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Curtis Plum: An Xbox's Lament

Curtis Plum's MySpace biography is incredibly vague: It hints that he may be a Boise, Idaho, skateboarder, but insists that he "once ran out of a house party into the snowy woods completely barefoot, never to be heard from again" until now. It is clear, however, that he's signed to Sage Francis' Strange Famous Records, and that his debut album Call My Cellphone is surprisingly compelling. It features 10 songs of minimalist nerdcore hip-hop, full of self-produced Casio beats, computer effects and little else. Plum raps in an affected, satirically self-important tone that, on paper, sounds like it should be annoying. Surprisingly, it isn't.

"Xbox Trife Life" is a great example of Plum's style. On the surface, it's a silly, ironic pop-culture ditty about the declining popularity of the Microsoft console. But the song isn't really a joke. Told from the perspective of the machine itself, it speaks of the domestic violence it has witnessed -- "Used to have to watch my owner beating on his wife / Really wanted to help her, but all I could do was play video games." Mostly, however, it laments its own irrelevance ("Bummed out / No one turns me on no more") and contemplates life as an animate object. "I used to play every game that exists, all right," he raps. "But I never could play that game called life."

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Ben Westhoff