The year in bad music writing: Sam Richards on Jay-Z live in thelondonpaper
For the benefit of those lucky enough to not live in our nation’s fine capital, allow me to inform you that Murdoch-owned freesheet thelondonpaper finally cried “No mas” this Friday, after three glorious years of leaving millions of commuters trying to work out where the fuck the joke was supposed to be in every The Omnipresent cartoon. I found a lot more to enjoy in its final ever week than I did in any of the previous 155, though, mainly because the subbing department was engaged in a fantastic tribute to that “pffff… chef?” job placement dude from that one Family Guy episode, and made it quite clear they had absolutely no interest in doing their job anymore. Captions consisted of little more than the celebrity’s name, the phrase “wtf” was used in a story’s body text, and the newspaper’s final ever page consisted of sports journalist James Gill making a joke about an “ugly” situation for Manchester City being one that involved Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott, Gill finding high humour in the scars left on a man’s face after he was struck by a car and dragged 100 feet down the road when he was a five year old. Plus I’m still struggling to work out how dude can clown anyone in the looks department, when his byline photo makes him look like something out of an Aphex Twin video.
I digress. The last ever live music review to be published in thelondonpaper was Sam Richards’ take on Jay-Z at the Camden Roundhouse, Jay-Z being a long-time fan of areas of London that contain 3,000 falafel stores and a bunch of Manics fans on a day trip from Dunstable. We’ve already done the “whiteboy UK music journalists be genuflecting to Hove” debate on ILB, you know that. What you may not already know, however, is that Sam Richards himself has previous. Indeed, in the build-up to all of this he managed to find time to steal a shit tonne of copy from ILB-approved blog Hip Hop Is Read, and decide that he didn’t need to bother crediting it. The Guardian issued a stand-down and apology on his behalf a few days later, but I can’t imagine music journalism’s secondary SR will be receiving too many £10 royalty checks from Farringdon in the near future, resultantly.
Anyway, this Jay-Z review. I’m in a good mood, let us go fisking.
Too many big-name US rappers have come here thinking it’s enough to drawl their rhymes over a hired DJ.
Yeah… that’s because this is a little thing called “rap music”, it features people rhyming over DJs. It’s only been around for 35 years though, so I can see why you’d be confused. “Thinking it’s enough”… what on earth are you expecting from these live shows, son? De La Soul doing card tricks? Dita Von Teese’s martini glass routine adapted so it beatmatches with Busta doing “Woo Hah! Got Y’All In Check”? Fiddy throwing in some Tom Lehrer style banter between songs?
Last night, Jay-Z met London on its own terms
He got pushed down the escalator at Tottenham Court Road, you mean?
Brooklyn’s favourite son showed why he’s the reigning king of hip-hop by orchestrating a ten-piece live band who punched out hits such as ‘Izzo (Hova)’ and the recent ‘Run This Town’ with the power and passion of a rock group.
It was this sentence that pushed me from “OK, this sucks” territory into “Jesus fucking Christ I need to write about this now” land. “The power and passion of a rock group”. You’re a music writer, and that’s the kinda of metaphor you keep to hand? Which fucking rock group? Nashville Pussy? Urge Overkill? Clearlake? Racey? The glam metal band Mickey Dolenz’s son was in? Plus he seems to have forgotten that Scott Baio and Lil Mama were both born in Crooklyn as well. See what I mean about subbing departments not factchecking?
The man himself, sporting a modest black T-shirt, took every opportunity to connect with a smitten Roundhouse crowd. He rippled a Union Jack on the big screen during a rousing ‘Public Service Announcement’ and even teased us with a snatch of ‘Wonderwall’ by his arch-enemies Oasis, before re-emerging for a triumphant encore that included a crushing ’99 Problems’.
This entire review is about 20 words long, and yet he still finds time to let us know what Jigga was wearing? “A modest black T-shirt” as well, no less, wow, Lady Gaga’s designers must be on red alert for that one, thanks Sammy. Also you appear to have confused “arch-enemies” with “dudes he engaged in an amazingly tedious Statler and Waldorf slapfight with a year ago”.
No gimmicks and no special guests – despite a rumoured appearance from Coldplay’s Chris Martin – but with 11 eleven albums of prime material to call on, there wasn’t much downtime.
“He teased us with a snatch of ‘Wonderwall'” “No gimmicks and no special guests”. Samuel, I appreciate that hip-hop, word to Masta Ace, “must be something you new at”, but pro-tip: not all rap concerts feature the MC singing along to Britpop tracks. In fact, you could probably term such a move “gimmicky”.
Jay-Z may have tried to retire once, but now there seems nothing to stop him from becoming hip-hop’s first equivalent of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, still throwing diamond hand signs at 60.
Thankfully, the website article of this is accompanied by this photo of Jay-Z, where he looks about 63. So at least some good has come out of all of this.