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November 30, 2009 - Image 8

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8A - Monday, November 30, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *I

Videogum's 'U' alum

Wale deserves
your 'Attention'

How Gabriel Delahaye
made a career out of snide
online comments
Daily Arts Writer
"People don't really realize how much work
it is to write a professional blog. I think it's
because of how stupid blogs are. But they are
incredibly work-intensive."
Although many might not equate "profes-
sional pop-culture blogger" with "grueling
occupation," University alum Gabriel Dela-
haye, a senior editor of entertainment blog
Videogum.com, wants to clear up a common
misconception: Getting paid to provide com-
mentary on YouTube videos and write snarky
recaps of television shows isn't as simple as it
"Videogum is my full-time job. I work about
60 hours a week, and it would be easy to work
more. Then most nights I watch something on
TV to write about the next day. I'm very lucky
to have a boss that likes my work and trusts
me, so there is basically no editing hierarchy.
That is definitely one of the reasons there are
so many typos on the site all the time," Dela-
haye wrote in an e-mail interview.
"I mostly cover what I want to cover, and
what I want to cover tends to be things that
I hate," Delahaye wrote. "I mean, it's much
easier to be funny about things that are ter-
rible or silly or flawed than it is to be funny
about things that are genuinely wonderful and
enriching and beautiful."
It's easy to believe that someone who watch-
es TV for a living would prefer to do anything
else in his free time. But Delahaye is differ-
ent. Despite making a living by critiquing the
awful, the hackneyed and the woefully mis-
guided, he still has a soft spot for television,
easily providing a list of his favorite shows.
"I love '30 Rock,' and 'Tim and Eric,' and
'Arrested Development,' and 'The Wire,' and
'Lost,' and 'The Sopranos,' and 'Mad Men,'
and 'Friday Night Lights,' and 'Aqua Teen
Hunger Force,' and 'Eastbound and Down.' I
genuinely think we are living in a golden age
of TV and of comedy. It's never really been
any better than this."
But this doesn't mean he's able to completely

"It's definitely harder to enjoy TV now
because everything is a potential subject,
and I'm much more aggressively critical," he
wrote. "But good shows are still good, and
there are a few things that I watch that I don't
write about specifically so that I can just enjoy
them and not have to think about what Locke
becoming the leader of the Island says about
the Israeli-Palestinian conflicf. That's a bad
example, though, because I write about 'Lost.'
And because Locke becoming the leader of the
Island is more about NATO's role as an inter-
national police force."
The comments on Delahaye's Videogum
posts are often as amusing as the posts them-
selves, with dozens of anonymous posters slav-
ishly imitating his unique style and attempting
to one-up his commentary. Others criticize his
repetitiveness and constant cynicism. Despite
the polarizing nature of his writing, Delahaye
loves the feedback, going so far as to create a
site feature where he posts his five favorite
comments each week.
"Oh, it is incredibly flattering. Sometimes
I worry that I'm too predictable. But I'm also
writing about 12 posts a day, so it is hard to
reinvent that many wheels," Delahaye wrote.
And bored college students aren't the only
ones paying attention to his work.
"I did get an e-mail from Verne Troyer last
winter telling me that he hoped I got hit by a
Troyer's dismay is a little understandable:
Delahaye's jaundiced views can seem need-
lessly harsh to someone unfamiliar with his
sense of humor. However, he accepts that
many will react negatively to his work.
"I'm very aware that a lot of the people that
I write about on the site are trying their best
to actually create something, even if what
they're creating is terrible," Delahaye wrote. "I
respect that. But I also figure that anyone who
just sold their Tumblr to NBC or is making $10
million to star in a movie about a hotel for CGI
ferrets can probably handle someone calling
them names on a pop culture blog."
Prior to serving as professional media gad-
fly, Delahaye attended the University of Michi-
gan. As an Ann Arbor native, the decision was
"If this was a Lifetime movie, I would tell
you that I didn't decide on Michigan, but rath-
er Michigan decided on me. But this is not a
Lifetime movie, and that is a ridiculous thing
to say," Delahaye wrote.

