• Music to Look Into

    Out 29 2013, 22h24

    Black Merda
    Sweet Smoke - Just a Poke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsgj0rFUOC4
    Poliphony - Poliphony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etZ-JVFjQoo
    Asa
    Tommy James & The Shondells: "Crystal Blue Persuasion" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDl8ZPm3GrU

    Allen Toussaint
    Eugene McDaniels
    Lee Dorsey
    O.V. Wright
    Syl Johnson
    Ann Peebles
    Eddie Bo
    Millie Jackson
    Sam Dees
    The Counts
    Geater Davis
    Brothers Unlimited - Who's for the Young?
    Motherlode - When I Die

    Esther Phillips

    Finally found the record I was looking for! Them Changes by Buddy Miles!
    Skull Snaps
    Persuasive Percussion (1966)

    Reggae artists:

    Yellowman
    Barrington Levy

    Jeff Bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFGEDKJwFEc&list=UU0eJquRgPvaC7JGptfBNRsA
    This guy is cool af. He's obviously most well known for his work with Eminem (during Em's best years), and it seems the work of the Bass Bros. kind of goes unmentioned by most when the conversation of great hip hop producers comes up. Often times I don't think people realize the amount of talent some of these producers (lesser renowned ones such as these guys) have. Nice video, I like the song he was singing (I wish I knew what it was, and it's originally by him).

    Dixie Chicks - Home
    George Strait - Ocean Front Property
    Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs
    Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison
    Kacy Musgraves

    Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka
    William Onyeabor

    john cultrane - a love supreme
    nina simone - The Amazing Nina Simone
    miles davis - Miles Davis and Horns
    fela kuti - Confusion
    Yusef Lateef - Hush 'N' Thunder
  • Gotta get up on these artists (or simply listen to their shit again.)

    Out 16 2013, 9h36

    Awol One
    Zion I
    Lyrics Born
    Aceyalone
    Aesop Rock
    Dynospectrum
    Myka 9
    Dilated Peoples (& Evidence)
    Chali 2na (& Jurassic 5)
    Living Legends (& Eligh)
    Pigeon John
    Pac Div
    Souls of Mischief
    DJ Quik
    Suga Free
    The Coup
    Abstract Rude
    Nocando
    Open Mike Eagle
    Volume 10
    PackFM
    Shad
    Antipop Consortium
    Visionaries
    The Grouch
    Blue Scholars
    Common Market
    Factor (+ Ron Contour)
    Sufjan Stevens
    Edan
    Freestyle Fellowship
    Danny!
    Dizzee Rascal
    Mr. Lif
    kos
    Cage
    Homeboy Sandman
    Aloe Blacc
    Willie Evans Jr.
    Panacea
    Reef the Lost Cauze - Feast or Famine

    :whew:
  • What Makes Casino Royale So Great

    Jul 15 2013, 4h48

    The more I watch this movie, the more I appreciate why it's so freaking good. That's really when you know a movie is a "classic" or whatever, when with each new viewing you find something else or more about the movie you didn't quite pick up on before (or of course your memory is just refreshed with reasons why you enjoyed it so much previous times). So after watching it yet another time today, I decided to write down what I thought made it so great.

    Casino Royale is obviously a 007 film that was released back in 2006. Now I will admit, I'm somewhat of a biased source because the James Bond franchise was very much a part of my childhood; I collected all it's movies on VHS tape (damn you DVDs), got it's nifty merchandise ranging from calendars to action figures, and even went as far to idealize myself as the character James Bond (tbh, I still kind of do. It's a lesser dream of mine to play James Bond). Anyway, I was likely 12 years old or so when I first saw this film, and at that point I'd probably seen most, if not all, of the James Bond movies already, so I was very skeptical of this Daniel Craig fellow because I was disappointed in losing Pierce Brosnan, the man who played in the first Bond film I'd ever seen, Die Another Day. As a youngster, I wasn't all that concerned with the plot or the depth of characters in the films I watched, much less themes. A James Bond film was all about the signature things that made that character legendary, from his appearance to the way he said his name, gadgets, ect.; I was more in love with the character than the movies themselves. So these were things that hindered my sight of why Casino Royale was such a good action-drama film, I was all too concerned with Craig being a new guy and how he'd live up to my expectations of what Bond should be like instead of being patient and allowing the character develop.

    Alright, enough of that mumbo jumbo and let me talk about the movie specifically as I initially meant to (lots of shit I write on here is just rambling to be honest: I need a blog). Casino Royale is a reboot of a well-known film franchise. With most films which fit into that description, there usually seems to be lots of noticeable expositional crap you watch so you learn about how the main character came to be and whatever, likely shit you've already seen before (e.g. most superhero movies). The thing with James Bond though is that there has never really been an exposition to this character and the beauty of this new series reboot is that we can gradually see the character of Bond grow into what we have known him to be. You can probably divide this film into three parts; the first being the exposition: Bond's newly attained double-o status and basically showing us this new Bond's demeanor/style; the second being the casino/poker game; and the third being the aftermath of the poker game: his failed love endeavor with Vesper Lynd. Technically, the only real exposition is the first scene that's in black and white, but I'm just using the word for lack of a better one, basically only to stress that that part of the movie gives a kind of back-story to Bond's character before what all the other parts of story are setting us up for, the big poker game.

    It's probably fair to say that when most people think of the word "spy", James Bond comes to mind. Stuff that is typically identifiable with being a spy are usually things that have been stressed in movies of 007 and the alike (e.g. Mission: Impossible) with gadgets and going undercover. Casino Royale is a drastic diverter from this common practice. Instead of emphasizing the spy qualities of what goes into being a double-o, this movie is more about simply being a secret agent. It wouldn't make much sense for a new agent to get all the latest gadgets right off the bat, plus he's athletic and agile enough to handle his business without the help of mechanics and mechanisms. In effect, Bond loses an unique essence and quality that makes him different from other action heroes, much to the displeasure of long time fans, such as my 12 year old self lol. I believe it was a perfectly reasonable thing to be displeased with at the time though, when we didn't know that the trademark 007 things like gadgets, shaken martinis, ect. would come in time. Daniel Craig was a younger Bond than we'd ever seen before, and everything he was doing was kind of making a pedigree of work for the older Bond to look back upon. With his physical attributes and realization that his enemy already knows his identity, there's no real need for much stealth, and his attempts at trailing bad guys show his lack of experience in this, as both people he tries to follow catch on to his presence. This is a little part in the genius of the creation of this new, younger Bond, whether intentional or not, this 007 is more inexperienced than he is mature, though he's so cocky about his own abilities that he has full confidence and determination to prove this otherwise (which at times makes him seem very arrogant, especially when he loses all his chips to Le Chiffre and has to buy back in).

    Bond's athleticism seems to go hand in hand with his demeanor and style, which is largely rough around the edges to say the least. This is perfectly displayed with the action sequences, the first of which is a highly entertaining on foot chase that features a lot of parkour-esque maneuvering through a construction site that eventually leads all the way to this embassy (in Madagascar I think it is). Not only is this scene meaningful for it's mere merit in entertainment value (as they travel through pretty creative and adventurous obstacles, from jumping off cranes and buildings to running around/through walls,) it's purposeful in showing Bond's brute mentality and conviction to achieve his assignment. You see the man he's chasing is probably faster and more agile than Bond as he jumps for through small openings and climbs up massive structures with relative easy, while Bond has a noticeably tougher time - often struggling to keep up, but is crafty enough to still catch him.

