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The Metamorphosis of Kanye West

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Kanye West is easily one of the most divisive and contradictory players in the game today. So divisive in fact, most can’t even agree on what game Kanye’s actually playing. Music, fashion, Kapitali$ing on the Karda$hian Kid$, or simply rick-rolling young blondes at award shows; as the game changes, so does Chameleon Kanye. *cough Yeezus.* Undeniably, most have struggled to reconcile his often-outlandish public persona with his force as a humble yet boundary-breaking music producer. Yes, I did just write humble and Kanye in the same sentence. 

Almost exactly a year ago, in what was a candid-as-Kanye-gets interview with The New York Times, West explored the various influences and inspirations for his latest album, Yeezus. Along with ensuring that henceforth no commentator (myself included) could mention Kanye West without including some scathing reference to his boundless adoration for the late Steve Jobs (man, he really likes him), The Times interview also delivered him an incredible amount of flack for peremptory insistences like “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things” and like “Yeah, respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins.”

A year on from citing Le Corbusier’s lamp as his greatest influence and declaring NBA commissioner David Stern an artist, Kanye’s gone and got hitched to an impeccably-dressed pot of vanity in front of a impeccably well-curated wall of flowers, has graced the cover of US Vogue with said pot of vanity and baby North, been declared by Lou Reed as “the only person who’s out there really doing something,” and collaborated with James Blake on the Brit’s upcoming album. Having been described by Justin Vernon from Bon Iver as “otherwordly,” and securing the lead role in Instagram’s Most Liked Picture of all time, the West that walked out on stage yesterday at the Cannes Lions Festival to talk all things techno-culture, is a far cry away from West that ranted for 8 minutes straight on Jimmy Kimmel mere months ago. Despite spinning the same bullshit about design with utopian aspirations, and the hard-knock life of “rentable” celebrities who face public “lashings,” Yeezus appeared a changed man. Cool, calm and collected.

Here’s why.

Firstly, Kanye’s started wearing skirts 

“Men wearing skirts goes back hundreds of years, but never caught on in America. We have been brainwashed into thinking this is some sort of feminine act. One of the most masculine things you can do is put on a skirt.”

Ever knowledgable Kanye knows that happy genitals equal happy people, right? So in an act invested with moralistic intension and a desire to de-brainwash the poor un-manly men of America, Kanye’s reinvented the wheel with his high end man-skirt. Taking the lead, not that he’d admit it though, from Marc Jacob’s signature kilt, Kanye’s ensuring that as summer descends on LA LA Land he, along with anyone looking to purchase a man-skirt for a mere $US250-$US5000, will have easy, breezy and carefree junk in an environment designed for optimum mobility and fresh air cultivation. Making people happy in the pants, or should I say skirt, always makes you feel good about yourself so it’s no wonder Yeezy is all smiles.

When he’s not wearing skirts, he’s wearing track pants

After an on-going saga with Nike, in which the brand failed to promise Yeezus royalties to his Yeezy trainers, or deliver future collections for the designer collaboration, a now Baby-Daddy in all their three-stripe, dollar $ign goodness.

“The old me without a daughter might of taken the Nike deal, because I just love Nike. But the new me, with a daughter, takes the Adidas deal, because I have royalties and I have to provide for my family.”

It’s humbling to know that worries regarding financial security keep even the Kim-ye clan up at night. So, with a new collaboration under his belt, and well on the way to getting his money “up to the next level. Because it ain’t on Jay Z level yet, it ain’t on Diddy yet,” it seems clear all Kanye of by-gone days really needed was a few good nights’ sleep.

He even designed the blanket under which he’s been sleeping

?

He found time to stop and smell the roses

With Annie Leibovitz pulling out from her role as official Kim-ye wedding photographer mere days before the wedding, Kanye was still determined to have Annie-Leibovitz-like photography for his big day. While this meant he enlisted the help of a 19 year old, then-unknown photographer, it also meant he spent “like four days,” perfecting the palate of a flower-filled photo of their wedding for Instagram. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.

He’s become a family man

During The New York Times interview, Kanye was particularly tight-lipped when it came to discussing family matters, stating “I don’t want to explain too much into what my thoughts on, you know, fatherhood are, because I’ve not fully developed those thoughts yet. I don’t have a kid yet.” And explaining that when baby North did come, it would be his kid, “not America’s.” A Vogue cover and one highly anticipated, over-the-top wedding later and my, my, how times have changed. Mother-in-law Kris Jenner sat in the audience for Kanye’s stint on the Cannes stage, while Kanye himself declared he “can’t be with any girl but Kim because that’s the girl that I look at her pictures the most and get turned on the most.” What did I say about happy genitals equalling happy people?

And finally, his genius has been credited in app-form

In yet another social initiative to beautify the world, Kanye lent his mug to web programming group, The Free Art and Technology, for an application that allows you to put Yeezy’s face all over your desktop’s icon dock. Downloadable here, Kanye must be feeling pretty good about bringing some Kanye-tinted beauty to desktops everywhere. 

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5 Types of Music Apps You Need In Your Life

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1. Streaming

Hype Machine 

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Starting as a web experiment in 2005, Hype Machine has grown into a powerful tool that joins the forces of 806 independent blogs and websites to curate the best music from around the web. Their app version of the website gives you the ability to choose which songs you enjoy with the simple tap of a <3, now with the newly-added feature of ‘playlists’, allowing you to categorise your favourites into ‘Up’, ‘Down’ & ‘Weird’. It’s also the perfect hub to find remixes of the songs you love.

Cost: $4.99

Compatibility: App, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. 

