Death jostled our usual holiday traditions, so my family spent last Thanksgiving with friends in Hastings-on-Hudson. I was seated at the kids’ table, millennials edition, which naturally meant an hour-long tangle of a conversation about Kanye West. I announced that I think of Kanye as a musical genius, but added that he struck me as something of a megalomaniac, given his remark to the Times, “I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus." The young man sitting beside me, lanky and exquisite and recently out of Middlebury, took umbrage. Kanye, he insisted, spoke publicly about feeling barred from the highest level of our cultural [...]
"There are more contradictions on 'New Slaves,' where he says 'Fuck you and your Hamptons house.' But God only knows how much he's spending wherever he is. He's trying to have it both ways — he's the upstart but he's got it all, so he frowns on it. Some people might say that makes him complicated, but it's not really that complicated. He kind of wants to retain his street cred even though he got so popular. And I think he thinks people are going to think he's become one of them — so he's going to very great lengths to claim that he's not. On 'New Slaves,' he's accusing [...]
Kanye West has spent the weeks leading up to the release of "Yeezus" demanding the world consider and respond to his new material and also insisting he doesn't care what any of us thinks of it. We might be surprised by this seemingly paradoxical position, if it wasn't such a familiar stance.
One notable antecedent for this conflict is Franz Kafka, for whom the relationship between artist and audience was a particularly knotty issue—and who memorably explored the relationship in his short story "Ein Hungerkünstler" ("A Hunger Artist"). Although Kafka stipulated that almost his entire body of work be destroyed upon his death, this short story was one of [...]
"I was a little hesitant at first to be involved with the theme song for Skyfall. There's a lot of instant spotlight and pressure when it comes to a Bond song." —Adele's right. The pressure's on. (And not just instant spotlight, very often a James Bond theme ends up in the crosshairs of a Luger or Barreta!) Living up to the likes of Carly Simon, or Shirley Bassey, or Paul McCartney, or Sheena Easton or Duran Duran? Adele's got her work cut out for her. Come Friday, when her new single, the title track from Skyfall comes out, we'll know how she did. (Whoops! BREAKING: We know [...]
I love rap and I think it's really good right now. I mean, to the extent that we can assess a type of art in the present tense, which I think is not very much, because of the not-being-able-to-see-a-forest-for-the-trees thing. We get a better gauge with ten or twenty years' perspective. But between El-P and Killer Mike, and A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown, and Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, and Meek Mill and Gunplay and the enormous Maybach Music beats, and the thing where Kanye West just keeps making undeniably excellent, important music: eight straight strong years, six straight great albums. (I don't know of any other rap artist [...]
At this point, it's hard to imagine what's making Kanye West sound so cranky. The fact that his mink coat is dragging on the floor, I guess? Or that a beautiful woman he summoned to his hotel room arrived wearing underpants? Maybe it's just that he has a head cold. You're all stuffed up, sore throat, sinus pressure. That'll put anybody in a rotten mood. Whatever it is, for the music's sake, here's hoping he doesn't cheer up. 'Cause this song, which debuted on Funkmaster Flex's show on Hot97 just last night, sounds great.
The idea that there is an appropriate subject for a Vogue cover is a concept that Vogue invented. The years and years of white, able-bodied, skinny and young models and actresses have trained us to instinctively notice what is and isn't Vogue. There is the occasional diversion if the Academy Awards/Grammys/culture demands; but often when Vogue puts aside its insistence that only one kind of beauty exists in order to recognize a different kind of beauty, they do something worse, like the LeBron James cover with Gisele, which was maybe not an overtly racist decision, but certainly an editorial decision that reflected implicitly racist beliefs about the way a [...]
"Yeezus," the new and almost pathologically anticipated Kanye West album, was leaked online two weeks ago and then, probably out of custom, released legally last week. Upon first listen it reminded me of Nine Inch Nails, Death Grips, and my dad—but not because West now has a two-week-old child with girlfriend Kim Kardashian.
When my father was in undergrad at a small HBCU in the Midwest, he joined the storied black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. Fraternity chapters, despite their ethnic and regional differences, will nevertheless always share some DNA, and so it shouldn't surprise you that my dad's frat was big on giving people nicknames. Some brothers were called things [...]
Kanye West and J. Cole have a new found similarity: June 18th. After confirming Mr. West will release his sixth studio album "Yeezus" on June 18th, Cole decided to push up the release of "Born Sinner," his sophomore album. And the young artist may be building a bit of competition for Mr. West. Yesterday Cole released the third single from his album, "N***az Know," and the lyrical demeanor of the single is flawless.
