Archive for the ‘Kanye West’ tag
Consequence’s “Cut That Out” cuts right in without any warning, and the spontaneous intro suits the track well. Consequence’s verses are delivered with playful bombast, barely taking a moment for respite before the R&B chorus kicks in. This track, off of J. Period and & Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music (Remixed & Unreleased) mixtape, combines an exotically minor-keyed soul beat with excited lyrics about a romance on the verge of beginning – or totally collapsing.
Jayceon Terrell Taylor a.k.a. The Game hasn’t been in the starting rotation since his 2005 debut The Documentary. As an original member of 50 Cent’s G-Unit crew, it was no surprise The Documentary went 2x platinum – the Compton-bred Blood had plenty of help from 50, Eminem, the late Nate Dogg, and Mary J. Blige (most importantly, Dr. Dre produced the album). Back then, his music was revitalizing West Coast gangsta rap, his flow was fresh, and he had all of Aftermath Entertainment behind him. For nearly a decade, Game has ridden the coattails of his former success, painfully forcing out an album every two years, but his new release Jesus Piece shows bits of promise. Unfortunately anything worthwhile off Jesus Piece has little to do with the rapper who used to “take all the credit for putting the West back on the map.”
Jesus Piece is a significant stylistic departure from The Game’s previous work. The record is light-hearted compared to albums like LAX and The Documentary, with less writing about crack cocaine, murder, and Compton life. Instead of recording with thugs like 50 and Nate Dogg, he’s in the booth with thoughtful performers like Kendrick Lemar and Common. Kanye teases us by slapping his name on “Jesus Piece” but only groans a few half-assed “hanhs” before ditching Common and Game.
The LP’s lineup is stacked with other big names: Young Jeezy, Wiz Kahlifa, 2 Chainz, and Rick Ross. Unfortunately, The Game is so out of touch with hip-hop at this point; no one can save the record. Kendrick Lamar crushes “See No Evil” and “Hallelujah” featuring Jamie Foxx is reminiscent of Kayne’s early work. It’s also the only track where The Game really catches his old flow and delivers. Cool & Dre’s production outshines everyone on “All That (Lady)” a filthy, uncreative toast to pussy, lead by the King of Snatch-referencing, Weezy F. Baby. The Game’s entire career can be summed up on the album’s hottest track “Ali Bomaye,” where Black Metaphor’s genius production work lays The Game’s tired, useless flow flat on its back.
Jesus Piece is The Game’s first noteworthy record since 2005. It’s shamelessly packed with big names but somehow still out of touch with today’s hip-hop. The fact that Chris Brown leads the album’s only single “Celebration” is a testament to how soft (or desperate) The Game has become. The glory days of G-Unit, West Coast hardcore, and gangsta rap are long over. Even with the monumental help Game receives on Jesus Piece, he’s still unable to get back in touch with what made him interesting in the first place – being homies with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Hate it or love it, Jesus Piece is the same brazen, dismissible music we’ve come to expect from The Game since The Documentary.
From the day I heard RZA was directing a Kung Fu film with Quentin Tarantino having a hand in it, I went bonkers. And then I saw the tracklisting for the soundtrack and I lost it. I was lucky enough to attend a private screening of the film,The Man with the Iron Fists, and it was visually stunning and had a great plot. The storytelling was a bit lacking but the main points were presented in an entertaining manner. The most impressive aspect of it was how the movie preserved elements of older Kung Fu films and still had a modern feel to it, mainly due to the soundtrack.
Although it’s tough to separate RZA’s sound from Quentin Tarantino’s sound from other films since RZA helped with those soundtracks, you get the same grungy, almost dark, slow but steady and anxious overarching theme throughout. In other words, it’s a very cohesive project. Of course there are the tracks that show how tough the emcees are (“Black Out,” “Rivers of Blood,” “The Archer”), but there are also tracks about redemption of love (“White Dress”), forgiveness (“I Forgot to be Your Lover*”), and heavy sorrow (“Chains”). Talib Kweli also spits a couple of the doper verses I’ve heard about love and making love, and that includes RnB, on “Get Your Way (Sex As a Weapon).” One example is, “If necessity is the mother of invention/then lust is the father of innovation/they got together and erased the nation/birth of civilization/first it hurt then it was amazing.” And tracks like “Green is the Mountain” and “Your Good Thing (Is About to End),” are nice breaks between the raw lyricism.
