A discussion between NPR writer, Evan Auerbach, and NPR listener, Carl Twocargarage.

Note:
In this discussion, Mr. Auerbach’s comments are taken verbatim from his recent piece, “Gift Ideas For The Hip-Hop Fans In Your Life,” which appears at npr.org. Mr. Twocargarage’s comments were made in his car, to no-one, while listening to NPR on his commute.

evanauerbach

Evan Auerbach of NPR and the blog, Up North Trips.

not buying it

Carl Twocargarage of suburban listenership.

Evan:
…You could go the traditional route when hunting for the hip-hop head in your life—vinyl reissues of Public Enemy and DMX albums, the “Halftime” 12-inch, to name just a few examples. But here we’ll suggest some less obvious ideas for everyone from the indie-label-budget baller all the way up to that I-woke-up-in-a-new-Bugatti paper spender.

Carl:
That last part was just gibberish. I do remember Public Enemy from back in the 1980s when hip-hop was called rap, though. But who performed “Halftime”? Should I… know that, somehow?

Evan:
2013 was a comeback year for Cam: He dropped a mixtape and a movie, and reunited with Dame Dash—even if it was only for a commercial. Killa managed all of this while reintroducing the world to his new-look Dipset clothing line.

Carl:
Okay, I asked my middle-school-aged grandson who “Cam” is and he had no idea. So I asked my son, who said that “Cam” is short for “Cam’ron” and told me I should look it up on “Pitchfork,” before making an excuse and hanging up. Guess the cat’s still in the cradle on that one.

But I didn’t catch who “Killa” is. And is Dame Dash anything like Dame Edna? Because if so, you’ve got my attention—that “lady” is hilarious (and she’s no lady, if you know what I mean)!

Evan:
For people who think 808s were invented by Kanye West, this book is an education.

Carl:
Is an 808 like an LOL? Because I know that one. I’m not totally lost, here.

Evan:
Isn’t there a rule that once you hit your 30s you can no longer refer to yourself as a Ciroc Boy? If there isn’t there should be.

Carl:
“Ciroc Boy?” Okay, look—how much homework am I supposed to be doing to keep up with you people? This feels like the time I had to go to that downtown record store to buy the new Phil Collins album because Suzy had the car and I couldn’t get to Target. I mean, they had the CD in the store, but the guy at the counter acted like he didn’t even want to touch it, much less ring it up. Made me feel like I was already a grandfather. To be honest, he was a real prick.

Evan:
DJ Paul, of Three Six Mafia, is an Oscar winner, a multiplatinum recording artist and the creator of a line of BBQ products. Perusing his site is really a gift to yourself, especially since, in true Memphis fashion, he’s put up 10 (downloadable) free recipes, too.

Carl:
“In true Memphis fashion”? Seriously: I know what recipes are, I know what downloading is and I know what “free” means. And I’ve never been anywhere near Memphis. Do you people not have editors over there because it’s radio, or something?

Evan [subliminal between-the-lines observation]:
Look, if you’re so out of touch that you don’t get my references, maybe NPR just isn’t your jam, grandpa. We have our finger on the pulse up in this m.f.—if it’s too hip, you’re too old. We’re rocking Cam’ron, yo! NPR is where youth culture lives.

Carl:
It has nothing to do with being young or old. It’s about basic journalistic practices and common goddamn courtesy. Flip your ego over and play the B-side, son.

Evan:
I’ll get down with AARP and dance on your grave. Dipset! G-g-g-g-Unit! Kendrick Lamar! Pusha T!

Carl:
Fine, fine; twerk your socks off, junior. I’ll bring your grandparents over to watch. It’ll be a time.

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Noisey continues to be the Ozzy Osbourne (modern day) of shock.

Thank you, Dora the Explorer, for bringing twerking back. Love, America.

Thank you, Dora the Explorer, for bringing twerking back. Love, America.

Miley Cyrus is punk as fuck? Daring! Controversial! Someone call the punk police; this dude is in danger of WTFing the Vice readership’s beards right into the East River.

Christ, Noisey. You really are coming off like the jocks who have “Smells Like Teen Spirit” blaring from their SUVs while they slap around that queer emo kid in the parking lot behind the Dairy Queen before letting him loose and throwing your Bud Lite bottles at him as he runs away.

I mean, for real: “Miley Cyrus is punk as fuck”—seriously? And I’m fully aware that your post was conceived, written and titled to engender exactly this response, but trust me—I don’t mean it like, “Seriously, dude? You really think Miley Cyrus is punk rock?” No; what I mean is, “Seriously? That’s how punk as fuck you seriously think you are, that you seriously believe you can say that and seriously make a case to back it up, and seriously look at yourself in the mirror and take yourself seriously?”

To start with, let’s skip the whole, “Dude, punk rock is all about being in opposition to the corporate machine and she’s just pop and dude, MTV! Teenybopper! Hannah Montana!” spiel; not because it’s beneath the author of the Noisey piece, but because it’s beneath me (and pretty much anyone else who might be reading this). Those points aren’t even relevant to this discussion. I’ll just start with a quote that articulates the point around which the Noisey argument seems to center:

[Ms. Cyrus is] more punk rock than all the mascara-wearing dorks playing the Warped Tour, more punk rock than old-ass bands on their third reunion tours, more punk rock than you or me.

