Why I’m Looking Forward To Drake’s Next Album

Quite simply–I believe Drake can be great. And if you check this video, you can see this guy’s passion for the music, long before he was famous for rapping and super emo singing. I think this guy is still in there. Now, he doesn’t have anything left to prove from a commercial perspective–he’s gone plat twice. I think he can make the album he’s been wanting to make.

Drake Before the Fame

I guess I resonated with that because all of us who were music fans from a young age were just like that, with big CD binders and everything. We were fans before anything. And I think if he keeps that in mind, he can do almost anything. Plus, I think he can see the love that Kendrick Lamar is getting for a super thoughtful album (Good Kid, M.a.a.d City), and the love that J.Cole is getting with Born Sinner. Plus Jay just came out with another one that’s just about his passion, and Kanye went all the way left with his new one–but you can appreciate what he’s trying to do. Meanwhile, nobody really cares what Wayne is doing, except for the type of people who’ll leave their toddlers locked in a car in the parking lot to go see him. And I think maybe Drake is remembering who he is, and who he can be. I think “Started From the Bottom” is great, both song and video, and “Girls Love Beyonce” wins just because the title alone may be the truest thing anybody’s said in a Rap&B song this year.  So I have high hopes for this guy. Not the guy who seemed to have lost his way for a minute or the guy who thought he was supposed to be in the Miami Heat locker room after the championship–no, I have high hope for the guy in that video. The guy who told us that his material possessions weren’t important to him…but the music was. That guy. The guy who dropped a better mixtape than what most rappers’ greatest hits would sound like.

Don’t let me down, Aubrey.

You Owe Your Whole 80s to Bonnie Tyler; Or, The Importance of Being Earnest

I played Saints Row: The Third, which is crass, juvenile, vulgar, and violent. It’s also a lot of fun. One of the things that makes it fun (besides running errands for pimps, escorting tigers in convertibles, and participating in a Japanese-style game show called “Super Ethical Reality Climax” in which you shoot people dressed as mascots in sketchy warehouse) is the awesome soundtrack. For the most part, the music is delivered to you by virtue of the radio station you choose when you’re driving around the city in your car. The selection is quite good, and it’s where I found out that Talk Talk recorded “It’s My Life” well before No Doubt did. I can also report that, as much as I like No Doubt, Talk Talk’s version is superior. I am biased here–I’m an unabashed fan of all things New Wave. But I’ll let you be the judge.

While most of the music is delivered by your choice of radio station, there are two moments in which the creators of the game take artistic license and interject their own vision musically: first, when you’re parachuting over a cityscape into a penthouse party from a helicopter late at night, guns blazing, they play Kanye West’s “Power.”  It was perfect.  And secondly, near the end of the game, where you have a tough decision and a tough road ahead of you, they play Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero.”  And it’s perfect. You really can’t understand how perfect unless you play the game. But as a standalone, this song goes in and it goes hard. It was originally on the Footloose soundtrack, but I’m a proponent of working this song into any soundtrack…ever. Probably should have put this in The English Patient and The Color Purple. I kid. But in a world where the word epic is overused, consider the fact that the lyrics to this song start off like this: Continue reading

Just How Good Could Beyoncé Be? The Still-Unfolding Saga of Michael Jackson’s Secret Daughter

When Beyoncé took the stage at Superbowl 47, I found myself thinking one thing: Kill Them Beyoncé. Kill them all. Beyoncé doesn’t make the best music of all time, nor does she have the best voice. But she is one of the greatest performers of her generation–of this there can be no question. In case you missed it, the entire performance is below.

And this came after her live performance of the National Anthem in the press conference. She might has well have held the mic out at arms length, dropped it, threw her hands up, said “can I live?,” and then George Jefferson walked off the stage.

When someone realizes Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter’s level of achievement, we must begin to consider their contributions in a context. The result of such rumination is often to compare Beyoncé to Tina Turner. It’s an easy parallel to draw: incredible stage shows, sheer spectacle, performances that are more energy and power than virtuosic vocal demonstrations, big blondish hair, great legs, and of course, this:

While that is an easy and apt comparison, it is by no means the best. I tend to think of music in family trees. The parallels drawn between Beyoncé and Tina Turner, if accurate, would make Tina Bey’s musical mom. But it only tells half the story–and in my view, less than half. If Tina is Bey’s mom (and I personally think she’s really her wild and crazy aunt), who is Beyoncé’s dad? (Don’t worry, Matthew Knowles–I’m speaking musically. You don’t have another paternity question on your hands.) Continue reading