Annddd welcome to another artist I know absolutely nothing about. Time to turn to Wikipedia!!
Justin Scott (what an adorably normal name) is only 26, and hails from Mississippi. K.R.I.T. = King Remembered In Time - so obviously no ago there, at all, whatsoever (can you feel my eyes rolling through the screen?). So I'm sort of pre-disposed to not be cool with this.
He's come through the Mix Tape release route, and opened for Wiz Khalifa in 2012 at a few tour venues. This marks his debut album release though, and while it was originally set to be released in September of 2011, it actually came out in June of 2012. Complications man. Unexplained complications.
Toped the Rap and R&B/Hop Hope Charts, and got to the top 5 of the US Billboard 200. Looks like I missed something here at some point."LFU300MA - Intro - Album Version" starts off the album with just a little bit of speaking, first a girl, then a guy who I can only assume is Big K.R.I.T. himself. We find out what we're about to get into here, because of the past, and looking into a new future.
First actual song is the title track, "Live From The Underground." A sound about what he's got to offer us. Good thing to say though, promise: he's got a great tone to his rapping. I can understand almost every word, for the best or worst, that he gets out, and his sound is just kind of nice. He hits a good chord in around the middle of possible notes. There's a spoken portion at the end, where someone in "A&R Ville" actually finds him in the underground. Oh boy, we've got a story brewing.
"Cool 2 Be Southern" didn't need to be stated - come on, it just is. (I went to school in Nashville - I stand by this as well as the fact that all Jersey Girls are NOT Snooki). Countrified. Hellz yeah. Okay, seriously though - not a bad song all aspect considered. Obviously, it's not just cool because Big K.R.I.T. says so, but it's not an awful anthem for the sentiment. There's a party aspect to it that's straight up brought into this song.
The next one's the big single from what I can gather, "I Got This." I can only think of my friends from back home when this sentence comes up, and only Erin, Jamie, and Dina will know what I'm talking about, and only if they read this. Anywhos, I suppose to rest of you would prefer I talk about the song? Eh, okay. It's not bad. There's a very old school beat happening, which is odd, but kind of cool. The drum loop in it is so weird to hear in something that out in 2012. I don't totally know what's going on in the chorus, but I guess he's pretty damn confident in himself. Lotsa f-bombs. Just kinda waiting for the next song at this point.
"Money On The Floor" is the first song we get that features other artists. This one also has 8Ball & MJG and 2 Chainz. Nope, no idea who they are either, sorry. Uh, well, let's see here. I mean, the beat's super steady going. The chorus dropped the bass way down vocally. I guess it's all right? Or just not appealing enough. I can't come to a real decision there.
I walked around my room cleaning up a few things as "What U Mean" came on, and I really… don't care. I was almost a little embarrassed to have this one on. A chorus means a lot, and the words you emphasize don't go unnoticed - and these one just aren't appealing. Also, I just caught a line about women being freaks. This guy is less and less appealing. And to think. Ludacris makes an appearance on this track. *sigh* Please pick better projects, Luda. Even your Beiber stint was better than this. Ugh, also, sorry about this video.
"My Sub (Pt. 2: The Jackin')" is… huh? His sub? He means musically, right? Eh, I can't catch on to this one either. At least the chorus here has that simple drop sound that people seem to get into in clubs - that's positive for him down the line I suppose. Sounds like he gets on the phone with Wale, but I can't hear everything here, lol. And… wait, maybe he jacks a car? Man, I don't know… there's some kind of story happening that I think I'm missing the point of.
Next up is "Don't Let Me Down" and this ain't no Beatles song. Okay, well, actually it sort of is. As far as I can tell, he sampled the sound of the classic song and added his own rap verses in between. It's probably just the familiarity, but this one is actually okay to leave on somewhere in the background of things. Hey, we'll take what we can get sometimes, right?
"Porchlight" includes Anthony Hamilton. Personal shudder at that last name. This one's at least got a good solid guitar with it. I think we're almost sort of hearing the romantic side of this guy, but yah know, let's not go crazy here.
More new names in this one, "Pull Up" includes Big Sant and Bun B. The beat's steady, as always, and straight out of a loop machine. I don't get the point, because I don't get the words and how they're put together. I feel like maybe this sounds like something familiar that I liked at one point in my life, but is not it at all. Man, still 6 songs to go and I'm completely over the album.
"Yeah Dats Me" started playing by accident at work before I could click the volume off, and I think my co-workers were a little surprised - this is not really my style. Actually, in all honesty, the way this one moves so fast and whips around and around sort of gives me a minor headache. There's a girl in there, who I'm sure should have been, but wasn't, credited for joining in. I think the whole song talks about money, but I have no legitimate idea here.
Devin The Dude comes on board for the next one, "Hydroplaning." I would have assumed a light R&B song at first, especially with the harmonies slightly obvious in the background vocals, but wrong, wrong, wrong. I think it's got to do with drinking, and maybe cruising on that particular high. I just want one of these songs to have obvious meaning, but who the hell knows when you can't understand what's actually going on.
"If I Fall" includes Melanie Fiona, and I think this has got to be the more heart-felt number in the collection. Life's tough, but he presses on and tries. Apparently he only drinks and smokes to pass the time, by the way. The chorus asks if people listening would save him or let him die if he fell. Basically, will you care for someone afterwords? (Yeah, I am looking for deeper meaning, hush.) I'm catching lyrics about leaving and non-trust, and all kinds of stuff. Personally, I prefer to have more faith in the people around me. That might be good or bad, but I don't give up on them.
Growing up to be a better man than your father is tough to put into words, and I feel like maybe we don't hear that a lot in mainstream music, because it's a very personal sentiment. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" looks at his dad as influential, giving advice in weird, but more than helpful ways. Unconventional I suppose we could say. He gave him condoms instead of the sex talk. More of an attitude of letting him get hurt and learn from it, but always with love at the base of it.
"Praying Man" starts off with a creepy harmony of voices, and picks up into a slow-moving jam which features B.B. King… or samples. I don't know at the moment, but I'm guessing the later. He's running (KRIT), from something, and the praying man is coming. He's being chased, probably by life. Praying Man offers him a ride away from the oppression.
Final song! "Live From The Underground (Reprise)." We're back to the beginning, sort of. I'm curious to hear if the story picks back up where it left of. In actuality, it's a lot of repetition of the chorus. When the verse actually does come in, I guess it's along the lines of life advice and some sense of moving on. In all honesty, the music probably the best on here, but by now I'm just waiting for things to be over.
Added to My Playlist:
Oh man… I'm so glad this is over. I hate albums that make me a little embarrassed to listen to them around anyone else. I definitely prefer things I don't mind my mom hearing, and this didn't fall into that at all. He's a semi-talented rapper, but I don't find this entertaining on a normal day.
(This is a re-post of an article I wrote for WeLoveYourSongs.com. Check out their site and this artist!)
WeLoveYourSongs Page: http://weloveyoursongs.com/artist/4460/Kristjan
I love going international with these things. This week, we're traveling to Latvia with Hip-Hop/Rap artist Kristjan. The bio on his page gives a description of a "philosophical rapper/producer." He's got two albums under his belt, recorded in Latvian, and has been a part of the country's local scene for about five years. Particularly, he has been a part of the Latvian hip hop movement, Intelligent Recordings.
The next sentence sort of has me thrown off: "His musical career started in his childhood in 2001." In 2001, I was in middle school.. what does he consider a childhood? And we don't really get the good "stay in school" message here, because at 16, he left school and appears under his stage name "Kristians" as a hardcore rapper. The rest of the bio reads as someone who basically could not make a break in any way shape or form, but kept on recording. Most recently I guess, he switched to rapping in English.
