Friday, August 26, 2016

Hot Summer

I wrote another book

It is called Hot Summer. It has stories, poetry, and comics all themed around summer. Here is the cover and download links:

I first had the idea for doing a summer-themed collection near the start of last year, so about half the material is from then. Going back to stuff this old was sometimes challenging/confusing but it was ultimately rewarding. Finishing off a project that I figured I'd abandoned was very satisfying too.

Like my previous book, I went into this thing it would be pretty easy and that I was 80% done. Ha ha ha no. My initial release goal was June 21st, the first day of summer lol. Every time I thought I was getting close I'd think of something new to add. The important thing is that it's done, and that I like it, and that I can vaguely imagine other people maybe liking it.

Here are thoughts on the individual pieces:

Hot One - this was the first thing I wrote in my initial attempt at a summer book. I can't remember exactly what I was going for but I still like it.

Deep/Deeper/Deepest Summer - I wrote these last year at my cottage. I hoped to capture the mysterious feelings I had around the cottage when I was young.

The Tetris Incident - this one is from this year. It's partially based on something that happened to me in high school. Probably the role that represents me will be obvious.

beachcomic2016 - I have been drawing comics for as long as I can remember and my art has never improved. Please tolerate it long enough to enjoy these beach 4-koma.

Summer Poetry - eight free verse poems, some from this year and some from last year. This is the first time I've shared poetry to this extent so please read it "gently".

Haze - this is a companion piece to "Hot One" written recently. It aims to capture a very visceral feeling of heat.

tide pools - this features characters that appeared in my novel, but I actually wrote this before the novel so the continuity might not work out idk lol.

Summer Night - this is sort of a followup to "Spring Album" in LMAX. Again it feels like the emotional territory here is unexplored, and for maybe a good reason hahaha.

I don't really have much more to say. I hope you give them a try. If you get bored with any part of it feel free to skip to another story, there isn't any required reading order.

I have another collection like this that I'm finishing up now... I think. Once again, it feels about 80% done, which means we'll probably see it in early 2017 :)

There's also a gigantic thing that no one asked for and no one should read coming on September 6th.

And I'm also working on a novella-length sequel to my novel, and another standalone novel, but they are progressing very slowly/infrequently.

Oh and the cover page I made using a screenshot from the anime Ping Pong and a sky texture I saw in the Lil Yachty 1 Night video. Here it is without the text.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Live Review - Jeffery - No, My Name is JEFFERY

She callin' me Jeffery!

Alright it's almost midnight and I have many many things to do but if I didn't do this right now I probably wouldn't get a chance for like a week. That's unacceptable.

Some places are still tagging this as an upload by "Young Thug" which at this point is just insulting, frankly. He's made it perfectly clear, all-caps clear.

The first time I remember him referring to his own name like this was on 1017 Thug's "I'm Fo Real", where he sings, with quite a lot of emotion, "My real name Jeffery and I run around the lobby" and then ad-libs back at himself "what up, Jeffery?". I found this line fascinating in my early days of Thugger fandom... on the one hand, you've got this guy named "Young Thug", which is just about the most generic rap name imaginable, so far from anything uniquely meaningful that it must be performative, tongue-in-cheek, in the know. And on the other, he's emphasizing that his real name is Jeffery, which is about the most generic male first name imaginable, so generic that it almost registers more as a fake name than a real name in many contexts, but, as a rap name, is so surreal and bizarre. Like how many rappers just use their actual first name as their rap name? Rappers with cool names don't count. The only one I can think of is Dave.

Both name choices - Young Thug and Jeffery - seem somehow above and tangential to any "game" played by other rappers to infuse their names with coolness, significance, authenticity. There's something very powerful in that. And yet his obsession with his own name, with the "Thugger Thugger!" adlibs, and this bizarre name-switching stunt in the first place, seems to indicate the exact opposite of this aloofness - he's wielding his names as if it they were "traditional".

I'm not sure if this makes any sense. I'm very sleep deprived. I just think "Young Thug" is one of the best names I've ever heard and "Jeffery" is even better. The trailer is insane too... Whitehouse-style power electronics over title cards... Police interrogating him seeming for the "crime" of claiming he's "Jeffery" when he's clearly "Young Thug"... people trying to entice him back to his "old life" while he's still loaded up with ice and smoking blunts... I think this sort of cake-eat duality is key to Thugger, there might be a change, there might be no change, but he can have the performance of a change regardless.

No, no, the only key thing for Jeffery is how good that clip at the end sounds. Why am I still talking about this when I could be listening to it. As his friends at the end say "So it's Jeffery then. Who cares?".

Jeffery - No, My Name is JEFFERY
Live Review

1. Wyclef Jean
Okay this one is called Wyclef Jean but it isn't the one featuring Wyclef Jean. Uhhh okay. Ice sounds. OH SHIT this is the one in the clip. Really crazy reggae vibes, really rocking this slow bpm. Even his "skirrr skirrr" sounds were relaxed. And the "ahhh duu laaa yeaaaa" sounds in the back are fantastic omg the huge hollow drums. Easing into this nice bouncy flow, I love the way he says "muthafucka", omg getting more intense. "Yeah, I'm that swift" yeah that's right. saying strange things about his children maybe i misunderstand lol. i'm still waiting for when it really bursts through like in the clip OH WAIT here we go. "My money come longer than the Nascar race/I tell her keep coming on the gas, fuck the brakes" many layers to this fun hook. But man this is like... album tier production. This is the diversity of sounds and professionalism I expected from Hi Tunes. So Hi Tunes will even be BEYOND this LOL. omg the way he doubles on his own sort of double thing, I love that, he's so caught up in his backing vocals that he just lays it down again. Great start wow. **

