Professor Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests – Students: Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Nico, “Baby” Jane Holzer, Dennis Hopper, Paul America, Ingrid Superstar
… when the exhibitionists become the voyeurs…
Professor Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests – Students: Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Nico, “Baby” Jane Holzer, Dennis Hopper, Paul America, Ingrid Superstar
… when the exhibitionists become the voyeurs…
“The Edge of Glory:” It’s an edge, and it’s glorious – and that’s all we need to say about that.
I love this video. When I saw this video, some less fatigued part of me wanted to run across the Brooklyn Bridge and upload footage of said jog to YouTube #literally – some more juvenile, bad tomboyish part of me #justcheesin #cake Gaga’s videos are like Matcha Green Tea ice cream – good, good for you, invigorating, a little unconventional, a lil’ left of west, undeniably delicious, but digest it too fast and you’ll get a brain freeze. There’s so much all the time, and it’s all so good, but there’s just not enough time in the day, week, month, or decade to digest any of it properly; which doesn’t stop you from eating it again, and again – and only intensifies her need to dish it out again, and again – until we’ve got a roadside diner full of dead bodies. That said, I couldn’t face the iceberg this time… I’m just a kid – even this bouncing baby brain needs a break #haveyouhadyourhappymealtoday – even still, I bowed to Atlas, and anticipated said final cerebral demise when watching said glorious film.
On this of all days, it’s important that we take time to remember those we’ve lost en route to creating a more profitable union… that gated community upon the dollar bill *a moment of silence for civilization*
Culture – Commerce = Civilization
From Brazil’s Christ Redeemer to B.o.B, Stonehenge to the endless Sk8er Boi party, Madonna Litta eclipsed by the Purrs of California’s Kitty Lolita, Easter Island, Themis, The Sphinx, man-made structures bordering on the divine – resurrected here if only to remind us of what we left behind… All Day I Dream About Significance, Society, Substance, Something – anything more… Mount Rushmore cashed out, Noah’s Ark now nothing more than a two-by-tomb, while the ruins of civilization go all in, stumble, and settle in the Mediated Mesopotamian womb…
From behind the veil of the ever present bottom line, sights of the American celebrity to drown out the French artisan’s sound… when culture is dependent upon commerce, justice remains forever blind
Watch This Space: Anything less would be uncivilized #allin
The modern music industry’s Mitochondrial Eve returns with a fervor to prove – once again – that despite all patriarchal restrictions and destruction: she who bears the womb… the forever battlefield, and said burden… is she who is best equipped to commandeer the cultural revolution. Who rev the world? Girls.
The revolution will be feminized. She who betrayed Jesus, she who betrayed Adam, she who bears the weight of said world on her naturally sinful shoulders, in her superseding of submission, will ascend to prominence; born to blossom, bloom to perish, just as man destroyed that which he cannot create, so in the wake of destruction and suspension in social smolder, here woman returns to bear life again… Strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business
Who run the world? Girls. Girls, women, females have the unparalleled capacity to create life. Despite all social constructs, religious constraints, and artificial inferiorities women are able to create something lasting, something outside of themselves, and from their sin comes the succession – well, that, or a dance nation… my persuasion can build a nation #literally
#inanutshell Self-reference and atmospheric concept #letsbeyhonest #independentringonit
Clockwork Orchestra is a quirky electronic band led by Irish oddball Mango. His songs sound something like broken toys, miserable old men, vintage children’s TV shows, rotting fish, burning plastic and digital clown nightmares.
Clockwork Orchestra is a blueprint citrus symphonic. Hailing from Dublin with a sound hearkening to a soundtrack of life cinematic – think one part Alexander McQueen, one part Arthur Burgess, and a heavy dose of clockwork quirk.
Three days later… minds are made for swiping, and that’s just what they’ll do, and one of these days – or three – Swipe’s mind vomits all over you #inthemostbiblicalsense
In the cultural sense: Gaga smited her own spoken futuristic pretense; in the most biblical sense – her lips behave beyond repentance: a miss’ single kiss birthing culture from the crucifix – by all means, sir, take offense.