Download on iTunes 

Indie Shuffle 

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A run-off from the popular indie music website, the Indie Shuffle app provides you with playlists of the best electronic, hip-hop, indie-rock and folk music along with their favourite remixes, all curated by a team of music enthusiasts. All that is required of you is to find a track and hit play, and Indie Shuffle will build the playlist around your selection, helping you to discover new music on the go.  The best things about this app? No ads, no listening limits for the small price of zilch!

Cost: Free

Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. 

Download on iTunes 

2. Online Magazine

The Fader 

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The official app for The FADER contains features from the magazine and the blog, podcasts, FADER TV, information on FADER’s parties and, best of all, a music player curated by the  ‘definitive voice of emerging music and the lifestyle that surrounds it’.  This is the perfect app for discovering music’s next best thing, with The Fader claiming to be the most ‘dynamic breath of music and style emanating the fringes of the mainstream’. Basically download this if you wanna be a cool cat. 

Cost: Free

Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch.

Download from iTunes 

Pitchfork Weekly 

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Pitchfork Weekly presents the editorial highlights from their website, updating the app constantly with reviews, features, columns, audio and exclusive videos from Pitchfork TV. The best part of this app is the staff-produced podcasts which feature conversations over the week in music as well as mixes of the latest tracks. 

Cost: Free

Compatible: iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch.

Download from iTunes 

3. Novelty

Tunepics 

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Tunepics is social media with a soundtrack that stimulates the eyes and the ears. Think instagram with Miley Cyrus-esque filters and songs to accompany your picture. It enables you to upload your photos, edit them with a weather filter, express your emotion at the time via a colour wheel and also pair it with a song. Endorsed by Lily Allen, Jamie Oliverwill.i.am and Kate Bosworth. 

Cost: Free

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. 

Download on iTunes  

Songza

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Voted the ‘App Store Best of 2012’, Songza plays you ‘the right music at the right time’, curating playlists for your certain mood at a certain time of day. Want to soundtrack your sweaty dance party? Trying to find a song to match your confidence? Or just want to belt out that incredible voice of yours in the shower? Then this app is just for you.

Cost: Free

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. 

Download on iTunes 

4. DIY DJ

TRAKTOR DJ

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TRAKTOR DJ app brings the pro software straight to iOS, giving you the ability to create instant DJ sets. Compatible with iPhone and iPad, it allows you to create mixes in seconds from your own iTunes library using familiar hand gestures to perform hands-on, high-impact sets. Auto tempo detection also makes track-syncing and beat-matching a breeze, right in the palm of your hands.  

Cost: $1.99

Compatibility: iPhone & iPad

Download iPhone App on iTunes 

Download iPad App on iTunes 

Slussen 

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Slussen is the accompanying app to the Scandinavian brand of headphones Urbanears and ‘the most powerful after-party known to man’. Just plug in the adapter, connect your headphones and sound system for your very own pocket-sized DJ kit. Just like the real deal, Slussen has a pre-listening feature that ensures you can prepare the next track while the previous beats are still pumping. Hot tip: The headphones are the perfect accompaniment to this app. Choose from the rainbow selection here.

Cost: Free

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Download on iTunes 

5. Concert

BandMate 

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BandMate helps you find when your favourite band is playing, recommending live music events in your area based purely on what you’re listening to. It also uses the artists already on your iPhone/iPod to discover other bands you might like and creates a personalised calendar of the shows you want to see.

Cost: $1.99

Compatibility: 

Download from iTunes 

Songkick 

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Honoured with the titles ‘UK iTunes App of the Week’, ‘Cult of Mac Must-Have App’ and ‘Billboard App of the Month’, Songkick tracks your favourite bands and  suggests concerts based on the ones you’ve already been to. It also tracks the artists you’ve been following and alerts you when they’re in town so you’ll never miss your favourite act again. 

Cost: Free

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Download from iTunes 

 

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Twitter Talks Kanye at Cannes

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Talk about music in conversation.Overnight, Kanye West took to the stage at the annual Cannes Lions awards show and festival as a late addition to the Translation’s seminar, entitled Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape. Never one to miss an opportunity to publicly drool over the late Steve Jobs, or  “say these really big over-the-top statements that end up getting quoted,” his presence at the creative communications festival provided Twitter with a more-quotable -than-quotable carb-loaded meal, ready for the taking.

Here’s some Yeezus flavoured inspiration for your morning.

 

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Listen Out: Our Predictions

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If you’re looking for 2015’s predictions, you’re in the wrong place. Try here

Last year Fuzzy’s Listen Out Festival took over smoothly from their previous event, Parklife. It toured around the country with a stellar line-up including Disclosure, AlunaGeorge, Classixx and an always interesting Azealia Banks. This year it’s back again to showcase the latest in IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). The Line-up will be revealed tomorrow at 3pm but before, we’ve put together a bunch of names we think may be making the trip down-under.

EDIT: Sooo, looks like we only got 1/13 artists correct (and Zhu was already confirmed). Here’s hoping these guys tour Australia soon:

ZHU

Faded has become the mainstream crossover hit of the year and it looks as if Listen Out has already booked American producer Zhu. Their video released last week, titled ‘Dance’, was sound tracked by Zhu giving some pretty strong proof that he’s going to be on that line-up.

Chances: No doubt.

La Roux

We’ve waited five long years for her second album, Trouble In Paradise, so excuse us for feeling like a visit from La Roux is compulsory. It’s likely she’ll make an Australian visit soon. The question is whether Listen Out is the right festival to flash her new songs.

