So I've been making my way through this Idle Warship joint, with same sort of pace as Middlemarch. One thing I'm learning from George Eliot (and previously from Faulkner) is that liking art, and studying art are two different things.
But I digress. On my first listen of Habits of the Heart, I wasn't sure how I felt. I haven't heard anything from Res in over a decade. (Though I've been informed that a lot of that has to do with me hitting the north side of 35.) When that happens you tend to remember the artist as they were, and there's a strong inclination, in this case, toward wanting to hear How I Do: The Sequel.
But people change and their art changes with them. This is not a sequel to How I Do, it's something messier and different. The album is still eclectic, but it doesn't cohere as well. (It's also a joint project with Talib Kweli) I've come to believe that actually isn't a criticism. I don't think As I Lay Dying coheres well either--and I've lately been obsessed with this notion as the artist as the interrogator. Put differently the art is sometimes about the process of asking questions, not offering answers. It's likely I'm hearing this album from the vantage of my own struggles with art. I don't know.
Anyway, there some moments here I really love--"Are You In," "God Bless My Soul" and "Covered In Fantasy" for instance. And there's Laser Beams which just kinda burns. The live version (from some years ago, apparently) after the jump isn't the highest grade of video production, but there's something about being right there with the crowd. Nostalgia is all over me on that one. I haven't been to a show in years. I doubt I'll be going to one again anytime soon. When I think about live music I just think about standing for a long time on line, then standing inside, enduring the openers, and the headliner coming on late. I'm just worn down son. But it's nice to get that feeling again.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.