Sunday, November 23, 2008

808's and Heartbreaks Review

Kanye West’s new CD 808’s and Heartbreaks is a complete enigma; something that has to be separated from everything else he’s ever done. In fact, to enjoy the album you almost have to forget that it’s a product of Kaye West. Classifying its genre is near-impossible as it seems to be ¼ pop, ¼ R&B, ¼ Rap, and ¼ something totally new. As you know, if you’re even semi-cognizant, auto-tune is present throughout the entire album, which makes the voice just as unrecognizable as the music backing it. And as for that music, it’s spare in most places but occasionally erupts into an enormously busy mix of strings, synths, and vague beeps. The element which keeps the best of the songs afloat is this eruption of melody, the catchiness of which sustains entire songs as the listener waits to hear that refrain over and over again. Kanye keeps describing the music in various interviews as almost opera-like, and it does have a sweeping quality to it, with an additional pop sensibility (what with the refrains and all) which makes the whole thing very listenable. Look at it this way: If you’re a Hip-Hop purist and nothing else, you’re going to loathe this album. But if you like pop music at all, you’ll probably love it.

The album opens with the six-minute long ‘Say You Will,’ a total misstep and something that’ll probably turn off a lot of people when they first hear it. The song plods along with an irritating series of bleeps in the background, Kanye whining at his most irritating as a choir slowly moans along with him in the background. The next song, ‘Welcome to Heartbreak’ featuring talented newcomer Kid Cudi is a good deal better, featuring a brilliant chorus, and verses in which Kanye meditates on exactly what’s wrong with his life. These two songs are almost throwaways compared to the next six, all of which are lovingly crafted pop gems. The first of these is ‘Heartless,’ which is likely to be the most popular song from the entire album, featuring an incredibly catchy and well-sung chorus and verses which are actually rapped. Next up is ‘Amazing’ which true to its name is probably the best song on the album. The beat is incredible, and the piano loop on the song is addictive. That melody combined with Jeezy’s grunted ad-libs and killer verse make for a total success. Next up is ‘Love Lockdown’ which you’ve probably already heard. It’s pretty good. The heartbeat in the background works next to Kanye’s decent-sounding laments and when the piano and beat come in for the chorus, the song speeds up and gets even better. It’s about two minutes too long though, and those extra two minutes keep you from the second-best song on the album, ‘Paranoid.’ This is another song (along with ‘Amazing’) you’re likely to hear on the radio way too often, but it’s almost worth it. The song is a combination of rapping, singing, incredible melody on the hook and very talented guest vocal from unknown Mr. Hudson. Next up is ‘Robocop’ a song which wouldn’t be all that good if it weren’t for the bridge, which just consists of Kanye singing “OK, OK” over and over again. Trust me, it’s fucking great and it makes the entire song better. The last good song in the streak of six is ‘Streetlights,’ which is perhaps the best example of a song that simply doesn’t belong on a rap album. It’s good though, quiet chorus and simple melody, with powerful beat permeating the entire thing and making it a bang a little bit. After this comes the worst song on the album, the insufferably whiny ‘Bad News’ in which Kanye does his best to sound like Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin and fails in the worst way. ‘See You in My Nightmares’ is a mixed bag, with Lil Wayne putting forth a stronger and more emotional performance than Kanye does. It’s definitely decent but a little too weird for the mainstream and a little too slow-paced for multiple listens. The penultimate song ‘Coldest Winter’ is growing on me, but it’s still a little whiny and slow and anyone who identifies with the machismo of most rap will throw it away in disgust. Lastly, Kanye has included a live performance of a song called ‘Pinnochio’ which seems to have no place on the album and is annoying and tedious.

Overall the album is pretty damn good, bolstered by that six song streak in its center. It’s obvious that Kanye was especially inspired this time around by his mother’s death and his subsequent breakup with his long time girlfriend. According to Kanye, the entire project was completed in about two weeks in an almost Keroucian frenzy. Due to this creative style, you can’t consider it to be a normal Kanye album and if you do, you’ll probably be disappointed. Instead think of it as a pop side project from an extremely talented artist. Looking at it this way reveals that 808’s and Heartbreaks is a painstakingly crafted opus in which Kanye shows an amazing amount vulnerability (even for him) and in doing so succeeds in making a very human, very enjoyable album.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ludacris: new mixtape, new single, new political insight

Luda's been a busy man recently. He dropped the mixtape The Preview: Gangsta Grillz (with DJ Drama), the two highlights of which are Big Ass House, a semi-mockery of Rick Ross's The Boss, and Politics, which Fox News has decided to speak about as if it were co-penned by Obama himself.