Chances: There’s a suitable gap in her touring schedule for an Australian tour and she’s played Fuzzy’s previous festival, Parklife before.

Robyn & Royksopp

This Swedish trio would make dazzling headliners for the festival. They’re busy in Europe this Summer but come Listen Out, it looks as if they’re free. Their new mini-album, Do It Again, would provide a perfect soundtrack for this tightly-curated festival. When Triple J asked them about an Australian tour last month they said, “We hope so, we’re planning for it”.

Chances: If we had to put our bets on one act it would be these guys.

Basement Jaxx

Fuzzy have toured Basement Jaxx and their seventh album Junto is out in August. What better way to flaunt the new tunes than to come down-under and boogie with a Springtime Aussie crowd.

Chances: Where’s your head at? Ours is saying yes.

Danish pop star, MØ, did a short jaunt around the country last year, however, she is yet to play it a festival crowd here. With her debut album, Mythologies To Follow, out, she could fill a Listen Out up and comer slot easily.

Chances: She has a show in New York on 25 September. A Valium, an overnight plane ride and she’ll be right as rain to be play Sydney on 27 September.

Chromeo

2011 was the last time these American funksters were in the country so a return is imminent. Their new album, White Woman, is perhaps their most accessible yet and a night time slot at Listen Out would be a huge drawcard.

Chances: Their tour schedule has room for Listen Out but they told inthemix that it looks like they’ll be returning “at the top of next year”. Looks like Falls Festival or Big Day Out may have snapped them up already.

Bag Raiders

Bag Raiders have just released a new track, Nairobi, and have worked with Fuzzy previously. Judging from that track they’ll bring their marimba and grass skirts to stir the crowd into a haze should hey find themselves on the line-up.

Chances: it’s certainly not the most outlandish claim we’ve made.

 

Alison Wonderland

An Aussie success story is always necessary at a homegrown festival. Having just performed a sold-out bunch of warehouse shows, Wonderland is the success story Listen Out needs. Her new EP, I Want U is due this week and is likely to further swell adoration for this fast-rising dancefloor queen.

Chances: There’s no reason why not.

Todd Terje

Whip out the coconuts, crack-open the Malibu, ladies and gentlemen, it’s album time. This wacky Norwegian encompasses everything this festival is about, left-of-centre dance music to usher in the Spring months. His latest album is packed with jubilant, tropical vibes and he would no doubt stir some groovy dancing come September.

Chances: His touring schedule currently says “Yeah, I could do that”. This would be perfect.

SAFIA

Canberra lads, SAFIA, are currently traipsing around the country on a sold-out tour, proving why they’d be a stellar book for Listen Out. The afternoon slot occupied by RUFUS last year is calling for a sunset sing-along to Listen To Blues, Listen To Soul. These guys are the local act most likely to appear on every festival bill this year a la Flume or Rufus.

Chances: Pencil it in.

Little Dragon

Maybe it’s a long shot but Swedish band Little Dragon played Parklife in 2011 so Fuzzy must have their number saved in their phone. Their new album Nabbuma Rubberband is perhaps their strongest yet and would soundtrack the twilight hours of the main stage nicely. The only problem? They have a short Australian tour booked for August.
Chances: A long shot but we can’t help but keep our fingers crossed.

Route 94

This British producer’s move from dub-step to deep house was met with open arms this year with the Jess Glynne featuring, My Love. It’s the kind of sound that dominated last year’s Listen Out and would seemingly fit like a glove on the 2014 line-up.

Chances: It’s possible. Route 94 would be a welcome international drawcard.

SBTRKT

He hasn’t been here since early 2013, so surely we’re due a return visit from the enigmatic British producer. He’s just dropped a new track with Sampha and apparently has an album on the way so Listen Out would be the perfect opportunity to test out his new music down-under.

Chances: There’s room in between a trip to the UK and Mexico. He’d be a strong player in the upper-echelons of the line-up.

EDIT: It ain’t gonna happen 🙁

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Dates:

Saturday, 27th September 2014
Centennial Park, Sydney

Sunday, 28th September 2014
Ozone Reserve, Perth

Saturday 4th October 2014
Observatory Precinct, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Sunday 5th October 2014
The Avenues & Expo Place, Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane

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Against Lana Del Rey

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Lana Del Rey is one of the most divisive figures in pop music. As she approaches the release of her second album, Ultraviolence, two of our writers took sides. One in defence of Lana and the other against. Yesterday, Sam wrote in defence of the singer. Today, Hannah writes in opposition to Lana Del Rey. Let the battles begin. 

Let’s just start by saying I am someone never short of an opinion. Founded or otherwise, once I’ve settled on said opinion, I dig my heels firm into the ground on which I stand and should you have a hope in hell of changing said opinion, come armed with a hefty entourage of big ol’ beefy men to drag me kicking and screaming from my stake on a patch of self assured, unnecessarily opinionated turf.

This is relevant only because sometime during 2011 I decided to hate Lana Del Rey. Or Lizzie Grant. Or Elizabeth Grant. Or whatever name she was choosing to use at that stage of her career.

Now, in anticipation of her second major-label album release, Ultraviolence, with google producing more than 98,900,000 search results in less than 0.25 seconds for those three little big-money-making words, Lana Del Rey, I thought it best to revisit exactly what it is about the boofy-hair-come-boofy-lipped beauty I just can’t bring myself to endure. You know, for rebuttal’s sake.

While a fair amount of hate is attributable to the fact that Born To Die alone has sold more than the combined efforts of Queen B’s last two studio albums, it goes deeper. Sorry Beyonce.

