Stream “Four Score and Seven,” the First Track Available off Titus Andronicus’s Sophomore Effort The Monitor, Which, as You May Already Know, is Entirely Based on the Civil War, and Therefore is Too Intrinsically Awesome to Warrant a Joke [Myspace]
What Do Black Hammers, What I’d Guess the Drummer from Staind Looks Like, Basketball, and a Ton of Rorschach Tests Have in Common? Jay Z’s Video For “On To the Next One” Attempts to Provide a Vague Explanation [Idolator]
Stream All of Vampire Weekend’s Sophomore Release Contra, More than a Full Week Before Its January 12th Release Date; Feel Genuinely Moved By It, Grow To Hate Yourself Over That Sensation, Purchase a Timeshare in Cape Cod to Deal With the Conflict [Myspace]
UK Charity, Warchild, Announces Tracklist for David Bowie Tribute Album, Which Features Vivian Girls Doing “John I’m Only Dancing” and A Place to Bury Strangers Covering, “Suffragette City,” Neither of Which I’d Expect to Have Ever Actually Listened to David Bowie, But Most Likely Enjoyed His Frequent Appearances on Wes Anderson Soundtracks [NME]
Kanye West Announces That He is Currently Working on a New Album, Likens Self to “Kobe on the Court,” Meaning that He Will Most Likely Hog the Microphone, and Purposefully Alienate Anyone Else He is Surrounded With in Attempt to Inflate His Already Massive Ego (Which, Weirdly, Already Sounds Exactly Like Kanye) [Kanyeuniversecity]
Joanna Newsom Announces U.S. Tour Dates; Is Playing Grand Rapids, Michigan, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia Instead of New York; Harp Enthusiasts Disappointed, But Few In Number, and Therefore Lack Impact [Pitchfork]
Unicorns/Islands Frontman Nick Thorburn and Man Man’s Honus Honus Announce New Collaboration, Claiming it Will Be “Doom-Wop,” Which is Officially My Favorite Invented Genre (Sorry, Piss-Wave, You’ve Been Bested) [Prefix]
compiled by Max Sebela
Stream Alicia Keys Performing an Update to the Now Ubiquitous Jay Z Blueprint 3 Jam “Empire State of Mind,” Which, If Not Already Cliched Enough, Actually Includes the Line “If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere;” Still Lacks Proper Vaudevillian Accent [Idolator]
Beck, Never One to Turn Away From a Fight (I’m Not Sure This is Accurate, But Let’s Run With It) Posts a Song About Harry Partch After Fiery Furnaces Matt Friedberger Made a Crack About Him – Learn More “In the News” Later Tonight at JM.com [NME]
Interpol Announce Fourth Album, and Claim it Will Be Better Than 2007’s Our Love to Admire, Which In Itself, Really Needed to Be Better Than Antics…But I Have Faith Guys!…Maybe; Released Early 2010 [Paste]
Stream New Animal Collective, “Graze,” The Opener to the Upcoming Fall Be Kind EP; The Track Undoes a Lot of the “Brian-Wilson” Pop Steps Merriweather Pushed Forward, Moving Back To Sprawling Psychedelia ; Let’s Call It Animal Collective “Classic,” or Better Yet “Animal Classective” [Stereogum]
Watch Ray Davies, Former Kink, Perform “You Really Got Me” on Letterman; The Most Surprising Part: Features an Enormous Choir of Middle Aged Men and Women. Least Suprising: Is a Bastardized Version of the Original, Sounding More Like Van Halen’s Awful Update [Prefix]
Myspace Buys Popular Social Network/Music Streaming Service Imeem, Meaning That Rupert Murdoch Probably Owns Songs You Haven’t Yet Recorded; Beware, Young Songwriters, Beware (But Please, Still Write Songs…I’d Be Out of Work Without You) [Brooklyn Vegan]
The Decemberists’ Turn 2009 Flop The Hazards of Love Into a Full Length Animated Film, Seemingly Still Determined to Prove That Listening to the 80-Minute Operatic Monstrosity is Somehow Worthwhile (It’s Not, Guys…There’s Petticoats, Outdated Literary Tropes, and Prog Breakdowns…and Somehow It Wound Up Not Awesome. Lick Your Wounds, Move on); Watch the Trailer Here [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
Stream Four Songs Off Gil Scott-Heron’s New Album, I’m New Here, Which, According to Brooklyn Vegan, Will Be Remixed By Goth-Brits The xx; Elsewhere, Does Anyone Know Whether or Not the Revolution is Going to Be Televised This Year? I’m Pretty Sure I Saw It On TV Last Year, But Who Knows…[Brooklyn Vegan]
Watch New Video From Clipse, “Doorman,” From the Oft-Delayed Till the Casket Drops, Due Out December 8; Clipse, We Get It, You Love Cocaine, It’s Played Out, No One’s Career Has Ever Been Defined By Their Love of Coc – Oh, Wait, Nevermind. Keep Doin’ What You’re Doin’ [Pitchfork]
Stream Flying Lotus’s Remix of Lil Wayne’s “I Feel Like Dying,” Which May Make You Feel Like Dying (I Apologize For Easy Joke, But C’mon, Flying Lotus’s Doom-Glitch Is Supposed to Make You Feel Like Dying) [Myspace]
Stream Memory Tapes Take On New Yeasayer Single, “Ambling Alp,” Which Retains All of the Original’s Inspiration, But Cuts Away the Almost-Sickening Attention to Detail (Read: Overproduction); Yeasayer’s Odd Blood Released February 9 [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Stream Solange’s (Beyonce’s Little Sister) Cover of Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca Highlight “Stillness is the Move,” Which is as Awesome as It Sounds – Elsewhere, Remember When Jay Z Went With Solange to Go See Grizzly Bear? That Was Cool [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
Watch Alicia Keys and Jay Z Play “Empire State of Mind” at the World Series; The Blueprint 3 Sucked and I Hate the Yankees – This Performance Manages to Negate Everything; Conclude: “Man, New York Rules” [Spin]
Former Harlem Shake (Not an Ice Cream Based Treat) Todd Goldstein Releases His First LP as ARMS Kids Aflame Stateside TODAY (Stream “Tiger Tamer” Here); Meanwhile, I Shamelessly Self Promote Our Website by Linking You to Our Coverage of ARMS at CMJ [Jezebel Music]
