I’m an audiophilic one, like many. I love and live my music. Music is the score of said life. So, a playlist sonic biography of the slightly younger, significantly wiser self. Mood music … immune muses … Just a spin in the soundtrack of swipe’s life… Enjoi.
I see in sounds: my selfie is a soundtrack.
The (S)tar Spangled Banner – Whitney Houston 
Pledge allegiance. The dawn, the genesis. Born stellar.
(W)ho Do You Think You Are – Spice Girls 
When this launched, who did I think I was… who did I perceive myself to be… well, I was a bouncing Baltimore baby, the charmed second, bite-sized cerebral stellar body in orbital training, traversing the globe from within the four walls of my elementary boudoir. Reach up, maintain soul, get down, claim control… move, swing, shake, for life, for lyric, for rhyme, or reason (whichever’s in season): a la mode, a la monarchy, nine years young, forever the groovy one… cheers.
Here’s a little story that I made up, so let’s make believe: four years ago I had a party that was too much fun for me…
– “I’ve Just Begun (Having My Fun)”
Back in 2009, I had a little fun drafting up my list of the top twelve Pop artists from the first decade of the millennium (I get bored, it happens). I made up a little narrative of the icons that lived the blueprint for a global lifestyle – more than a genre, an ongoing epic poem defining the general public of that elusive scene, scape, soundtrack we like to call Pop. I was fresh out of undergrad; but forever a 90s kid caught in the nostalgia of homecoming kings, queens, and courts, naturally I paired off the lords and ladies of the said vanity fair, in a fitting hommage to the heralded pantheon of celebrity (which is effectually no more than a glamorized high school) #youcantsitwithus Five coupled jesters of the court, a pair of regal deities, and a pair of honorable mentions (because it’s America – so as long as you’re the best loser, there’s space for you on the podium – but don’t get crazy).
The list went a little something like this…
Everything was worth it. Everything is worth it. Everything will be exponentially more worth it in increasing measure as the cycles continue – if, you, work bxxch #BRITNEYTAUGHTUSALL
Please believe this could be a dissertation #ohwait #hadbeendonethat #twice #becauseitsjustthatnice
Brass tacks: It’s fun. Remixable. Killer hooks. Understandable fodder. Strong focus on the beat, pulse, and bombast – Britney claims her role as integrated pneuma, as opposed to overt lyrical / verbal navigator.
I make the governor / Call me the governor
… supports said dissertation #busherayouthsubculturecelebrityicon, and thesis #welcometopostpopmusicentertainmentculture quite nicely. I approve and appreciate.
SIDENOTE: ( I’m not a youth subculture celebrity icon of an era ushered in by an incumbent governor president-elect – but if I were, I would probably hook it with: “I make the governor call me the governor” – I approve, I appreciate, I acknowledge that if ifs and ands were pots and pans there’d be no #WORK for tinkers’ hands… #luckyguesses #Y2Kforeveryall)
If, you, want, that life – the glass house, the fame balls, the applause, the roar, the 20/20 experience, the carte blanche to go rogue, the holy grail, the crucifixion, the revolutionary rebirth, the ability to make them go berzerk in a breath, that ticket to kiss land – you, betta, werk.
Fame… and it goes a little something like this
… and it smells a little something like cette
How to Make it in Famerica
FAME, as compounded by Lady Gaga:
Tears of Belladonna: One part government hooker #tearsontap, one part femme fatale #looselytranslated, one part Donna sans the Ma #bellathemonsterball, consummated in a nocturnal matrimony #nightshade and equally beautiful death #jumpingoutthewindow, wrapped in the skin of the most Luciferian fruit #suchaholyfood
Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commonly known as Belladonna, Devil’s Berries, Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade, is a perennialherbaceous plant in the family Solanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scopolamine and hyoscyamine which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations, and are also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics. The drug atropine is derived from the plant.
