If you were watching Game 5 of the NBA finals tonight you couldn’t have missed this: in a three-minute spot paid for by Samsung and promoting its Galaxy smartphones, rap legend Jay-Z introduces and previews his 12th studio album titled Magna Carta Holy Grail. Thankfully there’s no product placement or any cheesiness at all here, really; it’s just Jay and his collaborators Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Rick Rubin, and Swizz Beatz brainstorming new beats and rhymes for Jay’s upcoming, surprise release.
“Pretty much the album is about this duality of how do you navigate your way through this whole thing — through success, through failures — and remain yourself,” remarks Hova.
This Tuesday Kanye West releases his sixth studio album Yeezus. Pictured above is what the physical album will look like in stores. Its minimalist design features no album album artwork, only a transparent jewel case with some red tape. There is no link from iTunes or Amazon to preorder the album. It drops June 18 and that’s the day you can snag it. ‘Ye hasn’t done much in terms of promoting the album in the traditional sense. He performed on SNL and after that he projected images and sound on buildings around the world for fans to flock to and discover his new sound.
The most hype is emitting from a recent interview he conducted with The New York Times. In it ‘Ye opens up about his past mistakes, his problem with the Grammys, the inspiration behind previous albums 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, parenthood (his girlfriend Kim Kardashian gave birth to their daughter days after the interview posted), fashion, and more. Expectedly, Kanye stroked his ego more than once throughout the back-and-forth describing himself as ”the Michael Jordan of music” and saying about his career “I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen.” He also calls himself the “Steve [Jobs] of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture.” And he concluded the interview with this:
I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: “This is the level that things could be at.” So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it’s supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.
It’s a must-read for fans of the undoubtedly talented artist who has certainly evolved in many ways since his 2004 debut The College Dropout. Read the interview in full here.
Now what can you expect from Yeezus? The Times‘ Jon Caramanica describes it as “a turn away from [Kanye's] reliable maximalism to something more urgent and visceral.” He describes the songs as “becoming more skeletal and ferocious.” He goes on to say, “The music of Yeezus — spare, direct and throbbing — is, effectively, a palate cleanser after years of overexertion, backing up lyrics that are among the most serrated and provocative of his career.”
And even Mr. West, who thinks of himself as a “black new wave artist,” shared some of his influences: “It’s like trap and drill and house. I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house. I think that even “Black Skinhead” could border on house, “On Sight” sounds like acid house, and then “I Am a God” obviously sounds, like, super house.”
After the break, a brief clip of Kanye rapping new track “I Am A God” on headphones with an appearance by collaborator Rick Rubin. Under that, a short film inspired by the movie American Psycho starring Kourtney Kardashian’s boyfriend Scott Disick (who actually really does resemble the movie’s star Christian Bale) and Kim’s friend Jonathan Cheban in the role orignially made famous by Jared Leto.
We knew it was in the works, and now here’s proof. The Lonely Island is about to drop their third fake rap album The Wack Album which follows their 2009 debut Incredibad and 2011′s Turtleneck & Chain. The 20-track release includes SNL Digital Short entries “YOLO” (featuring Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar) and “3-Way (The Golden Rule)” (featuring Justin Timberlake & Lady Gaga) as well as a slew of new material. A month ago the dudes announced “Wack Wednesdays;” every Wednesday the comedy troupe would release a new track off their new record leading up its June 11 release. That date is coming up quick (it’s this Tuesday) so now’s the perfect time to turn up your speakers and listen to all the Wack Wednesday clips at once!