    Mainly though, what really impressed me was the theme of this story. There's such intricacies in the dynamics of each character's relationship with one another that you kind of have to watch this movie a few times to catch on to all of them. The moral of this adventurous outing, if you didn't pick up on it all through the movie, is driven home with Bond's conversation with M at the end of the film as he learns his lesson, which is to not trust anyone. This is great because it's so fitting and works so well for the character of 007, particularly a younger version of him. It sets up the ideal demeanor and mindset of a spy, especially for someone like James Bond, who we have rarely seen truly fall in love or gotten fooled.
  • Analysis of Stevie Wonder's Music

    Jul 12 2013, 9h54

    Powerpoint: http://www.slideshare.net/2071829/a-look-atthemusicofsteviewonder3-1?utm_source=ss&utm_medium=upload&utm_campaign=quick-view

    Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff interviews. Very in-depth stuff on the creative process for the making of Stevie's classic period albums. I never gave them their due before reading these.
    http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/innervisions
    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/10/i-thought-he-was-a-messenger-making-stevie-wonders-talking-book/264182/

    Documentaries:
    Innervisions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ipVu9pl3w
    Hotter than July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I6ChKdiVX8
    Songs in the Key of Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORtmmsEPJOY

    Performances:
    "Sketches of a Life" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORtmmsEPJOY

    Music of My Mind wiki that I'll probably end up revising to make it a tad more the way I want it for this journal:

    "Quite possibly what could be called the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s “classic period”, Music of My Mind is the first time his audience hears him fully experiment with the instrumentation of his records by using the rather sparse and sporadic synthesizer on every track. Though full creative control over his records was given to Wonder on his previous album, Where I’m Coming From, this is the first time we hear Stevie breakaway from the conventional Motown sound provided by The Funk Brothers (who were session musicians whom provided the backing for most of the Motown recordings from 1959-1972). As usual with Stevie Wonder albums though, we get a healthy mix of both optimistic upbeat songs (such as “I Love Every Little Thing About You”) and heartbreaking love stories (“Girl Blue” and “Superwoman” which are both about females who can’t seem to put their rather indepedent mindsets behind themselves to have successful relationships). We hear the additional electric guitar backing from Buzz Feiten on the second half of “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” which acts as a sequel to “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” that was on Where I’m Coming From and it’s likely to be the album’s highest point in eyes and ears of it’s listeners. Almost remarkably, Wonder manages to put this album together with little additional input outside of co-writing credits to Syreeta and Yvonne Wright, Art Baron’s tamborine playing on funk driven “Love Having You Around”, and of course Feiten’s guitar as mentioned earlier. Throughout the album we hear Stevie expound upon the highs and lows of romantic relationships which is much like a emotional rollercoaster, one minute he’s “Happier than the Morning Sun” and the next minute he’s “left alone to suffer” on “Seems So Long” and is searching for a new love chronicled clearly on church choir infused “Keep On Running”. The finale testament of the album is not about love at all though, rather it’s a question of “Evil“‘s placement in the world. Stevie’s voice soars higher and higher as the track builds and the album comes to a quite epic finish."

    "You're the One for Me" by Marvin Gaye
    "Perfect Angel" by Minnie Riperton
    "I Can See the Sun in Late December" by Roberta Flack
    "This Town" by Rotary Connection
    "It Will Be Alright" & "We Had a Strong Love" by Smokey & the Miracles
    Afrodisiac by Main Ingredient - "Something 'Bout Love" and "Something Lovely"
    "Sleeping Alone" by The Pointer Sisters
    "Spring High" & "Love Notes" by Ramsey Lewis
    "Everytime I See You I Go Wild" by High Inergy
    "Try Jah Love" & "You're Playing Us Too Close" by Third World
    "Stay Gold" by Stevie Wonder
    "The Crown" by Gary Byrd & The GB Experience

    Is it even possible for Stevie Wonder to release a classic quality album now?

    With a growing complacency that's been building practically since the early 1980's, it seems highly unlikely Stevie would pull something like this off. Though Stevie has proven himself to be fully capable of making great albums and songs in the past, he just doesn't seem to have any of the proper motivation or sensibility to really do so now. The reasons for this can be quite relegated to prevalent straightforward answers, most of which are rather dismissive and simply just easier to process. You've heard them all before I suppose, stuff like 'all artists eventually fall off at some point or another' and/or are 'unable to keep up with the times'. And while these beliefs have some extent of truth in them, to a degree it's somewhat puzzling as to why these would be applied so much to an artist as seemingly timeless and adaptable as Stevie Wonder. After all, R&B artists today are still constantly trying to evoke his sound/style and lots of his artistic progressions still haven't been fully capitalized upon - to the point where a good portion of his work still sounds fresh even in this day and age. So really, the reasons as to why Stevie hasn't flourished (and most likely won't) in this era aren't as conspicuous as they seem.

    As mentioned before, Stevie Wonder had a complacency building up in his artistry since the 1980's. But it might even be argued this began a while before that in the year of 1974. Yes, as early as that surprisingly... As it is generally well known (by Stevie Wonder fans relatively familiar with the course of his career), Wonder's breakout release (as far as many are concerned) is 1972's Music of My Mind, notable for it's experimental use of synthesizer and unusual texture, which mostly can be accredited to his (then) recent collaborators, Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil (a.k.a. Tonto's Expanding Head Band). Stevie's collaboration with Expanding Head Band proved to be a career defining one, with his musical expertise and the electronic music group's direction, it was a match made in heaven, clearly elevating the potential displayed on Where I'm Coming From to new heights, totally giving Wonder's music a new dimension with exponentially more possibilities.

    Thus the results were fruitful, delivering textures never before heard in R&B (or in music in general for that matter) that paired perfectly with Stevie's great musicality. This joint effort carried on for 4 albums, arguably reaching its greatest heights on Innervisions in 1973 (their third album together). Come a year later, after Stevie had won his first Grammy for Album of the Year, things between Margouleff, Cecil, and Wonder weren't as congenial. According to Margouleff in a 2012 interview given to The Atlantic, "the more famous (Stevie) got, the less recognition (Margouleff and Cecil) got." Their work became more "laborious" and they simply "weren't getting paid properly." But more to the point, Margouleff felt after Fulfillingness' First Finale, they had begun to "repeat themselves" to a certain extent, perhaps even more of a sign that this ideal musical marriage between Tonto's Expanding Head Band and Stevie was fit to come to an end before their creative output became redundant.

    And really, with Fulfillingness' First Finale, there was a sense that Stevie could have easily fallen into a somewhat repetitious musical sound; that album and its predecessor having quite possibly the most similar textures of his string of '70s albums. Looking back, one might even say a few of the songs on FFF are extensions of those presented on Innervisions (whether it be stylistically or conceptually). For instance, the closer of the latter album, "He's Misstra Know It All", which is often viewed as an indirect stab at Nixon's presidency, is made with a much more explicit message about Stevie's (& the peoples'!) displeasure with the Executive Office of the time on the upbeat funk jam "You Haven't Done Nothin'" (complete with a catchy clavinet riff highly reminiscent of "Higher Ground" - not to mention "Superstition"); meanwhile, the song "It Ain't No Use", with its warm and affable smoothness, continue this playful, practically tongue-in-cheek approach of song in how it deals with its unfortunate subject matter in such cheery contentment. Opposite of these jovial tunes, lay darker and more reflective ballads: "All is Fair in Love" being the standout of Innervisions, with "They Won't Go When I Go" upping the ante on FFF as far as the haunting mood of the tracks go (presumably because of its even more hopeless lyrical content). Finally, we have the evidently Latin-flavored "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing", as well as the more subtly infused "Golden Lady", which lead us to songs on FFF such as "Birds of Beauty" (and to a lesser extent "Boogie on Reggae Woman") that very much induce this feeling of going on a "trip" somewhere (something blatantly stated in the lyrics as well), perhaps more specifically to a Caribbean island of some sort (more on this later). (And honestly, you could probably draw quite a few more connections if you wanted to, but I won't do that because that's tedious and I think the point has been driven enough. Also, you wanted to break down they way FFF borrows from past Wonder albums, the track sequencing could be pointed out as being really quite similar to Talking Book's as far as feeling of the songs go and their placement on each of the respective albums.)

    While FFF may take some musical cues from its predecessor, its easily distinguishable qualities make it just as much an important piece of Stevie's discography as any of his other albums. FFF, in contrast to Innervisions or any of his previous albums for that matter, has a much more subdued and serene atmosphere, which is probably an effect of Stevie's then recent car accident which rendered him into a comatose state and caused him a severe brain contusion (Does that last word sound like a familiar song title?). Needless to say, such a near death experience made a big impact on Stevie personally, and according to Wonder himself, the coma put him "in a much better spiritual place" that made him more "aware of what...(he needed to do) to reach a higher ground." So from this new found sense of faith and mortality came Stevie at once in his most meditative of states, and it was clear what Fulfillingness' First Finale's focus was to be about. As put by Ken Emerson in his terrific review of this album in the Rolling Stones magazine, it can properly be deduced that "if Talking Book deal(t) primarily with love of woman and Innervisions with love of humanity, FFF concern(ed) the love of God."

    Perhaps this renewed appreciation of God is most evident on the gospel-inflected "Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away", but even more felt on the powerfully chilling "They Won't Go When I Go", with its foreboding message about the fate of sinners. Yet although the subject of God may be the conceptual cornerstone of this album (with gospel undertones contributing to some of its cohesiveness), Stevie still finds plenty of time to further cover familiar subject matter dealing with romantic and socially conscious content, at the same time managing to evoke an exceptionally unique transcendent feeling to these songs; never more apparent than on the beautifully steel pedal guitar infused "Too Shy to Say" and the spacey synthesizer driven "Creepin'", both with their respectably dreamy ambiances. Sonically, Stevie & co. quite effectively achieve this feeling of transcendental meditation on this album, an idea first brought up on Innervisions in the track "Jesus Children of America" and even "Visions". It's something that ties in well with the aforementioned feeling of the album taking the listener on a trip somewhere; that idea of being on some sort of "higher ground" as presented on the song of the same name, is still manifested here and expanded on - more so musically than lyrically, as Stevie usually opts for a generally easy listening experience on this project.

