Studio musician-magicians on tour mk. a billion: Is this masochism? If not for us, for them?
The Rapper The Doom’s off a hot 2K4– Madvillainy and Mm..Food exonerated the underground’s worse than usual blow ya mind anti-fun, the former even posting up high on the Pazz & Jop critics poll. This nerdy, freewheeling MC’s on the block but he turns heads with rhymes alone, not with backstory or bootybeats or a pretty face (check the mask). Like, you have to listen to what he says or something.
Which might explain some things that happened at Doom’s Summer Stage spot alongside DJ Premier, the Boot Camp Clik, De La Soul, and the Roots. One: While people dug the BCC set, on the head-bobbing, beercup in fist contortion-dance tip (and doing nothing to contradict this pub’s latest bomb), energy dropped off quick when Doom and his affable foil took stage. Not because they lacked presence, not because Doom forgot his guitar and band and light show– the crowd was just nerding out, scanning his rhymes for new (per)versions, slaving over Doom’s about-rap allusions, etc. etc. Hey, not everyone’s kind of party, but it ain’t bullshit– just a weird thing to ask of yrself on the most humidest day of the year. But humorless? Hardly. At one point Doom pointed to his stomach and said, “I lost ten pounds.” But the speakers were fried; it came out “I weigh 410 pounds,” and his threat of stage-diving onto the front row got kids raisin-faced.
So Doom fans are faithful– some muffled rhymes they’ve already heard and a peak on the masked man himself are enough for them. But Annie’s Anniemix show– for which the Norwegian popster breathe-sings atop her producer Timo Kaukolampi’s real-time knobbing– took that doubt’s benefit, not-great-live (yet) bit one step further. I can understand why people are crying foul, but these are growing pains for an artist-not-artist, and I’m a true believer. Yeah she was a half-measure out of synch on her first song “Helpless For Love”; yeah she forgot the verses to “Heartbeat” and just kept singing the chorus; yeah her guide vocals were often louder than her, and Timo’s vocoder riff on “Chewing Gum” makes a good case for homicide. But– and this is admittedly fanboy, if not anti-critical– we can’t expect Annie to be onto something major league just yet. She is the right-fielder on the little league team who just missed a catch, and we’re her parents applauding from the splintered stands anyway, hoping something good will come of our contingency cheering.