Archives for category: Music Videos

A couple months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who spent a good portion of her life living in The Ukraine. Due to some weird need I have to try and hear as much music as humanly possible, I asked her to send me some popular Ukrainian music. Much to my surprise and eventual misery, she sent me a rap song. Though it’s not in humanity’s best interests for anyone to have to see this, I’m going to post it here to provide some reference.

 

In recent times, I’ve tried my best to reserve judgement on other peoples’ music tastes. Partly because I want to seem less douchey/elitist, but mostly because I lost that right when I started listening to Waka Flocka Flame unironically. In the case of this particular song however, I am going to make an exception. If you like this song, you are objectively a horrible person. I hope all your electronic products have terrible battery lives and I hope your shoelaces are always wet. Full disclosure; I have no idea what this song is about because I don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian. In fact, I don’t even know if the song is sung in Ukrainian or Russian. I’m making all of my judgements strictly off of the music video. Note to self: Be less ignorant.

Anyways, watching this music video got me to thinking. These Ukrainian artists haven’t developed this view of hip-hop arbitrarily. They didn’t just wake up one day and say “We should put a bulldozer filled with money in our music video….Yeah, that’d be crazy. Then we can get a woman to rub the money on her titties” Even if it were satire, it’s badly written and painfully obvious. But this perception of hip hop has to have come from somewhere. Unfortunately, the painful realization is that this view must have come from hip-hop in North America. Is this what hip-hop looks like to foreigners? Do these guys look at Rick Ross and not realize that he’s playing a character? Separated from the context of the culture, it just seems cheesy and obnoxious. But then again, how relevant is hip-hop culture to a guy like Rick Ross? Most hip-hop was born of a very distinct culture. The black experience in America, being marginalized, the necessity to compete for survival, the feeling of succeeding when you’re constantly at a disadvantage; A desire to channel all these experiences artistically was the conception of hip-hop. When a rapper talked about how much money he had, it wasn’t because he wanted to brag. Rather, it was because he was overcome with joy at the fact that he was able to succeed in a world where he wasn’t supposed to. When a rapper then rapped about how much more money he had than you, it wasn’t because he wanted to rub it in your face, it was because life had always taught him that you must compete to survive. Again, full disclosure: I’m a 21 year old, suburban, Canadian kid of Indian descent talking about hip-hop culture. Take all of this with about 20 grains of salt. To be clear, I’m not saying that these things don’t still exist in America. Of course they do. But, are they as relevant to Rick Ross as they were to Ice T? Is it possible that the culture has been diluted over the years? I mean, the mere fact that I love hip-hop and I can relate to zero of those experiences must say something. I can recall a day when I was listening to the song “Clap” by Saigon and jamming along to the part that says “Clap your hands if you’re tired of hearing gunshots” when I realized that I’ve never heard a single gunshot. Unless you count white people racistly imitating Jamaicans and going “boop boop boop” …which I don’t think you can. So, this must speak to the fact that hip hop is no longer strictly about that culture. Like everything else in popular culture, once hip-hop became successful, people decided they’d capitalize off of its success. Many people who hadn’t lived the hip-hop culture decided they’d try to emulate it. This is how you get people like Mac Miller, an upper-middle class Jewish guy, rapping about how much money he has. Or Rick Ross, a documented former correctional officer, talking about selling kilos of cocaine. I’m sure their intentions aren’t to make a perversion of hip-hop culture, but in essence, this is what they are doing. But can they be blamed? It’s not like they’re the first people to do this. They’re simply following people who have done the same things in the past.

And so, finally, I’m getting around to my point. The caricaturization of hip-hop; why those Ukrainians had the perception of hip hop that they did. As time passes, hip hop becomes diluted at an exponential rate. You have people like Rick Ross who are emulating other people but then you have people rapping today who are emulating Rick Ross. Kids grow up today with Mac Miller as their influence. The longer this chain goes on, the further the artform deviates from its original state. We’ve taken something that was once true, reproduced it so many times, each time perverting it a little bit more. Because it’s so far from what it once was, everything begins to look like a satire by default. To give an analogy: think about the current Hollywood obsession with vampires. It has somehow reached a point where they’re making a movie where Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter. Does that not seem like a satire? So basically, I’m saying that Rick Ross is the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” of rap music. To be clear, I’m not trying to hate on Rick Ross. The dude is a very talented rapper and I like a lot of his music. However, to further prove my point, imagine a scenario where Rick Ross wasn’t a famous rapper. Imagine you encountered Rick Ross at a restaurant and he was playing the exact same character he plays as a rapper. You would probably find it hilarious. You would tell all your friends about that fat guy you met who was clearly a correctional officer but tried to convince everyone he was a drug dealer. You might love him ironically but, by no means, would you take him seriously. And this is my point: That Ukrainian music video looked like the worst satire ever because it was emulating so many other things that looked like satire.