    Lyrically, if there was proof needed to illustrate that this were in fact Stevie's intention with this album, it'd have to be on the already briefly talked about "Birds of Beauty", with its lyrical and musical characteristics intrinsically matching, describing a mind in need of "a vacation". The song details vividly how, in its own words, "a mind excursion can be such a thrill", presumably in some sort of meditative, spiritual state of mind (and all without the use of drugs as the song would go on to say: "unfound in white, red, or yellow pills"). "Birds of Beauty" is the true conceptual focal point, but this is coupled with various subtly reoccurring ideas of "flying away" and dreaming on other songs to really drive the theme home. The placement of this track on the album is important as well, juxtaposed in the middle of a very deliberately sequenced 3 song string to close the album. It follows the strikingly despair-fallen "They Won't Go When I Go", a ballad that brings us in the most unsettling of environments, a world full of sinners and people suffering because of them, a disarmingly pessimistic view from a usually pretty bright Stevie. "Bird of Beauty" relieves us of this pain and adversity we see and deal with on a day to day basis with a "furlough", or a suggestion rather on how to deal with life's stresses. Finally, there's "Please Don't Go", which when out of context might just come off as a pleasant love song a bit in the vein of the old Motown sound, works excellently as a closer here, perhaps Stevie actually crying out for this happy feeling or escapist state of mind not to leave him (and not actually a lover of his). Which then takes us back to "Smile Please" with it's hopeful claim of there being "brighter days ahead", quite cleverly positioned on the album, introducing the listener to this relaxed, idealistic setting.

    On the other hand, Innervisions presents a setting a bit more grounded in reality, particularly evoking what's it like to live "the urban black experience" (as collaborator Margouleff would go on to call it), but still having such an comprehensive world view as to still be able to reflect sentiments most anyone could relate to. Essentially, Stevie deals with what ghetto life is like - a socially unjust environment full of poverty-striken, hardworking good folk, junkies, unrepentant sinners, con-men, and what have you - stuff you can hear on such tracks as "Too High", "Living for the City", "Jesus Children of America", and "He's Misstra Know It All", which all capture the vivid landscape of this disheartening place some people have to live in. Vividness of the stories and pictures Stevie presents only heightens the effectiveness of the emotional empathy the listener has for the content that is covered, which is important - well, because obviously a change has to be made to all of this! - as put most eloquently when Stevie sang "I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow and that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow. This place is cruel no where could be much colder. If we don't change the world will soon be over" at the end of "Living for the City". This idea is continued on "Higher Ground" where he sings of the world, if it keeps going in this same direction, "it won't be long" till it is all over (which is important to why those people he talks about on "Jesus Children of America" get their lives in order sooner than later).

    But what is to be made of the rest of the songs on Innervisions? After all, they aren't really socially conscious charged or have that same amount of grit as some of the other tracks do (save perhaps "Visions" for the former). Well, obviously those songs represent Stevie's "innervisions" and give significance to the title of the album. It's really the very essence of the release, in that a good portion of the concept for it is about finding a way to escape life's troubles through some sort of spiritual meditation in order to receive "peace of mind". These songs, somewhat sporadically placed, balance the album out well with their collected, yet deceptive optimism. The first of which is the title track, "Visions", introduced to the listener almost right off the bat as the second song of the album - after the kind of buffer that was "Too High". It's a very mellow and contemplative song, that lays on some heavy, philosophical pondering, with Stevie envisioning this Utopian society of sorts. The message of the song, in part, is meant to be taken figuratively, not literally; Stevie doesn't actually expect there to be a perfect world (as he says he's "not one to make believe" and he surely has a firm grasp on what is what), but it is nice to imagine such a place. Stevie realizes this place - "where hate's a dream and love forever stands" - can only be accessed in our own minds forged with connection to God. So then we have "Golden Lady", with its ascending chord progressions and jazzy flow, which does a lot to continue this feeling of going into some higher level of consciousness as he sings "I'd like to go there" in the chorus. Meanwhile he continues the religious motifs throughout the album with lyrics such as "heaven eyes", which plays along with the "milk and honey land" reference that's found in "Visions". This leads us to the end of the album. where on "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing", Stevie is directing the listener (or particularly in the song's case a "pretty mama") to get in on this transcendent level of consciousness and take a "trip". The main idea here being that since you can't really look to the world for your happiness, you must look inside yourself and to God for it.

    Anyways, you get the point that these two releases in Wonder's career have their direct similarities, in that FFF was essentially picking up where Innervisions left off, basically simulating musically (and occasionally lyrically) how Stevie's "innervisions" or transcendentally meditative mind state might feel and what emotions it might evoke. This is why the title (though initially awkward and perhaps even pretentious sounding) Fulfillingness' First Finale works so well. If the album does serve as some destination place that Innervisions was trying to arrive at, then it would make sense that this is the fulfillment of what was promised before (with such songs as "Golden Lady", and "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" as previously mentioned). It's a finale for somewhat obvious reasons, this serving as an end to the string of albums (going back all the way to Music of My Mind), but the word "first" leaving room for the possibilities for more successions off this theme in his albums. The album displays Stevie at a mastery of his craft, essentially refining his sound, with a quite clear comfort in his abilities. This is why it might make sense why FFF generally isn't quite as lauded and remembered as say, some of his other albums, even though it is basically every bit on par with them; the singles are solid, but haven't held up quite as well in popularity as some of his others and they really aren't even the highlights of the album. These things might play into why FFF is a bit more appreciated by the avid Stevie fan than just a casual one.

    So what next after such an artistic capitalization of his sonic and conceptual themes that was met with (by this point) customary critical acclaim (gaining his second Grammy for Album of the Year in a row) and commercial success (high charting singles as well as his first number one charting album in more than 10 years)? Well, more than a two year break between releases was what was next, and deservedly so, considering his high volume output the previous 4 years (from 1971 to '74), in that span producing 5 albums of his own and 3 for other artists, not to mention various other songs. And on the personal side of things, he went through a marriage and divorce, a life threatening brain contusion, and a year later, in '75, he'd have his first child. So certainly these years might be considered some of Stevie's most eventful, musically and personally. Thus fans had to wait a little longer for Stevie's next project, which, to be expected, was highly anticipated. It was so highly anticipated in fact, that Motown had started making t-shirts that read "We're Almost Ready" to lull anxious fans and let them know that the album was on the way (but also of course to build even more anticipation for it).

    And Stevie wouldn't let fans down, curing the two year lapse in material by giving fans two albums worth of music. But such a double album, coupled with the high expectations Stevie had created for his work, needed an equally (if not even more) grandiose concept to match: something he found perfectly in the "key of life" concept. The concept was one that perhaps is a little too large for anyone to really totally cover in one album (even if it were in fact two albums worth of material), but was nonetheless a very apt title and critical part of the album for someone to really grasp what the work was trying to encompass. Yet it should be noted that the title doesn't necessarily claim to totally cover the concept, it simply works better as a vehicle in which Wonder could express his wide array of musical ambitions under one unified project.



    - No TONTO helping him out anymore, employing a lot more helping musicians. As well as making it two times the amount of material - double album. What better way to execute an album than with such a far ranging concept as Songs in the Key of Life. Different types of music and material, succeeds in covering different aspects of life, reflecting back on past styles as well as trying new stuff at the same time.

    Songs in the Key of Life plays somewhat like a compilation album in that it's not very cohesive. The track sequencing is, for the most part, not very fluid and really kind of awkward actually; the songs really more enjoyed outside of the album's context, which to a degree plays well into the Key of Life concept. It almost just seems like a collection of various ideas that Stevie accumulated over the course of his over the course of his last few years working with Tonto's Expanding Head Band mixed with a few new ones, going for, more than ever, a very universally appealing album with tremendous pop sensibility that he had been gradually working towards with each subsequent release. And you can hear Stevie very self-aware of this, at times sort of breaking the fourth wall in a way, speaking directly to audience (the listeners of this album) on certain tracks - right off the bat actually with the first line of the album on "Love's in Need of Love Today". Stevie was very aware of the anticipation for his follow up of his two previous Grammy Album of the Year awarded releases, with a full two year break. And perhaps, this might be viewed as his most ambitious album yet, trying to top himself, further his popularity/accessibility yet still please long time fans. The latter of which he does pretty well, ever seeming to sacrifice artistry for... Songs in the Key of Life encompasses the topics of previous albums and makes them more easily understood. Double album, extensive. Grandiose musical scope, yet each track is individually intimate - this relates back to the talking to the audience part. Also

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/fulfillingness-first-finale-19740926#ixzz2sKVsBCQS
    http://www.steviewonder.org.uk/bio/life-stories/1973_accident.html

    Why can't Stevie Wonder release a great album anymore?

