“Christgau is the last true-blue record critic on earth. [He’s] pretty much who I make my records for..” —Questlove (leader of The Roots)
This is a quote from the blurb section at Harper Collins’ page for Robert Christgau’s new memoir. Given Questlove’s position as a kind of eminent statesman in the rap/hip hop world, it gives us one explanation for how we’ve reached a day when popular music is in roughly the position it was in 1954. On the sidelines. Irrelevant. Nerveless. Unheeded.
In some ways it’s worse now. Because the white music often dominating the hip hop charts these days is spiritually descended from the Crew Cuts/Pat Boone aesthetic, not the Elvis Presley/Carl Perkins aesthetic (which led the charge the last time this happened).
So no I’m not going to start a new category, because if I did it would just be this and nothing else (and nothing, incidentally, to do with Christgau personally):
Please, please, please do not make your art for a critic. Any critic. Ever.
Because nobody who has mattered ever, ever did.
And nobody who will matter ever, ever will.
You don’t need to listen to me. But you should listen to those who laid the cornerstones.