January 9, 2010
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
Wow. It seems like yesterday the world was freaking out about Y2K, and now in the blink of an eye, it’s 2010. The past decade treated me well, and I hope it did the same for everyone reading this, but frankly, it was not too good for the majority of the world’s inhabitants. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that in the next 10 años we make major improvements in the ways in which we treat each other. Anyways, that’s enough of me being thoughtful and preachy, let’s talk about music.
Quan, our other This Week In Hip Hop man, in his unpredictable top 10 list of albums in 2009 requested that I critique his selections, and provide my own. Although I felt that there were some questionable picks to say the least (Juicy J in the top 5?!?), I think his article did a great job of letting the world know that hip-hop as a genre is tremendously diverse, as is the taste of its followers. There is absolutely nothing wrong or contradictory about a die hard Wu-Tang fan enjoying Gucci and Wayne. Hip-Hop is not dead; in fact I think it’s the genre of music most oversaturated with legitimate talent. That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to make my own list of favorite albums from 2009. While I must admit that I did hear a lot of new music last year, I still don’t feel like I even scratched the surface of the quality content that was released. I unfortunately didn’t listen to the new Souls of Mischief, Zion I, Tanya Morgan, The Clipse, UGK, De La Soul, Slum Village, etc… so without experiencing those projects, I don’t feel like I can do justice to critiquing an entire year’s worth of albums. Sorry Quan.
On the other hand, I know that there is a lot of music that I am looking forward to in 2010, so without further ado, I want to let y’all know what I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for this year.
Black Milk, Sean Price and Guilty Simpson | Random Axe
You may already know that I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of music that Duck Down Records is putting out, and from the slew of projects they have slated for 2010, Random Axe is the one that I’m the most excited about. When I first heard that Black Milk, Sean Price and Guilty Simpson were collaborating, it seemed to good to be true, but after they leaked “Monster Babies,” it was official. This group is for real. Unfortunately, Black Milk’s hard drive crashed, and with it all of Sean P’s recorded verses were lost. To make matters worse, Kimbo Price only writes his verses on his cell phone, and he purchased a new one, so the written words were gone too. So it wasn’t released in ’09 like it was supposed to be. Instead, Duck Down is hoping to make Random Axe available to the masses in the first quarter of 2010. As long as Sean kept his morale high through the hardships and made sure to persevere, this album could be one we remember in 2020.
More on Albums To Look Forward To In 2010
December 19, 2009
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
In terms of rap music, 2009 has been both utterly depressing and magnificently awe-inspiring. Through the years, music has slowly become more and more diverse but also more and more fragmented. That fact has never felt more palpable than now. Think about it: in 2019, what will we think of 2009? A decade from now, what song from 2009 will we be able to say “Now THAT was our song”? What song will come on the radio unexpectedly in 2019 (if we still even have radios by then) and unite us all in head-nodding, booty-shaking, lyric-mouthing merriment? It’s a scary thought to think that 2009 might not have contributed anything more to the collective hip-hop canon (if we still even have that by 2019) than Drake’s “Best I Ever Had.”
On the other hand, this fragmentation has led to a ton of really great music. Since we aren’t buying records en masse anymore, most artists kind of stopped giving a fuck about scoring radio hits and have taken rap into bold new territories. DJ Quik busted out the world music crates. Mos Def crafted a cohesive album with approximately one and a half hooks altogether. Gucci Mane came up with 1,000 synonyms for his jewelry. Ghostface Killah formally legitimated the art of “Rap & Bullshit.” Some kids from LA revived hyphy while doing the Running Man backwards in bright skinny jeans. Fuck, even Soulja Boy started experimenting with backpack rap. Yes, God exists. And he’s got his swag turned on.
But before we jump into this “Best Of” list, an editorial note: this is one moonlighting critic’s personal taste in rap, which carries with it plenty of limitations. Not the least of which is time and energy. Try as I might, it takes special circumstances for any one person to really keep up with rap. This is not at all a definitive list. It’s merely a jumping off point to share good music with you. Actually, I’m hoping fellow Jezebel Music rap head, Matt, tells me I’m completely full of shit and then clues me in on everything I missed. And I hope you do the same for me too. (For “The Best Rap Albums of 2009: Part 2,” go here.)
10. Lil Wayne & Juelz Santana | My Face Can’t Be Felt
Lil Wayne fans have been hailing the No Ceilings mixtape as Weezy’s triumphant return to rapping form after a year or so of coasting on the superstardom afforded from Tha Carter III. And yeah, he has come back to snapping some pretty good punchlines. But I think his greater strength is in the raw emotion and truth he spills out from time to time. To date, two of the most memorable musical moments of Lil Wayne’s career have been the pained, pleading, nearly-crying hooks to Playaz Circle’s “Duffle Bag Boy” and The Game’s “My Life.” My Face Can’t Be Felt contains more of these vulnerable moments, including the heartbreaking “How Can Something” in which Lil Wayne confesses in great writerly detail the pain of love lost and what that’s meant for the child that’s left in between the two estranged lovers.