Brit and The Bic spark the firework as Good Friday brings 2011’s crucifixition of culture courtesy of Pop: for those who think young *ding*
When the dust settles at the feet of Rihanna’s brothel, and Madam Spears breaks away from the feature… it becomes glaringly clear that when placed in the company of her peers and those whom she preceded – Britney is best as the ringmaster, swag over doccious – all eyes on the three-ring-circus… in a beautiful demise upon Neo-Roman American eyes… the products of Pop’s most prominent puppeted puppeteer… Nicki Minaj… Ke$ha… sounding off as pop donatellas from the shoulders of their predecessor Spears, and simultaneously protecting the legacy of that very same ill-fated musing godmother…
The monster hit-and-miss… and the Monster Hidden Miss…
Aside from being an absolutely masterful piece of work – completely; Judas is an immaculate conception of the most divine du jour…
Betrayal runs through the track like bad romances through the veins of the Haus madam. There is a betrayal of comfortable pop song structure, the assault on the eardrums, the screams and distortion, the chord progression into further confusion… This song runs train on conductors… this sounds like Bad Romance’s bigger, badder, biblical older sister who just got back from Barnard – educated and disinfatuated – that older sister. Betrayal runs through the very being of Judas. Ju-da Ju-da-ah-ah… There’s a deep ingrained cohesion to every thread and theme of Judas. It opens with just vocals, flips to just instrumentation, then tandems to a crucifixtious climax – and that’s just the first three signatures #betrayals The verses go HAM on Sunday brunch…Thematically, from Mary Magdalene to Peter, from Judas to Jesus, channeling to Gaga – iconographies illustrating betrayals of biblical proportions… Anatomically, the inevitable unironic fist pumps betraying any sense of social decency… and yet being a product of the preeminent voice of a generation – the anthem of the slanderer becomes the cultural signature…
And here we are again… Gaga previewed yet another track from Born This Way – at yet another Thierry Mugler Fashion Week show – as she debuted the exclusive Mugler remix to the brilliant “Government Hooker.” #greatestgroundhogsdayever
The Cash Money/Young Money ship continues to sail full-speed ahead with the release of Lil’ Wayne’s “6 Foot, 7 Foot” video featuring Cory Gunz. Naturally, Hype Williams directed the Inception-influenced four-minute foray into the street-pristine psyche of a one Mr. TuneChi.
I speak the truth, but I guess that’s a foreign language to y’all; and I call it like I see it, and my glasses on – but most of y’all don’t get the picture ‘less the flash is on
I don’t know where to begin or end with this one… and I suppose that’s the best way to be – as there is no beginning or end to the perpetual renaissance that is Born This Way.
On G.O.A.T, a Government Owned Alien Territory in space, a birth of magnificent and magical proportions took place; but the birth was not finite – it was infinite. As the wombs numbered and the mitosis of the future began, it was perceived that this infamous moment in life is not temporal, it is eternal. And thus began the beginning of the new race, a race within the race of humanity, a race which bears no prejudice, no judgment but boundless freedom. But on that same day, as the eternal mother hovered in the multiverse, another more terrifying birth took place, the birth of evil. And as she herself split into two, rotating in agony between two ultimate forces, the pendulum of choice began its dance. It seems easy, you imagine, to gravitate instantly and unwaveringly towards good; but she wondered, “How can I protect something so perfect without evil?”
That… is the truth.
What artists do wrong is they lie, what critics do wrong is they try; I’m not going to try and pretend I know every conceptual reference here, nor analyze from a detached place of fault-and-fact finding – this isn’t about Pop cheat sheets and checklists… I’m just going to riff on what I know for me, and what I see when I watch that which the world will be.
I see George Clinton. I see One Nation Under a Groove, I see One Race Under the Hooves. I see Atomic Dogs reborn as Spearheaded Stallions. I feel what I felt when I lived in the eternal Funk of George Clinton’s 25th Anniversary show at the Apollo in 2005. I feel like a freshman again, caught in the unknown precipice that is Harlem’s heart with hippies and hipsters and blipsters and soulmen dancing together under the translucent kaleidoscopic gaze that is the pre-eminent Funkmaster’s view. Then, I witnessed the vintage funk future as George unearthed the mothership; here, I live the future as Gaga births the mother monstership.
Van Go Lion are an electro-pop duo from Portland, Oregon consisting of Amy Paige (vocals, lyrics) and Josh Loerzel (keys, music.) With the combination of Amy’s powerful and versatile voice and Josh’s classically-trained piano skills, Van Go Lion write and produce fresh, highly addictive hooks backed by synthesizers and compelling electronic beats.
