music

SAINT PABLO VS SUMMER SIXTEEN

It's concert season: that magical time when artists comes out with new music and then tour at the same time with no consideration of your bank account or day job. But I'm a hustler, so I went to the Atlanta Saint Pablo Tour and Summer Sixteen Tour within two weeks of each other. Here are my thoughts:

SUMMER SIXTEEN TOUR

  • HEADLINER: DRAKE AND FUTURE
  • SPECIAL GUESTS: DVSN, ROY WOODS, GUCCI MANE, YOUNG THUG, USHER

 CROWD HYPE: 9/10 | SET LIST: 7/10 | VISUALS: 6/10 |  ATTIRE: Grown and sexy

I saw Drake during his NWTS and Take Care tours, but this time was something special. Drake is on the top of his game now; his confidence was understood, but not rubbed in our faces. (I've been to many concerts where the artist acted "too cool" for his own show, but this was not one of them.)

Drake and Future brought out their greatest hits, not just their most recent albums. The concert felt more like a club; everyone was dancing (not just me for once). As a surprise to the guests, Drake brought out Gucci Mane to the tune of "Back on Road", which blew Atlanta's mind. On the second night of the tour, he apparently brought out Young Thug and Usher...much to my chagrin. Bringing out guests is the magic touch to any performance, especially when you're in the hip-hop capitol of the world. 

If I had one criticism, I'd say the concert actually went a little too long. While I enjoyed Drake's back-to-back bangers, it became draining. I wish he played a little harder-to-get because the crowd lost energy and interest towards the end. There are only so many songs to which we can scream our hearts out. 

SAINT PABLO TOUR

  • HEADLINER: KANYE WEST
  • SPECIAL GUEST: KANYE WEST

CROWD HYPE: 7/10 | SET LIST: 8/10 | VISUALS: 10/10 |  ATTIRE: Your coolest f*cking outfit ever

This was my first time seeing Kanye and I had been told that it was going to change my life. Of course, that's what every stan says...but I'm a stan, too...so. More than the actual concert itself, I was overly excited to get my hands on Saint Pablo Tour merchandise. There were around 6 different booths throughout Philips Arena that sold the merchandise (we'll save this for a future blog post). It's worth noting that everyone there was extremely well-dressed; it's like I walked into an Urban Outfitter's lookbook. 

No one opened for Ye, which was odd and buzz-killing; We figured he'd at least have a DJ hype the crowd. Instead, we waited an hour and a half past start-time to be greeted by his first song, "Father Stretch My Hands". It was rumored that Ye would only perform T.L.O.P. songs, but the crowd was pleasantly surprised when he played hits like "Gold Digger" and "All of the Lights". 

We've all heard that his stage floats from the ceiling, which was great because the back of the arena felt like front row at times. In true Kanye fashion, he was a perfectionist about his songs; If the sound team skipped a beat, he'd call them out to restart the song from the beginning. 

Bottom line: Summer Sixteen was a full-on party. Saint Pablo was a curated masterpiece.  

3 MEANINGS OF KANYE'S "FADE" MUSIC VIDEO

Kanye West's premiere of his newest music video "Fade" at the 2016 VMA's was nothing short of intoxicating. I went from drooling in front of the couch to sweating in the gym with Teyana Taylor on my mind. 

The video begins with a three-minute dance number that is a cross between Flashdance and soft porn. Our minds were blown by her rhythmic sex appeal. As I watched for the first time, I told my friends, "This is hot...but I wish something controversial would happen!"

Yeezus answers prayers.

The video cuts to a steamy shower scene with Teyana and Iman, her NBA star fiancé. No filter. And in the last 10 seconds of the video, Kanye takes us back to the gym, this time with Teyana costumed as some kind of sexy lion Avatar, standing over her husband and baby Junie in a room full of live sheep.

......WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? After studying the video and countless Reddit threads, I've developed 3 concepts for the deeper meaning of Kanye's "Fade" music video: 

LEVEL 1: FAME Kanye is always pushing boundaries for the newest generation of Hollywood's elite. In his prior video release of "Famous", we saw Bill Cosby in bed with Taylor Swift, Ray J alongside Rihanna. He draws attention to the unconventional blend of society's most influential members. Kanye continues with this theme by spotlighting the talented Teyana Taylor, My Super Sweet Sixteen princess turned G.O.O.D. Music rapper turned NBA wife and mother. 

Teyana and Kim have a lot in common. They're both ambitious bombshells that have leveraged their sexuality for fame. Kanye worships the juxtaposition between thirst trap and ambitious career woman/mom. The "Fade" video is an ode to his muse, Kim, who has paved a new lane for fame. 

