Kill Our Demons

It’s taken me a full week to digest this new KOD project from one Jermaine Cole and now it’s time to discuss. 

Firstly, this album isn’t getting the mainstream recognition that I thought it would. It’s been, what? A good year and a half since we’ve heard from Cole, I thought the anticipation alone would be enough to get the buzz up. 

But as I’m slowly realizing, a lot of folks are just allergic to depth and thoughtfulness.

Screenshot 2018-04-24 06.58.03

On first listen, the first thing I noticed was the trap influence. Cole’s got some slappers on this record and seems to adopt that Migos-style flow over some absolutely infectious beats. “KOD,” the first full track on the album sets the tone for the rest of the project.

If practice makes perfect, I’m practice’s baby

My life is too crazy, no actor could play me

The visual for ATM was giving me vintage that Busta Rhymes/ flipmode era style and I live. Not only does ATM slap, Cole’s also trying to put you on game to a few things he’s learned about this green stuff we call money.

The only feature credited on the whole project: kiLL edward, thought to be a monicker for Cole’s alter ego. In both, we get a sounds like a distorted version of Cole’s voice, but instead of raps, kiLL edward is giving us some soulfully distorted crooning. Considering  the rest of the project, they are a bit darker in tone, but still find their place in the overall soundscape and meaning of the project. 

Motiv8 is definitely my favorite on the project for the fact that it’s really been a mood for me since we came into 2018. It’s simple and catchy making it the perfect anthem for keeping those demons of doubt at bay. 

The shinning moments of the album come when J. Cole’s at his most introspective and thoughtful. Records like “BRACKETS” and “Once an Addict (Interlude)” are some of the most poignant comments, yet, on the pitfalls of having new money and the emotional turmoils of drug addiction. “Window Pain (Outro)” is another contemplative record where Cole reminisces on his life and grapples with some things that could’ve been done a little different. 

1985. 1985. 1985.

Sonically, I’m getting Midnight Marauders lost cut vibes. This beat is so groovy and inviting and Jermaine had a word for the girls with this one. 

Check my track record, I actually like some of these new kids on the block. The Migos, Yachty, Lil’ Uzi, Rich the Kid, Cardi… Now these XXXtension cords, Take-A-Seat69s, and lil problems – y’all can keep, but for the most part, I really don’t have a problem with these kids that are popping right now and they will tell you themselves that their really just out here for this money and having a wang dang doodle. 

All these niggas popping now is young
Everybody say the music that they make is dumb
I remember I was 18
Money, pussy, parties, I was on the same thing
You gotta give a boy a chance to grow some
Everybody talkin’ like they know somethin’ these days
Niggas actin’ woke, but they broke, umm
I respect the struggle but you all frontin’ these days
Man, they barely old enough to drive
To tell them what they should do, who the fuck am I?

They’re here for a good time, not a long time, which is understandable. But Cole’s got some jewels to drop in their ears that they can either decide to take or leave.

True, you got better shit to do
You coulda bought a crib with all that bread that you done blew
I know you think this type of revenue is never endin’
But I wanna take a minute just to tell you that ain’t true
One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up
Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up
Which unfortunately means the money slow up
Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again
But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends

Yet again Cole delivers a project that is interesting and thoughtful and at the same time, effortless and not overly preachy. Cole’s an OG with wisdom to share, but he’s not about to force you to listen to him or beat you over the head. I don’t know if I could even name a stand-alone single for this project. Cole makes a body of work that is cohesive and dense, each song building on one another. One of a kind.

I give it 9/10.

 

 

 

 

Peabody’s, Pulitzer’s, and the Time100 – Oh, My!

All my favs are out here kicking ass and taking names and I live.

Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes were something I was taught to believe only old white men got. Earlier this week, the news came out that Kendrick won this year’s Pulitzer for music.

Now, the receipts will tell you that I have been a stan from time. I’ve been a fan of K.Dot’s since high school. I was really into the music blogs and things back then and I remember my first time hearing of his music was on Pitchfork.com. My good buddy at the time, Lev, one of a handful of white boys in the whole school district actually put me on.

I just remember him coming up to me, going “listen to this,” and handing me one of his ear buds. And I just remember the beginning of Backseat Freestyle and my mind just being blown.

I can go on and on with how much this dude’s music has meant to me over the years, but when I heard damn., I knew it was going to be one for the books.

And look at that: A mfn Pulitzer.

Then, just last week, a host of tweets actually brought me to tears.

Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People” edition that I’ve appreciated for  a long time. As far as journalism, they’ve been a favorite of mine for as long as can remember reading and appreciating news journalism and writing. And somehow, growing up, I’d somehow gotten my fingers on a copy every year since senior high school, no bullshit. The list has featured many people who influence me, personally, and who have changed the game in their respective lines of work. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Kanye West, Lin-Manuel Miranda… Beyonce – nuff said.