2. Floyd Mayweather
Gucci feature oh hell yeah. Is this post-prison Thugger OOPS I MEAN JEFFERY and Gucci collab? oh man these sinister piano with the scattered trappy drums oml. "I got fifty foreign hoes on my dick", numbers like fifty are so funny in these contexts. I can really feel Gucci lurking on this beat. Like the scenes in a Godzilla movie before Godzilla shows up. "Mwah mwah" ad-libs lol. "I'm selling purple reign, RIP to Prince", ahhhhh yes. "I made one brick turn to two I know a trick" oh shit this tricky flow too. Shoutouts to Dora, yay I love Dora. The way the energy is contained on this one is pretty nice but I really want someone to go nuts on it. But still, this real lurking feeling is fresh. "All my diamonds dancing like it's Bruce Lee, huooooaaaah" ahahahaha. I think this is Gunna now, he's always pretty solid. GunnaSilver maybe LOL high quality reference. LOL i was just about to say getting it from his mom is really questionable and he gets called out hahaha. "I spent thousand on my fucking shoes" feels almost like... uhh... emotion indescribable. S+

3. Swizz Beatz
So... is this produced by Swizz Beatz? Or is it just like... about him? Idk but I'm feeling this intro, luh luh luh lowwww. "I got me a high self esteem" hahaha well that just says it all right there. And dang this beat is sick, like underwater tropical. And now Jeffery going way tf in, this "with me with me" is really addictive, and then he carries the energy into stuff like "cheap cheap". LOL did he not just call himself Young Thug right there? The jig is up!! Dang at 2:00, this is a whole new mode, that sort of swell in his voice... it's like Joe Cocker more than anything. I like when he says "give it to your man" and then ad-libs "here". Still best ad-libs this side of the Bay. He's still having so much fun rapping, I think that's the most important part. what What What What WHAT. S

4. Future Swag
is this one about... Future?? nah I doubt it. 808 Mafia tag always hype FOR JUST THIS REASON OMG this beat this beat. I love those almost abrasive albums, and then that NES mysterious cave vibes. And Jeff going in of course, I do it I do it I do it. "The only thing I see is red like a bull", well, idk if that's how bullfighting works. "I'm brand new, just born" phoenix theory confirmed, Jeff is literally a reincarnation. "Lil momma she wet like a boat" with this sort of relentless rapping energy is so bizarre lol. lmao what did he say "my uncle that died is a Mason"? i must have misunderstood that. "Your kids see me on cable/And I'm drinking syrup... maple" hahahaha what. Okay yeah this one is really solid, very intense, so many layers of repetition, hooks on top of hooks, addictive. *

5. RiRi
Woah hmmm spacey, spoken word intro, this feels like a progressive trance intro with a very different vocal sample LOL. my god the amount of variance he has on every aspect of his flow... its like some worm squirming in 7 dimensions... i have to go to bed... "Do the work, baby do the work", how is this still somehow actually romantic?? Dang the very slight squeaks in his voice, that's so endearing for some reason lol. Emotional fears and also fears of his car getting shot. What a life. And I think he might have called himself a "softie" even. People gotta realize how crazy it is for Jeff to be as open and honest as he is. "I just signed a deal with Kevin, baby clap for me", who is Kevin here? "Apple Watch with them boogers on it" lol. LOL: "I got 37 thousand for my last 70 shows" and then he ad-libs "do the math!" really fast hahahaha. Alright this one is crazy, I have no idea anymore. "Be a bridge, you better not burn it" that's actually more sensible than it sounds I think. S+

6. Guwop
omg. this title. these features. THIS BEAT. i hear god approaching. "I hopped out the Coupe and I'm fresh as a bitch" uhh thats a new one, or i misheard it. The way he says "Chanel" is always always appealing. This flow sorta reminds me of his one on Chance's "Mixtapes", a godlike flow, one with so much potential in so many dimensions... ahh man the piano chord on the beat, that's so beautiful, how do they make such insights? How do they know where to put it? Young Scooter always solid, when he does this pretty energetic flow with his still sorta "weary" voice I love it, he's so good at that veteran status voice. Slime! "How to put 20 inside the seat" is actually a really intense situation when you think about it. Okay show me the Quavo ad-libs. Reveal Quavo. okay there was one LOL. it doesn't matter cause he's going in. "Splash!" a great recent Migos ad-lib. "I pay the neighbours to pick up the dope on their porches" good system. Deniability and all that lol. Offset, prolly rarest Migo these days. "Going up like a skateboard on a ramp" lol okay. "look at it, look at it" LOL I love that. Like Gucci's ad-libs on "Jungle", so honest LOL. Alright this one was nice too but again no one going like super crazy, which I sorta miss. *

7. Harambe
DICKS OUT FOR HARAMBE. The course of this meme is baffling, how is it more popular now than ever? That happened a long time ago, didn't it? OKAY IT DOESN'T MATTER, what is this flow, what is this voice, is this a transmission from elder Jeff in the far future? "My diamonds yellow like I'm corny" god damn how is he doing this? It sounds like he's drowning in something. Jesus wow this is honestly like Joe Cocker this is crazy. GODZILLA. and the piano part, omg. His gun sounds are good, they've evolved into "dill". "Got the devil inside of me", this is like, the pinnacle of Thugger, B Language Thugger, omg omg this verse, OMG. how tf can he do all of this? This is King Kong shit, this is the spirit of Harambe flowing through him and destroying everything. Gotta look up the lyrics to this one though lol. **

8. Webbie
Duke feature, this could be crazy. Fast beat too... omg... well sorta. Could be nuts, could be nuts. Like getting a pika uair in smash 64. it's like "wow anything could happen here". LOL i'm an idiot. Skyping his baby mama, that's nice. "My hand is way different, got the Midas" damn. Dang man, this is the sort of complex flow I really like to see, and then crazy "maaym" sorta breakdowns, his mind going into spaces of pure sound, omg and his DRAWL, this is a very rare mode, a mode incomprehensible to lower level jeff fans what the fuck omg over the piano breakdown, foreign car like a white beetle, i don't even know anymore. and there's like a guitar on the beat too, lmao what? Duke going tf in too, "Thugger gave me a chance and I had to take it" dude his name is Jeffery what is wrong with you? Alright this one is special. "Until I started using... 14% of my brain" ahahaha. **