Quick little playlist to pulse the summer pavement… like when Blow Pops met the blacktop, or Hov met Hannah Montana #andajayzsongwason
Cowboy boots on the Sunset Strip, drop the roof off the German whip… fringe element patriots don’t need you or your brand new Benz, or your bourgie friends… numb to love, blinded by diamonds… from Parisian royalty to glitterbombed PWT, these stars’ scars stay shining… plummeting to new depths of depravity, fame is the new america… classless, priceless, from the brink of Bed Stuy to the belly of the map, a playlist fit for Plymouth Roc, a bacchanalian beat for Benedict Arnold #whentheunitedwentcrack
I hopped off the plane at L.A.X.
With a dream and my cardigan…
Live fast, die young… #badgirlsdoitwell… Maya Arulpragasm – like the Mayans – had it right… even when wrong:
It turns out that the Mayans had it right. History is a giant alarm clock. As the bell starts to ring, we awaken from the dream, and remember who we are.
Bad Girls… from Eve and Mary (and Magdalene), to Cleopatra and Nefertiti, from Frida and Josephine, to Eleanor and Marilyn – are the backbone of wake-up calls and real talk, courtesy of rogue revelry. #doitwell
Top-to-Bottom two cents #topback: History is a giant alarm clock, and discographies are giant phonographs… as the bell starts to ring, and the needle hits the groove, we awaken from the scene, and remember who we are… This year, Maya got back into the groove: Kala style.
Good music speaks volumes… rather than impose analysis, step back and expose linguistic artistry… why critique that which has achieved perfection at its own masterful conception… listen, look, and linger in fantastic rhythmic reality: lyrically speaking
Life is but a dream to me, I don’t wanna wake up
Thirty odd years without having my cake up
So I’m about my paper: 24/7, 365,366 in a leap year
I don’t know why we here, since we gotta be here
Life is but a beach chair
Went from having shabby clothes, crossing over Abbey Roads
Hear my angels singing to me: “Are you happy HOV?”
I just hope I’m hearing right, Karma’s got me fearing life
Colleek are you praying for me
See I got demons in my past, so I got daughters on the way
If the prophecy’s correct, then the child should have to pay
for the sins of a father; so I barter my tomorrows against my yesterdays
In hopes that she’ll be OK
And when I’m no longer here, to shade her face from the glare
I’ll give her my share of Carol’s Daughter and a new beach chair…
Pretense: This one never really sorted its scope, or structure for that matter, never quite got around to cementing its fundamental triumph beyond the blasphemous battleground, thus released as a work-in-progress (thus, the current “[Work Tape]” nomination), but for the sake of since-it-was-released… the first-take-suzeey riff
As much the Four Evangelists as they are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga – our proud and prestigious pillars of Pop – stood tall and held rapturous court this year as the cause and cure for our ailing culture…
Oh, hai “that time of year again,” didn’t hear you come in – well, have a seat and make yourself comfortable. I’m not spectacular at year-end reviews… I prefer life like I prefer my albums: gapless. That said, I hat-tipped five artists, songs, and albums that made me pause and take time to jot the time and place – year included – over the last 300-someodd days; and five creations that embodied and encapsulated sonic aesthetic for 2011. To the five I take, to have and to hold; forever like a TrapperKeeper, Pop safe in the fold. #enjoi
“No Church in the Wild” ft. Frank Ocean and The-Dream – Watch the Throne – Jay-Z & Kanye West
We formed a new religion: no sins as long as there’s permission, and deception is the only felony…
