Nic On Dud
November 15, 2013 6:56 PM   Subscribe

In the tradition of the 1939 novel Gadsby, Toronto rapper Andrew Huang (previously) recorded a hip hop track entirely devoid of the letter E.
posted by mannequito (22 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Reminds me somehow of the novel Ella Minnow Pea. Which if you haven't read, is an amazing story and exercise and is brilliant.
posted by hippybear at 7:23 PM on November 15, 2013

"Difficulty: Asian"

I LOL'd.
posted by notsnot at 7:24 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also previously: Andrew's the guy behind Songs to Wear Pants To.
posted by pmdboi at 7:25 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also should-have-been-previously: Breaking Bad theme played on meth lab equipment.
posted by maudlin at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lipograms on this forum long ago, for curious minds.
posted by lumensimus at 7:52 PM on November 15, 2013

oh, I never made the connection that he did the BB meth equipment theme!
posted by mannequito at 7:57 PM on November 15, 2013

Funny, I thought the OuLiPio movement was original in this regard.

Perec's novel A Void is written without that ubiquitous vowel, "e," which I'm guessing is even more omnipresent in French than it is in English. I think that the translation must have been almost as difficult as the original composition.

The concept of working under arbitrary constraints has similar results to working under the constraints of adhering to certain conditions of pure randomness. Stochaticism, in music and other art forms, (literature: see: Burroughs: music: Cage), has it's oddly beautiful moments. Like yoga or tai chi, a certain kind of liberation is triggered by apparently anti-revelatory constraints. Art is weird that way, isn't it? I'm muddying the waters here, but, oh well. Just saying that purposely jettisoning traditional aesthetic guidelines (especially, loosely speaking, the Romantic aesthetic), can result in some art that becomes - counter-inuitively - beautiful.
posted by kozad at 8:09 PM on November 15, 2013

posted by kozad at 8:09 PM on November 15

That comment, entirely impossible without the letter "e"
posted by hippybear at 8:14 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, as a long-time fan of Georges Perec, I have to admit a failure here; I never knew (1) there was an earlier example of a novel written without the letter "E" that preceded La Disparition and (2) that Perec knew of, was directly influenced by, and acknowledged that influence within the text of his "E"-less novel. Well, live and learn, I say. Or, "Subsist and drink in."

On preview, what kozad notes above. Also, the idea that art excels within the tension created between the expression of freedom and the discipline of constraint, however artificial or self-imposed that constraint may be. Yay, Oulipo!
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:14 PM on November 15, 2013

For anyone who doesn't get the "Blaow" reference (i.e. anyone who doesn't listen to Toronto hip hop): Catdiesel
posted by 256 at 8:33 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

"I am a... good... work guy..."
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Andrew Huang's Songs to Wear Pants To is one of the best things the Internet ever showed me. I was actually just listening to it earlier today, and wondering if I could get away with making an FPP about a years-old project that's seen MetaFilter coverage before.

To my mind, while Huang is smart and catchy and adorable and generally just great, he will be forever wasted on projects that aren't trolling people on the Internet looking to take advantage of talent they lack for entirely selfish purposes. In one of my favorite examples, This Girl, he was given the following request:
I really like this girl, but I don’t know how to express it. If you could write a song about her with her beautiful light blue eyes, long brown hair, and great athletic body, that would be awesome.
In response, he wrote this song:
You have beautiful light blue eyes,
long brown hair,
and a great athletic body.

I don't even care about your personality.
I don't even care about your personality.
I don't even care about your personality.
I don't even care.
Other wonderful examples include Lyrics to a Song, in which the requester made the mistake of saying, "The words underlined are the ones that should be stressed out a little more", and Beware the Sea Anenemone, in which we all learn the value of counting your nenenes.

Really it was a brilliant idea for a web site. The rap in the FPP originated from this request; similarly, somebody requested a song whose wordlengths are a mnemonic for the first 50 digits of pi. One of his classics, The Touchtone Genius, presupposes a brilliant songwriter who's been reduced to writing his operettas using only the button tones on a phone.

