Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip- the new popist commandments

Every now and then, a great song comes along that just flattens you and makes you say "WOW!" It will render most of what you've been listening to otherwise recently as useless and a waste of your time. You wonder why anyone hasn't done this song before or done it this way. It just comes out of nowhere and you're not the same after it.

That's how I felt when I heard "Thou Shalt Always Kill" by Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip. I had heard something like it from the first album by the Streets, another delightfully mouthy British wordsmith who wasn't so much rapping at times as letting words flow and launch out even more naturally. I also heard it on Lazyboy's wonderfully hilarious "Underwear Goes Inside the Pants," which is like several great stand-up routines strung together. Also, some of LCD Soundsystem's great tracks (when they get both the words and music just right like "North American Scum") are canny, funny mixes of indie and dance critique. But Le Sac and Pip are on to something even bolder.

Starting out with a marching drum machine beat and a percussion swish that sounds like someone hyperventilating, Le Sac makes makes the song fell like as a solid dance track right out of the gate. Then Pip (who in the video looks like a cross between Rick Rubin, ZZ Top and Matisyahu) comes in after about 20 seconds, making his first of many proclamations, including "thou shalt not worship any pop idols," a theme he keeps coming back to.

Following along the Old Testament commandments, Pip ticks off a bunch of no-no's including not taking the names of Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Desmond Dekker, Jimi Hendrix or Syd Barrett in vain. He scolds people who label anyone over 30 playing with a kid as a "pedophile" ("some people are just nice"). He also scolds anyone who reads NME or "stops liking a band 'cause they're popular" (which makes him a popist, right?). Then in a rare bit of rhyming, he demands that we shouldn't judge books by their cover or judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover. He demands that you give up Coke and Nestle. "Thou shalt not use poetry, music or art to get into girl's pants," he preaches, advising that we use it to get into their minds instead. Leaving the mike after you've recited your pretentious poetry or returning to a bar 'cause you saw a nice-looking girl there (who you'll never talk to anyway) is out too. In the background, a crazed bell loop (or doorbell gone mad) gets louder and louder as he rants on.

And then Pip gets to the REALLY good part. As he laws down the law, he makes it a point not to poke fun at music icons per se but to poke fun at anyone who blindly idolizes them (told you he was a popist). "Thou shalt not put musicians or recording artists on ridiculous pedestals, no matter how great they are or were!" And then he goes off to name the culprits or rather the false idols:

The Beatles, were just a band!
Led Zeppelin- just a band!
The Beach Boys- just a band!
Sex Pistols- just a band!
The Clash- just a band!
Crass- just a band!
Minor Threat- just a band!
The Cure, were just a band!
The Smiths- just a band!
Nirvana- just a band!
The Pixies- just a band!
Oasis- just a band!
Radiohead- just a band!
Bloc Party- just a band!
The Arctic Monkeys- just a band!
The next big thing- just a band!

(Note in the video how he tosses away their albums one by one, imitating Dylan's video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Also note that his targets are classic rock and indie rock.)

He then goes after the fourth estate for favoring deaths in English vs. non-English countries. Guns, bitches and bling? They were never part of the four elements (and never will be). When he says "thou shalt not make repetitive generic music" four times in a row, he's made his point well. Sayings like "pimp my ride" or replying "hey!" to the shout of "ho! is out too. Furthermore, "when I say 'hip,' thou shall not say 'hop.'"

Briefly, he loses his place but then he comes back as the music gets louder and louder, threatening to drown him out. Shaking it like a Polaroid? Forbidden. Wishing your girlfriend was a freak like me? No way. His last words of advice are "thou shalt always think for yourselves" and "thou shalt always kill."

I leave out a lot here that he manages to cram into three minutes- i.e. spelling "phoenix" or a shout-out to Stephen Fry. But the force and his conviction are enough to make you believe in whatever he says, even if it doesn't make sense or you don't understand the reference or wonder why he brought up whatever he did.

Even though Pip is on for only three minutes, it feels like a lifetime. That's what a great song can convey to you. It can even make you start and spot a song dozens of times so you can retype the lyrics into a blog until your hands are ready to fall off.

If I whetted your appetite enough, the single and video are available from the Lex label.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home