hip hop music

June 19, 2006

Chuck Klosterman on Gnarls Barkley in NY Times Magazine

There's a lot of weird stuff going on here. The minimization of Cee-Lo's role to further the myth of Dangermouse as visionary mastermind:

...in a larger sense, Gnarls Barkley is really just one person, and that person is Burton. Cee-Lo is essential, but he's essential in the same way Diane Keaton was essential to "Annie Hall": he is the voice that best incarnates Burton's vision, so he serves as the front man for this particular project. Burton will aggressively insist that Gnarls Barkley is a two-man game, but that seems more magnanimous than accurate...

The placement of Gnarls in a "rock & roll" context, as if rock is still the sun around which all pop revolves:

"St. Elsewhere," by Gnarls Barkley, is an unlikely fusion of alternative pop, psychedelic R&B and postmodern hip-hop, and it was constructed differently from the vast majority of mainstream rock 'n' roll albums. And if "St. Elsewhere" does well over the long haul, its success will be a direct result of the way it was made, a blueprint that contradicts the conventional way in which rock bands are supposed to create music...

But I think the main problem (and explanation for his portrayal of Ceelo as pawn in Danger's master plan) is that he seems to be wandering around with the Gnarls press packet as his only guide, so he never fully catches on that it's the mechanics of their hype, in itself, that's the key to the Gnarls Barkley story.

This really makes me appreciate how deftly Sasha and Kelefa Sanneh map out their terrain for the Times/New Yorker readership, and consistently get all the basics right. I wish one of them had written a primer for Klosterman before he wandered off into the woods and got lost.

EDIT: Looks like the peanut gallery is with me on this.

Posted by jsmooth995 at June 19, 2006 4:46 PM

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