On Repeat: Drake, “One Dance”

This is terrible, you guys. I really like this Drake song. Except I really do not like Drake. But, as happens when every radio station, bar and retail store blast the same 10 songs at you over and over ad nauseam, stuff starts to grow on you.

(This is science. People tend to like songs that are familiar to them. When Outkast first debuted “Hey Ya” in 2003, no one liked it because it was different and weird. The way radio stations got people to love the song was by announcing that right after this new Outkast song, they would be playing whatever the cool, popular song of the moment was. This ensured that people didn’t change the station throughout this weird song that no one liked. And eventually by couching “Hey Ya” between songs people already liked, people grew to like “Hey Ya” also. I don’t remember where I read this story, but I didn’t make it up, promise.)

But I digress. “One Dance” is such a good song! Drake be damned. This is like when I was obsessed with that song “Trouble” and then I found it was by Taylor Swift which really upset me because UCH TSWIFT. But sometimes you just have to accept these things.

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Concert Review: Wyclef Jean at Brooklyn Bowl

When I saw Wyclef Jean’s name come up on Jukely, the concert subscription service that I swear I will write a blog post about one day, I had to pick up a ticket immediately. While I’m hardly a massive Wyclef fan, his song, “We Tryin to Stay Alive” is an 11 on my nostalgia scale. I was part of a dance group called TDC (Tufts Dance Collective) in college and my friend and I choreographed a fun, disco-y dance to this song that tried to pay proper homage to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive,” the song Wyclef draws from. I will always look back on TDC rehearsals and shows as some of my favorite college memories, and so I was crossing my fingers that I’d get to hear “We Tryin to Stay Alive,” well, live.

Usually when I walk into a show there’s a little bit of an adjustment period. Figure out what to do with my coat. Maybe get a beer. Find a spot in the crowd. Slowly but surely get into the groove of the evening. Maybe it’s because I arrived after Wyclef had already taken the stage, but the impact on me was immediate. A minute after I stepped into Brooklyn Bowl I was already thinking, “This show is way more fun than I thought it would be.”

Wyclef’s energy was absolutely incredible, and he brought the audience right along with him. When he spotted a pocket of people in the front not dancing hard enough, he had no problem telling them to, “Go to the fucking back.”

He sang, he danced, he rapped, he played multiple instruments. He climbed on stuff, he stagedived (stagedove?). He graced us with an incredibly moving 15 minute a cappella freestyle about his childhood, his career, and the myriad of social injustices facing our world today.

The set list wove in and out of his own songs, featuring tracks from his award-winning album, “The Carnival,” as well as some Fugees hits (“Killing Me Softly,” obviously). Wyclef looped in other artists’ works that I didn’t even know I wanted to hear at that moment – House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are a few that come to mind. As a Haiti native, he managed to weave it all together with reggae beats and made it a consistent upbeat dance party.

Most importantly, perhaps, Wyclef played the song I wanted him to play!

And even though he didn’t play the whole song, he did segue halfway through into a great version of “Guantanamera,” so I’m okay with it.

Wyclef is hitting Brooklyn Bowl again next Tuesday night and I am seriously debating trying to go again. Even though it’s only March, I can already tell this will be on my top 10 list for best shows of 2016.

Live Journaling “The Life of Pablo”

Well, the new Kanye album has arrived, and while he didn’t bow to Martin Shkreli’s wishes to sell it only to him, the album is only officially released on Tidal and isn’t that kind of the same thing as giving it to a sole owner?? WHO EVEN USES TIDAL? Anyhoo.

I’m usually pretty passive about listening to music, having it on in the background while I work or run errands, but for my first pass through The Life of Pablo I decided to give it the full attention that it deserves. I took a few notes on each song and decided to share them here. Due to the album’s limited release it is more or less impossible to find links to most of the songs so..hopefully you have your own copy to follow along!

Ultralight Beam
A little too melodic for rap? Kind of R&Bish. Dig the gospel choir but I hope it gets more hip hop-y. Biblical “pillar of salt” reference!

Father Stretch My Hands pt 1
Sounds like current top 40 crap. I expect more uniqueness from Kanye.

Father Stretch My Hands pt 2
Good beat. So much autotune.

Famous
Good, catchy. Awesome break.

Feedback
Weird in that Kanye/Yeezus way. (Here I put a big check mark)

Low Lights
No Kanye? Solid beat maybe wasted but catchy.

High Lights
Too much autotune. Gets snappy! I dig. Reminiscent of his older stuff. Overall an “eh” song with great moments.

Freestyle 4
Scary with sci-fi thriller horror sounds!

I Love Kanye
Loveeeee his humor.

Waves
Has a sense of gravitas. Kind of poppy. Single potential? Fuck Chris Brown. Good “lighters in the air” kind of song.

FML
Not so melodic. The Weeknd sucks. Gets less juvenile but still not a great song. End vocals sound like a dying animal.