This year, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Ryan Coogler made the list.

I’ve written, before, on the feeling that there’s truly a renaissance happening within Hollywood and, really, in the creative zeitgeist of the 21st century. And there’s all these beautiful black folks are leading the charge.

Issa’s been giving me life since Awkward Black Girl. Lena’s been moving calm for a while now and finally dropped “The Chi” on all our heads earlier this year. Ryan. Coogler. Black Panther. We’ve already been through that one.

Seeing how these three have been moving for so long has truly been an inspiration to watch. And now, some validation that if you really want and work for it, the world is yours.

The biggest bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

My bitch, Issa Rae, has a Peabody. Like I said, folks, SINCE THE ABG DAYS. We been rockin strong.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. No, in theory, these constructed institutions that evaluate social and cultural value like the Oscars, the Grammy’s, McArthur Awards, Peabody and Pulitzer awards – they don’t validate us as black creatives. We know that racism is systemic and has found it’s way into these particular systems and that it’s not set up for us to win. But it’s a fact that times must and always do change.

To have the Peabody’s and the Pulitzer’s of the world acknowledge creatives of color is frankly, a big fucking deal. Because these are the things that inform the culture, the names that will be written indelibly in the cultural canon.

So shoutout to Kendrick, Issa, Lena, Ryan, and everyone else honored in this year’s round of awards and recognitions. They deserve and it’s about damn time.

 

 

 

 

Tsunami Season

Summer 2018 is looking like a hot one and I’m not talking about the weather. Bop after bop keeps raining down from the heavens above and the recent catalog of music to hit the charts this year has me in summer mode already.

An ANTHEM! Yara. Issa. Tracey. Latitia. Misty. Black Girl Magic. And they all looked gorgeous. I.S.S.A. R.A.E. That bitch is gorgeous. She has the most beautiful smile to me… and her skin lawd! Ugh… but I digress.

I’ve sincerely been an Aubrey “Drake” Graham fan since the jump, like since “Best I Ever Had.” Coincidentally, Drake has also always managed to release music at pivotal moments in my life. Nothing Was the Same came out the year I graduated high school. If You’re Reading This, when I made the decision to change my major, change universities, and change the direction I wanted my career to go in. Drake, for me, is synonymous with growth. It’s just like he and I have been on the same wave from jump.

As his music has changed, it has stayed the same, yet he always manages to come back sounding fresh and in-pocket. “Nice for What” is no different – an anthem for all the girls out here getting it.

As I gear up for some major changes in my life while also coming into my own, this new single will be a mainstay on my summer soundtrack to remind me to continue to keep piping up on these niggas and that I don’t necessarily have to be nice to these niggas.

Janelle Monae came in hot with a new single, “Pynk.”

A new project “Dirty Computer” is expected at the end of this month and the singles she’s released thus far have my expectations on ten.

“Pynk” is a sexy, erotic summer jam, an ode to pussy if there ever was one and I’m here for it.

Tessa Thompson made yet another cameo in the video, adding more fuel to my growing suspicion that Tessa and Janelle are an item.

When Tessa’s head popped from between those lips aka Janelle Monae’s legs…

 

I knew.

Best friend and I are headed back to Afropunk this year. We were both a bit skeeved after last year’s festivities but, y’know… a bitch will be in town or whatever so why not? The lineup looks absolutely amazing and Janelle Monae is one of the names headlining so I know her set is going to be out of this world.

Last but not least, the generous queen has come bearing gifts. After an interview with Zane Lowe, Nicki dropped two new singles and from what I heard, it looks like we’re about witness the second coming of Nicki Lewinski.

Bars. For. Your. Ass.

The general consensus seems to be that we’ll be receiving an album from Nicki just in time for the summer. At least I sure hope so. The 2018 summer sound wave is already gathering steam and in effect and something is telling me if we get a Nicki album, on top of everything else, it’s gone be tsunami season.

Slow Claps for Cardi: An Album Review

 

Cardi B’s got a new album and y’know… I can appreciate it for what it is. A bop here and there, I fast forwarded through a couple. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

From the top, Get Up 10 is brazy. Cardi’s coming out the gate with bars for that ass. I love a good Migos feature and “Drip” is no exception.

“Bickenhead”: a bop.

I can never hear Bodack Yellow ever again in my life, I’ll be just fine.

Now, a lot of folks on the twitters and the grams and the shade rooms had a lot to say about “Be Careful.” Cardi, herself, addressed the flac she got after releasing the single in an interview with The Breakfast Club. But I loved the song the first time I heard it. The Lauryn Hill sample really won it over for me. And to hear that Lauryn, herself gave Cardi the blessing to use the sample – validation.

