06.12.2020
Armand Hammer
Shrines

About this time last year I was writing a glowing review of Billy Woods' Hiding Places. I was new to Woods, a Brooklyn rapper who's been quietly and anonymously (he doesn't share publicity photos, and he generally covers his face in videos) putting out a string of records and collaborations over the last decade, but after hearing just one song, I was sold. He's not the most exciting performer in the world, but he writes lyrics that will knock you flat. We're talking like Faulkner and McCarthy level wordsmithery, minimal and vital, all atop beats that hum with paranoid psychedelica. He's barely even a rapper; he's a poet with great taste in producers.

Armand Hammer is one of Woods' small handful of projects, along with another Brooklyn rapper Elucid. Remember all that probably overhyped praise I just wrote about Billy Woods? Well Elucid can keep up, verse for verse. The two share a profound outlook on the world, and the ability to find the words. Really all I want to do to review this stuff is to copy and paste line after line, but that seems kinda cheap. And maybe unlawful?

Anyway Shrines plays more or less like Hiding Places did, although with the addition of Elucid on every track, and a whole lot more guests, who all seem down with what Armand Hammer is doing. The music itself is a little more abstract, as are the lyrics, but it's just as gripping of a listen, from start to finish.

Plus the cover is a fucking crazy photo of a tiger in a Harlem apartment. They rap about it. They'll make you want to be that tiger.

11.14.2020 - by Steve
Original American ChickenQueens
Grilled chicken, rice, veggies

There's still hope for this country, and this chicken is proof.

11.13.2020 - by Steve
Its-ItSan Francisco
Ice cream sandwiches

I can think of few other occasions where the payoff of eating a hallowed regional foodstuff so thoroughly met the heightened expectations I obtained in the months and years prior to eating said foodstuff. It's-It is it.

Erin has been entering a monthly (?) sweepstakes on Instagram for something like four years now, attempting to win a package of It's-It ice cream sandwiches, overnighted from from San Francisco (you drove and did you flew?). Well in a great sign for my chances with the Hamilton lottery (fingers crossed!), she finally received notice that she'd won! And a few days later, a dry-ice packed styrofoam container appeared at our door, packed with a dozen It's-Its of various flavors.

Reader, these ice cream sandwiches are heavenly.

I don't want to waste too much text trying to describe them, because there's not that much to describe. And what description I could give will likely be met with something like, "Okay, so what?". Because all we have here is a puck of ice cream, squeezed between two (this is essential) oatmeal cookies, and dipped (this is essential too) in chocolate. That's it. But it all works gloriously. However they're making their ice cream, however they're making their oatmeal cookies, whatever chemistry of melted chocolate they've perfected, whatever temperature they freeze these things at, there's some combination of magic in here.

That's it.