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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
The Busta Rhymes-aided "Swagger Wagon" advertisement is getting all sorts of negative attention for Toyota. Yet is it racist, or just typifying an emerging trend of cultural insensitivity?

Toyota has been blasting out a lot of videos on its YouTube channel to promote its forthcoming 2015 Sienna, all in an attempt to try and make a good solid viral campaign, going with everything from fathers having conversations/getting pep talks from the vehicle to kids pretending they’re in their own action movie. It’s actually a nice way to kind of “road test” (forgive the puns) ads to see what reaction is before buying slots from advertisers, which costs far more money than actually making the clips themselves.


Yet no one is talking about those previously-mentioned ads at the moment. Right now, everyone is talking about the “Swagger Wagon” ... and if the entire video is actually racist.


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Thursday, Mar 20, 2014
Ted Gioia's piece "Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting" spread like wildfire, and Jody Rosen's response was equally compelling. While the debate rages on, these two critical titans are highlighting a changing of the critical guard that is happening slowly and begrudgingly.

If you somehow didn’t know Ted Gioia’s name before his article on the Daily Beast, “Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting”, started spreading around like wildfire, then you most assuredly do now.


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Thursday, Nov 21, 2013
Many genres collided in the pop realm in 2013, and the result (mostly) sounded great.

If you really think about it, pop music is the greatest genre of music. It includes and incorporates every form of music imaginable. Pop can be rock, R&B, country, electronic, bubblegum, adult-contemporary, and more. Sometimes it can even be all of these things in the same song.


Pop often gets a bad name, however. One of the genre’s most-talked-about artists recently is the ever-increasingly desperate-for-attention Miley Cyrus. In the midst of releasing weak dance/rap numbers filled with drug references, she actually released a halfway decent song. Unfortunately, people will mostly remember “Wrecking Ball” for its meaninglessly vulgar music video instead of its emotional intensity. Similarly, her MTV VMA cohort Robin Thicke released one of the best selling albums of the year, despite claims that it plagiarized Marvin Gaye.


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Thursday, Sep 19, 2013
Music is first and foremost a very real and easily identifiable source of extreme pleasure. It’s also a vehicle, something I use to help me get around in life.

Question: What’s it all about?
Answer: I don’t know.
But I do know a few things.
I know some of the things that make me tick.


While my weapons of choice remain pen and paper, I would still say that music has always been the central element of my existence. Or the elemental center. Writing is a compulsion, a hobby, a skill, a craft, an obsession, a mystery, and at times a burden. Music simply is. For just about anyone, all you need is an ear (or two); then it can work its magic. But, as many people come to realize, if you approach it with your mind and your heart, it’s capable of making you aware of other worlds, it can help you achieve the satisfaction material possessions are intended to inspire, it will help you feel the feelings drugs are designed to approximate. Et cetera.


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Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013
After a week of listening to, reading about, and thinking about Kanye West's Yeezus, we take stock of where we are.

On Yeezus, Kanye West sets out to be an equal-opportunity offender. Over the first week of official listening and reacting to it, the Internet seems to be awakening to this fact, as reviews describe the lyrics as everything from carelessly thrown-together to profoundly self-aware, stopping along the way to note the racism, misogyny, and determined cruelty toward pretty much every group, community, and culture. Advocacy groups for Parkinson’s began the official outcry against the album on June 20th, two days after the album’s official release, though the broader Internet had been decrying the record’s misogyny since its initial leak.


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