17 July 2012
Articles | News

News: Intern Hate

NPR workie catches hell for review of Public Enemy classic, The Roots' Questlove steps in

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Hating on interns is all the rage nowadays. First there was the NPR workie who received a stern dressing-down from the internet for owning 11,000 (mostly unpaid for) songs on her iPod and about 15 CDs. Then there was this poor mite from Q magazine, who ’fessed up she had never listened to a record in her life and copped a lifetime’s abuse from the online CAMRA (Campaign For Real Albums) brigade.

None of which came as a surprise here at The Stool Pigeon, where the systematic abuse of work experience kids is not only conducive to fostering a fun and creative atmosphere for staff, but also helps shore up our constantly flagging levels of self-esteem.

Today we bring news that yet another intern has fallen foul of the music police, as NPR sacrificial lamb writer Austin Cooper drew howls of derision for his review of Public Enemy’s classic It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking editors are encouraging this kind of backlash, hey?

In a write-up of an album he’s only hearing properly for the first time during his internship, young Austin — by his own admission something of a “hip hop novice” — calls the record to account on a number of issues. At various points throughout the review, Cooper finds that “nothing grabs me and sucks me in”, that the album is “dated” and Chuck D’s flow “cartoonish”, and that he feels “more inclined to laugh than dance”. Given the choice, Austin concludes, he will “blast Drake’s infectiously triumphant mp3s every time” over Public Enemy.

Naturally, Austin’s commendably honest — if somewhat naive — review drew a shitstorm of angry responses in the comments section of the post, mostly of the depressingly predictable, ‘fucking kids of today’ variety. At which point Questlove of The Roots, gentleman that he is, stepped in to offer more constructive criticism.

Read his comment in full below, and read Austin’s original review post here:


Ahmir Thompson (Questlove) wrote:

Austin. I’m sure this entire response thread is brow beating you to no end. so I’m taking a different approach. i too had a hard time swallowing records that were deemed “classic” just because some adult told me so. i find its best to take in music when you have the proper context. i too found Epitaph, On The Corner, Blood On The Tracks, Exile On Main Street, & Horses “boring” and “not as good as…..(name something that was banging when i was a kid)—-but hopefully you will realize it is your duty to discover the beauty of acclaimed art and why it was so. take Springsteen’s “Nebraska” for instance an acclaimed record that was hard for an inner city hip hop fan to swallow without a backstory. so i spent an entire weekend reading every story about this album so that i could have a better grasp on what the times were like and that helped me understand (and eventually agree) why this is Springsteen’s magnum opus. i mean no one here is expecting you to be the next Lester Bangs or Rob Christgau but i do expect this generation (born some 20 years after me) with its advantages in technology to put real effort into the information it processes. there is no question Nation is one of THE greatest recordings ever. ur job is to find out why.

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