My first Pitchfork review!

Moor Mother's Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes invokes cosmic debts.

Several posts are still in purgatory, but for now: for Pitchfork, I reviewed Moor Mother’s Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes, an album about cosmic debts, spiritual residues and the beginningless and endless cataclysm we call “the world.”

This is particularly exciting for me, as I inhabit the radical identity of “guy who has been reading Pitchfork since he was a teenager.” Shout out to Elizabeth Gold and Jayson Greene, the plugs!


Roy DeCarava’s “the sound i saw” is exhibited at David Zwirner

So, I have at least 3 Big Boy Posts I’ve been mulling over for months but can’t get myself to finish. But in the mean time, here’s a short one about the Roy DeCarava exhibit at David Zwirner. Why not, right?

Roy DeCarava’s the sound i saw is exhibited at David Zwirner

Roy DeCarava, “Edna Smith”

Roy DeCarava took pictures outside—the lines in his outdoor shots are clean and people are shunted into place between billboards in tiny compositions. Advertisements, for cigarettes and insurance, slice and dice the frames. He shot inside—in the Jazz clubs at the core of David Zwirner’s exhibition of the sound i saw, that geometry melts. Below—within—is the organic, the real.

Roy DeCarava, “Pepsi.” 

Up there, as in “Fashion Central” and “Pepsi,” men are tools or merely lines, dragging boxes of clothes or heaving cases of cola. Open air is negative space: white, frigid and unforgiving. 

Roy DeCarava, “John Coltrane and Ben Webster”

Down here, John Coltrane holds Ben Webster close, and DeCarava’s framing is so intimate you expect to feel their breath. Darkness is warmth: the drummer Elvin Jones drips with sweat that might be tears, wrapped in a silver steam. In these secret places, the supernatural is wrenched into being—an anonymous soul singer’s writhing threatens the solidity of the metal microphone stand, even the integrity of the frame. In a 1961 portrait of bassist Jimmy Garrison, four strings become a dozen as his fingers blur time. 

Roy DeCarava, “Elvin Jones.”

Two visions of work: above, the mechanical, pilfered of meaning; below, the human and even the holy.

Other Stuff

If you see one of these around, tag me on IG!

That’s it! As always, the Instagram for this project is @CriticalPartyStudies and you can email e-mail me at if you want to talk. Subscribe and tell your friends if you think it’s good!

hey big head

For Brooklyn Daily Eagle, I wrote about a guitar shop that donates profits to music lessons for Brooklyn kids

This blog definitely still exists, and I’m writing a new post as we squeak, but for now satiate yourself with me writing in Brooklyn Daily Eagle about Orphan Guitars, a Carroll Gardens guitar shop donating profits to music lessons and instruments for kids:

Also, I’ve been writing a fair number of show reviews for Bowery Presents, if you’re into that sort of thing (if you’re not, this may not be the blog for you, but stay subscribed for the sake of my engagement numbers):


[Uncensored] The 2019 XXL Freshmen play The Playstation Theater

My review of the XXL Freshman showcase went up today at Bowery Presents. Unfortunately, I had to cut out some less-than-positive commentary, so I figured I’d throw up the unedited draft here.

“Make some noise if you wanna hear real lyrics,” called the night’s host, DJ Self. “Boo!” the crowd responded. 

It’s not that the audience for the 2019 XXL Freshman showcase hated “real lyrics.” They were just bored by such a prescriptive assertion of what rap ought to be, especially on a night that they’d come to see (most of) a Freshman class that is so increasingly representative of all the things rap can be. 

The 2019 XXL Freshmen, for the most part, made it to this stage by proving themselves to have the kind of savvy to know when to invoke, when to annotate, when to diverge from, and even when to mock canonical hip hop: YBN Cordae twists Eminem’s sneering “My Name Is” into his own mask to don and remove at will. And most of these rappers sing, encamping themselves in the liminal space between melody and chant and then roaming wherever they please. Tierra Whack, queen of that borderland, snarls, giggles and laments in the same breath.

They see the value in fun: DaBaby, a beacon covered in diamonds, dove into the crowd and swam all the way to the far side of the Playstation Theater and back, sparkling. And then there was Blueface, utterly shameless and yet a seemingly bottomless well of charisma. He wasn’t the first male rapper of the night to perform what was essentially a strip tease, tossing his clothes into the grasping crowd (Jermaine Dupri--thoughts?). 

It’s maybe unwise and maybe not even allowed for me to get on a soapbox about this, but, here I go: for years, women who rap have been made to struggle several orders harder for the attention of… whoever is deciding who becomes an XXL Freshman. The resulting contrast in preparedness, professionalism and artistry between the male and female performers was nothing short of stunning. Stunning. It was stunning to watch Rico Nasty, the kind of visionary performer hip hop fans deserve, raging against the forces that stymie the genre’s expansion, armed with props, and a plethora of volcanic hits from which to pick her setlist, only to be billed below… Lil Mosey, who moped aloud through his entire set about the crowd not singing along. We don’t know who you are, dude. It’s almost enough to make you wonder who’s calling the shots. Anyway,

In the end, the night’s biggest star was the absence of Megan Thee Stallion (her flight, I hear, was delayed). “Who y’all wanna see?” called the DJ as the night was nearing its end. “Megan! Megan! Megan!” chanted the crowd. Out came Gunna. 

MAL DEVISA w/ BROWNI & SUNSON on 8/10 in Bushwick

+ a recap of the Bake $ale

Wow! Thank you guys so much for Saturday. I was so so so nervous because of the heat wave that people would (understandably) not show up, but the support was amazing as was the talent: sincere thank yous to Queen B’s Bake Shop, The Chinese Laundry, Liz Lian and of course DRTY SMMR!

Okay, so without further ado, I’m pleased to say that, even after production costs, we raised a whopping $311 for the Yellowhammer Fund!!

This is the most I’ve ever raised on a single night of fundraising, so we should all be very proud of ourselves. The day was great, the food was delicious, the tunes were banging and the vibe was strong. All while raising money to support reproductive rights. Yes!!

But that’s not all!! On August 10th please join me for:

As you may or may not know, I love booking events of all kinds, but booking concerts has always been my dream.

And what a bill: Mal Devisa is a truly incredible singer-songwriter I’ve been following since I saw her open for Sampha in 2017. Here she is performing “Live Again”:

Her support, Browni and SunSon are local New York acts and friends of the blog.

My friends Kovey and Hawa perform as Browni, a project that blends hip hop, R&B and electronic and live instrumentation seamlessly and powerfully. Here’s their hypnotizing “Free Line”:

And here’s SunSon, the multi-talented actor, guitarist, stage manager, singer and friend Stanley Mathabane, playing one of my favorites, “Rocks on an Ocean,” at the Analog Theatre:

This is my first concert, so it would mean a lot to me for you to come out, and of course bring your friends!

The dirty details:

DRTY SMMR, 1198 Myrtle Ave (off the Myrtle-Broadway stop)
$8 ADV / $10 DOOR


Mal Devisa:






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