Devin the Dude – ‘Georgy’
Devin the Dude is the kind of rapper who is less a ‘rapper’ than a good talker. He style is simple, and his delivery lacks the enthusiasm that comes naturally to most rappers. It often feels like he doesn’t give a fuck if you’re listening or not, but he’s a natural storyteller and his lackadaisical approach undoubtedly increases his appeal as the everyday “dude” (see Devin’s album cover or The Big Lebowski for context). ‘Georgy’ is a prime example of this talent. My favourite aspect was initially the beat, which faithfully replicates a sample from Toto’s ‘Georgy Porgy,’ a monster disco/rock track that in all fairness I probably like more. But whereas Toto’s original is a repentant love song, Devin plays narrator in the story of the “two-time cheat” George, who is “taking them, breaking them, faking them out / He just be kissing the girls and making them cry.” I find it’s easy to miss Devin’s lyrics, which comfortably wash over me, but his storytelling is rewarding when I’m included to listen more closely. So by listening to ‘Georgy’ you have two very agreeable options: you can happily lose yourself in your thoughts, soundtracked by Toto and Devin’s infectious calmness, or you can enjoy focusing on Devin as he describes George meeting his grisly end (“In the bed wit’ no clothes just waitin’ to die”).
Madvillain – Madvillainy
The quiet town of Motuoapa lies on the southern shore of Lake Taupo, a fifteen-minute drive from Turangi’s Burger King. The location is magnificent: waterskiing and fishing are just down the road, in the lake, and the slopes of Mt Ruapehu are less than an hour away. My parents, sensing its utility, bought the house on Parekarangaranga Street in 1993.
It – the house – is not much to behold. It has a stick-on brick exterior, and a lounge room that captures better than any words could the concept of New Zealand kitsch: above the fireplace, in pride of place on the wall, hangs a stuffed trout caught in the lake. In 2013, convinced we needed a break from our work, two of us headed there, lighting fires even though it was perhaps too warm, in September, to do so; we spent the week mountain biking, playing tennis on courts so concrete that our new balls were almost dead after three sets, making fun of the names of boats in the marina.
Indoors, experimental fingers were laid on the piano only to find that it was ten years out of tune; games of Scrabble were played and, by me, all too often lost. We watched Shallow Grave on a laptop screen, slightly improving upon the basics by plugging in a set of speakers, only one of which faultlessly worked. We would drink gin one night and whiskey the next, starting always with some choice New Zealand beer. Dinner was too often noodles with a fried egg on top, and after one such meal I heard Madvillainy for the first time. On the drive back to Auckland we listened to a lot of Nick Cave, and I wonder now how conscious an attempt this was to restore the cultural hierarchy – or the balance we were raised to believe was tipped in Australia’s favour.