Reading Ms Del Rey’s interview with The Fader last week, it’s impossible to ignore the first mention of any of her creative potential is not, as you would expect, regarding her languid vocals or her new, rock-focused direction but rather her synonymous video clips. “Lana Del Rey’s filmography is a master class on how to build an icon,” while said by Duncan Cooperin‘s reference to the “shaky clip of a teary 2013 performance, shot on a phone by a fan in Dublin,” it does seem to echo a similar sentiment of Del Rey’s own: “My songs are cinematic so they seem to reference a glamorous era or fetishize certain lifestyles.” And one again found in Nitsuh Abebe’s article for Pitchfork that notes rather despairingly, “In a sense, these great videos are oddly terrible at their job: Instead of selling you the music and showing you how it can feel, they actually hint at what the music lacks, the places it could go but has chosen not to.”

Del Rey’s music, image, videos, life, are so tightly tangled in one aesthetic, that there is simply no room to allow the viewer (should be/ would be listener) any truly unique or personal experience when engaging with her works. I’m hesitant to merely say “songs” because an overarching criticism is that just as Abebe suggests, her music is almost incomplete without an accompanying video clip. And, with her video clips more often than not forming literal representations of her already didactic lyrics, neither of them are anything without the sticky glue of Del Rey’s public persona. As it goes, Lana is as Lana does. Which is great if, as an artist, all you are interested in is carving out a niche for yourself, but when that niche becomes so tightly defined and imbued with cultural references of a bygone era, for the audience, it’s almost like falling down a very un-fun rabbit hole in which Del Rey’s nostalgia-by-design becomes “a fantasy world that makes you long for reality.”

The thing about Del Rey is that, yes, while her music is undeniably evocative, it is only evocative in a singular dimension that “relies on clichés (“God you’re so handsome/ Take me to the Hamptons”) rather than specific evocations.” It is such an exacting formula for nostalgia that should you deviate or be unwilling to travel down the same sepia-toned pathway, filled with the icons of way-back-when Americana, her music loses a decent amount of poignancy. While I acknowledge songs like Video Games, use this nostalgia to comment on 21st century livin’, if I can’t share the memory, I can’t learn from it. In this way her impeccably constructed image, coupled with her impeccably construct sound are, well… incredibly disengaging.

On that note, the constructed nature of Lana Del Rey’s career, that often attracts criticism for lack of authenticity and calls for the real Lana to please stand up, are surprisingly not a part of this argument. “Fake it ’til you make it,” has been a catch cry for masses of young, off-broadway hopefuls for generations now. Identity is fluid. It charges full steam ahead towards destination unknown, rarely touching the same stone twice, even for the most obdurate of personalities, of which Del Rey is not. To criticise the Del Rey today for not being the Lizzie Grant of the noughties, is no different from criticising the Miley Cyrus of today for not being the Hannah Montana of Disney fame. As a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, change is inevitable. Hell, even as an old woman on the cusp of menopause, change is inevitable. Change is ALWAYS inevitable. Were Lana Del Rey to do what Jon Caramanica suggests and wash that paint off her face and try again in a few years, she would be absolutely no better off, hounded by the exact same accusations of inauthenticity and falsehood.

What I will call bullshit on is that we, well you, her adoring fans, are supposed to take some solace from the too-well rehearsed party line, ‘while you might not know who she is, have faith nonetheless, she doesn’t know either.’ Poor, poor, lost soul Lana. After all, as Del Rey so succinctly puts it, she’s just “fucking around.” Reinvention is vital to success in an era of minute-attention spans, but really, who’s buying the just “fucking around” attitude? That, my friends is bullshit. That a woman can double Beyonce’s record sales just by “fucking around” and we’re supposed to lap it up, is quite frankly an insult. Alter egos, multiple personalities, stage presences, genuine experimentation, a new pair of shoes, a new “do,” are all part of staying alive as the pop machine churns ever onwards, but have some integrity while you rip through your mothers dress-up draw. Change with intention. Change from the core. Change for personal growth. Change and damn well say you’re changing. As it is, Caramanica hits the nail on the head in his New York times article, “People don’t know what to do with this unformed thing they’ve been told they need to care about; crushing it is easy, almost humane.”

Sitting here with my Mum, giving her a brief education on just who the enigma Lana Del Rey might be; her response? “She should just chuck it in, do away with her failed rendition of 60s screen siren sexuality and be a nice girl.”

Here, here.

Read the companion piece to this: In Defence of Lana Del Rey.

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In Defence of Lana Del Rey

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Lana Del Rey is one of the most divisive figures in pop music. As she approaches the release of her second album, Ultraviolence, two of our writers took sides. One in defence of Lana and the other against. Today, Sam writes in defence of Lana Del Rey.

I’m usually the first to sigh at the mention of Lana Del Rey. As a personality, I found her hard to gravitate towards. Everything, from the way she speaks, to her unbearingly literal lyrics and her supposed falsities, grated on me and I found myself moving away from the singer I once applauded for the beautiful, Video Games.

It’s not until I read her brilliant feature with The Fader last week, that I started to consider Lana Del Rey again. And understand her.

The Fader quipped “With Lana Del Rey, everybody’s a critic, and any interpretation is possible,” which is the very reason we found ourselves writing a feature for and against Lana Del Rey.

She’s a hard personality to pin down, which I think is the root of all her criticisms. She’s had different monikers, dated record-label execs and has a presumably rich, entrepreneurial Dad. None of these things bode well for her as a flower-wearing indie-kid who’s now signed to a major record-label.