    - Complacency (career outline from Classic Period and on). Journey's poor reception and then his resorting back to more commercially viable efforts - loss of concept/cohesiveness in albums, eventually turning into a singles artist, more so than an albums artist.

    - Age. Losing touch with the climate of today's society, thus unable to translate the proper feelings and beliefs that could effectively connect with the people of today. This also prevents him from being truly convincing and believable if he actually were going to make some hard hitting socially conscious music in the vein of say "Village Ghetto Land". Something like this might easily come off contrived and inauthentic, such as the cheesy "Don't Drive Drunk" (on the same soundtrack as the infamous "I Just Called to Say I Love You"). His aim is too broad to be quite thoroughly effective as his more intimate endeavors...As Stevie has gotten older, he's seemed to have gotten more and more sentimental and with his vocals have gotten noticeably weaker (from years of wear and tear I imagine), sometimes even sounding a bit whiny. There's also some loss of the youthful energy, we'd come to love him for...

    - What do I mean by youthful energy exactly? Well for one, spontaneity is one of elements that can make music sound so good and fresh. The little things can make the biggest difference. Things like instrumental solos, interludes, and minuscule variations (be it in singing or production), are some of things that contributed to making Stevie's albums so great. Stuff like Stevie speaking Spanish while kicking game to a girl at the beginning of "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing", singing in a different language on "Birds of Beauty" (and "I Am Singing"), satirizing Motown executives on "I Wanna Talk to You", or suddenly transitioning a slow love song to funky jam with "I Believe" (and the list goes on). There doesn't seem to be those moments of evident experimentation in production that you'd get in some songs like "Girl Blue", "Big Brother", and "Pastime Paradise". Lyrically, we're missing songs that display him in his most pensive and comtemplative moments, prime examples being stan favorites such as "Look Around" and "Visions". Once where his ballads were great, we get banality such as "Bottom of My Heart" and dishearteningly uninspired shots at success in the adult contemporary genre (gradually sunk into). All these things are very important parts of what made his albums classics and unique from practically every other R&B artist out there.

    - What he should have done after Journey...
    - What he should do now. Get some younger people around him, generate new ideas and such. Janelle Monae & her production team of Wonder & Lightning to breath new life in his music, (Prince) and doing a good of evoking older styles. After all, she did name her last album after the studio in which some of Stevie's classic albums were made (Music of My Mind, Talking Book, and Fulfillingness' First Finale). Another thing: according to Cecil or Marg., Stevie and Expanding Head Band did a total of 160 songs together. So essentially there's 38 on record and maybe a few more that made the cut on Songs in the Key of Life, so that probably leaves at least 80 songs, enough of which would surely be good enough to make another entire album, if not multiple. I say update those motherfuckers! Use the old vocals and fill in the holes where they lay, implementing the mixing and producing skills of the old TONTO team again and Stevie adding the instrumental and vocal parts needed to make the song sound whole. I would freaking love another 4 albums worth of classic material from that era, regardless of its relevancy today and how well it might do commercially. Just look up unreleased Stevie Wonder songs on youtube and you're sure to find some gems. Here are some that have potential to be very good:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmoIz9k0eCE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zll7VVsj2cI&list=UUnDAeU874b5ZhLF6EZAXBzQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxq9W1ixf2s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXEZWCY0EB4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kib7z9CMIJY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEyncJsS_jk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeoomWu7V5g
  • Magna Carta Holy Grail Review

    Jul 4 2013, 9h50

    is under construction.

    On the song "Oceans", Jay spits "Welcome to the magnum opus, the Magna Carta", a line that even Shawn Carter himself would probably admit is a lie. Jay-Z's discography I think has always been semi-autobiographical. With each album, he has chronicled a different part of his life: the first part of course is growing up in the projects of Marcy, gradually moving on to his successes within the game to eventually, one can say "dominating" the industry. Because Jay-Z has always rapped from a standpoint that seems to relate directly back to his own life, it has somewhat limited him to a set amount of subject matter. The Magna Carta Holy Grail, in my opinion, serves as the final piece of his life journey. As with his counterpart Kanye on their latest endeavors, Jay seems to be lacking much to talk about that's at all interesting. We've already heard about his past and him talk about his present throughout the years, so one asks what else is there for Jay to rap about other than his success? The answer is actually plenty, and no, it doesn't have to be so-called "poverty" raps or rehashing his olden days. This is the close-mindedness that Jay suffers from, and it's become strikingly evident in recent years.

    It's often said that artists need to suffer to create great art, and thus their creations help others deal with their suffering, whether or not if they can easily relate to the artist. As Jay's suffering and lack of inspiration have dwindled, it seems that savvy beat selection is his biggest asset. Well, that and his highly recognizable voice, which I think he flaunts a lot on this album, much more than usual, with lots of grunts and emphasis on line ending words (much like Kanye, almost obvious dumbing down of lyrics). It's rather unfortunate to me that Jay seems to have, for the most part, lost his uniquely great ability to flow. A lot of these beats are very solid, but don't compliment Jay's rapping style as would, say a soul sample. I feel like a lot of the flows he's spitting are just not genuine to his true style. Examples of this include "Tom Ford" which is a trap-like beat that has Jay practically singing, as to appeal to a younger audience I suppose, it kind of undoes the "Don" persona he was developing in previous releases (mostly American Gangster). I mean who names a song after Tom Ford in the first place, a person I had never heard of before, not to mention that the hook is really weak on it as well. Then the song "La Familia" seems to have no real purpose, other than to address a Lil Wayne line that's years old at this point and try to reestablish the "Don" persona I was just referring to; the song is mostly comprised of Jay singing a chorus in what I'd say is a Rick Ross fashion, again, to me trying hard to get that radio airplay, which is ironic because in the song Jay raps that "You ain't ready yo, you radio".

    I won't dwell on the lowlights of the album all at once though, one song I do find enjoyment in is "Picasso Baby" which I knew ever since the commercials I'd like to some degree. I think this is a wonderfully produced beat, as Timbaland distorts a sample of what sounds like a bass guitar, it does good job of having a fresh, yet throwback style, and the beat switch up sounds equally as good. But Jay-Z's delivery has never been more annoying to me. It was a delivery that kind of started from as far as I can tell on "No Church in the Wild", where he really stresses the last syllable of every line and gives a rather large amount of space between each of his phrases. It's bearable, but just a tad too basic for my liking. There is somewhat of an interesting concept in this song though, and in the first verse he talks about how he wants all these uncommon luxurious things, then in verses after describes how he's an equal to the artists who made the works he desires to possess. It's all very materialistic, but is probably as a good a spin as you're going to get with such a topic. Now let's step a track back to the song "Holy Grail" which features Justin Timberlake. This song basically describes the difficulties of being famous in a rather unoriginal way, and almost is just an elaboration on Jay's popular line "Can't leave rap alone, the game needs me". The beat doesn't do much for me, Jay's flow continues to be dumbed down with a few "uhs" in the first verse, the usage of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is atrociously awful, and then of course we can't forget one of the one too many corny Blue references (yes, I'm referring to "Blue told me to remind you niggas/ Fuck that shit y’all talking about" line.)

    Speaking of predictable references to his daughter, the song "Jay-Z Blue" expounds upon Jay's newly found fatherhood with a little excessive Biggie sampling to get the trick done. I read part of a review saying that this album is the most vulnerable Jay has ever been, now of course this is probably not true considering this song is probably as close to vulnerable as he gets on this project. On this song, Jigga laments some sometimes shallow and almost cliche lyrics about how he worries that he won't be a good father because he didn't have much of a father figure growing up. Commendable things I can say about this track are that it does kind of address a different kind of subject matter that I think Jay can tap into - that being some of his insecurities, and I think the beat sets a good tone for his lyrics. With that being said, "Jay-Z Blue" fails to really bring any emotive response out of me, and starts to get a little boring. "Nickel & Dimes" is another that fits within this same description, a song that touches on giving to those less fortunate, but the beat is probably the most underwhelming on the album and lacks replay value.