Real Friends
I like this beat but not 4 minutes of it.

Wolves
So much autotune, again. Dig the kind of tribal vocal thing in the background. Like the mostly a cappella ending.

Silver Surfer Intermission
Can’t even understand what this dude is saying.

30 Hours
This is the Kanye I want and love. 

No More Parties in LA
A+ song title. A+ guest verse from Kendrick Lamar. A+ beat. 

Facts
Old timey feel is amazing and then DARKNESS. Favorite?!? Typical “is he extremely self-aware or completely lacking in self-awareness?” feel that I love about Kanye. Steve Harvey reference! Clearly super recent.

Fade
Kind of a jungle vibe. Everything about this is amazing. Tempo changes, all verses. Autotune for once doesn’t bother me. Awesome dance track. Reminds me of Oliver’s “Night Is On My Mind.” 

I realize these comments are not super helpful without being able to listen to the tracks. Ah well. I think it’s clear that in my first pass through the album I wasn’t totally overwhelmed with joy, though the album definitely gets better as it progresses. I had a much more positive initial reaction to Yeezus when it came out, though I think my opinion of The Life of Pablo will improve after a few more listens, though. Because KANYE.

Martin Shkreli, Leave Kanye Alone

There were approximately 14 prior iterations of the title of this blog post. Most of them involved the F bomb. Because Martin Shkreli is the worst.

Shkreli is the pharmaceutical dirtbag who took a life-saving drug and raised the price approximately 5,555% (that’s a comma, not a period), and also the music-fan dirtbag who spent 2 million dollars on the only copy of a Wu Tang Clan album. Finally, he is the dirtbag who is currently under house arrest for allegedly committing securities fraud.

As if he wasn’t terrible enough, Shkreli is at it again, being a jerk of the highest order.

Many of us were eagerly awaiting the release of The Life of Pablo, Kanye West‘s new album, scheduled for February 11th. But we did not get said album. Why not? Because Martin Life-Ruiner Shkreli has offered Kanye TEN MILLION DOLLARS to be the album’s sole owner.

Letter from Shkreli's Twitter account

Letter from Shkreli’s Twitter account

Kanye, you can reach him through Twitter DM! Because that’s where all the professional business is done these days.

Another tweet from Shkreli explains that the board of Kanye’s label is legally required to review this offer, which should delay The Life of Pablo‘s release by a few days. I have no idea if this is true, but I do know that we didn’t get an album on the 11th.

Aside from the absolute ludicrousness of this idea, here’s the part that really gets me:

“Instead of releasing this product for your millions of fans, I ask you to sell this recording solely to me.”

What an arrogant statement. “I, Martin Shkreli, am asking you to deprive millions of people of your music because I want to be the only one to have it.” What kind of person can even make deranged statements like this and still look themselves in the eye? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this is coming from someone who is also willing to deprive people of medical treatment that will save their lives, yet here I am, angrily writing a blog post at midnight.

College Dropout inspired Shkreli to succeed at a young age! (To become a white collar criminal?) Therefore this album should be his and his alone! Forget about anyone else who might have been inspired by Kanye’s work, or anyone who just loves rap music, or anyone who wants to see what an unpredictable creative mind might have up his sleeve.

I wouldn’t think Shkreli was serious if he hadn’t already spent 2 million to keep the Wu Tang album to himself. Maybe it’s all just a terrible publicity stunt (for what, his live stream where you can watch him under house arrest?), but he seems like the kind of selfish person who legitimately would want to spend exorbitant amounts of money to own something that millions of people want, just so no one else could have it.

You know who Martin Shkreli reminds me of?

Only he’s real. And he doesn’t have a catchy song.

I imagine this debacle will blow over in a few days and us Yeezy fans will get our album. Bonus if there’s some kind of hilariously angry response from Kanye. Double bonus if Shkreli follows Veruca Salt’s path down the garbage chute. To be determined!

Go See “Straight Outta Compton.” Like, Now.

Last night I saw “Straight Outta Compton,” the movie depicting the rise and fall of rap group N.W.A. It is excellent! Go see it. End of blog post.

Just kidding.

I was pretty pumped to see this movie because N.W.A. was one of the most influential rap groups basically of all time. They put Compton on the map and are responsible for launching the career of one of my favorite rappers (Dr. Dre, obvi). Plus, the N.W.A. story is fraught with drama and perfect for Hollywood.

While there certainly is a lot of rap music in the movie and you should probably be able to tolerate that, you don’t have to be even remotely interested in hip hop to love it. It’s so emotionally powerful and is more than just a biopic of some famous rappers. Aside from detailing the story of Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube’s rise to fame and the tensions that arose in their partnership, we see the racial prejudices and police brutality that I wish I could say were typical only of Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, but that still hit a little too close to home today. Particularly jarring was seeing the actual footage of the 1991 Rodney King beating. We also see the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with Eazy’s passing at the unfortunately young age of 31. (Umm spoiler alert retroactive to the last sentence? Except this is a true story and it happened 20 years ago and sorry if you didn’t realize he was dead, I guess?)