After the break, enjoy “Spring Break Anthem” (with cameos by Zach Galifianakis, James Franco & Edward Norton), “I F****d My Aunt” (featuring T-Pain), “Diaper Money,” the brilliant “Semicolon” (featuring Solange) [plus a live version with Alanis Morissette], Go Kindergarten (featuring Robyn), and “Spell It Out.” The full tracklist is also posted and it includes more features from Pharrell Williams, Hugh Jackman & Kristen Wiig, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Too $hort. Preorder The Wack Album at Amazon today. TLI is still at the top of the fake rap game, I gotta say. (Click here for more…)
As the final episode of the new season of Arrested Development fades to white and then black with credits a memorable track pops onto the scene. As you sit there stunned that all 15 are complete you find yourself bouncing to the infectious track but you’re stiff in contemplation unable to reach for Shazam wishing there were more episodes to satiate your need for, well, more. Let me help you…
The track is called “Boomerang” and it’s by singer-songwriter Lucy Schwartz. For you AD fans, if that last name rings a bell you’re not mistaken. Lucy’s father David Schwartz is the series’ composer and therein lies the connection. During the series’ initial three season run, David pushed for her daughter–a self-proclaimed big fan of the show–to contribute in some capacity. Creator Mitch Hurwitz allowed it and Lucy would be the one who sang the “For British Eyes Only” theme and the staple “Mr. F” line that still continues to pop up in the new episodes. In addition to landing the prime final credits sequence slot with “Boomerang,” Lucy for the first time was featured in an episode this season–she makes a quick cameo as the girl in the glasses in George Michael’s band in college.
If you like what you hear in “Boomerang,” you can support Lucy by anticipating her upcoming full-length album Timekeeper out August 6. “Boomerang” is the lead single and is currently available to purchase on iTunes along with another new track “Time Will Tell.” (For a limited time you can download “Boomerang” for free at her website.) She’s been making music for some time now; you can preview her previous full-length releases Winter In June (2007) and Life In Letters (2010) on her iTunes page; there you’ll also find other singles and EPs. Her YouTube channel is also packed with soulful material from over the years. “”Boomerang” doesn’t really fit into my genre, though,” Schwartz admits to Mother Jones. “If you listen to my new album, it’s very eclectic; there’s a banjo song, another one with soul singers.” That can only be a good thing in my book; in addition to the catchy “Boomerang” listeners will experience other sounds from the uniquely talented Lucy Schwartz.
Hurwitz has publicly shared that he’s a big fan of Lucy’s. Obviously he must be for incorporating her sound into his grand experiment that is Arrested Development over all these years. Hurwitz had been following Lucy’s work during AD‘s downtime between ’06-’13 but had only discovered “Boomerang” and its potential to serve as the new season’s outro days before he had to hand in the final edit to Netflix. “This is perfect!” Hurwitz told Schwartz, “Exactly the way I want to end it!” ”He got it in [in the episode] just in the nick of time,” Lucy says. Hurwitz gushed to Entertainment Weekly his excitement about Lucy’s upcoming release. “Lucy’s latest album is her Sgt. Pepper,” he says. “Unbelievable. I can’t stop playing it or thinking about it. So brilliant and amazing.”
You want to know what’s really funny about all this? As great and animated a track “Boomerang” is, it also manages to encapsulate a feeling of dread and longing–all AD fans will associate it with the new season coming to a punchy close.
SpeakSonic album reviews: Justin Timberlake, Kid Cudi, will.i.am, Daft Punk, Mindless Behavior & Beth Hart
Justin Timberlake made a splash selling over 70,000 copies of his recent release The 20/20 Experience. Kid Cudi finally released the follow-up to his 2010 record Man on the Moon II with Indicud, a collection of tracks with notable featured guests and production by Scott Mescudi himself. will.i.am continues to prove he can exist musically without his Black Eyed Peas group with #WILLPOWER. Daft Punk elicits nostalgia of the ’70s with their highly anticipated album Random Access Memories. Ever heard of pop artists Mindless Behavior and the bluesy Beth Hart? You might want to check out their respective releases All Around the World and Bang Bang Boom Boom.
SpeakSonic delivers with this week’s bite-sized album reviews.
Kanye West is about to explode onto the music scene once again, this time with his upcoming sixth studio album and the followup to his critically acclaimed 2011 release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Over the past few months ‘Ye has been working hard on the album at an undisclosed recording studio in Paris, France. It was only until very recently that the rapper resurfaced with new material. His most public debut of two brand new tracks came last night when he performed “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” on Saturday Night Live. The album titled Yeezus has an overall dark tone according to those few who’ve heard samples from it already, and that description is immediately apparent upon hearing the new tracks. ‘Ye embodies a form of rage with distinct political flair here, a quality fans of the genre would typically attribute to Lupe Fiasco. See for yourself in the SNL performances embedded after the break.