9. Pop Man
LOL it's actually Wyclef. Former member of the Fugees. Who made Obama's favorite song. None of this makes sense but ayyy that's okay. "Middle finger stick it up, if you ain't never give a fuck", all in his "Harambe" voice, and wtf this beat, okay yeah, this is it, this is the real one. This is like... world music core, but still 100% trappy, worldwide trapping. Jeffery, Jeffery. okay but these flows are DEFINITIVE Thug. This is what he invented: saying "wet wet" once and infinitely carrying that energy through unlimited lines. Superrapconductivity. My god this piano though. "She the peacock with the colours". Just the richness of that sound, and the crazy surrounding jungle feeling, that's insane... his potential as an artist is just insane... like comparing this to the career arc of, say, Outkast, on that time scale, he has so so many places he can go. "Jeffery, be easy", god damn it's actually Wyclef. He's doing that thing he does at the end of lines, pretty sure only he can do that. And his bass woah, howww, how is his voice so smooth? SO SMOOTH? My god though seeing Jeffery push the limits of his voice like this, this is so enthralling... There's so much that lies beyond in this direction. So many genres that are so fertile for him. But still rapping so hard. Always gotta go this far in. "Good luck like a four leaf" :) so many nice images flowing past you so quickly. Jeffery, Jeffery, Jeffery. Wow. **

10. Pick Up the Phone
Huh I always thought this was a Travis Scott track, off his upcoming (actually like... coming out later today maybe?) new album. But okay this is fine I'm fine with this here. tbh though the craziest thing about this song is the amount of nudity on the youtube video, how did they get away with that? Travis Scott making ringtone noises and saying "STRAIGHT UP" makes me so happy... and the 808s cowbell, so perfectly executed here, not memey but recognizable. "I don't talk to the man in the middle/I don't talk to no man, just kidding" is the classic Thugger sorta "twist". How is Travis SO GOOD at hooks though? This one listen will make me say "pick up the phone!" in my mind for the next few weeks. Awww yeah Quavo too, with that super syrupy vocal effect. "I hate when we fight/She in love with the pipe". And then he shouts out Travis's album... but this isn't on there? "And I'm loving all races/Hell no I don't discrimitize" ahahaha awesome, for so many reasons. STRAIGHT UP. this beat is fantastic too but does that even need to be said? how to they get that big like... jelly-like sound... ahhh, this outro, omg, so nice... those little flairing sounds, and then the melodic shift... actually so nuts. it cuts off so suddenly lol. **

Partial Mutation Power

I feel like something is changing with Jeffery here, something fairly significant and deep inside. Something that might be leading up to the long awaited Hi Tunes, almost certainly going to be the best album any of us or any of our children will live to see (slight hyperbole). He's definitively crossing over that line between "rapper over beats" and "composition around rapper" that he has only flirted with across. Kendrick and Kanye, to name two preeminent examples, are waving him across, with exemplar masterpieces that provide this cohesive sound, this almost "cinematic" structure, the sort of things that really seem to draw the line between "album" and "mixtape".

And Jeffery, too, is responding to these opportunities, pushing his voice further in rhythm and tone and melody than ever before (which is saying a LOT). His Joe Cocker-esque explosive howl on "Harambe" and parts of "Pop Man" feel wholly unprecedented in hip hop (please tell me if I'm wrong because I'd love to hear more). "Wyclef Jean" sees him flying across a reggae beat like he'd never actually heard a reggae song before and had independently rediscovered what it was supposed to sound like. It's the same process of boundary discover and subsequent busting that we heard with hip hop way back on 1017 Thug, but now spread to music from around the world. Crazy. But, of course, he's still rapping like an absolute maniac, like someone having so much fun rapping it feels like it can't be mentally healthy. His verses are even more cohesive, with long patterned flows so hypnotizing you almost forget how clever they are.

But not every track is like this... a few in the middle are more "standard Thug", or maybe halfway in between. They still have his godlike flows and ears for beats, but this more sophisticated style seems like it's taken some of the spontaneity and madness from his music. It's more complex than this, but a revealing diagnostic is just to compare the number of ad-libs on this vs his older ones... Quavo has only like one to signal his arrival! That's gotta be some record. So that sort of thing is missed.

Still, it's yet another Thugger Jeffery tape with zero bad songs, and quite a few I could see replaying daily for... the rest of my life. So that's great. I'm gonna go to bed. Something exciting coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Live Review - Frank Ocean - Blonde

"Cause I been thinking bout forever"

^^^me on the release date of Boys Don't Cry

But nah it's actually here, it's called Blonde now but it's here: after four years of teasing and sporadic guest verses and complete media blackouts, we have a successor to channel ORANGE. Really though, what's even crazier than the existence of this album is story behind it. In 2010, when we were blasting Earl and Bastard and Rolling Papers, and celebrating the "reincarnation of 98 Eminem", could any of us have guessed that the unassuming but obviously talented singer on a few tracks was about to drop the sublime nostalgia, ULTRA? And then would anyone have guessed that it was just a warm-up to channel ORANGE, one of the most acclaimed albums of the decade? Like no matter how much you loved Frank up until that point, did anyone actually expect it to be that good?

I haven't talked about my love for it on this blog, but is it really necessary? Is there anyone who doesn't love that album? In fact, it's been repeated listens to it that's delayed this review more than anything. Whenever I feel ready to tackle it, I figure I'll just listen to "Thinkin Bout You" again, just to warm myself up, and suddenly it's 50 minutes later. His music has this hypnotic nebulous weight to it, it just seems to draw you up and up... Looking at his favorite songs and movies, you know he's patrician af, and you can feel this complexity and aesthetic reverence lurking behind everything. But there's no pretense, no challenges, just musical gifts - he's as likely to reference Akira Toriyama as Akira Kurosawa, and even his most thematically complex songs still hit hard on the most resonating emotional level. The 10-minute jawdropper "Pyramids" is (I'm pretty sure) some sort of Joycean mythic synthesis of the ancient queen Cleopatra and a modern-day sex worker, but you don't need to know that to really feel it, and to really feel like listening to it twelve times in a row.

