Month: August 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: EARL SWEATSHIRT – DORIS

Socially conscious music, for the most part, is annoying to me. Especially socially conscious rap music (*cough* Macklemore *cough*) I’m not sure why I started this post with that statement but whatever, maybe it was the VMAs, who knows. I guess Earl Sweatshirt is a rapper and Macklemore “raps”. But Earl isn’t “facing the issues” on his highly anticipated, universally loved new record “Doris”. It’s just a straight up, personal record by a guy who’s just “trying to make pretty music”.

This is supposed to be the part of the post where I tell you Earl Sweatshirt is part of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGK†Δ) a collective of rappers (and two phenomenal singers, Frank Ocean and  The Internet) that came out strong in 2010. He released a few songs and an EP during that time. This is also the part where I tell you Earl fell off the face of the music planet for a while and supposedly went off to a “therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys” at his mother’s request, only to resurface in February of 2012. You can look up the rest of Earl Sweatshirt’s bio for yourself.

Earl is, by far, the strongest lyricist in the Odd Future crew. Tyler, The Creator is probably the most prominent of the crew but Earl, to me, is the most clever with his words. “Doris”, Earl’s first major debut, has all the stylings of his previous efforts with classic 808 beats and that very dark, horror movie like instrumentation (i.e. the song “Hive”). The tracks were produced by such veterans as The Neptunes, Frank Ocean, and RZA, so that should be a good indication of how well it was done. You can tell they tried to preserve the minimal nature of Earl’s other pieces of music. It’s almost like a signature sound.

Earl’s lyrics are dark and very self-aware on this record, particularly “Chum”. “Too black for the white kids and too white for the black…”, Earl raps on the track. “Molasses” features and was produced by the legendary RZA from another rap collective you might remember (read: Wu-Tang Clan). RZA definitely put his mark on this stand-out track. The slow, classic soul song (Lennie Hibbert – Rose Len) sampling track displays Earl’s skills as a strong lyricist. RZA really just raps the chorus. “Hive”, “Chum” and “Molasses” are just three of my favorite tracks on the record.

“Doris” is out now everywhere and is already making waves on the charts. This one is definitely going to make some of those “Best of the Year” lists. Earl Sweatshirt is a very young person at only 19. Hopefully he continues to make music and write words in the poetic way that he does. If not, if he decides to hang it up after this record, I bet he’d be just fine with this body of work. “Like it’s nothin’, cuz it’s nothin’ bitch…”.

Robin is Miley. Cyrus is Thicke. Why the Double Standard?

After the VMAs, twerking hit a fever pitch in White America. Let me warn you, this one’s gonna get NSFW and very soon. Lock in.

Fuck twerking. We’re not talking about that. WELCOME TO 2000. I dont wanna to relive it but I certainly don’t mind introducing you to my friends the Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon & Too $hort for further reference.

NOW EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

I am here because the careers of Robin Thicke and Miley follow the same behavior patterns yet have pretty unfair outcomes (for ya girl Miley, that is).

I’m not a fan of Miley at all. Although, I thought “See You Again” was a pretty dope karaoke jawn back in 2007. I’ll admit. I got drunk and sang every word at the shady Upper Deck bar while the Disney Empire laughed and laughed at their expanding demo.

Robin Thicke, however, I’ve liked since his first single. Yall remember? When he was being a weirdo on a bike and Russell Simmons was for some reason in debt to Alan Thicke and decided to take his son onto his label. It was all very strange. Not to mention he looked like a llama. Real talk.

Miley started a little differently. Rapid success as a Disney princess from the get go. Here’s a wayback jam for you. Wholesome, nonthreatening.

That was both of their deals. If you dont believe me, look at the sweater ya boy Robin (HIS DAD WAS ON GROWING PAINS WE CANNOT SAY THAT ENOUGH) is wearing in his video.

They both grew slightly maturer as the years wore on, but still artisticly pretty much on the same track popwise except that Robin wasn’t recovering from PTSD after growing out of Mousewitz. Oh, is that too offensive? Fine then. We’ll call it Duckau. Either way, they both released “sultry” but “fun” and never obscene (really) R&B pop.

See Exhibit A and Exhibit B. I didn’t post the corresponding videos because the songs are what’s important. We must of course make the noted exception that dudes are always allowed to have bouncing ass and boobs and bikini women in their videos and they are STILL ARTISTS.

Contributing to the sexual nature of all media is a rite of passage for men. The mandate handed down to women is that we must live in a perpetual cycle of exuding mixed signals (hello Taylor Swift with your wholesome image, but serial dating) like Luda once preached and Beyonce proliferates very ignorately every chance she gets (Cater To You vs Survivor, anyone?),

I dont know why I’m even yelling about that because no one is debating. Sigh.

Now, here we are in 2013 and people say to me how Robin is blowing up and Miley is breaking down.

Uhscuse me?

Let’s compare destructive behaviors.

Miley Cyrus, a 20 year old American

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pop star with a famous father leaves the bubblegum behind, gets a haircut and goes for a sexier style. Including dancing lewdly and sexually with the opposite sex and referring to drugs in her songs.