The Throne… Black Jesus walks in the wild… Where there is no church, just a primal society of spectacular sinners in the magnificent monde a la mode… Amen fashion… London is looting, Paris is burning, New York is occupied, victors are vilified, and the beasts are the beautiful beacons of a new world… Postcolonial cultural institutions, Neo-liberal capitalism beneath the civilly disobedient liberated lady, soundtracks run through the veins and veneer of a blind Justice Judy… Mitochondiral thieves, sons of Reagan’s mythological Welfare Queens, tears on the mausoleum floor, lies on the lips of a priest… Faustus grants voices, viles of victorious libations, and a hand to grasp to the thug’s prayers reached…. Human beings to a mob, what’s a mob to a king, what’s a king to a god, what’s a god to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything… When pop is the pre-eminent place of worship and The Throne makes room for Jo Calderone… what’s Queen Bee to Minaj, what’s Minaj to a Bey, what’s Britney to GaGa, what’s GaGa to the tot Belieber who don’t believe in anything… #preach
Welcome to VMA 2011: no host, west coast, teenage dreams, saccharin-infused schemes – welcome to the odd future #bonjournaggers
At this juncture it’s safe to say we’re all slaves to the throne… some of us, say it better than others #namelythus That said, it’s safer to say we’re all slaves to a throne of indentured servants, who may or may not even belong at said royal table… #kanyeshrugsandotherthugs Who says you can’t ball out when the bottom falls out? Not America – because these colors don’t run; but if not these colors running the world – then who? #girls That said, every court needs a jester, or Jordan #jacksontyson #takeyourpick #six so for this year’s VMAs – the world is a soundstage, the stars are in the building, and amidst the bevy of deafeningly adamant ambiguity we have a soundtrack to keep the beat right on par with said backdrop: VMA 2011 EP – Welcome to the Beautiful Dark Twisted Sunset Boulevard of Golden Schemes and Silver Screens…
Blinkkit: “We’re going to skate to one song, and one song only.” This year the throne came home – and by home I mean industry royalty reflected “those ones.” You know… the ones who shouldn’t have been here at all – The Help that helped themselves to a seat at the table. When banks are broke, the broke make bank #namely.
Pop is pastiche at its finest; sometimes you need nothing more than to collect the right pieces and be the sound canvas. Half of Pop is creating the story, the other half is capturing the stars in that momentary align when the stories converge to recognize themselves…
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
Fare thee well, fair behemoth bacchanalia…
From “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” to “Born This Way”… Two years, over two hundred shows later… The Lady Incubating closes the casket on the monster rendezvous, and welcomes a rhythmically routed rebirth… Still just dancin’ with Judas… she loves her life, she loves this record and…
The song that I sing to you it’s my ev-ery-thing; treat my first like my last, and my last like my first, and my thirst is the same as – when I came…
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.
Oh, hai “that time of year again,” didn’t hear you come in – well, have a seat and make yourself comfortable. I’m not spectacular at year-end reviews… I prefer life like I prefer my albums: gapless. That said, I hat-tipped six artists, songs, and albums that made me pause and take time to jot the time and place – year included – over the last 300-someodd days; and six creations that embodied and encapsulated sonic aesthetic for 2010. Why six? Why not? To the six I take, to have and to hold; forever like a TrapperKeeper, Pop safe in the fold. #enjoi
Round Five (finger discount) for G.O.O.D music
“Power” (Remix) ft. Jay-Z & Swizz Beats – G.O.O.D. Fridays – Kanye West
#histwocents: “What do it mean to be the boss? It mean second place is the first one who lost; the crucifixion, the being nailed to the cross – truth or fiction – it’s a hell of a cost: do the dishes.”
If Jesus Walks; Muhammad marches. I just don’t know where to start or finish with this… what to say that hasn’t already been said by the Louis Vuitton Don? Power clap for the preacher, preacher – enter Kanye: “fresh out the club, just took a half an hour nap,” why? Because he naps twice as long as the average celebrity’s life span. He’s an artiste, emerged from the shadow of his former fame – or infamy #neitherherenorthere. That said, power is founded on two things: The Fear, and The Fame – and what Ye doesn’t have on-hand, he’s got inventory. West is proof that in art, as in life, one man’s Gospel is another man’s Jihad #preachon
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.
