tunes to hate LeBron James to

Posted in Playlists by Giri Nathan on July 9, 2010

I, along with legions of fans and a couple major U.S. cities, am pretty angry about what just happened in the National Basketball Association. For those unfamiliar with the situation — although it’s hard to be, considering how huge of a media shitstorm the guy has sparked around himself — LeBron James is one of the best humans to have ever touched a basketball and he just decided where he was going to bounce and shoot that basketball for the foreseeable future: Miami. Along the way, he gave many teams (and fans) false hope. I am one of them; he did not choose to play for the New York Knicks. I am pretty sad about this, and about the way he went about this whole process. And I can’t even imagine how the people of Cleveland feel, having had some kind of collective spiritual/financial spine (i.e., Mr. James) ripped right out of that poor city in an unbearably cruel and nationally-televised fashion, and can’t even begin to approximate that — that combination of caustic scorn and doe-eyed sorrow — with any kind of musical suggestion. But I’ll give it a shot. Here are some songs.

The Antlers – “Kettering”

This band is the musical equivalent of the fetal position. Hospice is probably the most emotionally draining album I’ve ever heard: fragile, watery melodies fronted by a guy who sounds like he weighs about 86 pounds and is subject to collapse at any moment. And he probably does, probably folds over and dissolves into tears as his band reels off a cathartic climax, leaving him to sonically pick up the pieces as he sort of breathily wails/howls for the rest of the song. This is a guy who lost LeBron James, except LeBron James is the name of his left kidney. (Just listen to this whole album. It’s brutally gorgeous.)

Why? – “The Hollows”

An exercise in shifty pop rhythms and awkward nasal quasi-rap. I realize that this doesn’t sound very appealing. But it is! These guys have mastered their own unorthodox brand of bespectacled, bearded white dude hip-hop (I am not really sure if they are either of these things but it sure sounds like it) and they’ve got the uncomfortably honest lyrics to match. Disappointed fans can really mope to this song. There’s an uneasy tension throbbing in each of those muted twangs that start off the song, then form its backbone; as it lurches along, it makes me think of a sparsely clouded purple sunset and people spitting on concrete. No one ever really knows what they’re singing about, but they nevertheless paint rather vivid pictures; there’s a particularly, um, memorable scene at a basketball court in this song. I guess you could somehow connect these lines to LeBron James but I’d rather not. Listen on and you may understand why.

El-P – “Dear Sirs”

More white dude rap, but more actual rap, and more anger. Aside from being a brilliant producer, El-P lays some heavy, heavy verse. His flow is distinctive, every line breathless and smoldering; his beats are all spiders and ghosts. He seems to channel his vitriol in a way few rappers are really capable of, serious and furious without erring on the side of ridiculous (see: Immortal Technique). Dear Sirs is a relentless song — a rant, really — bitter with a hard-edged Brooklyn cynicism. I hope El-P was somehow devastated by LeBron’s decision just so I could hear him focus all that frustration, that laser-like intensity, and aim it all at that mean selfish basketball player. I mean, this is the guy who says things like:

If fire could power space ships that safely ship the creators
Of dynamite and gun powder to the graves of all who faced it
And the slurping nerf of bureaucrat life and bean-counting slave owners
Is twisted in on itself ’til they shave off their own faces

Considering how LeBron has now officially become more of a brand than an actual human being — what with this whole shamelessly self-aggrandizing hour-long special — I think El-P could get himself pretty riled up about the whole shebang. It would probably be pretty scary.

Wives – “Brickface”

A ticking time bomb, dangling like a spider above a vat of gasoline. This band makes you feel like something close to you is about to explode. (Credit due to Sam for introducing me to these guys.) Grimy waves of feedback, guitars like knives, hollow war drums — lyrics are simple, brash, and barked with a snicker: “When I smoke, I smoke tobacco fields / When I drink, it’s 30 deep.” But there’s a certain air of irony over it all … they’re definitely smarter than they let off. And if LeBron left their team, they’d probably charge his house with molotov cocktails. Speaking of which, I hear police are currently stationed all around his house in Ohio.

Crystal Castles – “Doe Deer”

This is the slightly unstable LeBron fan who feels betrayed by his Decision and is about to take action. This is someone incinerating his Cavs jersey and videotaping it. This is some trenchcoated loony taking to the streets with a death ray — which, incidentally, is the only lyric in the song. “Death ray,” screeched over and over again over that filthy, infectious beat. Like something terrible and furious bubbling in the dark corners of your head. Though for most people it’s probably the most skipped track on this superb album — a strange and violent earsore in the midst of pretty accessible stuff — it’s arguably my favorite. It just feels so wrong! As my high school French teacher aptly put it, “it makes me feel dirty to be a human being.”


4 Responses

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  1. bchenyo said, on July 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    mayyne LeBron aint got no UMPH to UH wit! and u know it!… but sweet play list, makes me wanna stomp some babies so lebron kno im serious!

  2. Lisa Han said, on July 19, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    this is hilarious. I should facebook stalk you more often

  3. KNIVES said, on August 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm



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