Frontier Psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘Drake

Chris Brown, Kanye, Drake

Of all the lists that this website produces over the course of the next few weeks, I expect to receive the most angry and confused comments about this one.  As I see it, 2011 is the year that mainstream hip-hop let us down.  High profile releases from the likes of Lil’ Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, The Game, and Pusha T (to name only a few) left me wishing I still bought CDs so I could use them as coasters.  Meanwhile, as month after month of flaccid rhymes and bombastic beats hit record store shelves, a new hip-hop underground began to emerge through a series of independent releases and free mixtapes.  These are the records that had me coming back over and over when I needed a jolt this year, and the list below (compiled with the help of super-staffer Peter Lillis) reflects this predilection.  As such, there are some notable and, I will admit, potentially egregious omissions.  Allow me to list the most glaring of these up front:

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Summertime, and the living is not easy (endless war, oil disasters, World Cup elimination), but a good musical hook helps things along. If ever I wake up one morning and start to sing, I know a song has been playing in my mind while sleeping. Surely such a catchy tune deserves to be in a Top 5 list. And if I choreograph a little morning calisthenic to this particular ditty, that is equivalent to a super ‘A’ plus gold star. I wish you could see the dance I do for the first pick.

5. Otis Taylor, “Put Your Hands On Your Stomach”

The veteran Colorado bluesman delivers his special brand of trance with a deliciously repetitive riff that evokes “A Love Supreme” or an African tribal dance. A great tune to shake around to.  Also a good resource for instruction in case you are looking to channel spirits.

4. Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté, “Samba Geladio”

This is the quintessential Malian chill-out track from Touré’s posthumous album. His mindful blues-tinged patterns and Diabaté’s tranquil kora plucking take my frazzled neural circuitry on a soothing trip to Timbuktu and back again.

3. Trombone Shorty, “Hurricane Season”

Honestly, five tracks on Backatown could make the list but I’ll go with the first as it represents what Trombone Shorty does best: danceable New Orleans-inflected hybrids with tight horns and great playing. If you are looking for a member of the opposite sex to grind while trying not to spill a drink, this is the song for you.

2. Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Hit ‘Em Up Style”

If you had told me in 2009 that in 2010 I would be stomping around my living room to a flash-in-the-pan Top 40 hit from 2001 redone with banjos, I would have called you crazy. But here I am, dancing like a drunken troll to this strange, marvelously infectious revamp from CCD’s latest album, Genuine Negro Jig.

1. Drake, “Over”

One of the only rap songs I have ever learned in its entirety. Also, whenever I am confused or disorganized I have a habit of asking myself, “What the hell am I doing?” to which I can now reply: “Oh yeah. That’s right. I’m doing me.” (For more Drake, see Frontier Capitolist’s Top 5)

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July, July! What a wonderful (disgusting) month. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next guy, just not when the weather feels more like a tailpipe than the warm sun. So I had to get out of dodge, i.e. Washington, and spend the weekend in the forever beautiful Jersey Shore. No, really. But I’m back in DC now and glad to share my half-year in review. Thanks to friends for introducing me to these songs in the first place.

Honorable Mention #1: Fruit Bats, “One on One”

When The Onion’s AV Club started their Undercover series, I was pumped. This Fruit Bats cover of the Hall and Oates classic is my favorite. Killer chest hair.

Honorable Mention #2: Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse (Feat. Julian Casablancas), “Little Girl”

This is only an Honorable Mention because the album, The Dark Night of the Soul, will be released July 12, though we have already heard and written about the greatness wrought by the late Mark Linkous, Brian Burton, and David Lynch. My favorite is this off-kilter pop gem by Julian Casablancas.

