Friday, February 12, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Feb 6-12

Welcome to the fifth Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Beyonce shook up half her fanbase, while Death Grips confused them all.

BJ The Chicago Kid - The New Cupid

Hip-Hop's primary feature artist, or at least the one most used that you never pay attention to. BJ the Chicago Kid has range like you'd never believe, appearing on many of Black Hippy's releases, along with a slew of assorted albums since 2010. CunninLynguists' OneirologyChance the Rapper's Acid Rap, and Dr. Dre's Compton are just some. That is to say, this dude has talent that many, from the underground to the most popular, see value in. And yet, as an artist on his own, he's virtually silent and ignored. Few, including myself, listened to his 2012 debut Pineapple Now-Laters. Next week we'll see if that trend continues because his follow-up In My Mind drops, this track, featuring Kendrick Lamar, a standout single.

On 'The New Cupid' BJ The Chicago Kid presents the side of him that many expect, but done really, really well. Clearly released around Valentine's Day, 'The New Cupid' dazzles like a winter wonderland, with BJ crooning over the Gospel background with his soft, punctured lips lacing every word with gooey sugar. The content provokes AndrĂ© 3000's 'Happy Valentine's Day,' which took a similar approach to Cupid's absence. Both center around the lost love and heightened sluttiness on Valentine's Day, with Andre taking on the persona of Cupid Valentino attempting to attract weary wanderers with his bow, while BJ finds him, ironically, dancing in the club. Lyrically, it's focused but unoriginal, both in terms of relevancy and style. As far as Contemporary R&B goes, this is about as cliched as it gets. The pristine nature of love, discrediting those who do differently, etc. While Andre's 'Happy Valentine's Day' proved that this idea's been taken on before, at a time when many R&B artists believed of the same going's on.

Doesn't make the music any less enjoyable though. I love all the details found hidden, most vocally with additional pieces in the chorus and bridge. And just as the five minute song was about to get stale, Kendrick arrives. It's not special from him, but why would it be, given the content, genre, and tempo. It is Kendrick though, so it is good. Varied, on point conceptually, and enjoyable, the verse adds a new dimension to 'The New Cupid,' much like Big Boi did on Andre's 'Roses.' A skit on the sanctity of love concludes the track, rounding things off nicely. 

Death Grips - Hot Head

What does it say about me that my first thought about 'Hot Head' wasn't its absurdism or the coming storm of meme's to follow it, but the sheer editing, sequencing, and musicianship ability of the three members on display. Do I like it? I have no clue, and that's exactly how it should be with Death Grips, a group insisting on pushing boundaries ever since their inception in 2010. But with 'Hot Head,' a track that seemingly merges all the ridiculous electronic elements of their sound and cranks it over the decibel range, the calling card, if you can say there is one, comes in its intricate details. Basic synthesizers are turned into shining examples of working with as little as you got. Noise, sludge, grinding, all of it intertwines into a visceral experience.

I say experience cause music seems like a side venture at this point. Sure it's music, I'm not gonna be those types to say it's not, but at this point in their career making moments, making experiences, seems much more important and prominent than music. MC Ride is as indecipherable as ever, the structures brush violently against Avant-Garde sound collages with no discernible patterns. That goes for within respective movements as well, with seeming rhythms that attempt to kickstart a more atypical Death Grips song, only to be barricaded by other malfunctions whilst being beaten until it forces a change. There's almost too much going on. Well, there is too much going on, the question is is that a good or bad thing. 

Beyonce - Formation

Well ain't it crazy to see how quickly Trap has infested the Pop landscape? Say what you want about the genre and its potential redundancy, but when you mix it with R&B legends who know how to flaunt their stuff the result is invariably. It isn't just BeyoncĂ©Rihanna's following in line too, along with a slew of other contemporaries taking risks dabbling in the ultra-sleek swag of Trap. And with that, or I should say with that merging, comes a distinct and palpable experimentation, something Pop desperately needed. I'm not saying it's the best thing in the world, but 'Formation' might be the greatest example yet of this manifestation.

