Friday, August 3, 2007


I've been working for most of the last year on a record with a friend. It's hip-hop if hip-hop is an abstract machine, an operation -- sampling, collage, the grid. We've done just what everyone else has done -- performed that operation to the music we love, and shaped it around his fantastic lyrics. I talk about it like its a silly just-for-fun project, but I'm secretly as proud and excited about it as can be.

I like working with samples because they never quite fit. When I'm writing music at the page, its easy to make a phrase fit the meter, peak where it should, interact harmonically the way I want etc. It's extra trouble not to. Working with samples is the opposite. They never behave exactly like I want them to, and so they demand solutions that stretch me. My job isn't to Express Myself; it is to make compromises, compute optima, lots of slight-of-hand. I like that much better.

It's of course naive of me to say writing at the page is easy. But it's only hard (and only good) insofar as I work with the same attitude: first, freely welcome irreconcilable elements, and then struggle for an acceptable solution. Irreconcilables are the bootstraps by which we transcend.