    Though most might consider this a traditional hip hop album, this is by no means a traditional Jay-Z album. Sonically, this might be Jay's most divergent to date. There's an evident lack of the usual soul/R&B samples you'd hear on his albums and there's really no outright bright sounding tracks, which is interesting because you'd think right now is as good as Jay's life as ever been. This makes a cool contrast between some of his lyrics and the production, while other tracks which are suppose to deal more serious things work just as well together. The production on this album can often be very atmospheric, yet even dense. It's kind of hard to describe to feeling these beats evoke, they're probably the most murky and trap-inspired suite of songs Jay has ever performed on.

    .......

    (*skipping ahead to conclusion and summary* - under revision.)

    All in all, Magna Carta Holy Grail is a release that makes us want to think it's more monumental and profound than it actually is. I'll try to refrain from going as far to call it pretentious, but Jay-Z, with his historical references to such things as the Magna Carta and Holy Grail, doesn't really seem to truly explain what's the significance of those things and why he's bringing them up in his music (perhaps he does and I'm just missing something, but I don't think so). So with probably some of his most forgettable hooks, a flurry of subpar verses, and a general lack of genuineness, Shawn Carter won't impress, but will coast by with some rather sensible production choices that, to me as I said before, for the most part don't even compliment his style that well, yet strive in keeping a very modern & somewhat sophisticated spin on Jay's music. For all the good beats and things on MCHG, no song really stands out as much as others do in his other albums. There's some level of cohesiveness in this release, but that doesn't save it from being inconsistent quality-wise. 5/10
  • Random Stuff:

    Jul 2 2013, 0h27

    http://tapmusic.net/lastfm/

    http://top50.topsters.net/

    Great quote:

    "R&B has lost a lot of it because it's not soulful anymore. Everybody's popping bottles [and] getting girls. Nobody has any vulnerability. And soul music and what R&B was always about was about being vulnerable for love, being vulnerable in society, and talking about those problems and trying find hope within it." - Robin Thicke

    If he can, then so can I! - http://finance.yahoo.com/news/duke-grad-student-secretly-lived-in-a-van-to-escape-loan-debt-194021112.html?page=all

    Drumbreaks galore. http://www.cratekings.com/300-classic-hip-hop-drum-breaks-samples-and-loops/

    I must go here before I die: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banco_Chinchorro
    http://www.google.com/search?gs_rn=25&gs_ri=psy-ab&cp=11&gs_id=14&xhr=t&q=banco+chinchorro&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.50768961,d.aWc&biw=1518&bih=748&um=1&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=H0APUtXZPOnWyQGLhYA4

    Good film on it too: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/alamar/

    5 Seconds of Every #1 Billboard Hot 100 from 1993-2011: https://soundcloud.com/anthonydc/5-seconds-of-every-1-billboard

    Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff interviews. Very revealing stuff on the making of Stevie's classic period albums.

    http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/innervisions
    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/10/i-thought-he-was-a-messenger-making-stevie-wonders-talking-book/264182/
  • Stories. (as told by Trylemma)

    Jun 21 2013, 23h09

    RHH: YA! V. MC Lars, Kno and R.A. Rugged Man (YA! History #5)?
    YA! has always played a fairly important role in indie Hip Hop. I get a fair amount of emails from indie artists using google updates who run across new and old posts of mine. In this brief history lesson, we'll run down a couple cases where YA! hit some nerves.

    Back in the day, MC Lars answered a couple questions regarding DJ mixing, constantly promoting sampling and digital mixes. A couple "regs," (I forget their names, but they were definitely of the Mechanical camp), kept on ragging on him pushing for the "purity" of turntables and such. Lars ignored this for the most part, until they started posting questions about Lars being a racist lol. This ultimately led him to lash out via a long answer about music theory. He wasn't seen since...

    The Kno issue came during the height of Cunninlynguists in the section. People were saying that One Be Lo > Gift of Gab, J. Live > Nas and Cunninlynguists > OutKast. Crazy, I know. Anyways, Kno was raging heavy on the Q5 forums and elsewhere about his unpaid for samples being "leaked." Kno already had a YA! account (in order to combat some clone lol) and when he saw the issue being discussed on YA! he came on to whine about how he was gonna quit since people didn't appreciate his situation...lol. I, along with the other sane regs, pointed out to Kno how stupid he was being, especially since he was trying to get paid off the shiet. He hasn't been seen since. This all led to a "it" "reg", KZ, who was a HARDCORE Kno emo fan, freaking out at me, questioning my childhood lol and giving his testimony about how sentimental and talented Kno was. Quite the deal.

    R.A. the Rugged Man is a known 85 year old bum that lives underneath a bridge I drive over everyday. One day some troll reg, in an attempt to troll MQ (who is heavy on R.A.), claimed he saw R.A. working as a janitor at Burger King. R.A.'s old self, who apparently knows nothing of trolling, took the question serious and decided to address it on his Facebook, assuring everyone that he wasn't a Burger King employee, and that he was super rich lol. Of course, YA! was so below him, but one can't help but wondder how he came across the question so quickly to begin with.

    .........

    RHH: Mitch V. Mechanical's Blog V. Trylemmmuh: A Tale Of Three Elitists (RHH History #4)?
    While neither Mitch nor Mechanical would fit into today's standards of how the term "elitist" is used within this section, the ideals of both, I believe, ultimately paved the way for two prominent types of "elitists" we have the section today.

    Mitch was a user whose main argument consisted in the claim that "mainstream" Hip Hop was unjustifiably hated on and that the users in the section, who were basically still influenced by Mechanical's blog at the time, were lonely attention seeking people who were trying too hard going out of their way to find obscure music to brag about. Now Mitch didn't necessarily dislike indie or "underground" Hip Hop (he was a pretty big fan of Cunninlynguists), but he felt like talking about non-mainstream Hip Hop was simply a waste of time and would push this point whenever indie acts, even ones he liked, were brought up. Mitch felt similarly about old school Hip Hop. Since I enjoy indie Hip Hop, this naturally caused Mitch to constantly attack me, leading me to respond. This was a sort of minor beef, however, and not on the scale of Madliberator or MQ beefs.

    This also led Mitch to attack Mechcanical and his followers. Mechanical, as you've learned, was an indie Hip Hop encyclopedia and usually only asked and answered questions regarding indie acts and old school rap (although Mechanical also enjoyed a lot of more current mainstream music such as Rick Ross). Because Mechanical never really cared for the hardcore beef, he never really responded to Mitch. Mechanical's blog's "Regs," such as Bks and Crypt and PJ (all of whom shared similar tastes to Mechanical), however, did respond.

    This all culminated in a late night of chatroom beefing on Mechanical's site. Mitch was going hard attacking essentially the notion that indie Hip Hop is, or was ever, better than mainstream Hip Hop. BkS and co. were typing back attacking the current wave of mainstream music. According to the time entries, this lasted for like an hour and a half (Mechanical never participated, but I believe he would have agreed with BkS and co.). Eventually PJ and the others just wrote off Mitch, giving him the last word.

    As fate would have it, I, Trylemma, visited the blog about 15 minutes after the debate occurred (YA! was keeping up with the debate real time lol). I gave in my two cents, essentially siding with BkS but also giving one or two points to Mitch. This, surprising to me, led to BkS calling me quite disturbing names based on my year end list that I dropped about a week before (keep in mind, that list was the most starred question I have ever seen in RHH history and spread around the net). Apparently, he thought I was trying too hard and making up albums/mixtapes (he asked me who OFWGKTA was lol). The rest of the users on the blog quickly jumped in and made similar attacks. It should be noted that this wasn't the first time I beefed with BkS. Both Mechanical and BkS were staunch old school fans and took issue to a particular claim I once made about Fashawn being a better rapper in the 2000's than Rakim (Mechanical also hated the fact that I didn't think Rakim was Top 5 DoA based on the fact that Rakim was "ahead of his time"...this lead to several debates). Anyways, I argued in the chat room for about 30 minutes with BkS and co, leading to another historical debate.

    After that, Mitch and BkS and Mechanical all sort of bowed out of the picture for a while (me and BkS got into a another argument later regarding politics).

    I think this beef is interesting because bkS and co. remind me a lot of the so called "elitists" who put old school Hip Hop and/or indie Hip Hop above anything else, and immediately reject anyone who has a major record deal. Mitch, on the other hand, reminds me a lot of the more recent so called "elitists" who make fun of anyone who liked indie rap or old school rap and write such acts off as music for try hards.

    I, of course, don't identify with either group, even though, strangely, I've been accused of being both by each of the opposite sides of the argument (Yes, Tupac and Busdriver are in my Top 5). This is the history...our history

    ...........

