Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Among many things, Amy Rigby's Middlescence (Koch) is about still wanting sex after you've passed the mandatory retirement age for babes, which the former mod housewife (who laid out that story on 1996's Diary of a Mod Housewife) sets at 35. "I'm who I used to be/But nobody sees me," she bitches in Invisible, and judging on the way she sounds, that's a shame. Rigby sings her tuneful folk-rock with the kind of heart that promises kindness when it counts to a guy who can communicate with the lights on. She's smart, sane, unpretentious, funny, a little wild sometimes, and if she's not rolling in dough, or child care either, she doesn't expect you to make up the difference all by yourself. "What's the difference between a drummer and a U.S. Savings Bond?" she joshes. "One will eventually mature and earn money." But tonight she's gonna Give the Drummer Some anyway.

John Forté is one of those educated rappers, and on Poly Sci (Ruffhouse/Columbia) he's at no pains to hide it. Sure he lets you know he's down with the street brothers in his Nutzbaby Crew, but that doesn't make him a banger. "Fuck bein' tough niggas died out my window," he pronounces in his slightly distracted flow, and he leaves reason to hope the street hears him. The Sunz of Man, on the other hand, aren't educated at all in the stay-in-school sense. But they have their own science, and when on Sunz of Man: The Last Shall Be First (Red Ant) they warn their own street brothers to "stop killing your own relatives" in their dense, mysterioso style, they sound every bit as smart as Forté--maybe smarter. Hip hop lives. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

Playboy, Aug. 1998

July 1998 Sept. 1998