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Young Thug — The Blanguage

Metro boomin’ want some more nigga”

I never know what Young Thug is saying until I head on over to Rap Genius and read… and even then I’m not sure that I get it. But, sometimes music is our guilty pleasure simply because it’s happening on its own, in the background. Sometimes we don’t need to know the words to enjoy the vibe of a tune. Sometimes all we need is to hear those great piano chords masterfully played by intense finger pounding like what you will hear at the three minute and fourty-two second mark on this cover of Drake’s “The Language ” titled “The Blanguage.” Then, on the repeat listen you will desperately await those same piano strokes as you mindlessly enjoy the tone and Versace flow of Young Thugger’s chants.

Voodoo is an idea. It is the idea that with enough power you can control the outcome of any situation. Its powerful chants have killed before, they have inspired before, they have made people rich and broken others dry, yet the one thing nobody can deny is how enchanting they can be. Maybe not enchanting in a way that is always welcomed, because I do believe that the chants can sound pretty creepy, but nevertheless, they capture your attention, and they make you listen regardless of what is being said. That’s how I see this cover. It captures me from the beginning because of the familiar production. It manages to keep my attention because of its familiar flow, and finally, it gives me a much better reason to appreciate the production details than Drake ever could.

It’s sunny enough in New York City right now to rock some shades, cool enough to throw a leather on, and nice enough to enjoy this tune all day. It’s mellow, it’s bouncy, and it’s so Hip-Hop in a day and age where Hip-Hop you can play on repeat is a scarcity.

Young Thug — The Blanguage

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Sam Smith – Stay With Me (Black Space Remix)

This song feels like a gospel. And this is the time for a gospel. A saving grace in music. Some reassurance that the music industry is not just filled with foxes who sound ‘really great’ when auto-tuned or spewing words that resemble more of what we wrote to our crushes in passed notes from our training bras and back seats.

You half expect this song to come with a choir in the back singing behind him smoothly, resonating emotion and hope and praise. Dawning hair which is reminiscent of  doo-wop singers, the singer’s English upbringing clearly oozes from his dapper and polished attire and presence. I appreciate this though. Bring back the days of the Rat Pack and tailored suits.

Sam Smith, a somewhat newer face in the past year, was been awarded top honours this past year for being the bright rising star in the UK. He has been breaking hearts with his music and moving us to dance and to breath in his sweet voice with each release of a new track or mix. His debut album will be released at the end of this month titled, “In the Lonely Hour” and can only promise to deliver more.

This edit is nothing to look over from Black Space, a 19-year old producer from Geneva, Switzerland. Influences for this young lad stem from the musical styles of Kygo (clearly heard in this mix). What gives me chills in this song is when you hear the flutes come through with the consistent piano. The tone feels almost like that of an Arcade Fire track simply filed with a sound which I can only describe as “hopeful”.

Praise.

Sam Smith – Stay With Me (Black Space Edit)

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MC Solaar – Obsolète

Passé, dépassé, obsolète?

MC Solaar est un grand nom du rap français jouissant d’une notoriété indiscutable. Il a fortement participé à l’instauration du rap dans la culture française grâce à des textes très réfléchis et engagés. Il a su attirer un publique plus large avec des chansons moins provocatrices que ses confrères. Le morceau Obsolète montre à quel point le MC était à l’avant-garde de ce mouvement. 20 ans après la sortie de Prose Combat (album sur lequel figure Obsolète), à l’encontre du titre de la chanson, le texte n’a rien de désuet, au contraire.

Ce texte toujours d’actualité 20 ans plus tard, induit une comparaison entre le passé et le présent. Il y a quelques jours, j’ai rentré mon deuxième pied dans la vingtaine. Comme à chaque anniversaire, un regard en arrière s’impose, et à l’heure du bilan je me rends compte qu’on dit souvent que c’était mieux avant. « Nous ne sommes pas nés à la bonne époque, sérieux c’était mieux avant, aujourd’hui on va droit dans le mur ». Les paroles d’MC Solaar nous montrent finalement que ce n’est qu’un éternel recommencement.

Oh shit, à la télé y’a plus de speakrines

Y’a des films de séries B que j’estime à quatre centimes

Alors qu’MC Solaar regrettait la disparition sur les écrans des speakrines, (des femmes ayant pour rôle d’annoncer les programmes) pour l’authenticité qu’elles apportaient, et n’adhérait pas au nouveau genre de séries B américaines ; nous aujourd’hui, regrettons ces séries cultes de notre enfance et déplorons la téléréalité qui les remplace. A force de regarder en arrière constamment nous sommes peut-être dépassés par ce qu’il se passe aujourd’hui ? La technologie évoluant de plus en plus vite sans vraiment connaitre ses effets sur la société, les médias faisant de moins en moins la distinction entre l’information et le divertissement et de nombreux autres changements nous pousse à regretter le passé.

