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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… The Goats February 20, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

The Goats. Alternative hip-hop, politically charged alternative hip-hop at that. Their first album, and by some distance their finest, Tricks of the Shade, was released in 1992. And listening to it in later years is a curious experience, given that so many of the references remain oddly appropriate. Right down to the attacks on George Bush (Snr).

Were they like Public Enemy? Not so much, although their track ‘Typical American’ has something of the same dynamic.

Tricks of the Shade is a remarkable album. It opens with the words ”Yeah, you want to see a freak show?… Uncle Scam’s federally funded freak show… we are the freak show…’. From there it’s essentially a concept album with tracks interspersed by dialogue following Chicken Little and his brother Hangerhead (whose mother has been locked away by the ‘Pro-living’ for attempting to get an abortion), and their travels to find their Uncle Scam. Along the way there are encounters with a wide array of people, including ‘Mr. Columbus’… let’s just put it this way, they’re not fans… ‘Hey Mr. Columbus you took all my money…’ ‘No I didn’t, I discovered it…heh heh heh’. And what follows is a journey through the underbelly of US life in the early 1990s, thrown into stark relief by the satirical approach both to the sounds and the concepts.

This makes it sound either glib or po-faced, but it’s neither. Instead the individual tracks provide accomplished hip-hop and a fantastic range of samples (check out R U Down wit The Goats – “Politicians and bigots and pigs, oh my!”) positioned within an explicitly political narrative – pro-choice amongst other stances. And that politics incorporates some unusual stuff, surely this must be the only hip-hop album to ever name check Billy Bragg in the lyrics?

Highly recommended.

Typical American (‘clean’ version – natch!) – worth noting that two members of the Goats were Native American…

Here’s the proper version…

Do the Digs Dug, namechecking one Leonard Peltier (‘clean’ too 😦 )…

Tricks of the Shade

Columbus’ Boat Ride/R U Down Wit the Goats


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