But if no one was ready for channel ORANGE to be a masterpiece, everyone is prepared now. Somehow, in a year with new Kanye, new Radiohead, and new Avalanches, Blond managed to be the most hotly anticipated album in many online circles. The talent he's drawn in on this thing is ridiculous, like, look at this list, any combination of three makes no sense. Andre 3000 is some sort of hip hop folk hero that modern historians have ruled unfeasible to have actually existed. Arca's latest album looks like this and somehow sounds like it. Beyonce is Beyonce and she doesn't have time for less than 10/10 albums. David Bowie is dead and somehow helped this spirit bomb. Gang of Four were Chinese Communist Party officials that were later charged with treason. Um. Johnny Greenwood plays guitar in the aforementioned Radioheads. KOHH is a Japanese rapper who's big hit iPhone 5 must be heard. Kim Burrell is this generation's Ella Fitzgerald, as if we deserved such a thing. Rick Rubin is a homeless man who appeared in Kim's video exposing Taylor Swift. Yung Lean is a Swedish child who likes Arizona Iced Tea. Etc.

I think we just gotta go into it. There's an important point where you can't really put the appeal words, and that's part of the appeal too. Hey wait idgi is this album called Blonde or blond? Uhh whatever.

Frank Ocean - blond
Live Review

1. Nikes
Right away we get this wave of slow rolling just unnngh, it's like molten candy or something. Woah this vocal effect lol what, helium robo-alien? Okay I can fux with it, I'm already feeling it like it was some dear old friend spilling their problems. "RIP Trayvon" ah I see the /pol/tards' discourse on /mu/ has already been decided. When he goes into the falsetto in this "mode" it feels sort of like Kanye's "Runaway", that same limit-pushing feeling, oooh and now a sort of harmonizing... Is vaporwave too dead to say this sound vaporwavey? It has that feeling of a forgotten classic being contemporalized... oh now back to normal voice. "Let you guys prophesize, we gon see the future first", and then actually going way tf in? The way his rapping verse lunges out of his singing voice is so compelling. "Sipping pink gold lemonades" idk if that's a brand but that image is super evocative. And that gentle rolling guitar in the background yes, this is the place that only he can go, this is the sound he alone has discovered. "It's only awkward if you're fucking him too" AND THEN WTF IT'S ACTUALLY KOHH rapping in Japanese??? i can understand some of these words hey thanks anime. "sneaker, nike sneaker" GOT THAT ONE. this is actually so crazy that he has this much japanese on his album. living the dream. next is iosys produced tracks c'mon give in. **

2. Ivy
ooooh the guitar effect is really cool, reminds me of dean blunt's black metal kinda. frank in his "inner voice" and then his "outer tenor" how tf does he do that? "You ain't a kid no more, we'll never be those kids again" :( oh man if this album makes me really sad I don't think I'm gonna be ready for it. It's so... wistful... so many memories. "We both know that deep down, the feelings still deep down, is good" i think... that's a very general and yet deep-cutting feeling. There's something very "private" feeling about this... something that makes me think my "running commentary"-style blogging is extremely inappropriate lol but what are we gonna do. When his voice echoes like that, and he shouts just a little, it's so easy to lose yourself that it doesn't matter so much, how I'm feeling... it's beyond that OMG these vocals around 3:26, that's actually so sick, that's some bowie shit there I think, you suddenly get a little abrasive on 'em, but in an extension of the beautiful... and this crazy noisy outro, omg, sick. **

3. Pink + White
good colour combo. "That's the way every day goes" good first line. sky pink and white ground BLACK AND YELLOW BLACK AND YELLOW YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS uyhgjugyecxec but yes this is beautiful. The piano especially. little patterns that end in just one note being repeated with that sort of insistent rhythm is one of my musical fetishes. oh snap and then this mixup about 1:10 in?? how did he figure that out? and yet that violin is like the setting sun itself... jesus... this is some swinging for the fences stuff... so much confidence in so many of these choices, and yet it's depicting something so secret, so inner, the very essences of his most sensitive feelings. omg and the vocals around 2:20, the panning is so good. the way his conversational/rapping voice cuts through these soundscapes is amazing. omg and nature sound outro, such good contrasts to the last track. **

4. Be Yourself
lol what is this? boards of canada beats and anti-drug rhetoric? on an answering machine or something? it's a pretty good aesthetic, good message too really. frank's relationship with drugs seems really interesting, i think of the track he had on Earl's Doris, uhh, "Sunday". "Sluggish, lazy, stupid, and unconcerned" yup that sounds about right. Woah it's his mom. Lol she gives a pass for medical marijuana. Aw. That's nice.

5. Solo
lol and this one mentions lsd within like 10 seconds well okay. outside after getting kicked out my the police. the way he said "solo" is almost exactly like ab-soul LOL. this is really crazy, how much work his voice is doing on this minimal soundscape, and that little yelping sound, what the hell is that? s-solo... "It's hell on Earth and the city's on fire", "There's a bull and a matador dueling in the sky, in Hell there's Heaven" ummm I think he's overdosed on watching The Holy Mountain hahaha. This is really great though. "Slipping showers and switching socks" so much is in this little image. "All she want is a picket fence, but you protest and picket sign" hahaha. There's such a pastoral feeling to this one, especially with the organ, which makes all the apocalyptic imagery so crazy. Nice. *

