On the brink of a birthday, I’ve resolved to run more. Not more frequently, but longer. Since my daughter was born, I’ve become all too accustomed to runs more apt to be measured in blocks than miles. 15 months in, it’s time to shelve the excuses and stretch it out in search of endorphins.
If recent past is any prologue, I’m going to need some help.
Unceremoniously entitled “Don’t Bonk,” this playlist is meant to get me going. Its running time clocks in at an optimistic hour and a half, and it spans a wide range of genres in search of an extra gear.
1. Avicii, “Wake Me Up”– Fair warning: this mix isn’t above the somewhat cheesy use of situation-specific lyrics. But if you’ve just hauled yourself out of bed early, you’re not above someone encouraging you to wake up.
2. Kanye West, “Power” (Swizz Beatz remix)– You’re now awake enough to be registering the inevitable inconvenience of the first mile. A little swagger will help.
3. Lil’ Wayne, “6 Foot 7 Foot”– Let’s double up on that dose of swagger.
4. Diplo & GTA, “Boy Oh Boy”– Putting some topspin on a beat from Missy and Tim, we’re looking to find a bit of a groove here.
5. TVOTR, “Will Do” (XXXChange Dancehall Mix)– If I’m going to see the second half of this playlist, I’m going to have to settle the pace a bit.
Many of today’s top rappers face a peculiar and quite recent dilemma. When you rocket to fame by way of free mixtapes, how do you top yourself once you start actually trying to charge people for your music?
As the word cloud of this site will attest, there have been few artists of late that I have followed as closely as I have J. Cole. With his mixtape The Warm Up, Cole gave me hope that perhaps writing had finally returned to rap. And I was far from alone. One the merits of one song alone, he was signed to Jay-Z’s label and superstardom seemed not only certain but imminent.
And then, we waited. And waited some more. 18 months of eternity after his breakthrough mixtape, J. Cole finally released his first commercial album and the resulting product was… well, commercial. All of the studio support and star cameos were mustered to chase the obvious archetypes of “successful” songs, and my favorite few songs were those carried over directly from the mixtape. And the new song that I thought held the greatest promise wasn’t even included– but I have it here to share with you in an unfinished form: promise of what can be from this artist.
With his first official album already behind him, the expectations for Drake’s second were Throne-like. And, for different reasons, I was equally disappointed by his album as well. However, this track with Rihanna stands out not only as the best on the album but as one of the best of any album of this past year.
As he presumably prepares for his first commercial album, Frank Ocean will face the same test. With the full support of the music industry machine, will he be able to better the album that he released in defiance of this same industry? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but in the interim here is yet another captivating new track from him to start off the new year.
Just in time, here’s some of the best that 2011 has to offer for an upbeat end of the year.
Can a song be played eight times in a row at a concert without starting a riot? If the song is this good, it can. Here’s a slight re-mix featuring a take from T.I. before he finds a way to end up back in jail.
Despite a clever marketing campaign that seemed to become the stuff of case studies, nobody really seemed to care that The Beastie Boys were back. But even if only for that genius video, this track deserves a place on the list.
Well, there you have it. Thank you all for reading: this really was a break out year for the blog. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s, and I look forward to typing your ear off about dozens of songs you simply must hear in the new year.
Me? Well, I’m a little self-conscious about my indifference. When you’re bored by an album that’s revered by both critics and crowds, it’s hard not to doubt yourself. Maybe I never got over all his hype. Maybe I’m not over this stomach bug.
So, more out of responsibility than enthusiasm, I’m set to give it a few more listens. In the meantime, let me know what you think.
When a former top executive from the music business tells you that a song is going to be record of the year, you listen… right? So, following that logic, I’ve spent some time with “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and featuring Rihanna. I’m about a dozen listens in, and it’s kindling a striking conflict between the marketer and the music lover in me.
But, before I get into that, a quick Eminem story that I heard over the weekend. Apparently, the mom of a twenty-something ad guy from New Jersey was flying out of the New York area. Said Mom is boarding a plane and strikes up a conversation with the man standing in front of her. She gets to asking this guy’s profession, and he says he’s a musician. The mom, sensing common ground, proclaims that her son is in the music business and asks for more detail. The guy responds that he’s Eminem. Mom, a bit perplexed but with reflexive maternal support, replies “That’s great, honey. Which M are you?” You just have to love those completely artifice-free real life moments.
As a marketer, I get it. The pairing of Em and Rihanna is a very smart bit of audience-broadening commercial alchemy, and it’s also quite bold when you realize that the song is about a physically-abusive relationship. The song is slickly produced, it’s easily listenable, and though Eminem has lost most of his commercial momentum his wordplay is as rapidfire as ever.
But, at the risk of reminding everyone that I’m old, the music fan in me has trouble getting past the confusion that his new #1 is just a decidedly less-inventive echo of Em’s old hit “Stan.” Continue reading →