Beset with the expected release date delays and rumors, G.O.O.D. Music’s debut compilation album finally arrived before the autumnal equinox. And Cruel Summer did not disappoint. Considering the perfectionist and genius that Kanye West is, the project is a cohesive and and forward thinking one. It is cohesive in the sense that if you translated all of the themes of the tracks, based on the production and lyrics, into colors and put them on a color scale, they would all range from dark gray to light gray. The production is heavy with breathing moments and the lyrics are visceral, not too hood or glamorous. It is forward thinking mainly because of the production. Kanye continues to use beats that blend live instruments and engineered ones. But the one thing to keep in mind when you listen to this album is that it is a compilation album of various artists on one label, and not just one artist. And Mr. West makes it clear that he is the general of the G.O.O.D. Music army.
Yes, we’ve heard about half of the album before it dropped. But we didn’t hear them as part of the larger context of the whole album. The album is supposedly a soundtrack to Kanye’s movie he directed, produced, and wrote, Cruel Summer. Although I haven’t seen the film, I can tell based off of the overall feel of the album, from track to track, that it is supposed to be heard from start to finish without interruption or skipping. R.Kelly and Teyana Taylor open up the album with a “F*ck You to the Haters” anthem, as Kanye gives you heads up that the album is a “ghetto opera.” It then leads to what I like to see as the G.O.O.D. Music theme song, “Clique,” regardless if it only has two of the label’s artists and Jay-Z. The other real standout track for me was “Bliss.” It’s a futuristic love song done in the right way. Hudson Mohawke provides a perfect audio backdrop for Teyana Taylor and John Legend to sing their hearts out.
Released just yesterday, “New God Flow” is the new collaboration between Kanye West and Pusha T. Slightly somber and quite melodramtic, the song features a trance-inducing piano background that frames Kanye’s and Pusha’s anthemic verses. Pusha opens the track with the epic declaration of, “I believe there’s a God above me/I’m just the god of everything else.” Kanye has already proven that he can tackle the giant subject of spirituality (“Jesus Walks”), but he doesn’t even make his appearance until verse 3, although it’s definitely worth the wait. These two work together nicely, and “New God Flow” is a good prelude to Kanye’s upcoming G.O.O.D. music group album.
DJ, remixer, and producer Griz hails from mid-Michigan, outside Detroit, and he’s been releasing dubstep-infused remixes of pop songs, as well as some killer original mixes. His latest track is a remix of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” For my part I consider Griz to be one of the best in the business at bringing out dubstep’s bombastic side while – unlike, frankly, most producers that use wobble – keeping it on the good side of “noise.” His remix of “Monster” is even harder.
His original tracks are even better in some ways – Griz has a tendency to set up his music with an almost orchestral narrative. “Goof Troop” is particularly effective in this sense. Make sure you let it build.
This one’s my favorite of the bunch:
Fundamentally, if you’re listening to Kanye West, you’re kind of already listening to a remix – most of the man’s music is re-edited, pre-released soul tracks, cut up to sate whatever sugary taste the public craves. That said, there are those who would dare to re-re-mix the tracks Kanye has sampled. That is, they remix his songs. A second second take on the originals, if you will.
Of course, the flavors of West remixes know no bounds. We’ll just tackle a few tracks here – there are too many to do a comprehensive take in one post. We’ll start with (at least according to SoundCloud) one of his own remixes, this one of “Alors On Dance,” by Stromae. Aside from the usual boasting about the poon he seems to swim in (“Russian Models” are this song’s target”), this one’s actually pretty good. I wish he remixed more songs, to be honest. But, again, I guess his own tracks are kind of remixes in and of themselves.
Ratatat deserves the credit on this next one. Their version of “Get Em High” is probably my favorite. In particular, I love the background groove.
And now let’s move on to the obigatory dubstep & house section – there are, as you might expect, more remixes in that genre than any other. (As a rule, there tend to be four house / dubstep remixes on Soundcloud for every non-house remix – and yes, I’m lumping the two together… dubstep is largely house but with deep gurgling sounds.) These are the three I could not only stomach, but enjoy.
I didn’t care too much for Heartbreak & 808s, but I respected his desire to go in a different direction. This dubstep version fits in nicely with the original.
Normally I would never even consider endorsing his rap on Katy Perry’s “E.T.” – his talents are, shall we say, better spent elsewhere – but this hard rock guitar laden remix, courtesy of Suruki, is great. I just pretend his verse doesn’t exist and the music is all that’s there.
And “Niggas In Paris” was weird enough that this goes along nicely with the first version.
We’ll end with Adam Edinburgh’s remix of “Get Em High.” It bumps just as good – if not better – than the original. It’s crazy, over-populated, and fun.