My Love/Hate Relationship With Kanye West

KanyeBound

To know me is to understand that I’ve never had anything but the ultimate professional respect for Kanye West. He came into the game with a snot nosed, scrappy fire that defined his first three records; records that I would consider classics in terms of albums that actually mean something in hip hop.

Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina. Kanye paired with Mike Myers. Live cameras. Kanye feeling some type of way, and for good reason. Kanye informing the world that our president didn’t care that a natural disaster led to the death of many, many black people (and plenty of disadvantaged whites too, Mr. West). Let us not forget his Taylor Swift tantrum, which is still the most obnoxious of all his public blundering. Then the scraps with paparazzi. The leaked dick pics. The God complex. The skirts. The experimental noise record. The surprise duets with Sir Paul.

Kanye is an enigma, but one that’s not impossible to figure out. He’s famous in a time where fame is more important than the quality of the art you’re famous for. Problem is, his art is tremendously valuable when held against the heaps of worthless trash uploaded to the internet by the minute. His ear is constantly tuned to the sound directly behind the sound rattling your eardrum. He hears that next layer, and that’s what makes his work so necessary.

“Bound2″ shuffled on during my drive home from NYC yesterday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe how fantastic it sounded when played at a thunderous level.  Whether you can stomach his raps (and often I can’t), you cannot deny his tenacity as a songwriter. His work is jarring and oddly satisfying in separate, simultaneous worlds.

If his next record is entirely co-produced by McCartney, he’s managed to surprise me once again. If the music is something I can enjoy remains a mystery. But it’s impossible to imagine hip hop without him. I’m downloading Yeezus as we speak.  For the first time since it’s release day, I’ll give it a go with an objective ear. Maybe I missed something two years ago, and some people are humble enough to admit it.

Marilyn Manson: The Pale Emperor

It’s 2015, and Marilyn Manson has become irrelevant. He’s as far from the spotlight as a rock star can get, yet The Pale Emperor sounds like he’s been lurking in the shadows with hate in his heart all along.  This new material could have been made at the peak of Manson’s shocking career, packed to the brim with sleazy, electric fun. I definitely should not like this record as much as I do.

“Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge” and “The Devil Beneath My Feet” are ragers rooted in vintage Manson filth. Somehow he makes hell seem worth the risk while constantly keeping his tongue in cheek. The smeared lipstick, the creepy visuals, the devil’s sign…it’s one massive joke that we’ve been in on for the past twenty years, and it’s still a blast.

Listen: Nacho Picasso’s ‘Stoned & Dethroned’

Seattle’s Nacho Picasso is the king of no fucks given. Stoned & Dethroned is his 4th collaboration with producers Blue Sky Black Death, and it’s their finest work to date.  Nacho’s nonchalance is his calling card, and his gift to us. He packages a sleazy brand of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that is clearly influenced by his underdog status. This record feels like being packed into sweaty diner booth at 4 am after an eight hour coke binge. Trashy raps over doomsday beats. Sunday sounds for your hangover guilt. Enjoy.

Nipsey Hussle: Mailbox Money

Cali’s Nipsey Hussle is back with Mailbox Money, his followup to 2013’s Crenshaw. The tape is classic LA hip hop, weaving street dreams with the energy of big budget transitions. This is coming from the same dude who charged $100 for a mixtape and had people lined up around the block to cop a physical disc. When’s the last time you waited in line for a physical copy of any record, let alone a mixtape?

Mailbox Money is a solid affair hosted by DJ Drama, and is crafted for a front to back listen. Nipsey is a laid back MC with the ability to create rags to riches scenarios built from blue collar experiences. He’s certainly worth a few stacks, but hasn’t lost touch with where he’s from or how he got here. Perfect Saturday sounds, enjoy.

On The Radar: Allan Kingdom

Allan Kingdom

Allan Kingdom is from Minneapolis. He produces and raps. He’s a performing arts kid who caught the ear and eye of Kid Cudi collaborator Plain Pat. He’s got a fantastic EP called Future Memoirs spotlighting his left field knack for colliding rhyming words with fragmented beats. He kind of makes you wish you were cool enough to rock that leopard print short-sleeved button down you snagged the last time you went thrifting.

Here’s the clip for his latest record, “Blast”, which takes a chance sounding more like Chicago than Minneapolis. Eat your heart out Kanye. Let’s watch Allan Kingdom catch fire in 2015. Enjoy.

Watch: Childish Gambino- Sober

Gambino’s back with the visuals for “Sober”, his smooth ode to life, love, and substances both illegal and illuminating. The video starts off like an episode of Law and Order SVU. He’s looking rough, and completely creeping on a girl waiting for her food.

As the clip moves on you see that his intentions are good. Dancing, wild life, contradictions, and a sweet smile ensue. You can grab Childish Gambino’s latest project here.  Enjoy.

The Movielife: Returning To The Road

The MovielifeThe Movielife called it quits in 2003 shortly after putting out their 3rd LP, 40 Hour Train Back To Penn. Then, in 2011 they played what fans understood be their final show ever.  I was in attendance that night.  It was special from beginning to end. They invited friends to open the show (Brand New and Crime In Stereo), and played their earnest brand of melodic punk rock with the sort of energy saved for saying goodbye.

Now it seems The Movielife miss the grind, and are heading back out. They’ll kick off a short run on February 6th and 7th at Irving Plaza in NYC, followed by a stop in Philly on March 6th.  More dates are forthcoming. If you’re able to catch them in your city, do so. Here’s a throwback jam to get the old nostalgia pumping.