I apologize ahead of time if this winds up being a short one, but let's see what we get out of a listen, eh?
"Enough of This" is one of the three tracks offered up on Kristjan's WLYS page, and I have to say - I'm surprised, pleasantly, by the production work that went into this. It's definitely done through a computer, but what isn't these days? There's a loop in the background that doesn't hurt the song at all. The rapping sounds much more mature, vocally, than I expected. The message is even pretty good - focusing on the good instead of the bad. Okay, well, we may be on to something here after all.
In a weird Evanescence-meets-Eminem move, we get "Mystic." The female vocals being sung in what I guess should be labeled the chorus, is straight out of a horror house (and not in the cool Amy Lee way). The overall approach to the song is pretty simple and straight-forward, it's jus not altogether appealing. At least it's a little different from the first song - variety's always nice.
"De Ja Vu" is the last song on the WLYS page, and this leans more toward the R&B side of rap than the others have. It's also the first time that Kristjan's accent is a little more prevalent. The song's pretty steady from start to end, though nothing terribly striking here to make me say "wow." Okay, wait, I take that part back - the speed at which he's rapping, allowing us to still understand what he's saying - that makes this a little better than others I've heard.
So, Kristjan, it was real. I didn't hate the music itself, but am not quite sure what to thing. I'd say, give this guy a chance at least once. You'll either enjoy and want to hear more, or you'll be content, as I am, and glad to know something new for a few minutes.
Saturday, June 9th @ 6:15pm
Spotify Listen Link: Childish Gambino – Camp
This might be one of the major sad points about me missing Bonnaroo this year. I've never seen Donald Glover - er, excuse me, Childish Gambino, live before, and I was looking forward to this alter-ego rapper a lot. *shrug* Such is life.
He's done two mix tapes, I Am Just a Rapper and I Am Just a Rapper 2, rapping over indie rock music from Sleigh Bells and Grizzly Bear. Culdesac was his third full-length album, and this album marks his first time on an official label (Glass Note).Anywhos, here's the EPK, which is always fun to see ---
"Outside" starts things off, almost sort of gently. The sound is so different from a lot of rap you hear. I mean, the vocals in the background are on facet you just don't hear in this environment often. His words in the rap are pretty down-to-earth, and give a simple message - "there's a world we can visit if we go outside." I mean, there's a lot about his childhood and whatnot in there too, which I guess is his primary concern throughout the song. Maybe I'm dwelling on that portion of it about getting out. There's some kind of larger theme about the world changing.
Aw, Washington Square gets mentioned in "Fire Fly." I like the addition of the female vocals in there - but I'm also kind of a big fan of these song that have rapped verses & sung choruses. The hook overall is sort of meh - not anything to fall in love with, but it's a nice break from the verses that are all on being black and dealing with growing up that way. And he makes it all sound so easy, go figure.
"Bonfire" is a little rougher, but I think this is the kind of beat that you look for in a rap party atmosphere. The lyrics aren't fantastic, but I'm also a white girl living in Manhattan, so hearing about girls all over him and praising his black lifestyle isn't necessarily entertaining. This is one I'd probably have to hear live to enjoy, if for nothing else than lyrics are harder to take to heart in those atmospheres.
*Parental advisory on the video, at least the beginning.
Things are a little slower going in "All The Shine." Trying to figure out what the hell is going on here. Seems like a parody on himself, or else he's being extremely honest about reasons for rapping and what he has to say. Love the chorus on this one though - it's classy, dang it. A little blown out on the mic, but classy sounding overall. The song does its job of making you feel pretty damn bad for this guy and his life leading up to this.
"Letter Home" completely has the same exact violin line at the start as the last song. It picks up some, with a really gorgeous string section throughout this short piece. It's actually sort of sweet and endearing, to be honest. Sincerity can be a lost art in the realm of rap.
Oh sweet, we go a little Daft Punk for "Heartbeat," but only musically, promise. There's a distorted backing going on, and everything's put through some electronic device to make it all seem completely computerized. All of it, that is, except the actual voice itself - there are some subtle things about it, like the breaths taken, that remind me that there is a man's actual voice being used. Right, there are lyrics going on here though - that I am not really listening to closely enough. I'm tuning back in to a part that's totally after a rough breakup. Yup. This is probably not the healthiest of relationships. To put it plainly - the sex is good, but the relationship's complicated. Go figure!
"Backpackers" sounds straight from the streets. The backing's rough and off a turn table for sure. A lot of what he's got to say's in the same realm there. God, does he really have that many people putting down his raps that he can write an entire album about it? Damn people! Lay off! But for real - it's sort of a decent background track, but nothing I want to hear again and again.
Okay, the sad crying violin does not help the sadness argument as we move in to "LES" (which, thank you Heather, is Lower East Side, lol). I don't know, it's just kind of a dragging filler song that makes me sadder for him than I think a rap song usually ever can. I mean god, dude, is anything okay in your world? This is the kind of guy I can't stand - fishing for the compliments to lift himself up - though others.
"Hold You Down" is kind of whispy. mean, I get it, it's more solemn and making you feel for him, that he's been held back by people. The comparisons to other stars are kind of interesting - stuff on Will Smith and James Franco (apparently he's the white Donald Glover?). I don't know, maybe I'm not paying enough attention right now. The song doesn't exactly have the desired effect on me I guess. It's okay, but I'm not buying in right now.
And now for something a little different - a baby's mobile track leads in to the song "Kids." I'm zoning out on the lyrics a little, but the background to this is absolutely beautiful. I mean, violins take on their own lovely sound no matter the atmosphere, but the added beat in this gives a really unique sound. The chorus is showing that he's ahead of the rest of the guys and the rest are just struggling to keep up. The verses are more on girls and his varying opinions on them - a lot of which is based on color or pasts. It's easy enough to zone out on those though. This is a weird situation where the chorus and background music outweigh the rest enough.
Trying to figure out the point of "You See Me." I just keep catching lines about Asian girls - am I loosing it? I almost like the beat and sampling in the backing, but not enough to want to hear it again. The fast rapping close to the end is damn impressive though. It's almost as vocally impressive as Jay-Z, but not quite there lyrically - then again, I <3 Jay-Z.
"Sunrise" maintains its sound through a chorus singing up and down in the background, and a simple-ish beat. There's some rapping around it and sounds like it's about new shit. Seriously, not getting much out of this. I've seen him live and definitely enjoyed it a lot more than I am this album. Maybe that's why EPs are a better suit for so many of these guys - it's really tough to sit through a themed rap album.
Final song time! "That Power" has more lyrics about growing up. Do kind of love the line: "people want a real man. I made 'em wait this long." Glad we've finally been graced with you presence, sir. There needs to be a defined area between where rappers brag on themselves for an entire song and where they complain about everything and everyone. Anywhos, it ends with a little outro spoken out about leaving camp, sitting next to a girl, not letting camp end. It's actually probably the sweetest part of the entire album - very honest, and pretty nice to hear. That is, until, the bus stops, he leaves, and closes out the story, explaining that he learned something - he told the one girl how he felt, very privately, and she told everyone. He apparently learned that there are no secrets, so he'd just tell everyone everything from then out. Huh, well, the whole damn album makes sense now...
Added to My Playlist:
So, this was okay. Like I mentioned, I think a live setting is just more enjoyable when it comes to rappers, at least for me. The energy that's there can't be captured on an album as well because you get too caught up in lyrics and what's going on, instead of just kicking back and enjoying it. Overall though, not a bad job done at all.
