Posts Tagged ‘Rihanna’

Music Journal, June 6th 2016

June 5, 2016

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Islah by Kevin Gates

The great contradictions of a person make them interesting, like when Vin Diesel goes to give a woman a kiss. Kevin Gates is the greatest embodiment of contrast, with moments of real empathy and openness right alongside tracks where he goes on and on defending his decision to assault a fan at a show. The music is good to great across the board, lush and full without being overproduced, the beats aren’t particularly showy but never generic. Islah has Gates offering footrubs while his lady talks about her day, juggles his two phones(business and pleasure) and he loves to fuck. He can also rap, sing the hook, and eschews guests. Kevin Gates is too real.

Ξ by The Toxic Avenger 

The overhanging menace is a bit much. No attempts to dance. I think there is a GG Allin sound bite. A good reminder that blog house is dead too. Closing track “Together” aspires to some kind of lights in the sky, hands up in the air losing it moment but that dark menace, for whatever purpose it is supposed to lend, just sucks the air out of the room. This is so tasteful it might as well be hors d’oeuvres tray.

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang

The lead singer has that nice grit in his voice that makes guys like Ryan Adams and Walter Schreifels so appealing. The majority of these tracks rip it up, and “Dirty Lights” might be the rippiest of them all. My favorite part is this line in “Ride the Wild Haze”:

Get really high
Stay up for days
I come back down and somehow things are all the same

That’s fucking life, man.

The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

7 for 7, or 8 for 8 if you count Watch The Throne. For all the mess of the release and the fact that you still can’t buy it unless you have a Tidal account, TLOP is a winner. I’ve been listening to it incessently and it’s one of my favorite things he’s ever done, just like Yeezus before it. Kanye doesn’t seem interested in being a rapper anymore, and his twitter bears this out, but his curating and production abilities are still without peer. Is this a mess? I feel like Late Registration was a messier album, plus it had those terrible skits. TLOP doesn’t have any skits, it does have more prayers but it also has the drops and misogyny and that certainly gives you whiplash but that’s every Kanye album.

Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop 

Iggy has made hints that this is a retirement record and it sounds like it. More subdued than one would expect considering the Josh Homme assembled band, Iggy Pop gets some jabs and wails in but he mostly sounds like someone who is tying up loose ends. A nice record to go out on, just don’t expect him to tear the world down around him while he exits.

Don’t You by Wet

This album is boring and sucks.

Majid Jordan by Majid Jordan

This is nice and pleasant and then you’ve fallen asleep on the couch.

Hotel Paranoia by Jazz Cartier

Fake Drake songs bump into fake Meek Mill songs into fake everybody else. Guy has no personality of his own. He is sure of himself though, so shouts to his self esteem.

I Don’t Think It Is by Say Anything

This is the worst album Say Anything have ever made. The production is either purposely bad or they literally had no budget. I kinda think it’s the latter. Max Bemis does more of the same from the last couple Say Anything albums, but with weaker hooks and a thin sound. I would say it’s a cry for help but every Say Anything album is a cry for help. This one just sounds more desperate.

Khalifa by Wiz Khalifa 

Wiz Khalifa is the owner of the most bored tone in rap, maybe tied with Big Sean. He just never sounds that interested in anything he is saying. The production on this one is not bad, always good to see Lex Luger getting a check. Strictly for the die hard Wizheads, or whatever they’re called.

10 Ways to Steal Home Plate by Wolfgang Gartner

We’re ten years removed from the Summer of 06, the beginning of the blog house era, an incredible time to be alive and have an internet connection. We’re now in a sort of post EDM era, so guys like Gartner, who as recently as 2011 were dropping mega opus albums with 8 minute tracks, are turning around and making 3 minute pop tracks featuring rappers. Not complaining, you have to work hard to put food on your family. 10 Ways gets the job done.

Views by Drake

I guess I’m back off the Drake train again. After the back to back delivery of Nothing Was The Same and it’s run of all timers (“Worst Behavior”, “Hold On We’re Going Home”) with 2015’s If You’re Reading This Its Too Late I figured Views would be a slam dunk. But instead Drake has delivered his first dirge record. Rapping at a minimum, singing and whining cranked up to 11, all over 40’s “The fridge is running” production soundscapes. No one needs these cold bummer tracks for such a hot summer.