Mais finalement, qu’est ce que notre époque a de si regrettable ? Pourquoi pas ne pas positiver et dire : « Ça sera encore mieux demain ! » ? Ce morceau donne envie de lever la tête et de regarder autour de soi ce qui est essentiel, une démarche assurée jouant des épaules afin de trouver la ferveur nécessaire pour assumer cette évolution constante!

MC Solaar – Obsolète

 

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SOHN et Bowery Ballroom

I’m not alone when I say that last week was remarkably overloaded with talented artists swarming the scene in New York City. Regardless of the rain and foggy overtone that flooded the streets, I still made my way to the sold-out SOHN performance at Bowery Ballroom on the Lower East Side. Having spent the previous night on the ground floor for Shlomo, I chose a different locale this time and perched myself on the 2nd floor in order to get an aerial view that was not bombarded with humans and cellphones.  I could be submerged into the music without distractions.

Seducing the world via his own brand of dream-soaked synth and lushed out R&B, Christopher Taylor, aka SOHN, is a force to be reckoned with. He did not hold back during the 75-minute show that encompassed all of our favorite tracks on his new full-length album Tremors. Surrounded by two other musicians, SOHN was dead beat in the middle.  At first glance, you might think he was a fellow New Yorker, wearing only black on stage and a hoody pulled up so all you could see was his silhouette.  But no, this Vienna-based London-born producer and vocalist certainly had a much more relaxed tone, with a significantly slower pace, everything that a native New Yorker doesn’t possess. These subdued vocals entered your brain waves and immediately disregarded thoughts of your day-to-day responsibilities and hustle and bustle that living in a city begs of you.

Watching him on stage transported me out of this consumer feeding frenzy and drew me into each word, watching his hands groove so freely with the airy synths and slow-motion bass. Once he began to sing, his vibrato tenor began to press against the heavy, pattering synths and looped vocals and I began to float. The audience fell silent and we all collectively felt the strong threads of melancholy. Influences of Björk and Radiohead were prominent, as well as the noticeable similar characteristics of James Blake and Autre Ne Veut. But each song started off slow and steady. Every whisper of sound caused the LED lights to synchronize with the bass, and deep vibrant colors of green, white, and red were displayed; each one, painstakingly released pure raw emotions into the atmosphere.

In a recent article, SOHN described his work with moments of positivity, however, they come across in a very dark and dreary way. For instance, his song titled, “The Wheel” begins with, “I died a week ago.” It’s clear that the atmosphere is murky, but this man explains that he intends for the listener to understand that it is a new beginning or fresh start. You can be reborn and have this freedom to be who you want, when you want, and go in any direction your heart chooses. For me, these elements were the core moments I took away from the show.

Each morning we wake up is a new beginning, and we get to make choices that will ultimately shape our journey on this planet.  I hope all of you have a chance to see SOHN live, and if not, then blast the album and you too will feel the rebirth. If you have fallen in love, recently separated, had your heart broken, or find yourself on the prowl for the love of your life, remember that we all have the power to attract — we all have shining souls, and what you project onto others will come back to you.

The takeaway: Positivity comes in many ways, even through darkness.

S O H N – Artifice

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Wet – Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl (Branchez Remix)

This song has been on repeat for three days. I keep having the same conversation over and over with different people. You are not unhappy. You don’t want to be alone. You don’t to be with them. What happened? Did something change? If you have ever been on the giving end of this conversation, you know your brain turns flaccid and your thoughts lose credibility and clarity before leaving your lips.

Another person talked to me about hot wax. Everyone is a little masochistic. You watch a calm candle flicker and we all dip our fingers in the wax surrounding it. Letting the heat burn your fingers. A simple reminder that you can still feel at all as the thoughts that tumble in your mind leave you feeling vacant. Hot wax acts as a reminder of reality. The song cuts back in and you hear the almost upbeat, downer breakup tune pulling you back like hot wax.

More than anything, I feel that we have seen so many shifts in what is normal and what is not. Our parents grew up thinking the person they dated in college was inevitably the one. Or if you move around too much, then you will never be able to grow. We now pride ourselves as a generation of lovers who no longer need to be monogamous with our darlings or our jobs or our zip codes or our zippers. We move around to stay present in the current.

Over a beer in a pub with a stranger I have known for ten years, he asked when is the time to settle down. He was thumbing the keys to the house he recently purchased and I could see wanderlust was already causing him to constantly itch his feet in his loafers that were cemented there in The Angel.

A listen to the angelic voice of this three-piece from Brooklyn and you will feel the longing for heartbreak. For the hot wax. The lead singer put it best when describing their debut album as “break-up songs, well atleast superficially.” Wet is currently travelling around the UK and will follow-up with a tour with CHVRCHES later this summer.

