Week 30 Review

Girl Talk – All Day (2010)

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a 4.75 out of 5 stars album. Saying Girl Talk aka Gregg Gillis is at the top of the mashup scene is an understatement. He’s more like Zeus atop Mount Olympus throwing remixed thunderbolts at all the mere mortals. Describing him as anything other than a god is an insult to him and the perfection he has achieved of his craft. He’s that damn good.

Artist BackgroundGreg Gillis aka Girl Talk didn’t enter the music scene using the stereotypical slacker path. He studied biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University with a focus on tissue engineering. Girl Talk released his first album in 2002 while still in college. His early albums were of the glitch genre which to me sound like you’re listening to an Atari game on acid. Don’t expect me to review any of those. Eventually he quit his engineering job in 2007 to focus on music full-time. But how did I hear about Girl Talk? Rip: A Remix Manifesto, of course, which you can watch right now if you click on the link. I highly suggest watching it. It’s very entertaining and is a great introduction to remix culture. It’s probably even more relevant now than in 2008 when it was released.

Album Background: The album, All Day, clocks in at 1 hour and 11 minutes and is considered to be part of the mashup genre. If you don’t know what the mashup genre is, I’m going to yet again encourage you to watch Rip. That’ll explain it way better than I can. It’s divided up into 12 tracks buts it’s really meant to be listened to as a single continuous experience as each track flows seamlessly into the next. Want to listen to whole album? Well, you do all that by clicking here. It’s available as one continuous track or split up into 12 tracks. And it’s even available in FLAC if MP3 isn’t your bag. All Day was released for free in 2010 and his concert tour sold out shortly afterward unsurprisingly. So he definitely has found his audience. You can also find some videos on Youtube where people match up the music videos of the original songs with the mashed up versions. Here’s one I found. They’re pretty entertaining.

Favorite Track: Like I pointed out earlier, there aren’t actually 12 tracks on this album. There are dividing points to allow you to get to a certain part of the album easily. I could talk about the entire album in great detail since that’s the only favorite track I could pick or I could go with something a little more sane which is to talk about a couple standout moments for me. The album starts out really strong by combining Black Sabbath’s War Pigs and Ludacris’s Move Bitch. They’re both pretty intense songs that get your heart pumping right away which is really helpful if you’re going to a Girl Talk concert. That place will be overflowing with non-stop energy until Greg closes the lid on his Windows notebook. The combination of Jay-Z’s Can I Get A… and Tenderness by General Public works well because of the contrast between the two songs. ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky and Juicy J’s Twerk mashup work for much the same reason. Combining Radiohead’s Creep with Ol’ Dirty Bastard rapping the lyrics from Shimmy Shimmy Ya was something I looked forward to on every play of the album. The ODB should have been a part of the band. So much lost potential there. Later on Aphex Twin gets paired with Soulja Boy. I think I like that one because the idea of them together is hilarious. I also loved the pairing of Nicki Minaj and Blue Oyster Cult every time I heard it. Her voice works really well with the music. But I think my most favorite pairing on the entire album is combining Rolling Stones’s Paint It Black with Wiz Khalfia’s Black and Yellow. Brilliant.

What Works: 

  • Nostalgia Listening to a Girl Talk album is probably the most intense nostalgia trip you will ever take. It’s just off the charts. He covers quite a few decades in this album so it’s going to be pretty difficult to be immune to it unless you’re a 5 year old. In which case, I’m very impressed with your reading and comprehension skills. But anyways, nostalgia plays a huge factor in the appeal of his albums. It’s incredibly addictive once you start listening to it.
  • Everybody Having attended a Girl Talk concert with my editor, I can say without a doubt that he attracts a very wide audience. You will see the biggest music nerd standing right next to the most stereotypical sorority girl you could imagine. They might like Girl Talk for completely different reasons but I bet they enjoy him equally. Knowing this album can appeal to such a diverse audience while being part of a niche genre makes it that much more enjoyable for me. All Day is all about having fun regardless of who you are.
  • <insert here> I think the part I love most is noticing the little things that Greg throws into the album. Some samples can last well over a minute and they are really the heart of the music, but I love the samples that appear and disappear in a beat or two. I try to listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I didn’t even come close to knowing all of the songs used to make this album. When I could recognize an obscure lyric or note that quickly passed by, it gave me a little music nerd high. Like I said, his music is addictive. And I’m not the only one interested in figuring out what was sampled and when. Decoding the album was a pretty big thing when it was first released. For those of you who want to know, here is everything.

What Doesn’t:

  • Pony No, not the song by Ginuwine. Though it is actually sampled for this album. I’m talking about the fact that Girl Talk is a one trick pony. That’s probably the only valid complaint against this album which is that it’s the same thing over and over again for over an hour: take a rap song and combine with a pop or rock song. Repeat. But I won’t make that complaint because I think it’s like somebody complaining about being tired of eating chocolate too often. I’ve never heard anybody say “You know, I’m just really tired of eating chocolate chip cookies.” And I would say the same thing about Girl Talk’s music. Enough is never enough of the stuff.

In Conclusion: I couldn’t give this album 5 stars even if I wanted to because his prior album, Feed the Animals, is better. Coincidentally, that album is featured on Rip which is another reason you should watch the documentary. FtA is packed with even more nostalgia and fun, if you can believe it. However, I think All Day is technically superior in terms of actual mixing. Greg is always improving his skills and it’s clear he has advanced quite a bit between the release of the two albums. This is one of only a handful of albums that I’m going to be reviewing that you can go download for free right now so go take advantage and get ready to have some incredible fun.

