READER BEST OF 2011: @Paley_Martin

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Ni**as in Paris

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We thought it couldn’t get any worse than a couple of white kids in Amsterdam, but oh were we wrong. Once Jay & ‘Ye confiscated throne, the rest was straight history. Ni**as in Paris was a free ride to the jungle, a one way ticket to Mayhem Lane, and honey you weren’t ever coming back. Real talk, the shit is cray, and that’s that. This ain’t no track for no head bobbin’, weed smokin’, love makin’ folk. Ni**as in Paris is the platinum gold drizzle on top of the dark chocolate icing! Ni**as in Paris is Ciroc spitting in the pretty face of Cristal! Ni**as in Paris is the reason why Prince William didn’t Marry Kate and Ashley!

The Roots – Sleep

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The Roots return with another classic in the musical epitome of their artistic intent. In “Sleep”, we meet a lonely hustler who once considered himself a man, now nothing more than a degraded soul, cold and weary, pacing the streets. Back and forth, back and forth, the metronome ticks along ever so slowly as if time has reached an equilibrial standstill. Seeking a way out of the ceaseless cycle, he keeps getting pushed back in to the game he no longer wants to play. Even in his sleep, he feels prisoner. In his black and white world, he knows his enemies will keep him restless and peace is yet unseen.

Beats Antique – Siren Song

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Beats Antique… Nobody knows where they came from or where they’re going, but baby they’re here. And that much we know is true. In response to the inhumanly execution of their music, I’ve come to think of them as higher evolved beings from the depths of a far, far dimension, temporarily gracing the grounds of this realm. That being said, their “Siren Song” doesn’t do much better at disproving my theory. “Siren Song” is not just a track; it’s the final crescendo of a hidden tale. Listening ears sink into a portal of Arabian nights and Middle Eastern instrumental orgies. The reverberating strings entrance us with a hypnotic cry, so pungent and so convincing, until we’ve fallen victim to Persephone syndrome. The composition penetrates in a dark seductive kind of way, yet what was once our fantasy leaves us trapped within a foreign nightmare.

Amy Winehouse – Halftime

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For me, “Halftime” was an internal calm after the storm, an unexpected peace with the parting. Quite honestly, this track is Amy at her barest, gentlest, most vulnerable self, showcasing the rarity of her vocal virtuoso and elucidating the old soul within. With the given circumstances, the lyricism suggests a self-intervention. The enlightened Amy attempts to pause from the madness, to “consider the change” in her last chance to convalesce. Ultimately, she is left to decipher her natural vice, the music or the medicine.

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

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Like most, I had been awaiting the comeback of the Chili Peppers. Considering their anthology, the boys have set their own standards pretty high; with “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” the four-some was at last resurrected with a shamelessly catchy jingle, and just like that, the boys were back. When all was said and done, the cowbell was questionable and so was Anthony Keidis’s new hair-do, but even so, we still bounced to the beat. With Flea on the bass and Keidis on the mic, no wrong could be done. Yes, the album (I’m With You) was exceptionally weak, but as far as comeback singles are concerned, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” does the trick. Sane enough to be played out by middle-aged men yet youthful enough in terms of the eternally youthful Red Hot Chili Peppers, the track is contextually fitting.