This morning I woke up in my bed to the aromatic sounds of a British Breakfast style feast for the ears… Willow Smith’s “I Whip My Hair” has that distinctive bangers and mash bombast which simply cannot be denied
Watch this space: Young Hov confirmed on Ryan Seacrest that he’s signed Young Willow to his Roc Nation label… hopefully the Fresh Princess’ Roc career will fare better than The Sugababes’ – the odds are good it will, seeing as we Americans like our Pop royalty like we like our, well, everything: domestic.
#mytwocents: Granted it’s nothing groundbreaking, it gets the room shaking: period. Nine-year old Willow’s flow is definitive without being overbearing… which is saying a lot for a nine-year-old – especially since Justin Beiber still can’t get a moustache hair, or his voice, to break. Needless to say, I’m hypt for the new breed of homegrown heiresses #yaypop
Watch that space: Official Update
It’s Sunday, let’s round out the week with a recap of the g.o.o.d. word: Kanye’s “Power” Remix… (aka “While you were sleeping, this happened”)
Power (Remix) ft. Jay-Z (Produced by Swizz Beatz) – Kanye West
#mytwocents: If Jesus Walks; Muhammad marches. I just don’t know where to start or finish with this… what to say that hasn’t already been said by the Louis Vuitton Don?
Fame Kills: Hova sets the tone before Kanye atones. Carter coasts through the intro over weathered and vintage beats. His voice calmly builds a signature blueprint by speaking from experience – the sound, like his own timbre, ride like sapient soul – as he flows of power flipped and reversed from the penthouse to the projects, of how his dynasty came to fruition. Jay-Z careens through the verse like a watchmaker over his time pieces. He presides over the scape as a Pop god does, creating culture, keeping time as a zeitgeist, leaving the clocks and his creations to their own devices… he killed auto-tune once, and is not averse to doing so again. His son Ye won’t let our minds become idle once more though, thank Hov he’s back – like the clockmaker of old: clock is ticking – power just counts the hours – even when it all falls down and you’re “lookin’ through the sunglasses and the sunroof.”
I left you all with a drought, and so now: a Music Monday deluge. The sirens crafted a playlist of divine proportions today, one so glorious I couldn’t possibly keep it to myself. Truth is stranger than fiction, and mythology makes for reality’s greatest musings… Art is expressed reaction to good and evil; Pandora: the curious curator of this gallery we call life – and the best thing to happen to music in a long time… ah, the wonderful world of playlistism #ohletsdoit
The Fugees – Ready or Not
Jay-Z – D’Evils
Lady GaGa – Just Dance (Red One Remix) ft. Kardinal Offishall
Brooklyn was born free, but everywhere is in chains #gentrification #culturalcommodification
eenie meemie miney meme
If a borough’s identity brought to life by Absolut, the message in the bottle is an s.o.s
Venturing out of the kaleidoscopic jungle fever pitch of M.I.A.’s Arular we find ourselves at the concrete crossroads between Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects and London’s Abbey Road with DJ Danger Mouse’s brilliant return to basics, the masterful Jay-Z versus The Beatles mash-up, The Grey Album. The Grey Album is a cataclysmic crux of two epic absolutes: The Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album with the rhapsodic rodent at the helm. Burton blurs the lines and illuminates the bonds between good and d’evils to create a gritty grey area – platinum records sans the shine.
The Grey Album is a cultural reflection and blueprint. It is a hybrid of two artistic absolutes: Jay-Z’s Black Album as the pitch black to which he faded – the close to a career, the retirement, the sendoff, the assumed end; The Beatles’ White Album as their rebirth – the first album after the death of their manager Brian Epstein, and the first album on their own record label Apple – donning a pure white album cover with nothing but “The BEATLES” in black. The mash-up flips the roles and sees Hov’s requiem lyrics as a renaissance.