Music Video Links:
Girl Talk – All Day (Official Video)

Streaming/Purchase Links:
DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE

Information Links:
Wikipedia Artist
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ikipedia Album
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Official Site

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Week 14 Review

Eminem has never been afraid to share his many struggles with fatherhood in his lyrics so it seems appropriate to review the soundtrack to the 2002 movie, 8 Mile, just right after Father’s Day.       

8milecover

Artist: Various Artists {Eminem, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, D12, Jay-Z, Xzibit, Macy Gray, Nas, Boomkat, Rakim, Young Zee, Gang Starr}
Album: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile
Year: 2002
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 3.95/5

Worth Your Time? It’s not perfect but the who’s who of hip-hop helps hold it up to the height of worth hearing.

Twitter Review: 8 Mile soundtrack reminds you why Eminem rose to super-stardom in 1999 and includes a great collection of artists around him on this album.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Eminem – Rabbit Run
  2. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  3. Gang Starr – Battle, 50 Cent – Wanksta (tie)

Things to Look For:

  • The Real PetermanWhile 8 Mile is not a biographical picture of Marshal Bruce Mathers III, it does share some similarities with Eminem’s life. This creates this blurring between Eminem and the character he played, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., on the songs which Eminem raps. Sometimes he’s rapping as B-Rabbit and other times he’s himself. In one particular line he raps “… it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life” but in reality Phifer plays the character Future, who is based on his best friend, the late Proof. So much like the logic of Seinfeld’s The Muffin Tops episode, Marshal has his Phifer.
  • Who’s Who of Hip-Hop. Jay-Z’s 8 Miles and Runnin’ is entertaining as he picks apart those trying to take advantage of his success by claiming they were there from the start. Nas claims his crown in U Wanna Be Me with great lines such as “Pay me a half a million, I’ll consult your album and show you how to stay off my dick.” This track is actually aimed directly at his fellow trackmate Jay-Z. Rakim spits fierce fire in R.A.K.I.M. and there’s no doubt why Rakim is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential MC of all-time. Rakim was part of the golden era of hip-hop in the 80’s as he released several incredibly important albums with DJ Eric B. In Places To Go, 50 Cent delivers some textbook-perfect, laid-back flow that delighted me every time I heard it. Finally, Gang Starr brings some fantastic turntablism and old school boasting to the soundtrack with Battle. Sadly, Guru, Gang Starr’s MC, died while in a coma after a heart attack in 2010.
  • Eminem. While Eminem’s supporting cast certainly helps with the soundtrack, Eminem absolutely owns this album like he should. Lose Yourself is widely celebrated as one of Eminem’s best songs as it reached #1 on 24 charts worldwide, earned him numerous awards and was placed on many all-time best lists. Many of these awards and lists encompassed all genres instead of being hip-hop specific which really shows just how successful this song was. So why did I put Rabbit Run above it? It has no hook, compelling or otherwise. It has no driving guitar riff. Instead, it has just one long epic and intense delivery by Eminem from the perspective of Rabbit dealing with personal struggles of writing and life. It uses an aggressive back beat that slowly swallows up the listener but unexpectedly and abruptly stops. Then Eminem delivers the final line: “Rabbit, run” leaving the listener with a single haunting bell ring that fades out to end the album. It is without a doubt the best ending of I have ever heard for a soundtrack. And that is why I put it above Lose Yourself.
  • Slow Your Roll. While most of the album is incredibly aggressive to the point where I felt like I wanted to start something and throw down in the hallways of work as I listened to this album on repeat all week, there are two tracks that helped break up all the testosterone being pumped into my veins: Time of My Life by Macy Gray and Wasting My Time by Boomkat. For all you Orange is the New Black fans, one half of Boomkat is Taryn Manning who plays Pennsatucky. She also had a part in 8 Mile as well. Of the two, I prefer Wasting My Time but I think they are both good.

Low Points: Ellway ethay irstfay owlay ointpay isway ettypray easyway.
Itway isway enwhay Eminemway apsray inway igpay atinlay uringday D12’s Ethay Apray Amegay. Itway omescay offway asway ornycay.

The second point is pretty much the entire song, Love Me, which features the chorus of “I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life I wanna hold you in the mornin, hold you through the night” by a female singer. This is surrounded with insults from the male rappers on the track like “I don’t love you bitch” and being preceded with the line “And all the bitches say…” which all this may have been tolerable if the verses in between weren’t as forgettable as they were. 50 Cent’s in particular is forever lost to time as it loaded with insignificant pop culture references that I don’t think anybody cares about 12 years later.

My final low point features Obie Trice’s Adrenaline Rush where Obie proceeds to rhyme the word muthafucka 10 times in a row. Now you would think that maybe he would have done something clever like rhyme the word before it in each of the lines but nope. So to me it comes off as a lazy 10 lines.

Anything Else: I was absolutely convinced that Eminem had sampled a classic rock song for Lose Yourself. It sounded so familiar. The most likely candidate for me was Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. But no. The song is completely original and samples nothing. In fact after I read a forum post on the analysis of the guitar riff I felt silly for even thinking it. Not the first time I was wrong about a song. And it won’t be the last.

Finally, there’s a sequel to this album: More Music from 8 Mile. Your first thought might be why would I want to listen to a bunch of tracks not good enough to be on the original soundtrack release? The answer is pretty simple. The second album only includes songs from the movie that were released in 1995 which is the year the movie took place in. I thought that was rather clever. I haven’t listened to it yet but it looks like a strong collection with songs from Wu-Tang, B.I.G. and 2Pac included.

Additional Links: