Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • HBO (Haitian Body Odor) [Griselda, 2016] B+
  • Pray for Haiti [Griselda, 2021] A-
  • Dollar Menu 4 [Mach-Hommy, 2022] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

HBO (Haitian Body Odor) [Griselda, 2016]
From an opener anchored by an irresistible punk-metal drone Bardo Pond found in the trash through spoken wisdom by an M-H associate who sounds like Jay-Z to the relaxed, matter-of-fact "Bloody Penthouse" closer, this Newark Francophone will keep you interested. But the stunner climaxes the title track that serves as this hard-to-find album's fulcrum: a two-minute P.S. in which anti-Duvalier activist Raymond Joseph describes a nationally televised Port-au-Prince ruling-clique gala in which Michèle Bennett Duvalier and her rich-lady cohort showed off the furs they've taken out of a freezer built specially and solely to store them. Puts recent events down there in a perspective I'm not wise enough to elucidate. B+

Pray for Haiti [Griselda, 2021]
Like label head and off-and-on collaborator Westside Gunn, whose input here cultists believe render this the best of more Mach-Hommy albums than I can miscount, the Haitian-American rapper seems to regard what was once called gangsta rap as a fully aestheticized musical tradition ripe for formal exploitation. And on this album that tradition is in flower--every time it announces itself, the synth riff that undergirds the lead "The 26th Letter" cheers me up a little. But it's the verbal content that seals the deal. From the journalistic expose of Haiti's victimization by drug cartels to an academic discussion of regional Creole variants to Westside Pootie's shoe deal, some touches are literally prosaic. But I see no point in resisting "put this .38 in your mouth spit your magnum opus" or the way he rhymes "cornballs with no aesthetic vortex" with "Gore-Tex." Not to mention "every time I heard the voice of God it was a female." A-

Dollar Menu 4 [Mach-Hommy, 2022]
Gruffly reclusive Haitian-American rapper Mach-Hommy enlists his higher-pitched mack homey Fahim to share the vocals on their second album in two years, which while it runs out of ideas quicker than any nine-tracks-in-24-minutes should is a welcome complement to its overtly educational predecessor. "When we move it's similar to tectonic plates/It's a fine line between criticism and tryna hate" is how they begin an album where dropped names include Peter Frampton, Tanya Tucker, Peggy Guggenheim, Mark Cuban, and dream hampton and dropped wisdom ranges from "getting caught up in that street life can lead to your demise" to "fun is short for fundamental." Fortunately, the latter proves a reliable aesthetic principle. A-