I'm actually surprised that Hannity had that many people against him on his own show.

Ludacris's the Preview is nothing special, but his new single is a complete banger, featuring Chris Brown and Sean Garrett. Download it here.

Other good songs to check out on the preview if you just can't get enough Luda: Smokin Big Kill ft. Shawnna (a female rapper in the usual slutty mold), Throw it up feat. Wayne (I will be driving like Ricky Bobby) and Busta (who goes hard), and I'm a Dog, and Look What I Got, both featuring Playaz Circle

Oh and it's a preview because Luda's new album, Theatre of the Mind, is slated to be released October 21st. Sorry about the extra itlaics, damn things wouldn't go away. Please try to keep the complaints to a minimum in the comments section, those things are already so overloaded.

Semi-New Direction and Stupid Kanye Vest

I've decided that I'm going to do something new with this website. Originally I had created the blog (at 4 am when i could not get to sleep) as a forum for writing, hopefully about pop culture, and definitely about music. However, as anyone who reads this regularly has noticed (and I have no idea if you exist) this has mostly been a collection of links thrown up semi-randomly whenever I get the notion that it's time to post. This has resulted in a mishmash of linking nonsense with only a couple of worthwhile posts thrown into the mix every once in a while.

I've decided to change this by being more consistent in writing reviews of new music, both cds and mixtapes. Now usually I don't like to write reviews of cd's as soon as they come out, because my opinion (like many other people I know) changes with each consecutive listen. To remedy this, Im going to review new material several times over, so I will post a first listen review, and then several follow up reviews.

So, if anyone checks this regularly, be excited. Im going to do something!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Link to Time article on Lil Wayne, and commentary

Article here

Read the article first obviously.

This is kind of a terrible article. Firstly, to say that Lil Wayne being the best rapper alive is no longer even debated in Hip Hop Circles is truly ridiculous. Most of the hip hop blogs I read are conflicted about Wayne's talent, some of them claiming he's incredibly overrated. There is almost never going to be such thing as an undisputed best rapper alive, (the contest is too subjective) but Lil Wayne crowning himself on the Dedication 2 doesn't make a particularly strong statement, especially when such greats as Jay-Z, Black Thought, Ghostface Killah, Andre 3000, and many others are still at the top of their respective games (not to mention relative newcomers like Lupe, and dare I say Wale). Obviously, he is the champ commercially, but selling big never says a great deal about how talented an artist is. (I believe Limp Bizkit sold some records at some point)

The writer of this article further blunders when he gets into the actual lyrics of Tha Carter III. He calls the wordplay on the album "thrilling" (occasionally true), but his best example of this thrilling lyricism is "my picture should be in the dictionary next to the definition of definition." This DOESNT MAKE SENSE. It's hardly even a boast, its not creative, its one of those signs that Lil Wayne should probably smoke less weed and drink less cough syrup, or perhaps consider writing his lyrics down to check if they make sense. The writer (an apparently underinformed Stan named Josh Tyrangiel) also claims that "no other rapper finds as much joy in rhyming." I dont understand how he arrived at this conclusion. As exciting as it is that Wayne is able to rhyme way, day, say, cliche, and 3k, it does not prove much about his joy for the rhyme. This is what rappers do Josh. They rhyme words. I agree that Lil Wayne is pretty damn good at it, but this string of easy rhymes proves nothing, especially not the sweet sweet joy he finds in putting words that end in "ey" together. Furthermore, being all over the place in your rhyming is not an especially good thing, and many Wayne detractors (including me on occasion) hate the fact that there is no coherence to 80% of his songs.

The final alarming part of this article is the last paragraph, not because of the Dylan comparison (a bit over the top, but meh), but because Josh writes, "Redd Foxx would probably dig 'em too." Congratulations Josh, youve just made the classic blunder of using way out of date slang to conclude your article, which in turn has disqualified everything youve just written. Nice work!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I like this video and the song

The band is called the black kids, a ridiculous name by any measure but made slighty better by virtue of the lead singer being black.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kanye Likes This, So Do I

Time to pretend music video from Ralph Dagza on Vimeo.

Unfortunately Mgmt have no other good songs and are very strange looking.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Game Single off LAX


Thanks to Nahright

Free Album, from Adult Swim, One of the Cool kids best songs plus other hot beats

Here it is.

