Tag Archives: Yeezus

Kanye West x Beethoven – Yeethoven

It’s no secret that Kanye West has become known for comparing himself to many innovators and musical geniuses over the years.  Conductor Yuga Cohler not only agrees his Yeezus album shares similarities with Ludwig van Beethoven’s pieces, but conducted a 70-piece orchestra in Los Angeles to play a medley of his hits.   The performance is striking and sure to delight Yeezy fans of all ages.

Listen on Soundcloud below and check out the time marks even further below for easy referencing.

Opening Song: Beethoven’s “Overture to Egmont, op. 84,”

10:00 “New Slaves

16:53 “Blood On The Leaves” Leads into “Symphony No. 5 First Movement in C-Minor, Op. 67”

30:28 “Hold My Liquor” Mashup with “Symphony No.7 in A major”

37:16 “I’m In It” Mashup with “Symphony No. 5 Second Movement in A Flat Major, Op. 67”

44:55 Guilt Trip Mashup with “Fifth Piano Concerto in E-flat major, Op. 73”

53:00 “On Sight” Mashup with “String Quartet No. 14.”

Composed and arranged by Yugi Cohler and Stephen Feigenbaum. ymf.org

Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2013 List

2013 was one of the best years for music in recent memory.  Here is a list of my personal favorite top 10 albums in no particular order.

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Tyler, the Creator – WOLF

Odd Future leader Tyler displays growth with a more sophisticated effort and an eclectic range of scintillating production. [My Review]

Quadron – Avalance

Coco O’s voice is absolute perfection over the beautifully arranged sultry R&B tracks produced by Robin Hannibal.

Pusha T – My Name Is My Name 

Solid lyrics over dense beats prove the dope boy from The Clipse can stand alone as a respected lyricist.  [My Review ]

M.I.A. – Matangi 

Always one to push the envelope, M.I.A. raps edgy lyrics over fun and upbeat tracks infused with international sounds.

Kanye West – Yeezus

Straying away from anything nearly resembling the current Hip Hop landscape, Kanye’s fearless experimentation shocks and delights at the same time. [My Review]

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

The meticulously engineered project from the space-age Paris duo is a universally loved mix of dance music.

Thundercat – Apocalypse 

Flying Lotus’ colleague dazzles with Funk-y, yet futuristic basslines and melodic, heartfelt hooks that resonate in the listener’s head.

Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

19-year-old Earl’s long-awaited debut boasts brash and lyrically advanced content over eerily dark beats. [My Review]

Toro y Moi – Anything in Return

Chaz Bundick’s adventurous, yet mellow blend of genres and colorful instrumentation provide feel-good tracks with excellent replay value.

7 Days of Funk (Dam-Funk and Snoopzilla ) – 7 Days of Funk

This well-executed collaboration pays homage to the likes of George Clinton and Bootsy Collins with its retro snyth-heavy grooves.

 

Jay-Z – Magna Carta…Holy Grail Album Review

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It just doesn’t get any bigger than Jay-Z.  Who else could take his demigod wife to Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary and cause political controversy with a response from the POTUS himself?  The proponent and pal of the Obamas is not only known for attending swanky, presidential parties, but is also husband to supernova Beyonce.  The often debated G.O.A.T. and first time father to Blue Ivy has ruthlessly continued to expand his brand.

With his music label’s roster boasting J. Cole and Jay Electronica, the 43-year-old MC kicked off the opening of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with eight sold out shows last summer.  His most recent endeavor as a sports agent has allowed him to sign NBA and MLB athletes as the founder of his new Roc Nation Sports imprint, so it’s no surprise his latest offering and twelfth solo album also wrangles up impressive all-star players.  Heavy hitters Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz and Rick Rubin (who only provided verbal feedback) all appeared to be contributing to a magnum opus during the Magna Carta…Holy Grail commercial that debuted during the NBA Finals.