- "Letter Home"
I will begin with flat-out honesty: this was the only performance at the Grammys this year that I absolutely detested. Nonetheless, a quick review of her nominations:
Now, while that performance absolutely turned me off of her, I will stick to my guns and be open to any reviews, including for this album. So, a little background to being: Born in Trinidad, Nicki moved to Queens, New York when she was five. Similar to our last artist, she recorded three mixtapes between 2007 and 2009, and released this album in 2010. The second album, as alluded to by that horrible performance, will be Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, set to be released in a few months. I kind of am mildly impressed that she retained all of her rights in her 360 deal - kudos to her as a business woman in that respect.Okay. Deep Breath. Full listen link. And here we go."I'm The Best" is the first track. What a title to start off with. No lack of confidence, which I guess is understandable for a woman who wants this to be an album for women. Can't say I love anything about this one. The beat is really kind of weird, and I've never liked her rapping, though this seems a little more toned down than I've heard. Admittedly, it is cool to hear a female rapping. It's a little like throwing back to Missy and Lil Kim.Given what I watched on the Grammys, I've been dreading "Roman's Revenge." But we only have to hear it once, so okay. Well, it definitely calls for fire and theatrics, so I guess that part's understandable. But goodness I really do hate that wavery weird voice. Ahhh I never thought I'd be so happy to hear Eminem's voice. Of course, it's psycho Em, but I'll take it as a weird comfort.Apparently, if you ain't a Nicki fan.. eh whatever. Here's the video for "Did It On'em."
- Best New Artist
- Best Rap Performance - "Moment 4 Life"
- Best Rap Album
Oh lord, number two takes on the less than numerical meaning here. Apparently I'm "deaf-dumb" for not being a fan. Go figure. I can't hear, yet I listen to music constantly. I'm an idiot, but my degrees and brain say a little otherwise. Whatever. Have I mentioned how much I hate albums that spend this much time pumping up the artist themselves? Especially debuts? I get self-confidence, but ugh.
Second video coming. Trying to give the track a try first without visuals, though the last time was useless. This contains samples of "Always With Me, Always With You" by Joe Satrani, by the way. Now wait, it this an attempt at tenderness? Okay, huh. I'm a bit astounded, as I thought there was only one song remotely relatable on the album, but this one may be able to stand up a but. It's got a softer side to her... sort of. It's honest, and something I think we find ourselves wondering a bit.
The fight at the beginning would have taken me right out of any desire to watch the rest of it, so it's probably better I listened first to know there was something a little better coming. It wasn't as good the second time around, but it could, obviously, be much worse.
The one song I liked before getting into this album (yes, there was one) is "Fly" featuring Rihanna. I don't totally hate the rapping in this either, and I do think it's an uplifting number with the ability to even spark inspiration. And yes, I did in fact like this track before it was featured on "Glee."
I swear I only looked away for a second, then back and saw that outfit. What? Where does that have a place in this? I didn't even get the point of the video until the fight, which I guess is what we were leading up to this entire time. Also, Rihanna looks entirely classy through this whole thing.
Huh. I guess we've reached the more solemn point in the album, which it saying something considering the words and even quieter backbeat scream something a little more intense, but the mood remains softer. The song in question here is "Save Me." It's sort of sweet to see a more vulnerable side to this girl.
"Moment 4 Life" is the Grammy nominated individual track, and it makes me realize that what I can't stand about her rapping it how she hits absolutely any word that ends with "ire." Okay, there's probably other things as well, but that's what's killing the start of this song. Kind fo interesting use of echo in the chorus, by which I mean unexpected. Drake is the guest featured artist for this one.
Allright, what girl doesn't want to be a princess. But damn it, you had to bring Roman back into it? Anywhos. Yeah, that opening was a little weird. No princess is that gangsta. Nothing about this video meshes for me, and I just... I need to move beyond it.
will.i.am leads up with "Check It Out," using The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" and James Browns' "Think (About It)" samples. And we're back to the hard to digest Nicki music. I never did like his solo stuff though, so I won't fault her here. Also, if he doesn't back off that damn auto-tune button for one damn song, I'm going to question his musical integrity altogether.
I can't deal. That was weird.
Kanye, friend, you keep appearing on these albums. "Blazin" includes... oh NO. Why did you touch this song?? Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is sampled here. And it's not well used. And the song isn't good. It's downright annoying. You know that weird place where a song is too slow to dance to in a club, but still sounds like it should be played in that atmosphere? Yup, this is the one that pulls people off the floor to refill the drink.
"Here I Am" makes for good background music while you're responding to Facebook messages. Trust me, I am now experienced in this! It's got a light steady beat, and these kind of songs are not what I expected from Nicki. I'm a little more understanding of the praise surrounding this album in hearing these kinds of songs. The tracks that have gotten the most airplay are so harsh to the ear, yet the others are very sweet.
The next is another great example with "Dear Old Nicki." As self-centered as the title may imply, it almost sounds like a cry out for help or a message to herself (or both). There's a sampling of "Red Sky" by John B and Shaz Sparks. The thing I'm actually enjoying most is the background accompaniment to the whole thing. It's slightly computerized, but not overwhelming. It's quite nice to hear actually.
Notice anything familiar about "Your Love?" There's a sample of a classic, "No More I Love You's" from Annie Lennox. Again, a really light and pretty enjoyable track musically. It's a really nice mix and the rapping isn't so much that you hate her voice one verse in. She even uses dynamics throughout, keeping it a little interesting.
Huh. Pretty interesting concept for a video. There's a constant theme, which is clear and nice to see. This si just such an easy-to-listen-to song, I can't believe it.
"Last Chance" is making me eat my words. We're back to the roughness in her voice in the rapping, and weird word spitting. Natasha Bedingfield makes this song actually, and yes, you just read that name correctly. Her voice is awesome and powerful where it's needed. Otherwise, the song's sort of sounding like a glorified basketball pump-up song.
And now, the song I've been fearing throughout this entire album. No lie, my white-as-a-sheet best friend Amanda knows every word to this. This is also the song that turned me off from all Nicki music ever. The verses are so incredibly annoying, even if the chorus is obnoxiously catchy. I am, of course, talking about "Super Bass."
Eh, the video's colorful. That's fun. :)Why do every one of her songs I dislike specifically say something about haters who don't like her music. Ugh. "Blow Ya Mind" is our second-to-last song, and it's all about how awesome Nicki is. So great, apparently, that sirens are blowing while she's taking the world by storm. It's just too much for us all to handle.
I know, we're speeding through some of these. I just can't think of more to say. The final song is already upon us because of that, with "Muny." So not a good way to go out. It's all about success and phonies and a bunch of crap that says nothing on life and fails to wrap out the album in a classy or event decent way.
Added to My Playlist (I know, I'm surprised too):
Yes, there were a few, very few, good moments here. The middle of the album actually had something to it, and let us see this girl as something more than a sexual rapper with a weird way of wrapping her voice around words. There's depth, so that gives me hope for her future and what she can evolve into. This was a definite first album, but better than expected.
The one nomination that came about for this one was best new artist. A notable one, for sure, but I don't think I'd even heard of this name until I saw the nomination list.
So, this is a German-born, American rapper, and the first to be signed (in 2009, funny how New Artists are never totally new - I'm starting to wonder what the criteria is there) to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. They worked with him for a while, and two years later, we get this album, his very first, as a debut at #1.
A smart man, he decided he'd have a better chance in New York as an artist than their new home of NC, so he moved up here, went to St. John's, and graduated with honors with a degree in communications and a minor in business. He had been rapping since the age of 12, and walked right up to Jay-Z's label with his first mix tape in hand, only to be turned down. Clearly, that didn't last long. He kept at making a couple of mix tapes. Yes, he got signed, and yes, he's been keeping busy ever since, mostly appearing on other albums and lending his voice to demos (notably, "Coming Home" for P Diddy). Three mix tapes later, he finally released, to great sales thanks to a large and strong mainstream fan base, this debut album.
For a full listen on Spotify, check out this link.