6. Skyline To
skyline... TO?? Toronto??? the city i live... near?? hahaha. oh damn again this sort of "nostalgic guitar"... a platonic ideal of a guitar... "that's a pretty fucking fast year that flew by", "pretty fucking underneath moonlight now" hey he switched us on that one. "Summer's not as long as it used to be, days come so fast these days", nice ahhhh. Who is doing the ad-libs? Is it just another one of Frank's seemingly endless voices? The synths around 1:50 are sounding a bit BoCish again, which like I know he fucks with Aphex Twin so I'm sure he's heard Music Has the Right to Children, and it seems like he really got it wow. Unlocked that sound too. SMOKE. oh man, when he goes full choral composition with his harmonies, it's almost too much, TOO beautiful. *

7. Self Control
LOL he really loves this vocal effect, I think I love it too. that contrasted with this porch on beach on island guitar is really funny. "You cut your hair, but you used to live a blonded life", "wish I was there, wish we grew up on the same advice", maaaaaan. So does the vocal effect signify a shift in perspective? I feel like so much meaning is going over my head but at the same time i also feel like frank is saying shhhh its okay just enjoy yourself. UFO is for some reason one of my favorite words to hear in music/anime/anything. "You made me lose my self-control" oooh and then he's harmonizing with the weird vocal effect, that's niiiiice. Woah okay now we are going to... space. Space with no looking back. And then he works in this space, in this new range, so confidently and so fully... I really can't explain it... it's like everything shifts up with him, all that potential... Oh man this sample at the end? What is that?? I think I love that, and I love anything spammed like that... So good. Perfect summer night sound. *

8. Good Guy
Another interlude sorta thing. With the Chance church piano basement chords, but then "You text nothing like you look". I really like this, it captures a rare moment of like, mid-creativity, and yet it still feels so realized... like Radiohead's classic "How I Made My Millions". Nice.

9. Nights
o DAMN, a title like this I think he's gonna put in work to live up to. Awww yeah, "Even though you got boo boo family", I think he likes that word a lot lol. "Working through your worst night" feels very real, very close. "Why your eyes well up? Did you call me from a seance? You came from my past life", man, a lot to unpack there... "This feel like a Quaaaluuuuude", I feel like this drug should be more popular in rap for how much fun it is to say. The drums on this one are pretty sick, just the slight little pickups and stuff. "Roll some marijuana, that's my true vacation, my everydaytion, my every nightion", the way that swept between like... dreamy and depressing... that's the range he is the king of lol. Woah woah woah, the way the beat is breaking down here? Again with this sort of harshness being unveiled from beauty? and o this BEAT SWITCH here?? i can't tell you how much i'm feeling this. "Every night fucks every day up/Every day patches every night up" omg and then the bass coming in, this is godlike. Shots at the rich reverend, a theme of increasing frequency in hip hop. And then the vocals from the first part coming back in this new beat, it's like the true night has been revealed, the inner night, awww damn that was good. ***

10. Solo (Reprise)
UH WHAT, i recognize this voice. am i hallucinating? is this a vocaloid?? is this ACTUALLY ANDRE RAPPING? yes no one else can write a verse like this and OMG THIS BEAT and i am too shocked to understand even a word but that's okay cause i'll listen to this fifty more times tonight. jesus what the hell? hahaha a shot at ghostwriters, "Was I working just way too hard?" well hell yeah but you also made some of the greatest hip hop ever so uhh that's okay that's fine. ***

11. Pretty Sweet
UH WOW, this is pretty sweet. This is like... well, like pretty much nothing else. like world's end girlfriend maybe. and then these vocals, this piano, the effect, that huge swooshing thing, i feel like the end of the world is swirling all around me, again shoutouts to only world's end girlfriend hahaha. jesus what the seriously though how did he come up with this? "Fathers of the world, be kind to the mothers of the world"? is that what he said? OMG AND THE DRUMS, omfg what, HOW? and then the children's choir? i stg he's been listening to virgin babylon music and learning extremely quickly how to add these elements together. wtf was that that was incredible. ***

12. Facebook Story
lol oh man i wasn't ready for this contrast. i wonder who this is talking, this french person... "Accept me on Facebook!", i wonder how many times this exact scene has played out in so many relationships. Facebook, what a strange thing.

13. Close to You
And now something crazy again, these little loops, this vocal effect... this again feels very close to something, something i love but can't remember right now because it makes no sense for it to be so close to this, to be reminded of it at this juncture, what a crazy album. ahhh and the classic why do birds suddenly appear, shoutouts to the simpsons.

14. White Ferrari
this title just makes me think of post malone/white iverson lol. oh man the way those instruments were building in the background... and omg what a sort of chiptuney thing lurking back there too? did he just go through "text to speech/texas speed/takes its toll"? is frank ocean actually the smartest lyricist in "the game"? how does he keep bringing back this guitar and making it feel like a punch to the gut every time? "Mind over matter is magic", well it sorta is really. and these explosions of crowd sounds and such... these staticky decaying sounds... i gotta invoke radiohead here... but that combined with these tender echoey vocals... it is a whole new thing, it is an entirely new emotion i'm feeling i think. ahaha and then the little drum kit at the end. that's perfect, that's too perfect. **

15. Seigfried
Like Sigurd? Like Frank is actually the most well read person in hip hop? "I can't relate to my peers" yes this sounds like a well read person hahaha. "I'd rather chip my pride than lose my mind out here/Maybe I'm a fool, maybe I should move and settle/Two kids and a swimming pool/I'm not brave" holy shit. And brave, of course, like our Seigfried. "I'd rather live outside", and again that really haunting violin, and this splattering electric guitar, "What would you recommend I do?", these sort of lines in soul songs always cut so deep. And these vocal effects, "This is not my life, it's just a fond farewell of two friends"? Is that what he's saying? holy shit again if so. "Speaking of nirvana, it was rare" Or maybe "it was there"? These vocal effects are godlike... so much emotional, like... structure... being able to articulate these feelings in this way... how is it happening? "Do some shrooms, maybe have a good cry about you/See some colours, might hang-glide off the moon" yeah sounds about right. And this repeating "in the dark", holy moly. And wow as they turn up the gain and the pan on these effects, just bit by bit, we once again see that abrasive edge, so haunting, so real... Ahh, I love it, I love it. **

16. Godspeed
AND NOW POST-ROCK?? is there anything this man can't do?? lol jk. alternatively i could have made a trance joke. in no scenario would i be able to predict this song. like that giant welling sound into "I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU", holy moly. and again just this little gospel feeling, but it's like the distant memory of church, cloudy but fond. "You look down on where you came from, sometimes, but you'll have this place to call home, always" feeling this rn. And now I think this is Kim Burrell singing, ahhh, just these perfect little interjections... so lovely... and that little toylike piano... the very sound of nostalgia, referenceless drifting nostalgia. wonderful. **

17. Futura Free
okay here we go, 9:24 minute finale. is futura the name of a... font? and this is the free version? if i was a nerd i'd know what it looked like lol. ahhh man, these lyrics, this is actually fantastic, these sort of "making it" stories will never not make me smile, and the way that strange voice has been so humanized through its appearances, this is a real kanye-style ranting tangent hahaha. but oh my god in the background, that big crunchy beat, stormy and cloudy, again, what the hell does it remind me of? Music in Yume Nikki maybe because I am going crazy. If it can actually keep building and flowing like this for 7 minutes is crazy. "Trying to find 2Pac/Don't let em find 2Pac"? 2Pac on the last track, this is Frank's To Pimp a Butterfly confirmed. "Tyler slept on my sofa", nice. Planning on smoking after his huge tolerance break, cause this is the last track, ayyy. "You can change this track now, I woulda changed it a long time ago" hahahaha. Nah I'm really feeling this. "24 times 2 24 times 2"? is that what that other vocal part is saying? And that piano too, and this conversation sample... so much going on. Ohhh, is this a secret track sort of deal? I guess I'll just hang around then and supplement some mechanical keyboard percussion lol. Okay street interviews? oh man and again this BoC sort of dreamy kids show loop, so beautiful. "What's your first memory?", "What three superpowers do you wish you had?", I wonder where this came from? This is really fun. And that loop omg. Really breaking new emotional ground. Unsure how I even feel but I'm sure feeling. Really excited to go back and listen to "Solo (Reprise)" 50-80 more times tonight lol. "Do you have a secret talent?", this is so childlike and wonderful and real, so much fun. And the way they mixed the street sounds. LOL is he interviewing OF people? "I play soccer, and I go to school". "Alright, that's it". Ahhh. Ahhh. That was nice. That was a good time. "How far is a light year?" A very very long distance.


I joked about it earlier but I really do think there's an interesting parallel between channel ORANGE to this and Kendrick's GKMC to TPAB. channel ORANGE and GKMC, although bold and conceptual and daring enough to include 6+ minute tracks and long digressions about death and stuff, still seemed to operate in a mode of gaining appeal, of drawing in more fans and convincing them of their talent... there was appeals to catchiness, appeals to impressiveness, things like that. On TPAB and Blonde, no one needs any more convincing, there is nothing left to prove, there is no further heights of critical praise they need to aspire to.

And as a result, they can work wholeheartedly on personal passion projects like this, speaking about the things that matter to them, in the ways that are meaningful to them, bringing to bear a musical legacy spanning decades and genres to express these messages. Like TPAB, I'm sure this album will have great social relevance... not only his understanding of America's tensest race relations in my lifetime, but Frank's position as one of the few prominent LGBT people in hip hop give him a rare and valuable perspective that needs to be heard. He's already proven himself to be extremely insightful and compassionate, and I can't wait to further unpack his big messages. But, also like TPAB, I hope the intimate connection between the album and his personal feelings isn't overlooked.

There are some very tender, very special, very complex feelings that are fueling his music, and they manifest beautifully both lyrically and sonically. Things like nostalgia, accomplishment, appreciation, sure, but the most powerful ones are the ones that we don't have words for. And yet, by some miracle, you can hear them here! You can hear them and feel them, receiving transmissions in frequencies you didn't know you had. And that itself is beautiful.

But there's a lot of beautiful stuff that we can get into words, and hopefully you'll love that stuff even if the paragraph above made no sense to you. We got KOHH rapping and Yung Lean singing on an outro, so this is already a tri-continent affair. Add in Andre's verse coming from rap-Valhalla and it becomes inter-dimensional. We get gospel, BoC-style ambience, apocalyptic orchestral, and screen door acoustic guitar blended into an intoxicating, creamy, cloudy, R&B tonic. The fact that he can bring all these influences and styles in a single project with this much cohesiveness and consistency makes it seem like 4 years would be, if anything, insufficient.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Song of the Day #334 - Young Thug - Dead Fo Real (ft. PeeWee Longway)

Young Thugger Thugger live the thug life with me

Song of the Day (and the blog in general) have been on a looong break, almost a month with no posts! It isn't so much that I've been busy as I have been... aggressively leisurely, first on vacation to Britain, then visiting some friends, then at my cottage for a week. And I've been making progress on some other big projects that hopefully you'll get to see soon, but SotD hasn't really fit into the schedule. And it probably won't in the near future either, orz. In September, I'll be back in school and back to some sort of routine, and hopefully that routine will involve blog posts. Until then hang tight.

In all honesty though it wasn't the lack of content on the blog in general that was troubling me, it was the lack of Young Thug content. If I don't keep up with some Young Thug reporting my dream of being the person who has written the most about Young Thug might slip away from me. There was a lot of Young Thug news while I was away... his new rap name is Jeffery (his real irl name), and he has a song with Wyclef Jean, and I haven't heard it yet but apparently it, and the upcoming mixtape also called Jeffery, are a whole new direction for Thugger? It might sound unfeasible, but then remember that Frank Ocean started in Odd Future (much more on this tomorrow hopefully). But I don't want to get into all of that right now. I want a Young Thug classic, from his breakout and maybe still best project, 2013's 1017 Thug.