    RHH: Mechanical/Kanye East (Trylemma/MQ) V. Latj (RHH History #3)?
    There's so many things you could say about Latj, I'll only cover the basics here...

    When I arrived in the section, yes I was a young'n once, the leaderboard trinity - comprising of Mechanical, Kanye East and Latj - was one of the most discussed subjects. Mechanical was #1 and was, as noted, the final note on essentially everything Hip Hop. To this day, I think that when it comes to general knowledge of the music, Mechanical is one of the most "knowledgeable" dudes on the planet, even if our tastes differ greatly. Latj was #2 and had the section pretty divided. Some thought she was a more "polite" and less abstract version of Mechanical. Others claimed she stole all her answers from other sites and only continued to answer in the section because she was addicted to the internet. Kanye East was #3 and most thought he was some kind of bot as he answered all of his questions in the same Wiki-pedia esque format and never conversated with anyone.

    In the early stages, a lot of people would pit Latj and Mechanical against each other. Mechanical would occasionally throw some comedic jabs at Latj, poking fun at her answers. Latj wouldn't bite. She would instead preach of "love and happiness." She apparently had a PHd, a husband who was a high up in the military and two daughters in Ivy League schools. She was Top Contributer and on the leaderboard in two other sections (one of which was Etiquette). She was certainly a weird case insofar as she would never ask questions about Hip Hop or actually talk to others about Hip Hop beyond her suspicious answers.

    While ignoring the beefs thrown at her for the most part, there was one incident in which Latj *FREAKED* out in response to someone who posted a question making fun of redheads. This was the first time we ever saw her interact in such a negative way. The question was later deleted and despite countless questions asking her about her freaking out, no answer was given (she even denied she wrote anything at one point I think).

    Another strange Latj moment was when, in response to Kevin's harrassment in a chatroom, Latj actually threatened to call the police on Kevin. Apparently, Latj somehow got into contact with Kevin's family, causing Kevin to publicly apologize to Latj online. This actually caused a lot of people to stop making fun of Latj...

    That was until one day when Kanye East passed Latj on the leaderboard to reach #2. Within a day or two, Latj passed Kanye East to regain her position. This caused one of the best moments in RHH history when Kanye East released a blog entry completing *ETHERING* Latj. The blog pointed out each of Latj's alternate accounts (accounts Latj claimed belonged to her family) that Latj used to cheat her way to the top and talked down Latj to the fullest. The numbers fit up perfectly. Kanye East then began making questions dedicated to questioning Latj's whole life story, pointing to old pictures of herself she posted and discontinuities in her stories. From their the floodgates were opened and everyone jumped back on the hate Latj train, tracking down the sites where Latj stole her questions from. Mehanical even joined in. This all caused Latj to disappear for a while....even while still mysteriously gaining BA's.

    Fast forward to the height of the MQ and Trylemma beef. Mechanical was pretty much gone and Kanye East had mysteriously dropped out of the picture after his ether. Latj slowly climbed back into the picture, even commenting on some "non-generic" questions. During this time, I was throwing some shots at Latj based on how wack she was (and objective fact). MQ was freaking out about his battles being reported. One afternoon, I sign on to see a question by MQ claiming that he had proof I was the one reporting his questions. The proof was a question Latj had posted earlier "exposing" some apparent email I sent her about a "masterplan" to get MQ suspended (MQ pretty much hated Latj as well). The letter, however, was written in the exact way Latj used to type (with "etiquette")! No one believed her, causing MQ to quickly retract his statement. From there MQ and I beefed heavily with Latj until she disappeared again.

    As months went on, Latj eventually reached number one in the section, despite being invisible and a new reg (forget his name) dedicated three weeks to reporting every Latj question he could find, causing Latj's account to become suspended. Years later, a new user would rise to the top....

    ..............

    RHH: Metal Quality V. Madliberator V. Tryleemuh?
    You have to understand something - there is always gonna be that "it" tier of "regs." You know, that main main group of users that put in constant work, find their niche, usually do well in the section (whether hated or loved) and are rewarded for it by becoming the current premier group of "regs." Today when I talk about the "it" tier you were talking about l.e.b., Esco97, Fear and D. Well in 2011, when you talked about the "it" tier you were talking about MF Escobar, Savage Cap, Madliberator and Crakpot. There simply wasn't anyway around it, those were the dudes who were on fire.

    So let's set the context - here I am finishing up my first tourney of battles in the RHH, a huge success. My beef with MQ is still high profiled, but dying down, mainly because MQ wasn't able to access the site as much. I was also becoming a smaller, yet more vital in a way, presence within the section as my lists and battles were the "it" thing of the section, but I was answering and asking less and less. With regard to the "it" tier, they all obviously paid their respects, but with the possible exception of Crakpot (who was kinda looking to become the padawan of either myself and/or MQ and with thom I'd eventually launch the classic blog with, along with Cognautic Creux), I didn't really keep up with closely, but they were all doing a great job (MF Escobar was arguably the most popular reg aside from Mic Messiah). Anyways, the four dudes in the "it" tier all participated in my tourney, and obviously did well and got the most stars and comments (you can still find those battles on my original blog).

    As you learned previously, since Mechanical and co. left, the site was becoming much more lighter (eventually leading to the troll clone era). Because MQ was less willing to embrace this than other OG dons, he probably got trolled the hardest, one of the main offenders was Madliberator. Madliberator attacked MQ for being old, being angry that I was running the tournies and for being an elitist. Around this time, I had a minor beef going on with Mitch in which blockings occurred. At one point the question as to whether blocking was "based" came into the picture. I argued that in this case with Mitch it was, Madliberator disagreed. This minor shuffle almost immediately led to an all out war, easily the biggest since the heydays of the MQ beef. Madliberator attacked me for "trying too hard," being cocky, raging and even faking clones. I attacked him for essentially the same things (And interesting side note: as far as I know, myself and Madliberator were the first regs, and pretty much the first of any YA! user, to promote OFWGKTA on this site).

    This led to *MONTHS* of attacks in the forms of questions and answers...and we are talking *LONG* questions and answers. During all of this, I was still throwing shots at MQ and vice versa. Madliberator was also beefing with MQ (he would usually attack me and MQ together). At one point, MQ said some harsh things about some of Madliberator's production and Madliberator "retired," but later came back, creating more ammo for MQ. Ironically, after the Christmas wars, MQ "retired," and then came back the next week.

    Unlike during the full fledged MQ V. Trylemmuh battle, people weren't really into this new three way (pause) conflict, especially since it collided with the era of clones and trolls. It eventually became tiresome and wore off on and off (at one point Madliberator was even going to write for the blog). Every couple months, however, a line or two would temporarily ignite the issues.

    After MQ left, thus causing the MQ V. Tryleezy beef to settle, I also took a break, thus ceasing my issues with Madliberator (and I assume the issues between Madliberator and MQ). Madliberator then also left, coming back off and on. This one took alot of this site's bandwidth and definitely surpassed any of these baby beefs we have going on today. It almost turned myself and MQ, who were OGs in OG "it" tiers into YA! dons (and eventually legends) and let Madliberator potentially rise to the top of his respective "it" tier (even above MF Escobar). The beef also had lasting effects to how we think and type in the section even today...but that's another story.

    ..............

    RHH: Trylemmmuh V. Metal Quality (YA! History #1)?
    Metal Quality (MQ) and I began becoming active in the RHH section around the same time. Up until this point, I was using YA! to post mainly in the politics section and MQ was apparently active in the Metal and wrestling sections. Around this time, Mechanical was obviously the end all be all to indie Hip Hop. He had an infamous blog where he and other indie heads would chat, rec and so forth. MQ really gravitated to that (older) crowd of Mechanical, BkS, Frunda, PJ and others. I, on the other hand, was coming up with dudes like Blaq Ego and Adult Abuse. We were more light hearted I think. Anyways, as MQ and I became more active in the section, we eventually came to clash when I called him out as being a "Mechanical clone" based on his constant endorsement, as if original and his own, of everything Mechanical would write on his blog (Mechanical, at this point, was a less frequent presence on YA!). This led to MQ creating the infamous "Try-Hard" phrase thrown at me over the years, based on my name dropping of indie West Coast artists.

    Enter the era of e-cred via "knowledge." You couldn't go into a section without seeing me dropping the name of an LA artist or MQ dropping a name of a Boston artist. You also couldn't go into a section without seeing me subliminally (or not so subliminally) attacking MQ and vice versa. Over the months, we both climbed the YA! ladders in our own ways. MQ threw the first successful RHH tournaments, gaining pages of comments. I made the classic Tryleezy list (including the popular year end lists) gaining pages of comments (I also threw the second successful RHH tourney, thus causing more conflict and ultimately the Trylemmuh V. Madliberator V. MQ beef...more on that later). All this stuff was covered in attacks. Users were taking sides (by putting "Team Trylemmmma" or "Team MQ" in their user names) and pages of questions were dedicated to disses. This was the most lively I ever saw the section.