A true protege of Jay-Z, there's an "Intro" track! It's got a light little piano in the background, and a little discussion before launching into a quick rap, clearly building into something. Oh shit son, J. Cole is coming."Dollar and a Dream III" is, literally, the third of a three song series I think we missed out on from the mix tapes (at least from what I can tell from looking up YouTube songs). There's a sample from "Darkness of the Unknown" by Yoko Shimomura. It's pretty real to the street, being about only having that dollar and figuring out what's next - how to make the dream come true. If it weren't so focused in on his particular story, I'd almost say that there's a message there, but you have to see it through his personal struggle. I do love the piano backing.Then there's a 180 done into "Can't Get Enough," featuring Trey Songz and a sample of "Paulette" by Balla et ses Balladins. I mean this is just about every way possible. There's sex and a girl and no piano, but a lot of other stuff. The album version's explicit, but the video version is clean apparently. The video was filmed in Barbados while on Rihanna's tour, and here it is.
Well dang, it's nice to see they're comfortable investing money into this performer. Nice boat. I mean, I don't have a lot to say here. It's a decent steady rap beat. And yeah, this version is a lot cleaner - more innuendos than direct references going on.
"Lights Please" contains a sample from Dexter Wansel's "Theme From The Planets." Nice little piano downbeat there working. I think he's sick of the fake-ness from this girl. It's almost like this opposite attitude, where the girl's sex-crazed instead of the guy, who wants more. I know, I'm stereotyping, and I know that's not how it always it, but it's still interesting to hear it in a song like this.
Another little discussion set to piano, there's the "Interlude" next. Have to say, cool use of a classic instrument for a new artist. I always have respect for use of things like this, bringing different elements together you wouldn't have expected otherwise.
"Sideline Story" hasn't given me much different to work with here, but I'm trying here. Rhythm's "The World Is A Place" is sampled during this number. There's also this nice under-sound of a guitar, along with piano that, honestly, I think I heard in sections of Final Fantasy X. I think it's more on him coming up as a rapper, defying others' thoughts, etc.
Wait, when did Skrillex hit this album? Kidding, kidding. But seriously, electronic elements come in for "Mr. Nice Watch" featuring mentor-man Jay-Z. It's just weird to the ears, but I'm not necessarily complaining. The sound's pretty cool, though I don't entirely get this one. "No more Mr. Nice Guy, now it's Mr. Nice Watch."
"Cole World" takes the whole idea of it being a cold world to an interesting place. It's about him, sort of. God I wish I could listen more closely to this than I am. It's just too filled with curses (yes, I believe there's a balance possible between enough and too much), and his voice isn't interesting for the Rap world. It's the same scratched beat we've been hearing for ages.
Next up we get a track that interpolates "Can I Get A" by Jay-Z and "Hold Ya Head" by 2pac to get "In The Morning" featuring Drake. Lighter, calmer beat here, but it's still probably about sex. Sorry if you're reading this mom, but you know I have to remain true to the mission of being open to anything musically. Time to look at the video.
Clever little rhyming there: "Can I hit it in the mornin'? The sun rising while you're moanin'." So here we get a performance video and some documenting of their good times in Paris, and just a slight bit of story with the girl.
"Lost Ones" has a very old school feel to it, with beat and a little synth. Damn... this is a tough story. Unwanted child and conflicts of emotions about it and what's next.
Before even getting into the video - that still looks far too happy for this song. Cool note at the beginning - that he did this one a few years back and still feels the same way. I do like that they went with the lyrical story for the concept video too. And her words actually coming from her actually do mean more. Probably the most intense song we've hears on the album so far, and I can't help but thinking that this is where those other songs lead.
Missy Elliot (!!) joins in for the next track, "Nobody's Perfect." Curtis Mayfield (bow down) is interpolated into this with "Think." I would like to know when the phrase "bitch nigga" became a thing... Kind of cool to hear Missy singing; she has a great voice. There is definitely something classic and nice about the R&B side of this song, and in saying "nobody's perfect, but you're perfect for me."
"Never Told" is on secrets told by dad, but maybe were better out in the open. But that's from a different world... eh, listen to the track to know what I'm talking about. Then it gets into all sorts of references for, seemingly, no reason. The talking in-between verses is a little weird, but I guess follows the story being told.
A sample of "Arise, Shine" as performed by Greg Dykes and The Synanon Choir is included for the track "Rise and Shine." Interesting use of the sample in this case. There's a drum line involved along the way too. The voice is harsh and biting as he goes though, but the balance is kind of nicely achieved with the choir backing.
"God's Gift." I don't know what makes artists think a cracked up high-pitched voice wrapping around the instrumentation of their song sounds good, but I hate hearing it - immediate turn off on this song. Then the rest of the rapping just sounds angry. Maybe I'm jaded, but I have always gotten more out of Jay-Z's rapping then something like this makes no real point and lacks an even slightly enjoyable hook.
Well, it is cool to hear a crowd that's into it. They're giving it back, which I think always helps an artist perform better.
The bright light at the end is coming. "Breakdown" is next, and he begins with an explanation of the phrase 'in a minute' in instances where it means a much longer time. Sorry, had to mention the one thing to make me laugh on this. Otherwise, we've got the piano back in major action, alongside a sample of "Bells" (Eero Koivistoinen) and interpolations of Mariah Carey's "Breakdown."
I'm running on fumes here. The final song is "Work Out." Samples include "The New Workout Plan" (Kanye West) and "Straight Up" (Paula Abdul).
If you asked me where those samples are, I don't know - I must have missed something somewhere. Ooooohhh, okay, I caught it in the beginning the second time around with watching the video. Clever little vocal inflections used for sure.
Not a bad album, though I'm wondering how much in politics influenced the nomination. I mean, Jay-Z does hold some power over the music industry, let's face it. But I'll give the guy credit, there are some interesting things done musically throughout the album, especially when it comes to use of piano. It wasn't awful, but I won't be listening to this again anytime soon.
This album did pretty well at the awards this year, if memory serves, though Kanye wasn't there for acceptance. Anywhos, it was nominated for four awards:
I just caught a quick note in a writeup about him - he was supposed to tour with Lady Gaga back in 2009, but it was cancelled without reason. Huh.I feel like Kanye just emerged recently, but this is his 5th studio album to be released. Again, the components of the subjects are largely on excess and celebrity, which I think we're kind of used to hearing from him. The album though was conceived during a "self-imposed exile" to Oahu, Hawaii after fatigue and being worn down by fame and the media. This was post-T. Swift interruption, which was caused by said fatigue apparently. A quick overview of the content writeup on Wiki says this will be a pretty interesting album coming out of it all though."Dark Fantasy" is the first song up, featuring no one on the album, but Teyana Taylor in this performance for G.O.O.D. Music.
- Song of the Year - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap Song - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap Album
Bah, autotune right off the bat as the lights come up. I'll swallow my pride on this one - I knew it was coming. Mike Oldfield is sampled here with "High Places." I don't know why I like the beat here, but it's pretty great. Eh, and I maybe need to insert an apology for the language and subject matters throughout this album? Though, maybe you should have expected that coming in. Performance version? Not bad. Hate the lighting, but the recording's pretty great.
Album version starts off with an intro from un-credited Nicki Minaj (who, I'm sorry, I have an extreme problem with after that Grammy's performance. Eck). Otherwise, the show starts about the same way. Decadence and hedonism, bring it on - she's talking the Raold Dahl version of "Cinderella." There is a cool lyrics pointed out on wiki - "The plan was to drink until the pain was over, but what's worse - the pain or the hangover?" Damn, okay, we maybe have some wisdom going on.
