"and say what you want about "purple haze" as a whole, you can't say that cam didn't rip "down and out." great line: they'll Harlem Shake at your wake."

Down & Out is the exception to my Purple Haze hate. That song fucking kills.

tray said...

As I get older I have less appreciation for Cam's bluster and bravado, but anyone who thinks this shit is better than Purple Haze can't be taken seriously. Like I can kind of take you seriously as far as "what's the best Gangstarr album" debates, but not on anything contemporary. I'm embarrassed to even type these guy's names. Like Rah Almillio, what the fuck is that? Were all the good hipster rapper pseudonyms used up? I have a suggestion. If anything should ever happen to Big Boi and Andre, God forbid, you, sir, can go find Lil Wayne and start an Outkast commemoration group. Like they've got for the Beatles. Oh wait, we already have Da BackWudz for that. Well you can just sit at home then.

Christopher said...

Checked out the album while I was in Montreal. And it had 4 great songs, two or three good ones and a bunch of filler. Which was cruel because by track 6 or so I was gassed then quickly got disappointed.

Okay start for them, no one expects anyone these days to put out rookie classics so they seem like they'll make better albums later but, eh. They probably won't be in vogue long enough to make a second LP.

DocZeus said...

Tray-

From the bottom of my heart, please go fuck yourself. Ugh, and say this I don't go trashing my readers but seriously a guy who says he's been listening to hip hop for six years to come and talk shit is just... Go fuck yourself.

And Purple Haze is still a bad album, no matter what people say. It's exactly what I'm talking about about when mention overly praised experimental rap albums. Oh, yeah. Purple Haze is experimental. It takes way too many chances with bad '80s pop samples and Cam's weirdo sub-Ghostface lyricism. It all fails. The skits are grating, retarded and offensive. If Purple Haze was released by Common It would be Electric Circus with coke references. In fact, the album is basically what Electric Circus would be if it were interpreted by a closeted gay man with an obsession with pink and cocaine. It's awful. End of discussion.

tray said...

Not gonna fuck myself. You're just dead wrong. This could be 2002, the very day I started listening to rap, and even then I would've been like, "hey, aren't these guys totally biting off those other guys who made Ms. Jackson? What are they called?" They Guerilla Black'd Outkast. And half a dozen other people. So like I said, you're still good for ranking GangStarr albums, and believe me, I take that stuff very seriously, it's not a diss, but new stuff... no. You're just making a very fundamental mistake here. You know, kinda like how I can no longer take any movie critic seriously who liked Crash, because that movie embodied virtually everything wrong with American film today. I mean, to be honest, The Cool is even worse in many respects, and I still continued to read you after your slobbering all over that, so it's whatever, but still. As for Purple Haze, you just don't get it. It's this hilarious deconstruction of gangsta rap (the closeted gayness, or what you perceive as closeted gayness, is a large part of what makes it such a fun record), and it really works. Have you heard Busta's "Arab Money"? It's a great concept, I'm sure even you will agree, but Busta can't execute it, because he's become this bland steroided-out twerp, so he's just like, "THEY RESPECT MY WORTH IN IRAN, IN IRAQ, IN SAUDI ARABIA!" Garbage. Cam's specialty was doing absurd shit like that and doing it well. Other than that, back then he was fun to listen to just for all the internal rhymes and multis. Like when he said he was drinking sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay. Like seriously, tell me one important difference between Purple Haze and your favorite MF Doom record, whatever that may be. There aren't any. They're both a couple of wacko cheesy 80s music sampling geniuses, but because you're down with the anti-commmercial team, you just choose to hate on Cam.

Zilla Rocca said...

Tray:

Seriously, and I'm not the type of to do this shit on the internet, but shut the fuck up, fam. You have no credo, clout, respect, knowledge, brain, helmet, dome, etc. All you do is clog up comment sections on blogs that are written by cats who might be controversial/argumentative/thought provoking, but they actually have a cunt hair of an idea of hip hop history before they type sumptin, unlike yourself. You should've NEVER said you only been listening to hip hop since Tony Yayo entered the consciousness. You might've lasted an extra 6 months before cats got in your ass like a fat bitch in a bikini.

I'm not hating or being a dick, cause I would actually tell you this in person and if you want my phone number on some Mike Jones shit, I can do that and tell you personally as well. Seriously, just scale back and be a fan for a few more years, pimping. Just cause you stick a feather up your ass does not make you a chicken.