Look. Come on. Just because punk* sucks now doesn’t mean we just turn on the TV and redefine the word to fit whoever’s currently freakin’ out the squares. There have been spotlight-seeking quasi-iconoclasts for a long-ass time. That doesn’t mean they have anything to do with “punk.”

And you can call this a reactionary or “rockist” response, or whatever, but that’s just avoiding the truth: You might as well have said, “Miley Cyrus is jazz as fuck,” or “Miley Cyrus is rock ‘n’ roll as fuck,” or “Miley Cyrus is James Joyce as fuck”—it would have been just as wrong and just as right: She is causing a commotion and getting parents and other authority figures all up in a tizzy in the same way those things used to, back in the day. It doesn’t mean she has anything to do with anything beyond pop music and kids’ TV shows; trying to squeeze her into some kind of punk paradigm is just… well, it’s as goofy as thinking twerking is some kind of fresh, new thing.

Without even trying, Miley is straight up spinning circles around every single pop star who is trying to be edgy right now. Kanye West? Please. She makes Yeezus look like Kidz Bop 24. Kanye West is a giant narcissist who spends every waking minute thinking of how to cement his place as The Greatest Artist Of All Time™.

Okay, now you’re just being silly. Sure, Kanye is a giant narcissist, but comparing his new album with hers is asinine. While Yeezus doesn’t have a lot to startle anyone who’s had an ear toward underground rap music since the mid-nineties or so, it’s still a pretty oddball record for a chart-topping, multi-platinum artist to release.

Miley Cyrus’ album is by-the-numbers contemporary dance-pop; safe, “risqué” by Mom Standards and as edgy as the last Ke$ha product. Unlike Yeezus, it’s product for profit, not product in spite of its creators’ better judgment. With his album, Kanye West is potentially jeopardizing his stature as a profitable hitmaker and gaining a rep as an iconoclastic hypocrite (e.g., if anyone asks him to reconcile his ambiguous lyrics about oppressively expensive fashion with his $120 t-shirt, etc.).

Either way, you have to try just as hard to dodge that ballsy (even… punk?) element of Yeezus as you do to identify anything transgressive or meaningfully boundary-pushing about a teenage girl wearing tight clothes and dirty dancing in the almost-nude. Or wait, is this 1982? Stop the presses—a hot young pop starlet is showing off her body and being rebellious—the punks are taking over!

I’d say I’ve watched the video five dozen times and I can’t even tell you how the song goes. Most times, I’ll just watch it on mute and drop my jaw at how mind-bogglingly ridiculous it is…

Oh, right—I almost forgot the implicit “I don’t actually listen to the music part” part. It’s an amusing little escape hatch, but come on; either step up and own this shit or step off, Tiger Beat.

Anyhow, in closing, sure; Miley Cyrus as “punk” does make sense from a site littered with ads for Doc Martens, Ray-Bans and The Gap—now that’s punk fucking rock, kid. Garnier Fructis is punk as fuck. You read it here first.

* Note: “Punk” in this sentence refers to “punk” found on iTunes and at the mall. I’m not actually claiming or conceding that punk sucks right now; I’m just keeping the discussion within its stated parameters—Warped Tour and old bands. Personally, I think there’s more to punk than that, but I don’t expect to find it at the mall.

Making pop a threat again LOLz J/K FU

Thanks for enjoying/tolerating/encouraging my ginfused rambling. Trust me, the world would be so much better if I were running things. Taylor Swift, for reals? Is this somehow not the Debbie Gibson of the double-zeros? Is there a reason to be paying attention to her, beyond the odd album review or an interview in Cosmo? I mean, I know she, like, somehow writes her own songs, astoundingly, but did I miss the part where she’s not a spankin’ hott teenage hottie?*

Staunchly credible Oliver Wang, did you seriously write the words “surprisingly little thematic or musical range on Jepsen’s full-length album, Kiss”? Do you know what the word “surprisingly” means? Do you know what the words “one” “hit” and/or “wonder” mean? Do you know what the word “product” means?

Sasha Frere-Jones, did you for-real write a New Yorker piece on how Rihanna doesn’t seem to, you know, give much of a rat’s ass about, like, stuff, and expect me to not be GROSSED OUT and want my three pages back?

WHY ARE YOU BAFFLING ME, PRESUMABLY KNOWLEDGEABLE, INTELLIGENT AND LEGITIMATELY EMPLOYED MUSIC WRITERS?

I just—I mean, this is exhausting.

“And so on.” — Thirstin Howl III

“Anyway, onward.” — Mort Sahl

Now, where’s that boy with my mai tais?

* I know her label didn’t; I kind of thought grownups might, though. I mean, sure, Kanye West didn’t seem to notice, but that’s all part of growing up, right?