Posts Tagged ‘Kanye West’

I’m probably not going to get a lot of love for say this, but I never really got into A Tribe Called Quest back in the 90s (don’t yell, I’m sorry!) To be fair, I was so immersed in the rock/alternative music-sphere, it was difficult to pay attention to anything else. However, as I’ve grown up, matured, and broadened my horizons, I’ve become a fan of any good music. When A Tribe Called Quest dropped their album We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service this year (18 years after their last studio album,) it was high time I paid attention. Here’s my review (from the perspective of a new fan.)

What I found most refreshing on this rap/hip-hop album was how real it sounds, compared to today’s hip-hop. It’s not overproduced, no auto- tuning, just rappers spitting out their rhymes, to a light catchy beat that keeps you in, but doesn’t overpower the track. It’s nostalgic, old school hip-hop in 2016 daylight, and it totally annihilates today’s wanna be rappers (Tyga, cough cough).

They’re not going on about useless crap like poppin’ bottles, or how much money they have. They’re having a conversation with the people, with each other, with whoever’s listening. They talk about racial injustice on “The Killing Season”; politics on “Conrad Tokyo” and the power of today’s youth on “Dis Generation.”

If that weren’t enough to intrigue you, let’s talk about the fact that the 2 disc album is loaded with guest collaborators like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes, and obviously (?) Jack White (I guess his appearance on Beyoncé’s “Dont Hurt Yourself” got him access to all new kinds of music,) to name a few.

A Tribe Called Quest started out in the 80s as a duo of rapper/MC Q-Tip and late rapper Phife Dawg (who passed away during the making of this album.) They became a trio/quartet, and released 5 albums in the 90s, during the whole east coast vs. west coast rap rivalry. They were part of a music era that no longer exists – 90s rap isn’t really a thing anymore. But with this album, Tribe brings that energy, that feeling, that sound, and those lyrics that defined that time in history. All these years later, they’re still representing.

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Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan. It’s not that I don’t think he’s any good – he’s had some tracks that I dig, he can rap, he’s a great producer, but his albums were just never my style. Not to mention, his incessant tom foolery and antics very easily put me off him all together. What kind of musician tries that hard to be in the spotlight? That probably explains why I never really gave any of his music a fair chance, and why it took me nearly 6 years to attempt to listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

I hate to say it, but it’s a work of art. West wrote and produced every track (with help, of course;) managed to make his social commentary, use his vulgarities, get sinister, all the while maintaining a solid musical landscape, and keeping listeners in tune with all of it. The key thing on this album was collaboration. Stars from the hip-hop/R&B game like Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, John Legend and Pusha T all have writing credits. Swizz Beatz and RZA assisted in the production area, and most surprisingly, indie artist-producer Bon Iver also appears on the album. Talk about unstoppable.

It’s like West took the best of the best in the field, got everyone to work together, and made one of his most musical albums to date. How did I miss this? Honestly, I vaguely recall the single “Runaway” being released as a lengthy video, and I just didn’t have the time/patience for Kanye, Kanye and more Kanye. But this is album is so Kanye, in the sense that it’s not Kanye at all, therefore making it exactly Kanye – you know what I mean?

West is a great musician. He can rap, write, produce. He obviously has a specific vision when it comes to his art, and  My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the first time you can see it. Maybe it’s high time West packs up the craziness, calms down on his Tweets, and just really focuses on his craft. He has some genius inside him – imagine what he could do if he fully tapped into it.

Let’s put aside the fact that the MTV VMAs have become incredibly irrelevant over the past few years, because they just award the same artists over and over. Let’s ignore the fact that they don’t even televise the awards that actually have anything to do with the creative aspects of the videos. Let’s forget the fact there was no mention of Prince or David Bowie during the live broadcast. Let’s also pretend to believe the MTV VMAs represent all music and not just pop and hip-hop. That said, here are some thoughts on this year’s show.

Kanye does whatever he wants

After years of interrupting acceptance speeches, hating on anyone that wasn’t Beyoncé, Kanye was handed a full 4 minutes to rant and rave about whatever he wanted. It was disguised as a prelude to the premiere of his new NSFW video “Fade” off 2016’s Life of Pablo. His speech was nonsensical ramblings for the most part (as expected) but I’m not sure what MTV was hoping for: he shocked no one, and bored everyone.

Bey is Queen of everything

Slay, slay, slay. That’s all Bey does. Forget all her nominations and wins. Forget the fact that she gave a perfect 16-minute performance of snippets of her entire Lemonade album. Forget the fact everyone’s jaws dropped, and were left speechless. Forget everything you thought you knew about anything: Bey rules all.

Watch the epic performance here

Britney Spears needs to throw in the towel

Poor, Britney. In an attempt to revive her “career,” Britney Spears’ MTV VMA performance was slated as her big comeback. Except she had to follow Beyonce’s epic 15-minute explosion, and there’s no way she was going to surpass that. It didn’t help that Spears looked like old news, struggling to sell her sexuality. She performed her recently dropped single “Make Me” featuring no-one’s-ever-heard-of rapper G-Easy. Her outfit looked like something a figure skater would wear, and seemed to meander along the stage aimlessly, until G Easy showed up, which was her cue to grab his crotch. She needs to realize she’s not 16 anymore, and it’s not longer the 90s – no matter how much she wishes.

Drake vs. Rihanna

After essentially pouring his heart out and confessing his love for Rihanna, Drake went in for a kiss, and Rihanna so awkwardly dodged it. You could hear the viewers cringing, and Drake’s heart breaking  all over the world. Why can’t Rihanna just love Drake back? Also: as if she got some sort of lifetime achievement award for her videos. As if.

The Burning Questions

  • Is Puff Daddy still a thing?
  • Why is DJ Khaled such a fool? Conversely, why is Alessia Cara so adorable?
  • When panning the audience, why did the camera always fall on Kimye and/or Michael Phelps?
  • When did lip syncing during live performances become so widely accepted?
  • How many Kardashians need to be present at an awards show for people to watch?
  • Why is Nick Jonas’ new track called “Bacon”?
  • Why did Alicia Keys get high before dressing up in a tent and presenting?
  • How did Fifth Harmony win? Sexual inuendo is the only “art” in their videos
  • Who are the Chainsmokers and why are they so awful?

Lastly: why am I so old?