MUSIC: Lists Suck (or My 2013 Review)
by Lawrence Ferrell
As the title suggests, I won’t give you a list of top songs or albums of 2013. We already know Beyonce won with her holiday gift in December. Saying otherwise is just being “difficult” and honestly I tryna be a bigger person this year. So instead, gonna talk about stuff I noticed and/or witnessed in 2013.
D’Angelo at The Brooklyn Bowl
In March, got to witness the sold-out Brothers In Arms show. D and ?uestlove ran through songs from S.O.S. Band, Sly and the Family Stone, to Bobby Womack. It was cool seeing a healthy and happy D’Angelo, given the ups and downs he went through over the years. Since the BIA show, he’s been showing up here and there, even appeared at the Made In America festival. Of course we’ve been hearing the new album is done or close to it. His tour manager, the great Alan Leeds, even said it was going to drop in August. Well, August came and went and still no album. It’s getting to the point as to which one is gonna drop first: this, Jay Electronica’s debut, or the long awaited Detox by Dr. Dre. Keep hope alive, I guess.
You can read my thoughts of this event here.
RBMA Culture Clash
Wow. Just…wow. This event was put on by the Red Bull Music Academy during their 2013 stop in New York City. It was definitely something, as a music head, I was amped to witness. Four DJ crews battle it out for dancefloor supremacy with the crowd being the judge. The crews were: Just Blaze/Young Guru (hip hop), The Federation (dancehall/reggae), Trouble & Bass (club), and Que Bajo?! (tropical bass). Each crew had guests galore during each set like Wale, Spragga Benz, Cam’ron. However Trouble & Bass smashed everyone by bringing out Robin S to perform her hit “Show Me Love”. Great night, but I learned some foreign youngsters smoke some really nasty smelling stuff. Nah, man.
Here’s Zombies For Money’s “Mina!” off the Max Payne 3 soundtrack. ZFM is on the clash winner Trouble & Bass label.
Cali Is Active
Los Angeles continued to churn out some really creative stuff. As Snoop Dogg/Lion celebrated the 20th anniversary of the classic DoggyStyle, he teamed up with funkster Dam Funk to give us the excellent 7 Days of Funk EP.
Overdoz go into the mix with the release of their promo album Boom (reviewed here). They’ve been bubbling for a while and the hard work paid off. They toured with A$AP Ferg, and got “Killer Tofu” on 106 and Park. The group even got signed to PoloGrounds/RCARecords.
Top Dawg Entertainment had a big year as well. Schoolboy Q laced us with Collard Greens, Yay Yay, and Man Of The Year, all in preparation for his new album “Oxymoron“. Speaking of Man Of The Year, GQ magazine gave that honor to Kendrick Lamar. Despite a questionable cover story, still didn’t keep K Dot and his crew from shining. Of course the big talk was the infamous verse off Big Sean’s “Control” track. So many praise dances, self burials, and Hurts When Breathe moments occurred when it was unleashed onto the internet. Which leads us to…
You Ain’t Hitting Anymore, New York
Man, New York Rap took a bit hit in 2013. Once that “I’m the King of New York” line made waves, the descendants of MC Hammer and Geto Boys realized it was open season. “Who’s gonna respond? Who is the King? Yall ain’t got nobody because yall sound like Miami!” Oh the slander was thick! Joell Ortiz and Papoose made valiant efforts, but nope. To add insult to injury, Trinidad James got his few shots in…IN BROOKLYN. Honestly I didn’t really care, New York has been slipping in terms of commercial success. However New York has Action Bronson, Troy Ave, Joey Bada$$, and B.I.C., so there’s no shortage of talent. Support on the other hand…yeah we need to work on that.
Are We Still Watching The Throne?
Let’s admit it: Kanye and Jay-Z released two meh albums in 2013. The former gave us a “Fuck You” album while the latter the soundtrack to gentrification. Also I don’t fully get this whole Big Brother/Littler Brother thing they got going on. “Yeezus” drop then a week or two “Magna Carta Holy Grail” is released. Kanye announces a tour for the album, Jay-Z comes with a “Hey, me too!” Just weird.
2013 was definitely the year Pharrell Williams laced us with hits after hits after hits. Dude has been on his griz-ind and we’re all thankful for it. From 2Chains to Kelly Rowland, Pharrell has been working. He helped Robin Thicke get some work with the song you couldn’t stop hearing all summer, “Got To Give It Up“…oops I meant “Blurred Lines”. If that wasn’t your speed, he hooked up with Daft Punk and the great Nile Rodgers for “Get Lucky”. Not only that, Pharrell got us all in our feelings with the first 24 hour music video for “Happy” off the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. To cap off the year, he gave Beyonce two outstanding songs, “Superpower” and “Blow”. I mean how can you not say the brother was not winning in 2013. I’ll even forgive him for that god-awful “BBC” off Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. We can’t all be perfect.
All and all, 2013 wasn’t that bad and I’m looking forward to 2014. We’re getting new seasons of Boondocks, 24, Orange Is The New Black, and House of Cards, six new projects from TDE, an Overdoz debut, and new music from Prince Paul. If those don’t get you excited, well…
Quick plug: I highly recommend the Music Snobs podcast. Very good discussions on music (duh) in a barbershop style. Check it out!