"Chopped N Skrewed"

by T-Pain ft. Ludacris

(Nappy Boy/Jive)

I think we can all agree that T-Pain is a cipher. That doesn't mean he isn't popular or important or even good—this song is, anyway. I actually enjoyed much of Thr33 Ringz, but so mildly I doubt I'll ever go back to it. He skirts the unnecessary a little too closely, and I don't mean because of that infernal voice box—which did help me to one of the more entertaining mishearings I've had in a while: The song's first line is "Have you ever seen a dime piece at the bar?" I heard the descriptive phrase as "deadbeat." How appropriate, you might think: Does this guy actually do anything besides warble through that goddamned machine? Well, yeah: He produces, he writes, he can even carry a tune au naturel. But he'll be a gimmick forever, unless he pulls a reverse-Kanye and makes his next album no-AutoTune and all rap.

Still, T-Pain clearly loves his gimmick. The chopped-up vocals on the chorus are obviously a play on actual chopped-and-screwed hiphop mixes, but I also can't help hearing some post–Kid 606 laptop-techno impurity in there too. I'm sure T-Pain doesn't mind—anything to help the bottom line. Anyway, this is a funny song—on purpose—and while a Ludacris guest verse too often has come to mean an exercise in phoning it in, here that's the appropriate strategy. His sex boasts fit the song, which is about being promised more than is actually delivered.

"Everything Crash"

by Al Moodie


Over a simple, tinkly, sweet late-ska rhythm, this reggae-R&B singer (couldn't find much more about him on the web, sorry), mournfully sings, "The economy crash! WaMu crash! Lehman Brothers crash! Wachovia crash! Down to AIG, crash too!" Timely, to say the least, not least for its appropriately no-budget video: No one in it can act, it's confusingly put together, but the plot— couple loses home in foreclosure—has realism, if not drama, on its side.

"Zou Zou"

by DJ Koze


One of the most dizzyingly weird records I've heard in a while: The "melody" (hah) sounds like a pan pot being given a bubble bath, and all manner of artificial instrumentation shuffles cozily in place behind it. I've played it out; the walls of the bar seem to grow creeper vines. It appears on Total 9 and Matthew Dear's Body Language Vol. 7 and in both cases pulls your attention away from everything surrounding them. Forget about "techno"; this is swamp music. recommended