September’s Ripest Tracks

I know it’s a few days late, but I thought I’d share with you my top-five favorite tracks from September in no particular order. Enjoy.

POP POV: Kendrick Lamar – “i”

“i” is an important single for Kendrick Lamar. The Compton MC is at crossroads in his career, and our first taste of new music points him in a very specific direction. After the platinum-selling, introspective short-film that was good kid, m.A.A.d. city, many fans began to think of him as a fresh new creative with a strong message. However, his most successful songs are his numerous features, where K. Dot spits braggadocious bars about money, women, and guns. “i,” with its up-lifting chorus and strong stance, shows us he’s headed further down the former road, the road of conscious rap.

Of course, this remains to be seen: good kid, m.A.A.d. city held both deep social meaning and, “I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for 72 hours.” In context of Lamar’s currently untitled 2014 album, “i” could take on a radically different message, and until we piece together the entire puzzle that is his next work, we can celebrate our own selves with the rap’s brightest genius.

“But what love got to do with it when you don’t love yourself?”

Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Straight off the mixers and into your ears, “Never Catch Me” blends the ever-nomadic and experimental sounds of Flying Lotus, with the just-as-spastic, golden flow of Kendrick Lamar. K. Dot goes from a hungry, cannibalistic speak, to a light, smooth-sounding R&B-style cooing. Flying Lotus tells a story of his own, with a complex bass line and a minute long electronic painting to close out the track. Enjoy.

Throwback Thursday: Black Hippy – “Say Wassup”

Black Hippy is a hip hop supergroup composed of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. They’ve yet to drop a full album, but have continuously work together on solo projects. This joint is from 2011. In it, the four MC’s take turns spitting bars that flow together so effortlessly. Enjoy.

Live Review: Kendrick Lamar @ CFE Arena

Easter is a sacred day where people gather together for worship, family meals, and, in my experience at least, to collectively shout “I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for 72 hours.” If my reference went over your head, then allow me rephrase: I spent the evening of Jesus’ rebirth with thousands of other college-aged “hip-hop-heads,” (I use quotations because this is how one of the Caucasian openers describe the audience and I would never use such a silly phrase) all there to see Compton-based MC Kendrick Lamar. Lamar’s latest output, 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, passed by me at first, but more recently, has infiltrated my ears. I was excited to share the good news with Lamar, as well as, see if rap’s hottest MC is any good live. Enjoy.

Good Kid, S.H.O.W. Shitty

Now, I don’t want to seem too harsh on Kendrick, but I had very high expectations for Sunday’s show, and for the most part, they were not met. All of the opening acts aren’t worth mentioning, with the exception of MC Chief *something’s*”hype man.” I’ve seen a lot of people. But, Sunday night was the first time I have ever seen a white man with a blond permanent, dancing around to another white man’s sub-par verses while waving around a concert tee. And for the length of approximately six songs, he sold that shit. This young man paraded around the stage like Vanilla Ice possessed with the spirit of Billy Mays. At the end of his master’s set, this unnamed hero finally put an end to his teasing, and bestowed the shirt on the crowd, in a moment I can only compare to Jesus turning water into wine. <- another Easter joke

Enough rambling about less than stellar openers, let’s move on to rambling about the less than stellar closer. I can’t even remember what Kendrick opened with, but what I do remember is that it was very underwhelming. The 26-year-old MC was introduced by a less than enthusiastic *insert air horn here*DJ, and simply walked onto the stage. Now, I’m not expecting him to be lowered down from the rafters a la Gene Simmons, but this was a theme present throughout the evening. Kendrick Lamar, walking around the stage rapping without passion. And it was disappointing. Between/during songs, he used numerous concert cliches in a failed attempt to hype up the crowd. “Let’s see which side of the arena is the loudest.” “Repeat the chorus after me.” “Give me your money while you do a lackluster rendition of one of my best songs.”

But, maybe I am giving Kendrick a hard time. There were really exciting moments, but they were separated by minutes and minutes of filler. (Note: minutes are hours while seeing live music.) “Backseat Freestyle” was an obvious highlight. The beat was nasty, the crowd was into it, and Kendrick sounded hungrier. But, referring back to the cliches I listed earlier, at the end of the song, he cut the music and repeated the chorus numerous times while the audience sung back to him. To all musical performers who are trying to be better live: THIS IS BORING! We know the words, and we know you know the words.

Now, I have a hypothesis to why this concert was a flop, and it’s closely related to why Kendrick’s singles weren’t appealing to me at first. Within the environment of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, a song like “Money Trees” has a much deeper meaning.  It’s preceded by depictions of the harsh Compton influence, and feels like a hopeless cry for help. But live, we’re pulled out of that landscape, and the song looses all its visceral meaning. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” is another example of how context twists the message. ACTUALLY, the context within the song by itself is pretty much the same: a young man battling with the temptations of abusing alcohol, while coming from a family with a history of alcoholism. BUT, the song has been morphed into a vapid celebration of drinking by idiotic “fans.” And because Kendrick’s set was more than just a front to back performance of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, the show lacked genuine feelings. But Kendrick is a genuine artist with genuine music, and he needs to push for more live authenticity then what I saw in the semi-anti-climatic, yet still very awesome, closer of the show. “YACK, YACK, YACK YACK!”

Kanye West at his Kanye Best on Fallon

Last night, Kanye West headed to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to promote, “The Yeezus Tour”, with a powerful rendition of “Bound 2”.  Jimmy Fallon let the news of Kanye’s performance slip on Twitter, a few hours before the show. But, other than that, it was a surprise to see Yeezus. In recent months, Kanye has only performed a handful of times: launching into a minimalist tornado at the VMAs, with “Blood on the Leaves”, and sicking the dogs Saturday Night Live, performing both “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”. But Kanye didn’t come to Fallon alone, he had some help from soul singer, Charlie Wilson, and boys choir.

Don’t miss “The Yeezus Tour”, with special guest Kendrick Lamar, when it comes to your town. I was lucky enough to see Kanye, along with Jay Z, on the 2011, “Watch the Throne” tour. It was a night full of energy and hit songs, and with this being Kanye West’s first solo tour since the “Glow in the Dark” tour in 2009, he is, pun intended, “Bound 2” make it something memorable.

Listen to Yeezus by Kanye West!

Tour Dates:

10/19 Seattle, WA  KeyArena
10/20 Vancouver, B.C.  Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena
10/22 San Jose, CA  SAP Center
10/23 Oakland, CA  Oracle Arena
10/25 Las Vegas, NV  MGM Grand Garden Arena
10/26 Los Angeles, CA  Staples Center
11/1 Salt Lake City, UT  EnergySolutions Arena
11/3 Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
11/5 Minneapolis, MN  Target Center
11/7 Chicago, IL  United Center
11/10 Detroit, MI  Palace of Auburn Hills
11/12 Toronto, Ont.  Air Canada Centre
11/14 Montreal, Que. Bell Centre
11/16 Philadelphia, PA  Wells Fargo Center
11/17 Boston, MA  TD Garden
11/19 Brooklyn, NY  Barclays Center
11/21Washington, DC  Verizon Center
11/23 New York, NY  Madison Square Garden
11/29 Miami, FL  AmericanAirlines Arena
11/30 Tampa, FL  Tampa Bay Times Forum
12/1 Atlanta, GA  Philips Arena
12/6 Dallas, TX  American Airlines Center
12/7 Houston, TX  Toyota Center