The Books Book (Heh?!) First Tour in a While; Somehow Manage to Dodge L.A., New York, and Chicago (Possibly Due to Fear of Urban Heckling? Just a Thought); Much Anticipated New Album Due Out “Early Next Year” [Pitchfork]
Download New Track From Brooklyn Psych-rockers Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp” (Does the Overproduction Present on this Single Secure That Yeasayer is Releasing 2010’s Veckatimest? Yes.) Odd Blood Released Early 2010 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon Will Release an Album Together December 22; Release C.S.I. Like Teaser Trailer (Hopefully That Means Album Will Be Ridden With Murder, Poorly Rendered CGI) [Prefix]
Massively Overrated Band/Possible Co-Originators of What We Now Call “Indie” Spoon Formally Announces New Record, Transference, Set To Release January 26; Expect it to be Innocuous, Bland, Immensely Popular, and Contain Slightly Veiled References to Weed [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
Jay Z and Alicia Keys Delay Performance of “Empire State of Mind” at Yankees/Phillies World Series To Thursday; Jay Set to Censor “Empire” For the Performance, Meaning All Uses of “Shit” Will Hopefully Get Changed to “Shoot,” “Poop,” or “Barnacles” [Brooklyn Vegan]
Watch Superchunk Frontman/Merge Records Founder Mac McCaughan Cover Merge Artists Spoon and the Magnetic Fields; He’s Playing “Come Back From San Francisco” Which Is One of the Loveliest of the 69 Love Songs [Spin]
Download Brand New Lil Wayne Mixtape No Ceiling Right Now; Man, The Next Weezy Mixtape May Be Live Mixed From Prison. Possible Prison Titles “Robitussin Prison Blues,” “Me and T.I. Out in the Stockyard,” “My Daddy (Remix)” [Nah Right]
Stream Swedish Duo Air France’s Remix of St. Etienne’s “Spring;” It’s Light and Organic, Unlike Most of Air France’s Material, Which Sounds Almost Directly Ripped From the Soundtrack of Sega’s Sonic Adventure [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Watch Video For Basement Jaxx’s “My Turn,” Which Makes Heavy Use of One of the Most Underrepresented Figures in Nature/Pop Culture: Bears With Swords [Stereogum]
Norwegian DJ Extraordinaire Lindstrøm To Record 40 Minute Version of the “Little Drummer Boy”; Elsewhere, I Pull Out My “List of Things I Really Don’t Need” And Add a 40 Minute Version of “Little Drummer Boy” [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
October 17, 2009
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
On Tuesday, VH1 aired the 6th installment of their annual Hip-Hop Honors awards ceremony. While in previous years the show has followed a format similar to a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, this year’s program was dedicated solely to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the most important Hip-Hop record label of all time: Def Jam. One would hope that all music fans know at least a little about Def Jam, but even if you have been trapped under a sunken ship for the past 25 years, and think you’ve never heard of the label, I guarantee that your ears have frequently come in contact with Def Jam’s music. Def Jam has been home to Hip-Hop’s most elite artists since day one. Their untouchable roster has included: The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, EPMD, Jay-Z, Nas, The Roots, Scarface, Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, Ghostface Killah, and DMX among hordes of other influential and extremely talented musicians. These artists combined with the visionary genius of Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, and Lyor Cohen literally changed music forever.
VH1 deserves a ton of credit for putting on this event. For a TV station that built itself upon safe music for the middle-aged, and then developed into a reality TV powerhouse, when it comes to shining light on what Hip-Hop is all about, they surprisingly drop a steaming shit all over BET and MTV. Let’s try to forget about the White Rapper Show and focus on the fact that they have not only included hip-hop artists in Behind The Music and Storytellers since the hit series’ inceptions, but additionally, have consistently used Hip-Hop Honors as a great way to expose younger generations to the great rap artists of the past. We should all be thankful that at least one station has done the wonderful deed of dedicating a miniscule 5% of their programming to quality Hip-Hop.
More on VH1 Honors Def Jam’s 25th Anniversary
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.
Watch Yoko Ono Duet With Antony and the Johnsons’ Antony Hegarty; Feel Melancholy [Pitchfork]
Stream Little Joy’s Binki Shapiro Singing a Cute Little Lullaby, “Kids Song” – If Only Kids Listened To This Instead of Stuff Like This…Or, To Take Things One Step Further Into Pseudo-Reality, This. [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon Announces Hiatus For Bon Iver; Luckily, Unmap, The Recent LP From Vernon’s Side Project Volcano Choir Is Haunting, Sprawling, and Provides Vernon in the Meantime [Prefix]
Blur/Gorillaz Frontman Damon Albarn In Running For London Olympics’ Artistic Director (My Guess: Albarn Replaces All Athletes With Cartoon Characters, Who Perform As Avatars of Real Athletes, A La Those Food Races at Basketball Games) [NME]
Ryan Adams Has First Art Gallery Opening At New York’s Morrison Hotel; In Other News, Ryan Adams Doesn’t Seem A Very Talented Artistl; Should Probably Stick To Releasing 30 Albums a Year and Hanging With Elton John [Spin]
compiled by Max Sebela