June 17, 2010
Last week, we talked about a brief resurgence in popularity of 30s and 40s big band music, aka “Swing.” Swing was wildly popular for a hot minute, the bands critically accepted (if not always acclaimed), and lots of hip people dumped lots of money into zoot suits, dance lessons and the various other accoutrement’s of the genre. A few bands made some big dollars, got to perform on Leno, and then that was it. Nobody bought Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s second album, because nobody cared about swing, once popular culture had deemed the movement passé, and labels stopped pumping money into them. Eighteen months after the 90s became the 40s, it was over. Britney Spears came around. Things got dark for a long time.
Most fads (for swing was truly a fad-no one gets dressed up like that every Friday night forever) happen just like this. The 90s were chock full of them: Tamagotchi, sour gumballs, punk-ska (which lasted longer than swing, but still died a lonely death), etc. I’ve begun to realize that part of the reason there was no great guitar hero in the 90s-note that Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White weren’t joined by a 90s counterpart in It Might Get Loud-is that the 90s; even more so than the 2000s; were all about style over substance. Even in the wake of Nirvana, the radio was inundated with cut-rate imitation groups, bands that copied the sound but never approached the heart. It’s amazing to me, now, that the Goo Goo Dolls are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, trucking out the familiar old hits on a culture that never (non-ironically) asked for them. I imagine it’s the same feeling folks who grew up in the 80s felt when I was laughing and screaming Eddie Money songs in 1996.
There’s one group, however, that gets lumped in with all the other ridiculous fads of the 1990s that deserves a hell of a lot more credit than they get. This is a group who have weathered a declining music industry and universal ridicule by all the world except their fans. Despite zero support from radio or MTV, they’ve sold millions of records over the last twenty years. That group is the Insane Clown Posse.
October 3, 2009
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
All week MTV has slowly been releasing their list of 2009’s top 10 “Hottest MC’s In The Game.” The first question that comes to my mind is: “How well can an organization dedicated to the advancement of pop music and trends rank hip-hop artists?” In the world of MTV, popularity comes first, and if an artist has a popular song, who gives a fuck if he/she is a talented MC?
Another questionable aspect of this list is that it’s only the beginning of October. Last time I checked there are three more months left until 2010! Lebron wasn’t crowned MVP with twenty games left, so why decide on the most important MC’s now?
In all honesty the list isn’t horrible, but it isn’t definitive either. For example, including Raekwon is a great move by MTV. The Chef doesn’t have a hit video or single, but he got the internet buzzing like a teenager after 40 oz of Mickey’s [Editor’s Note: Think Ballantine’s for all you East Coasters], got live audiences across the country banging their heads and throwing up W’s, and has succeeded in releasing one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums in the past five to ten years. On the other hand, to include artists like Drake, who spend more time singing than rapping, is shameful in my opinion. Yeah, hooks and singing are essential to hip-hop’s success, but you would have never heard someone argue that Nate Dogg was one of the best MC’s in the game during his heyday.
With all this in mind I thought that it would only be appropriate to give my own, very opinionated top 10. After reading it, drop a comment and let us know who made your list:
1. Jay-Z: Regardless of how you feel about The Blueprint 3, it’s undeniable that Jay-Z has had the most impressive year in hip-hop. The album became Jay’s eleventh #1 record, the third hip-hop album this year to surpass one million sales, and has sat atop the charts since it was released three weeks ago. The singles have been incredibly popular as well, with “Run This Town” spending the eight weeks since it’s release in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100, and receiving around 15 million views on YouTube between its various video incarnations. “Death of Autotune” clocked 6 million YouTube views itself, and single-handedly murdered, or at least crippled, one of hip-hop’s most vomit-inducing trends. His benefit concert also sold out Madison Square Garden in less than 15 minutes. Top it off with a 20-minute interview with the queen of hip-hop hate on Oprah and a big article in her magazine, and there really isn’t much else you could ask of Not-So-Young Hov.
2. Eminem: At the beginning of 2009, Aftermath Records announced their plan for regaining control of the music industry by releasing a string of albums from Eminem (The Relapse), 50 Cent (Before I Self Destruct), and Dr. Dre (the fabled Detox). After taking a five-year hiatus since his last solo disc, Encore, Eminem was the only artist out of the trio to actually get his album to the people. On The Relapse, Eminem got Dr. Dre back behind the boards and the mic, but more importantly proved he is as creative, angry, and culturally relevant as ever. The album spent two weeks at the number one spot of the Billboard 200, eight weeks within the top 10, and became the second hip-hop album this year to sell over one million copies. His YouTube popularity has been off the charts as well, with 31 million combined views for “We Made You,” 17 million views for “Beautiful,” and 13 Million views for “Crack A Bottle.” Yet the man is not done with the last single digit year in the millennium: he has announced that he will be releasing The Relapse 2 before the end of ’09.