In the face of a diversity dispute, NBC “We have Kenan and a dress, isn’t that enough for the quota?” Universal brings excitement via ethnic personification quality over quantity in this week’s SNL episode: Hova and Betty “It Ain’t Ova” White. While NBC may have a million – Jay Leno included, but far from the isolated – problems… “You know, Jay-Z has 99 problems – but this bitch ain’t one of ’em:” for the record – Jay and Betty are Good… like God with an extra “O.”
In honor of the more-than-momentous meeting of the modern moguls, a brief melange of all things “All Black” and White – from the forever young and old, from the grey to gold – a primer for the post-primetime powerhouse pairing
“To all my friends who think I’m over the hill…”
“If your local news is any good they won’t be showing anything else…”
Beware of the Boys (well, the boy…) Dame Dash is coming back to balance the boat after the Roc of Gibraltar got off the SS Dynasty to walk on water, and let the vessel fumble and falter (read: Former Hov Partner-in-Crime Damon Dash, is back this year to resurrect the Roc-a-Fella Record Label after Jay-Z left to pursue bigger and better things… namely: the world). Now, after a sabbatical from life, Dash is back to bring “positivity” to the Dynasty sign…
When Damon Dash pulled a Roc-A-Fella chain out of his vault several months ago and presented it to Curren$y, it was just a celebration of their friendship. Now, the chain means much more. Dash is resurrecting Roc-A-Fella Records and plans to make Curren$y’s Pilot Talk the label’s first new release on June 15.
“I think we just having fun, really,” said Dash, sitting in his office at DD172 next to Curren$y. “[Curren$y] inspired me to dust off the chains. We brought ’em out for kicks, just ’cause we could. Then we was like, ‘F— it, let’s put it out through Roc-A-Fella.’ It was really more something he wanted to do. Basically, ’cause we havin’ such a good time, and the opportunity’s there, we was like, ‘Why not?’ “
(Read: “It’s like when you’re younger and you and your best friend had a lemonade stand; and then your best friend ended up running Orange Julius, and you went back to your parents basement, and still had some packets of Country Time left, and you’re like ‘Man, I’m having so much fun in my parents basement doing nothing all day except buying drinks from Orange Julius, I’m having such a good time being broke that I figure why not just try to make some money again? That, and my parent’s are really hounding me about rent… but it’s all for fun so, why not?”)
Stumbledupon this transatlantic masterpiece of a cinematic mash-up, just in time for Music Monday – enjoi.
President Obama is on the road promoting the historic health care legislation he signed into effect earlier this week. So I’ve decided to compile a quick primer playlist to accompany his journey and ours to and through this momentous bill, to cut through the jargon, and to break down the “can dos if you choose” of health care reform.
Bad Romance: because now you can get your lover’s ugly and disease without worrying about high premiums
Just a Girl: because it is no longer a pre-existing condition
Unplugged: the ways in which I loved thee are innumerable. When you left, you took a piece of me with you – not as much as when you cameoed on SNL, pulling the plug on A. Simps-now-but-not-then-Wentz, and took a piece (read: bulk) of her career – but still, there is a void.
You’ve returned! Oh, ah, wait – at least, I think that’s you…
I… can’t seem to make out the stage with all the neon logos, blonde hair, and white veneers in the way; and for the love of all that is acoustic please turn off your Starburst – please.
So… Unplugged returned – kind of
Oh the brilliant BRIT Awards (says the Yankee). If the Brits taught us one thing: it’s to guard your crown jewels; meanwhile, Stateside the Grammys traded them off for glitter, while the AMAs cut off their nose to save face. Thank the Queen, Britain – in all its splendid isolation – provided a safe haven for our native island of creative misfits. With the veneer of the VMAs, the critical cred of the Grammys, and the je ne sais quais (read: accent) of Russell Brand – the BRITs are it… innit?