So leave the comments alone, meet a nice sweet college bitch, put it in her ass (slowly with lube) or talk her into a threeway (she will do it as long as you make it HER fantasy), go for a jog, and enjoy school a little bit more. We're good here.

Church.

Badmon3333 said...

I'm kind of stoked to hear this album. It's been a pretty strong fourth quarter of '08 for hip-hop, if you ask me: Mighty Underdogs, Black Milk, P Bros., Kool Keith, Q-Tip's new joint is real nice, Madlib's 'WLIB,' Illa J's debut is decent (although it mainly gets by because of all the old Dilla beats)... even Diamond D put a few bangers in his new 'Huge Hefner' joint.

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

Wow, the internets are a rough place to be at these days. I disagree w/ Zilla abt Tray's admission i.e "You should've NEVER said you only been listening to hip hop since Tony Yayo entered the consciousness." Pardon me if I'm isolating this line out of context, but I actually think it's refreshing to hear people admit stuff like that. Zilla, you and countless others on the blogosphere, may have been passionately involved w/ hip hop for much longer period, but several others are merely learning and catching up, and I think the least we can do is be honest about it. I personally have, lets say ‘superficially’ been listening to hip hop pretty regularly, ever since high school, but honestly I've only really, really, really, really paid whole-hearted, ridiculously geeked-out fanboy attention to it in the last three years. I only discovered the whole rap blogosphere in the last year, and I'm thoroughly grateful to it for all the music it's helped me discover, rediscover and reexamine.

I don't necessarily think that being down w/ hip hop for x amount of years automatically gives you more clout to be talking about it. I read a ton of blogs these days, and as much I love passing the time reading many, I often don't get all that much insight from these down-since-'86 hip hop heads. Plus, yknow there's a whole bunch of bloggers who are merely not admitting to playing catchup.

Reminds me of the hater shitstorm surrounding Briehan, one that often pointed out that he was merely a recent hip hop convert – as if that fact disqualified any of his commentary on hip hop, and/or his experience w/ the records that he reviewed. It's the same muddled logic.

I really just care that your love and analysis of hip hop be genuine and honest. But that's just me.

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

But I digress,
@ Tray: regarding your Cam–MF Doom comparison - As a big fan of what Cam can bring to the table on a good day, and a huuugee MF Doom fan – I'd say Doom has been waay more consistent throughout his career than Cam. Consistency is the one of the main reasons people are able to so easily write off Cam without acknowledging the uniqueness he has to offer. So, I can understand if someone prefers Doom over Cam – its beyond just some silly commercial vs underground argument

Christopher said...

You know it's cold in the D(octor Zeus comment page)

josephlovesit said...

I'm with Tray on the Purple Haze stuff. People don't need to have been following something since day-one to have a "valid" opinion. That's ludacris.

Jordan said...

Tray's problem isn't that his opinion isn't valid, it's that he presents it in extremely obnoxious and disrespectful ways. This is the internet, no one's got any cred or clout or more right opinion on Purple Haze. Now if everybody could stop being dismissive and accept that their opinion isn't definitive, we'd be cool.

As for deez Knux, I think I like R'as Al Ghul better than Dunkin Donuts, but as is often the case with relatives, they sound a bit too similar in terms of voice. The guitar figures too prominently in a lot of the songs and their musicality is good but not great, if they didn't rap they'd be a decent pop-rock band, but no one would be particularly impressed. I like Cappuccino a lot, but I feel like this is just an album with a bunch of songs that sound a lot like Cappuccino, only not as good.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"Oh wait, we already have Da BackWudz for that."

ha.

the difference with the breihan hate is that tom breihan was in a position of power and his poor sense of history makes for bad music criticism. i disagree with tray a fair amount, but i would say he appreciates the entire history of rap. how long someone has been listening to rap is not at all relevant; it's about a full perspective. it's ridiculous to suggest that having a valid opinion in the rap world means remembering when blah blah happened or such and such dropped. critique the opinion and leave it at that.

hell, i'm playing catch up with some of this stuff too, does my opinion not matter?

DocZeus said...

To clarify-

To me, the issue is not about having your hip hop credibility being established by listening to a certain amount of music. I have very little time for arguments about who or who does not have cred. Fuck that. If you like the music and have something interesting or palpable to say than say it.