Branchez, however, brought this song to a level of hot wax. It was a beautiful, airy tune to get your head into, and then he brings his signature New Yorker bass and makes you dance and break hearts. A perfect Spring / Summer, love / break-up mix.

Wet – Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl (Branchez Remix)

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Tensnake – Love Sublime ft. Nile Rodgers and Fiora

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For the past three week’s I’ve been living alone for the first time ever. Growing up, I was surrounded by family at home and friends at school. In college, alone time was rare, and frankly I didn’t seek it out. Between roommates and lovers, the apartment was rarely empty. And upon graduation, I moved in with my domestic partner. We’ve been living together ever since.

A month ago, I found out I’d be alone for three weeks as my partner traveled for work. I didn’t think much of it. I’d be at work during the day, and fill my evenings up with friends, reading, writing, anime binging etc. But that wasn’t the reality.

I found myself feeling bored and lonely, two emotions that I’m not used to. Boredom is easy to cure in the short term: just crack a good book, go for a bike ride. But by the end of the second week, I was spending far too much time lying on the floor of my apartment with my cat asleep on my chest, doing nothing.

Loneliness was the real trial. I have been exceedingly lucky in life to never experience strong loneliness, but as I progress deeper into adulthood, I’ve awoken to why it’s been such a pervasive theme in the human experience. No longer are my friends available on cue, no longer is my sister in her bedroom down the hall. Perhaps older adults erase that loneliness with families of their own, but I doubt it goes away completely.

Full disclosure: I’m a nerdy, awkward white guy. And when I dance, I do the dice roll and moves that vaguely resemble those practiced in the squarest 50s hootenannies. Over the last three weeks, I danced constantly.

You know those videos “History of Dance” (or something like that)? Seriously, get me on camera. I was busting out the Jacko spin, the Swabbage Patch, the Running Man, the Lasso (to my cat, of course) and the disco point. I’m used to dancing in crowds, and using crowd-dance moves, so my solo-party was a revelation. The ground you can cover with one sliiiide!

Are you feeling bored, tired, lonely, out of it? Try my prescription: One dose modern disco (ingredients: diva vocals, piano stabs, Nile Rodgers), one empty living space, and complete inhibition.

Push that grocery cart, dig that hole, thrust to the left, thrust to the right! Our society pays exorbitant fees for gyms and classes and seminars to achieve a sense of health and belonging, all well and good.

But all we really need is some time alone to dance.

Tensnake – Love Sublime ft. Nile Rodgers and Fiora

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Lykke Li — No Rest For The Wicked

 

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Shawty is a killa.

“What goes around comes around”, and that’s exactly what No Rest For The Wicked is about. It’s sang from the perspective of a heartbreaker and delivered to you, the heartbroken. It’s a powerful ballad of emotion, a heart that bleeds from an open-wound found in gingerly played piano keys that cry out loudly with every stroke.

Lykke Li does an incredible job on this one with a vocal performance reminiscent of various signature name brands. The airiness in the delays of Stevie Nicks, the finishing twang from the accented words of M.I.A, and the layered track mixes of country singers. The singing on this is exactly what we want to hear, even if we didn’t know that we wanted to hear it.

I let my good one down,
let my true love die,
I had his heart, but I broke it every time.” 

We all have that one person from our past who we regret hurting. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, or maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime because some things are just not meant to be for the lifetimes we are currently in. You’ve felt that before, right? As if you’ve known the person that has caught your attention for five minutes for a LOT longer than just five minutes? As if every kiss given and every touch of the neck is all too familiar in ways that make you try to recall memories from another era that you know are not this one?

How do we know who our true love is when we barely know ourselves? How can you sacrifice the pieces of you that you don’t even know you have yet? This is why some of these great loves come into our lives and we can only let them down by breaking their hearts. The best thing happens only when you accidentally run into them and their new loves and families, and get to see just how happy they are because that’s when you know that you were meant to destroy a part of them in order for them to rebuild a much stronger foundation.

Sometimes we even get to realize that it’s those very same foundations that are not yet strong enough to sustain a love as powerful as ours that needed to be rebuilt in the first place.

Lykke Li — No Rest For The Wicked

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Son Lux ft. Lorde – Easy (Switch Screens)

Deep baritone sax, unpredictable electric guitar, and a sultry, eerie voice combine to create a rich balance between Son Lux’s instrumentals and Lorde’s intermittent vocals.