So, it’s that amazing time of year again… GRAMMY SEASON – let’s get it! I get excited during oddly specific times of year: my birthday, the first legit Spring day of the year, the first legit Fall day of the year, VMA night, any time when I get money and/or presents, the proper release of a music video/album that hasn’t leaked, and Grammy night. Yes, you’re thinking: “Well, that’s whack,” “Who watches that other than old people,” “Sunday is laundry night,” “Who is Grammy?” No, I don’t care.
This year is grrrrrreater than Tony the Tiger – yes, I say that about every year by and large because when it comes to this and the VMAs I can’t avoid the inner-Millenial child that gets brink-of-seizure status excited about any annual encapsulation of all things Pop… regardless of how terrible said year in Pop actually was. This year though, we’ve got: Lady GaGa opening. Assuming the Staples Center doesn’t spontaneously combust after said opening, they’ve also got: 3D Michael Jackson tribute (I knew saving 3D glasses from random childhood scenarios would come in handy… take that A&E’s Hoarders); Wheelchair Jimmy, Wayne, Eminem, and Travis Barker (yeah, Kanye’s absence downgrades that from win to “we’ll see”); “Andy Warhol” is large enough in the Grammy site tag cloud to make me pull out the silver hairspray; 11 of my 14 Dime A Dozen honorees are nominees; and… some other stuff.
Anyway, long story short here’s the rundown of my should win, will win, sayin’, and possibly a “doesn’t need the win anyway.”
2009: Out of sight, out of mind; 2010: eyes up, chin up, let’s get it in
Watch This Space: 2010 is looking too good for words. I want, you need, we deserve: art. It’s a renaissance. Hov is so clean, so dirty, so raw, so fierce, so stark, so stylistic. Last decade we saw facades, smoke, mirrors, bright colors, and flashing lights. Last decade, we saw where goldless glitter got us. When we tread a troubled track, our odds are stacked: we go back to black. Black is beautiful though. This is colourless color, the images pop off the screen with their crystal clarity. 2000-2009 was the decade of lost chances, not last chances. Pop music will never be low brow; it may have taken the backseat, but it’s locked and loaded riding shotgun now. The method and the message; the monsters and the madness; the chaos and the calm; the screams and the silence: it’s the post-apocalypse, and it’s time to catalyze the new creative class. They got a million ways to get it, choose one – Hov made it easy. Their blueprint has been displayed in black and white; get your paws out.
Round 6 of “A Dime, A Dozen” brings us to a pair that needs no introduction (that was easy): Madonna and Jay-Z
As far as modern culture is concerned, there was no “before Madonna” or “before Jay-Z,” these two go back with American Pop like babies and pacifiers – we were the babies, they appeased our early adolescent pop culture confusion, and fed our pop hearts (watch this space). This list wouldn’t exist without either of these Pop pillars. Essentially, not enough can be said about the overall impact of Madge or Hov on modern music and culture. However, said impact is by-and-large concentrated in their heydays of the 80s (Madonna) and 90s (Jay-Z). Yet, in the midst of bubblegum pop tarts and auto-tuned out wankstas, Madonna and Jay-Z remained relevant. They were not so much out of touch with the young mainstream, as they were elevated monarchs presiding over their pool of possible heirs.
Madonna and Jay-Z are not only Pop’s pillars; they are the architects, Godparents, and yin and yang. They don’t collaborate with one another, they act independently to build each of their niches – which combines to create a panoramic baseline for Pop. The 2009 VMAs indicated just that:
The VMAs open with Madonna — $120m “360″ deal for 10 years, about to come out with her epic greater-than-greatest hits CD/DVD collection: Celebration, reminding the world of her icon status, not that she trying to steal the spotlight from the Taylor Swifts, but that she built the stage they’re on right now — and the VMAs close with Jay-Z — $150m “360″ deal for 10 years, off the heels of his 9/11 concert and Blueprint 3 release, reminding the world of his icon status, that he’s not battling the Gucci Manes, but that he christened the battlefield, he’s reminding the pop princes, princesses, and paupers how to look at the big picture and get into the empire state of mind. So, the middle is all filler but the bookends are steady — thanks, Live Nation, you corporate behemoth you.