"Gorgeous" brings on the first of many guests, including Kid Cudi and Raekwon. It's got a much more slowed down beat, mostly supported by this faded guitar rift on repeat. This is so unexpected and mellow. The effects on the guitar are sort of amplified onto the voice itself. There's a crazy scratchy sound to the whole thing, almost like an old-school record - a sound that's a little unnerving coming from a computer speaker. There's elements of Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn's "You Showed Me."
Here's the video released for the next track, "POWER."
Creepy eyes to start. But visually, we're definitely presented with art to kick things off. The first minute is just this pull back as the portrait comes alive. It's only slightly terrifying. Though, it does what a video's more or less supposed to do - pull us in through visuals. Now, grated, this is only a minute and a half long. Once this went off, I listened to the song alone. It's actually closer to about 5 minutes long. Sampled in this one are elements of "It's You're Thing" (Gold Grits) and "Afromerica" (Continent Number 6) as well as material from "21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson). It's got a lot of lyrics about how he rose up, probably too fast, and shouldn't have been so entrusted with so much fame. Sort of a reflection piece.
"All of the Lights (Interlude)" is pretty beautiful. It's this instrumental take with violins and and piano that spirals slightly into a sad atmosphere, but without going past the line of depressing.
Here's the video, which features many more artists than Spotify credits on the track, for "All of the Lights."
The video includes the interlude at the start, and then we find out why it might cause epileptic seizures. I'm not sure I was expecting a text-based video honestly. It's different from what we're used to in videos. There's part of me that wonders if he was actually rapping in the shoot, because you never totally see his mouth move with the words. Anywhos. Probably one of my least favorite Rihanna performances ever - I really hate when she takes her voice to this place. It's too deep and harsh.
There is an awesome drum line to this song, and the piano provides a sweet base that I wasn't expecting. And, cool note that makes me like it all a lot more, the vocals throughout are actually 11 different people singing parts, including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Elton John, and many more. He did it in a way, intentionally, where you can't necessarily pick them out (except for that one part I know has to be Alicia Keys), and just wanted to include these voices.
"Monster" reminded me that Kanye is a huge MJ fan and devoted a lot of his work to the immortal. Yeah, there's a little homage to "Thriller" going on. Lots of people come in for the assist on this one, including Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver. Yup, you just read that one right. No samples that I can find credited for this one; everyone brought something new to the table.
Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz, and RZA come on for the next one, "So Appalled." "You Are – I Am" by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is also sampled. I think the purpose of the song is probably self-evident. It's completely a rap-song, which makes it hard to listen to. We've been conditioned to expect a chorus we can grasp on to, but even the repeated portion here is a rap. It's just hard to wrap your head around, but provides an outlet for these rappers pretty clearly.
"Devil in a New Dress" comes off of Smokey Robinson's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and includes Rick Ross. One critic described this better than I can - "part bedroom allure, part angelic prayer." This was the only track Kanye didn't produce himself, but still sounds like him with the playing of tune, pitch, etc. It's definitely got the beat and feel to it that he seemed to be going for with sex appeal. Not that I think Kanye West when I think of hot songs. But it's a nice overall attempt at it.
We get a film for the next one, featuring Pusha T and samples of "Expo 83" (Backyard Heavies) and excerpts from "Live at Long Beach, CA 1981" (Rick James). Here's "Runaway."
Oh yay, Nicki's back. That beat's incredibly familiar though. Actually... wait. Okay, so the beginning of this is actually "Dark Fantasy." Oh wow... sorry y'all.. this is actually a half-hour. It's kind of cool though, so we'll let it go. I mean, at least it's interesting, right? And the use of ballet's pretty cool.
Anywhos, the song itself. That base piano note that keeps hitting and moves the song along keeps up interest throughout it. Otherwise, it's a little weird of a song. We're toasting the jerks of the world? He's ripping himself apart. It's a completely masochistic song. I guess we can take this as a cathartic message for him, shedding what he use to be and used to love, in favor of a new life.
"Hell of a Life" contains samples of The Mojo Men's "She's My Baby," Yon Joe White's "Stud-Spider," and Black Sabbath's "Iron man." I know I said I'd put my pride aside and accept the autotune for this album, but I just can't. It drives me up a wall and I found myself just counting down seconds for the song to be over. I think it's actually that odd static sound in the backing that's hardest to deal with. The chorus, of course, doesn't help.
Here's a live performance of the next song, "Blame Game."
It's kind of a classic story set to song - a fight over who's right and who's wrong. Usually we just hear one side of the story in a single song, but this is sort of an interesting take on it. Richard James' "Avril 14" is sampled and features John Legend. Again, it's an unexpected mellow song from this artist, and might have served as a cathartic experience for him (which, maybe the whole album did). It's tough for a guy like this to let out emotions in any way other than a song, which is what we come to express anyway. Anyone out there ever wonder what the aftermath is in their personal lives when these songs get released?BAH AUTOTUNE. "Lost In The World" would have started out so much better to my ears without it. Bon Iver's featured in there though, so I'm going to take the time to attempt to appreciate what we've got going on. Lots was brought in for this though:
And he total quotes Michael Jackson lyrics. It's meant to have all of those musical changes throughout it, as it plays the part of the reverie for the album as a while.Finally, there's "Who Will Survive In America" which samples that same Gil Scott-Heron song. It's a good wrap for the album as a whole, bringing back Kanye's opinions on what's up in this insane world. There's a preached statement at the beginning and opinions fly wild as we finish out quite an album.Overall, a really interesting album. It's not my cup of tea for a daily listen, but it is something to experience at least once. Kanye seems to work really hard on what he puts out, and makes sure that he's saying something with every single sentence he raps. I can see why this is such a high contender for awards, and respect him for getting something together in order to be a better man.
- portions of "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango
- sample of "Think (About It)" performed by Lyn Collins
- samples of "Woods" performed by Bon iver
- samples of "Comment No. 1" performed by Gil Scott-Heron.
Everyone have a good Super Bowl??? I'm a Titans fan myself, if I had to pick a team, but I was in NYC for the game, and that was just an experience all to itself. I'd love to hear your take on the game, the pre-shows, and the halftime show especially!! Feel free to scroll down real quick and tell me your thoughts.
Onto the more important matters - the GRAMMYS are in less than a week!!! NO IDEA how I'm going to get through all of these albums... buutttt, maybe we'll shoot to at least finish the televised albums and make those picks? Yeah!
I remember the first time I heard this dude's name, and assumed he was in reggae for some reason. No idea why, but I was wrong, clearly, considering he's nominated for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for "The Show Goes On."
Some quick background pulled from the Wiki page:
"Lupe Fiasco was originally going to release the album as a tripple album, titled "LupE.N.D." as his third and final record, but his contract with Atlantic Records prevented him from doing so. He then postponed "LupE.N.D." indefinitely and intended on releasing an album tentatively called "The Great American Rap Album" in June 2009. Instead, the album was also postponed and he announced that a new album was in the works, originally titled "We Are Lasers" and then changed to "Lasers". "Lasers" is a backronym for "Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile"."I just found all of that to be pretty interesting, so I had to share. Always cool to hear how an album eventually came to be what it is.
The album itself kicks off with "Letting Go" featuring Sarah Green. Right off the bat this has got a great musical feel. The rap isn't overwhelming and hard to hear, which you know is the case sometime. It's actually a great calm lead-in to an album, sort of easing us into everything, and welcoming us into his perspective on this album, especially given his original intentions and where it wound up going.
The second song is the one you, like I was, may be more familiar with. Here's the video first, for "Words I Never Said" featuring Skylar Grey.
Okay... kind of twisted music video concept a bit, but with a message for sure. Love the concept of the line though, "I can't take back the words I never said." Hell people, your silence does really speak just as loudly as your words. Careful how you use both. Don't regret it. Okay, statement over. Good song.