In 2012, when she began to creep up the pop charts with Video Games, people took great delight in revealing these things, thinking they’d caught her out. However, she’s been more than open about such things. The Fader interview proved that. She openly admits she had a seven year relationship with a record executive and has a song on her new album about it (Fucked My Way To The Top). In 2011 she even told Pitchfork, “People have offered me opportunities in exchange for sleeping with them. But it’s not 1952 anymore. Sleeping with the boss doesn’t get you anywhere at all these days.”

Everything Del Rey does seems to be taken as a PR stunt- the long videos, her hatred of Lady Gaga and her name-change. She’s an impossible personality to digest on the surface. She seems fake, an opinion I also held. But if you invest the time in reading her backstory, some of her visual and audible contributions over the past few years make sense.

Herein lies the issue of Lana Del Rey. She was a self-made indie artist who suspiciously signed with two major labels very soon after the release of Video Games. I can admit, that is suspicious, however, the only issue with it would be if Del Rey appeared to be the product of label manufacturing. After reading her interviews, watching her videos, and listening to her sometimes grating lyrics, I can’t see how anyone else is behind Lana other than Lana. As her friend Jamie King says, “The only person who created Lana Del Rey is her.”

She’s not the first artist to change her name and persona for a crack at the industry. Katy Perry was once known as Christian singer, Katy Hudson, yet she’s not accused of inauthenticity half as much as Del Rey is. Bowie, Lady Gaga and Madonna have all also adopted stage personas over their own. Perhaps it’s her ambition that creates criticism. In just over three years she’s released a controversial album, played Jackie Kennedy in a video with a black president and starred in a self-directed short film, Tropico. The latter was reviewed by Speedy Orbitz member Sadie Dupuis, who said “a footnote of a PR stunt from a singer whose cinema chops are as wispy as her faux-retirement.”

All this seems to be a product of Del Rey’s apparent unsurety with who she actually is. Even without mentioning Lizzy Grant, Lana has been a myriad of characters. But I’m not sure they’re really characters. It seems she’s actually lived the life of many of them. Despite the fact she grew up with an entrepreneurial Dad, Del Rey spent time in a New-Jersey trailer-park.

She revealed to Nylon Magazine she feels connected to the biker culture, ““It’s about living for the day, which was my mindset for a long time”, she said. This identity is explored in the video for Ride. And yet she was critiqued for portraying a “prostitute” in a “stupefying video”.

Lana’s not a feminist, she details in The Fader interview. Yet she remarks, ““My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.” To me, that notion is portrayed eloquently in the Ride video.

Del Rey is an intriguing character because she’s so unsure herself of who she is. She tells Fader, “I’m trying to do what feels right. I tried a lot of different ways of life, you know, things I never really talk about, just because they are kind of different. I didn’t really have one fixed way that I could envision myself living.”

The most appealing trait I’ve noticed in Del Rey over the past few years is the impeccable grace she’s maintained during the storm of vicious criticism. After her Saturday Night Live appearance, Gawker called it the “worst outing in SNL history”. Two weeks later, she performed a stunning rendition of Video Games on David Letterman. As they say, don’t get angry, get even. This year she played Coachella with the LA Times calling it “a measure of redemption”.

Ultraviolence could’ve easily been an immaculately-produced pop record that panders to radio but instead she’s dropping one that willfully departs pop. It’s a gritty, rock-driven record with provocative titles that are bound to anger people that already find her unbearable (Money Power Glory, Fucked My Way To The Top). She’s either oblivious or she’s learnt to not give a shit. I’m going to side with the latter. After over five million sales of her debut album, she’s become unapologetic. And so she should be.

New York Times writer Jon Caramanica posted perhaps one of the most scathing reviews of Del Rey in 2012. He wrote, “Her cultural stamp has already been affixed, her biography written in concrete. The only real option is to wash off that face paint, muss up that hair and try again in a few years. There are so many more names out there for the choosing.”

His comments about the fleeting nature of her success seem devoid now given that she’s got a multi-million selling album, two platinum singles and over 100 million YouTube views. He did use a metaphor in that piece though, writing “one has to wear clothes for a long time before they fit well.” If that’s the case, Lana Del Rey has certainly grown into her assumed, fake persona. Everything we’ve heard off Ultraviolence so far sound bold and unphased by opinion.

Everybody’s become obsessed with authenticity like a soul-searching X Factor judge, when the industry always has and always will be about entertainment. And god damn, Del Rey is entertaining.

Love or or hate her she’s managed to penetrate the mainstream despite the barrage of criticism that suggested she’d never move past Video Games. She’s also done so without the help of David Guetta, Pharrell or Max Martin which is a feat many can’t claim.

Liz Phair said it best in her defence of Lana Del Rey when she wrote, “as a recording artist, I’ve been hated, I’ve been ridiculed, and conversely, hailed as the second coming. All that matters in the end is that I’ve been heard.”

Tomorrow Hannah will reply with a critique of Lana Del Rey. 

 

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10 Surprising Acting Cameos by Musicians

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Which famous DJ starred in their self-produced porn store sci-fi Christmas movie musical? Who was the English singer that flirted with Dr Karl on Neighbours? Read below for our top 10 surprising acting cameos by musicians.

Usher

Before he was proclaiming his confessions for the second time, Usher Raymond was the resident radio host / DJ in everyone’s favourite ‘90s makeover teen rom com, ‘She’s All That’.

ushershesallthat

The next best thing to Rachael Leigh Cook taking off her glasses to reveal that “omg, the nerd is totally, like, pretty?” is watching Usher himself choreographing the school to dance to Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank.

“Split like the red sea!” 