    Enter the clone troll era. By this point, myself and MQ, seen as the godfathers of the section, were beginning to get trolled hard. Me for being a "try hard hipster" and him for being "30+." Most of the OG regs (or OG to us) were gone by now and you couldn't say "Lil Wayne sucks" without someone calling you an elitist. This came to a tip once everyone started cloning. I easily had 10+ Tryleezy clones running around, as did MQ. You basically had to troll to stay alive. This ended with the reporting era where questions were deleted within seconds (this also led to the Trylemmma/Kanye East/MQ V. Latj beef...more on that later).

    At this point, the MQ and Trylemmuh beef died down and like 3 reconciliations were made. Unfortunately, due to the high reporting levels, we both became paranoid and thought each other were reporting each other's questions, thus leading to more temporary beef and the infamous Christmas wars. Ultimately, we both ended up leaving for a while, thus causing any e-conflict to die out.

    Fast forward past my return reign and demise...I make my long awaited return around the same time MQ does. A classic Fall chat session involving myself, MQ, Mic Messiah, Big Bang Theorist, Dave and even Fear brings the years of beef to an end...with no bloodshed save Latj. Historical moment.
  • My Review of Yeezus

    Jun 15 2013, 6h26

    is under construction.

    Stream: http://soundisstyle.com/2013/06/kanye-west-yeezus-album-stream.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kanye-west-yeezus-album-stream

    So basically I gave this album a run through one solid time, and directly after that skimmed through a few of the tracks again to pick up some of what I missed. Hours later, after hearing some good reviews and praise, I figured it only right to give it another try. This time pulling out my Dr. Dre Beats (which I haven't used in months actually) for a more precise and detailed listen. EDIT: Now, weeks later after originally writing this paragraph, I've been coming back to this album periodically one song at a time, reviewing each song as whenever I feel up to really writing.

    Yeezus opens with what could be described as the sound of a computer having an orgasm, eventually getting to a more sharp and distinctive repetitive techno kind of beat, which really isn't all too appealing to me. "On Sight", as the song is called, right off the bat sets the tone of the production for Yeezus - minimalistic; but this beat is so simple and basic that it almost seems like anyone with the right equipment could've made it. I'm not too sure what this song is suppose to be about. Kanye spits his own kind of typical verse you get from him these days about nothing in particular - clothes, cars, bitches, among whatever else goes along with having riches. (hey, that rhymed!) With those topics, "On Sight" also lyrically foreshadows what most of the album will sound like. Now, it's also somewhat hard to determine the intended purpose of this song. Is this suppose to be a club banger of some sort? I don't know, the hook isn't good or catchy, nor does it have the most jammin' beat, but there is a certain kind of energy that it exudes which suggests it's suppose to get a place hype. And if it isn't for that, then it can't possibly be a track intended for intense analysis like I'm giving it right now because the lyrics are generic and almost laughable. The song ends with a lot of jumbled up electronic noises which are pretty hard on the ears.

    Moving on finally, "Black Skinhead" offers some relief from the harsh noise that the first track presented. This song is as close as Kanye gets to rock on this album, as the drums that jump start the track kind of have a looser and more sporadic pattern (very tribal) than you'd normally hear on a hip hop production, it's actually sort of refreshing though and it's a surprisingly catchy beat (even though I can't fight the feeling of familiarity it brings). Lyrically, the song is a mixture of braggadocio and how people don't want to see a black man (Kanye in particular) succeed, which is kind of delivered in a ludicrous way with lyrics like "they see a black man with a white woman at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong" because really, I don't think there's anyone blatantly trying to tear down successful black men just because they have white wives/girlfriends (outside of maybe black women). This song is basking in exaggeration, but sees a large improvement both lyrically and production-wise from the first track. Also Kanye mentions to "stop all that coon shit", which is I guess to say stop all this black foolishness you see in entertainment, which goes along with the song's title, though still I think this topic should've been divulged further and been the track's most evident message. The title "Black Skinhead" projects an interesting song concept, but it isn't really executed as thoroughly as I'd have liked.

    With all the progress that Yeezus seemed to be making with "Black Skinhead" thematically, it's set back by the song "I Am a God", which gives you an accurate approximation of how full Kanye really is of himself. On this song, Kanye claims he's a god and demands people to hurry up with his croissants and massages, among other things. He also raps about predictable things like niggas that don't like him as well as his fashion sense. His second verse is tremendously corny and just plain dumb, as he plays out a conversation he had/would have with Jesus. As with "On Sight", there is no percussion on this song, the beat is mainly composed of a consistent electronic sounding roar, with a some random beeps and some constant bumps which overall give the track a kind of dark and abyss-ful feel, so there's some variations to the beat that don't allow you to get completely bored. To make matters worse though, and as to continue the trend that was somewhat started on "Black Skinheads", Kanye starts to scream for no apparent reason.

    "New Slaves", like track 2, is another song which tries to deliver an compelling message, but is stifled it's poor execution (or by it's poor executioner, depending on how you look at it). This song attempts to put some light on consumerism in our culture (which frankly, isn't as original as some would like to think). Essentially, the main message of this song is to play a victim to society and blame corporations for your materialistic ways. Then it also suggests that to be a "dick" (or in other words, an asshole), not a "swallower" (follower). I won't get into why I don't agree with the whole message of this song, but you get the idea of the hypocrisy Kanye creates. This video further explains why I think there's lots of hypocrisy in the message of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BbHi-2Wl3o If you want more thoughts on why the I think Kanye's attempt at great artistic merit are a failure to me, you can look here: http://www.last.fm/user/DickBigems/journal/2013/06/11/5uh51t_more_stuff: The beat and flow try to come off like something epic, but really fails with all those lyrics in mind. The beat actually seems to bare a close resemblance to another song of his entitled "Clique". Neither of those songs' production enthralls me to listen to them again. It does a good job of keeping the minimalistic production a current theme in the album though. The interlude at the end was kind of cool, if only Kanye's gay autotune singing wasn't there.

    One thing you might notice while listening to Yeezus is that a lot of the beats seem to rely heavily on Kanye's flow to carry the song along, which generally seems to work to a certain extent on this album, but is a technique which kind of reaches it's extent on "Hold My Liquor". Kanye's first verse on this quickly gets boring as he riddles of these really basic rhymes about getting drunk and running to a female who will deal with him regardless of whether he's sober or not, but it's not just that his rhymes are basic, it's that his flow never changes from the same simple structure. After his verse ends, it goes in the chorus which is kind of dumb and cheesy if you ask me ("I can't hold my liquor, but these bitches can't control me", what?). It's rather brainless stuff, but commendably manages to keep a certain cohesiveness and dingy ambience in the album's production. The song closes off with Chief Keef and Kanye doing this autotune duet of sorts with a electronic guitar kind of screeching in the background as to pay homage to the eighties or something.

    The next track is a mess of a variety of different sounds and styles, which somehow kind of works in a way. "I'm In It" is a song that details how much of a freak Kanye is with how he eats ass and fists women. Some laughs can definitely be generated from Mr. West on here as he spits perhaps some of the cheapest punchlines of his storied career: "Eatin' Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce" as well as "I be speaking Swaghili" for good measure. Whether or not you find these lines clever is of course up to your own judgement. I think some of these are practically hilarious, yet occasionally disgusting, if only I could tell if Kanye were joking about them or not (I'm doubtful tbh). As for the rest of song, this is a very unique composition of music if you ask me. The progression of this track is pretty cool with how it starts out with an emphasis on Kanye's rapping then breaks into some basically indecipherable Jamaican ramble-singing I wanna call it along with the beat having this alarm kind of sample reminiscent of Quincy Jones' "Ironside" (here's a link to that song for those not up on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHq-v4HJVqE). Then some white guy falsetto comes in with some more hard lyrics to make out, a little more Ye and Assassin rapping, then some angelic singing from that caucasian dude Justin Vernon as the beat stops; it all sounds very epic to me. The song closes out with Kanye rapping to the drum beat with a large amount of "uhs". Usually, I'd criticize Kanye's never changing, basic flow, but it works well on a track like this, which I feel is more suited that any other on this project to be played in a club or be used for getting someone hype.

