1. 99 Problems – Jay Z – Off his second or third best album, this is from back in the days when Hov had at least some connection with reality. It is hard imagining him claiming he has 99 anything but millions today. What happens here is Jay Z invented a term that entered the vernacular but he did it while worrying about a young black man’s life in nyc at the turn of the century:
“I heard “Son do you know why I’m stopping you for?”
Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low
Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know
Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo?
“Well you was doing fifty five in a fifty four”
Sure, that was in the far past but it was real problems, and he had real problems, between jail and paparazzi, and pussies, no not that kind, the world accumulated on him and the problems mounted… 99 of them.
2. Twin Size Mattress – The Front Bottoms – This could be all these guys have in them but if it is, if everything else is immeasurable weaker, this is still the sound of the post- 2008 generation of diminishing everything the young of the US see going forward “I begged you to stay you said ‘hey man I love you but no fucking way’”.
3. Radio Sweetheart – Elvis Costello – This is way way pre-Attractions, it is indeed pre-My Aim Is True, the B-Side of “Less Than Zero, released in March of 1977, the first album wouldn’t show till July. But it remains one of his most perfect songs, a quintessential Costello creation with a late night drunken hook up ending in regret and loneliness. The song is the sine qua non tragicomic track, it is an inescapable disaster leading directly to “Pay It Back” stuck between a doctor and a magistrait but it is as catchy as a handclapping faux country song can get with the “goos step dancing” in the second couplet there to completely throw you off. The stuff of legends.