Anti by Rihanna

It is easy to declare “Best Rihanna Album” on first listen. It seems so cohesive! I went back and listened to Rated R, Loud, Unapologetic and Talk That Talk just to be sure and those albums basically have the same success/failure rate as Anti, though Anti has less obvious A&R trend chasing.  Without any bangers, much of Anti’s runtime is given over to moody midtempo slither. “Needed Me” and “Kiss It Better” have a simple majesty and as a singer Rihanna has never sounded better and maybe one day she’ll make a true front to back burner. “Work” still sounds like RiRi’s “The Lady I Know” and that Tame Impala song is now a Rihanna song, sorry, no take backs.

Hymns by Bloc Party

A couple years ago I went to my cousin’s high school graduation party and I happened to mention an upcoming Bloc Party concert. “No one cares about Bloc Party anymore”, my cousin informed me. Hymns will not change that view. The title is taken in a literal sense, with endless soft paeans to a higher power that have no interest in strong hooks or melodies. Now running without Matt Tong’s iconic drumming or Gordon Moakes bass work, Bloc Party has taken on the guise of one of front man Kele Okereke’s tedious solo records. This guys used to be the jam. A real bummer.

Transmission by Death in Vegas

Richard Fearless is now partnering with Sasha Grey on his ventures as Death in Vegas, and while it’s a better album than 2011’s endless drone Trans-Love Energies it doesn’t play as much more than extended interludes. Grey doesn’t add much to the mix besides some monotone vocals, and besides functioning as a kind of white noise, I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to do with this music. It never elevates to the point of interesting art and instead functions as elaborate “on hold” muzak.

Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

I still can’t take Chance’s voice for too long. Too thin, always sounds like he’s on the verge of a gasp or a crack. And if he tries to sing, it’s even worse. Sorry Chance, you’re no Kevin Gates. Still, Coloring Book has his best songs so far. “No Problem” has an incredible hook and some pretty good verses from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne and “All Night” is the kind of party banger that you have to put on repeat because 2 minutes and 21 seconds isn’t long enough. Chance says his favorite Kanye album is The College Dropout and Coloring Book is slathered in it’s influence. Not a bad place to start.

 

 

 

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20 Songs I liked in 2011

December 28, 2011

Just the other day someone told me that they think I just hate everything. Strong words with just a touch of hyperbole and a basis around the fact that the new albums by Common, Young Jeezy and Drake are some lame horseshit. Well, the Jeezy album is more boring than terrible. But that Common album. Oh my lord. But if you go through the archives on this very blog you’ll find that more often than not the compulsion to post to the internet was to shit all over something like Law Abiding Citizen(which I’m discovering has it’s share of defenders) or Transformers 3 and not sing the praises of, say, Drive. A valid criticism. So in a show of acknowledgment to my critics here are twenty songs that I enjoyed in 2011. I’m sure you’ll be kind in the comments.

20. Cher Lloyd – “Swagger Jagger

Apparently a celebrity in the U.K., Cher Lloyd is repeatedly stalked by critics, haters and sycophants. To combat them, she made this song where she cutely raps about how they can’t get enough of her because they be jealous and are simply jocking her steez(Or swagger jagging) and then she sings the chorus over a pulsing electro beat that rocks so hard the ground shakes in the video. This dumb thing stole my heart.

19. Rihanna – “Where Have You Been

No Rihanna, where has this song been? I know it’s made up of other songs and it’s not really all that original but it’s a fucking banger and anyone who knows me knows I love fucking bangers. She’s screaming “Where! Have! You! Been! All my liffffffeeeee!” and synth lazers are firing under her and then the world explodes. Oh, production by Calvin Harris? That makes sense.

18. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – “The Last Huzzah!” feat. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown & El-P

The beat to “Huzzah” is hot as fuck so Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire invited all his bestest friends over to rap on it. And rap they do. El-P spits fire, Danny Brown makes me reconsider everything I’ve ever said about him, Das Racist kill it as usual and this Despot guy is pretty good too. eXquire gets the last word because hey, it’s his song. Necro produced this? Thrilled I can enjoy something he has created that isn’t sad or disgusting.

17. Rival Schools – “69 Guns

United By Fate was my shit in 2002. This was unsurprisingly my shit in March.

16. Justice – “Helix

My favorite song on that new Justice album everybody didn’t like. I don’t fux with 70’s radio rock but I enjoy Justice’s decision to smash and chop it into danceable guitar solos. Y’know, like Daft Punk used to do. Remember them?

15. Young L – “Bottle of Rose’

Sifting through the myriad of hip hop mixtapes that come out every two days is worth it for those moments when some marginally talented misogynist gets ahold of a wrecking ball beat and kills that shit dead. Really, what would you say over a beat this sick? Nice things? No you wouldn’t.

