By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
There's been a lot of talk in St. Louis about car theft recently, including a recent in-depth report from some other local paper. But you aren't going to get the full story from the mainstream media, because those namby-pamby reporters over at the dailies don't have the guts to do what it takes to get the whole story. Sure, they might look at some court records, or even go out driving with some cops in dicey neighborhoods. I'm a little more dedicated than that. I go all the way to get a story, gonzo-style. In this case, I went out and got my car stolen, then got it back (with help from the East St. Louis Police Department), so I can bring you the answer to that one burning question:
What kind of music do car thieves listen to?
I wish I could tell you that the CDs I found in my busted glove compartment were by Burt Bacharach and Yanni. I love the image of my car packed to the gills with felons grooving to "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head." But alas, I didn't find a hidden sweet side to the criminal heart. Apparently, gangstas like to listen to gangsta rap. Leading the pack was the Three 6 Mafia, whose album Mystic Stylez was lodged into my CD player. Out of the twenty-odd CDs I found, five of them were from these Memphis hardcore fellas.
Crunk is in with the thieving set right now, judging from the Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz CD I now own. It might interest the RIAA to know it was a burned CD: Maybe downloading music is a gateway crime. Sure, it starts with grabbing a few Simple Plan MP3s off the Internet, but pretty soon teenagers across the country, fueled by the permissive atmosphere of a liberal, downloading culture (and inspired, no doubt, by ripped copies of Grand Theft Auto), are going to be stealing cars right out of the teachers' parking lot.
Car thieves are clearly hip-hop enthusiasts, but they don't share many tastes with music critics. Aside from one crappy post-death Tupac CD, these folks didn't leave behind any artists I like very much. They even ignored my brand-new copy of Eric B. & Rakim's Paid in Full, which I found on the floor, muddy and scratched.
Despite the stripper clothes and half-empty bottle of gin I found in my back seat (suggesting something happened in my car that I don't want to think about), there were no slow jams or sweet-lovin' music. No R. Kelly, no Brian McKnight. No women artists, either. Machismo is the order of the day for joyriders. Well, maybe the kind of strippers who ride around in stolen cars like the more manly types.
There was another type of music missing from the car: local stuff. I was at least hoping, for irony's sake, to find a copy of "Ride Wit Me." But St. Louis rappers just don't seem tough enough for actual carjackers. This is really disappointing. Here we are, a big, bad dangerous city, and our own gangstas go to other cities to get their crime-spree soundtracks. It's stuff like this that let us slip behind Detroit in the rankings this year. One can only hope that in the coming months, burglars, muggers and car thieves can get behind our DJs, MCs and other musicians, spurring us all to new heights. Come on guys, support the scene!
Speaking of local rappers, according to the Grammys (got to trademark those litigious music awards), St. Louis didn't have quite the big music year we thought we did. Coming down from the five nominations (and two wins) Nelly scored last year for Nellyville, the Lou's favorite cuddlethug is only up for one 'phone this time around. It's for "Shake Ya Tailfeather," which also garnered a nomination for the Lou's third- or fourth-favorite cuddlethug, Murphy Lee. Other St. Louis artists scored a big fat zilch. But don't worry, Chingy and all you other neglected artists: It's just the Grammys. They nominated Bon Jovi this year. Is that the kind of company you want to keep?
Speaking of company you don't want to keep, another St. Louis connection to the Grammys comes in the form of local boy made good (?) Scott Spock, one-third of the songwriting team/spawn of Satan known as The Matrix. They were responsible for the Avril Lavigne-caterwauled "I'm With You," also known as "I Told You She Wasn't Punk Rock," which was somehow nominated for Song of the Year. Now, I don't want to sound elitist -- wait a second, yes I do. That music is crap. If music is a drug (and it is), the Matrix is a gang of crack peddlers. In the words of the immortal Bill Hicks, they are "demons sent to Earth to lower the standards." The trio is threatening to release their own album next year, so that local 2004 Worst-of list is going to be a breeze.