I like good music. I like Van Go Lion. I like juxtaposition that positions itself just right to create a certain Pop niche – these two fit the bill quite nicely. Van Go Lion are an intriguing pair; like aural arts & crafts, they are one half artistic expression and one half conceptual construction. The product is good, because the production is whole – the American pair are vertically integrated with their music: top to bottom they compose, write, produce, and perform all of their own stuff. The sound reflects that collaboration -it’s very unified and organic – and distinctly VGL.
Take “Sugarblush” as a formal introduction: colorful tunes, vibrant sonic hues, fluid continuity between the stylistic lyrics and rich ephemeral tones come in as a literal welcome wave of sound. Van Go Lion are self-proclaimed “80s dorks,” with a shared affinity towards The Eurythmics, Prince, and early Madonna; here though, “Sugarblush” leans more towards her Madgesty’s iconic 2005 Neo-Disco sound… a rhapsodic rollercoaster drifting through a future lover’s dancefloor confession.
A, B, Ri, Ri, S, and M… H, I, J, A, K the press P, L, E, A, S, E… I imagine Rihanna’s alphabeat plays along to a tune something like that… it doesn’t rhyme, it has some semblance of reason – but boy if it doesn’t spell out a message loud, clear, and in living color; much of the same can be said for her “S&M” video, the latest from her fifth studio album Loud. … and yes, it has Ms. Melina’s direction all up in the bank with a funny face
‘Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it; Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it… Everihbody comes to Hollywood, they want to fake it ’til the getting’s good… they love the smell of it in Hollywood, how could it hurt you when it feels this good – flash the lights out: this time it’s hot to be bad.
Nick “Still Not a Don” Cannon’s new group, Wonder Broz, premiered their debut single “Chitty Chitty,” and it is sure to slay more sandboxes than the Cabbage Patch Kids, with all of the soft street appeal of a clean-shaven Mon-Chi-Chi – or a PG version of Snoop, Pre-Wire
The track is par for the tween urban contemporary course: fun in a isn’t-it-past-your-curfew kind of way, romantic in a you-know-more-about-the-birds-and-bees-than-Sesame-Street-and-Burt’s-knees part of the park, and uncomfortably Don-Magic-Juan-for-the-Dora-demographic in a whatever-happened-to-holding-hands state of mind. Chairman Teen Nick penned the right ones for this one: two baby-faced LA charmers with formidable flow and the Degrassi pack in their back pocket… it’s like crib-friendly Cali Clipse!
Stumbled across a diamond-in-the-rough today… Christina Aguilera set up shop with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer to give an impromptu acoustic cover of the 2002 Stripped classic, “Beautiful.” Phil Joanou directed the :60 PSA for World Hunger Relief; and if nothing else, this brief trackback to Aguilera’s sophomore days stands as reminder that before and beyond Bionic, Christina is sheer stripped down soul at its paramount finest.
Sunday Best like a subtle sermon on the mount…
Nicki Minaj aka Onika Maraj aka Young Money Mistress aka #yougetthegist released the video for “Moment 4 Life” yesterday, which is the third single from her debut album Pink Friday. The clip takes stage as a modern fairy tale, featuring Mr. Young Money himself, Sir Drake, as Minaj’s knight in sullen armor.
Once upon a time there lived a king named Nicki. One day, while sitting on her throne, she received an enchanting visit from her fairy Godmother. She would remember that moment for life.
The video is very Nicki Minaj, very “Moment 4 Life,” very Pink Friday, very Drake, very Young Money – very veneer.
We meet Nicki in the boudoir of her own castle, she is the everything – the King, the Queen, the fairy Princess, the Fairy Godmother, and her own favorite company even in a crowd of guests. Yet at the same time, she’s not entirely any of those things. What’s interesting is that Nicki’s fairy tale is void of struggle or hardship: there is only the eternal eleventh hour with no looming midnight fall. There is no fragile glass slipper, only an unbreakable diamond stiletto. There are no evil stepmothers or stepsisters, just the soft-spoken Aubrey Graham. There is no infernal blaze or funeral, only the fireworks overhead a royal matrimony.
