Blog entry

Blackalicous, The Craft


Your definition: 

incapable of co-existing

Seems like every year there's one (if I'm lucky) musical discovery that kind of gets me through. Keeps my sense of hope and promise alive, as though the lifeless corpse that is the music industry still has some surprises left in it. At this point, getting something truly brilliant and visionary through the music machine is nothing short of a veritable miracle. Forget weeping statues and bleeding paintings, when my friend d.j. rekluse gave me The Craft by Blackalicios, I simply could not FUCKING BELIEVE MY EARS.

This album basically saved the musical-me. It's been kind of a testing year for my friends and I, after making what I truly, deeply feel is my best CD ever (¿What) with the help of Alex Gibson, Nate Jenkins, Rupert Hine, and then being unable to find even ONE label that was willing to sign it (even the ones that loved it wouldn't sign it), I got the feeling that I would have books, tv shows, and movies out in the World before I could get one good song on the radio. And that made my soul frown.

Then, I heard The Craft. FUCKING SHIT. This band penetrated me, and I mean that sexually, with a Kosmic-scale thrust that simply annihilated my melancholy. This is, without a doubt or exaggeration, one of the greatest fucking bands in the history of popular music, in both DEPTH and SPAN. What do I mean?

SPAN: The exteriors, the surfaces. Utility with production, engineering, the structure and form of the songs. Their have an impeccable musicality. Every little element of this recording, each detail, is perfectly placed. But they also have a rare grasp of the meta-landscape as well. Hardly anyone is making albums anymore these days. They just pump out singles (since its an iTunes world, a radio world, a movie-sound track world), regurgitating the tired formulas the Beatles invented four decades ago, in an exercise of ever-diminishing returns that (just like clear cutting, non-rotated crops, etc) depletes and toxifies the culture. But then, a band like Blackalicious comes along, and I'm like WOW. I can still be surprised. Someone is inventing, someone is actually innovating. The sound, texture, micro and macro scapes and portraits that comprise this recording "The Craft" are like an infusion of pure oxygen into the fucking miasma that is pop culture. That alone, would be an incredible contribution. Just making something beautiful, elegent, inventive, challenging to refresh our tired ears. But that's not even half the genius of this recording. Because it is also DEEP. So fucking DEEP.

DEPTH: I used to listen to acts like Radiohead and Eminem and think "how fucking tragic, all that facility with exteriors (chords, production, lyrics, musical architecture) and NO FUCKING INTERIOR." Radiohead alone can safely be blamed for some suicides. Don't get me wrong, I love Kid A as much as the next bipolar robot, but it sure would be nice if they could find it in the catacombs of their creativity to paint with more than one color. I GET IT. Grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey. (Radiohead: spend a year with Bjork, and get back to us.) Eminem, who admittedly has an occiasional way with words, is also regrettably one of the most deluded, arrested adolescents making a living in the entertainment business today, and that is saying something. Exactly HOW arrested someone like Eminem is (I'm speaking developmentally here, according to any psycho-social measurement you choose) becomes painfully apparent when you put him next to a Saul Williams, or a Blackalicious. While Eminem luxuriates in surfaces, celebrates the putrid -helpless to do anything but stir that cess-pool of pathology that is his persona, his personality- truly great acts like Saul Williams and Blackalicious transport us, and find a way to open every wound like an aperture, they put their ear against the human condition, and work beats, notes, and words like tumblers on that safe, they crack the code with every track, reacquainting us with the layers, levels, and depths of our very own being. They put us in touch with our humanity, not through a doctrine, or dogma, but taking us on the fucking transformative Safari that is Spirit, our native endowment. Eminem (and I'm sorry, but most of the time also Radiohead) is incapable of even accessing a conventional World View. Eminem is your basic spoiled little pre-conventional fucking snob with a moderate command of language. That's all, folks. That's why people with a pre-conventional world view (no one tells me what to do!) love him. They're developmentally seven years old. Artists like Blackalicious and Saul Williams are utterly post-conventioal. They have access to pre-conventionaly, conventional, and post-convetional perspectives, they are fluent in all of them, but they will not SETTLE for some dessicated version of humanity (Radiohead), they will not accept a flat, one-dimensional version of what it means to be human, namely EGO (Eminem). They have access to Ego, they unpack it, illuminate, and spin the fucking thing like a million watt lamp, but they are not STUCK in it, like Eminem. They understand how fucked up things are, but they don't become fused with that deconstruction (Radiohead).

I have nothing against Eminem or Radiohead. I have an issue with how fucking LOW our expectations are with the music, the TV, the movies, the books in our culture. I am not against surfaces or superficiality. I am against a nearly exclusively superficial culture. It is fucking ASPHYXIATING, because whether we like it or not, we are creatures of depth, we are beings of dimension, and we are born heirs to the entire seen and unseen Kosmos, not a fucking sliver of an aspect of a part (Ego). Why are we settling? Don't we want to take that DEEP Breath, and begin respiring like Godhead intended, circulating the vital essence of Spirit through all levels, all dimensions of our being?

Jesus H. Christ.

This year, Blackalicious has been my respirator. I extend the deepest, Heart-felt thanks to that band for saving my soul, by infusing it with Spirit, Surprise, not by giving me the answers, but by increasing my experience of the Mystery, the wonder of the Puzzle. God bless the un-knowing.

Recent Tweets

Upcoming Shows

Stuart is not touring at this time.

Subscribe to Latest Shows from Stuart Davis

In the Press

One of the most mind-bending, tuneful, and electrifying acts extant...

-The Press Citizen