Although repetitive, the lyrics speak a simple message of idealized thought versus reality of human nature. If only it were so easy to inhibit the aftershock of heartbreak. How simple it is on paper, to overcome ill emotions. Easy, right? Just get rid of the pain. Just,

pull out the heart that keeps you feeling alone

Lorde has been blowing up on the music scene lately, yet this is the first time I’ve heard her in an instrument-centric song. Because she doesn’t play any instruments, her album “Pure Heroine” focuses greatly on her voice. Lorde had been covering “Easy” on tour in 2013, and recently remixed it with Ryan Lott (AKA Son Lux) to feature simple drums, deep brass, and an uncontrollable electric guitar. Her complex voice pairs well with the producer’s creepy, mysterious sounds to create a dark, contemplative mood for the listener. An interesting curve takes us off course for a spontaneous 30-second release of distorted instrumentals. If you’re not one for noise, you may not enjoy this segment as much as the rest of the song.

“Easy (Switch Screens)” is part of Son Lux’s recent 4-track release, “Alternate Worlds.” It is available now digitally and will be released on limited-edition vinyl at the end of May. Lott has also been working with indie songwriter Sufjan Stevens and rapper Serengeti in a collaboration called Sisyphus, which formed in 2012. They released their debut earlier this year. Keep your ears pricked and hopes high for another collaboration between the pair.

Son Lux ft. Lorde – Easy (Switch Screens)

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Electric Guest – The Bait (Shlohmo Remix)

There’s a certain quality to Shlohmo’s music that seems to combat all the hype I’ve been hearing lately about this young man. We all know the formula at this point: a younger artist with an original sound, one who pushes boundaries and isn’t afraid to create a sound not heard before. Every time I read about something this dude does on the internet, it’s a crazy whirlwind of descriptive language and vibes.

That’s kind of how the live show was in Brooklyn earlier this week. Music Hall of Williamsburg housed some of New York’s mellowest electro lovers on a warm Wednesday evening, myself included. He entered the stage in a faux fog, with neon designs cast in the backdrop and a elaborate stage set up that made him appear like a dreary god-like figure. It was surreal. The beats and sounds to come only made the entire experience even more strange, in the best possible way.

Each song intertwined relatively seamlessly with the last, not because he transitioned between each song, like Little Dragon does in their live shows, but because he played mostly remixes. Electric Guest and Lianne La Havas made memorable sonic cameos. A younger crowd was easy to please with sultry beats and slowed down tempos, but not so quick to recognize this particular track that I picked out from the set. Or maybe it wasn’t because they were young — I sometimes forget that not everybody is on the same nerdy level of music appreciation that I am.

Despite the slowed down atmosphere, I felt literally moved by the music. The bass. The dropped down vocals. I let it all flow through as it produced natural movement, that I then put back into the universe. I think about that a lot though — why more people aren’t comfortable allowing themselves to move freely to music. I think people don’t realize that their movement, the way they process and internalize music, is so important to the atmosphere, because it makes not only the artist aware of their success or failure on stage, but it gives others something to feed off of. I saw The Knife last week, and found myself at one point, amidst a crowd of stoic, unmoving individuals. It made me so upset. Why would anyone come to see The Knife and just stand still the entire time? Not a question for me to answer. After we moved to a different area, I realized that as my friends and I started moving more, the people around us had no choice but to move with us, or move out of the way.

The takeaway: if you feel something, let people know. Show ‘em what your body can do.

Electric Guest – The Bait (Shlohmo Remix)

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Sinkane – Mars

Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, originaire du Soudan, a vécu aux Etats-Unis. Ce multi-instrumentaliste, a su explorer différents horizons musicaux et cela se ressent dans ses titres. C’est sous le nom de Sinkane qu’il sortira ses deux albums. Mars le dernier en date est absolument génial. En l’écoutant certaines pistes sont surprenantes et pourraient être qualifiées de “martiennes”. Lady C’mon ou Making Time par exemple mixent voice coder et instrus funk, avec un rythme marqué par les percussions. Je suis définitivement sur une autre planète.

Je ne pense pas qu’avoir bon goût suffise à lier des univers divers. Il n’est pas rare que deux artistes de genres différents collaborent ensemble, sans pour autant que le résultat soit au rendez vous. Ici, Sinkane a osé une réelle prise de risque qui est pour moi réussie. Le fait de lier deux univers diamétralement opposés avec autant de succès relève du génie et d’un réel talent.

Nous retrouvons deux cultures éloignées ainsi réunies. La musique est unificatrice et ça se ressent dans cet album. Deux cultures, disjointes d’un premier point de vue, se retrouvent couplées mettant en valeur une même finalité, et ça c’est beau! Je conclue sur Warm Spell qui porte bien son nom et s’écoute facilement. C’est chaud, c’est frai, c’est doux, c’est super plaisant et ça donne envie de se réunir!

Feel your blood warm up
Fall in drunken love and stay
There just aren’t enough
Never too much of the days and the nights

Sinkane – Warm Spell

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