Love the beat immediately for "Till I Get There." It's almost reminiscent of Bruno. It's a lot of working up from nothing to something, and taking care of yourself as need be throughout that. Actually, this is an incredibly uplifting song, both musically and lyrically.
"I Don't Wanna Care Right Now" features MDMA. Probably the first sort of out-of-place song of the album, but that's probably because of the mix and subject. There's more of a party feel on this one, and we were getting comfortable with messages and relatable subjects. Don't get me wrong, this one's fun, but it's for the nighttime, not your everyday.
Trey Songz is featured on the next single, "Out Of My Head."
Awww, song about a girl. I was sort of wondering if this was going to be a song subject somewhere on the album. "You're a real good chorus, I'm a real good verse." Okay, smooth buddy. It's kind of just a sweet old love song, with a few product placement spots (hello BMW), where the rap is gentle enough to enjoy and understand, but still rough enough to solidify steadiness as a man in charge.
We'll follow that right up with another video, this time for "The Show Goes On."
Now now, you've heard this one, just as I have. And you'll admit, like I have to, it's incredibly catchy. Nice get up and get it done song, no matter what the circumstances.MDMA is back for "Beautiful Lasers [2 Ways]." Lots and lots of auto-tune directly on the mic. I know, it's been going on throughout the album, but it's particularly noticeable as this one gets going. It's kind of interesting how freakin' tortured this guys sounds when you get into his lyrics. His self-doubts are so unexpected, but kind of comforting in a way - he's human. You don't get impression from rappers very often."Coming Up" features MDMA again. I couldn't totally make out the meaning of this one, if it was about a chick or about his opinions on listening to music. The beat is pretty great though. There's a really old-school hip-hop/disco feel that keeps it grooving different than everything else so far on the album.With more message on what we're permitted to listen to, we get sELF featured with Lupe on "State Run Radio." We hear the same thing over and over again. I like the song, and get where he's coming from, but sorry, I don't care enough about the message. I know people want to hear new stuff, and different stuff for that matter, on the radio, but personally, I know how I get new music to my ears. The radio's just kind of filler for driving between CDs."BREAK THE CHAIN" features Eric Turner and Sway. The hook is pretty great, and the echos amplify the intensity of the message of doing something different. I think the rap beat might be what actually looses me a little bit here. No, not the words... that backing that's overpowering too much has got to be it.You can't totally expect a little white girl to love the song "All Black Everything." There's a ton of political talk throughout it, which is tough for someone who doesn't listen much to individual news stories. The song's got this interesting take though, about how if blacks had never left Africa and gone into slavery, history would be so completely different. There is a lot of peaceful race realizations though I guess. It's most definitely an interesting song to listen to though."Never Forget You" features John Legend, and completely comes out of left field to end the album. It's, musically, a beautiful song, with gorgeous piano basing everything and providing a great backdrop for rapping unlike anything I've heard before. The chorus is sweet and I think what a lot of people out there would just plain enjoy hearing.
Added to My Playlist:
FULL SPOTIFY ALBUM LISTENING LINK
I remember I posted a status on Facebook a while back, referring to the Hairspray song, saying "Thank god, You can't stop the beat." Or, something along that line. A friend replied with a Lupe video. Now, I've heard of him before, and dug his music, but that sort of woke me up to what this guy had to say, which is a lot.
Tremendous respect for the rap genre, as these guys almost always entirely write their own songs, be it through lyrics of in choices in mixing and instrumentation. Lupe Fiasco worked on every single song on this album himself, I think making me love it even more. Really, this is such a good album. Can't wait to listen to these track again.
I remember when this came out and I was incredibly excited by the possibilities. I saw Jay-Z solo at Bonnaroo in 2010, and it was, by far, one of the best shows I've ever seen, let alone there. He was dead on, and those raps are not easy to begin with.
So, for him to do a collaborative album with someone like Kanye, who has a few awesome innovations himself, well, that's just bound to be good. I've heard a few of these tracks, but have yet to give this the proper full listen it deserves. This was nominated for 4 Grammys, including:
I think Wikipedia puts this much better than I actually can: "Expanding on the dense production style of West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch the Throne incorporates orchestral and progressive rock influences, unconventional samples, and dramatic melodies in its sound. Jay-Z and West's braggadocio lyrics on the album exhibit themes of opulence, fame, materialism, power, and the burdens of success, as well as political and socioeconomic context."Originally, this was only supposed to be a 5-song EP in-between other records for each artist, but it built into so much more, especially give then amount of work they've done together previously. It has produced many singles already (I'll try to mention each as we go), and hit #1 in the US on its debut, as well as in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Australia."No Church In The Wild" includes Frank Ocean (there's a decent about of guest artists on here) starts things off. Already, there's the great wild beat to it, fitting of them both. It's a city beat, but there's a natural feel to the instrumental sounds used. If I have any loyal listeners, they know I'm about to complain about that auto-tune bridge thing worked in. At least the beat continues though. That's the best part. There's samples in this one from Phil Manzanera's "K-Scope," Spooky Tooth's "Sunshine Help Me," and James Brown's "Don't Tell A Lie About Me and I Won't Tell the Truth About You." Proud new mama joins daddy for "Lift Off." By the way - my one gripe with Jay-Z - the Beyonce tease at Bonnaroo SUCKED. K, gripe over. But really, this song isn't going too much for me. I don't know - maybe it's trying a little too hard to be something impressive? There's just something a little boring here. Nevertheless, this is one of the singles that was released from this album."NIggas In Paris" is one of the singles released, complete with video:
- Best Rap Performance for "Otis"
- Best Rap Song for "Otis"
- Best Rap Album
- Best Recording Package
This one made it to #5 on the US Billboard Chart, and #1 on the R&B and Rap Charts (separate charts). There's a sample from Reverend W.A. Donaldson's "Baptizing Scene," as well as dialogue between Will Ferrell and Jon heder from Blades of Glory. Yes, this is the complete official video from Kanye's page, complete with ads for downloading. Looks kind of like something someone made with a scrap-booking program, eh? It's not exactly the most appealing song to begin with, just by lyrics and sound alone. But it's hilarious in some spots, and I think that was the whole point.
Next up is the song that scored them two more Grammy nods aside from the full-album ones, "Otis." Mr. Otis Redding is appropriately credited as the third artist here.
Kind of cool now to be able to tell that some footage from the last video came from this. Love how Jay-Z comes in and absolutely makes that rap work right over the sample of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness." The mix of that song is just great. James Brown's "Don't Tell A Lie About Me And I Won't Tell A Truth About You" makes another appearance in sampling, and Audio Two's "Top Billin'" is in there too. While this only made it to #12 on the US charts (#2 on R&B and Rap charts), it's a really cool use of sampling and a simply done but cool video for playback.
"Gotta Have It" is the latest single released. James Brown is making another appearance, this time with three songs sampled, including our old friend "Don't Tell A Lie About Me And I Won't Tell A Truth About You," and two more: "People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul" and "My Thang." Who knew James Brown was this hood? Ha. I crack myself up sometimes. It's got a pretty cool beat, and the mix is done pretty well. Not a bad job at all.
Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" is sampled in the next song, "New Day." Yeah, right off the bat, hating the auto-tune here. It's like the entire vocal backing to the song, and I get that it's the sample's doing. Why couldn't this have been Michael Buble's version of that song? It's just dead for me there, I can't ignore it.
"That's My Bitch" makes me question my allegiance to this album and these artists, but I'll give them their one. Usually Jay-Z keeps it all pretty relatable, or at least clean enough in subject for everyone. Oh well. James Brown is sampled again, this time with "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved," along with Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache."