Probably if you got people to list their favorite aspects of 1017 Thug, they'd probably say stuff like the transition into "Picacho", or the start of the first verse of "2 Cups Stuffed" (you know what it is). Even people with eclectic or obsessive interests in this mixtape like me will point to things like Gucci's ad-libs at the start of "Jungle" or the "beeeeah" noise Thug makes at the start of "Condo Music". PeeWee Longway's verse on this track prolly wouldn't occur to anyone until say, the mid-50s in this ranking, if it would at all... trying to actually list fifty things is pretty exhausting, lol, and not many albums demand it. But here, even if it is the fiftieth best thing about 1017 Thug, 1017 Thug is so good that there's way more than fifty great things that we ought to explicitly acknowledge about it. In fact I bet there's at least 1017 of them and a really good idea for me would be to compile a list of my top 1017 things about 1017 Thugs (actually a bad idea).

But yeah, this verse is insane... PeeWee goes way in on every track he's featured on, but here he hits another level. He sometimes does this thing where he staggers his lines so that it feels like he's somehow "rotating" around the beat (I think it's strongest on the end of his verse on Travis Scott's "Sloppy Toppy", if you want a good example) and that technique, combined with his triumphant lyrics, already makes it something special. But it's that little stutter they added to his final line, that tiny little edit, that suddenly floods the whole verse with this bursting life, really making you realize how crazy it had been... it is very mysterious, seems to be operating with some closed timelike curve.

Of course, it plays off perfectly with Thugger's infectious verses and hook. His bouncy intro, improbably but impressively rhyming all the way from "milli" to "jelly" and then hilariously flipping it to "", and playing from there. I remember the fact that he seemed to deal with "that" and "dead" as homophones in the hook was one of the first things I consciously noticed about Young Thug and thought "this is something new". And the way he flips up to his higher register halfway through the hook cements the idea. There's all these moments of Young Thug bursting the seams of traditional rap music on the project - he wanted to push all of his ideas, but wasn't willing to totally abandon the forms. I think that's why it'll always stand apart in some ways from the rest of his catalog. Definitely worth re-exploring. If there aren't any other SotD posts from me in awhile just keep listening to it on repeat.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Song of the Day #333 - D.R.A.M. - Broccoli ft. Lil Yachty

Couple summers later I got paper, I acquired taste for salmon on a bagel with the capers on a square plate

Song of the Day was on break for awhile and will be on break for even longer following this :( It's all because of an overabundance of good news, though, so it's really more :D and I have some big projects approaching so maybe it'll be :DDDD and this track is hands down :DDDDDDDD so we had to choose it for this mid-vacation day. If you listen to it you'll be taken on a little vacation from life, or at least the bad parts of life, and into a place of cool summer swamps and pianos rolling down highways and house parties at houses with all the seasons of The OC on DVD. And cute dogs and cute people and red plastic recorders and broccoli. And you can substitute any of your own personal lifestyle highlights for any of these and it still works. The magic of the song is way beyond anything like that.

I mean, the beat is super catchy, with an addictive simplicity where maybe 95% of the song can be recalled in your memory, but some aspects always linger beyond the conceivable. The sharpness of the piano, the airiness of the recorder, the heaviness of the bass... it feels too good to imagine, but then you start to wonder if such a thing is even sensible, "too good to imagine", and you need to hear it again. And it is.

Both Yachty and D.R.A.M. rap as happy as they look in the video and it's so infectious and addictive it should probably be illegal. I'm really starting to see how the unique element of Lil Boat can infuse any song with a unique aura of both the freshness of youth and the confidence in identity of a true leader of his niche. There's some cutely clever lines, and some kindly sentimental lines, and some generally pleasant lines. And there's a few questionable lines too but at any time you can bounce yourself out of literal interpretation and instead get awash in emotional understanding, cause it doesn't really matter what they're saying. It's about the life. They made it.

But it actually does sorta matter what they say in that D.R.A.M.'s verse is amazing and deserves to be really looked at and understood. It's so conversational and melodic that you might be distracted from the words themselves, but it's worth it! "I was five or six years old when I told myself okay you're special" is a wonderful moment of self-confidence that is both perfectly encapsulated here and also demonstrated in effectiveness by the song itself. "Couple summers later I got paper, I acquired taste for salmon on a bagel with the capers on a square plate" is beautifully evocative, but it's the duality with the next few lines that brings it into Das Racist-tier genius. Beyond all this complexity, as good as it is, and beyond all the fuckshit of the world, is the hook. Man, there really ain't no telling what I'm finna be on. The freedom of happiness is endless. It's so melodic and bouncy and works in this perfect pseudo-counterpoint to the beat. It is joy.

While I was away in the last week I listened to this song dozens and dozens of times. One hundred seems intuitively like an exaggeration but at the same time I'd be embarrassed if it was. Each time we watched it the view count kept climbing towards a million. Now we're there! We made it! We did it! It feels like a great victory, one that's evident on the song. There's a sort of tonal happiness that saturates the song, it reminds me a lot of most of Chance's Coloring Book, where the circumstances of your life are so joyful, so many dreams are coming true (fame and every game they made for Sega) all at once, that it bleeds into every aspect of your sound, every syllable, every beat. That's how I feel right now, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Song of the Day #332 - Desiigner - Tiimmy Turner

Timmy Timmy Timmy Turner

I have absolutely no idea how to say anything sensible about this song. It is maybe just impossible. Let's retread our steps a bit. First you get this guy who sounds like Future and Kanye puts him on to an unprecedented degree by just playing the kid's song right in the middle of one of his own new songs on his brand new album, essentially introducing the world to him in the middle of one of the biggest and craziest music events ever, the very one we were getting so nostalgic about yesterday. Almost everyone thinks it's Future at first and by the time they realize that nah, it's some other guy, they're all so addicted to the masterpiece that is Panda. Panda hit #1 and went platinum and did better than any Future song ever has, or at least since "Turn On the Lights". He had a song called "Pluto" too, I think, which is just absurd. Like, none of this makes sense, right? The fact that every public appearance he made was just aggressively and repeatedly dabbing doesn't help.

