Hip-hop saw a lot of noise from major players this year, but one thing we’re always reminded about hip-hop is that it’s the noise of the youth. Enter West coast rhymer Casey Veggies. First hearing him on Pac Div’s “Top Down,” he launched his career in hyper drive with his Life Changes project. The second-single “Faces” became that drove-slow anthem. Hope to hear more from him in the future.
Since 2013 marked the year of blue-eyed avengers doing their best black impersonations, let us highlight one who genuinely did it right. No, this isn’t a white artist trying to reject his juvenile past, or a black-approved crooner reaching for crossover pop success. Lidell is a master at what he creates and has created for the last four or five years. His authentic underground soul stirs from a place of general interest in the history and artistry of rhythm and blues.
Jamie Lidell’s self-titled album delves back in time when the R&B charts may have still been titled “the Black Charts,” and MTV only listed Prince and Michael worthy of airtime. His smorgasbord of 80s-tinged soul pops off with the grand “I’m Selfish.” It’s brilliant array of electro funk is a synopsis of the album, busting with warm sounds of yesteryear. Get lost in Lidell’s homage and stay for his point for accuracy.
Ahh yes. Yeezus. You either loved it or hated it. You either believe in him or you don’t. But at the very least, you feel some type of way about Kanye West. While his most extreme experimentation to date caught very mixed reviews – skepticism from hip-hop heads, raw praise from rock enthusiasts – we all can’t deny that within this new skin it’s always been the same Kanye. Abrasive. Truthful. Raw.
I instantly fell in love with West’s radical thesis on the racism of class-ism on Saturday Night Live. Tensely delivered Ye embodies his critique of social ills in newly minted armor. Gone are the syrupy soul samples. Instead his avant garde approach boulders you over with statically-charged synths and high-pitched adlibs. The raucous rock was easily matched by the epic international debuting of the track. Like Anarchy taunts Batman in Arkham Origins, West became a movement as he premiered songs via video alongside actual buildings across the globe. Every villain hero needs his theme music.
Patrick and the gang decided to break their hiatus and reunited with Save Rock and Roll, a rock album in an age where rock is rarely heard or seen. While I could have gone with the hauntingly dope “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” and it’s 2 Chainz-assisted video, I went with the heart-thumping album opener.
Vowing to resuscitate rock like a “phoenix,” it’s the perfect anthem to ignite anything. The song is driven and fervent with Stump’s violent wailing and a steadily compounding bass drum. If one wanted to start a riot for any reason, this would be your soundtrack. The video was pretty sick too.
A few years ago during his nadir years, Usher went searching for a reason to still be relevant musically post-Tamekagate. His quest led him to YouTube and a blue-eyed, bushy haired tween named Justin Beiber. Continue reading →
Cudi’s Indicud went highly unnoticed. For me his best work is still A Kid Named Cudi followed by his first LP. His venture as a less hip-hop act probably alienated most fans, but he still has a strong following. Here Scott flaunts his admiration for girls of all colors and sizes on a galactic-sized beat while Too Short adds the gutter as only he could. One to definitely experience at the highest of decibels.
Musically this year was…..strange. The most beloved R&B tracks came from a funkier shade of pale. Ciley Myrus wanted to twerk your heart out. And hip-hop became painstakingly whitewashed on the radio, charts and at award shows. While these foreign exchange students were fun to host for the first few months or so, they eventually overstayed their welcome: The20/20 Experience Part 2 tried too hard; Blurred Lines failed to produce anything else earworthy; and, The Heist was exactly that. Nevertheless, the illist90skd dipped and dodged these wolves in sheep clothing to find the real hiding in plain sight.
Contrary to popular belief, there was great music being curated that had nothing to do with the three W’s previously mentioned. Each day until Christmas I’ll highlight the top 25 that I found replaying over and over again. I’ll also hit you with my favorite albums and possibly music videos. They still make those right?