If anyone can get people to stop gushing over Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, it’s this guy.
Yes, Kendrick Lamar has finally released his 2nd single to promote his insanely anticipated follow up to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.
“You hate me don’t you?”
“You sabotaged my community, making a killing/you made me a killer”
“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015”
Certainly a far cry from his ode to self-love “i”, isn’t it? Kendrick sounds shot out of a cannon, fired up and furious but who is he mad at? He seems to takes shots at the record industry, hip-hop, government and the community he grew up in but his true target is revealed toward the end of the song -Kendrick is mostly taking shots at himself. Wait for that last line and try to decipher what it means. He just called himself a “hypocrite” for crying for Trayvon Martin when “gang bangin'” caused him to “kill a n**** blacker than me”.
That can’t be literal can it? Earlier in the song Kendrick warns of a confession but did he really just admit to murder?
Circa Survive have always been a band that I deeply admire, respect and spend a very selective amount of time with. Something about their sound chills me in a way that I am not always prepared to experience. The band’s debut album Juturna got me on the hook with the urgency and lyricism of tracks like Act Appalled and The Glorious Nosebleed. The entire album is a rich, haunting experience as is their follow-up record On Letting Go, which ramps up the dark themes by exploring depression, religion and suicide (Check out Living Together, In The Morning and Amazing and The Difference Between Medicine and Poison). I was on the hook and stayed with them for the next couple of albums (Blue Sky Noise, Violent Waves) which were great releases but had a distinctly different feeling than the first two albums- cleaner, less layered, more “produced”.
Circa Survive recently revealed a new cut off of their upcoming album “Descensus” that demonstrates a return to familiar territory. Only the Sun begins a slow climb before releasing the listener into waves of eerie layered riffs and soaring vocals from mastermind Anthony Green. “Turn this away, censor every word I say” Green croons as guitarist Colin Frangicetto steers the chaos of the song into another orbit, one that eventually ends in doubled vocals, echoed melodies and rapid fire percussion.
Only the Sun and the heavier, simpler-but-no-less-awesome Schema (released earlier this month) prove that Circa Survive has no shortage of ideas, no lack of divine skill and just as much heart and soul as they possessed over ten years ago.
If you fancy yourself an RPG fan and you haven’t played Final Fantasy VI yet, fix that immediately (also available on iOS and Wii Virtual Console). It’s easily the greatest Final Fantasy game and probably one of the greatest video games ever made. Why do you think it’s always compared to the other greatest RPG of all time? Final Fantasy VI has so many strong, powerful elements that set it above the rest. The world is incredibly vast, the 16-bit art is beautiful, the story is inspiring and the gameplay is layered and rich. Beyond this, the game boasts one of the most atmospheric and beautiful soundtracks of any Final Fantasy game. Even if you’ve never played it, you’ve probably heard the overworld music somewhere before.
So why not combine take this brilliantly-composed game about a ragtag, diverse group of fun characters and mash it up with another ragtag diverse group of fun characters? That’s exactly what 2 Mello thought when he decided to blend the Final Fantasy VI OST with some classic Wu-Tang Clan tracks on 3-6 Chambers (note- Final Fantasy VI was originally released under the name Final Fantasy III in the United States).
It’s been a few years since 2 Mello’s last mash-up album Chrono Jigga, an oddly addictive mash-up of Chrono Trigger music and Jay-Z classics. He’s come a long way. These mash-ups sound more inspired and carefully planned out than what we had on his last release. Figaro Kids for example, which combines Ghostface’s “Apollo Kids” and the Figaro Castle theme, feels perfectly melted together. Taking “Da Mystery of Shadow Boxin'” and Shadow’s theme may seem obvious but it adds a cool, creepy atmosphere to a song that I already knew by heart. Finally, make sure you at least hear “Escape” which takes advantage of the menacing urgency of Kefka’s theme song and …well just listen to it right here.
You’ve done it again 2 Mello. Maybe next time mash up Chrono Cross with Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor or Snoop’s Doggystyle album with Sonic 3 & Knuckles? Just a few suggestions from a fan whose interests fall within your 8 Diagrams.
On Monday Lupe Fiasco dropped the first official single to his new album Tetsuo & Youth (it’s Lupe, the Akira reference is intentional). Titled “Mission”, Lupe explores the journey and battle of dealing with cancer- not exactly comment territory for hip-hop. Opening with first-hand testimonials from cancer survivors, including singer Charlie Wilson (who also sings the hook), the song doesn’t hold back from dumping a bucket of cold water on the listener within it’s first moments. The song serves as both a battle cry for cancer patients struggling with their diagnosis and a wake-up call to the rest of the world- this killer isn’t going away until humanity silences it for good.
