The Internet - Purple Naked Ladies - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Internet - Purple Naked Ladies

by Niall O'Conghaile Rating:9 Release Date:2012-01-31

Aw naw.

Don't you just hate it when your opinions are proved wrong? I mean you thought about them for like, an hour. Or maybe even less, say ten seconds. Even if you just read that shit somewhere else and thought "that'll do", it doesn't matter because those opinions are YOURS and define who YOU ARE and having them contradicted can be painful and confusing.

Well, I'll let you in on a little secret: I love that shit. I love feeling that confusion of "NOW what am I supposed to think?" Because you know what, when things are uncertain, unsure, when you feel like your mind is free-falling at great speed - that's when you feel most alive.

Being brutally honest: I had no great burning desire to hear The Internet, I just went into the Soundblab back room to grab a certain release for review and noticed that this album hadn't been claimed yet. The album I wanted as already gone (seconds after we were told it had come in!) so I grabbed PNL as it was just there and I thought "I can do a quick enough hack job on this, get some anti-OFWGKTA angst off my chest".

Holy shit.

The album starts off with some synths that are so rudely interrupted by a boom-bap-Stereolab groove that I assumed a pop-up had appeared from somewhere. But no, that is just the way of The Internet. As I desperately clicked through a mountain of open windows to find the culprit I remember thinking "Hmm, this advert has great music". Only when I flicked back to iTunes to stop that silly Internet album for a second, did I realise: "OMG…"

So, wait, what the fuck is going on? This is, like, good. No, scrap that this is actually really fucking good. This doesn't sound anything like Tyler. The vocals (sung goddamit! SUNG!!) remind me of Martina Topley-Bird on Tricky's first two albums, of Erykah Badu at her most blunted, all with the laid back, coy-but-in-command style of Aaliyah. The production owes less to Hodgy's freak beats and more to Outkast and Organized Noize's bass-heavy synth-funk, here made even more twinkly and twisted without the sacrifice of melody. The album's overall vibe of Sound Dust-era Stereolab meets an MPC master like Aarab Muzik is hard to resist (and it's WAAAY better than Aarab Muzik, by the way).

'She Dgaf' sees the slick bossa nova of Jobim assaulted by a barrage of 808 kicks and swear words ("she dgaf" = "she don't give a fuck"), 'Ode to a Dream' is like the Daisy Age overdosing on some baaad brown acid. 'Lincoln (feat Left Brain & Mike G)' is Dirty South by way of the West Coast, and 'Web of Me' is pure Maxinquaye 2.0. The album's two video-releases, 'Fastlane' and 'Cocaine' are highlights (as are the videos themselves, featuring an ongoing story of Syd robbing diners and snorting drugs with her girlfriend). And it says a lot for an album when both the opener and closer ('The Garden' and the aforementioned pop-up-baiting 'Violet Nude Women') are so good you wanna listen to them on repeat.

Wow.

Colour me impressed. And a little confused. And a lot blown away. And now what? Shit, now I'm gonna have to actually listen to this whole damn thing a few times or more, then sit down and actually have to think out a great review. Bummer for me. (I knew I was going to have to listen to this album a few times anyway, as most reviewers should even if they don't like the music. Having said that, it's always a lie to say "I didn't like it on first listen, but it has grown on me" - no, what has grown has been your familiarity with the music and your joy at the Pavlovian process of listening). What I wasn't prepared for was to be so impressed by Purple Naked Ladies on my first skim-through listen that I immediately sat down and listened to the whole album in full, twice, cutting into a different writing job to start this one.

And so, we almost get to the end of this review and I haven't even mentioned the queer thing yet. And the "queer thing" is so heavily a part what this is all about. It's where all my initial negative preconceptions came from. Syd is an out-lesbian and most of the songs she's singing here are about loving and fucking other women. Tyler the Creator and the OFWGKTA fam are notorious for rapping about brutal rape fantasies and frequently diss people for being "faggots" and "gay". I am an out gay producer whose just brought out a mixtape featuring some of the best rappers in the queer/drag/trans-hio-hop underground. WE ARE those faggots and WE ARE the people that OFWGKTA hate so much.

I'm supposed to hate Tyler and OFWGKTA for their misogyny and homophobia. Indeed I do hate those things, not just because they're wrong but because they're FUCKING BORING. In the 35 years that hip hop has been tearing up conventions it's still the most sexually conservative genre. Sure, you get some pretty lewd sex raps and rape jokes, but throw in just a teensy bit of gender fuck or gay gay (as opposed to bad gay) and see the macho 'men' run a mile from ever admitting they've sucked a cock. Which is a real shame, as cocks taste delicious.

Other voices from the gay-o-sphere are telling me that I shouldn't like The Internet because it's not queer enough, it's straight titillation, Tyler's a cunt, Syd's not a real butch dyke, etc etc (as for that last one, check any of The Internet 's vids and see how much flack Syd's taking for looking like a bloke). So I'm not allowed to like The Internet' s Purple Naked Ladies, even though it's the highest-profile out hip hop album the world has seen so far. Yet I keep coming back to it, because it's really, really good. Hmmm, what am I supposed to think… ?

And here we are again, free falling through a cloud of confused perceptions with a blown mind and a beautiful soundtrack. But such is the way of The Internet.

Aww fuck… Now I gotta go and do this:

9.0/10

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