    Picking up where track six left off, "Blood on the Leaves" gives the fans of 808s & Heartbreak a little something to fawn over. "Blood on the leaves" seems like a very common phrase on Yeezus, and can be heard sporadically on the album, as it's alluding to some old Billie Holiday song, you are able to hear the direct sample of it on this track. I don't totally understand it's significance, especially on this song, which is, from my impression, a love song. It's needless to say that Kanye is not a skillful singer, so obviously autotune is his musically vice. One wonders whether he would still use it even if he could sing bearably. It's amusing to me that his partner in crime, Jay-Z, made a song "Death of Autotune" a few years ago, and Kanye continues to implement it in his music. I hate autotune, so this track here I did not receive well. It's annoying to me, and I don't understand why Kanye can't get someone like Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon, or whoever else to sing for him instead. I digress to talk about this track's other aspects. Lyrically, it's, as described by others, a song about how he sacrificed his love for fame, based on a true story too. I don't find it to be all that heartfelt though, why should I sympathize with Kanye's pain? Really the main thing about ballads to me is being able to connect for the singer's emotional struggle and sometimes even put myself in their place. One thing I find hard to do is feel for Ye. He's a person who seems to constantly complain when he seems to be doing just fine (if not, great). And it's also very funny that his love song of sorts would come directly after a perverted track like "I'm In It", which just doesn't make sense to me. Even if I were to imagine the autotune not being there and it having better singing, the melody of the song doesn't really entrance me that much anyway to want to hear it again. Some might enjoy the beat drop that happens about a minute into the song, but everything else about this joint just is too much to find enjoyment in this song.

    ......

    (*skipping to overall summary and conclusion* - under revision)

    I've seen lots of debate over how inventive Yeezus really is, which is something I can't truly determine, I don't know much about Death Grips or the alike, but I can easily say that with this album Kanye West yet again succeeds in creating a new dimension in the mainstream hip hop universe. Though it's impact is yet to be felt, this release manages to show more of Mr. West's seemingly everlasting ambitiousness as an artist. The work is cohesive and sonically fascinating, just as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is, but with a tad darker tone than ever before from Kanye. The main struggle point of this album obviously appears to be the rapping. It's generally unfocused and suffers from what looks like a lack of effort or time, some might even say it's the worst of his career and I wouldn't argue. All of these things, from the production to his lyrics, might be off-putting to some, but that seems to be Kanye's personality at it's very core, so I guess you say he accomplished what he set out to do. 4/10
  • More Stuff:

    Jun 11 2013, 18h29

    This is previously a rebuttal I made to someone else on another website, who was saying that "It doesn’t matter if he is ‘hypocritically’ participating in these institutions because his point as an artist is to draw attention to these things and to frame his experiences with them in a way that his audience can relate to, share alongside him and also appreciate aesthetically through his presentation."

    I still don't get how there's any reason whatsoever to draw attention to a potential problem in our society if you're only fueling it. There is nothing profound about Kanye's perspective. I was already aware of consumerism and racism in our culture (and plenty of other rappers already have rapped about it). Frankly, there's hardly anything relatable about Kanye either: no, I don't buy Bentleys, fur coats, diamond chains, or wear leather pants (much less do I long to have any of that stuff). He says "fuck you and your corporation, y'all niggas can't control me", yet he works and collaborates with them. Going on a rant every once in a while and disrupting a music video award doesn't mean you're actually doing something important, it just means you're being a douchebag. Now, I understand this is all entertainment. Obviously, it's still possible to enjoy something even if you can't relate to the characters (of a movie for example), but if you're trying to get a message across in your music and that's the main theme, and the main character is a rich douchebag who's actions defy the message, what is to like about that?

    Now it'd be a totally different thing, if say, Kanye were to present this in a more introspective way, like how he personally struggles with being materialistic and wanting unnecessary things, but rather than do that he merely justifies his actions by claiming he's a victim of the system. He blames society for his actions, and to make matters worse he even encourages materialism. It's like why don't you stop playing like you're some sort of victim when you're living totally well off. I'm not going to sympathize with you or your message because I don't personally get it.

    And perhaps I’m thinking about the music too deeply, but isn’t what Kanye wants us to do?

    As far as music goes, I don’t think that these are Kanye’s finest moments producing, and that whole last verse doesn’t really flow well in my opinion.

    ............

    This topic also spurs the question, is it right to write off a song just because you don't agree with it's content? No, it isn't, but I'm not writing off "New Slaves" because of it's content, I'm writing it off because it fails to do what it set out to accomplish, which was to somehow build on the Kanye persona that he was some sort of revolutionary. I'm sure the point of this song wasn't to show how much of a contradiction Kanye is, but that's what it does to me.
  • Stuff:

    Mai 28 2013, 7h23

    "It's kind of like all of Drake's albums are released to attract the ears of women who wish they had a man in their lives who would say all the corny crap that Drake raps."

    http://www.complex.com/music/2013/05/ghostface-killah-names-his-favorite-songs-from-his-essential-albums/fish-scale

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPaKkZR8DVQ

    New album is decent. The concept is not unique at all really (haven't we already gone through the topic of rappers struggling with choosing between good and evil - e.g. good kid, m.a.a.d. city not too long ago). The opening song has a pretty cool beat, but the chorus is so dumb and poorly conceived for a song with a title like "Villuminati" ("Sometimes I brag like Hov", wow...); It only truly gets down to talking about the illuminati till like the last two minutes or so after a bunch of name dropping. (Actually, on the first verse J. Cole's flow sounds a little like a flow Elzhi would use.) Nonetheless, this song serves as a pretty good opener/intro. "LAnd of the Snakes" is a cool story about Cole and a girl who had a one night stand and it follows the concept with lyrics such as "came out the womb with my dick hard" and "'you about to miss church' while you riding me". Sh*t goes downhill from here though. "Power Trip" sees Cole singing in a Drake-like manner with Drake-like subject matter - I figure this is going to be a single if it isn't already. Again the chorus is pretty underwhelming and the his subject matter starts to get redundant here talking about how he used to not have sh*t and now he's signed to Hov's label, then talking about a crush he's had for a long while. The "Mo Money (Interlude)" continues with the concept of having more money than he used to, but still not as much as he'd like to have. "Trouble" is kind of a funny song to me. The beat uses like this gospel backing singing "troubles of this world" and it's feeling is kind of similar to "Jesus Walks" by Kanye to me, but in this song Cole is merely talking about how b*tches want too much that's why he doesn't f*ck them immediately and how he went back to school so he could hollar at some educated hoes (granted, at the end of this verse he did mention how he left one of those hoes and twelve years later their child is wondering who his/her daddy is). Are these really big problems in the world though?

    "Runaway" somewhat gets back to the concept at hand, and is basically about how he has a good woman by his side, but as a male he doesn't want to settle down yet. Chorus sucks and is unoriginal. Cole again attempting to sing somewhat. "She Knows" continues on this same theme of giving into sexual temptations even though it's wrong and the chorus is a little more interesting in how it suggests that the female he's with also knows what he's doing is wrong. A lot of this subject matter reminds me of The Weeknd's House of Balloons album actually. "Rich Niggaz" is probably the most interesting song conceptually on this album, as it talks about the whole selling your soul for money, fame, and what have you ever and how it's not really worth it because "money can't save your soul". The next song, "Forbidden Fruit", also kind of deals with the whole concept of sex being forbidden as previous songs do, but is saturated with what feels to me a lot of cliche lyrics and even the use of the sample is cliche (being that "Electric Relaxation" by ATCQ already used it and used it better). Kendrick's appearance offers little to the song. "Chaining Day" picks up where "Mo Money" and somewhat "Rich Niggaz" left off, the beats at this point in the album much more relaxed and bright than before, Cole again talking about his greed and how he wants more money. It's a rather boring song and Cole doesn't really offer an unique perspective on the topic. The next track is "Ain't That Some Sh*t" which claims it's just an interlude, yet has two verses and an chorus to it, so it's not really qualifying as an interlude if you ask me. It doesn't have a place on the album really as far as I can tell, the beat doesn't vibe with the tracks it's put in between and the lyrics are more of the same talking about sex and being rich. "Crooked Smile" is about how you should be happy with who you are and not try to change yourself. I'm going to quote myself on from a question that asked about this song: "(It's) decent, the chorus is especially meh. I don't know what to make of the subject matter, the tone of the song isn't what I really expected for an album called Born Sinner. I guess it's cool that the message is somewhat uplifting, but that doesn't stop it from being corny as well." "Let Nas Down" - this is basically a song about how much J. Cole is on Nas' nuts. The title track/last track caps of the album by pretty much summarizing everything you just heard. The song's melody is kind of generic to me and the synth in the background as well as the chorus is gay in my opinion.