LEVEL 2: PUSSY POWER In line with the fame theory, one could take a more metaphorical approach. Teyana's dance number seduces our most carnal, animalistic desires. We were glued to the screen for a solid three minutes. She takes us to the next level with none other than her husband, representing the pinnacle of intimacy (one could even argue success). And then, BAM. Cue sexy lioness. We're caught with our pants down. We've been lured in like prey. All of us. Sheep. Led blindly by sex and fantasies of #GOALS.

Teyana's lioness character represents power. Queen of the jungle. She has it all: fame, family, fortune. You could even call it pussy (heh) power. Kanye is validating the new generation of "royalty", reminding us that the equation for success is simple; we're all animals brought together by primitive desires.

LEVEL 3: LION AND THE LAMB Maaaaybe it's a stretch, but there's potential for a biblical allusion. I mean, it is Yeezus. Life of Pablo (Paul, the disciple). A passage in the book of Isaiah (11:6) describes a time in the future when all creatures will coexist. In this utopia, lions and "fattened calves" will roam together peacefully without persecution. 

Could Kanye be setting the tone for his perfect society in which different groups of people can coexist? A world where rap and street culture can mingle with the elite Vogue group he begs? Or could this ladder up to social justice? Black and white? Classism? Sexism?

Or maybe it's not that complex, Liana. Maybe it's just another provocative dance video to promote his up-and-coming signed artist. The world will never know.

ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks

beyonce-lemonade-video-trailer.jpg

Beyonce already blew our minds when she dropped the Formation video a day before her performance at the Super Bowl Halftime show.

Kanye starts trolling the world with his newfound Twitter account months before the drop of his iconic The Life of Pablo album. He seeds the wardrobes of LA celebrities with exclusive TLOP merchandise prior to the release.

Drake fuels the flames of his Twitter beef with Meek Mill by releasing multiple diss tracks, steamy Island beats with Rihanna, and pop-up shops in major cities to prime his audience for Views from the 6

All of these mega artists have grown to such elite levels of stardom in part because of their visionary release strategies. They've permeated style, lifestyle and music, all key sensorial triggers. The timing is impeccable and the content is viciously good, but through and through, I realize that they're playing us all.

But this weekend, I didn't feel played.

On Saturday, a one-hour music video aired on HBO debuting her newest album, Lemonade. She trumped her last visual album (individual music videos for each song) with a short film narrating the story of betrayal and redemption in her marriage. This release felt less like a stunt and more like "Bey was ready to get real with us".

The emotion was so deep and genuine. For years, Beyonce has been an idol to women everywhere: she's gorgeous, wildly successful and married to the most OG player in the game. Her life is perfect. Until Lemonade, where her dirty laundry and personal failures were exposed for our Saturday night viewing pleasure.

She admitted to listeners that, "I'm not too perfect to ever feel this worthless". Anybody who has ever been cheated on, or has felt the pang of envy, melted in the visuals and lyrics of Lemonade. "What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you" It empowered women to know that even Beyonce gets her heart broken. Nobody deserves disloyalty. 

Beyonce showed us that nobody how many times you sob-sing "Single Ladies" and "Run the World" to yourself in the car, you can still feel like there's something missing from yourself that could've made him stay. "I tried to change myself...I tried to be softer, prettier, less awake"

I lay down my marketing cynicism to say that Lemonade was one of the greatest music moments in my time. 

Should've called Becky with the good hair.

Shameless plug for our most recent Dos Cocos Podcast about Lemonade:

 

 

2015 grammys review

I love the Grammys. Every year, every time. To me, the Grammys is my version of the Super Bowl. 

Ed Sheeran and John Mayer performance was phenomenal. I'll preface this by saying that I am a mega Mayer fan (since 8th grade): I've seen him live 4 times, and every time he blows me away. Expectations were high, but were met. Mayer is not only a star, but a phenomenal feature artist (listen to "White" by Frank Ocean). He never steals the limelight, and it showcases the confidence he has in his craft. His background vocals and incredible guitar solos really added a dynamic element to Sheeran's pop song.

Coldplay's Chris Martin and Beck was another great one. They harmonized to Beck's "Heart is a Drum" and it was moving. I hope the track hits iTunes, along with the other Grammy performances, because this was a keeper. They didn't go over the top with stage theatrics; it was a raw performance that pointed all attention to their melodic voices and Beck's acoustic guitar. 

From an advertising perspective, I loved watching the Grammys, start to finish. The commercials were curated for the audience, which proved more engaging. (I found myself not wanting to run to the kitchen during the commercial breaks!) A few stand outs: Apple's "Make Music with an iPad". I didn't even know that I was watching a commercial. The art direction was on point, and the music choice was culturally diverse. Lincoln's Matthew Mcconaughey commercial has been around for a while, but it's still so captivating. The drama makes you stop everything you're doing and just focus. I love the use of a celebrity cameo in a way that is not hoaxy or promotional. And in Mcconaughey's own words, "I just liked it"