Wale, on the only good song from Mark Ronson's Version

Yes, that is Amy Winehouse

Jordan was cool, but I'm on my Mark Cuban

Short list of producers on the Wale album: 9th Wonder, Just Blaze, Pharrell, Cool and Dre, and "a couple of guys from DC" (which almost definitely includes Judah and Best Kept Secret.) You know you're something special when you can get that lineup of producers on your debut album. There is going to be so much hype surrounding this album, I really hope he delivers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Wackness

I must see this movie. In addition to that trailer, which looks incredible, check the soundtrack.

The Wackness Soundtrack

Nas - "The World Is Yours"
Raewkon "Heaven and Hell"
Notorious B.I.G. feat. Method Man "The What"
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince "Summertime"
Donovan - "Season of The Witch"
Biz Markie - "Just A Friend"
Total feat. Notorious B.I.G. "Can't Ya See"
A Tribe Called Quest - "Can I Kick It"
Faith Evans - "You Used To Love Me"
R Kelly - "Bump N' Grind"
The Pioneers - "Long Shot Kick de Buckettfont"
Vomit Launch "Exit Lines"
Craig Mack - "Flava In Your Ear"
The Wu Tang Clan - "Tearz"
Mott The Hoople - "All The Young Dudes"

Thats fantastic. Except for the Mott the Hoople cover of the Bowie song which was almost the worst song on the Juno track except for the Sonic Youth cover of the carpenters. Please take it off and add some other fantastic hip hop classic. Anything but Mott the Hoople singing softly and sweetly about all the young dudes. Also did I mention that Mary Kate Olsen is in the movie? Thats her picture. She looks a bit busted though, (are those dreadlocks?) but I'm sure she'll pull it together for her kiss with ben kingsley. yuck.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Wackness?

Yo why havent I seen this preview yet. Looks like Sony Picture Classics might have another hit. And that girl from Juno, Olivia Thirlby, is pretty fine.

Good New Camp Lo

Lumdi - The Lo

In case you haven't figured it out from my four or five multimedia posts today, I've just figured out how to embed things.

The Best NBA Commerical ive ever seen

Maybe if the lakers watch this after every quarter for the restof the series they can win three straight for the greatest comeback in finals history.

And speaking of cookies

According to the Cool Kids, Cookie Crisp is a false cereal

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seeing Sounds Review

Seeing Sounds is the third N*E*R*D* album, and it sounds like a conflation of the first two, In search of's spacey, hip-hop disco sound combined with the rock of Fly or Die. Unsurprisingly this makes for a great combination as the Neptunes make a very good album.


Time for Some Action-decent starter track, not the best the album has to offer, can Pharrell really see sounds? I don't think so, but he is one of the most succesful producers ever. Who knows?

Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)- Fantastic first single, still not old even though it's been out forever, Lindsay Lohan does a cameo in the music video, as soon as I learn how to link videos easily I'll link it.

Windows-good song, only certain people (basically only Pharrell) could get away with this level of creepiness. This song sounds as if you added to a hip hop beat to seventies trash pop and came out golden.

Anti matter- I can't figure out whether I like this song or not, and whether it is annoying or just really cool.

Spaz-so good that even being played 12483943 times on Zune commercials during the playoffs hasn't ruined it

Yeah You-another very good song, about a fan/stalker, not much else to say,

Sooner or Later-At first I thought that this song was over-emotional repetitive trash. But it's not. The melody is extremely catchy, and the song just gets better as it moves along. Don't skip it after hearing the first falsetto line

Happy-Perfect Summer song, best lyrics on the album (not quite the strong suit of the band), another good one

Kill Joy-Decent, the breathing at the beginning is pretty annoying, but the song gets better. It sounds like grandmaster flash wrote this one though. Not particularly inspired lyrics, and Pharells bullet noises are kind of strange.

Love Bomb-Similar to Sooner or Later in that at first it kind of sucks, but it gets better and better, turning into a very likeable song

You Know What-Good Pop, would be a standout if this album werent so good already

Laugh About It-energize album closer, similar to You Know What, not much else to say.

Id rate the album about a 8.0 on a scale of 10, (I have lower standards than pitchfork). Every song is worth listening to, most are very good.

