Showing posts with label rap rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rap rock. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2019

video review: '7' by lil nas x

Well, this exists... about as much as I can say about it, given that we're riding on a glorified meme, but let's see how far it takes the song...

Anyway, Billboard BREAKDOWN and maybe a review up next, so stay tuned!

album review: '7' by lil nas x

I bet there's some of you who thought this would never be released - and I include Lil Nas X in that group.

See, quite a few things have changed and evolved since I appeared on Dead End Hip Hop a few months back to try and clear up a few things about 'Old Town Road', the country trap song that has ruled the Hot 100 for months, where I described the Billboard controversy as less of a discussion of race in country and more one of industry machinations. And turns out for the most part I was right, as when the remix with Billy Ray Cyrus was released, Nashville was able to get its paycheque and let the song lodge itself comfortably on top. And then things started happening that kept proving what I said right - Lil Nas X conveniently leaks that he was an industry plant signed to Columbia, which you might think was a troll, but a.) he would have no reason to say that and it kind of undercuts his entire narrative by doing so; b.) how else did he get that Nine Inch Nails sample cleared on 'Old Town Road', c.) how the hell did the song wind up on so many prominent playlists for streaming and d.) how else did he get that big budget music video otherwise? Most meme songs don't get that widespread in the mainstream without someone pushing levers, the controversy between Nashville labels and mainstream labels was a convenient bit of backdrop and infighting to juice publicity with Billboard hapless in the middle, and it looked like Lil Nas X was content to ride his one hit for as long as he could.

But the ugly truth is that if you're an industry plant, even if your song has been on top for week after week, the label's going to expect something to keep the cash flow going, hence this quickly announced and released EP. All indications was that it wasn't going to be that good - very few folks could make the lightning of a cut like 'Old Town Road' strike twice, but at least it'd be short, right?

Monday, November 6, 2017

video review: 'five' by hollywood undead

Well, unsurprising to anyone, this is garbage... but really, did we have any reason to expect otherwise?

Next up, something MUCH better, stay tuned!

Friday, November 3, 2017

album review: 'five' by hollywood undead

So if it isn't unbelievably obvious, I didn't want to cover this. More importantly, I have no idea why anybody wanted me to cover this - I'd like to think my Patrons watch my reviews and aren't just adding records to fill space on the schedule, and the fact that this consistently got so many votes utterly baffles me.

But I don't want to mince words here with this: Hollywood Undead sucks. As someone who likes good metal and good hip-hop and can tolerate some crossover between the two and even appreciates a good horrorcore gimmick, this is the sort of group I would have avoided like the plague, because, as I keep on saying, I never had an angry white boy phase! And after I listened through all of their last albums, that's really the only demographic I can see somewhat appreciating this, even ironically. The best way to describe their first record was trying to split the difference between Eminem and Linkin Park, but the rapping was nowhere close to as good, the clean singing was a poor imitation of Chester Bennington at best, and the production has aged particularly badly. They got a bit heavier on their second record, but the clean singing and rapping somehow got worse and I found their blend of meat-headed flexing and flimsy shock tactics to almost reach the point of parody. To someone who listens to far nastier hip-hop and metal, this doesn't shock me, but unlike Marilyn Manson or Eminem, there was no depth or skill or potent fire to outlast the shock tactics, and the ballads might be some of the most embarrassing music I've heard all year - how anyone can justify a song like 'Bullet', I have no idea. And from there... look, no matter how many bargain-barrel Skrillex-ripoff effects you add to subsequent records, it doesn't make the writing any less walking cringe! The best thing is that if you completely tune out anything these guys are saying, the production can go in a somewhat interesting direction with a decent hook or groove, but that's not saying much. So forgive me when I say I had no expectations for this new record, which reportedly was taking things in a completely new direction... yeah, I'll believe it when I hear it. So what happened on Five?

Monday, February 27, 2017

video review: 'boy thursday' by KNIVES

And now I finally got to a project that, well, if you're a hardcore punk or post-hardcore fan or you like rap rock, you'll probably dig it. Beyond that... eh, the writing's good, at least.

Beyond that, Billboard BREAKDOWN is next, and I have no idea where my schedule goes, so stay tuned!

album review: 'boy thursday' by KNIVES

So as I've mentioned a number of times, I didn't go through an angry white boy phase in my teens - I jumped pretty much from mainstream pop and hip-hop radio to power and symphonic metal, and that meant I pretty much skipped modern rock radio. And a big consequences of that is that I came to the nu-metal rap rock scene much later in my early twenties in comparison to many others - it was not a formative part of my musical evolution. And I'm kind of grateful for that, because upon revisitation with rare exception, a lot of rap rock tended to be really bad, especially in the late 90s the closer it crept to the gut-churning angst of nu-metal or the overblown and frequently disgusting machismo of acts like Limp Bizkit. This was music that rarely bothered to be tuneful or driven by consistent grooves or strong musicality, and that's before we get to the often atrocious lyrics. Now that's not saying I didn't find stuff I liked: I've always been a big fan of the Beastie Boys, and when you follow it with solid work from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, and Rage Against The Machine, there is a subset of this music I like, especially leaning towards more of the punk side.