If you check my track record, I’m clearly Chance the Rapper’s biggest fan. Upon scanning the track list and seeing his name, I actually started the album out of order with “Best Life.” Talk about a personal anthem.

Anything with that Caribbean/hip hop flavor immediately has my attention. “I Like It”: I love it.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s right but I really just loathe Kehlani’s voice so that really shot “Ring” in the face for me. Skip.

“Money bag”: it was cute the first time, but it’s a skip 8 times out of 10.

“Bartier Cardi”: it goes off in the gym.

I suppose the last three tracks were cute. It got a little more reserved, a little more introspective, which was nice. You can’t go wrong with a little SZA… And just like that it was over. I say it was a good show and a solid debut. I didn’t not like it. I thought it was cohesive. There are certainly some bops for the summer time.

giphy

I’ll give it to her. I sincerely hopes she keeps going. She’s already begun cultivating a lane of her own and I definitely see room for growth. Perhaps, the new baby will kick the creative juices into a new gear. That seems to be a thing. Regardless of all that, she’s apart of the canon now. If you can’t find it in some part of you to commend this woman on a job well done, regardless of if you like her music, I contend that you are simply a hater.

*Kanye shrug*

Django Jane

Not gone lie, I was a little turned on watching the Make Me Feel video.

What a cute way to finish Black History Month.

I kind of have a thing for both of Tessa Thompson and Janelle Monae individually, but just the idea of the two together like as a thing is just… ugh *swoon*

I’ve been a fan of Janelle Monae’s since Metropolis: Suite 1. She never said she was one of us definitively but I always kind of got that vibe. She was an inspiration from jump in her black and white tuxedos. At the time that she first came into the music scene, her aesthetic was drastically different from other female artists, which I found refreshing and interesting.

Personally, Janelle came into my life at a time where I was trying to start expressing myself through my own wardrobe (i.e. wearing “boys” clothes). My mother wasn’t too crazy about my shopping choices and if I hadn’t seen Janelle shuffling around in a tux in the tightrope video, I’d still probably be out here perpetrating a fraud to be fem.

Since Metropolis, I’ve been a loyal fan. And it really makes me smile to see her out here still wearing her suits and slaying my life.

A few days ago, she released another one of her trademark “Emotion Pictures,” this iteration entitled “Dirty Computer.”

Immediately, I knew new music was afoot and earlier this week she delivered with Django Jane and Make Me Feel, which people appear to be holding up as a declaration of her (bi)sexuality. Like I said earlier, I suspected as much but in all honesty the thing that I’m most taken with from the video is the aesthetic of it. It looked like freedom. It looked fun. It looked like somewhere I needed to be. It made me feel good to watch it. The fact that she’s dancing between Tessa Thompson and that light skinned young man, as a woman, not only makes a statement about her sexuality, it illustrates a larger idea of liberation which is what the Archandroid has always stood for.

I’m happy to see Janelle staying true to her narrative and continuing this arch that she started with Cindi Mayweather on Metropolis back in 2007. The fact that this story that Janelle started on that project has been developing for over ten years now is a testament to her storytelling. With each consecutive project, she builds on the narrative and sucks me in to the dystopic reality of our favorite fugitive, Android 57821 a.k.a Cindi Mayweather a.k.a The Archandroid.

Janelle Monae is really an artist of a generation.

 

I Can’t Live Without My Radio

Let’s kick off the first post of 2018 with some culture.

I was scrolling through IG and Charlemagne the God posted this.

img_0113-1img_0114-1

As spicy as Charlemagne can be, he has his moments.

Every now and then I write about some of my favorite artists making their way through the radio circuit promoting their newest latest… or trying to save face… or just deciding to drop in. A lot of great artists have been interviewed on The Breakfast Club.

In the context of hip hop, DJs have mythological status. They have a special place in the culture.

I feel like disk jockeys are always portrayed as being “that nigga.” They get respect, they have clout, they usually have a way with words.

They are some of the most memorable characters in television and movies. Of course, Martin and Senior Love Daddy are fictional, but it’s plenty of very real DJs that live and breath this same air that pushed the culture of hip hop.

From people like Stretch and Bobbito who were pioneers of the “urban radio” movement to the vets like Angie Martinez, Ebro, Sway, Heather B, Big Boy, and DJ Envy and Angela Yee, and Charlemagne and allem at the Breakfast Club, they get my respect. The culture owes a lot to them.

Moral of the story: It’s so dope to watch hip hop grow and evolve. DJs were the first foot soldiers of the genre. Somebody had to spin those records, right? Somebody had to play those records at the block parties and the basketball parks.

And even though Charlemagne says some spicy shit from time to time, you can’t knock his influence. He’s been working a long time to afford to be that inflammatory and for that, he gets all my respect.