Tuesday, April 22, 2008

who: Why?

"Faking suicide for applause / in the food courts of malls"
Genres can be a nasty thing. They can also be essential. I first tried writing this post without using genre words. The result was three nonsensical paragraphs that resembled something Pete Dougherty might have written at 4am in a hotel bathroom. That being said, as critics often ponder the future of popular music on the basis that most musical sounds have already been fully exploited, groups like Oakland hip-hop/rockers Why? prove that regardless of the truth of said critics' remarks, music will always have one thing: itself.

Why?’s newest release, the stellar and invigorating Alopecia, is a lesson to listeners who try to define their own tastes. When looking for Alopecia over a month ago, I looked first in the Hip-Hop/Rap section but to no avail. I scratched my head and tried the Rock section where I soon found the album, clad with a bright green sticker affixed “FILE UNDER: ROCK.”

Alopecia is perhaps as much rock as it is hip-hop, and as much Lyricists' Lounge as it is Cake, or Butthole Surfers. It certainly isn’t the rap you’d find coming from the tinted Nissan pulled up beside you at a red light. But within its genre coding lies complex foundations of fresh sincerity, purpose, and the kind of subtle hooks made famous by people like the RZA and The Hold Steady. Now that I think about it, I might start describing Why? as just that.

Why? - Good Friday
Why? - Fatalist Palmistry

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