June 25, 2013

artworks-000046557739-nb3jwr-originalEvan Nabavian founded Zagat.

Some six years ago, the bros and I convened at the now-shuttered Scobee diner in Little Neck, Queens for our last meal together before heading our separate ways for college. Of the six bros, three would head upstate to cow country, one to Wisconsin, and one to Harlem. Me? I would venture 20 miles to the East Village where I could go to Fat Beats and blather like an idiot at People Under the Stairs, eat falafel at strange hours, and sow my royal oats. Eight semesters of fornication.

Or not. New York really can treat you like an anonymous piece of shit. It’s easy to feel worthless when you’re staring at bird crap on a rusted fire escape through your only window while mice loot your rug for crumbs. Or when you’re one of fifty faces hidden behind raincoats hurrying to get past that stretch of Broadway that smells like urine. Or when you take the subway.

Needless to say, I can relate when Donwill of Tanya Morgan makes a song about being miserable in New York City that samples James Blake. The anthems never mention the feeling of living in a city so big that you can’t expect a cashier to remember you and you’re lucky if you can run into someone you know on a shitty day. Bigging up your city is so ingrained as a rap trope that it’s a central conceit of the genre. Even on crime stories and cautionary tales, the city is coveted and respected. In spite of the nod to James Blake, “Miserable” isn’t a hands-in-pockets lament, it’s an outburst of pent up frustration. So Donwill gets points for honesty and high heresy in offering the Big Apple anything less than its usual reverence.

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