It seems like it’s impossible to browse the Internet without reading something new about Kanye West. Whether it’s about Kanye’s reluctance to release his music for normal sale, the extent to which he’s a Cosby apologist, his extravagant Madison Square Garden show driven by tunes pumped through a simple aux cord or pleas for billionaires to drop their current philanthropic projects in order to fund his creative muses, nearly every website, news outlet and social media platform is scrambling to get a piece of the Kanye pie. (Clearly The Sun is no exception.) In this shitstorm of hype and speculation, it’s easy to forget that the at the hurricane’s eye is a landmark album, The Life of Pablo. Naturally, The Life of Pablo was quite divisive, with it being alternately hailed as another revolutionary record from Mr. West and decried as a self-absorbed, misogynist debacle. Realistically, it’s both of these things and everything in between.
Kanye doesn’t want his fans to be able to pick and choose. He wants them to love it all and to see all the pieces — his music, his outfits, his fashion line, his Twitter account, his family and their celebrity status — as part of one unified art project. He makes art for the age of social media celebrity, when persona and work are more inextricable than ever. He doesn’t want the art separated from the artist, because he is part of his art. His desire to synthesize was on full display at the bizarre event called Yeezy Season 3 that he threw at Madison Square on Thursday.
Macklemore knows what you think of him. He’s aware that he is viewed as a lightweight YouTube rapper, a privileged thief who unfairly profits from black culture. “White Privilege II” is his response, and it’s pure Macklemore: unabashedly sincere, clearly communicated and blatantly uncool. What rubs many people the wrong way about Macklemore isn’t his whiteness as much as his complete lack of guile. Remember, this is the guy who didn’t get that it would be tone-deaf to publically apologize to Kendrick Lamar after beating him out for a Grammy.
The shtick that has turned Future into one of hip hop’s biggest superstars casts him as a drug-addled club rat, drinking lean to numb the pain; this was more or less the premise of his last album, DS2, which was a huge critical and commercial success. The updated hipster take on Future is that he’s a doomed, lovelorn soul who turns his druggy misery into art like a sizzurp-sipping Cobain. This kind of revisionism is necessary in order to listen to such mindless music without irony, because Future’s songs are unbelievably repetitive and dreary. But in a recent interview with The Source, Future as much as admitted that his persona is a fabrication designed to sell records. “I’m not like super drugged out or [a] drug addict,” he said.
I almost did not review Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. Kid Cudi’s mammoth 26-song release is so uncreatively written and strangely produced that I doubted its seriousness. In a few days, I thought, Cudi would announce that the album was a ruse, and I did not want to be the gullible writer who spent 900 words describing specifically how Speedin’ Bullet had failed. In the past few days, however, Cudi has only grown more serious. On December 1, Cudi tweeted a long statement explaining his decision to cancel tour dates.
This past June, I took a weekend road trip to visit a friend who had stayed at Dartmouth for summer session — a popular option there given New Hampshire is one of the few places with worse winters than Ithaca. At some point in the weekend, we found ourselves at a “Christmas in June”-themed party, which is the only thing more gloriously tacky than actual Christmas parties. Ugly sweaters, Santa costumes and hot chocolate were out in full force, but the real holiday cheer came from the soundtrack. The usual suspects were all present and accounted for, as Mariah Carey’s legacy-defining “All I Want For Christmas Is You” tore the house down on multiple occasions. After a certain point, though, even holiday music lovers such as myself began to grow tired of monotonous commercial cheer — anyone who has listened to the radio in December knows that there’s only so much you can handle.
Cornell may not always seem like the hottest place for up-and-coming rappers, but it has plenty of hip-hop history to boast of — not the least of which is True2Life, the trio composed of k. Words ’05, Concise ’05 and Slangston Hughes ’05. The Sun sat down with the crew — who make their own beats — and talked about hawking LPs at RPU, plans for the future and The Pussycat Dolls.
The Sun: How did hip-hop and music play a role in your lives as undergraduates here at Cornell?
Regardless of how you respond to Emmanuel Jal’s documentary War Child, the truth of its footage destroys any debate over its political significance. Once a Sudanese child soldier, Jal has become a figurehead and spokesperson for genocide awareness by sharing his own story with the world. The film splits its time between Jal’s concert tours and seminars (he moonlights as a hip-hope with lyrics inspired by his childhood) and United Nations footage shot about 20-years earlier, prominently featuring a nine-year old Jal in the beginnings of his life as a child soldier.
I love attending dance events that support charity — not because they’re necessarily the best performances I’ve been to, but because they put dance into context. A casual audience member isn’t going to consider the history behind each dance discipline or step, but they can recognize that they’re supporting a great cause. Such an opportunity for dance appreciate occured this past Saturday, when Cornell’s Shadows Dance Troupe presented their annual fall benefit concert in Bailey Hall. All proceeds from the show went to On Site Volunteer Services, a student-run group that promotes community service.
[img_assist|nid=33690|title=Shadow Dancers|desc=Shadows Dance Troupe performs at the Fall Step 2008 concert in Bailey Hall on Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Next time you search the Cornell Library catalogue, don’t be surprised if you stumble across names like “Funky Four Plus One” or “The Treacherous Three” alongside “functional analysis” and “trials (treason).” The 8021 range is now home to Kroch Library’s newly acquired Born in the Bronx hip-hop archive, which was inaugurated last weekend with a groundbreaking conference on the origins of hip-hop culture.
Johan Kugelberg, a Swedish music journalist who formerly collected punk memorabilia, began putting the archive together in 1998, when he was introduced to hip-hop by a godson.
“He started bringing over records, and they kicked my ass,” he remembers. “I told my wife, ‘this is what I’m going to be doing for the next 10 years.’”