Cole is right. Mr. West is one of the greatest. The man cannot be ignored. He has 21 Grammys and five platinum albums and Cole is displaying immense confidence to even go up against that. [...]
On his new song "Mercy," Kanye West says that he put suicide doors on his private jet, and that's how we know he's "fly to death." But Kanye's dance troupe flies coach, and his choreographer Yemi AD filmed them doing the ballet routine they'd developed for the song "Runaway"—on an airplane flight during this year's Australian tour. The other passengers look like they don't quite know what to do. Especially the poor guy who picked the wrong time to get up and go to the bathroom.
Critics would say that it might be unclear which side of the police barricades Jay-Z and Kanye would be on if the uprising depicted duo in their new video, filmed in Prague by director Romain Gavras, were in fact to take place. They call themselves "The Throne," after all. I'm just disappointed that the elephant doesn't get more screen time. People who slammed this album when it came out (silly people who listen to music with their sense of socio-economic justice instead of their ears) will be disappointed to learn that a sequel is in the works. It will be called Watch the Throne 2: Repeal The [...]
As is often the case with a hit rap song, lots of people have been putting remix verses over the beat Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis made for Jay-Z and Kanye West's smash "Ni**as In Paris." Everyone from T.I. to Chris Brown to Young Jeezy to Busta Rhymes to Aziz Ansari to a now-famous guy on the subway have taken the tune and making something new. This, though, is the best by far. Yasiin Bey, the rapper formerly known as Mos Def, flips the original's flaunting of wealth into a trenchant commentary on poverty.
My question is a simple and boring one: How do I find love? And, more importantly, how to I cultivate self-esteem? I'm in my late 20's, and I tend to get into relationships with dudes that are only half interested in me, and then I badger them to death about their half-assed interest until the relationship slowly dies. What I want most, MOST, in the world is a happy family. Children that I feel joy with. A genuinely happy marriage that lasts until I kick the goddamn bucket. I grew up with very unhappy, miserable parents that immigrated to the states, and I don't even know what to look [...]
"When scientific learning began to eclipse religion as the more reliable explainer of the mysteries of life, our view of the world flattened out—we went from looking to the sky for answers, to looking here on earth. In the absence of divine authority, our perspective, individual human perspective, became as important as anything else. Picasso was able to see this, with his crazy giant eyes, more clearly than other people. And so began to paint the world exactly as he saw it—as a collection of two-dimensional geometric shapes, like planes of broken glass, splintered and warped and shifting with the viewer’s relative position to the object in sight. The world, [...]
Here is a good new rap song from Pusha T of the Virginian duo Clipse, and more recently, Kanye West's Good Music collective. It has a guest verse from Rick Ross on it, which I think neither adds nor detracts from its quality. The best part is the beat, made by Kanye and 24-year-old Atlantan producer Southside—despite the fact that it might remind you of Europe's "The Final Countdown."
"You take a song wit Jay n Kanye on it n you add Big Sean to that shit…thats like takin Wagyu steak witta side of truffles n you splash some A-1 sauce on that muthafucka namsayin. That nigga Big Sean is a condiment b. The nigga is ketchup nahmean. Son aint even on the menu namsayin. You dont go to ANY restaurant n see ketchup on the menu b. Not even cheap ass spots like Burger King got ketchup on the menu…that shit aint a item on the menu. At a nice restaurant they jus be throwin that shit there on the table sometimes like 'yo…if you a uncultured lowlife [...]
Exquisitely timed to coincide with yesterday's announcement that scientists at the Cern Large Hadron Collider in Geneva had finally identified the elusive subatomic Higgs Boson particle—which is thought to be the key to differentiating matter from non-matter, and so therefore responsible for everything in the universe—Kanye West and Pusha T released a fittingly amazing new record called "New God Flow." It samples a snippet from Ghostface Killah's 2001 "Mighty Healthy," on which Ghost re-interpolates a rhyme Sir Ibu rapped on "Divine Force's" 1987 nugget "Holy War." Coming on the heels of Pusha T's recent and bone-chilling Drake diss, "Exodus 23:1," it definitely evidences Kanye's [...]
I’ve been obsessed with the idea of identifying critical moments in popular songs for a long time, but have been struggling with defending what that exactly means. One friend dismissed my ever-growing playlist of songs with identifiable pinnacles of brilliance as just “good songwriting.” I tried to tell her that, no, wait, good songwriting is one thing, but being able to completely change the composition of a song, the whole understanding of the joy that a song can bring, in one critical moment, is not just good songwriting, it’s genius. Nor was I talking about anything as simple as climax and release. As was found with Adele’s “Someone [...]