“She’s gonna live forever even though the doctors say she’ll only get a month“, Lupe spits with intensity reminiscent of 2007’s The Cool. “Yeah-seven-years-old-with-stage-four-this-what-champions-were-made-for“, he continues in the next verse, switching perspectives from a woman with breast cancer to a child with lymphoma.
“Mission” is a track to empower those facing cancer, revere cancer survivors and remember those who have passed to due to cancer related illnesses. With an inspiring introduction from various cancer survivors telling their story, anchored by legendary singer/songwriter and cancer survivor Charlie Wilson, “Mission” has Lupe Fiasco expressing stories of the emotional burden of cancer, while also working to uplift those in an effort to help fight the disease. In support of “Mission,” Lupe has joined Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a grassroots movement to raise funds to accelerate the pace of cancer research, as a celebrity ambassador. Together, Lupe and Stand Up To Cancer are planning various collaborations tied to the track that will be unveiled later this year. http://www.standup2cancer.org
Lupe closes the track with what seems to be an account of a husband and father facing death, reminding those who struggle with the disease to stay strong and fight back, no matter how bleak the diagnosis may be.
“Went undiagnosed and untreated
When they finally found it told ’em
It’s too far along and he couldn’t beat it
But he couldn’t see it
Miss me with that dead talk
Miss me, my legs walk
And my heart beats and my wife witness
So fuck cancer, my life with me
And if I died it’d die with me
Let’s do it.”
It’s no light subject and I can’t help but wonder how it will fare on the charts, but I truly appreciate the blunt and personal approach Lupe Fiasco takes to the issue.
I have personally seen cancer take someone close to me- a health-conscious and active man, an incredible father and husband who exhibited strength and bravery unlike anything I could have ever imagined. It can happen to absolutely anyone. Knowing that there are thousands of other men, women and children facing the same battle every single day is a scary and sobering thought that cannot be ignored.
I’m realize I’m only a geeky blogger here, but I want to urge anyone reading this to help these brave human-beings by making even a small donation at any of the websites listed below.
If you are between the ages of 20 and 45, watch anime or use the internet at all, you’ve probably been exposed to the latest anime craze sweeping the globe: Attack On Titan. Attack on Titan depicts a world which may or may not be post-apocalyptic, in which the remaining population of humanity are confined inside massive walls for fear of being devoured alive by freakishly blank-faced humanoid “titans”. The series pulls no punches and is guaranteed to disturb you on some level. Here’s a trailer if you’re curious.
Did I mention it’s on Netflix now? Yeah it’s on Netflix now.
This brings me to Shizzy Sixx, an aspiring rapper who likes to tackle various animated series and video games for his raps. Given the show’s massive popularity, it should come as no surprise that he picked ‘Attack On Titan’ as his latest subject.
As I said, Shizzy has covered a variety of geeky series and what’s more, the guy can actually rap. Really well. I want to give him a proper shout, I hope he starts getting more recognition soon. He deserves it.
The old “This came out 10 years ago, I feel old”. I see these posts on social networking sites often, usually on Reddit. I myself cannot claim innocence in this regard, as I tipped my hat to anime classic Cowboy Bebop just last month. It doesn’t matter now though, because it’s 2014 and I officially feel old. Why is that?
Because 1994 was the year that I fell in love with music.
Yep, 20 years ago.
Growing up I was fortunate enough to have my ears nurtured and groomed by Led Zepplin, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, The Beach Boys, Carol King and of course, The Beatles. It’s easy when you’re a kid. Your parents pop in their favorite record or cassette tape on a warm Saturday afternoon, you fall asleep to Mister Mister playing on some adult contemporary station in the backseat as your parent’s van as they drive you home from your friend’s house or maybe you had that fantastic little Fisher Price radio. You know the one…
Tell me you didn’t use this bad boy to sing Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step” at the top of your lungs, envisioning a crowd cheering for you.
…oh you didn’t? Yeah, no, neither did I…
1994 is when things changed for me however. I was heading into middle school, assembling my own rag-tag group of friends that looked like they were ripped out of an episode of Step By Step. Seriously, we had a “Cody”. Our “Cody” used to be the first one to exclaim “Dudes, have you heard this song?”. Which had us all clamoring to find our own music to obsess over and expose to the group. Mine was The Offspring’s Smash.