As architects Madonna and Jay-Z (literally) laid the blueprint throughout the decade.
Thanks to Winstone over at The Couch Sessions I compiled my Top 5 songs/albums of 2009 (actually without Winston I wouldn’t have even considered the feat).
True Pop is self-contextualizing. My “best of” list reflects those works that built this year in pop culture, by reflecting the end of an era – of shallow celebrity veiled behind assumed artistry. Pop done right is cohesive, not fragmented, and neither are its masterpieces. Pop done right is an atmosphere – artists create their own world. Below are 2009 Pop best artists’ songs in relation to albums – not songs, or albums, and artists. My top 5 best reflect the year they dictated: 2009 – The Death of The Fame’s Fear.
“D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)”/The Blueprint 3 – Jay-Z
Hov on that new sxxt, like how come/ Want my old sxxt, buy my old album
Stuck on stupid, I gotta keep it moving/ Make the same sxxt, me I make the blueprint
“Bad Romance”/The Fame Monster – Lady GaGa
Got no direction, just got my vamp/ Take a bite of my bad girl meat, take a bite of me
Show me your teeth
“The Fear”/It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen
I don’t know much, but I know this for certain/ And that is the sun poking its head round the curtain
Now please can we leave? I’d like to go to bed now/ It’s not just the sun that is hurting my head now
I’m not trying to say that I’m smelling of roses/ But when will we tire of putting sxxt up our noses
I don’t like staying up, staying up past the sunlight/ It’s meant to be fun and it just doesn’t feel right
“Colourless Colour”/La Roux – La Roux
My reflections are protections/ They will keep me from destruction
My directions are distractions/ When you’re ready, come into the light
“Man in the Mirror”/This is It – Michael Jackson
A willow deeply scarred/ Somebody’s broken heart
And a washed-out dream/ They follow the pattern of the wind, you see
Cause they got to place to be/ That’s why I’m starting with me
Yes, please. MTV: proof that reality is the greatest canvas, and life is the greatest performance art. By reality, of course I mean “reality drama” and MTV’s “reality” which is anywhere a production crew happens to be, and by life I mean celebrity – because, really, who else’s life matters? The VMAs (as stated below) are the encapsulation of all things Generation MTV, all things pop. While the past few years saw the bubble burst and pop culture crumbled to a state of all style and no care for substance, 2009 was ripe for the renaissance of Pop Art and a Warholian world of blurred lines between reality and fantasy for entertainment’s sake. Let’s delve.
Jay-Z: A History — in 60 seconds
The first thing said was all that needed to be said: “Jay-Z fans get it.”
I could/should leave it at that, but I can’t. Music like that comes from Roc Nation — no doubt; but advertising like that, well, I must begrudgingly tip my hat to the corporate behemoth Live Nation — per usual brilliant integrated campaigns (creative, distribution, publishing, marketing, etc.). In 60 seconds, this commericial is a mini-epic overlaying all of Hov’s past albums over his latest track. Time seems to stop for longer than a moment with each album cover pose, but in the big scheme of things it is very indicative of “now:” no words, just visuals, a summary with little or no explanation, if you get it — like Jay-Z fans — you get it, if not — get it off Rhapsody, Hov killed Auto-tune but he is a product of what that technology represents. As he pays homage to his past — in a classic Jay-Z egocentric maneuver, laying out his own discography as the true history of all real rap, which to some extent he is — he does so in a way that fits the modern mold. He pares down whole albums to a snapshot, he turns a discography into photography, but it works.
