Meryl Streep’s devilish turn as a high-fashion editor has got nothing on the real thing: Vogue’s Anna Wintour guides us through just what it takes to produce the magazine’s famed September issue, from which the film takes its title.
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San Francisco and Oakland gansta artists put their beefs aside for 19 tracks as rappers Quincy Brooks IV (aka San Quinn) and Charles Bowens (aka Keak Da Sneak) team up for Welcome to Scokland. Led by rapper Keak Da Sneak’s scruffy flow over a bouncing, synth-based hyphy sonic—the same one that gave Bay Area hip-hop a renaissance in the early 2000’s—the two stalwarts craft an album rooted in west coast rap and drenched in layers of g-funk rhythms and beats.
With a lot filler mixed in between solid tracks, the Scokland collaboration mashes chopped and screwed, southern crunk, dirty south, and hyphy click machines. The weaknesses show up when the catchy hooks fall flat and lack originality to stand alone amongst the silly pimp rhymes that tout the usual strippers, dealers, and dismissible street slang.
But the brighter moments stand out when Bowen and Brooks try their best to qualm the tensions between the rival Bay cities. On the heartfelt hometown R&B and soul anthem “Back to Life”, they both have their shining moments and flex their emotional vulnerability, showing their capability to tell compelling and honest street stories that manage to overpower the trite rhymes that came before it.
A classic Pink Floyd track gets an inner city re-skinning on ghetto ballad “Comfortably Numb”. Keak Da Sneak tells a sad street story full of struggles with race wars and poverty. He lets you feel the pain and see his tears flowing down, beautifully breaking down the wall of gangster posturing present elsewhere on an album that’s decent but unbalanced.
On “Stillness Is the Move”—maybe the best song in the Dirty Projectors’ catalog, period—Dave Longstreth laces the track with his intricate spider web of guitar notes, while Amber Coffman turns in some stunning vocals, and paints herself as a rangy torch singer.—Matthew Fiander
The Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
Releasing: 21 July 2009 (US) / 24 August 2009 (UK)
01 I’m Going Away
02 Drive to Dallas
03 The End Is Near
04 Charmaine Champagne
05 Cut the Cake
06 Even in the Rain
07 Staring at the Steeple
08 Ray Bouvier
09 Keep Me in the Dark
10 Lost at Sea
11 Cups and Punches
12 Take Me Round Again
The Fiery Furnaces
“The End Is Near” [MP3]
Regina Spektor is making the rounds promoting her new album Far that dropped last week and is aiming for mainstream music success.
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