428 days later… Lady Gaga broke her notoriously extended hiatus, premiering her first mastered piece of “new music” since 2009’s The Fame Monster. Those two years of antagonizing anticipation culminated into the club-pulsing climax: the exclusive Thierry Mugler “Scheiße” remix – in a hashtag #discodemonic, in seven words: THIS is why my paws stay pilot. While this may just be a remix, be well aware it is the Wemix 2011 anthem for monsters-turned-zombies: ignite the living dead
Step back from the fact that this is “just a remix,” forget the fact that this may or may not be what you wanted to hear from someone about whom you may or may not give a scheiße – ether that; from start to finish, career and current track, no one – no one female Pop body – can produce: produce, what Gaga can. Line after line, time after time: perfection – the wait is always worth it.
Ello, good morning to music. 1/11/11 will go down as the day that music blazed forward by going back to basics, from Jay-Z and Yeezy to little Ms. Britney, the titans have returned – you can hold it against them, but you can’t hold them back: they’re about to go H.A.M. on this mother culture.
I want it more than ever now,
I realized that they ain’t listening,
Like a princess supposed to get it
That’s why I’m dusting off my fitted…
“Hold It Against Me” debuted, and with it, Britney Spears came back like a ray of light. Spears brought electronic dance music to the pop consciousness with reckless abandon – pop culturally-speaking. EDM grabbbed stranglehold of the underground in 2010 and Britney was right there to grab it back for the mainstream. In this moment, Spears defines her legacy by defying her career thus far; music culture in this moment, is being defined by defying the sound we’ve just heard, in stride towards something pronounced. 2010 saw “hints of this” and “allusions to that” when it came to pop + electronic music – from Justin Bieber to Far East Movement, we were all “almost there.” Ke$ha came closest to the core as the year waned, and then in walked Britney to blow the fuse.
HIAM is a perfect marriage between Pop and EDM; like Madonna’s Ray of Light solidified her iconic status – successfully spearheading a risky European/Electronic sound, and injecting it into the mainstream with her last ounce of perceived fading pop relevance – so HIAM ushers in a new sound, and sonic identity with Brit as the Dubstep Donatella and new mother matriarch. “If I said I need your body now, would you hold it against me;” simply: no, I’d oblige – because pop got too vague and cynical. Yes: the hook is a punchline, in this world of instant “I Love The 90s” pop referential nostalgia; but it’s also a simple plea to touch – you love The 90s, I need the 90s. We need literal, we need to stop scoffing when we see what we assume to be there, and look at what actually is – a face. “You feel like paradise, and I need a vacation tonight… so if I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me;” no, I’d oblige because I need a vacation from the digital tundra – and we need a vacation tonight from the night that was pop 2010.
Last year at CES, Polaroid unveiled Lady Gaga as their new creative director – which was all well and good, until the collective question became: “Alright, outside of having a business card – and a Papa Germanotta-approved ‘real job’ – what does she actually do?”
This year at CES, Polaroid unveiled the answer… in a word: this.
Meet the Grey Label GL20s: the call-them-sunglasses-for-lack-of-a-better-word-because-only-Gaga-can-design-something-adequate-enough-to-properly-shineblock-herself.
These glasses are not only fly and functional – they are the future. GL20s are fully operational as UV-protecting eyewear, but also capture digital images and video – which are then saved to the detachable USB earpiece; they’re photosolarbifocals.
Of course the glasses are very exciting because they’re bridging fashion and technology together – we’re creating something that’s innovative and also cultural – but this is the product that kind of really made everyone angry when we were in the conference room
#mytwocents: We live in a world of #picsoritdidnthappen – where you don’t live unless it’s on film, where you are what you wear, where the USB is your aorta… when your scape and soul solely exist in the seen scene, your point-of-view has evolved into the “Polaroid You.” Grey Label: see yourself living in GL20 … while the blind shall perish.
Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”
Once upon a rhyme two bubblegum nymphs lit up the pitch black pop sky with tales of teenage dreams and rose-colored weekends. Princess Katy Perry sang this year from atop her Golden Coast lollipop tower; while Dutchess Nicki Minaj led a brigade of bad Barbies across the hard candy-coated pop landscape. This year we saw the rise and reign of the psuedo-sexual siren; from adolescent dreams to Roman’s vengeful screams Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj exemplified both sides of Barbie – the pinup princess and the dutchess behind barbs. Amidst all of the flashing lights, these two were the fireworks that took fantastical flight.
