Content vs Context: Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin’ Ass”

So a few months ago Nicki Minaj  released the track “Lookin’ Ass”. The track has gotten some major backlash over the music video. Many saying it was demeaning of Malcolm X‘s message and the struggle of civil rights within America. Others are saying it has powerful message within itself because the lyrics of the song are representative of another struggle. The struggle for Women’s Rights and the need for feminism. The difficulty with this song, that a lot of other raps songs with a powerful message have, is that people get overburden with the so called graphic language. Graphic language is used often in rap music and due to this people don’t pay attention to the context or the conversation taking place.

“Look at y’all lookin’ ass niggas
Stop lookin’ at my ass ass niggas”

“I ‘on’t want sex, give a fuck about your ex
I ‘on’t even want a text from y’all niggas”

Yeah, there’s a lot of N-word usage, but the first stanza asks men to stop objectifying women. The second stanza I quoted asks for the same exact thing.

Similarly with “Bound” by Kanye West, there consistantly seems to be a disregard for the intellect behind music videos of rap songs. Sometimes there are no themes, no messages to be shared, but that is not always the case. These people are artists and artists rarely do anything without some meaning. Rap is an art form. It is their way of expression. And just like how we over analyze literature in the classroom that same kind of attentiveness needs to be shown toward music and music videos. For example, when I go out to the bars one song consistently played is “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. Drunks scream that chorus at the top of their lungs but how many people actually know that the song is about Springsteen’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. government during the Vietnam War.

“Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man”

I don’t think all that many know and I think that kind of lack of knowledge in Mainstream America will always blur an artist’s message.

Check out our overview of Nicki Minaj’s most recent track “Pills N Potions

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Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour [Favorite Release of the Week]

Our favorite release of the week is Sam Smith‘s In the Lonely Hour. Sam Smith has gained attention from his work with Disclosure‘s “Latch” and Naughty Boy‘s “La La La”. In fact Sam Smith was not signed until after his work with Disclosure blew up like it did.

Sam Smith’s album is an album full of poppy ballads, with love and unrequited love as the main themes. The sincerity of the love themes is sometimes a little questionable, but that subjective.

Songs that particularly stand out are “Money on My Mind” and “Stay With Me”. “Money on My Mind” is a very pop oriented track that promotes the message that money is not everything and that the art of music should take precedent. For “Stay With Me” we are introduced to gospel chorus and R&B vibe.

 

Rating 7/10

Shout out musicomh.com

Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong”

The United States music scene is very internalized. Rarely do we immediately appreciate an artist or music group when they are originally from a country that is seemingly foreign to the majority of Americans. Nico & Vinz are one of these groups.

Nico & Vinz (formerly known as Envy) are Norwegian hip-hop/pop artist. One of their biggest hits to date is “Am I Wrong”, which was released last summer. Though the song has just became available on the US iTunes, its very disturbing to find out this song is not new after hearing it on the radio for the first time this past week. The song has even been performed for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Contest.

“Am I Wrong” is an anthem for promoting individual thought (which is why it was probably selected to perform for the Nobel Peace Prize Contest).

Am I wrong for thinking out the box from where I stay?
Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way?

Walk your walk and don’t look back, always do what you decide
Don’t let them control your life, that’s just how I feel

Vinz sings the first verse as well as the chorus on this track while Nico sings the second verse and bridge. There are obvious signs of their musical influences within the song such as African drums, Norwegian pop and American hip-hop.

 

 

Many other foreign-to-the-US artists had slow break outs, like Disclosure whose popular hit “Latch” which was released in 2012, did not gain any traction in the US market until late 2013 and now.

Music and art should flow more freely through all avenues we have. Copyright laws are important, but the United States needs to be more collaborative with other countries, otherwise Americans will continually be behind the curve when it comes to discovering new music.

Thanks a bunch USA Today and Bustle

 

 

The Macklemore Dilemma

Macklemore

Macklemore

Over the past couple of months or really this past year Macklemore has been in the forefront of music when it comes to “music consciousness”. Specifically, in reference to gay rights and the seemingly prevalent story that Hip-Hop is anti-gay.