3. Slaughterhouse: When Royce Da 5’9, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, and Joe Budden announced that they would be forming a supergroup, hip-hop fans didn’t know how to react. There are always rumors of some incredible collaboration that never actually takes place, but if these guys actually could make it happen, the world better take notice! Then the tracks started leaking, and out of pure excitement, hip-hop heads started to leak in their pants. Audiences began to declare that this was the most talented group in rap. Although the sales for their self-titled debut album were underwhelming, the disc itself was inarguably one of the year’s best. They then walked out of the studio, and tore down The Paid Dues Festival and the Rock The Bells Tour alongside the biggest names in rap today. While each of the four artists have been expected to be the next big solo act for years, Slaughterhouse flipped the script, and brought the group mentality back into hip-hop.
The loathing, the vitriol, the wrath…haven’t we all had enough of the hipster-hating already? I mean, really. Let’s acknowledge the fact that some people like to wear ironic tees and drink PBR and then get on with it. Seriously, people, there are many more useful things we could be doing with our time. Take Mariah Carey and Eminem, for example, who have taken to writing songs/shooting videos just to dis one another. Or Marilyn Manson, who has vowed to track down every last journalist who writes something false about him. Or Pearl Jam, who has scattered pieces of their new album artwork all over the web! Now, these are people doing something productive with their time.
Admittedly, I did just come across a story published earlier this week, which may in fact warrant a little hipster-hate. Way to fuel the fire(y furnaces). I wonder which one of them will purchase these to wear to their silent-record release.
by Elana Jacobs
Time Magazine Runs Hilarious Hipster Exposé; Says Hipsters Hate Coldplay (And Gets It Wrong; True Hipsters Are Way Into Defending Coldplay Now) [Time]
Kanye West Believes Fame May Cause Cancer; Does Not Consider Himself New King of Pop [Idolator]
Eminem Calls Out Mariah Carey On New Track – More Importantly, Eminem Raps In Song Worth Listening To [Spin]
Fiery Furnaces Announce New “Album,” The Silent Album; New Album Is Not An Album and Contains No Music – Fiery Furnaces Define New Level of Pretension [Pitchfork]
Doom Drone Metal Guys Sunn O))) Soundtracks A Swedish Jean Advertisement; Result Is Frightening And In No Way Makes Me Want To Purchase Jeans [Stereogum]
compiled by Max Sebela
Creators of Record Store Day Launch “Vinyl Saturdays” [Idolator]
Paul McCartney Will be First to Play at Mets Stadium [Billboard]
Grizzly Bear Make Billboard Top 10 [Stereogum]
Classic Kanye Quote [Pitchfork]
Elvis Costello’s Intimate Show for Radio Contest Winners [SPIN]
James Murphy on His New Album and Hanging at the MTV Movie Awards [Prefix]
All Star Multimedia Piece to Premier at BAM in October [Pitchfork]
Upcoming Dirty Projectors Appearances in NYC [Brooklyn Vegan]
Eminem’s Stuff Got Stolen [NME]
compiled by Elana Jacobs
Last week was a moody one for the music world: ex-Wilco member Jay Bennett passed away at the age of 45; eleven attendees of a concert in the capital of Morocco were killed by a fallen fence, bringing the week-long Mawazine music festival to sad close; and though he is expected to be fully recovered in time to start performing again on June 8, Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan underwent a relatively serious surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his bladder. There were some less solemn news stories to be had – Eminem hit the top of the charts, Kanye West authored a book, Lady Gaga graced the cover of Rolling Stone – but nobody seemed to be in a particularly chipper mood. Some major artists staged a rally against the British National Party, Lady Sovereign stormed off the stage in San Fran, and Wavves pretty near did the same in Barcelona.
So, here you go, a little pick-me-up after a less than stellar week.
by Elana Jacobs
Chris Brown Defends Himself on YouTube [NME]
Gaga On Cover of Rolling Stone, Claims to Not Be Like Other Pop Stars [Rolling Stone]
New Stuff from YACHT [Stereogum]
Lord of the Rings, Movie and Music at Radio City Music Hall [Brooklyn Vegan]
Micachu and The Shapes Returning for U.S. Tour [The Tripwire]
Eminem Tops 2009 Record Sales [NME]
Brooklyn Youth Chorus Backing Grizzly Bear (and A Load of Other Appearances) [Brooklyn Vegan]
Berry Gordy, James Taylor Added to Songwriters Hall of Fame [NME]
compiled by Elana Jacobs
Some Sonic Youth Stuff Happening TONIGHT in NYC [Brooklyn Vegan]
A Wilco iPhone App – Of Course [NME]
Jon Pareles on The Return of Eminem [NY Times]
Turns Out Dylan’s Poem was Plagiarized [The Tripwire]
New Black Cab Session with Grizzly Bear Posted [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Springsteen to Play Final Concerts at the Big Stadium [Brooklyn Vegan]
Your Memorial Day Weekend Mix [The Tripwire]
White’s Label to Release Three New 7”s [Pitchfork]
compiled by Elana Jacobs