top 100 reasons that El Gran Silencio's Super Riddim Internacional Vol. 1 is the best album of the year, #'s 20-29

20. Because this guy agrees, and he is an actual real live Latino!

21. I am not an actual real live Latino, despite my somewhat ambiguous last name: I am Irish and Slovak and Swedish and unspecified Slav (probably Serb, same family last name as Darko from the Pistons). But I have always had a deep kinship with Mexican culture and music, somehow. Some of it stems from my mom having grown up in the Mission District in San Francisco and dating a ton of dudes with Z as the last letter of their last name -- I was probably just one heartbreak away from having a name like that. [Insert philosophical argument here.] Me and Mom went on an "Old Boyfriends Tour of San Francisco" one time, she showed me where they all lived and where they hung out and stuff. It was classic. We also got drunk in this dive bar in the middle of the day and had to sit there for a while drinking coffee before we could get back into the car so she could show me where this guy named "Speedy" Gonzalez lived. It was a tough-ass neighborhood indeed, me and my mom rollin' pimpinela-style through there. My mom gots the illest gangsta lean.

22. Another part of it is that I grew up in the Willamette Valley where there is a HUGE Mexican-American presence, former migrant families who've settled down; not so much when I was in high school (although we were all in love with the Godinez twins and Edna B., and Henry Gonzalez was a stud of a linebacker for the beloved Cougars) but now it's like up to 10,000 people in Canby and a lot of the growth are Mexican families. Which rocks in a major way and I love it. So this is me reconnecting with my roots, baby.

23. Plus a high school girlfriend who was half Colombian and used to sweet-talk to me en espanol. This should happen to everyone.

24. Plus when we were in Mexico this summer we went into a little shop in Playa del Carmen and the only two CDs I recognized were Cafe Tacuba and this one.

25. Plus my favorite musical moment of the year: when you're down in that area in Mexico, the best way to get around is to wait on the side of the highway for the Colectivo vans that cruise around and pick people up for 150 pesos each. This one day, it was like 95 degrees (August in Mexico, we're smart!) and we catch this van and squeeze in amongst all these people going to and coming from work and the radio is on and I'm absorbing all this great cumbia music, it's pumpin', can't understand it never heard it before or since no idea who it was by but it was all brilliant. Suddenly, "Cumbiamuffin" comes on the radio! I'm all excited, I'm all bouncing around inside my head but I can't dance there wedged into my seat beside this 60-year-old woman and this HUGE guy, and I look up to the front seat and there's a teenager sitting there nodding his head to the music and mouthing "hey!" right at the right time, he's obviously a fan. I felt like screaming in triumph. It was too perfect to have actually happened. But it did. I swear to God and Jimmy Webb.

26. Because it sounds dope in the car, dopest car record of the year. I played this on road trips to Iowa and Minnesota and Illinois and far northern Wisconsin, and was convinced that this was the first time such vibrant joyful music had ever been played in these remote outposts of the world. I travel a lot now, mostly in spring to schools and stuff, so roadtrip music is important to me; Super Riddim Internacional is perfect because it alternates the fast bouncy stuff with the slower mellower stuff, you need both for a road trip, usually you have to alternate the discs, this is like a mixtape for ME on the road. Aural coffee.

27. I used to love records where it was clear that the artist had a firm grasp of rock and pop history but weren't trying too hard to let me know about it. Then I decided not to care about stuff like that. Now I do again. EGS have encyclopaedic knowledge about all kinds of music, but they do it all from a fan's perspective, rather than as showoff musos.

28. Unlike, say, OutKast. Andre in particular. Is there any question at all that Speakerboxxx/The Love Below isn't going to rule the Pazz and Jop poll this year? Is there any question at all that a lot of critics are choosing it because they think it revolutionary that rap guys want to make non-rap music? Or to incorporate other styles in a hip-hop context OH MY GOSH HOW REVOLUTIONARY that has to be my #1 album of the year because come on, dude, it makes me look great to have that one on my list! Plus, "Hey Ya" is like the Pixies! O Andre, our poor misunderstood genius, it's okay to break free of the hip-hop ghetto and let your freak flag fly...high...like a bird in the sky... And yeah, the other one's pretty good too. (Alternate corny critical reading: Andre's disc has higher highs but lower lows, Big Boi's is more consistent, harrumph, this means I got soul and see more deeply.)

To be serious about this, though: it's a really good album, but it's fatally flawed in a way that I totally predicted. I wasn't all wild about Stankonia, because it sounded rushed, overbusy, too eager to show us how catholic their tastes were. Plus, it seemed that Boi was forcing the whole "player" thing too much, a thankless task that made for some ugly moments (the "dick all in her mouth" line in "Ms. Jackson" spoiled that song for me, and I kind of suspected that Andre put him up to it so that he could ride out that 'sensitive' thing himself) (oh and that "throat baby" line too) (and some other stuff, I don't remember all of it, I sold that disc). And a lot of people are salivating over the whole "now that they've separated themselves out it's pretty clear that Andre's a genius and that Boi is better than I thought he was" critical opinion.

Me, I think Andre's disc is too diffuse LYRICALLY; I dig all the stylehopping just fine, but he doesn't really have a central personality to go along with all that glitz. Boi is who he is, a slam poet with more funk than usual (and some surprising political chops), gully but enlightenedly so, finally free of the need to be the hardass to Andre's poet. But Andre doesn't really live up to that rep anymore, either: "Hey Ya" is about NOTHING, the closing song threatens biography and then peters out because he doesn't really know his own mind, and some of that stuff is so misogynistic and unfeeling that I don't trust the "oh God is a woman, just let me find a good bedpartner, guys are self-critical too" parts. It's all hogwash and I ain't buying it...except that I do like Boi's disc and I do think Andre's has good moments.

29. Because I haven't heard Dizzee Rascal or Richard X or anything like that, and they wouldn't make my list anyway.

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