5. Drake (Feat. Jay-Z & Lil Wayne),”Light Up (Riker’s Remix)”

I have trouble accepting Weezy’s diarrhea-of-the-mouth delivery as funny let alone profound, but you got to give the man props for his killer verse on Drake and Jigga’s “Light Up.” The original, found on Drake’s Thank Me Later, stays intact, with Weezy’s Riker’s Island, one phone call verse slapped at the end, casting a shadow over Drake and Jay’s previous attempts. Wayne couldn’t be more raw on this track, but he is far more intelligible than usual here, possibly because of the lack of cough syrup on the rock. The never ending flossing still gets on my nerves a bit, but the references to being locked up let me take him more seriously. For another FP take on Drake, check out Frontier Funbunny’s review of Thank Me Later.

4. Deftones, “Rocket Skates”

Deftones catch way too much unwarranted flak, and people should step down and give them their due. “Rocket Skates”, the band’s first single since “Mein” in 2007, is a welcome return to form, complete with cryptic yet sensual and soaring vocals over two-ton guitars riffs. The story behind this year’s Diamond Eyes is a sad one. Chi Cheng, Deftones’ bassist, was injured in a car accident in California in 2008 and has since been in an unresponsive coma. Diamond Eyes is a tribute to their bandmate the way Deftones only know how: rocking, then weirding you out.

3. Flying Lotus, “Computer Face//Pure Being”

If Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) is the Stanley Kubrick of instrumental hip-hop, Cosmogramma is his 2001. A master of invention, Flying Lotus shows the shape of beats to come, by chopping and bleeping his way to the final frontier. “Computer Face”, the first single from Cosmogramma, sums up his prowess, showcasing that one offbeat rhythm among waves of background synths and what sounds like the drumming of silverware.

2. Titus Andronicus, “The Battle of Hampton Roads”

I have already written extensively about the Titus Andronicus album, so here I’ll focus on one monster of a song. Among the most enjoyable 14 minute songs in history, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” throws the listener through every possible fit and subsequent lull The Monitor has to offer.  This behemoth endcap not only has guitar solos to make Steve Van Zandt perk up and a triumphant bagpipe interlude that recalls my Chicago south-side pride, but it offers an ultimate rest, the ideal ending for an album that rages so hard.

1. Kanye West (Feat. Dwele), “Power”

Kanyeeze, you did it again! “Power” continues on Kanye’s perpetual quest to push pop music forward, and for that, I  thank him. He’s angry, but pensive. He’s flossing, but self-loathing. These are all regular modes for West, but we’ve never heard them so delightfully jumbled. “Power” also includes the best sample of 2010 with King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Here’s his literally over the top performance at the BET Music Awards.

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The Frontier Psychiatrist happens to be a connoisseur of roller coasters, but sometimes enough is enough.   Today’s soccer match between the United States and Slovenia was enough to induce vertigo in even the most seasoned passenger.  After falling behind by two goals early, the Americans came roaring back, leveling the match at two with less than 10 minutes remaining.  Five minutes later, the Americans scored their third goal as the bar in which we were holding our, um, editorial meeting exalted in imminent victory.  Sadly, the officials mysteriously disallowed the goal, and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.  Apparently, some people just don’t care for the United States.  Who would have known?  Perhaps it’s because of things like this.

Lucky for you, good reader, after a mid-afternoon siesta we are able to bring you new music from the week.  Let’s begin!

*If the referees need an appropriate spot in which to intervene, might I suggest Courtney Love’s Life. Or, perhaps she could get some assistance from Ron Artest’s psychiatrist.

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I think we can all agree with the sentiment: “Dude, that was the ’90s. What the fuck?”

*As previously reported on Frontier Psychiatrist, the new Wolf Parade record Expo 86 is set for release June 29.  The whole album can now be heard at the band’s Myspace page.  Please enjoy the song “Yulia” from Expo 86 below:

Wolf Parade – Yulia

*Brooklyn summer fun from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (please change that name!):

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*New remix of the previously profiled School of Seven Bells by Brooklyn shoegaze sympathists A Place To Bury Strangers:

School of Seven Bells – Windstorm (A Place To Bury Strangers Remix)


*And, finally, Lil’ Wayne raps from jail (where else?):

Drake featuring Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne – Light Up (Rikers Remix)

That’s all for the week.  Make sure to click over to our facebook page and help us get over the Mendoza Line!

