Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Apr 4, 2013
Quasi-martial beats, druggy atmospheres, a subtle pop-hook and a brusque albeit tuneful delivery mark rapper Ados' strolling hip-hop groove.

Ados, a rising hip-hop star from Turkey, released his first proper commercial album Katarsis at the tail-end of 2012. A conscious effort to infuse a sturdy framework of robust beats with layers of tuneful harmonies, Katarsis also sees the rapper digging his way up to the open air of the mainstream from the underground where he toiled away for years, cultivating his own brand of indie aggro-hip-hop. Ados specializes in a kind of delivery that has him striking a curious balance between singing and rapping, flipping back and forth between vocal registers and riding a cool calm between a nuanced emotional cadence and a threatening swell of raging dramatics with an assured ease. It’s a defining feature that sets him apart from his contemporaries in Turkey’s underground hip-hop scene.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Mar 21, 2013
Caso Perso's day-glo Italian-rap "Passo Falso" is a nod toward the bling of American hip-hop, equal parts homage and pastiche.

In the rising flood of young Italian rappers taking grabs at microphones and samplers in a bid to exercise all that restless energy, comes Caso Perso (real name Alessio Saioni). At a mere 22 years old, the rapper betrays the tell-tale signs of a young musician just learning the ropes of his art and succeeding on the strength of sheer will and positivity (despite his moniker, which means “Lost Case”). It’s got to be the bottled charisma he keeps sipping on because our Italian here has enough charm to float a boatload of MCs. Caso Perso’s appeal lies not in his delivery (which is tight and fluid, nonetheless) but in his can-do-anything attitude, which adds a vibrant colour to the routine proceedings seen here in this video.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Feb 21, 2013
Stina Nordenstam's chilly examination of soured love evokes the austerity and drama of an Ingmar Bergman film on "Another Story Girl", a cut from her underappreciated debut, Memories of a Color.

Stina Nordenstam was never going to be a household name. But the highly reclusive Swedish songstress carved a niche for herself so distinctive, she made an art out of art-pop-obscurity. Much of Nordenstam’s power lies not in what is revealed through her music, but what she keeps private, highly guarded and ultimately hidden from the listener. Memories of a Color was a highly notable debut when the album was released in the singer’s homeland of Sweden, but it failed to make a dent or impression at the time in the North American market. Nordenstam has since dismissed the album as being misrepresentative of her art and, therefore, inessential. But Color managed to capture the sweeping mythology of the cold Swedish winters of despair. An album that explored the psychological desolation of a young woman teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown, it soon gained a following once Nordenstam hit paydirt with her follow-up, And She Closed Her Eyes, a far more realized effort that pared back the grander arrangements of her debut for a purely minimalist approach. Color, however, offered up some of the Swede’s most cinematic and unusual studies in pop music, sketching out chamber dramas of dismal love-stories worthy of Bergman and Sjöman.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013
Hannah Marcus' "Hairdresser in Taos" is a gorgeous slice of gothic Americana, a mesmerizing relic from her sadly overlooked album, Desert Farmers, released a decade back.

Hannah Marcus’ sorely underrated album, Desert Farmers, yielded a spectacular number called “Hairdresser in Taos”, a nightmarish tune that majestically unfurls to reveal a harsh soundscape of bitter blues and scorched jazz. In the artful mess is a surreal and hallucinatory tale of a drug-addict and his jaded, disillusioned girlfriend setting out across the deserts of New Mexico. Along the way the drug-addict is dropped off and the girlfriend tails a mysterious hairdresser back to his house where she is given a dye-job. At this point, the song takes an eerie, almost sinister turn and Marcus’ unsettling recount that he “stuck my head in the sink and he put red dye all over my hair / and when I sat up it ran into my eyes and I looked in the mirror and I started to cry” is enough to turn the vertebrae to ice. From the moment she flees the house, the panic in the song peaks to a feverish pitch and the sprawling, atmospheric beauty of her nine-minute opus truly blossoms into the masterful study on modern Americana that it is. You don’t just hear this sort of music, you experience it.



Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013
Recalling the controversy-courting diatribes of M.I.A, Vardar makes an offering with an at once unnerving, darkly satirical, offensive, splashy and downright fun tune.

Vardar’s first musical outing, a 2008 underground album entitled Piyasanın adamıyım, Piyasaya karşıyım, didn’t generate the kind of response he had hoped for, but it did help him to cut his teeth on the mechanisms of putting an album together.  In between composing radio jingles and music for short films, the rapper would take time to regroup and rethink his approach for the far more mature, daring and brazen work that would become Kötü Adam, his first proper commercial debut. Enlisting in the help of some key collaborators (Sinan Ceceli, Serkan Hökenek, Cüneyt Tatlıcı, respectively), Vardar would create a combustible blend of hip-hop and electronica that would melt speakers and rattle ribcages in Lamborghinis and nightclubs all over Turkey. Encompassing both the jetsetter cool reflected in the smooth, diamond-cut beats and the swagger and slang of an urban ghetto, Kötü Adam finds a musical counterpoint of shine and grime. Silver-tongued and sharp-witted rhymes are meted out with force as the rapper covers topics of love, hate, sex and violence in a city of cultural upheaval and harmony.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.