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by Alex Suskind

16 Feb 2010


Check out the new music video for Erykah Badu’s newest single, “Jump Up in the Air (Stay There)” featuring the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” Lil Wayne. Accompanied by a deep shade of purple, this psychedelic video presents a kaleidoscope vision of Badu and Weezy. It is truly a sight. Surprisingly, this song will not appear on Erykah’s upcoming album, New Amerykah Part II: Return of Ankh.

by Terry Sawyer

16 Feb 2010


People place a log of baggage and lazy description in the word “old school” in hip-hop. It’s a way to insult someone’s credibility, make a crude comparison or simply use free hand for “the way I imagine my youth”. I prefer to emphasize old school as the feeing you get when an MC does something spectacular from what falsely appears to be simplicity. Ra the MC Ra the MC has a double dutching tongue and fierce, self-assured charisma that emanates from the quick upper cuts of her flow. While the sample in “Lost Ones” is from Lauren Hill’s song of the same name, the reconstruction here conceives the song in curt knots of piano and percussion that booms and clatters, less backdrop and more of an announcement of Ra’s prowess. So few female MCs can manage to pull off hard feminity without resorting to overt violence, myna-masculinity or the suggestion of sexual accessibility. Ra brushes off roles with vison and earned bombast: she’s all defense and verbal ratatat layed out in checkmate architecture. 
 
I admit that I have a weakness for the neighborhood tour video, a beautiful reminder that the best video interpretations of a song are those that engage with its context, its era, its scene, its source of passion. In this scan and span movements of the video there’s more life, verve, and sync with the song than there would be on a shoot filled with Aston Martins, champagne bottles and women synced in ass shake. Perhaps I’d rather have fantasies that simply magnify the real rather than simulate the discredited fantasies of money and the regal isolation of fame. In hip-hop, confidence can quickly morph into the despotism of the narcissist (Diagnosis: Kanye). Ra brims with seductive energy that doesn’t have to be amped up or tricked out in futuristic hooker garb. It’s hard to find easy touchstones for the way she shifts from hard dense lyrical cuts into easy, torn open, singing. A few obvious trendsetters come to mind: Bahamadia’s zen frame of phrase, Rah Digga’s weaponized delivery and even Jean Grae’s cagey intellectual poetry. This D.C. up and comer has few peers to stand in the way of her becoming a defining force among the new faces of hip-hop.

by Jonas Jacobs

15 Feb 2010


Today was the best Valentine’s Day ever. I worked a weekend shift at Edible Arrangements to make some extra cash. Edible Arrangements makes flower bouquets out of fruit. All of the flowers are made in the store, in case you were wondering…

I got to work at eight in the morning, collected my jobs and left the store to make deliveries around Los Angeles. It was unseasonably warm with joyously clear skies, a great day to drive around with the windows down and listen to your music really loud. I had to keep the arrangements frigid, them being perishable and all. So, unfortunately, I was driving around with the AC full blast and I’m not a fan of AC. 

Either way, I had my music. And even though I was alone, each delivery promised a new and exciting encounter with a customer as well. Once I was done with each round of deliveries and all of the fruit bouquets were dropped off, I turned off the AC and rolled down the windows for some glorious music listening fun. I selected Manu Chau’s “Clandestino” from the iPod section of my iPhone, and engaged the Genius feature. Throughout the day, I simply hit “Refresh” and a newly shuffled, slightly altered playlist would commence again. Below, a sampling from the soundtrack of the day…

 

by Crispin Kott

13 Feb 2010


During last night’s interminably long opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics, the b-list remake of a song that wasn’t terribly good 25 years ago received its official premiere. For those of us who ordinarily derive pleasure from being sarcastic and pseudo-witty about popular culture, the group assembled to perform this song is almost too good to be true. But when the cause is so seemingly worthy, is it still okay to chortle when Celine Dion hyper-emotes? Is it wrong for me to titter when even Jamie Foxx doesn’t look like he can believe how earnest he’s trying to appear in his introduction? Does Justin Bieber really sound like that? Vince Vaughn? Seriously? Haven’t the people of Haiti suffered enough?

This is no knock on the cause, which has seen an outpouring of support for a country that even before being leveled by a massive earthquake last month was in dire conditions. But haven’t everyday people like you and me already made up our minds about donating money/goods/time by this point? Does the ghost of Michael Jackson really have any pull in this matter?

Is it gauche to criticize the song itself for being underwritten and overstuffed given its intended purpose both then and now was to garner humanitarian support? Can we still blame Bob Geldof for any of this?

by Jennifer Cooke

13 Feb 2010


Iconic British fashion designer Alexander McQueen died 11 February 2010. His incredible creativity and vision made him a favorite in rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the inception of his career. His collaboration with Björk produced the cover of her 1997 album Homogenic, and he also directed the video for the song “Alarm Call”. It’s bizarre and off-kilter and wonderful and visually stunning, like everything that Alexander McQueen created. His loss will be felt far beyond the realms of the fashion industry.

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