Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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McEnroe [extended]

  • Disenfranchised [Peanuts and Corn, 2003] A-
  • Nothing Is Cool [Peanuts and Corn, 2004] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Disenfranchised [Peanuts and Corn, 2003]
This Vancouver rapper and label owner takes keeping it real and writing what you know further than any other label owner would let him. In my favorite song he tracks payables and receivables and remarks existentially, "In the end we're all living off consignment." But that's not the only one where he describes how dull his life is and then makes that seem interesting. Playing and mixing keyb or guitar over cut-up drums, he thinks out loud in an utterly un-street cadence that reaches across the northland from Buck 65 to Slug out to B.C. In the end you not only feel you know this hard-working guy, you want to find out where he's going and wish him godspeed. Subsistence hip hop--can it survive? Not forever. Order some now. A-

McEnroe and Birdapres: Nothing Is Cool [Peanuts and Corn, 2004]
Like most beatmasters, Vancouver's finest thrives with a partner, and although local legend Birdapres pitches in on music as well as words, it's really the collaborator's spirit and reach that make this a find. Effectively, McEnroe's Disenfranchised was a concept album about the indie-rock business. Still defiantly scenebound, this is a party record for people so determined to pursue their own idea of fun they're ready to go back to their j-o-b's on a buck-and-a-half's sleep. Bush and his war and even his economy loom over these Canadian pleasures, but that permeable border affords psychological protection--the beats are danceable in practice as well as theory, and there's no sense of hiding from grim reality. Living in it, that's all. Exemplary. A