Posts Tagged ‘hip hop’
Last week, Lil Wayne surpassed Elvis Presley to become the single most charted performer on the Billboard Hot 100, with a total of 109 chartings. Because I like symbols and given my penchant for over-generalizations, I believe this moment speaks volumes about the present state of music and how much things have changed since the birth of rock and roll. And, for better or worse, it may be time to start considering Lil Wayne as the voice of our generation.
The mythologies of rock and roll have gradually dropped out of favor, as indie rock frontmen seem to embrace their everyman status (see Vulture’s recent piece on Grizzly Bear). But as the rock and roll mythology has died, so has risen the myth of hip hop figures. Past and present emcees like Jay-Z, Tupac, Nas and Kanye seem to have filled the void for oversized superstars. And, given his critical acclaim and high sales figures, Lil Wayne has earned his place in this pantheon.
The others each have their own role, (Nas the thug poet, Tupac the fatalist prophet, Jay-Z the cool businessman, Kanye the brooding narcissist) each with impeccable flow, each compelling characters and great storytellers in their own right. Lil Wayne does not fit easily into this mold. His trademark voice somehow simultaneously raspy and squeaky, he barely seems concerned with being coherent. What sets Lil Wayne apart is his way with words, simultaneously irreverent and playful. It is not Lil Wayne’s stories that are compelling but rather the story inside of his head. The man is an enigma. An alternately hilarious and head-scratching enigma.
Starting this evening, mild-mannered businessmen and dirty, smelly hippies alike will begin the trek to Manchester, Tennessee for the 11th Annual Bonnaroo, which kicks off this Thursday. As always, we’re looking forward to waffle ice cream sandwiches, good friends and the hottest 80 degrees you can imagine. Headliners Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish, and a fantastic middle-tier make this year’s Roo perhaps the best lineup yet.
As we learned last year and at SXSW, a fantastic festival lineup creates issues for anyone shooting for the full experience. Below, we have marked what we think are the hardest decisions of the weekend. While most decisions are usually made in the last minute, we’re here to help inform you of the tough choices you’ve got coming.
The Motown Opener
DANNY BROWN – 7 pm @ This Tent vs. DALE EARNHARDT JR JR – 7:15 pm @ The Other Tent
The first matchup of the weekend, positions Detroit madman rapper Danny Brown during the same slot as Detroit indie rockers Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. Despite the clear difference in style, this show presents issues for anyone looking to support the fledgling Motown, which never fails to deliver great music.With his junkyard flow and black humor, Danny Brown is one of those artists we dig and fear equally. His last record, 2011s XXX–Brown stepped out, exploring debauched subjects in an introspective manner. Since then, he’s had great features on tracks from Das Racist, Action Bronson, El-P and Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire: the 2012 hip hop dream team (minus Kendrick Lamar, who plays at 10 pm on the same stage.)
Like the culture it represents, hip hop music has gone through many changes in the last two decades. Producers continue to push their craft to new heights, while emcees are as nuanced as they are divisive. The free online mixtape formula has done just as many wonders for the proliferation of swag, as it has made it harder for progressive collectives to sustain as businesses. Simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic, R.A.P. Music—Killer Mike and El-P’s first collaboration album—is a product of two thoughtful artists working to question, define and give love to the world of underground hip hop.
Part love letter, part sound progression, R.A.P. Music finds both veterans on top of their game, working off each other as much as the concept itself. Throughout the record, El-P’s production feels like a retrospective of the many eras of hip hop–from the boom bap of the Bronx to the spacey synths of Graduation–with Killer Mike’s thoughtful, and sometimes radical flow. R.A.P. Music is a peak in both artists careers, who are scene and sound leaders in their own right. Which is refreshing, since both artists struggled through the late Aughts and early 10s to keep their relevance.
Abel Tesfaye is undoubtedly a star in the making. His commitment to quality and character is apparent on all of his free releases. The ongoing question around his art deal with his reality: if these are actually his Thursdays or if he’s just an excellent, disturbed storyteller. If his show revealed anything, it’s that he’s fucking pumped to be doing this well this young. While Abel’s giddiness on stage seems at odds with his recorded melancholy, it also suggests a complexity beyond his deranged, masochistic persona.
On his first-ever tour, 22-year-old Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) celebrated his sensational success in the biggest U.S. and Canada markets, announced less than a month ago. Each show sold out in seconds despite a lack of promotion, much like his records would, should he have decided to sell them. Fans were content to pay the $30+ fees ticket price, disregarding his lack of performing experience and opener: they knew this would likely be a rare opportunity to see the potential superstar in such an intimate space. He delivered.