Nicki Minaj opened the year launching feature after brilliant feature across star-studded tracks. She held court with the divas, the dons, and the du jours; throwing down with everyone from Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, to Rick Ross, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, Ludacris, Usher, and will.i.am. Co-sign after co-sign Minaj built hype and suffocated hearsay. Before long, it seemed as if the collective culture’s eyes were glued to Nicki’s rocketeering rise, awaiting with bated breath the halogenic blast of her solo debut; Pink Friday was the explosive result. The album is truly Minaj’s child, and capstoned her rookie year exceptionally well. It’s the pink hybrid hue between that clean white naive newness and raw red monstrosity; it’s the bridge between the come-up of the work week and the kick-back of the weekend, where Miss Minaj continues to blaze somewhere in between as the not-quite-a-babydoll-but-not-yet-a-boss.
Meet UK-native drummer, singer, songwriter Florrie. The ambassador of contempo-bossa-synth-pop dropped her debut “Introduction” EP this week; and well, needless to say, I haven’t heard music this poppin’ fresh from across the pond since I hopped off the Lily pad.
- Florrie: as traditional a musician and performer as can possibly be, but at the same time a completely new type of independent pop artist.
- Florrie’s bold, attention-grabbing pop music is at once robotic and human, chunky and svelte, big on ideas and not shy of explosive choruses.
- Florrie is a 21 year old artist, originally from Bristol in the south-west of the UK.
The four-track EP is a warm welcome from the Bristol native. “Introduction” is an expansive sound board touching on disco, alternative, funk, and ska. Each track clings to a specific sonic aesthetic, and though brief, the debut is a broad-reaching soundscape that blends the best of Florrie’s wide-spread influences and contemporaries.
“Call of the Wild” comes in like the smoky haze of a surfer speakeasy as want you need you it’s the call of the wild, something animal more than physical; satisfy me ‘cos I’m fallin’ apart, synchronicity in our chemistry rides over subtle electric wet string reverb. Layered guitar and percussion build beneath breathy vocals as the woman-not-siren calls before a Misirlou-esque riff crashes onto a bossa beach. The track is a clear standout, with strong lyrics and oscillating instrumentation – one minute coasting through a mellow beatbox bridge, only to swell back into a sonic tsunami of bombast.
This Music Monday finds itself steamrolling Westward to the glory and the gold
Takeaways, Runaways, and #mytwocents: Connecting the Pop Nots… one track at a time… #letsgo
As Kanye stands above it all – his head bowed beneath the crown, “Now this would be a beautiful death. I’m jumpin’ out the window” echoing over a sea of ballerinas, the camera zooming out to snapshot the finale: West’s leap to posthumous glory, orchestrated by Prague’s native son, Yemi; he presides over his latest masterpiece manifesto – Prague, meet “Power: The Defenestration of West.”
Pop: grab your old girl with her new tricks; if this were Gaga’s first and last album, it would be just as complete as it is in context as a dynasty starter.
The Fame is nothing more and nothing less than a perfect Pop debut through and through. Visceral, catchy, panoramic, reflective, progressive, chock full of hit singles, formidable filler, and fun; foreshadowing or foreboding depending on how you look at it – and yet, so very simple. The Fame is merely a skeleton, and the beats are nothing more than an atmosphere. In Britney’s wake we saw a sea change: where Spears’ genesis was plot-driven – a tale of a singer at the whim of heavy production, and a girl at the whim of a weighty world – Gaga’s voice is the fuel behind The Fame. She gives life to the beats, as much as she injected the joie de vivre back into Pop’s consciousness.
The sound is underground and mainstream, simultaneously past and present. “Just Dance” couldn’t be more straightforward as it rips the disco skeleton from the past, fleshes it out with simple synth layers, and slaps an electro-futuristic veneer on for 21st Century tech propulsion. The beat is a night out: airy synth, simple percussion, minimal layers, basic four-count – nothing crazy, nothing coercive, just dance music. The lyrics are universal: just dance, gonna be okay – and repete after moi.
Gaga is “that girl” from the club. This is the first step of the journey through a tumultuously memorable relationship between lovers, the celebrity and the scene, the artist and the industry, the author and the audience. It all starts with “Just Dance.” You just dance to get to know their name, you just dance to get on Page Six, you just dance to get that record deal, you just dance for reassurance that it’s going to be okay – and this is The Fame.
