In the year 2000.
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000)
Oblivious politicians, self-righteous moralists, an apprehensive gay community, and out-of-touch parents who couldn’t spell “.mp3,” clamored and denounced this “homophobic,” “depraved,” “demonic,” and “repugnant,” album. But even the most casual of listeners (all 10 million of them) were able to hear beyond the controversy and, if nothing else, enjoy it for the most basic reasons; the beats, the hooks, the jokes, the rhymes, the cathartic joy of listening to someone not give a single fuck. As history has trudged along, with Em’s anger dulled into cliché emo rap, this abrasively brilliant record has remained nearly as potent as it ever was. Yes the stabs at Fred Durst, Christina and Britney are dated, but his untamed rage, which drove his creativity, was largely targeted towards more worthwhile opponents – most notably his perpetually stoned mother and his uneasy relationship with fame. Using macabre humor, pulverizing depictions of violence, no-holds-barred honesty, a quick-footed flow and a perceptive wit, he burns through verse after verse, spitting a most enjoyable bile at those who double cross, or simply annoy him. But the most devastating song pins all of the failures of the world squarely on his shoulders, with Dido singing the eulogy. It’s almost poetic. Hell, even majestic. GRADE: A
Radiohead – Kid A (Capitol, 2000)
Once deemed “The Only Band That Matters” by those dumb enough to discount The White Stripes at their peak, they’ve spent the last 12 years morphing into the very thing they’ve always despised – a logo, a brand, a guarantee, a corporate entity. Their career arch is all too cyclical; release an over-hyped batch of digitized nothingness, let a scene full of indie snobs jerk off to the supposed brilliance of Thom York, wait for said batch of digitized nothingness to collect dust on a sparsely used shelf. I never understood Yorke’s disdain for the mainstream success of “Creep.” God forbid people relate to his music. Oh yeah. Yorke hates people, hence his attraction to synths, loops, effects, ambience and an entire garbage bin full of computerized trickery adored by the Pitchfork crowd. However, despite his attempts to avant-garde his way into the Bjork Hall of Fame, he accidentally created a real batch of songs with Kid A. Where he’s always been a paranoid android too robotic to function, here Yorke and the gang inject almost every one of these songs with a fluid sense of humanity. The rhythms lean primal, muscular and forceful, while the instrumentation is mostly colorful, expansive, and lively. All Yorke has to do is let his eerily soft voice seep in through the cracks, adding texture to the recipe. As with most of their discography, I can’t recall a single song title when all is said and done, but at least I know I felt something. Ah yes, feeling. How mainstream. GRADE: A-