Damn skippy I tried to find out if GNR was sampled for "Welcome To The Jungle." No one is actually credited with samples for this one. Oh well. It's a cool approach to the subject of being tired from it all. I can only imagine how run down these guys get from everything they've got going on, but they keep going.
"Who Gon Stop Me" sounds really familiar - actually in the rap, not the music. Flux Pavillion's "I Can't Stop" is quite obviously sampled in the background. It's kind of a great rap rhythm over it, and additional chorus theme. It's a little dirty, but who cares sometimes? It's a good, intense movement and they keep it pumping the whole time.
Indiggo's "La La La" and Quincy Jones' "Celie Shaves Mr./Scarification" are sampled for "Murder to Excellence." I think this is where some of those socioeconomic statements come in. It's kind of a statement on coming from the bad times and horrible stereotypes and happenings (i.e. black-on-black murder) to the better life, building up, etc. It's about making a change, and there's even this cool transfer in music from one thing to another, almost sounding like two separate songs.
"Made In America" includes Frank Ocean again. It's got a really great backing to it musically, and is, again, about making it to more. I think this one would really make an awesome single. Radio, even mainstream, would probably pick this up with a little censoring. It's a lot about blacks in particular, but it's still a pretty powerful song about some incredible people, and serves as a great tribute to so many.
This one hasn't charted in the US, but "Why I Love You" is a single from the album, and includes Mr Hudson. It samples "I Love You So" by Cassius. Oh wow, how has this not charted? I've heard this - a lot. About half of the sampled music in here really bothers me, but it's halfway tolerable. It's kind of cool how they let the sampled piece be the entire chorus, instead of just rapping over it. These guys definitely did different things with their samplings throughout the album. Also, the ending trade-off of words is awesome.
"Illest Motherfucker Alive" (I never said I would censor the words in my blog, sorry) starts completely quiet. Um. Kay. Waiting... It's an 8:23 long song, so let's see how this goes. And then at about three minutes in, we get music. It's actually an expansion of this little theme with horns we've been hearing after a couple of other tracks with no real explanation. The song itself, I feel, was not worth the wait. It's a bunch of uneceesary bragging with a epic operatic voice in the background.
The next one is the final single that we have to share a video for off this album, "H*A*M."
Like how I snuck a little live video in there? Thought you would. ^_^ It's made it to #23 on the US charts (#24 on R&B, #14 on Rap). It's not exactly the best piece on the album. "H*A*M," by the way, stands for "hard as a motherfucker." Just thought I'd solve that mystery for you. I think what makes this song unique is probably what makes it stand out - there's these operatic voices again, actually almost like female versions of the original Gregorian chants, that have their own solo spot, then cary the backing of the rest of the song. Super cool and different to hear.
"Primetime" sampled Orange Krush's "Action." You can kind of feel that the album's winding down. There's something a little less intense here, but the lyrics keep rolling on. It's just missing something to take it to the next level, but gets kind of close with those intense build moments that happen momentarily in the middle of verses. They don't continue or do anything, but it's interesting to the ear.
Finally we have "The Joy" which credits Curtis Mayfield as the third artist and closes out the album. Curtis' "The Makings Of You (Live)" as well as Syl Johnson's (also a Grammy nominated artist, btw) "Different Strokes" are sampled. It's kind of a great way to end the album as a whole. It's a bunch of styles and cool moments from songs compiled together, speaking to the interesting combination we've gotten with the album as a while.
Added To My Playlist:
FULL ALBUM SPOTIFY LISTEN LINK
Okay, here's the deal. I did really enjoy listening to this entire thing. There was a lot I didn't get total enjoyment out of, but there's a lot I enjoyed and appreciated that they did musically.
Jay Z knows how to pick singles - he's got some of the best ones out there that have been stuck in all of us for ages. Kanye's had a few as well. "Run This Town" is one of the better artist combo songs we've had some along in quite some time. An entire album may have been a little much, but they did manage to do a great job experimenting with different types of music and ways of using their samples. Overall, a really awesome job done by all.
Nominations: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, both for "Black and Yellow."
Love the album art on this one actually. Really a cool thing done with the smoke and light.
The title, according to Wiz, has a deeper meaning than just smoking papers. Er, sort of. It's about his contracts that came in when his career took off... and how he rolled up and smoked. It's also about him not using paper to really write anything. He jots notes and stuff, but doesn't ever write full songs down on paper.
This is Wiz's third independent album, and his first two Grammy nominations. And yes, I know how much that sounded like the announcer's voice over when someone wins an award.
"When I'm Gone" starts us off with this little pleasant piano intro that doesn't scare me away as much as I thought the album would. But the song, while having a cool background sound, is not about anything deep after death. It's just about spending money on drugs and alcohol before he's dead. No, seriously, that's what the song is about. Again, great backing music though.
"On My Level" (featuring Too Short) was released as one of the singles with this video:
So here we get a video all about drinking and smoking. Eh, not necessarily my cup of... champaign? Ha. See, get what I did there? I can see the appeal to some people on a party night maybe, but even the beat's a little dull to enjoy on a good night. Maybe at the mellow end of the night.
"Black and Yellow" is the Grammy nominated song here, and what scored him both of the nods he got. Here's the video:
I'm just proud of myself to be able to say I've heard this before! It's actually meant to be a tribute some of Pittsburgh, which I didn't know (Stealers colors, woo). Nice city by the way - I was there a few months ago. Looks really interesting and I wish I had seen more of it. Nice to hear about something other than substances in one of his songs. Kind of a cool tribute song as a whole; good times for Pittsburgh!
"Roll Up" is the next song, and the next video I have to share with y'all:
I kind of adore this musically. That sentence sounds kind of funny describing this, but it's kind of a fantastic mix. The video leaving something to be desired, but that's not necessarily what we're concerned with, now is it? No. Priorities here. And taking up space with ramblings. Yup. I like the music.
First track in a bit without a video, "Hopes & Dreams" is up next. There's this cool guitar at first, almost reminiscent of the oldies we were enjoying yesterday from Music City. But, of course, there's a DJ involved mixing it a little more. And it's kind of maybe about a stripper.
"Wake Up" has this pretty dreamy chorus and bridges. The raps are kind of shmeh, but the beat's pretty nice and fits. It's about making it in a career. Pretty cool to hear with someone who is managing to hit it bigger and bigger these days.
There is most definitely a lighter ignition at the beginning of "The Race." Ah, life and bitches y'all, life and bitches. Sorry, that's just what I'm getting from here. It's a little hard to relate to - go figure. Not a bad song in any way, just un-relatable a little bit. Not bad though.
"Star Of The Show" features Chevy Woods, and it kicks off with a phone conversation that I'm not sure entirely fits here. It's just a dude telling another dude to wake up. The song itself it about staying away from fake people, because everyone just wants to be famous. I guess if I had to look a little deeper into the artist, it's about his early career and the lessons he learned coming up.
The next one's another single, "No Sleep."
"Good weed and cold drinks - that's the recipe." Actually, this is an awesome party anthem. And the video's kind of funny. Overall, really dig the beat and music going on here, sans the video itself (it's just too flashy and hard to watch). It's a great song otherwise!
"Get Your Shit" has this fantastic beginning actually, totally mesmerizing. I actually wish it weren't a breakup song, because the lyrics kill it for me. The music throughout is really great though - the mix is fantastic. The rest of it's just hard to hear and enjoy. I understand he's actually pretty torn about it, but still.
I knew right from the start with this weird windy voice in the background that "Top Floor" was going to drive me insane. Honestly, just that one little element is literally giving me a headache.
It's okat though. "Fly Solo" brings in this sweet use of guitar and is a much better time. It's a rap song, but with so much good lighter rock behind it. It's entirely well done, and the subject matter is even pretty great. It's a good solo anthem and sort of encouraging even in the sad parts.
