Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Nirvana [Warner, 2020] A-
  • Love Black [Warner, 2021] B+
  • LVL5 P! [Warner, 2023] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Nirvana [Warner, 2020]
I know comparing this to Hassell and Eno's Fourth World Vol. 1 is too personal and obscure, an environmental album I find both irresistible and inexplicable deserves nothing less. On the major-label follow-up to this Atlanta teen's viral trap sensation "Tweakin' Together," one of those fly-by-night hip-hop hits so vague you could sometimes forget they exist before they're over, she and her man Digital Nas string 11 tracks into a seductive half hour of what I guess counts as tweakin' together, its occasional sexy parts obscured in a haze of shrooms, lean, and percoset that's as foreign to me as the Sturgis Rally. But just as I've never tired of Hassell and Eno's "anthropological minimalism" and "ambient esoteric kitsch," to quote my review of four decades ago, the artist born Brooklyn Rodriguez's druggy dreams of "Left my soul when I died but my energy came right back" and "This shirt cost two bucks but I'm too fly for this shit" have atmospheric staying power. And she's clear as a bell about one thing, mentions it more than once just to make sure: "It's 50 for a show, 50 for a show yeah." Fifty grand, she means. A-

Love Black [Warner, 2021]
For me a major charm of Brooklyn Rodriguez's 2020 Nirvana "mixtape" was that it came from another planet. One reason I found its stoned atmospherics so seductive was that I had no interest in what drugs or other dissipations activated them. They just sounded seductively weird in a way with no parallel in this aged white guy's considerable hip-hop experience, in particular the Atlanta trap that's failed to ensnare him for many years. Sonically, musically, Rodriguez's first proper "album" is different--its somewhat repetitive hooks and effects announce themselves in a well-tooled way that annoyed me at first, although soon I noticed that they were sinking in efficiently enough. So I ended up respecting this record and then some, and noted that the sexuality that's so muffled on Nirvana turns blatant as fuck as BKtherula passes from scrumptious pussy to scrumptious pussy, each one lured away from men who think they're all that in a cool show of sexual conquest as subcultural combat. "Hide your hoe," she warns; "I am that nigger, I am not your bitch." How long will this phase last? Quite a while, she brags, because she's got corporate moneybags behind her: "I'm smart as fuck and that's why they want me around." Dare I add until they don't? B+

LVL5 P! [Warner, 2023]
Third album etiquette dictates that when you choose to murmur 10 "songs" in just 25 minutes it's not cool to let on how much you want to get ahead as you do so ("Pssyonft," "We Made It") ***