The Weeknd's "House of Balloons": THE REVIEW

You can tell a genre of music is dying when a) it gives too much of itself away to a radio-ready pop sound, and b) it becomes artistically stagnant, with too few of its practitioners willing (or able) to innovate and move the genre forward. With Usher’s lowest-common-denominator Pop&B, as well as Chris Brown’s douchbaggery and Trey Songz’s utter mediocrity dominating the charts, R&B music has certainly been sliding in that general direction over the past few years. These guys can dance and sing (or whine) with the best of them, but their music is just formulaic, thematically bland, and entirely missing any kind of edge whatsoever. Too much watered-down Michael Jackson and not nearly enough Prince, in a nutshell.

Maybe these R&B cats thought they were safe from the kind of utter embarrassment and panic OFWGKTA is inflicting on Hip Hop’s many phony, undercover pop stars. No such luck, sorry. Allow me to introduce you to The Weeknd’s House of Balloons.

Say hello to the dark, smoldering future of Rhythm and Blues.

9 Songs Every PRINCE Fan Should Know

Growing up in the digital age has completely changed our generation’s listening habits.

Instead of buying albums and experiencing a complete artistic statement, we download an artists most well-known tracks from iTunes and call it a day. It’s pathetic. How can you call yourself a Prince fan (for example) if you’ve only got “Raspberry Beret,” “Purple Rain,” and “1999” on your iPod shuffle? It’s just not enough.

The following is a list of what music nerds call “deep cuts,” or songs that either weren’t released as singles, or didn’t get a lot of mainstream attention upon their initial release. Obviously you won’t be a Prince historian after listening to these songs (the man has released over 35 albums); this is seriously the tip of the iceberg. But at least you’ll have gained a deeper insight into the many facets of his artistry; perhaps gaining a clearer picture of his genius.

These are the 9 songs every Prince fan should know.


“I created OF cause I feel we’re more talented

Than 40 year-old rappers talkin’ ‘bout Gucci

When they have kids they haven’t seen in years.

Impressing they peers.”

-Tyler, The Creator “Bastard”

A lot has been written about Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. And if my intuition is correct, plenty more will be written in the coming months. Because Odd Future isn’t just going to become popular; Odd Future is revitalizing Hip Hop music. And more than anything else, the above quote perfectly encapsulates why.

THINGS FALL APART: What Happened To Hip Hop's Conscience?

Has anyone else been wondering what happened to the socially conscious voice in Hip Hop music?

Yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of emcees out there in the underground with tons of relevant shit to say. But what about the mainstream? There used to be some semblance of balance in Hip Hop. There was a time when a Neo Soul/alternative Hip Hop movement was a visual, popular alternative to the violence, misogyny, and materialism of mainstream Hip Hop. It was a time when that gorgeous and supernaturally gifted actress from Sister Act 2 became the de facto leader of that movement, and the spokeswoman for a generation.

This article is a love letter to that glorious movement, and an explanation as to why it faded away.

#WINNING?: The Unprecedented Meltdown Of Charlie Sheen

I’m sure this past week has been a busy one for all of us.

Maybe you were preoccupied with a preponderance of school work. Or perhaps it was that boring, borderline dehumanizing 9-to-5 that got you down. Or maybe you were meeting regularly with your overpriced legal team, striving desperately to devise a legal strategy that’ll keep you out of jail for stealing a necklace for which you had more than enough money to pay (if your name is Lindsay Lohan).

Me? I spent most of this past week trying to figure out what in the hell is going on in the mind of Charlie Sheen. And I’m ashamed to admit that it’s been pretty amazing.  

Was It OK For Beyonce, Usher, and Mariah Carey To Perform For The Qaddafi Family?

According to the New York Times, as well as documents obtained by Wikileaks, a slew of pop megastars have received massive paychecks from the dictatorial/psychotic Qaddafi family of Libya, in exchange for private concert performances.