"Rooftops" featuring Curren$y is okay. It's a lot more of rising up from the bottom to the top of the heap in rap. It's a lot more of the same thing we hear a lot in rap. I guess that's the big thing in the genre - being able to make it to the fame.
The final song, "Cameras" has this really nice final feel to it as a whole. It's full of lyrics about the amazement of finally being where you wanted to be, and the journey there. Even the music feels like a good close out.
Added to My Playlist:
Full Spotify Listening LinkI'm surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this. It's not at all what I expected. It was light enough to remain enjoyable, but had enough rap and hardness to qualify in the category appropriately. The entire work was really well thought-out and compiled and I look forward to seeing where this goes and what's next.
All right, who did I let talk me into this one? Once I'm through my current list of suggestions, I'm totally going on a Hanson binge. Anywhos, this one comes to us through my buddy Dave, manager of South Jersey Florist.
So Pitbull. I know extremely little about this artist, so thank you Spotify for the synopsis on his profile. All I'm coming into this knowing is that I've heard the name on the radio a couple of times, and have been kind of confused as to why someone would go by that. The bio gives a little more info, thank goodness, and pictures! Oh! This is the guy that came out with Enrique for the halftime show at the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving! I was actually wondering who that was.
Ok. Miami based, Cuban background. Inspirations from Poison Clan, Luther Campbell, and Nas (anyone read yesterday's blog?). He got onto Miami mixtapes, as a lot rappers do today to get heard. Then the "King of Crunk" (it's okay, I laughed a little too - excellent title) Lil Jon got him freestyling in 2002 on "Oye" for the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. Pitbull dropped his debut album M.I.A.M.I. in 2004. From there, he became a staple guest performer on numerous tracks, and this album brings in a who slew of artists to appear on his own compilation. I like a performer who can collaborate, so I'm game to see where this one goes. I figured I'd go full-in and listen to the Deluxe Version since it's there.
Let's see what he's got in the track-by-track:
"Mr. Worldwide (Intro)" feat. Vein got us an idea of who Pitbull is, and as this is his own personal album, I get why it's here. I am introduced, so let's move on.
"Give Me Everything" feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, & Nayer isn't winning me over quite yet either. It's cool to see that many people come together for one track, but I'm growing bored of the same sound over and over already.
I was excited for "Rain Over Me" feat. Marc Anthony, but let down a little by the use of him on the track. When I'm even annoyed with the artist I do know, it's setting me up for a less than enjoyable experience. I'll hold out hope though. There's a video for this though, complete with title cards like a movie:
Marc... you may have passed your time on this one...
Wait, Salt N' Pepper are on this album? Sorry, my bad - "Push It" is sampled in this one: "Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)" feat. T-Pain. Have I mentioned yet that I'm not a fan of auto-tune... like... ever? Even for its original purposes? And especially not for what it's used in excess today. I'm trying to come at this album as things to hear in a club, but I wouldn't even enjoy this one there. At least give me something less than juvenile to hear than "you make me wanna say 'Hey Baby'"
"Pause" has what I can only term as "crunk and wind" - that weird sound that plays in so many of these songs. I don't know how to describe is as. Trying to see the good in these tracks - but it's difficult. I like that there are a lot of different beats in this though, but the lyrics are just.. bah. Meh. Yup, I've got nothing, sorry.
Ooh. This one kicks off with an operatic feel. This is different and quite franking, I'm impressed. This one was innovative, and so far is probably my favorite track on the album. "Come N Go" feat. Enrique Inglesias is not awful. Really, none of the album is awful, it's just hard for someone like me who's not into club music at all to find enjoyment in casual listening of these albums. These are much more of an experiential nature.
"Shake Senora" feat. T. Pain & Sean Paul.. oh my god, is this a cover of the song from the end of Beetlejuice?? AH! I LOVE THAT SONG! Okay, I like this one. The rapping gets in the way of my enjoyment a little bit, but I like the approach and update to it. Fun fun fun. I'm going to go dance with the ghosts on the staircase now, k?
Now THAT was fun dance music!!
Aw man... I barely understand the far too whimsy sound of the next track. "International Love" feat. Chris Brown totally took me out of my samba groove. Enunciate people. God I'm a theatre snob sometimes. But there's a sweet video with lots of graphics and cool post effects! (You decide on just how much sarcasm is in that statement...) Also, Pitbull, if you don't know how to pronounce the names of half the places you've been, you did not really try, and are certainly not an international gentleman in my book.
"Castle Made of Sand" feat. Kelly Rowland & Jamie Drastik... my first reaction was "No Kelly... step away from the Auto-Tune button..." I do like the beat here. Reminds me a little of Jay-Z. And I like the uplifting nature of the song. I'll give it to him on this one, it's well done and much more listenable outside of the club. This lends a little more depth to Pitbull. "So you tried to believe in the castle made of sand... when it falls to the sea and your feet can't find dry land, reach for my hand."
Merrr... Auto-Tune. "Took My Love" feat. Red Foo, Vein, & David Rush starts off very difficult to listen to. It doesn't get better. Nope - club track all the way. I need to move on.
"Where Do We Go" feat. Jamie Foxx is something I'm excited for because I like Jamie Foxx and have since his TV show. Deep breath and... okay, it's not awful. It's not something I'm enjoying completely, mostly because of that damn wind sound, but I like it enough to sit through it. Jamie brings an awesome vocal track to it.
"Something For the DJs" is one of the few songs that no one else is credited on, but the samples are insane. It most definitely strikes me as a mashup of a bunch of dance songs - Pitbull took care of it so the DJ can look cool.
"Mr. Right Now" feat. Akon & DJ Frank E just did not excite me, and I don't like the concept. Plus I saw the title of the next track.
"Shake Senora Remix" feat. T-Pain, Sean Paul, & Ludacris comes next. But they put that damn wind sound in AGAIN, so I'm not enjoying it quite as much. Plus, you really have to wait for too long for the awesome chorus to come in and enjoy, so yeah... I'll take the first one over this. Plus, where's the "Okay! I believe you!"??
"Oye Baby" feat. Nicola Fasano... I think this is a throwback? I'm not totally sure. Anywhos, it's cute, but I don't mean that in the best way possible. It's another club number. It's also a lot of self-gratification before turning it on the girl. It would work in a club, but not while I'm hanging out in my room.
"My Kinda Girl" feat. Nelly closes out the album, and it has such a sweet sound to it for the first like 30 seconds. I like that it stays relatively light, and I really like Nelly. Lyrically, there's something lacking, but this could totally set the mood at the end of the night as the bar is closing. It works where it is on the album, and it's different than anything else on here.
Stuff I (actually) Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again - at home:
- "Shake Senora" feat. T-Pain & Sean Paul - http://open.spotify.com/track/1LomM3L6atrf79ZL7nHDp4
- "Castles Made Of Sand" feat. Kelly Rowland & Jamie Drastik - http://open.spotify.com/track/0LHpEIKaXBtXrqSUEdfWKm
2/16 is actually better than I would have predicted for myself here. And there are even a few I'd be okay with in a club. I just can't get into it guys, sorry.
Look, the good news is that I made it through the whole thing without getting a headache.
Seriously though, this wasn't awful. I see why these artists have to put out an entire album - it gives them more to release to the clubs and get more play. These kind of dance artists will normally release a lot more singles to clubs than a rock band will to the radio, and that's okay because that's how that part of the industry works! I respect the approach, and I like that people work together so much in this genre. It's really sometimes pretty cool.
Thoughts? I swear - those two songs are on a playlist now, and "Castles Made Of Sand" actually just came up on it when I threw it on random. Would you do the same with any of these? The whole album? Share your opinions below!