Not content to simply focus on his studies,
Delahaye worked at famed Ann Arbor liquor
store Village Corner during his collegiate
career, inspiring terror in underage Wolverines.
"Oh, it was really a power trip in the worst
way," he wrote. "I lovdd taking people's fake
IDs and I had no sympathy for them at all,
despite the fact that I was only 18-20 when I
worked there. I think my philosophy was that
if you were underage and you wanted to drink
alcohol, you should just get a job at a store that
sold alcohol."
After graduation, Delahaye joined the mass
of Midwest college graduates descending upon
New York and searched in vain for a media job,
but he found life as an East Coast transplant
"I moved to New York the fall after college,
and I hated it," he wrote. "The thing about
New York is that if you're not happy with what
you're doing, it's the most depressing place in
the world, because it's not like some coal min-
ing town where everyone is unhappy with
what they're doing and you just drink about it.
Then again, in New York's defense, I think part
of the problem was I just didn't know what I
wanted. And I didn't know how to figure out
what I wanted and stay in New York, so I left."
Delahaye finally found his niche in Inter-
net-based writing, and his familiarity with
cyberspace led to his job at Videogum, a blog
that collects reader-submitted video links and
offers commentary on them in a way similar
to its sister site, Stereogum, compiles music
links. Despite - or perhaps because of - his
familiarity with the medium, he disparages
the majority of Web-based content.
"I got involved by starting a LiveJournal,
which is a free blogging service reserved for chil-
dren. But that ease of access is great for young
people trying to get their writing out there. On
the other hand, it is terrible for people actually
tryingto read the Internet for pleasure. Because,
let's be real: most of it is terrible. 90 percent of
the Internet is a nightmare. After that, 9 percent
is top-10 lists of kittens wearing casts. And the
other 1 percent is actually decent."
Despite his slow beginnings, Delahaye
doesn'tdissuade otherstarry-eyed kids dream-
ing of ripping apart the latest shitty media in a
public forum.
"I think that getting a job in the entertain-
ment industry is difficult, but I think that get-
ting a job in any industry is difficult. Except

Daily Arts Writer
"Yeah, they keep sayin''Whale'
but my name 'Wa-lay,"' raps Wale
on his studio debut, Attention:
Deficit. Born Olubowale Victor
Akintimehin to Nigerian immi-
grant parents,
Wale can't
be faulted for
taking on a Wale
simpler stage
name, even if Attention:
its pronuncia- Deficit
tion is less than Allido/ Interscope
obvious. And
despite the
name change, he's certainly not
trying to hide his African identity,
which shows up throughout Defi-
cit, adding color and variety to an
already far-reaching endeavor.
Deficit opens with the brassy
track "Triumph," which channels
Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela
Kuti. Produced by Dave Sitek of
TV on the Radio, "Triumph" toes
the same heavy-yet-uplifting line
as some of TVOTR's songs, but
it's set apart by its horn-driven
instrumentation and delightfully
clever rhymes like "Me against
you / The movie of the year /
Cause you slumdog / And I'm the
The other Sitek-produced track
is "TV in the Radio." Also sax-
powered and Afrobeat-inspired,
the song features Somali rapper
K'naan in a creative tirade against
posturing and poseur boasts in
rap music.
But despite his stylistic influ-
ences, Wale isn't an "African
rapper." He pumps R&B and
mainstream hip hop into his play-
ful tunes, and he makes more
shout-outs to his hometown of
Washington, D.C. than he does
to Nigeria. Ultimately, what sets
Wale apart from the crowd is not
his unique background but his
witty lines and relaxed, confident
Refreshingly timely and precise
lyrics pop up throughout Deficit,
as Wale name-checks everyone
and everything from McLovin'
to the H1N1 virus. At the end of
"Prescription," he jokingly disses
The Roots (who featured him in
one song on their album "Rising
Down") in a series of puns on each
member's name.
Wale can set an affecting scene,