British Electronica Duo Goldfrapp Announce New Album, Head First, Released March 23; I Finally Ask the Question: What the Hell Kind of a Last Name is Goldfrapp? Was Your Father a Particularly Luxurious Starbucks? [NME]
Super Hip Blog Gorilla vs. Bear Releases Super Hip List of the Super-est, Hippest Albums to Come Out in 2009; Raekwon’s Fantastic Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt. II Claims the Number One Spot, White Denim Claims Number Two; Elsewhere, GvsB, Seriously? Still Sticking With Polaroids AND Still Repping White Denim? You Are Swiftly Becoming the First Aging Hipster Blog…At Least You Can Keep Your Ray-Bans On as You Go Old and Blind [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Watch the Video for “¡Happy Birthday, Guadalupe!” A Christmas Song From the Killers, Who Will Be Donating All Profits to (RED), An AIDS Relief Fund; From the Mariachi Instrumentation to Brandon Flowers Shouting “My Mexican Angel!” Everything About this Song is Baffling [Spin]
Liam Gallagher May Continue Recording Under Name Oasis, Even With the Departure of Principle Oasis Songwriter Noel Gallagher…My Question: Why in the Hell Would You Want to Continue Being Associated With the Trainwreck that Has Been the Last Fourteen Years of Oasis? [NME]
Stream New Song From Owen Pallett, AKA Final Fantasy, “Lewis Takes Action;” Meanwhile, Lewis’s Idea of Taking Acting Must Be Angularly (And, Admittedly Pleasantly) Noodling For Three Minutes; Heartland Released January 12 [Pitchfork]
I’m Self-Conscious of My Smell, But Still Want to Prove I Really REALLY Like Thriller; I Know, I’ll Get a Scent Modeled After the DNA of Michael Jackson, That’ll Really Draw in the Err…Ladies; Elsewhere, Who Else is Surprised That Any of Michael Jackson’s DNA was Found in a Piece of His Hair? That Man Was Ostensibly a Stretch Armstrong [Idolator]
Watch Video For Small Black’s “Despicable Dogs,” Which Makes Predominant Use of the Aging Surfer Motif Present in Movies Like Lords of Dogtown, or, for the Tween Crowd, Johnny Tsunami; Hey, Why Not Read About the Filming of the Video In Our Interview With Josh Kolenik [Prefix]
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
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.
Doveman Announces New Album The Conformist Featuring Nico Muhly, Most of The National, Martha Wainwright, and Norah Jones (Sounds Like a Really Crooning Version of “We Are the World”); Released October 20 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Andrew W.K., After Experiencing Some Kind of Sexual Religious Experience, Cancels Concert Dates With Calder Quartet, As Apparently Sex and Religion Don’t Mix Well (Tell That Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Theresa”) [Idolator]
James Murphy Drops Hint On Facebook About Upcoming LCD Soundsytem LP Possibly Due Out New March ; Elsewhere, Music News Is Really Fucking Slow Today [Pitchfork]
Watch Beach House’s Victoria Legrand Perform New Moon Track “Slow Life” With Grizzly Bear; Get Bored Fast, And Then Imagine How This Song Sounds Anything Like a Vampire/Werewolf Teen Crossover Novel Turned Film [You Ain’t No Picasso]
compiled by Max Sebela
So It’s Actually Coming Out: Wu-Tang Member Raekwon To Play Two Nights At Manhattan’s Santos Party House To Celebrate The Long Anticipated Release of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II [Brooklyn Vegan]
Watch A Ridiculously Shoddy Video of “Michael Jackson” Allegedly Still Alive, Entering The Coroner’s Office…Tupac, Biggie, John Hughes, Andy Kaufman, and Jesus All Sighted on the Premises As Well [Idolator]
The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” Scribe Ellie Greenwich Passes Away At 68 [Pitchfork]
The Who’s Pete Townshend Announces A New Rock Opera Floss, Along With A New Who Album To Be Released Sometime In 2010 – Floss Is About A Bar Musician, Who The Who Couldn’t Have Possibly Related To In Like 20 Years [NME]
Noisy Brooklynites Gang Gang Dance’s Drummer Jesse Lee Attacked By Security At Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival [Brooklyn Vegan]
Former Hüsker Dü Drummer Grant Heart Readies His First Solo Album In A Decade (Sidenote: Hell Yeah!); Hot Wax Released October 6 [Prefix]
UK Extravaganza, The Reading And Leeds Festival, Announces They Will Have Zero Tolerance Toward Crowd Surfing (Read: Fun) [Prefix]
compiled by Max Sebela
Stage Collapses at Big Valley Jamboree Festival in Canada; 1 Dead, At Least 15 Injured [Rolling Stone]
Wu-Tang Member Raekwon Releases Artwork For Equally Anticipated Only Built For Cuban Linx… Pt II; Features Raekwon Tied Up, Having Decapitated The Statue of Liberty With A Ninja Sword (Uh, Hell Yeah? I Guess?); Cuban Linx Due Out (Supposedly) September 8 [Pitchfork]
Red Hot Chili Peppers To Record In October; More Importantly Drummer Chad Smith, Already A Member of the Ludicrously Named Chickenfoot, Is Recording With A Band Called Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats (?…!) [Spin]
Heath Ledger-Directed Video For Mouse Mouse Song “King Rat” To Premier On Myspace Tomorrow [Pitchfork]
Island Def Jam To Advertise In CD Booklets, Starting With Mariah Carey’s Upcoming Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel; At Least They Aren’t Selling Ad-Space On The Album Yet [Prefix]
Brooklyn’s St. Vincent To Tour With Grizzly Bear – Tour Hypothesis: These Shows Will Sound Nice. [Pitchfork]
by Max Sebela