The issue that I have with Tray is that he attacked the credibility of my opinion on the music saying that it's invalid because he doesn't like the taste in music that I express. Especially when I've been listening to it pretty much all my life and by his own admission he hasn't. I don't like being told that my opinion is invalid from somebody who hasn't been listening as long as I have. It just strikes me as somebody who doesn't know what the hell they're talking about.

The one thing that being a fan of hip hop music for a long time can provide you is that it can give you a broader historical context. For example, bitching that the Knux's music sucks because they are "biting" Outkast is beyond asinine simply because the Knux aren't doing anything inherently different than every other rap artist in the history of rap music not called the Sugarhill Gang are doing. All rap music is revivalist because they all build upon the works of others. In fact, you could argue that Goodie Mob was the FIRST Outkast biters way back in 1995. The only reason difference is nobody has decided to bite Stankonia-era Outkast before because it was so damn weird when it came out in 2000. Nobody was good enough to pull that shit off. You can dislike the Knux but do it because you don't like their music not for some spurious, half-thought contrarian reasons that probably has more to do with your own personal biases than anything else.

And to reiterate, all rap music is revivalist even motherfucking Cam'ron.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"The one thing that being a fan of hip hop music for a long time can provide you is that it can give you a broader historical context."

true, but like you say, someone who's brand new to an "established classic" can provide a much needed revision of that piece of work. it's really just about having something interesting to say and, most importantly, doing it respectfully

since you brought it up, i am inclined to disagree with you about goodie mob biting 'kast. they influenced each other while coming up at the same time. that's kind of like saying snoop bit dre for doggystyle or something. you're bound to see similarities in contemporaries.

Jordan said...

The Sugarhill Gang were the biggest biters of all! Big Bank Hank stole all his rhymes from Grandmaster Caz (who he was managing at the time, thus winning the award for worst manager ever). A sidenote, but for all the talk of knowing your history...

Goodie Mob borrowed very little from Outkast other than their producers. The sense of paranoia and the mix of spirituality and gangster tropes owe a bit to the Geto Boys if anything, but the formula is very different when the emphasis is on the spiritual with just a hint of gangster. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik is mostly a fun chill out album, while there's very little fun to be had on Soul Food, not even on the title track. None of the members of Goodie Mob have flows at all similar to Big Boi or Dre (you might argue they sound too similar to each other, but that's something else) and the fact that there are four of them instead of two creates a very different vibe.

Now I wrote that last paragraph in part because Goodie Mob is my favorite rap group and I like to throw a bitch fit anytime someone mentions them, but also because it's pretty easy to specifically argue what makes something unique if it is and I'm wondering why you didn't in the case of The Knux. Yes, everything has influences--duh--but what do the Knux do that makes them unique, that allows them to transcend those influences? (Rhetorical as that sounds, I'd actually like to hear your answer)

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

"And to reiterate, all rap music is revivalist even motherfucking Cam'ron."

Bold statement there. Really? I can see that you're trying to get,although the term 'revivalism' sounds a bit unfair to the ingenuity that rappers employ when they play w/ their influences. Do you mean revivalism in the sense of there's no original ideas left?

Rap is pretty openly selfreferential and intertextual and interconnected yada yada. Its been pretty honest about how its borrows from music history and how it pays homage to its influences. Its arguably been about creating your own spin on existing music - sample based music, and rappers spitting previously executed flows and openly reciting older rap lyrics are the most obvious examples.

Honestly though, and I know the last thing you want is another Cam'ron conversation, I've never been able to trace Cam's stylistic roots. For the sake of argument, you could throw a bunch of weirdo rappers from the past, but for the most part Cam's steez imo seems thoroughly his own. (or one thats transcended way beyond its influences) Anyone got any links they see to Cam's output?

Christopher said...

For the record, I'm more righter than everyone, and Cam'Ron on a good day is top 10 dead or alive.

Se amo.

DocZeus said...

On Goodie Mob being like Outkast-

I was being argumentative for the sake of a point. I don't think Goodie Mob has ever bitten Outkast. Nor do I think the Knux are really biting Outkast. Influenced no doubt but it's not like Bang Bang sounds like Bombs Over Baghdad or Elevators or even fucking Hey Ya!. Their record sounds the closet to Stankonia but it's still different.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

one last note on the knux/big boi connection, from daddy fatsacks himself:


How many flows can I compose?/I drop this slang like lyrical bows/
Stickin out just like an OUTKAST/ Or a thorn from Stem of rose/Like nachos, the lyrics are crispy, crackin when y'all bite