The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday evening and opened with an appearance by Kendrick Lamar. His performance consisted of a medley with songs like “DNA.” and “XXX.” from Damn. and “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack. To accurately describe his performance in words would ultimately futile — though I will briefly attempt to do it anyway. I encourage you to check it out.
For a generation who practically grew up on the internet, the age-old American adage of “Do It Yourself” has never loomed so tantalizingly close overhead. Want to make a music video for Youtube? Do it yourself. Want to organize a rally on Facebook? Do it yourself.
In January of 2017 Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, gave a shout out to three of music’s hottest on-the-rise M.C.s: Quavo, Offset and Takeoff. Together they formed the group Migos. A few days after Glover’s mention of the trio, Migos dropped the album Culture, which quickly reached critical acclaim. From there, Migos saw a successful summer, playing on a massive tour with Future and making several festival appearances. In the midst of their busy summer, Offset dropped a major bomb: the announcement of Culture II.
Ephorize, CupcakKe’s newest album, does not deliver a message or follow a theme based on the tracklist alone. It requires listening, but does not make a chore out of it, as the album is filled with fun and clever bars. CupcakKe, a female rapper from Chicago, has been in the spotlight since her 2016 mixtape, Cum Cake. After that, her 2017 album, Queen Elizabitch kept her momentum with its consistency and uniqueness. CupcakKe is nothing like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj or any other highly popular female rappers.
In its initial conception, the music of hip-hop was not intended to drive any encompassing social message or lyrical commentary. Of course, as a diasporic musical form, it is inherently political, but in 1970 not many individuals were rapping in the modern sense of that word, let alone dropping verses that deal with police brutality or socioeconomic marginalization. The “invention” of hip-hop is not unlike the trope of accidental ingenuity that we love to attribute to the creation of all our most beloved things, like Edison and the lightbulb, or Wozniak and the Apple computer. The tinkering in this case took place not in a Palo Alto garage, but in the recreational room of a high-rise apartment building in the South Bronx, just off the Expressway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHL6iKpZ8hc
A young Jamaican-American DJ, with knowledge of the dance hall culture of the country from which he migrated, made the simple discovery that there are some songs, and more pertinently, certain instrumental breaks of some songs, to which people enjoy dancing the most.
Lecrae has always been an artist who does not like boxes, and those who attempt to categorize him into one would be hard-pressed to try. Bringing the gospel to hip-hop long before Chance came to the scene, Lecrae’s ability to maneuver between disparate, non-interacting circles served as both his greatest strength and weakness. Being a two-time Grammy Award winner and having performed on Jimmy Fallon and Sway in the Morning, he has achieved a level of success unseen by Christian artists. His diverse catalogue defies categorization and yet for all these pioneering advancements, it seemed that what he gained came at the cost of personal piety. Beginning in 2012 with Church Clothes, its subsequent sequels and his chart-topping 2014 LP Anomaly, he introduced listeners to a more socially-minded Lecrae; the bona-fide rapper was still spitting fierce rhymes, but in his razor-sharp criticism of social injustice he seemed to have lost the vibrancy and passion of articulating his faith, which was a staple of his earlier works.
To be a Macklemore fan nowadays is to beget ruthless harassment. Ruthless, but honestly much deserved. With his gauche dad-like demeanor, often bluntly unaware lyrics and ostensibly supra-woke politics, Macklemore is undoubtedly the most uncool artist to have ever graced the Billboard Top 100. Maybe it’s because of my proclivity for irony turning into genuine interest, or maybe it’s because of Macklemore’s charming awkwardness, but I’ve stayed a fan since that fateful day that someone sent me the YouTube link to “Thrift Shop.”
As I walked across the arts quad on a nippy Tuesday evening, I began to hear vibrations that resonated with the current zeitgeist of my soul. To love, to lose, to suffer, to love again. Toronto R&B singer Daniel Caesar’s debut studio album Freudian gives artistic form to that central pillar of being human. The album consists of 10 tracks, making it his first full length work. It was released on Aug.
Concept albums are often a substantial sacrifice to commercial success. If an artist’s impulse to explore a certain idea outweighs their desire to make simpler songs with less context, that are a better fit for their brand, the album may not grab the popularity that a less complex album could have. For some people, the idea and passion that ties a project together may be enough to excuse a lesser quality of music. For others, having an exceptional concept isn’t enough to uphold an otherwise lackluster album. Logic’s Everybody, his third studio album and his seventh musical project released in the past seven years, should be enough to satisfy, if not please, both sides.
Yesterday may have been cloudy, rainy, windy and overall depressing, but Gorillaz came through and released four new songs. I’ve been a fan of British virtual band Gorillaz since the early 2000s. I would jam to “Clint Eastwood” when I was in elementary school (I was the coolest, edgiest third-grader in my day), rapped along to “Feel Good Inc” and when every high school crush rejected me, “On Melancholy Hill” healed me. Creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett not only created the members 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel, but they gave these characters a story and world of their own, which they have shared with us through music and animation. Since then, I have eagerly dropped whatever I was doing to listen to any new songs when they’re released.