Got a driver named wood DROW, opens the DO', SUICIDE DO'

Several things today so I'm going to split up the posts. Firstly, I've added my favorite links to the blog. I've heard this is how you begin to get web traffic of your own, because friendly bloggers link you back to give you a boost, and then real people start to read what you think and comment in all sorts of ways. (see I've realized that the only inspiration that I have to write on this other than boredom comes from the other things i read, and rather than just link to them in every single post, i'd rather have permanent links up. That way if I plagiarize at least it doesn't look as if im trying to be sneaky about it. So a short description of all the links:

No Trivia-Baltimore Writer Brandon Soderberg writes in-depth analysis of rap music and culture. In-depth analysis means in-depth analysis. Dude wrote an individual essay on every song on Graduation. Every so often he's brilliant, he's usually decent, and he's occasionally ridiculously pretentious, boring, and self-important.

Format Magazine-Urban Art and Fashion, not much more, highlights streetwear, modern graphic art, and occasionally good music

Complex Magazine-Mark Ecko's Magazine's Website, consummate consumer guide for streetwear that even white people can rock

Gilbert Arenas's Blog-The second most ridiculous player in the NBA (Stephen Jackson is an obvious first) blogs about basketball and his life. -Modele's blog (for anyone who knows him). Random ish, music news (usually about DC artists or N*E*R*D*), links to games and video. Generally well-written, always interesting news and song leaks

Passion of the Weiss- My favorite blog, music reviews and commentary with the occasional cultural side note.

Poisonous Paragraphs-Bostonian Dart Adam's Blog. posts are always of interest and he talks a lot. Thinks highly of the celtics (fuck the celtics) and himself. Music reviews are usually spot-0n, although Dart never really reveals what he thinks makes albums good, and has extrordinarily low standards. Also, his font is too small.

Not a Blogger-Excellent music blog, too bad posts are rare, never subtle, always entertaining.

Aquarium Drunkard-When posting about good artists, a very good blog. When not, completely worthless.

The Blowtorch-very funny basketball blog, rags on foreigners

Balldontlie, Hardwoodparoxysm, Freedarko, Ball Don't Lie- My brother's go to basketball blogs, all insightful, all worth reading.

Bill Simmons link-Obvious, another Bostonian.

Oh Word-Hip Hop forum, blog posts range from very good to very terrible. (i have said very 2000 times in this post, Im obviously getting bored, Lets speed it up)

Commonwealth-Cool Clothes

elitetaste-DC clothes, culture, music

The Hundreds-best Clothes in the country

There We Go.

P.S. Listen to Bad Side, by Wayne and Juelz, terrible lyrics but the song still turns out great

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Eliminate All my Edible Competitors

I'm not the only one who thinks DC rapper Wale is one of the best lyricists currently making music. Here's a quote from Jeff Weiss's blog. Weiss writes for LA Weekly and the LA Times. His blog adress is

"For those just tuning in, over the past year Wale has built a name for himself as one of the most promising rappers around, dropping the impressive 100 Miles & Running mixtape, signing to Interscope, earning the cover of Urb, a spot on EW’s Top 8 To Watch in 08 list and placement on the main stage of this year’s Rock the Bells tour. But for all the attention he’s already accrued, Wale’s conceptually brilliant The Mixtape About Nothing not only justifies the acclaim, but deserves to put him on anyone’s short list of the best rappers of his generation."

Don't say I didn't warn you. If I figure out how to link things I'll post a link to The Mixtape about Nothing. Knowing about Wale two years before he dropped this classic makes me feel so superior and awesome.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I'M so self-conscious

Im already taking after Kanye. Not only do I blog like a champ, (respect, Arenas) but I'm immediately questioning everything about this blog. Firstly, is this a chump background? Secondly, Am I ridiculous for doing this? Hmmm, maybe Ill stick to the impersonal.

Lakers in the Finals, lets get it.

About? Will anyone ever see this?

So, I guess this is mostly for myself as an outlet on which to write when I'm really bored or can't sleep. Obviously I'm hopeful, and very confident that writing this blog will shoot me to stardom faster than the people at Im pretty terrified to think that anyone real might actually read this, but I'm consoled by the fact that absolutely no one will, and thus I can imagine myself productive without even being so. What I will be writing here are as follows:

Goofy ass Poetry/Gobbledegook (perfect example below)
Rhymes that are possibly a bit more serious (good luck)
Random commentary on pop culture (NBA, the idiots on the Real World, Chuck Klosterman's obsession with himself, etc.) ((Obviously I want to be Chuck Klosterman which is why Im hating)) (((Im inventing the double and triple parentheses as a sort of in sentence ps)))
Hopefully for anyone who ever stumbles across this I will never write anything about my personal life, other than in passing.