I’ll never forget the moment I first heard these guys. I was at a laser tag event for the Sunday school group my parents made me join. I despised that group of kids …in ways that I probably shouldn’t describe in a public essay that has my real name attached to it. This laser tag event was probably the only time I was actually happy to be part of the group- these impertinent upper-crust stiff-necks were about to get a taste of my angsty preteen fantasy-vengeance. I still remember all the kids stationed behind their recharge posts, the count-down clock ticking away as the room filled with mist from the dry ice machine. My back was against the wall, my chest tightened under the plastic scoreboard shield strapped around my body and the sweat started to bubble up from under my Darkwing Duck hat. Then I hear it…the rhythmic clinking drums, the subtle, sneaky guitar riff and suddenly-
I don’t remember who won or lost that night. It didn’t matter. That song was all I needed to throw myself into the battlefield like I was Carl Weathers in The Predator. I felt tougher. I had never heard anything like it and I wanted more. I fruitlessly begged my parents for days, until a relative finally snuck the album inside a shirt as part of a birthday present (thanks Aunt Lisa).
From that moment on it was non-stop. Green Day, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains. All of these were released in 1994 and they all still remain in my music collection. These were the albums that got me through middle school, inspired me to keep drawing and made me want to devour as much music as I possibly could. Dookie, Smash, The Blue Album got me obsessed with rock, and though I was a late bloomer, eventually Nas’s Illmatic and Gang Star’s Hard to Earn would play an integral role in my love and fascination with hip-hop.
More importantly, I was discovering this on my own. I was deciding for myself what I liked and how I wanted to spend my own money my parent’s money and gift cards.
Seriously, take a look at what came out that year.
Yes, these records are 20 years-old, but they played such an important role in my life that I feel more warm-nostalgia and less grumpy-“I’m aging too fast.” 1994 was a great year for music. It all holds up for me. Nas still sounds incredible when he flows over menacing piano plinks about the darker days of New York City on Illmatic. Tales of anger, boredom and lust spazzing through buzzing riffs on Green Day’s Dookie bring out a younger, rebellious voice.
So many songs from this era still blend in beautifully with my current playlists. I can easily transition from the gothic harmonies of Bone Thugs to Kendrick Lamar’s soulful re-collective story telling on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. Cake’s gloomy dry crooning on songs like Jolene ease pretty nicely into The Shins’…gloomy dry crooning. 311’s funked-out dance hall grooves still compliment any summer day just as naturally as Weezer’s sappy melodies blaring at a late night party will cause the room to start singing along.
Seriously, if this song comes on during a party and no one makes a horrid attempt to duet with Rivers, you’re hanging out with the wrong people.
But it all comes back to 1994 being the year that my world was blown open. I was exposed to a cavalcade of new ideas and sounds that excited me, causing me to branch from each artist into something new. Discovering Green Day made me curious about punk music, bringing me to learn about T.S.O.L. and the Buzzcocks. It also gave me a taste for speedy licks and heavy guitars, preparing my palette for anything from the Deftones to Queens of the Stone Age. On the same token, the bubbly melodic instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics of R.E.M. warmed my heart to welcome bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse. And I’ll definitely say that Nas and Biggie spawned my insatiable love for rap music…because I’m going to lie and pretend that it wasn’t Kris Kross.
It’s just amazing to me that when I listen to this stuff now it still brings forth many of the same feelings and sensations that I felt 20 years ago. That seem feeling I had when that I first heard the words “you gotta keep ’em separated”.
These records mean a lot to me, I feel they have truly aged well.
After many months of enthusiastic peer pressure, I have finally taken the plunge into Crosses (usually shown as †††). As a Deftones fan, and trust me I’ll be doing a piece on them too, I really should know better than to pass up any project that involves legendary frontman Chino Moreno.
Crosses is a band that Chino started up with childhood friend Shaun Lopez (Far) and Chuck Doom. The project had been split between two EPs over the past couple of years before Chino’s self-proclaimed “witch house” project was finally compiled into a full album with all new songs and released earlier this month.
The overall feel can best be described as a dark-yet-bubbly ode to dream pop and 80’s new-wave. One of the more prevalent tracks on the album, “The Epilogue”, tempts the listener with a promising Robert Smith-esque build up before plunging into a punchy hook that made me yearn for the earlier days of Head Automatica. A later, newer track “Bitches Brew”, crawls and climbs up a mountain of angst before soaring off into a crooning electrical storm of a chorus that sounds like it should be on the soundtrack for a new Spawn movie.
Finally, we have my personal favorite track, “Telepathy”. I won’t even bother to analyze it. Plug in those headphones and tell me you aren’t overcome by a warm rush of Depeche Mode nostalgia when those horn synths pour in.