Style, or the way we construct our dress, seems capable to achieve political goals—equal to the power of protests. Speaking from experience, I did not know that my clothes upset the authority figures. Since my professor claimed that I was funny-looking last night, I’ve found a complement in my teacher’s words. Where he was speaking from started at a position, of a certain way of looking at the body. Each new generation violates the laws for presenting the body of the previous generation. This historical function should reveal another strategy for change, another method of power.
Drake is clearly the most divisive figure in Hip Hop today.
And I’m trying to figure out why.
Now the easy answer is folks just ain’t feeling his music. But I’m not convinced. I know so many Hip Hop fans that really just don’t like Drake. By that I mean the very idea of Drake. Half white. Canadian. Middle class. Kinda clean-cut. Child actor. Always crooning. And pouting. And emo and shit. He’s almost the exact opposite of what our concept of an emcee has always been.
And that’s what’s so interesting about him. Like it or not, he’s breaking the mold. And he’s winning.
So don’t fight the feeling. And get comfortable.
Because Drake is coming into his own; and he’s about to go to the next level.
And here’s why…
Gangster-Rap-Godfather Ice-T is really unhappy with the mainstreaming of Hip Hop. And outside the premier of his new documentary “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation,” HE WENT IN.
On Rick Ross:
He thinks he’s [Freeway] Rick Ross, he thinks he’s Larry Hoover, he thinks he’s Big Meech, he thinks he’s MC Hammer, he thinks he’s Tupac. Like, who the f*ck are you really, dude?”
On Lil Wayne and Hip Hop Going Pop:
“Rap was a counterculture that went against pop. But when you have Rihanna singin’ on your records and you’re doin’ records with Katy Perry, that’s no longer rap. It’s pop music, pop using rap delivery. When you hear Lil Wayne sayin’ ‘I got a chopper in the car,’ you go, ‘Yeah, right you do.‘”
Does anyone else find it so cool that Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa show love to each other on their songs? Every now and then, you can hear a Taylor [m/] joint beginning with “shout out to my brotha Spitta”; or, on the low, you can catch Spitta quoting Wiz like, “we aint trippin’ cuz we’ll get there in a minute”. And get this, these songs were not features, each a solo on their popular mixtape and album! Even seeing Big Sean and Juicy J in Wiz’s “Reefer Party” video contributes to this thematic change in the perception of Hip Hop. I’m talking about collectives here, the rhythmic equivalent of the Justice League. Normatively, Hip Hop heads, young and old, are used to the politics of beefs, but nowadays, with the help of video journals and marijuana legislation, us heads experience our favorite artists as a community.
Last Saturday night, Kreayshawn and the White Girl Mob played a sold-out gig in Hollywood. And according to Spin Magazine, it was an insane show.
“…the audience rushed the stage where they proceeded to completely freak out — bouncing, stripping, cooking, and flipping into the crowd — until the music was done and they were forced bodily from the limelight by the venue’s security. It was intensely electric.”
The next day, she hit the VMAs, where she was nominated (and a favorite) for the Best New Artist Award. She lost to like-minded and equally controversial Tyler, the Creator. Like Kreayshawn, Tyler and Odd Future rose to prominence through YouTube, blogs and social media, don’t fit in any radio format, and have sharply divided critics and fans.
A lot of people aren’t taking Kreayshawn and Odd Future seriously. And that’s understandable. When something comes along that is so alien to mainstream standards and tastes, it always gets dismissed.
But don’t be fooled. Their success is organic and real; not some record label’s scheme. The rise of artists like Odd Future and Kreayshawn (as well as Lil B and Waka Flocka Flame) is subversive to Hip Hop’s status quo. And it might end up being a big deal.
Our prayers were answered yesterday, people.
Last night, Toronto-based R&B mystery man The Weeknd unleashed his brand new mixtape Thursday. You can follow the link below to snag the free download.
Things have changed drastically for The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) since the release of his first tape House Of Balloons earlier this year. For one thing, there was absolutely no pressure. But since then, House of Balloons has been the most positively-reviewed album of the year thus far. Tesfaye now releases his follow-up to an audience hungry for another dose of a dark, haunted and debauched majesty that we now come to expect (i.e. demand) from The Weeknd.
And our hero does not disappoint.
At this stage in the game, it’s really impossible to know the true nature of Amy Winehouse’s legacy. This kind of thing becomes clear with time and distance.
It might be easy to compare her with other beloved singers that left us too soon, like Billie Holiday or Sam Cooke. And perhaps we’ll position her alongside her cohorts in the 27 Club, like Janis Joplin or Kurt Cobain. To be clear, I’m almost certain Amy will be looked upon with similar admiration and awe; her voice, style and songwriting were unmatched by anyone else of her generation.
But its important to recognize that we experienced Amy in a very different way. There are no youtube videos of Kurt Cobain shooting up heroin. There is very little footage of Jim Morrison’s many disastrous concert meltdowns. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix had more than a few nights out on the town drunk and high. But the paparazzi didn’t follow their every move, and random onlookers weren’t armed with camera phones in the late 60’s.
Yes, Amy Winehouse’s legacy will be very different from theirs because her many highs and lows were witnessed en masse, in real time, via. youtube, tabloids and blogs. We saw practically every moment of it. For better or for worse. And though it may be difficult to admit, there is just no way this won’t influence the way we perceive her life and work.
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.
Somewhere in Chicago the most promising band has its members contorting their bodies a few more times before it pries open the mouths of audiences across the world. Whether the gesture be frantic fingertips of an emcee, a rattling head of a saxophone player, or a subtle hand-to-thigh clap of a singer, the soul of their music contains a contagious rapture that even the creators cannot even subdue. They call themselves Kids These Days, a befitting name since most of their members are still high school. Everything’s included: Greg Landfair Jr. (Drums), Lane Beckstrom (Bass) JP Floyd (Trombone), Nico Segal (Trumpet), Rajiv Halim (Saxophones), Liam Cunningham (Guitar/Vocals), Vic Mensa (Emcee), Macie Stewart (Vocals). Whipping all their ingredients for delivery, KTD stuffs HipHopSoulJazz down the throats of a progressively irrelevant youth culture.