Watch this space: The Black Album was Jay-Z’s highly touted retirement; three albums later Hov is rising again — in the wake of 9/11, after killing auto-tune, after encapsulating his past works, Shawn is coming back — but note that the 3rd Blueprint is the first cover without Mr. Carter’s face. Now, it’s about the music first. (Well, on the surface at least. Again, LiveNation is pushing Jay-Z’s face time hcore: commercials like this, press conferences, concerts, etc. Which work for Madonna and U2, but tis a bit different for Shawn “Renegade” Carter)
And you thought Usain Bolt ran hard
Call for Chris on line one: they’re saying to hold his applause and duck down, it’s the Roc Nation and Black is lookin’ to clap Brown — apparently the Dynasty runs this town
Watch this space: The Blueprint 3 — that is all
Last night was the 2009 BET Awards, and while the formal ceremony fell short of a proper Michael tribute, the subtext paid brilliant homage to the King of Pop and his legacy. If nothing else, the world has been reintroduced to true pop music and culture in the aftermath of Michael’s death. Music television and radio stations have played the best rotations in years by playing only Michael nonstop. The result: full social immersion into true music and artistry in the midst of a tween/teen/young adult generation who has fallen far beyond short — a la ringtone rap and thrice-warmed-over beats and lyrics. The point: last night’s awards marked what could be the renaissance of pop, hip-hop, music, modern art, and culture
From the finest display of live auto-tuning and actual instrumentation I’ve witnessed in a minute (and points for the Dirty Diana nod)
a near perfect last stand — save for a fat lady singing — before the anti auto-tune assault
Au revoir auto-tune, bonjour artistry — and authenticity. In the midst of chaos, the best solution is simplicity; from the music industry, back to Michael the key is to cut through the hype and get to the core — the only one to do that better than Jay Hov last night was Janet
The BET Awards marked the apex and assassination of auto-tune — and everything it embodies; kill the counterfeit, “this is Sinatra at the opera,” not Soulja Boy on a Sidekick.
Watch this space: What better catalyst for the next cultural shift than the death of the mechanichal man in light of the man in the mirror — from auto-tune to authentic artistry. Now, from the King’s ashes will hopefully arise a phoenix-like pop renaissance; if not, blame it on the alcohol — literally.
Finally, the century mark. It’s times like this when you recap to the beginning and where it all began. So: a playlist paying tribute to where it always begins — home. (Actually, I stumbled across “City is Mine,” and decided to put together a city playlist. It just so happened to be The Dime’s 100th post, and all the cities are hometowns — thus the easy spin about where it begins.) Either way, enjoi
Starting at the top of the map with an ode to our Neighbors to the North — compliments of their most hyped export since Jimmy Brooks
Quick and dirty lunchtime/BBQ mix for the holiday. Literal mix of older, new-ish, pop, hip-hop, this and that. It’s a general smattering: a bit random, not particularly thematic, but a universally decent mix for a mid-day holiday meal.
Start off mellow for the swelter. Pre-interlude: less local, a bit bossa nova and ska over funk, try it on for size …
Pop culture and politics continue to make for an intriguing set of bedfellows.
I was watching Living Single and Max “The Maverick” Shaw made 1996 sound an awful lot like Fall 2008.
Whether from Brooklyn, Arizona, or Alaska, a maverick is a maverick is a maverick; and they all speak the same language.
So I’m spring cleaning in prep for graduation/22nd bday weekend, and iTunes/iPod compiled quite a brilliant playlist I must say – although it’s not too tough a task with my exceptionally brilliant library, but that’s neither here nor there.
Point is: in the midst of the final days of my undergrad career, I’m throwing back to my music mode from the first days of my high school career.
Hands down the soundtrack of my Summer/Fall 2001 was Aaliyah‘s Aaliyah. Timbaland and Static integrated electronic, r&b, industrial, jazz, pop, latin, and hip-hop to produce a futuristic urban pop album – easily one of the best of the era.
It was apparent from the jump, “We Need a Resolution,” that Timbaland went hard for his muse as always…
Ridiculous mixtape: The Grammy Remix Project
a taste …