But issues arise on how society values the voice of an individual of the majority (the majority meaning white males) over individuals actually apart of the disadvantaged group. Let’s be real, historically the lesser voice has always has been perceived as needing help from the more willingly heard. But things shouldn’t be that way. It’s not Macklemore’s fault of course, in reality, he’s just trying to help. The question is whether his help is a hindrance or truly beneficial.

Angel Haze

Angel Haze

Macklemore has attained a stamp of approval from many, if not all, popular entities or individuals of the gay community. If I remember correctly and I might not be (I prefer to write from memory) he’s been praised by the Human Rights CouncilGLAAD and our favorite gay godmother Ellen Degeneres. The exposure, it’s been lovely. But why oh why, can’t we just listen to the voices who are the voices. Why can’t we do that? Artists like Angel HazeMykki BlancoBig FreediaZebra Katz and Le1f (who had a lot to say about Macklemore’s privilege as a straight white male). Each whose message if heard and respected properly would have been more prolific in meaning than a white man who can try but never truly understand. In fact Angel Haze did a remix of Macklemore’s Same Love, I felt her remix in a way I could never feel about the original.

Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco

Another point I wanted to hit on is the promotion that Hip-Hop ain’t sh!t, that Hip-Hop can’t handle diversity. If Hip-Hop couldn’t handle diversity then Eminem wouldn’t have became Eminem no matter how good he is. If Hip-Hop couldn’t handle diversity then Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, or even Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be who they are. Of course there are still hurdles, but there are still hurdles in every aspect of life that have yet to be overcome. In many ways, Macklemore song was just opportunistic, a way to capitalize on a message that I feel the Hip-Hop community wasn’t even sure it needed to give at that point. That is not to say that Macklemore is just trying to capitalize on black culture (he could be but I have no right to say so).

All of this could be talked into the ground and talked around and talked over. But my point in all of this is that music of the people should be by the people and as eye-opening as Same Love was for many it was only eye-opening because the message came from a straight white male. It should be heartbreaking that the supposed need for a white savior is still prevalent today.

I just want to leave it at that.

Maverick Sabre “Emotion (Ain’t Nobody)”

“Emotion (Ain’t Nobody)” is the second single off of Maverick Sabre‘s soon to be released second album. Check out the video below and see if you can guess where the chorus line “ain’t nobody” originally came from.

 

 

If you guessed Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” you are on it.

 

 

Maverick Sabre has been on a 2 year hiatus and if this is a prediction of the music to come then this upcoming album will definitely reach heights his Lonely Are The Brave didn’t, (especially in the US).

 

Check out dwfmedia

Cozz “Dreams” and “I Need That”

The local LA homie Cozz released this track in early March. Within a week this video went from under a 1oo views to about 27,000 views. The video has lost some of its traction since its early release but we wanted to share it again and give it some new looks.

Cozz has also released his track titled “I Need That”.

 

We’ll keep ya’ll up to date on when the mixtape will be released.

Thanks to 2dopeboyz.com and passionweiss.com

Little Dragon’s Nabuma Rubberband

After looking at several different reviews of Little Dragon’s Nabuma Rubberband, it was difficult to figure out whether this review would be out of the ordinary. Pitchfork did not seem to like the album beyond a score of 6.8 and many other music websites had reviews all over the place. But after listening to this album consistently for the past week, it is easy to see why this album is so polarizing.

This album is very much reminiscent of Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, even though the overall sounds are different, they share that awkward blend of genres that you don’t expect to work but for some listeners clearly do. In Nabuma Rubberband, you can find essences of trip-hop, American pop, R&B and neo-soul which combine to make this funky sound with slight references to the bands Swedish origin.

Yukimi Nagano voice is crisp and as you traverse through the different songs of the album, her voice is the guiding light through it all. 

Tracks from the album that were very attention grabbing include “Let Go”, “Pretty Girl” and “Klapp Klapp”.

Check out popmatters.com

Album Rate 7.9/10