We’re merely two months into 2015, and the music being released is already 100x better than what our ears were being fed in the previous year. We have some catching up to do, Kendrick dropped a new song, Kanye threw together a collab with some notable names (while also creating some sneakers), Drake released a mixtape… or an album… or something, and new albums by Passion Pit and Sufjan are all on the way. So let’s start in reverse order (reversing things is fun), and catch everyone up on all that new shit.
So in the world of alternative music, we have Passion Pit finally putting up a release date for their new album. Kindred is set for an April release, and PP have already put together a little collaboration with an up and comer in the EDM world by the name of Madeon. Madeon, recognized as Deadmau5’s protege, is a young DJ in the mold of two famous french robots. The song “Pay No Mind” features Passion Pit, and there is a noticeable difference in lead singer Michael Angelakos’ voice. He provides a deeper version, more mature, approach to singing on the track. He keeps his famous falsetto, but it took a couple listens to really notice the difference. He sounds happier. As someone who is known to have suffered severe bouts of depression and other mental disorders, Angelakos finally seeming happy is truly a great thing. Not to mention his voice is better than ever. Look for Kindred to be Passion Pit’s strongest project yet.
On top of Passion Pit, ultra Indie music legend, Sufjan Stevens, is making new music! It has been close to five years since Sufjan created new music. He is finally going back to his folk music roots and deviating from his new age indie-electronic music style that we saw on Age of Adz. Not much is known about the album except that it is titled Carrie & Lowell, after his parents. It will be apparently dropping in March, and then you can catch Sufjan going on a huge American tour immediately after. I will definitely be there on April 10th when he is coming to the city of brotherly love.
Now let’s get to the good stuff. Hip hop has been in a state of flux in 2015. Surprise albums are popping up everywhere and nobody really knows when anything is going to be released anymore. Drake, being the first, surprised everyone tonight with a mixtape type of prelude album called If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Now I am not Drake’s biggest fan, and I am the first to admit that. Yet, even I give respect when respect is deserved… Unfortunately this is not the case with Drake’s new project. Champagne Papi has brought more of the same and unfortunately it fails to measure up with his past albums. It seems he has regressed farther than I thought with superficial tracks that speak about nothing. A very slow album, even if you get anything from his lyrics, you would be put to sleep by his passive tone. Even songs that feature up and coming banger Travi$ Scott failed to get a rise out of me and make me excited for anything else. The best song is “6PM in New York,” and if you fuck with Drake there are some gems in there. Think of this as a prelude album to something much bigger. Drizzy fans are sure to be satisfied as they salivate with this offering as they wait in anticipation for Views of The 6. Nevertheless, you must have your doubts about his transformation into a more diverse artist, because he failed to provide any noticeable growth on this project whatsoever. And you know what… I’m sure he is okay with that. Drake isn’t out there to be a transcendent artist like Kanye or rap about things that actually matter like Kendrick (getting to that later). He is just out there to be Drake.
Wooh. Finally got that Drake stuff out of the way, and now on to the good stuff. It’s officially Yeezy Season. Kanye West is dropping collaboration songs, clothes, and sneakers left and right — somehow all at the same time. As everyone should have listened to by now, along with his beautiful song “Only One,” Kanye also came out with another song featuring Sir Paul and a more familiar name — the one and only Rihanna. “FourFiveSeconds” is a song where Kanye takes a slight back seat to Rihanna who really shines brighter than ever on the soft track. Of course, Kanye’s addition to the song is not something to overlook. After getting some backlash about not being able to sing without autotune, Kanye ditches the audio processor tool and sings to his heart’s content without any help. And it is really good. The song itself is nothing above average, and the lyrics aren’t anything to freak about, but it is a nice happy go lucky sounding tune and will have you feeling good after each listen despite the song being about couples arguing. More Rihanna-Kanye collaborations in the future would be nice.
Kanye also just recently came out with his clothing line for Adidas. Not gonna go into too much detail on that besides the fact that I am a fan of his new shoes. If the chance arrises, I definitely wouldn’t mind purchasing them. The more exciting thing to come out of Kanye’s new clothing premier was him showing off a new song on of his upcoming album! “Wolves” featuring young, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa and pop singer Sia. The track is clean and smooth with an unbelievable beat. Kanye comes in soft with autotune and gives off a sort of 808s vibe at the beginning, as it builds you think the drop is going to blow you away… but it never really comes. The lyrics of the song can be interpreted in a certain way that shows the song as Kanye’s way of saying he feels blessed about finding Kim after his scarring break up with the notorious Amber Rose during his weird pre MBDTF years. He may think being with Kim is too good to be true. That he doesn’t deserve her. It transitions from the haunting autotune of Kanye to a much smoother Vic. Vic has the most powerful lyrics on the track. He goes on to say:
Obviously this allusion to the story Icarus, shows Vic sending a message to not get too caught up in something that causes you to be too confident or it will end badly. A pretty ironic reference to be sung in a Kanye West song. Sia ends the track with a verse that could come straight out of a horror movie. The whole song is very creepy and will cause you to instantly throw it on repeat. All in all it will be a perfect first track for Ye’s album and hopefully will lead into a banger of a second track.
Skip to 8:29 to listen to the song:
While I was typing this up, I remembered that the new NWA movie Straight Outta Compton trailer was awesome! And that is sorta music related… so I’m just gonna leave it right here… Enjoy, and fuck the police.
Ahhh, okay last but not least: new Kendrick Lamar has finally been released. And it is really really hard core. I am not gonna write about the meaning of Kendrick Lamar’s new song. I personally don’t feel comfortable being the one to share my opinions on it. So I am gonna stay away from the politics and focus more so on the metaphor and the twist the song provides. In the song Kendrick continues to repeat the line
“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015”
Not until the end of the song, does he tell us why.
Kendrick thinks of himself as a hypocrite because he grieved for the deaths of black men like Trayvon Martin, when earlier in his life he had a part in killing black men. That makes the shit Drake is complaining about on his new project look even worse than it sounds. K. Dot is speaking the real right now and this hardcore, deep, strong, track goes into something deeper than music.
“I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m not on the inside looking out,” Kendrick Lamar says toward the end of his debut album, 2011’s Section.80. “I’m in the dead fucking center, looking around.”
To put this all in perspective, my brother in law and I are known for discussing our problems with listening to rap music that condones bad ideals like degrading women and selling drugs. We tackle the problem of hypocrisy ourselves by deciding whether listening to it and enjoying the sounds of the music like that is supporting the message it may send to those of the younger generation. So while we are worrying about that side of being a hypocrite Kendrick is worried about whether or not he is allowed to grieve over someone dying because he actually killed someone. That’s a ridiculous barrier that is between us. That is the difference in our cultures. In the end… Kendrick Lamar isn’t a hypocrite. The world we live in has tricked him into thinking he is.
So that is what I have been thinking about lately… What have you been up to?