Beyond that, at first listen, “Just Dance” is any other Pop track, a brilliantly choreographed debut. It couldn’t be more literal, and at a time where the world is a collective skeptic for good reason – the truthiness behind WMDs – that clear transparency was a trailblazing mindfreak in and of itself. Everything the track is not makes it everything it is. It is not new, it is not groundbreaking, it is not particularly deep or profound – and yet, coming from a world of life under-rug-swept it was that very transparency that broke America out of its shell. Just. Dance. No more, no less, no hidden agenda. Before auto-tune and vocoders, before ice and chains, there was lighthearted, carefree disco – the most basic, infinite, constant, life stream of music by method.
Ello, ello – quick and dirty postess with the mostess to satiate your afternoon hunger for wonderful…
from the Fiasco:
Physically here, mentally I’m up there somewhere,
and I been thinking ’bout maybe coming down and hanging ’round on the ground some year.
But this ain’t the one (NO) –
having too much fun way up here on the Sun, yo.
They should really sell my CD’s at the gun show:
a two-disk set is like Russian Roulette – Afghanistan key-note
If you wanna win, then come in my casino:
pull up in a Porsche, pull off in a Dino
Conviction on the stitching: I’m delivering the key-note
That time of year again: Vidjo. MUZAK. Awords.
Pretense: I do love this time of year, but to be honest I’m feeling a bit less-than-enthused for the first time in my life (yep, pass the Geritol – it’s time for the early bird special #aarp). On one hand I feel like you can’t top last year – it just… it can’t happen; and to even fathom a thought entertaining any idea otherwise is, is beyond negligent and belittling to Pop logic, theory, and history. That said… let’s delve and dabble
So, to be completely honest: 1.) I’m still hungover from a punch-drunk-love affair with the 2009 VMAs, and 2.) MTV is no doubt still in come-down mode from the superlative high that was said ceremony. The 2009 VMAs capstoned an era – they were our “we went out like kings and queens” magnum opus. Now, we’re on the heels of the embodiment of all a Video Music Award ceremony should be: dictator to the following year in Pop Culture. Last year we saw a star rise from the dead and resurrect performance art as Pop – from the Grammys to the AMAs, from Bad Romances to Monster Balls, from Good Ass Jobs to Good Fridays, Beiber and iCarly, Russell Brand and Katy Perry, Imperial States of Mind… the list goes on, but however you slice it: the 2009 VMAs were the Pop pulse this year. After a showing like that, there’s nothing to do except sit back and bask in the brilliance of a job well done – enter VMA 2010.
Nestled halfway between Harlem and Brooklyn lies Randall’s Island. This Labor Day weekend the islet transformed into a beautiful blend of Wonkaland and Woodstock, Sodom and Gomorah, Israel and Ibiza, Pleasure Island and Neverland – a hybrid between that Pinocchio place where lost boys find themselves and where Peter Pan’s lost boys aimlessly meander… all perpetuated by the most nourishing of all life fuels… music – electronic dance music.
Somehow, someway, the past, present, and future of music made their collective way to this halogen Haus of worship. My journey no doubt veered from the norm, but when the clandestine is commonplace, all odd experiences are good. I was like a kid in a candy store – no matter where I went, there I was, with a sugar-rushed stranger and makeshift chaperone there to guide me along from one aisle to the next. Though the guide may not know where you’re coming from, or how to get to where you’re going, they know your destination. One second you’re lost in Manhattan, and the next you find yourself MapQuesting directions from the UES to Randall’s Island, and then you’re watching hipsters take cabs to Harlem bus stops – simple foreshadowing that no matter how far “above” those kids one is – no matter how objectively I scoff at their ways from a far more worldly and morally superior place – we’re all the same entitled Gen-Yers… making our way from decadence to debauchery by way of urban decay.
Needless to say, I had no idea what to expect: drugs, neon, iPhones, Ray Bans, Twitter handles, something, anything, nothing, everything… Needless to say, I got exactly what I expected. I’m not really sure when Electric Zoo made sense, or when I became a part of it. Maybe it was when I knew which bus was instinctively mine, the one that was half black women – mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas – and half NYC Prep understudies – twenty-somethings with extra time on their hands, semi-colorful cotton clothes in their closets, and the Shazaam app for when they need to Google if “that band who does that song from that commercial” is going to be at Electric Zoo. Those preconceptions and stereotypes faded as quickly as any sense of conventional reality in a cloud of smoke behind the bus.
