Archives for the month of: February, 2013

Kendrick_Lamar_25.11.2012

Many of you out there have followed Kendrick Lamar and his T.D.E./Black Hippy crew for a long time. I started hearing his name very recently, picked up his sophomore album good kid, m.A.A.d city, and have worked my way backwards through his discography. Last night I listened through his debut album, Section.80 for the first time and it’s fantastic. Released in 2011 via Top Dawg Entertainment, Kendrick’s debut was celebrated across the board, with positive reviews from Pitchfork, XXL and Complex Magazine who crowned it the 7th best album of 2011. On top of that, artists such as Pharrell Williams, Lil Wayne, and even Lady Gaga praised the release. The most enduring comment came from Snoop Dogg, who called  Kendrick Lamar “the new king of the West Coast”.

 

Section.80 is a very complete idea, but after hearing where he went in 2012 with good kid, m.A.A.d city, that idea was one piece of a much more massive vision. His demonstration of vulnerability, thoughtfulness and gritty real-life topics in this new album are wrapped around a vast array of sounds, lyrical styles and vocal techniques. This package of songs greatly expands on his previous productions, and the more I listen to good kid, m.A.A.d city, the more I understand it as a masterful concept album.

Kendrick Lamar grew up in Compton, California, an area that became famous for the gangster rap of N.W.A., Snoop Dogg and 2Pac to name a few. This new form of hip-hop reflected the harsh urban environment these rappers found themselves in; often focusing on crime, violence, racism, sex, substance abuse, homophobia, misogyny and materialism among other topics. The lifestyle and music gave Compton international attention, but over time it came to represent a mostly negative perception of the west coast. Enter Kendrick Lamar, whose words and beats show his appreciation of where he comes from, as well as a progressive intention to represent a broader perspective. In his words, “You know Compton..You don’t hear no artists from Compton showing vulnerability. You always hear about the person pulling the trigger. You never hear about the one in from of it.”. The perspective of the victim, those trapped within a broken system with few opportunities runs through Lamar’s music in a very real way. In good kid, m.A.A.d city, he lays out his upbringing for all to see. It feels almost wrong to break up this album, showing only certain songs, but I want to give a snapshot of Kendrick Lamar’s versatility and encourage a full listen to see his concept fully come to life.

 

 

 

An area that really stands out to me are the vocalist elements; the singing, both pitch-shifted and not, the harmonies and the layering of voices in good kid, m.A.A.d city. In “Backseat Freestyle”, “m.A.A.d city (feat. MC Eiht)”, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and “Real (feat. Anna Wise of SonnyMoon)” you hear vocal pieces that are very distinct and forward thinking.

 

Dr. Dre was a main figure in helping to bring West Coast rap to the world. He helped Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and The Game rise to prominence. Most recently, he’s focused his attention on Kendrick Lamar. After hearing Lamar’s 2010 mixtape Overly Dedicated he got in touch with him, and that encounter developed into a nurturing relationship. It must be surreal to have a childhood hero like Dr. Dre come down to your level, recognize your vision and encourage you to continue. Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment co-released good kid, m.A.A.d city along with Top Dawg Entertainment and Interscope Records. He appears on “Compton” and “The Recipe”, and worked as an executive produce and mixing engineer. 

 

I’m so impressed by the work of Kendrick Lamar, his honest analysis of himself and the world around him is refreshing. I can’t wait to hear what he shares with us next. 

– Jimi Jaxon

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My opinion of the sport aspect surrounding the Super Bowl was summed up in this tweet..”I heard there’s gonna be big guys running around in helmets at the Beyonce concert today”. I couldn’t care less about football. I look at the absurd amount of money poured into an event like this, and the fanaticism gushing around sports and wonder what America would look like if music took that prime spot. Vice gave more reasons to critique the Super Bowl; highlighting how this year’s event messed with Carnival, giving priority to a corporate fueled football game instead of Mardi Gras, New Orleans “oldest tradition and most reliable financial benefactor”.