14. Foo Fighters – “Rope

This band has three guitarists now. Three! I think they all get to do something fun here.

13. Limp Bizkit – “Why Try

In which Fred Durst spends the entire first verse and chorus literally killing you only to have you come back to life in the second verse just to get killed all over again. Nothing if not thorough. Wes Borland approximates an actual buzzsaw guitar, everyone else does their job and I pretend I’m in 11th grade again.

12. Beyoncé – “Love On Top

Listen, I like “Countdown” just fine. More than fine actually. But when it comes down to it, I will always pick the songs that choose Off The Wall as their inspiration.

11. Lady Gaga – “Bad Kids

I have to say that the bad behavior displayed in the track is pretty benign. Much like Lady Gaga in general, best to just move on and not dwell on it. But the Hi-NRG meets hair metal tableau works, despite the horror that is hair metal. I won’t call it magic. Maybe luck?

10. SebastiAn – “Kindercut

For everyone who was disappointed that the new Justice album didn’t sound like the old Justice album, SebastiAn has a banger for you.

9. The Rapture – “How Deep Is Your Love

Five years gone The Rapture pop back in with a straight up disco floor filler, acting like they haven’t been gone a millisecond. Good work, gentlemen.

8. DJ Quik – “Ghetto Rendezvous

Only DJ Quik would air out his grievances with his sister on a beat this funky.  Enjoy the groove while DJ Quik tells his sister she has a yeasty vagina.

7. Das Racist – “Michael Jackson

I feel you. Holla.

6. Sloan – “The Answer Was You

Picking a standout from an album of standouts is a challenge (a delightful challenge) but hey, Jay is on fire here. His best song since “Don’t You Believe A Word”.

5. Spank Rock – “Race Riot

XXXChange is my dawg 4 lyfe. I’ve been eagerly awaiting an actual recording of this song since seeing Spank Rock perform it live four years ago. Worth the wait, Spank Rock and XXXChange channel the Yoyoyoyoyo era with blaring horns and cowbell. Of course the centerpiece is the “Shake it till my dick turns racist” instruction. Yeah, this is a song about cumming.

4. WIN WIN – “Interleave With You” feat. Alexis of Hot Chip

Hey, it’s XXXChange again. The guy is great. Alexis has a great, sad vocal here but the MVP is that distorted bass synth line that creates a subtle background melody. You know the one. This is the song you play at your cyborg wedding AFTER you play “All Is Full Of Love“. Respect.

3. The-Dream – “Body Work/Fuck My Brains Out

Originally a teaser for the now set for release in 2012 new The-Dream album, “Body Work/Fuck My Brains Out” is a nine and half minute career high. The first half all midtempo slow grind, The-Dream yowling and moaning out his desire, stopping and starting the beat at his discretion for emphasis and to do one his trademark “Ohhhh”‘s. So intense is his obsession for this woman at one point he admits he can’t even defecate if she isn’t around. Damn. “Fuck My Brains Out” is the raunchiest earworm this side of Prince’s “P-Control” and it’s “Listen to me baby” line has become a personal lyric meme between my wife and I.

2. Friendly Fires – “Hurting

Is it going to hurt some feelings if I say that “Hurting” is Friendly Fires best song? The truth hurts.

1. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas In Paris

They did this song five times when they played Pittsburgh but I certainly could have heard it a few more times. Basically, Jay-Z starts off killing it, Kanye comments that Jay just killed it so hard that it’s kinda crazy, then Kanye kills it, more affirmation of said craziness, then the world explodes. Let’s do that again! My wife played this in the car about five or six times in the last two days, and it was the first song that played on random when she drove to work this morning. THIS MEANS SOMETHING. What it means is that this song is great and we listen to it all the time.

