Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

2009, the Year Indie-Rock and Hip-Hop Tied the Knot

By Evan Rytlewski
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Well, it's good see that somebody found a use for Peter, Bjorn and John's wildly uneven latest album, Living Thing. If that record arrived half-formed, then Mick Boogie's re-imagining of that record, the Re-Living Thing mixtape—available for free download on an Internet near you)—marks its completion. As underground producers like 6th Sense and Cookin' Soul give Peter, Bjorn and John's clattery beats a little more boom-bap kick, a slew of great rappers like Buckshot, GZA, Rhymewest, Wale, Big Pooh, Talib Kweli and Bun B wax ecstatically over them.

It's one of the liveliest mixtapes I've heard in months, which is surprising given its sometimes flaccid source material—but then again, at this point, rappers have more love for Peter, Bjorn and John than the critics do. Mick Boogie and his cohorts join bohemians like Kanye West and Drake on the growing list of rappers who've borrowed the Swedish group's songs.

The other big news in hip-hop/indie-rock crossovers this fall, aside from Jay-Z's Grizzly Bear fandom, is Kid Cudi's new album, Man on The Moon: The End of the Day, out today, an ambitious, sometimes perplexing and sometimes magnificent debut. Cudi wisely realized that he shared the same affinity for '80s electronics as indie-rockers like Ratatat and MGMT, so he brought them on board. The results are almost inspired enough to make me forgive the terminal stupidity of Cudi's Lady Gaga parody "Make Her Say," not to mention the album's sermonizing narration from Common.

Cudi puts Ratatat's droning, emotive guitars to particular great use on "Pursuit of Happiness," which they absolutely killed on "David Letterman" on Friday. Watch it below, and wait for the strings in its very earned coda:

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