And then he made the XXL freshman list, with the obligatory freestyle, and suddenly the story of this bizarre overnight sensation GOOD Music Futurebot took on a new dimension of depth. No one was quite sure what to make of this thing. The lyrics referenced The Fairly OddParents, which idk, I watched it a few times as a kid, it seemed okay, I'm sure it has its fans, but it isn't really something you'd want as the core of your aesthetic identity. You gotta remember, though, that Desiigner was only 9 years old when it first ended airing (I guess it was cancelled once and renewed?). It has a whole different role in his mentality than it does for us. It really seemed like the freestyle was maybe something that had lingered in his head since he was a kid, growing up in a rough neighbourhood and imagining how it would be different if he had the eponymous Timmy's powers. With that (hypothetical) context, it seemed much more powerful, representing not just itself but the magnitude of emotional energy that they had unlocked by bring this teenage kid into national limelight.

There needed to be something to explain just how entranced people were by this song. The 45 second clip has been viewed something like 7.5 million times. It seemed like we were dealing with an entirely new beast. And then soon after that he dropped New English, which, for better or worse, was basically just an extremely aggressive Future mixtape, and everyone felt content that nah, it was the same old beast after all. But the memory of "Timmy Turner" lingered. Pitchfork even went out of their way to shout it out at the end of their largely negative review of New English.

So really, I think, after these many shifts of magnitude and direction of expectation, after so much had been said in praise of those 40 seconds, the most sensible option was to make something like this. To enlist Mike Dean and all their best engineers and make something that could handle all the expectations of the people waiting. And to weaponize it: GOOD Music wants The Life of Desiigner (10/10 name, btw) to be a hit, and there's no better opportunity to get people hyped up for it than this much-anticipated single. Thus it seems like this latest development is maybe the first sensible occurrence in the bizarre adventure of Desiigner.

But umm, having said that, this song makes no sense. I still can't say anything sensible about it. The cover art sorta looks like a Matryoshka album cover, with the taped up collage sorta thing. That makes no sense. It sounds sorta like a seance at the start, the way it starts with the vocal swell makes me think of like... ancient Egypt, maybe. But then he lets loose with his trademark gunclap ad-libs? They let him do it a cappella with the snaps for a bit to completely evoke the freestyle video, but when he starts his verses, a Travis Scott-esque soundscape quickly whips up around him like a gathering storm. But even that isn't enough, they have this insane transcendental heavenly keyshift finale, where they bring it back to this surreal clip of Mike Dean laying it down on piano where, as a final affront to sensibility, Desiigner seems to be wearing a chain that looks like Miku???

So yeah, very little of this adds up, and yet we're all the better for whatever unholy unmath conjured it up. It is made clear for the umpteenth time that Mike Dean is a genius, and it seems like Desiigner might be too. And we probably shouldn't understate that Kanye is a genius, too: he has created a monster here truly unlike all others, and yet like all others at once... from Brooklyn, but raps about broads in Atlanta with Future's drawling flow, the cloudy atmosphere of Travis Scott, the endearing outsiderdom of Makonnen, and the beyond-English vocal instrumentation of Young Thug. GOOD Music has a giant of a star that could engulf the entire south. I can't wait to see what'll happen next, because I know I could never guess.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Song of the Day #331 - Young Thug - With Them

I just went hunting, I found me a rabbit, I picked out the carrots

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It isn't really a function of time as much as it is about the density of memories stirred up by the thing. While reading about the whole "Taylor Swift is a snake" situation, I realized I was feeling genuinely nostalgic about the whole TLOP launch as if it was something that had happened years ago. I remember thinking at the time that the news would never stop, we'd never get off Ye's wild ride: every turn in the drama seemed to fuel some new artistic development, which then fueled the next wave of controversy. It seemed like a perfect cycle, and that it would keep churning forever. The Swift situation ended up being one of the most enduring elements, and to see Kanye redeemed so completely after all this time feels genuinely triumphant. But it also makes me realize that at some point, of course, I had stopped actively thinking about TLOP. So much has happened to me since then, but the memory of thinking "I will never stop thinking about this" still lingers crystal clear in my head. It all adds up to something so mythologized that it requires years of my internal narrative to account for.

Instead, it has been only 158 days since that magical afternoon in Madison Square Garden. My favorite moment still has to be the first time I heard Chance's verse on "Ultralight Beam" and thought "wow, this is the real one", but getting my first taste of this song is definitely top 5. The weird casualness of it: the way Kanye basically just handed him the aux cord for the whole venue and he plugged it in his phone, the way Thugger just jogged over with this brand-new mindblowing song. The reactions - people on /mu/, in various levels of shitpostiness and sincerity, claimed it was the best song played that night. It seemed to give us a glimpse into the absurdly fertile world of Kanye and his friends, that, beyond the planned album, there was an endless parade of talent, of unreleased tracks, perhaps never to be released, perhaps coming in the months to come, in an orchestrated, perfected, system, stretching far beyond our imaginations. I thought about things like how HiTunes was probably in development, that it existed in some unknown form out there, somewhere in this other world, and that maybe this song was from HiTunes, and that eventually, when listening to that, surely the AOTYAY, I would remember that very moment fondly.

Well, I still remember that very moment, but it didn't end up being on HiTunes. Who knows where HiTunes is, anyways. Instead it became the lead song of Slime Season 3, and I gotta say, it fits the role really well. The strange sonic punctuation of the beat, the immediateness and overwhelming flow of the hook... it's just this perfect little encapsulation of everything to love about this era of Thug. With "Fuck Cancer", the opening track of I'm Up, he made he most addictive mixtapes of the year, like, it's hard not to want to listen to these songs at any time, and it's hard not to keep going from there.