Robin Thicke, married Canadian pop star father of one who also has a famous father leaves the corny behind (yep), gets a haircut (yep) and goes for a sexier style (yep). Including dancing lewdly and sexually with the opposite sex and referring to drugs in his songs (got it).

Hmm. They even seem to film similar nonsense videos objectifying themselves and others that feature nudity, partying, balloons, water, stuffed animals (the list goes weirdly on….)

http://videoplayer.vevo.com/embed/Embedded?videoId=USUV71300526&playlist=false&autoplay=0&playerId=62FF0A5C-0D9E-4AC1-AF04-1D9E97EE3961%20&playerType=embedded&env=0&cultureName=en-US&cultureIsRTL=False

http://videoplayer.vevo.com/embed/Embedded?videoId=USRV81300234&playlist=false&autoplay=0&playerId=62FF0A5C-0D9E-4AC1-AF04-1D9E97EE3961%20&playerType=embedded&env=0&cultureName=en-US&cultureIsRTL=False

 

I just don’t see it. She’s a crackhead but he’s a playboy?

He’s the one with the family. I’m pretty sure Paula Patton, beautiful & talented & age appropriate film star in her own right that he’s dated since age 16, is NONE to happy with him grabbing at success this way. Not to mention the family of Marvin Gaye, who want their scratch thanks to his new single’s success. OH BUT WHY YOU ASK? Because Pharrell just sped up one of the most loved soul samples in history, gave it to Robin and put naked girls in the video. All sounds very responsible to me. Pharrell is also newly married. T.I. (I love you boo but I gotta do it) is also in the video cavorting around with naked models and he is a married father of 5.

Not to mention rumors of infedility have followed Robin around for years and this weekend he was conveniently caught with his hand UP some girl’s butt cheek 😦 And fans of Thicke’s wife Paula tweeted the gruesome evidence to her with captions like “LOOK IN THE MIRROR GIRL”. That is unacceptable. Not the fans warning her. His actions.

I know, I’m sorry I had to type that. I was gonna eat this cookie but now I just need Purel.

Miley is hurting who exactly? Sounds like her college phase to me. Yawn.

Now here are a bunch of pictures where they do or wear the same thing. Enjoy.

I’ve grown tired of this.

If I catch any of you making dinner conversation out of this (not the article, this lame twerking zeitgeist), I will build a gulag to banish you in myself. I’m very driven.

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuscaloosa, Arts, and Things Very Loosely Related to Music.

So, I got overly sappy on Twitter and I feel I have to explain myself before doing a lazy-ass reposting of what I wrote here. I’ve lived in the city of Tuscaloosa since the age of five. (I am currently 23 years old, if you like your math.) I’m both aware of the history of my town, and naive to the continual change. I never went to the Chukker. I just graduated from the University of Alabama. I wasn’t aware of the history of Egan’s before I got here, or places like The Booth, or how much of our past is staring us in the face while we readily ignore it for another beer.

I bitched and whined not too long ago about how people view our music scene, as I think it is fantastic. People were quick to retort that I should do a blog about local music. Essentially pointing to me that this is not their job, which is fair. I did write for three years at the Crimson White and a majority of the work that I’m most proud of during that time was about Tuscaloosa music. But Tuscaloosa is also a troubling place. That is why I wrote this in a mix of fury and, I guess, inspiration. It’s all the frustration of a community that I’m still sort of trapped in and also fond of being around. It’s a mix of worry and hope.

https://twitter.com/TreyIrby/statuses/372854022861881344

Wavves, others in GTA V soundtrack

Whitney introduced me to Wavves, and I may like them better than her. It happens sometimes. She played Girls for me and I just straight up hijacked them. Speaking of hijacking things- VIDEO GAMES.

Grand Theft Auto V is coming out soon. You’ll know because you won’t see me for a while. I’ll be busy. Just leave a message. Preferably on Xbox Live. And even though you are a hipster who has no time for video games because you abhor fun and forgot the child-like joy of driving down a sidewalk murdering virtual pedestrians, let me drop this on you from Pitchfork, who is just rewriting the original story. Inception drone sound:

In addition to Wavves and Flying Lotus, Pam Grier will host a soul station, Bootsy Collins will host an Eighties boogie-funk station, Kenny Loggins will host the classic rock station, and Jesco White (from The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia) will host Rebel Radio, an outlaw country station. There’s also a pop station and two talk radio stations.

It appears that Rockstar Games may

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have some money to throw around. The game is supposed to feature 240 songs, and 20 movies worth of score. That sounds alright. I’ll be over here, selling my plasma to buy it when it drops September 17.

Oddly, Rolling Stone has all the details. Pitchfork has a preview of Flying Lotus FM as well.

The One in Which Whitney is in Her Wheelhouse: BRAGGY RAPPERS

I gave myself a week to calm down. So here we are. KENDRICK LAMAR.

(#poet #didnt #know #it)

He recently guested on Big Sean’s 8 minute opus titled “Control”.

OH MY GOD.

There’s a lot of branches, switches and twigs on the hiphop family tree but Kendrick Lamar turned into what would happen if the folks at CERN decided to bring Tupac out of hiding & have him do an lyrical assassins album with Kanye when he’s angry.

