VAN HUNT / “Down Here In Hell (With You)” (Acoustic)

Everyone knows at least one person involved in a strange, fucked-up relationship. Oddly enough, none of us will admit to being involved in one ourselves. So…if you’re fucked up and you know it, would you kindly raise your hand? Come on people, identify yourselves. … Van Hunt goes a little further than admitting that he and his girl are fucked up; he claims to like it. The conveyance is “Down Here In Hell,” a minor masterpiece of spite and vitriol disguised as a pretty, little ballad. “I really love it when we make mistakes,” he sings, and he isn’t kidding. “It gives me a reason to complain.” van hunt 02.jpg Hunt is a legitimate songwriter. He knows how to fit a good lyric to an evocative melody. The formula he uses reminds me of cats like Shuggie Otis back in the day or a Macy Gray now. His songs seem slight, but they have a sneaky appeal. Initially, you may be underwhelmed; days later, when music is the last thing on your mind, you’ll find yourself waiting in a line somewhere humming the little piano figure from “What Can I Say” or singing—in a half-remembered, mostly-approximated way—the chorus from “Out Of The Sky.” van hunt 01.jpg “Narrated Autobiography,” a track from the CD single release of “Down Here In Hell,” probably isn’t intended to be a song. I include it here because it provides an interesting (and honest?) peek behind the curtain. In direct, unpoetic language (some of which is blanked out), Hunt describes some of his earliest encounters—via his father—with music, gambling, drugs, sex and other lifelong obsessions / addictions / afflictions. Perhaps it was Hunt Sr.’s willingness to treat his little boy like a grown man that accounts for Hunt Jr.’s willingness to be the only one with his hand in the air after someone’s asks, “So, who in here is fucked up?” —Mtume ya Salaam Tracks: -    “Narrated Autobiography” – from AV/CD single (Capitol, 2004) -    “Down Here In Hell (With You)” (Acoustic) – from AV/CD single (Capitol, 2004) -    “What Can I Say” – from Van Hunt (Capitol, 2004) -    “Out Of The Sky” – from Van Hunt (Capitol, 2004)            Take it howsoever you will          Some of us are fascinated by fire, to the point that we’ll risk getting burned just to bask in the afterglow of the flame. macy 02.jpg Take it howsoever you will, Macy Gray is the kind of woman that a lot of cats wonder if they could handle, and if not handle, at least fiend for a chance to momentarily touch. Why? Cause, although very few of us are foolish enough to want to marry a Macy, most of us are curious enough to want to at least dip a toe in that lake—you know, just to test how wet her water feels. Yeah, she’s crazy, and that is precisely the attraction. You can hear it in that weird voice that simultaneously makes you wish she would shut up and also wish you could hear her screaming in your ear in the dark. Well, maybe it’s only a few of us dudes that admit to digging Macy; but believe me, even the cats who say they don’t are curious about what it would be like if they did. macy 01.jpg All of which is to say, when Mtume wrote what he wrote about Van Hunt, and when I heard the tracks, Macy was standing there grinning—some times she can look so almost—enticingly—normal. So, I have taken the liberty of mixing the Macy tracks all up in between the Van Hunt tracks (which are some of the best neo-soul I've heard). “I’ve Committed Murder” is a Gangstar remix feauring Mos Def and obviously that sister got your back, big time. The “Demons” track is a Fatboy Slim production that lifts a riff from Bill Withers; it's a bit of some post-modern John Donne, twisting-up heaven-and-hell issue; electronicly funky, who else but Macy could make this strange song so danceable. “When I See You” is a full out baby-I’m-yours love song from one of them girls who are into all kinds of public displays of affection. “I Try” is an acoustic, live recording from a guest appearance on an English radio program. I think it’s better than the album version. if you listen to this shit more than once and enjoy it, I knows something about you! It’s no secret that we all have secret fantasies, one of which is to hook up with someone who will fulfill those deep desires the majority of us spend a lifetime avoiding. These songs are the soundtrack of inner turmoil, of the tortured wrestling with the wrongs that we wish were right, or something. Some of this stuff is not healthy to be indulging, but neither is it healthy to suppress the shit; what’s a body to do? Que sera, sera. —Kalamu ya Salaam        Where you're gonna end up.... Back when Macy Gray's first album came out, I was still doing music reviews. I wrote a glowing review based on an advance copy of the CD and one live appearance Macy did on BET or something. Of course, when she blew up, I was pleased as punch...considering myself a genius and all that. (The other 99% of the unknown artists I liked ended up in the cutout bins, but that's a whole 'nother story.) I can't say why exactly I didn't keep up with Macy's music after the first album. It might've just been bad timing and personal stuff on my part. Anyway, listening to these selections from Macy, I realize I've been missing out. She's a horrible singer (obviously), but she's a great performer and a brilliant songwriter. She's also certifiably loony (obviously). I mean, when it comes to women, I can deal with crazy...but Macy? Oh, hell no! Instead of messing with someone that off her rocker, you might as well dance your way down to the coroner's office and ask for a bed, 'cause that's where you're gonna end up. Oh, and could I say just one other thing? Baba. WTMI! For real. emoticon  