On Take Care, Fear of God II, Camp and Talk That Talk

November 16, 2011

The problem with Take Care is that Drake’s honesty is boring. Love or hate his decision to write songs about drunk dialing ex-girlfriends and this self involved “fame is hard” narrative, he fails to be interesting lyrically and musically. Take Care‘s 17 tracks of maudlin pity parties feature the kind of bland pronouncements just about anyone could convey. The act of a great artist is to make the mundane interesting, to present the human condition from an angle not always considered. The Drake on Take Care appears lucky instead of talented. Drake presents his scenarios in a unadorned and straightforward manner with little word play and a confessional style reminiscent of over hearing someone else’s conversation involving people you’ve never met. Unlike Kanye West, who is a mess of doubt and hubris and quite obviously a little crazy, Drake is pretty simple, a rich guy who fucks a lot of women. “Marvin’s Room” might be based on a real ill-advised drunk dial but is Drake any different on this track than any other where he’s telling women “they can do better”. There is a cloying sexism to Drake with his “Take care” and “Make me proud” sentiments that feel jerky and condescending. Drake’s party line would be “Had a lot of sex, made plenty of money, not bragging just saying, feels empty”, delivered in that same plain spoken style, artless and often tone deaf. Drake’s lyrics on his first album  and his mixtapes were kinda corny but that corniness was endearing (Heck, I made sure “Best I Ever Had” got played at my wedding) and to abandon those attempts at lyricism for dull statements is a strange decision. Also, what is this; “Don’t listen to those lies/I swear they’re all lies“. This is Drake 2.0 so he’s not trying to be funny.

The beats on Take Care rarely ascend above a plodding midtempo so you can’t even dance to this shit. Just Blaze shows up at one point and straight up kills it but Drake doesn’t help by literally rapping about going through a girls phone and turns what should be a swagged out jam into another pity party. Oh well, I’m just glad to see Blaze back in the game. That dude has still got it. Finally, I don’t know what to make of the choice of turning “Back That Ass Up” into a ballad, but rest assured it was a bad one.

What must it be like when an artist or creative type realizes that their glory days are behind them?  Pusha T solo stuff remains a mixed bag of decent spitting on top of whatever beats that is solidly OK, which for anyone would be fine but this is one half of The Clipse, the guys who did this and this and THIS. The beats are never out and out bad but like I said, just OK. The best tracks are the Juicy J feature “Body Work” and the Neptunes production “Raid”. “Body Work” is your standard “we kill people” track and those are usually pretty good and hey so is this. “Raid” has a great beat and inspired verses from Pusha and 50 Cent of all people but strikes out with a particularly grating Pharrell hook which, y’know, hey, they can’t all be winners. The most exciting moment on the album is when Pusha promises a new Clipse record during the outro. Don’t forget to call the Neptunes when you’re making that one, Push.

I was about four tracks into Camp when I realized that I didn’t like any of the Childish Gambino mixtapes and that Camp is just more of the same, frantic rapping with pop culture references but no strong hooks. Obviously Donald Glover wants to be taken seriously as a rapper which means no funny business but Childish Gambino just gives me a “Party All The Time” vibe, Glover playing against his strengths to deliver “serious” hip hop that no one would ever put on at a party or dance to yet is the essence of what type of music he is clearly trying to make. There is no arrogant foolishness or wild eyed frenzy because Glover is so intent on being taken seriously that there is no room to breathe. Watch the video for “Freaks and Geeks“, where Glover raps his heart out with rhyme after rhyme of references and word play but it isn’t exhilarating, only exhausting. It’s a shame that the album title refers to this instead of this.

Talk That Talk has the most good songs by Rihanna in one place at least until her inevitable Greatest Hits album. The ballads are still dull and the sex talk awkward and unconvincing but there are some bangers which I didn’t really expect. Loud did a bait and switch with “Only Girl In The World” and with Talk That Talk‘s lead single “We Found Love” I figured that would be the album’s peak, much like how “Rude Boy” was the shining moment of glory amongst Rated R‘s crappy rock songs and dubstep. Imagine my joy and surprise upon hearing “Where Have You Been”. A straight up monster, “Where Have You Been” is a future Hall of Famer which is surprising since part of the vocal steals it’s melody from a Johnny Cash classic that I wouldn’t think to nick from when crafting a dancefloor jam. The hook is pure butter and proves that Rihanna is at her best when she abandons the ice queen style that she tends to fall back on and embraces being a human being. Most importantly, the beat is fucking sick as hell. Elsewhere, Talk That Talk is about what one could hope for from a Rihanna album with an obligatory Jay-Z verse on the title track that I enjoy in spite of the fact that I find Hov unconvincing in his pose as a man who is still actively pursued by groupies. Over 40 and about to be a father I can’t believe Jay-Z would spend any time interacting with anyone he talks about on the track. The-Dream and Tricky Stewart contribute of course but for some reason their track “Birthday Cake” fades out before it even becomes anything. The dubstep track is relegated to the deluxe version so small favors there. At this pace, Rihanna will make a half way decent album by the time she’s thirty. Just keep making those club bangers, girl.