Regardless of the ridiculous aspects surrounding this game, I’ve seen some incredible Halftime performances from Michael Jackson (1993),  Janet Jackson (2004), Prince (2007), and Madonna (2012). My friends can tell you how much I’ve been eagerly anticipating Beyonce’s performance this year. I’ve known of her insane talent since I was in elementary school, when Destiny’s Child dominated the radio. She’s always been the one in charge; balancing singing, dancing, style, and attitude in a way that most people don’t come near. The opening of her Halftime show featured pyrotechnics which illuminated two gigantic faces which helped make up the stage design. Flames rose up and Beyonce appears locked in a sassy pose with a LED cut-out version of herself towering overhead. She then goes into an acapella of “Love On Top” into “Crazy In Love” followed by “End Of Time”. Some trippy shit goes down during the Sean Paul track “Baby Boy”; Beyonce danced in front of a screen that multiplied her moves in perfect fashion. After, Destiny’s Child pops up, and they go into “Bootylicious”, “Independent Women Part 1” and “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. Beyonce ends with an emotional rendition of “Halo”, easily ranking her among the best to ever perform at the Super Bowl. Go girl. 

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– Jimi Jaxon

 

thom yorke dazed

I want to start by commending Dazed and Confused on their February issue. I hold this magazine up as my personal favorite, and once again they deliver the goods, this time with an in-depth look at Thom Yorke’s newest ventures. Thom is on the cover for his Atoms for Peace project, which will release it’s debut album entitled Amok on February 25th. An interview wasn’t enough for the Dazed crew; they posted a 25-minute mix of unreleased solo material and remixes, a Uni of Yorke digital feature, which has 14 producers asking Thom a question each (Actress, Machinedrum, Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound +). In addition, there is an Atoms For Peace competition to create cover art accompanying that 25-minute mix, with the chance to win a Thom Yorke signed copy of Amok. This magazine goes above and beyond expectations to present an immersive and collaborative experience with one of the world’s most distinct artists.

 

For the remainder of this Disco Droppings feature, I will hand the controls over to Tremel, who first pitched the idea of discussing Thom Yorke as a DJ.

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Ever since Kid A was released back in October of 2000, people have been fascinated with Thom Yorke’s affection for electronic music. His influence has burgeoned further since then, into a vast modern tapestry of all shades and colors. We’ve all known for some time that Thom dabbles in DJ’ing (reference any of Radiohead webcasts and you’ll see him plopping records down on his techs). But it’s only in the last year or so that he’s become more active, crafting DJ mixes for radio (BBC 6 mix, XFM), underground parties (Boiler Room Radiohead takeover, the “surprise” Low End Theory set) and even a party for Occupy London (with Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja). The selection of artists for the King of Limbs Remixes releases indicated a finger on the pulse of the electronic community, that has to be related to Mr. Yorke’s recent activity. The Internet is a surfeit of Radiohead and Thom Yorke fanboy-isms. For me, it is the thoughts I’m left with after hearing him DJ, not what made my feet move that interests me most.

 

Listening to his DJ mixes, I find myself wondering how much time he spends searching through music. You can hear how many different things grab his ears, his attention. How listening, for him, might be a meditative process through sound and texture. How transcendence seems to take priority over escapism. He seems to strive to hear things from the crux of intellectual and emotional reaction in order to trigger inspiration. You can almost hear the painter in him – the very techniques DJ’s use to make floors move become more like brush strokes for Thom. He stitches soundscapes together like pictures or lost memories, with so many of his own scraps of ideas finding their way into the mix.

It seems as deliberate as it is accidental, that the lines become blurred about what is strictly dance music.

For Thom, mixing tunes seems like another medium to explore ideas. For us, it’s a unique adventure into someone’s creative space. It’s an interesting way to walk the fuzzy lines between different perspectives about music, all the while in search of exactly that – Perspective. –

– Jimi Jaxon & Tremel