We made it really nice for ourselves when we sat down to listen to the new Drake album. Lit some candles, got under the chenille throw. Listened to “Best I Ever Had” to fully grasp the journey on which our favorite Canadian R&B artist has endeavored. He may not be the over-the-top formulaic genius R. Kelly; his songs may not make us applaud in quick, giddy bursts as does the dirty work of Trey Songz. But he is our young hope. Twenty-three years old, former star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Aubrey Drake Graham got his jumpstart last year, with his third mixtape So Far Gone. It included the aforementioned dude’s-guide-to-the-right-things-to-say “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful,” plus several collaborations with high-profile buddies including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Mary J., Jamie Foxx and others. To that, we respectfully proclaim: Damn, boy. Way to get on the good side.

And yet, and yet.

Drake (featuring Alicia Keys), “Fireworks”

Thank Me Later was supposed to be released in March. Then it was postponed, postponed and postponed again. We know this means someone ain’t happy and they’re taking time to fix it. Granted, the album starts strong with the sound of fireworks. Then, hey, it’s the opener, “Fireworks.” Alicia Keys adds her magic touch with a catchy hook (All I see is fireworks/all I see is fireworks/Every night it’s fireworks). “The Resistance” demonstrates Drake’s budding skills (What am I afraid of/This is what dreams are supposed to be made of/The people I don’t have time to hang with/Always look at me and say the same shit/You promised me you would never change).

But then when Drake starts rapping about closure, we raise an eyebrow. Or two. And wait? Your grandma’s in the nursing home? Yeah, ours too. And it sucks. And?

Call us jaded. Hell, call us old school. Maybe the evolution of rap and hip-hop into the mainstream presupposes that lyrical topics are going to water down into the everyday. And that’s what Drake delivers: stories of casual sex, changing friendships, the struggle of finding one’s role in a life not yet understood, so let’s just burn our cares away in blunt-form and forget it for now. Not quite as profound, or insightful, or even eloquently put, as one hopes.

Some high points: “Over” is one of the radio hits for a reason. It’s the kind of fun, danceable, heavy beat that makes us wish it were a bouncin’ Saturday night at bOb. Likewise, “Fancy” is one o’ them that would bring us onto the dance floor. “Up All Night” with Nicki Minaj’s staccato vocals (Yeah I look like yes/And you look like no) is an alchemic collaboration. In fact, the duets throughout allow guest artists to show off their skills, especially Jay-Z and even Swizz Beatz.

Drake, “Fancy” (featuring Swizz Beats and T.I.)

Drake, “Light Up” (featuring Jay-Z)

But after a while, Drake’s meandering narcissism gets boring. His lyrics aren’t yet clever enough to make us forget that his vocal skills aren’t yet more nimble than any other hip-hop/rap artist around (This is really one of my dumbest flows ever/I haven’t slept in days/And me and my latest girl agreed to go our separate ways/So I’m single).

Drake, “Unforgettable” (featuring Young Jeezy)

Yet we give our young Canadian the benefit of the doubt. Drake is on a journey. Thank Me Later is about a star just realizing that his life is bigger than he is, and he’s finding a way to fit into it (Truth over fame, you know I respect that blatant shit/When I hear talkin I just don’t know what to make of it/…/Yeah and my dreams are who I’m racing with/You can see I’m pacin it so that I’m always chasin it). We say: Aubrey, you’re 23. There’s some good stuff happening here. It’s okay that you’re not a genius yet. Please continue to make things and put them out into the world. If you’re alive and lucky, you’ll get better with age. But until then, we’re not gonna gorge on empty calories a la Easy Mac. Cuz we’d rather stuff our faces with bechamel.

A post-script: We think it’s only fair to follow-up with a close read of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had,” juxtaposed against his faltering game in “Shut It Down.” Yes/no?


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Listening To:

Sons of Dionysus


A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.

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