Andre 3000

One half of OutKast, André Benjamin, had dabblings in acting preceding his portrayal of Jimi Hendrix in 2013 biopic ‘All is by my Side’. He’s featured in various movies and TV shows, including ‘The Families’, ‘The Shield’, ‘Revolver’, ‘Semi-Pro’, ‘Four Brothers’ and as the voice of Elwyn the crow in ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

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André as Elwyn (can not confirm if left or right crow).

His more notable role in his acting career was as Dabu in ‘Be Cool’. For an entire 40 seconds of André’s infectious laughter, see below.

Kanye West

Not even the self-proclaimed King of Everything could save Mike Myers’ box office flop, ‘The Love Guru’.

Who knew he loved hockey so much?

Michael Jackson

MJ made a brief appearance in ‘Men in Black II’, surprisingly not as an alien but instead as someone desperate for a position at the Men in Black Headquarters. I wonder if he’ll make a comeback hologram appearance in ‘Men in Black V’?

The highlight of this video is the fangirl’s written commentary.

Moby

It seems that Moby has a fondness for erotic-themed movies, starring in ‘Suck’, ‘Joes’ Apartment’ and as the character ‘Dildo Head’ in his self-produced porn store sci-fi Christmas movie musical, ‘Moby Presents: Alien Sex Party’. Surprisingly, the latter’s IMDb rating is a measly 4.2/10, with reports of Moby distancing himself from the production and even requesting to be edited out completely.

alien

I’m going to leave it up to you to figure out which one is ‘Dildo Head’.

Also worth a mention is ‘The Limo’ episode of How I Met Your Mother, where the gang mistake someone on the street to be Moby, pick him up in the Limo and head to his party. Upon ‘Moby’ ranting crazily and eventually threatening them with a gun, they realise he is in fact not Moby and hilarity ensues.

moby2 moby3J.P. Manoux as ‘Not Moby’.

Alicia Keys

Before she was setting the world on fire, Alicia Keys had acting cameos in ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, ‘Smokin’ Aces’ and as Scarlett Johansson’s sassy friend, Lynette, in ‘The Nanny Diaries’.

cosby

Backstreet Boys

One of the best TV cameos to date is the Backstreet Boys starring as a boy band-come-furry mammals(?) in ‘Arthur’. The episode, ‘It’s only Rock n Roll’, focuses on the boys’ pending visit to Elwood City and Muffy’s major, totally-relatable crush on Nick Carter.

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Backstreet Boys did it wayyy before Chance the Rapper.

Full episode can be found here. Watch it. Your 12-year-old self with thank you for it.

Lily Allen

Starring as herself, and additionally flirting with Ramsay St resident ‘DILF’ Dr Karl, in ‘Neighbours’.  

King Avriel

Before she was a gender boundaries-pushing electro queen, 23-year-old King Avriel  starred alongside Football Head Arnold as Timberly in the childhood classic ‘Hey Arnold!’.

KINGAVRIEL

The resemblance is uncanny.

Watch ‘Timberly Loves Arnold’ for a full 10 minute blast from the past 

Radiohead

Playing themselves in one of the most iconic South Park episodes of all time, ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’, Radiohead scold Tenorman for being a ‘crybaby’ while he sobs into a bowl of chilli containing his parents’ innards. After Thom Yorke‘s dance moves in ‘Lotus Flower’, you could almost call him a triple threat.

Poor Kid A.  

Can you remember any great TV or movie cameos by a musician? Let me know below or feel free to tweet me: @bianca_interns 

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What the fuck is PC Music?

WHATDAFUCK

Last week, we took on A G Cook’s latest track Beautiful in First Impressions. While Hannah compared it to Snozberries, Lizzie likened it to the Rugrats, noting that she wasn’t “sold on the whole Hello Kitty sound”. The cultural references were becoming a little overwhelming so I decided to pose myself the question, ‘What the F**K is PC Music?’

Nintendo. Dance Dance Revolution. Korea. Siri. These are all things that come to mind when you hear the music coming out of new label PC Music. Spend a moment with PC Music’s soundcloud and you’ll be both intrigued and disgraced. The music coming out of the label sounds completely inhuman but at the same time acutely reminiscent of a generation built on smartphones that talk, nostalgia and EDM.

PC Music is run by London producer A G Cook who also releases music through the label. In an interview with Tank Magazine, Cook said, “The label’s called PC Music, which alludes to how the computer is a really crucial tool, not just for making electronic music but for making amateur music that is also potentially very slick”.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/beautiful[/soundcloud]

It’s an apt way of describing it. Nowadays very little difference can be heard between bedroom and studio producers. The meteoric success of Flume from a very early point in his career is testament to this. The music coming out of PC Music is so slick, it’s being compared to candy in abundance. In a way, it’s bubblegum music. So smoothed out and computer-driven that it’s lost all imperfection. Where rock n’ roll was born on impurities, PC Music’s difference comes in its ability to sound criminally crisp.

Cook was born in 1990 and notes that he grew up using a computer at quite an advanced level. The music has both the clunkiness of Windows 98 and the effortless sheen of an Apple Mac.

A demonstration of modern technology, all the press shots for PC Music’s artists are just as devoid of humanity as the music. An artist like Hannah Diamond (below), for example, looks as if she has nothing behind the eyes. The picture’s personality is simply delivered through bright, childlike colours and its likeness to childhood cartoon characters.

Apart from creator A G Cook, one of the most notable artists on the label is the aforementioned Hannah Diamond. Her songs redefine the meaning of minimal. They’re like deconstructed Top 40 tracks that have been redone out of mockery. Her voice is like a slightly more natural Siri. In normal circumstances, these things would be criticisms. But they’re not. It seems Diamond sits so far to the left on the kitsch spectrum, that there’s a stroke of genius in how otherworldly it sounds.

