Wacka Flocka Flame's "Flockaveli"

I did not expect to enjoy Wacka Flocka Flame’s debut studio album, Flockaveli.

I expected to laugh a lot; cringe even more, and at best have total indifference towards the album overall. As an emcee, Flocka lacks nuance, wordplay, inventiveness and flow in equal measure.

But then I realized that such grievances are totally irrelevant to understanding the appeal of his music. Flockaveli is brash, hard-edged, and unremittingly bleak. It strips hardcore Hip Hop down to an unapologetically dark, fatalistic core that frightens and fascinates in equal measure.

Hate on him all you want, but Flockaveli is a great album.

Jay-Z on "Big Pimpin": "What kind of animal would say this sort of thing?"

 

Hip Hop impresario Jay-Z can now add “author” to his long list of accomplishments. 

Co-written by friend and journalist Dream Hampton, “Decoded” will tell the story of the music mogul’s life, as well as the evolution of Hip Hop in general, by paying particularly close attention to the intricacies of Jay’s many brilliant lyrical offerings. 

While being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about this latest project, Jay was asked about the experience of reviewing his own lyrics written down on the page (since, as you must already know, Jay-Z is famous for composing his lyrics in his head, rather than writing them down). 

Hov’s response is priceless. 

PRINCE Announces "Multi-Night Stand" In New York City!

Last night, bonafide musical genius (and in my humble opinion, the greatest artist of all time) Prince announced a series of concerts, to be held sometime around the end of this year.

And anyone with even the slightest knowledge of this man’s onstage prowess, as well as the depth of his catalogue of music (fyi…it is ENDLESS), knows that a performance from Prince is a must-see event.

Art, Greed & Unpronounceable Symbols: Thoughts on Nas' Scathing Letter to the Industry….

So Nas is pissed.

Earlier this week, a private email sent by Nas to executives at Def Jam, Nas’ current label home, leaked onto the internet. And it is a doozy. Nas slams the label suits for holding up the release of his highly anticipated Lost Tapes Vol. 2 collection, railing against a major label system that serves the interests of label execs at the expense of artists and fans.

The first full paragraph goes a little something like this:

I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist @ the end of the day, they don’t connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation

Damn. Straight ether.

Nas’ sentiments are passionate, honest, and dead-on. But this is not a new phenomenon. Not even close. You think an email is intense? How ‘bout changing your name to an unpronounceable symbol and purposefully sabotaging your own career?

Willow Smith's Ridiculously Good "Whip My Hair"

The first time I’d ever heard the name Willow Smith was earlier this week.

Seemingly out of nowhere, blogs all across the internet were ablaze with praise for a song called “Whip My Hair.” And no, we’re not talking Disney Channel blogs; adult-oriented music (or otherwise) news sites lauded this song as pop gold, a surefire hit, and perhaps the beginning of an incredibly successful career. She has ridiculously famous parents (Will and Jada), but that wasn’t the focus of this media coverage. People really liked this song. And of course, what was apparently most astounding about Willow is that she’s just 9 years old.

I tend to find kid singers annoying so, of course, I ignored all of these bloggers.  

I was being an idiot.

Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall": A Review

A year ago today, the world lost Michael Jackson, undoubtedly the greatest entertainer of the 20th Century (sorry Elvis!). The ascendance of the King of Pop during the early 1980’s represents quite possibly the most mindboggling, immense shift the American (or World) pop cultural landscape has ever seen. At one point in time Thriller was literally selling a million copies a week; music videos for “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and of course “Thriller” were first-of-their-kind media events, ushering in an MTV-led, visual era in the music industry that we are just now starting to see come to a close. Arguably most importantly though were the racial barriers Michael quite literally shattered. No black artist had ever achieved anything that even approached the kind of crossover success Michael enjoyed with Thriller. The world would never be the same.

Of course, the most successful artist of all time also faced the harshest, most-widespread backlash in the history of popular music as well. And so we could spend all day ruminating over the brutal treatment of Michael Jackson during his life, his strange behavior, or the morbid fascination with his death and sheer opportunism we’ve witnessed since his passing. But I’d rather talk about the music. That is the man’s truly lasting legacy; everything else is really just scenery.

So on the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, my aim is to move beyond the myths and the scandals by focusing on an album unfettered by the weight of MJ’s incredible celebrity or incredulous detractors; Michael Jackson’s seminal 1979 album, Off The Wall.