And there's a part of me that feels this genre could sustain a comeback, potentially even driven from hip-hop instead of rock. Acts like Doomtree and Run The Jewels are only getting production that is more aggressive and abrasive, and that's before you touch on mainstream acts like Eminem, who I'd put money on pursuing more of a rap rock direction if he drops a record in a year or so, especially if he goes more political. And so into that vein comes KNIVES, a new band fronted by L.A. rapper J. Medeiros, who you might know from his association with Rawkus Records or his work with The Procussions in the early 2000s. Medeiros has actually been active since the late 90s - and pretty damn prolific at that, so in addition to a planned debut from his electronic/hip-hop project AllttA later this year, he's been pushing a rap rock band inspired by punk and post-hardcore called KNIVES. They have a debut record, and in the aftermath of covering P.O.S and not getting the political material for which I hoping, I thought this would be a good step - was I right?

Monday, June 20, 2016

video review: 'the getaway' by red hot chili peppers

I'm actually genuinely curious how people receive this record, given the stylistic departures in the production. Overall... eh, it's decent, but I do wish it was better.

Next up, probably YG or Swans, so stay tuned!

album review: 'the getaway' by red hot chili peppers

You know, in nearly six hundred reviews, I don't think I've ever talked about the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Now, part of that is that they haven't released an album in a couple of years and they're a considerable distance out of their heyday, but on some level, what is there to say? I've yet to find a person who seriously dislikes the band and their genre-pushing blend of alternative rock, rap rock and funk, and while I'd never say they made classic albums, they sure as hell kept up a steady stream of singles that have always been a ton of fun. I always found it a little interesting that they managed to chug through the 80s with very little success before blowing up for a solid two decades and becoming rock staples. And yet with that in mind, while I can definitely say I like this band, I'd never say they were one of my favourites or that we need more Red Hot Chili Peppers material, it's not like their string of classic songs in the 90s and 2000s are going anywhere.

But you can tell in the post-Frusciante years that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are not simply content to rest on their laurels, first putting out a pretty decent record in 2011 with Josh Klinghoffer on guitar. But even that didn't seem like enough, so after a collection of EPs and live albums, they left longtime producer Rick Rubin to try something different for their newest record The Getaway, enlisting Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. Now I've had mixed experiences with Danger Mouse in recent years - a few good, but most underwhelming - but I had no idea how his style would meld with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have tended to be a wilder, more colorful group than he'd usually work with. In other words, I was definitely willing to give The Getaway a chance - so what did we get?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

video review: 'kill the wolf' by b. dolan

And I'm glad to have this out of my system. Tough review to write, but definitely worth it.

And next... whoo boy, the descent into the abyss... and unfortunately not the Chelsea Wolfe kind, although that's coming too. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

album review: 'kill the wolf' by b. dolan

Let's talk a little about poetry.

Now you'd think this would be a concept that gets discussed more frequently in hip-hop culture, but it's a lot less common than you'd think that you could describe rappers as poets with a straight face. Putting aside the technical considerations - which tend to be fluid with poetry anyway - that label, fairly or not, tends to imply a level of writing sophistication that hip-hop can occasionally fall short of, especially in the mainstream and especially nowadays with the greater focus on production over lyricism.

But if you start digging deep into the underground, you'll actually find a fair few artists who have an established background in a more literary circle, and it shouldn't surprise many people that a few of these poets I'd also identify as some of my favourite rappers, like Dessa or Sage Francis. And if you want to go even deeper, you need to talk about B. Dolan, rapper and spoken word artist from Rhode Island, affiliated with Sage Francis and who broke into the scene in 2008 with the harrowing and absolutely fascinating record The Failure. And for a hip-hop traditionalist, The Failure is far from an easy listen - the beats and production is minimal, much more focused on the words themselves, and when they are there it's abrasive and nasty as hell. And yet the bars themselves earn that harrowing production, an incendiary record targeting politics, religion, and philosophy with naked abandon that chars everyone in its path, including B. Dolan himself.

And thus it's not exactly surprising that his 2010 record Fallen House Sunken City was a slightly more conventional hip-hop record in terms of its construction - still politically charged, still with abrasive and nasty production, still with fiery and intense wordplay... but I dunno, it didn't quite have the same unbelievable moments of visceral intensity that came with songs like 'Kate' and 'Joan Of Arcadia' and 'Skycycle Blues' with the sole exception being the haunting story track of 'Marvin' about the death of Marvin Gaye. Worse still were the elements of conspiracy theory nonsense creeping into his material on tracks like 'The Reptilian Agenda' - yeah, I appreciate the shots at Cheney and Bush as much as anyone, but that Illuminati horseshit is patently ridiculous when a far more dispiriting and honest explanation is that people are lazy, stupid, overwhelmed, or incompetent, stuck in venial sins than grand conspiracies - think The Wire instead of House Of Cards.

But even beyond that, I was in the mood for some hard-edged politics, and right now, rap has all the more reason to get political, so how does Kill The Wolf turn out?