Her track Attachment has her singing “Together, forever” like a children’s doll. Creepy, yes. Infectious, yes. There’s a deep sense of ‘90s nostalgia that makes it oddly irresistible. Top 40 Pop music is a guilty pleasure but it’s fairly simple to explain why. Attachment is also a guilty pleasure, however, it’s close to impossible to describe why. On Soundcloud one user comments, “Why do I like this” while another says “this is wackkkkk”. She’s also compared to “an illiterate preschooler”.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/attachment[/soundcloud]

FACTmag described it best when they wrote she’s “like the girls at your school who practised Spice Girls dance routines in the playground and smoked fags on school trips, but while her brittle, Estuary tones make her sound like a Smash Hits star from the late ’90s, her songs couldn’t be more 21st century”.

A G Cook told Tank Magazine, “My work’s constant use of instantly gratifying elements such as kitsch imagery, catchy hooks, synthetic colours and fun sound effects feels inevitable, it’s almost a compulsion rather than a choice.” The idea of compulsion rather than choice is one that defines most of the labels sound. Much of the music sounds like it’s giving into seven deadly sins. It’s particularly a result of gluttony in the way that it over-indulges in pop’s melodic demons and lustful in the way that it centres mostly round the theme of 21st century love.

Consumerism is a notion that PC Music introduces a number of times. On Lipgloss Twins’ Wannabe, a computerised voice repeats “Topman, topshop”, “fake Prada, fake Louis, fake Zara” and then “I don’t wanna be a twin”. It’s the first time PC Music has eluded to a criticism of 21st Century culture. Cook said “Challenging something’s commercial nature is a commercial tactic in itself, and authenticity is a tricky currency that is often swayed by branding and advertising.”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/wannabe[/soundcloud]

It’s entirely possible that the musicians on PC Music aren’t purposely critiquing our culture. There’s an enigmatic nature to the label that makes it easy to overanalyse without having a specific voice to speak for the music. In an industry where everyone’s trying to keep it ‘real’, it’s ironically refreshing to have a label embracing some of the critiques of this generation.

While I’ve tried to answer the question of ‘what is PC Music?’, I fear i’ve only further confused myself. Such is the intrigue of the label. The best way to discover it, is to listen to it. On first attempt, you’ll most likely hate but like a sugar-addiction it will grow on you. Before you know it, you’ll be asking “Please sir, can I have some more?”

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/sets/top-40[/soundcloud]

 

RICHKIDZ2

5 Rich Kids in Hip Hop

RICHKIDZ

It’s time to talk business. Last Thursday, Dr Dre officially became is the first billionaire in hip hop, acquiring a cool $3 billion ($2.6 in cash, $400 million in stock….but who’s counting) in one of the most mouthwatering deals of the decade. While the rumours mounted that Apple Inc. were going to pull the plug on this trademark deal with Beats Electronics after that Facebook video announcement (Money + Rapper ? Intelligence), things seem to be all rich and rosy between the two megabrands.

The first billionaire in hip-hop, right here from the motherf**king West Coast.”

But wait- the music. Where is the music in all of this? While many musicians are happy to settle with their music, their fans, their millions and their countless rehab stints, others have taken it upon themselves to trade their musical notes, for well, just notes, making their money elsewhere. Damn talented people, I probably should have really listened more in my Business 1001 classes.

Riding the wave of their multi-million dollar endorsement deals, clothing lines, book deals, restaurants, movies, and even perfumes (I mean who can resist the scent of Eau de Katy Perry) – the new millennium has seen an influx of talented musicians, or notably hip-hop moguls, trading their brand on the stock market in places you wouldn’t even imagine.

Here are a cashed up hip-hop artists who have acquired all them dollar bills in the most unlikely of places.

monies

Dr Dre

Consumerist Teenager: Dr Dr, I am having a problem hearing my music!

Dr Dre: An Apple (Inc.) a day keeps the doctor away!

How about $3 billion of dem Apples! That’s right, Dr Dre and his business partner Jimmy Iovine have finally done it – they are hip-hop’s first billionaires, signing a deal even grand in Apple’s standards. Described as a “no brainer” by Apple Chief Exec Timothy Cook, the acquisition of Beats Electronics is in fact Apple’s largest purchase to date, with the Beats’ subscription-based music streaming service as its main selling point.

“We’ve known these guys forever,” Cook added, “We’ve dated, we’ve gone steady and now we’re getting married.” Sorry Kanye and Kimmy, this may actually be the biggest wedding in hip-hop history. Dr Dre and Iovine have not only made headphones cool again since they started the company in 2008, but they entered into an overpriced market that only the big boys at Apple can afford. Well played, very well played.

dRDRE

50 Cent

It’s hard to think that a hip-hip, dirty lyric, rapper named Curtis ’50 Cent” Jackson, would go from selling 15 million records and being shot 9 times, to being one of the richest big boys in the music beverage industry. Huh? That’s right. Jackson’s beverage company Glaceau was the creator and marketer for “Formula 50”, a brand of Vitamin Water which Coca-Cola purchased in 2007 for a tidy $100million. How refreshing!

Half a decade later, 50 has launched his Street King Energy shot, and it’s already moved to number two slot in its ($2 billion) market. Just to add to his G-unit clothing company, not to mention the deal made with Reebok in 2003, his own record label, G-Unit Records and monies earned from his dabbles in acting and authoring. Hand this guy an Oscar already!

blindkid

Sadly, money does not buy coordination…. 