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2006 at 3:24 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “VAN HUNT / “Down Here In Hell (With You)” (Acoustic)”

Brandon Says:
March 5th, 2006 at 5:36 am

To me, this is the most consistently funky set y’all have offerred. Not one beat was missed. I greatly appreciate Labi Siffre’s “I Got the.” Hearing that break made me go “Oh?” I like a lot of Hip Hop, but without reminders from musical historians, such as yourselves and close listening, many people, especially those younger than the classic songs will/might think the Hip Hop cut’s foundation is original. The Shuggie Otis reference regarding Van Hunt is on the money. I especially thought of that hearing “What Can I Say?” Low budget, big tone that makes you come back to it. Out of the Sky has one of the slamminest bass lines I’ve ever heard. And what is that break about at 3:53? Ooh. I ordered it online this morning. I shoulda had this the Summer of 1975, just back from my first year in college (yeah). Thanks for the Meters and Bill Withers, for sure. I’ll stay away from your comments on Macy Gray. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you

Kiini Says:
March 8th, 2006 at 4:26 pm

o.k., that’s wwwaaaayyyy too much information baba…

at the risk of following in your footsteps, i’ll just say it has probably forever been the word on the street (since before streets were paved) that psycho sex (sex w/crazy people) is the best sex. fun, surprising, exciting, no boundaries.

but boy is it also the most expensive!!!!

i’ll halt my TMI right there.

i’ve never heard this remix of I’ve Committed Murder. there’s a bluesy, sort of “what choice did I have” feel to the original. This remix w/the rapping interchange between Mos and Macy is really frightening, like yo, would you want to be sleeping with that person?

Kiini Says:
March 8th, 2006 at 4:42 pm

Down Here in Hell sounds a LOT prettier than I imagined it would when I read the write up. I mean, it’s like a love song! Nice to hear people exploring a range of emotions… still mulling over this one and letting it sink in.

Kiini Says:
March 8th, 2006 at 4:58 pm

by the way, Mtume. What is a Gangstar remix?

A remix that Premier did and that the MC introduces… or does he have something to do with the remix? Am I blanking on his name (the MC) or is he referred to as Gangstar (I can see his face clear as day). No, Gangstar is the group, right?

Anyway what is the MC up to?

      Mtume says:     

Gang Starr is a duo, Kiini. Guru is the MC. Primo produced the track, Guru MC’ed. Result: Gang Starr remix. As for what he’s up to, Guru dropped a solo CD last year.

Kiini Says:
March 8th, 2006 at 5:10 pm

O.k., I’m sorry I’m blowing up BOL today. This is my first real stretch of time with all responsibilities quiet b/c they’ve gotten a minimum of attention that would keep them from deterring me from enjoying my own time.

but I want to say:

1. after listening to Down Here in Hell (With You) a few more times, I realize he is as psycho as his mate. Classic co-dependence. Need the drama to stay interested. And soap operas need the drama to keep the viewers interested.

2. Mtume, thanks for including the brief conversational monologue from Van Hunt. He is articulate and aware and he’s drawing obvious connections that would help a listner get where he’s coming from with his music.

Berry Says:
March 9th, 2006 at 12:36 am

I love down here in hell with you. Admitting his weaknesses is a rarity among a lot of men. To turn it into a pretty ballad when the lyrics are the definition of irony is creative license.

ekere Says:
March 10th, 2006 at 4:42 am

This Van Hunt is lovely, been on my mind since I heard it. Makes hell sound…sexy. But damn if I wanna go, I just dig the song. 🙂

Cyber-Baba, all that wet toe crazy stuff, I learned something new this week. lol

The music is really stunning this week.

Thanks for it.

one love,
Ekere Says:
December 18th, 2014 at 4:44 am

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