Editorial disclaimer: I’m not some annoying backpacker, rap purist who wants to go back to 1994. I’m not too sure why I wrote this. These were just some random thoughts floating around in my head that I wanted to get out.

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Like I said, the coolest music comes out during times when I’m M.I.A on this blog. During my hiatus, I missed everything from the rise of the incredibly dope Alt-R&B genre (Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Jamie Woon), to amazing music festivals (SXSW, Coachella), to revolutionary live-streamed music videos (Death Cab For Cutie – You Are A Tourist), to a collaboration between the Smooth Operator and Hov (The Moon And The Sky). This post will attempt to chronicle everything I’ve been listening to over the last couple of months. Be ready to see some new faces and some old favourites. Here we go:

Sade – The Moon and The Sky (Feat. Jay-Z) (Prod. by Noah “40” Shebib)

Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

Frank Ocean – Novacane

The Weeknd – Wicked Games

Jamie Woon – Lady Luck

Death Cab For Cutie – You Are A Tourist

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Big K.R.I.T. – American Rapstar

Bibio – Anything New

MED – This Is Your Life (Feat. Blu) (Prod. Exile)

tUnE-yArDs – Bizness

Kendrick Lamar – HiiiPower (Prod. J. Cole)

Jill Scott – Just Before Dawn

Jhene Aiko – Stranger

Generationals – Ten Twenty Ten

Shad & Skratch Bastid – Give You All I Can

Radiohead never fails to impress me. Their latest album, “The King of Limbs” is something special. They announced about a week ago that they were going to release an album on their website and so they did. That’s it. No unnecessary promotion, no lead single, just a cohesive body of work. How refreshing. Granted, not every band has the type of fanbase that allows them to do this, but it just shows that there are still people in the music industry who can think for themselves. The actual music is great too. Thom Yorke continues with the more electronic sound he crafted on “The Eraser” and applies the same sort of vibe to this album. From the electronically programmed drums, to the haunting vocals, to the minimalistic but effective melodies, the entire album is a great listen.

If you recall, Shad’s album “TSOL” was one of my top 10 albums of 2010. He spans as an emcee from clever punchlines/battle rap to fully layered, introspective songs like the one above. It’s rare nowadays to hear a rap song “for the ladies” that’s not corny, misogynistic, or preachy. Shad balances these forces very well and manages to craft a really dope song reminiscent of Reflection Eternal’s “Four Women.” This video is kinda cliche in a Dove commercial kinda way, but check out the song.

This song’s just too funky. With the exception of a few artists, there’s very few people out there making music this dope right now. Those synths are just insane. “Underneath The Pine” is out on the 22nd. I heard an advance copy and it’s exactly what I expected; an entire album dripping with originality and lo-fi goodness. Check out the video and download the track if you like:

http://www.mediafire.com/?jjkzddbu28q6ddd

This is another song that’s ancient in internet years. I have an excuse this time though! This song is British, so it took me a little while longer to catch on. *cough cough*. The Vaccines describe their influences as being a combination of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, ’60s garage and girl groups, ’70s punk, ’80s American hardcore, C86, and good pop music”. Personally, I get a strong “The Strokes” vibe off of this track. Either way, it’s really cool.

If you recall, Toro Y Moi’s album “Causers of This” was on my list of the top 10 albums of 2010. This is the video for the first single off his upcoming album “Underneath The Pine,” due out February 22nd. If this track is any indication, Toro Y Moi may very likely be headed for a repeat of last year’s feat. Check it out and download if you’re so inclined:

http://usershare.net/36z2zx3oefa9