While the people of their country were living in utter poverty and misery, and tortured and/or imprisoned if they ever dared to express dissent, General Qaddafi’s sons were throwing lavish parties in St. Bart’s, extending invitations to some very big names. A recent New Year’s Eve blowout featured back-to-back performances from Usher and Beyonce. The year prior, Mariah Carey rang in the New Year with the Qaddafi’s. All reportedly netted a whopping $1 million a piece for their services.

An Open Letter To Lil' Kim….

Dear Lil’ Kim,

I actually like you. Hard Core was dope. I even kinda liked La Bella Mafia, and I agree with The Source; The Naked Truth is classic material. I thought it was sad that you went to jail in order to protect so-called friends that wound up testifying against you in court to save their own asses. Hell, I wouldn’t even vilify you for being Biggie’s side jawn; I believe you when you say that what you and Biggie had was special. You probably didn’t deserve to be marginalized or portrayed unfairly in a certain biopic chronicling the Notorious one’s life either. You are undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential female rappers of all time. You are a Hip Hop legend.

But enough is enough.

Your beef with Nicki Minaj is illegitimate on multiple levels, Kim. But you know what? So was LL Cool J’s tiff with Canibus. So was KRS-One’s legendary war with MC Shan. Hip Hop is littered with rap battles founded on shoddy evidence. The difference here is that your behavior over the past 6-8 months has come across as jealous, immature, and incredibly desperate. And you’ve taken it to another level of absurdity this week. Releasing a low-budget, entirely unnecessary Nicki Minaj diss fest of a mixtape called Black Friday, charging ten dollars for it, and then falsely claiming it sold 100,000 copies in 28 hours? Not a good look, Kim. In the words of Karen Civil, “If I wanted to buy a whole mixtape about Nicki Minaj I would just buy the Pink Friday LP again.” Such behavior is entirely unbecoming of a Hip Hop legend. And for the sake of your legacy, it really needs to stop.

Gucci Mane's Bizarre New Tattoo

Earlier this week, Gucci Mane unveiled what has to be the ugliest, most absurd tattoo of all time.

Amid his multiple arrests (and an extended stay in the psych ward), Gucci found the time to have a massive ice cream cone tattooed across the side of his face. Look closely and you’ll notice a small “Burrr” printed inside of the cone.

The obvious question arises: What the fuck is wrong with Gucci Mane?

Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday": THE REVIEW

You might not dig her style, and you might not be feeling her lyrical content, but you’d be hard-pressed to name one female rapper that is even in the same ballpark as Nicki Minaj right now. Prior to Minaj, female rappers were a dying breed, scoffed at by major labels, in and out of prison (Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Remy Ma and Da Brat, specifically) and constantly playing second fiddle to their male handlers.

Not Minaj; she recognized that her forbearers had completely dropped the ball, so she picked it up and ran with it. A slew of magazine covers, show-stealing cameos, and baseless, hateriffic rants from Lil’ Kim have followed, and through it all she’s remained remarkably steadfast in her quest for utter domination of Hip Hop and Pop music, poised to release one of the most feverishly anticipated albums of the year.

With Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj turns the oftentimes tenuous relationship between Hip Hop and Pop music on its head, blurring the lines between them with total confidence and reckless abandon. It’ll definitely piss off Hip Hop purists; but it’s also going to be huge.

Pink Friday is brash, funny, cocky, girlie, imperfect…and kinda irresistible.

Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy": THE REVIEW

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is unquestionably the best album of the year.

It reaches further and demands more from the listener than any Hip Hop or Pop record in recent memory. West shatters stylistic and conceptual boundaries at every turn, painting a fascinatingly complex portrait of rock stardom in all of its glory and dissonance, categorically crushing just about everything else in pop music right now.

It is an epic in the truest sense of the word; mindboggling in its scope, enthralling in its depth, and all-consuming in its grandeur. Like Prince’s Sign o’ the Times, U2’s The Joshua Tree, or Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) is one of those rare and electrifying moments in popular music when a prodigiously talented artist with an almost blemish-less track record sees the light and finally unleashes their magnum opus.

Kanye has never released a less-than-stellar album, but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his masterpiece.