as in "90210," a surprisingly origi-
nal story of a bulimic Beverly
Hills wannabe. The crisp, con-
cise synth background exposes
the inner thoughts of a girl whose
clean-cut "dream of the fame or a
ring on her finger" doesn't mesh
with the smoggy, extravagant
reality of Los Angeles. Wale's
empathetic portrait makes a well-
worn subject new.
But Wale is equally comfort-
able channeling a lighthearted
dance vibe, like on "Pretty Girls"
("Ugly girls be quiet (quiet) /Pret-
ty girls clap (clap) like this"), or a
moody R&B-tinged reflection,
like on down-tempo "Contem-
plate," which coolly considers an
unfaithful girlfriend.
It's clear from Attention: Defi-
cit that Wale is a romantic. Sev-
eral of his songs are stories of
women victimized by the world.
Others deal with Wale's conflict-
ed feelings about women. Even
"Shades," a bouncy, poppy-but-
personal consideration of race,
has him talking about a botched
relationship with a white girl by
the end of the first verse. He also
features as many female as male
Hip hop's clever
romantic gets
his name out.
artists, and the album definitely
feels more balanced because of it.
But Wale doesn't try to tackle
anything too serious on Deficit.
This is afunalbum atheart,which
is most evident on "Chillin," a
made-for-the-frats grinder that
samples Steam's "Na Na Hey
Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." Above
a thumping, party-hardy beat,
Lady Gaga does her best swagger-
ing M.I.A. impression between
energetic verses. The track finds
Wale bragging "I got the right to
be cocky / Get so much cut, disc
jockeys jock me."
Yeah, he has the right to be
cocky. Already a star in our
nation's capital, Wale shouldn't
worry about people pronouncing
his name wrong. With his smart
and accessible style, soon the
name Wale is something we're
goingto be hearing all the time.


switch off the critic's mindset.
From Page 7A
ence Rolling Stone has had on my
musical tastes. its constant gushing
over Bob Dylan made me check him
out for myself before I even knew
what "everybody must get stoned"
could possibly mean. Later, it made
me rethink my high opinion of the
whole emo scene. And it's where I
first read about Sufjan Stevens.
The nostalgia I felt for Rolling
Stone kept me reading despite the
obvious dip in integrity and rel-
evance over the years. I overlooked
the extremist, dogmatic, George
W. Bush-hating political babble
that filled each issue. (I'm no Bush-
lover - or even liker, for that mat-
ter - but Rolling Stone fostered a
hate for this man that went way
beyond the normal spectrum of
human emotion. If he had been
assassinated, the magazine would
orobably have orinted a full-color

celebration spread complete with
detailed death pics and free pack-
ets of confetti.)
I did become a little more con-
cerned when I began to notice
the apparent review inflation that
Rolling Stone would give to its
"pet artists" (U2, Green Day, Bruce
Springsteen, Bob Dylan, etc.). Still,
this egregious pay-per-star review
system didn't dissuade me from
reading on.
What kept me going were those
one or two redeeming articles per
month that seemed to validate my
blind affection for the magazine
and the $I9.95 yearly subscription
fee. For instance, when the Jonas
Brothers first graced the cover
in August 2008, I was dismayed
and even embarrassed to read the
magazine in public (and this came
months after those darling ladies
from "The Hills" posed dumbly
in the same spot). But then, a few
issues later, there was a fantastic
piece eulogizing the late novelist
David Foster Wallace. My faith had

been restored by a single article.
But the shit kept pilingup.
Around the time of the Fos-
ter Wallace article, Rolling Stone
switched formats from the clas-
sic, larger-than-average print size
to the more standard-sized, glossy
style used by magazines like Maxim
and Spin.
Now, I wasn't opposed to the
magazine's switchover in essence.
Actually, I was quite excited for
it. But somehow, with the change
in format, Rolling Stone's gradual
debasement came to a head.
A new celebrities-are-just-like-
us photo section was added. The
biased album reviews became too
corrupt to ignore. Every time an
artist was interviewed, the maga-
zine made sure to ignore the good
questions about stuff like song craft -
and inspiration and instead focused
on exactly what and how many
drugs the person has taken (seri-
ously, this occurs every time and is
almost always uninteresting). They
put Lady Gaga on the cover. It all

became too much to bear. So I can-
celed my subscription and haven't
looked back since.
What happened, Rolling Stone?
You used to be a cultural force that
dictated America's musical opinion.
Remember how happy Stillwater
was to be on your cover in "Almost
Famous?" Remember the count-
less iconic photographs that sprung
from your pages?
You lost a bit of clout after a cou-
ple decades, sure, but that's natu-
ral for an institution that has been
around as long as you have. At least
you were still a magazine that had
a contagious passion for music with
enough engaging articles to keep a
prepubescent kid interested.
But now, Rolling Stone, now
you're nothing more than a pan-
dering, overstuffed, Us Weekly-
ripoff tabloid. I know that many
grizzled Lou Reed fans will tell me
you haven't been relevant since the
'60s and it shouldn't have taken me
this long to realize it. And I will say
maybe they're right. But you have
now devolved into something that
even the most casual music fans
roll their eyes at.
Rolling Stone, you've broken
my heart. I hope the bajillions of
Jonas Brothers issues sold were
worth it.


Drive one.


Worst staring contest ever.


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