Much of that is attributed to Mike WiLL Made It's production, with that finicky synth plucking its way through the foreground. It's instantly the most prominent sound. A weird, yet minimal mesh of off-kilter funkiness jumping hoops under Beyonce, who flaunts elegance and grittiness like she's never done before. With a striking structure that restarts itself midway through, the basis of the song resides in her more formal R&B but there still resides a lurching devilishness to it, with Bey glazing over a hushed autotune, accompanied by punchy drums and synths that act like background vocalists.

As for the Queen standing at attention, she obliterates this track. Not all in a good way mind you, the over-insistence on pushing "I slay" is a bit much and just seems like a way to stay in with the cool kids, but other than that, when she focuses on unifying generational gaps in black culture she excels in ways few have before. She's seething in her commitment to empowering her fellow black ladies, using danceable rhythms and memorable lines to root in the thoughts of expression in an age where their kind is typically looked down upon. "I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making" she yells, declaring herself as numerous enterprises in the grind for income, all while dissolving racial tension through the music video. That part's not as successful, especially with the strange use of Katrina as a front to that, but regardless, it's there and it's good that it is. Makes 'Formation' one hell of a single that comes with everything it has, and then some. 

STRFKR - Never Ever

Digging it. It's cheap, effortless ElectroPop so, really, it's nothing special, but that's what gives it that charm. Funny that the thing I like most about 'Never Ever' are the vocals, something I'm accustomed to liking the least on songs like this. They fit the style and mood effortlessly. Maybe a bit too nicely, if that's a thing, as its certainly been done before, even by Starfucker themselves. We've reached a point in Electro/SynthPop that it's hard to create something new without redefining the music at its basis, so it's tough for Starfucker to really revitalize themselves. 'Never Ever' won't bring in new fans in other words, but hey, for fans of their work this is another nice addition.

While the verses are a bit weak, and honestly unnecessary, the chorus and bridge are prime Electro bliss. The darty synths, both airy and aquatic, and the endless percussion allow 'Never Ever' to have a retro feel whilst also sounding futuristic. Sounds just like something you'd hear rolling on the credits of some obscure Japanese video game. I enjoy it. It's not remarkable, or special in its own right, but 'Never Ever' does continue the trend of ElectroPop being consistently fine, capable of conjuring flightless emotion and ambivalence on the whiff of a synth.

Missy Elliott - Pep Rally

You know everything that made 'WTF' an enormous return single for Missy Elliott? Well, take that all away and you have 'Pep Rally.' It's honestly shocking how bad this is in comparison to 'WTF.' Many artists attempting a resurgence either do so in glorious fashion or glorious downfall, it's rare to see both within the span of a couple months. Whereas I thought 'WTF' was sensational and evoked that early 2000's era Missy, 'Pep Rally,' if anything, showcases her amateurish side on some of The Cookbook's worst songs. A few there also had that drum line/marching band feel, a style of music I've never been too kind to when recreated in studio, but at least they came with glamour and flair.

This is devoid of anything, and I hate to say it cause I love Missy Elliott, but this might be one of the worst singles I've heard from a respectable artist in a while. Hell, Kid Cudi's 'Judgmental Cunt' was better than this. Personally, I find almost nothing enjoyable from this. The weak vocal effects, stuttered pointlessly, the annoying chorus that's been done a million times before, Elliott's lyrics that are handicapped and hampered by a lack of foresight (she literally is talking about a football game, down to the "football player running yard got skills"), and the beat which takes all the passion and personality from one's choreographed marching band and dilutes it into a horribly derivative production piece. I suppose its relevant, released on Super Bowl Sunday, a year after her appearance at the same event, but why? To cash in? It's not like it's good, musically speaking I question why this was released. Reminds me of some of The Black Eyed Peas.

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