The closest thing I have ever heard to this verse is the anger & targeting that bellowed out of my speakers the first time I heard “Hit Em Up” as a teenager.

He calls out every every popular MC and counterpart to a dizzying point. Alot of people were surprised. I mean, if you’ve ever heard Kendrick’s “Rigormortis” or are a fan of his unique flow at all, you could’ve seen this coming.

Shall we list? No but this handy flow chart from Buzzfeed is most necessary. Don’t be drinking anything as you read (a heads up, y’all).

Some rap veterans like my close personal friend (and imaginary husband) T.I. actually weren’t that injured by it and responded in kind directly, not with a vitriolic popback but a simple & well-worded response to a Vibe magazine interviewer.

Pusha T, everyone’s fave hypebeast and member of twinsies group Clipse, fired back directly via Twitter. He’s done similar shit himself so that was no surprise and actually made this showdown (if it ever happens) a little more interesting.

Kendrick showed no bounds on age, race, city or style. He was basically just saying “I am the best AAAAAAAAH”. Except the AAAAAAAAAH was an expletive filled list of his contemporaries. Ok? Whatever works.

Personally, I’d prefer all the violence, drug dealing and boasted violence to be imaginary in hiphop (HEY RICK ROSS) since the 90s brand of gangsta rap was not very conducive to the cream of the crop MCs, well, staying alive.

If you are, somehow, interested in the blast radius of it all and a bunch of people who weren’t even mentioned chiming in on his verse, then by all means click here to see the sadness.

As you’ve seen on the site since we started, my husband Chris is a massive Kanye fan. This is all very new, in the sense of he wouldve never been into Kanye when we first started dating.

And so that exact thing lends truth to Mississippi rapper BIG K.R.I.T.’s claim that Lamar’s verse was just for sport. In other words, a stunt.

AND IT WORKED.

BECAUSE HERE IS A WHITE GIRL IN BIRMINGHAM TALKING ABOUT IT.

The only surprising things AT ALL to me about this track are length & Jay Electronica getting a little reckless. I sort of look to him as the KRS-ONE of our generation. Hmm.

I personally enjoy competition, so Roll Tide to ya, Kendrick. I enjoy complete takeovers and knowing what’s the best of almost anything I dig into.

Him proclaiming it in the public realm in no uncertain terms reminds me of a certain claim a few years ago that I even bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the words to show my support for grandiose bipolar bragadociousness in hiphop.

Everybody click that very last link and listen because everyone in every place at every time needs a lil of that genius Ghostface + Neyo + Kanye track in their life.

 

50 Years Later: Make MLK Proud. Be a human.

50 Years ago is a long time. I am from the city everyone called Bombingham for the worst reasons imaginable.

I saw the buildings and spaces where horrific things happened only years earlier everyday.

I’m only 20-something and I’ve lived in the Birmingham metro all my life. Alot of you are in the same position I imagine. Our parents and teachers built imaginary roadmaps in our heads of what neighborhoods were “good” and “bad”. When I was about 10 years old, I put two and two together when I realized all of my black friends lived in the arbitrary “bad” zones. This was the late 90s in the United States.

Luckily, I went to a school full of life. Everyone was relatively poor, so the playing field was leveled. No one ever got teased for living in “the poor parts”. Hell, the white kids who lived in subdivisions still lived 2 miles from Ensley. I loved my high school especially, because it was huge. We had access to kids from all kinds of backgrounds and no one really made the race issue a thing because I’ve had my ass handed to me by a Bajan on math team and then again I’ve been the only white girl on state-championship track team.

Birmingham Pledge MuralSome stupid poll came out this week saying the rest of the nation perceives folks from Alabama as the ugliest in the country. I think we might deserve that one indirectly thanks to the shitty mindsets & cruel acts that our grandparents’ generation perpetrated that made it a long time coming before epithets were banished or basic human consideration was given to good people who had deserved it all along.

Today, Birmingham is in a perpetual mood of painful remembrance but every single kid, black or white, has had the badassery of MLK and Fred Shuttlesworth (among so many, many unsung female heroes & others) hammered into our head by outstanding places like our Civil Rights Institute & Museum. And rightfully so.

MLK’s “Dream” resonates more with us than almost any other city in the country because of reasons I wish it didn’t have to, but thank God it happened. Fuck Bull Connor. Fuck giving any credence when you hear rednecks or old folks throw hateful words around based on someone’s race. Reverend Shuttlesworth once said to Dr King: “‘I assure you if you come to Birmingham, this movement can not only gain prestige, but really shake the country.” 

I want to share some pictures and some music to go along with us remembering Dr. King’s speech today. We are a strong city. We are a different city. Our state motto is “We Dare Defend Our Rights” and I am proud as hell to say that now applies to every one of our city’s citizens. Not just the ones who own guns. Not just the ones who were raised Over the Mountain. And not just those who love someone of the opposite sex.

Be decent human beings today and every day y’all. I’m very good at shaming and I’ll be back.

Listen to this music and try to feel strong and proud.