The antithesis of Kanye West’s infinitesimal marketing campaign, it played out like the type of blockbuster trailer that leaves moviegoers excitedly whispering, “I’ve got to see that!” to their friend in the adjacent seat.  Introducing the Samsung phone app that would distribute the first million albums for free, the ad enticed devotees to download it in exchange for previews and plenty of lyrics as incentive.  Available July 4 at midnight, many Samsung users simultaneously struggled to download the new album and grumbled about app errors via Twitter.

In due time, fans were able to revel in the continuation of opulence and decadence derived from Jay and Ye’s collaborative effort, Watch the Throne. The album opens with Justin Timberlake solemnly harmonizing about his love/hate relationship with fame and interpolates Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the bridge.  Jay follows suit bemoaning the price of stardom and the culpability he endures as a successful entrepreneur.   He addresses survivor’s guilt on “Nickles and Dimes” with lyrics like, “I gave some money to this guy, he got high as hell/Now I’m part of the problem far as I could tell/Did I do it for him or do it for myself,” but the majority of the album lacks progression and is filled with superfluous and all too familiar Basquiat and Lambo references.  (We get it Jay-Z. You’re rich).

“Picasso Baby” displays his apparent admiration for viewing and collecting art as Jay name-drops Da Vinci, Andy Warhol, The MoMa and The Louvre as the sleek Prolyfic record slows down into a beat channeling his production on Lupe Fiasco and Hov’s “Pressure.”  He toasts the good life with Bordeauxs and Burgundies and spends all his “euros on tuxes and weird clothes” on the uniquely catchy 8-bit sounding track produced by J-Roc and Timbaland named after high-end designer “Tom Ford.”  Rick Ross stunts along with Hov over a surreal head boppin’ beat that could be easily placed in a heavenly dream sequence on “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” and Jay reminisces about coke dealing on “Somewhereinamerica.”  “When I was talking Instagram/Last thing you wanted was your picture snapped,” he cleverly remarks on the Hit-Boy track.

“Part II (On the Run)” serves as the sequel to his first collaboration with Beyonce off of The Blueprint 2.  Rumors swirled about the two dating when they released “’03 Bonnie and Clyde,” but the two remained mum about their relationship.  Ten years later, the married duo glorifies gangsta love with “you and me against the world” Tupac nods on the romantic, piano-laced song.  Queen Bey also makes an appearance on the star-studded “BBC” featuring Nas, Pharrell, JT, Swizz and Timbo, but, unfortunately, the club banger looks a lot more appealing on paper than it sounds.

“Jay-Z Blue” proves to be his most personal and endearing song as dialogue from Mommie Dearest is interspersed throughout.  Anxieties about fatherhood and concerns about keeping his family intact finally exhibit his vulnerability.  “Taught her how to take her first steps/Cut the cord watch her take her first breath/And I’m trying and I’m lying if I said I wasn’t scared,” he divulges on the track laced with Biggie’s vocals and quotes from his classic “My Downfall.”

Jay’s best moments arise when he steps away from the blasé bravado and gets insightful by reminding his audience that he is indeed actually human.  On “Oceans,” he reflects on his ancestry as Frank Ocean sings about the unfathomable and burdensome path his predecessors endured upon slave ships along the Ivory Coast.  “This water drown my family/This water mixed my blood/This water tells my story,” he emotes passionately over a somber, horn-filled Pharrell beat fit for a movie score.  He vilifies American forefathers Christopher Columbus stating he’s “anti-Santa Maria” and “don’t even like Washingtons in his pockets.”

Kanye’s influence can be heard on the work with allusions to “Strange Fruit” and Givenchy, but unlike Ye, Hov plays it safe sticking to carefully calculated and trite luxury rap. As Rick Rubin stated, the album is a much “more traditional Hip Hop record than Yeezus.”  He jet-sets to Paris, Rome, Venice and Marrakesh throughout the album and denounces molly while his Sweet Brown quote and comments about Miley Cyrus’ passion for twerking are amusing, but they almost sound like a contrived attempt at appealing to youthful listeners.

