I’m in a bit of a rush, but here are a few quick notices:
1. I’ve just been one listen through the new Jay-Z CD, Kingdome Come, which is released today. It’s too early for a verdict as to whether or not this is another classic, but I can happily report that it’s a well-crafted album, as musically complex and lyrically dense as a Jay-Z CD should be. The opening sequence evokes the opening of Reasonable Doubt, Jay’s gritty 1996 debut album, and in many ways Jay seems to want to recapture that early work’s spirit with this new work (three live cuts from Reasonable Doubt are also included with Kingdome Come as a bonus CD). Reasonable Doubt was Jay-Z’s Dubliners, in a way; it’s all about his hometown (Brooklyn, specifically the Marcy Projects), and it’s filled with a rush of furtive confession. My favorite song on the new CD is “Minority Report”, which contains some hard verses about New Orleans and world events. And I’m glad to see that Dr. Dre worked on several tracks — basically, this is hiphop’s greatest producer working with hiphop’s greatest songwriter. Not bad.
2. I like Ed Champion’s report on a new EC Comics archive series from Gemstone Publishing. Like Ed, I have found myself bizarrely attracted to the corny 1950’s horror stories that made EC Comics a legend and also spawned the careers of cartoonists Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis and many others. The stories were often garishly violent and pointless, but somehow beautiful as well. Beats the “Archies”, anyway.
3. A certain luxury San Francisco hotel is on everybody’s literary shit list for mistaking Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o for an undesirable alien last week. I find it incredible that this kind of thing can still happen in America (and especially in San Francisco, which is supposed to be an enlightened city).
The horribly ironic and totally unconfirmed ending to this story is that Thiong’o and his friends left San Francisco for Los Angeles, where they sought a relaxing evening at a Michael Richards comedy show.
I’m outta here … Jamelah will hopefully post something tomorrow … happy Thanksgiving or whatever it is you’re doing on Thursday.