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’08 WAS GREAT!: Lil’ Wayne, Artist of the Year?

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Let me begin by saying that I like Lil’ Wayne. I’ve met Lil’ Wayne, and, yes, he’s a very friendly guy. He’s got a magnetic personality, and his demeanor alone could sell a few thousand albums. That being said, it still zaps my mind (much like that vein tattoo on Lil’ Wayne’s forehead) that he became music’s most praised star in 2008. And we’re not just talking about Dwayne Carter getting fist pounds from fellow hip-hoppers. He was loved by the pop set, mainstream music lovers, and even–no lie–the indie elite. (A certain Chicago emcee/producer is secretly wiping his brow and readjusting his Pee-Wee Herman suit jacket).

(left: Somehow, someway, Lil’ Wayne conquered the world in 2008.)

To be honest, when Lil’ Wayne’s brand new album, Tha Carter III, was released earlier this year I didn’t pay much attention to it. I gave the album a quick listen, wasn’t blown out of the box, and continued to listen to all the other music I had to listen to. I was actually a bit disappointed, cause I wanted to love Lil’ Wayne’s new album. For someone who’s not into hip-hop as much as I used to be, it’s fun to latch on to a current hip-hop star, cause it makes you feel, well, current.

While I was dismissing Tha Carter III, America was doing just the opposite. In a CD industry on life support, the album sold 400,000 copies in its opening day (which even drew a surprised response from 50 Cent). The disc went on to become one of the top selling albums of 2008 and even landed on several critics’ year-end, best-of lists. SPIN named Lil’ Wayne “Rock Star of the Year” and Pitchfork Media, the bastion of all things indie, named Tha Carter III their #11 album of 2008 (beating out efforts from music blog darlings Lykke Li, Santogold, and even–Kanye West).

Lil’ Wayne was everywhere in 2008. He was nominated for eight Grammy Awards (more than any other artist this year), he got ample face time on MTV’s VMA show (even sharing the stage with Kid Rock), performed live on SNL, was appearing on other aritsts’ tracks in the same fervor as Akon, inspired Michael Phelps to swim to eight gold medal victories (getting name-dropped on a nightly basis at the Olympic Games), and even during my Christmas shopping I couldn’t avoid Lil Wayne, as I was given a free Tha Carter III velvet black-light poster in my Virgin Megastore shopping bag.

In the midst of Lil Wayne madness I decided to revisit Tha Carter III. I gave it a couple more listens, and–still–nothing.

I was blind to its genius.

What was the rest of the world seeing that I couldn’t see? The production didn’t seem out of the ordinary (lots of rolling drum fills, some vocoder, and dirty-south-ready synth loops), the lyrics, many times, dipped into familiar hip-hop territory, with rhymes about getting your dick sucked and getting shot, and Tha Carter III may also be the first album in history to get nominated for Grammy’s Album Of The Year Award, despite possessing a track titled “Pussy Monster.”

I understand why Lil’ Wayne has dominated the world of hip-hop in 2008, but it’s still a mystery how he won over serious music critics. His guitar playing skills are almost insulting (though I do see a smidgen of punk rock in thought process), his 24-year old voice sometimes sounds like an ailing old man, and his biggest hit of the year was one he did with T-Pain (and doing a track with T-Pain is about as original as a tabloid magazine putting Britney Spears on the front cover).

Maybe it’s his tight jeans and tattoos?

Maybe it’s his don’t-give-a-fuck-do-it-yourself attitude?

Maybe I have to listen to the album again?

Maybe I still won’t get it after I do…



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.