Man, I could go on. So I will! There's It Was The World, which summarizes the whole of world history in slightly more than a minute; Fortinbras, Prince of Techno, in which Hamlet is given some groove; Celtic Techno Burrito, in which a man is intimidated by the size of his, well; and Mike Celestino, What Have You Done With Star Wars?, which proves that the best quirky pop-rock is the pop-rock that makes fun of a random guy by name. Oh, and Kamikaze Highlander is one of the songs that, when I was 14, made me suddenly very interested in both bagpipes and Japanese music, both of which played a major part in defining my tastes as I was growing up.

Following STWPT while it was going on was a pretty awesome experience; every couple of days, there'd be some new catchy funny song to download and listen to (this was before he started charging for his songs, alas), and within a couple of years, he had a catalogue of gimmicky topical songs that rival groups like They Might Be Giants for pure quantity alone. I'd say that his model of reaching people with his creative projects was pretty much the major one I tried to parrot when I was younger; just two weeks ago, a friend and I started making plans for a small business that's basically Songs To Wear Pants To but for something other than music. I'm delighted that he's still making great things over a decade after he began.

That said, I think there's something less exciting about YouTube channels than there was about the crowd-interactive stuff that he did back in the day. I feel the same way about Ze Frank's latest stuff: on the one hand, I love that these people are making a living doing exactly what I loved them for as a kid, and on the other, I miss the flotsam and jetsam, the weirdness, the atypicality, that the Internet seemed to have a lot more of when I was a kid.

Sigh. Oh well. This is my just grumpy old twentysomething moment. He gave me Crunk Juice and he loves me more than bunnies. He's basically the best.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:37 PM on November 15, 2013 [12 favorites]

Um, the first word I heard was "yeah"...
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:02 PM on November 15, 2013

In a tradition from 1939 story Gadsby, Toronto rap artist A. Huang (also in a post from days past) put to disk a hip hop track totally lacking that symbol following D.
posted by scose at 10:19 PM on November 15, 2013 [8 favorites]

Rory Marinich: It's good to know I'm not the only one to have obsessed over STWPT. My favorite thing to come out of the site is "Never," which was a challenge to write a song in 5/4 time which took off, then got an extended version and an acoustic cover, and finally a video. Other favorites: Dinosaurs with a outragous BMP, Little EEEEE Foo Foo, I Want You Back, Kazookazookazookazookazoo.

Dude's seriously talented. And he's got albums for sale.
posted by pmdboi at 10:41 PM on November 15, 2013

One of his classics, The Touchtone Genius

Whoooaaa that takes me back. Wow.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:50 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know that "blaow" is necessarily a reference to anything specific in hip hop other than a gunshot. Method Man, KRS-One, and Busta Rhymes have been blaowing since the early nineties.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:08 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

jeffamaphone: "Um, the first word I heard was "yeah"..."

check yo eahs
posted by mannequito at 2:38 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

especially, loosely speaking, the Romantic aesthetic

I don't see that at all. Stochasticism can be deeply Romantic, if it is premised upon the idea that surrendering ourselves to chance allows some larger or higher order to speak through us--as, for example in Cage's mystic I-Ching influenced approach.
posted by yoink at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2013

Through an eBay auction, Andrew was kind enough to take one of my first and demonstrably lousy songs (written for my then-wife) and do a terrific arrangement/performance of it with no trolling/horseplay whatsoever, so I'm favoriting this without even looking at it.
posted by davejay at 8:58 AM on November 16, 2013

I never knew (1) there was an earlier example of a novel written without the letter "E" that preceded La Disparition

That's OK. La Disparition is still probably the first novel written without a letter "E" that was actually... ya know... good...
posted by jonp72 at 11:00 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

So a canadian rapper is going to get through an entire album without saying 'eh'? That sounds unlikely (or does he get a pass as long as it has its proper canadian pronunciation of "A?")
posted by el io at 12:41 PM on November 16, 2013

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