This year we were granted a front row ticket and a backstage pass to the greatest show on Earth: this year, we lived Fame Kills – proof that the revolution will not be televised, it will be realized; Kanye West and Lady Gaga are a revolutionary renaissance for a rebellious renaissance-era. Follow me down the Pop path, a Monster’s memory lane where the Glitter Way meets Elm St… where Fame Kills was not a concert, but rather an immaculate conception:
“We’re on each end of the stage and I want to get to where he is – which is The Fame; and he wants to get to where I am – which is humble beginnings. The whole show we’re battling each other, because I have something that he wants and he has something that I want: that’s the storyline behind the structure of the show…”
Curtains Up: VMA Night (Act One) #CruelSummerSummerTime
Humbling the most famous man on Earth
and hailing in a new reigning deity
So it begins… and so they move in succession to solidify the other’s place…
Joshua Paul Davis emerged from the blackout – heroically from the shadows – to redefine an art form, resurrect a genre, and reflect the essence of a culture with his debut album, Endtroducing…. The 1996 release told the tale, that in 2010, portrays modern hip-hop’s epic poem on record. DJ Shadow laid the foundation for hip-hop from the ground up, producing the first album entirely constructed from samples. As he creates the aural masterpiece, he allows the past to dictate the future – grabbing clips from vintage movie reels, and television shows, blending them with layered instrumentals from aged vinyl recordings – and in doing so introduces the world to his own sound, but more so the identity of an urban creative class on the cusp of social impact.
Davis begins the journey putting his best foot forward – fusing no less than seven separate soundbites and a fifteen-second funk jam session – to take the veil off the silhouette and bring the DJ into the light. “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt”‘s unknown narrator echoes “producing…” over chilling piano scales, as the story begins and Joshua sets the stage from a single grain. In the midst of an industry cheapening musical quality in the face of quantity – rationing and rehashing masterful tracks of old like a 20th Century European crusade through Africa – Shadow reminds us that there is an art to the sample; and for a genre founded upon the collage of collaboration, Davis crafts a montage original in its new fusion of old fragments.
In honor of Bitches Brew‘s 40th Anniversary, a cinematic parallel capturing the aesthetics of Miles Davis’ psychedelic fusion jazz masterpiece.
In 1998 Lauryn Hill released a cultural landmark – one part enemy of the state, one part love story – which entirely rewrote the curriculum for hip-hop on the brink of a new millennium. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is H.E.R. story – of hip-hop and its truest personification. Lauryn recorded The Miseducation to resurrect a genre, a culture, an artist, and a girl headed towards commodification.
“Lost Ones” comes in right after roll call, on the heels of a visibly absent – but always present – Hill. This is the anthem. This is L. Boogie’s freestyle to introduce her voice and her vantage. Here we hear Lauryn literally taking it to the streets, and revisiting hip-hop’s roots: the battle. She is not battling any other one MC, she is battling them all – and the modern concept of what it means to be an MC. She knocks out her bio in 4 lines or less:
It’s funny how money change a situation,
miscommunication leads to complication;
my emancipation don’t fit your equation,
I was on the humble, you on every station.
Who knew that ten years from then: she would be the exile that turned on the industry in the face of the corporate stranglehold on creative expression, she would be seen as a misunderstood genius whose public persona would be miscommunicated as “crazy,” whose post-success emancipation didn’t quite fit the conventional mold, and who would inevitably – beyond the crazy – seem quite content with herself working the unplugged circuit while hip-hop superstars dominated the auto-tuned airwaves? She did – here.
March 28: 1,767 years ago today De Pascha Computus commemorated the Nativity, birth of a man – son of God – who brought mankind from the darkness of sin; today, we commemorate the birth of a woman – deity of Pop – who brought a generation from the dark ages of social oblivion. On this day, ancient Romans celebrated the production of the Sun and the Moon; today, we celebrate the personification of The Fame and The Monster. In the midst of a generation described as Godless, artificial, celebrity-obsessed, and lost, emerges a renaissance artist who gave you freedom in the music – found your Jesus, and your Kubrick. Happy Birthday Lady Gaga.