Another thing that makes this movie so great was the casting. Ice Cube is played – very strongly – by his own son, but the actors playing Dre and Eazy also both resembled the men they were portraying, and when Tupac showed up I legitimately thought for a hot second that they were somehow incorporating old Pac footage into this film. Tupac hologram 2.0? (Sadly not, just a serious lookalike).

“Straight Outta Compton” was laugh-out-loud funny, and I loved the depiction of Dre coaching Eazy – nearly universally agreed upon to be a terrible rapper – through Boyz N the Hood.

And on that note, when’s the last time you listened to Boyz N the Hood? What a fantastic song. I had more or less forgotten about it and I’ve already relistened to it a ton of times in the less than 24 hours since I saw the movie.

Overall, “Straight Outta Compton” was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and the 2.5 hours really flew by – which is saying a lot, because I have a really short attention span. It’s funny and poignant and inspirational and sad all in one, and it’ll definitely make you want to go home and download the eponymous album.

Everybody Loves “Get Ur Freak On”

It’s true. Do you like that song? Obviously you answered “yes,” which proves my point.

Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” is arguably one of the best and most influential rap songs of all time, according to a poll I just conducted whose sole respondent was myself. The song is so great, in fact, that those polled were even willing to forgive its use of the word, “Ur,” allowing for the fact that the song came out in 2001 and that probably was cool at the time.

But think about it. You’re at a bar. Or at home. Or walking down the street. Or even just listening to the music in your own head. You hear those first few notes. Listen from just the 12 second mark to the 15 second mark in this video.

How instantly and immediately pumped up are you? “I LOVE THIS SONG!” you yell aloud, or at the very least, think loudly.

Remember the Superbowl halftime show, when it was all la la Katy Perry left shark blah blah and then…SURPRISE MISSY ELLIOTT. You died of joy, I know you did. I didn’t even watch the Superbowl live so by the time I saw the halftime show on YouTube the next day, not only was I well aware that Missy was going to show up, but I had already read the Buzzfeed detailing how wonderful her performance was and how some idiot teenagers had no idea who she is (DISRESPECTFUL), and I still got super excited when she popped up.

Let me prove to you how much everyone loves Missy Elliott. I’m going to let you in on a secret.

Missy is making a comeback!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I KNOW, RIGHT???

_________________________________

Okay, that statement is not actually true. But weren’t you, for a hot minute, so pumped about that? Because she’s the greatest and if she decided to return to the rap world, we would all rejoice.

I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering when, if ever, I’m going to go to a concert and hear one of my favorite DJs drop “Get Ur Freak On.” Why has no one remixed this yet? Or are there remixes out there that I’m not aware of? Not that this song needs to be remixed. It’s perfect as is.

I basically listened to this song on repeat as I wrote this blog post. I do not regret it.

Where Are You, Macklemore?

A Macklemore song came on my iPod the other day, and I thought to myself, “Whatever happened to that guy?”

(It was this song, in case you were wondering.)

The funny thing is, I don’t really care what happened to Macklemore (or Ryan Lewis, sorry Ryan Lewis). I loved his album, though I can no longer remember the name of it (“The Heist,” Google says), and in his nearly 2 year absence from the public scene I kind of just stopped caring. Much in the way that putting a year and a half between each of the last few Mad Men seasons made me care a whole lot less about Mad Men. I still watched, obviously, but I could have also not. “Out of sight, out of mind,” as they say. Or perhaps, “Out of sight, now I’ve completely forgotten what happened to Don Draper or Peggy or Roger or any of those people last season.”

2013 was pretty much the Year of the Macklemore. He burst onto the rap scene in all his anti-capitalist fervor, yet hit it ridiculously big despite having independently produced his album. He gave us “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love,” proving not only his ear for mainstream music but also his sense of morality. Everyone, myself very much included, had major Macklemore (and Ryan Lewis, sorry to keep leaving you out buddy) fever. I saw him 3 times in the span of a few months and loved each performance.

And then…crickets. No one talks about Macklemore anymore.

So what has that dude been up to? Did he just fall off or what?

If you live in Mexico, Japan, or Germany and have been craving some M&RL, have no fear, it looks like the duo will be playing festivals in your respective countries this summer!

Otherwise, it looks like Macklemore will be putting out an album sometime in 2015. This is based entirely on one tweet, in which he replied to a fan who complained that, “it’s 2015 and no new Macklemore album,” with, “you will this year, believe that.”

So, everyone, our job is to start trying to remember who Macklemore is and all the good Macklemore-y times we had in 2013 so we get excited when the new album comes out. Cool? Cool. Here’s something to jog your memory.

(Macklemore’s videos are terrible, aren’t they? Uch.)