Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mr. Lif - Home of the Brave

Mr Lif - "Home of the Brave"

I think I've figured out why Hail To the Thief makes me so sick.

Members of Radiohead have always denied the suggestion that the album, its title, or any of the themes found within it, were simply about President Bush. But even before the album was released, the general consensus among everyone else was that it simply couldn't have been about anything else. And like any idea that gets repeated enough times...

In interviews, journalists bombarded the band with questions about Bush, Blair, and the war in Iraq, to which they cautiously but honestly responded, more or less confirming their positions on the matter that we'd all assumed they had. Maybe we were all too willing to assign meaning to Thom Yorke's undeniably paranoid yet oblique lyrics; it's just that they suddenly made so much sense if you placed them in a simple, anti-Bush context. We wanted this album to reflect our very real frustrations and fears, and like any good ambiguous work of art should, it was very open to our interpretations. The problem is, this meaning remains stubbornly frozen more than four years later, like a time capsule commemorating a time that none of us care to reminisce over. There has been no justice and certainly no closure. All we're left with are the futile sentiments of these songs, the worst insult to anyone who believed that any of this was going to even begin to resolve itself anytime soon.

I never got the feeling that any of my friends gave a shit about politics, or about the world in general, really. Most of them had the feeling that it would all take care of itself, that there was a natural law that prevented anything out there from infringing on their personal lives, and that God was in control anyway, so there's no reason to worry. Listening to Hail to the Thief, I'm reminded of this growing rift between us and my embarrassing attempts to get them to realize the extent of their disconnect with reality. This only made me look like an asshole to them... which I am, though for completely unrelated reasons. I guess people move on. You've got to learn to just accept this or face a lifetime of disappointment and confusion. Still, drifting towards polar opposites on nearly every issue that we'd ever discussed lead to a few rare but heated arguments that probably helped dissolve some of my friendships a lot faster than nature had intended.

Anyway, the flipside to the vague, open-to-interpretation musings of Hail To the Thief was this ruthlessly specific track, one of the first overtly political songs out of the gate after 9/11, and still the best from the indie rap renaissance of the first half of the decade. It's also the track that got me (back) into hip-hop... which I'd love to celebrate for that reason alone, but it deserves better than a recommendation from a complete hip-hop noob , which I pretty much was at the time. Nothing can soil a good song like an enthusiastic recommendation from someone who knows jack shit about the genre.

I'd like to think I do know what I'm talking about now, but all I've learned is that it's one of those minute to learn, lifetime to master kind of things.

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