Jay (remove the hyphen) Z

Jay-z sings it perfectly in Kanye West’s song “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”: “I’m not a businessman, I am a business, man!”

With an estimated net worth of $475million in 2013, Brooklyn born Jigga is not only a master of music, but a myriad of businesses as well. He is a hip-hop god, a fashion exec to his own Rocawear clothing label as well as an entertainment mogul, earning double digit millions from his concerts and Roc a Fella label, and new sports news agency launched just last year. Although this hustler doesn’t fully own any alcohol brand, he is associated with a number of top alcohol brands in the market, including Ace of Spades and D’Ussé cognac,

If that isn’t success, then he’s always got Beyoncé’s measly $300 million empire to fall back on (sigh).

P-Diddy

Up until May this year, Sean “Diddy” Combs held the crown as the richest rapper in the world. Although he may have lost the illustrious title to Dr Dre, I’m sure he won’t be going hungry tonight with a staggering net worth of $700 million. A cool $120 million more than 2013, thanks to his deal with beverage giant Diageo and his burgeoning Revolt TV music channel.

While on stage we have seen him change his name from “Puff Daddy”, to “P.Diddy” to just “Diddy”, lately, this entrepreneur has adopted the moniker “Ciroc Obama” (his words, not mine). As Ciroc Vodka’s value soars toward $1 billion, this entitles him to an eight-figure annual payout and a nine-figure windfall if the brand is ever sold, cementing himself on the cover of Forbes’ 400 lists alongside Warren Buffet as one of hip-hop’s next billionaires.

This guy has so much (non-music) money he really doesn’t give any fucks if he loses a mil or two!

I OWE YOU: Diddy scrawled out an IOU for $1 million dollars after losing a “shooting dice” bet with Rick Ross. He aptly captioned the video “I just lost a million dollars. It ain’t nothing #SuckMyD**kB***h

IOU

Bryan “Birdman” Williams

For everyone who is thinking, who the [email protected]#k is this guy? You are not alone. This New Orleans-born rapper/producer-turned-entrepreneur was the co-founder of musical powerhouse Cash Money Records, with his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams over two decades ago. Starting to ring a bell? Cash Money Records inked a $30 million distribution deal with Universal in 1998, catapulting it to success, signing rappers such a Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. With a net worth of $160 million ($300 together with his brother), Birdman placed himself securely in the Top 5 of this year’s Forbes “Hip-Hop Cash Kings”. Now, Birdman and Slim seem intent on taking over the world building a new branch of their business Cash Money Sports in May 2014, signing Texan American Footballer Mike Evans to the agency.

imrichbitch

throwaway3

Throwaway Thursday

throwawaythursdays3

Congratulations, you’ve nearly made it to the long weekend! Since you made it this far, we thought we’d give you a li’l somethin’ somethin’ (ie: free stuff) to celebrate.

LISTEN: How To Dress Well- No Words To Say Mix

How To Dress Well, aka. Tom Krell, is a sensitive man, as he’s proved on his latest tracks Repeat Pleasure and Words I Don’t Remember. This mix is made up of songs that inspired his forthcoming album, What Is This Heart? and it’s just a tad melancholic. All you probably need to know to get you interested is that it starts with Tracey Chapman. If that’s not enough, it also features unreleased sneak previews of his new album.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/howtodresswell/no-words-to-say-songs-for-what-is-this-heart[/soundcloud]

STREAM: Glass Animals, Jack White, First Aid Kit

Do release dates not mean anything anymore? New albums from Jack White, First Aid Kit and Glass Animals have all been made available to stream ahead of their release. Naturally, they’re all very different. Swedish duo First Aid Kit offer up a nuanced, Americana sound on their third release, Stay Gold, while Jack White does, well, what he always does on his second solo LP Lazaretto. British band Glass Animals are the newest of the bunch. ZABA is their RnB-inspired debut and features Triple J favourite, Goeey.

Stream Jack White- Lazaretto here.

Stream First Aid Kit- Stay Gold here.

Stream Glass Animals- ZABA here.

READ: Glass Animals go through their debut album, ZABA

Dave Bayley’s lyrics are often hard to work-out in Glass Animals tracks. So, if you’re listening along to the stream and need someone to gently guide you through it track-by-track, Bayley is at your call. He’s spoken to The Quietus a little bit about the meaning and process of each of ZABA’s tracks. And yes, he says things like “I recorded the vocal while holding a pineapple called Sasha Fierce”.

Read over at The Quietus.

LISTEN: Drake- 0 to 100/The Catch Up

Everyone loves to hate Degrassi Drake but when the man gets it right, he gets it soooo right. This new one, dropped for no rhyme or reason, splits itself into two. O to 100 is brash and confident while The Catch Up lends itself more to the melancholic production of a cut like Furthest Thing. It’s rumoured to feature James Blake at the end and it sure does sound like it. There’s also an album meant to be due in 2015 but until then grab this freebie.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/octobersveryown/drake-0-to-100[/soundcloud]

LISTEN: R.Kelly- Ignition (Giraffage Remix)

Now, usually he don’t do this but San Francisco producer Giraffage has just been signed to Fool’s Gold records. To celebrate, he’s fulfilled every kid born in the 90s dream and dropped a remix of R.Kelly’s, Ignition. And presumably in some tip of the hat to 1999 Napster, he’s made it completely free. The producer finds himself in good company at Fool’s Gold. The label is home to names like Chromeo, Run The Jewels and RL Grime.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/foolsgoldrecs/ignition-remix-giraffage-remix[/soundcloud]

 

Until next week.

harrywave

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