For someone who proudly boasts so much about having such a lucrative net worth and a wealth of unlimited resourcesone might expect Magna Carta…Holy Grail to be the crowning jewel of Jay’s career.  The album’s production is noteworthy, however, it definitely doesn’t wow.  His refusal to connect with commoners and hesitancy to switch up his sound choosing to continue painting his lavish image instead of venturing into a radical form of artistic expression like Kanye West make his medium appear a bit stale.  If you’re looking for depth or timeless masterpieces like “Dead Presidents,” “Song Cry” or “December 4th” on this project, make sure you’ve got enough pocket money saved to to buy his old albums.

Kanye West – Yeezus Album Review

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Kanye West doesn’t give a fuck about interviews.  Kanye West turned down scholarships to three prestigious art schools as a student.   Kanye West’s recent response to a birthday wish from the paparazzi was, “Don’t ask me questions, man.  Shut up.  Don’t ever talk.”  Whether the man is making headlines for wearing leather kilts or vilifying brands and sponsorships during concert rants, Yeezy has always marched to the beat of his own 808.  Since stepping into the rap game with his “pink ass polos with a fuckin’ backpack,” he has consistently created and stayed in his own lane.  His hatred for YouTube’s aesthetic and building projections of his new video in 66 countries not only illustrate his creativity and a newfound love for minimalist and guerilla style marketing, but his disdain for the ordinary.

Now a new father and somewhat of a recluse, he’s compared himself to the likes of Steve Jobs, Basquiat and Disney.  And with valid reason.  Simply put, whether you love him or loathe him, Yeezy is an innovator.  To label his latest album, Yeezus, Hip Hop would be embarrassingly restrictive and inaccurate.  With creative input by Def Jam’s co-founder Rick Rubin and production by French duo Daft Punk, its offering is an intense compilation of aggressive Electronic and Metal influenced beats reminiscent of fast-paced, headbanging artists like Marilyn Manson and Prodigy.  “I Am a God” is interspersed with piercing shrieks and heavy panting over pulsating brash basslines as Kanye soaks in his awesomeness with lines like, “I know He the most high, but I am a close high” and denounces racism and social class on “New Slaves.”  “Fuck you and your corporation.  Y’all *iggas can’t control me,” he sneers.

Autotune, a popular motif from his 808s and Heartbreaks album, reappears and Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” sample on “Blood on the Leaves” is analogous to the Simone sample on Watch the Throne‘s “New Day”… that is until it’s accompanied by a grating C-Murder beat.  The album’s vast range can be heard on everything from the pornographic Dance Hall/Kim Kardashian (?) influenced “I’m In It” to the melodious, rich electric guitar solo on “Hold My Liquor” featuring Chief Keef and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.  A soulful Brenda Lee sample and Charlie Wilson feature on “Bound 2” channels vintage Kanye, but the majority of the album is a sonically refreshing breath of fresh air.

With such a strong variety of experimentation, Kanye’s ingenuity has allowed him to mastermind an entirely new game-changing sound.  One could easily lose the listener with such a hodgepodge of tracks, however, one important factor that Ye is known for ties all of the madness together seamlessly – his attention to detail and quality.  Each diverse, individual piece transitions effortlessly to compose a well-mixed and produced cohesive work despite the fact that it can be equated to the intensity of Justice’s “Stress” video.  Every song hits like one of the angry, riotous youths pummeling passersby into the ground as the listener absorbs it wondering what the hell is going on or what is going to invade their ears next.

Without any radio promotion, artwork or press interviews (sans a NY Times article), Yeezus is outright fearless.  Ye’s defiance and ability to demolish the conventional and safe package other artists constantly regift to the mainstream should be commended.  Whether an unshakable faith in his vast fanbase or an indifference to potentially sparse album sales allowed him to take such a bold risk, one cannot be sure, but one thing is evidently clear: his sixth solo album is a dedication to “giving,” as West stated at his New York listening party, “…no fucks at all.”  It’s a beautiful, dark, twisted tribute to one of the most praised artists of our time – himself.