A day before his visit to Studio 8H, Kanye tweeted a link to his website that provided fans with a map of highlighted cities around the world; 66 buildings located in cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Berlin were specially marked for fans to flock to to get a first listen of ‘Ye’s new sound. A giant image of Kanye’s face was projected onto these buildings, looping the fresh track “New Slaves.” Though it hasn’t been confirmed, sources say Frank Ocean is featured singing towards the end of the track. See how the unique fan experience went down in a clip posted after the break.
Yeezus is expected to drop June 18. For a sneak peek at the “golden” album artwork, you know where to look. (Click here for more…)
Sound bites: Daft Punk premieres new hit single “Get Lucky”, Frank Ocean & Anna Kendrick debut music videos, The Lonely Island announces new album
Remember that oh-so-awesome snippet from Daft Punk’s upcoming new record Random Access Memories. Since then, the good have been delivered: the first single from the French duo’s followup album to 2005′s Human After All is titled “Get Lucky” and it features the classic electronic sound fused with lyrics from Pharrell Williams and wicked guitar plucks provided by Nile Rodgers. It’s predictably catchy and will have you foaming at the mouth for more where this came from. Download the single today at iTunes, and prepare to upgrade your RAM May 17.
Jump after the break for more in music. (Click here for more…)
Here’s the second single from Drake’s upcoming third studio album Nothing Was The Same. In “5AM In Toronto”–a likely followup to his Thank Me Later track “9AM In Dallas“–Drake returns to his home country Canada and walks around the streets with his crew to eventually stumble in and out of a beach volleyball court. Catch October’s Very Own latest rhymes in the music video hanging above.
In just over two weeks Kid Cudi’s third solo record Indicud will hit stores. It will be his first release on his very own label Wicked Awesome Records. Like Kanye West before him with G.O.O.D. Music, Cudder has imagined his own label with hopes to discover and ignite new creative talent in the world of music and beyond. His friend and frequent collaborator King Chip (aka Chip Tha Ripper) is his first Wicked Awesome inductee. To focus on his label, Cudi has stepped away from G.O.O.D. amicably. He broke to Power 106 LA earlier in the week and explained it like this: “Me and Kanye were actually talking on the phone the other day, and there’s been things I wanted to talk to him about. About me wanting to start my own direction, and he got because he’s trying to start his own new path, and trying new things as an artist. And he was just like ‘Man, I feel you. It’s cool.’ This is just from a business standpoint. There’s no beef with anyone on the label. It’s all love.”
So it’s not like he left on bad terms and won’t ever be collaborating with the Kanye and the G.O.O.D. Music crew ever again. It’s just that he’s going in a new direction professionally and creatively and wants to focus solely on building and nurturing his own label. You can watch Cudi announce the news on the radio in a clip embedded after the break; and you can hear the entire radio session at DatNewCudi’s SoundCloud.
In other news, Kid Cudi has started a new Tumblr where he’s posting brief, looping clips of his recent performances and interactions with passionate fans. He calls it CUDIVHS.com. (Click here for more…)
Kid Cudi’s ‘Indicud’ album cover and tracklist displayed [Update: iTunes preorder up, new single out, JKL performance]
With less than a month left to go, the album cover and tracklist for Kid Cudi’s third solo record (fourth overall) has been revealed for all to see. The album art, like Cudder’s past few music videos, features a baroque-inspired frame. “The album art represents me. A ball of flames in a rose gold frame,” the rapper tweeted.
Indicud features a total of 18 tracks including singles “Just What I Am,” ”King Wizard,” and “Immortal.” And for long-time fans of the once Lonely Stoner, a special track titled “Solo Dolo Part II” featuring rising rapper Kendrick Lamar will increase anticipation for the album’s release tenfold. Other featured artists include Cudi’s close friend King Chip (the artist formally known as Chip Tha Ripper is featured on two tracks), Father John Misty, Too $hort, Haim, RZA, A$AP Rocky, and Michael Bolton. Jump after the break to see the full tracklisting.
Currently Indicud is up for preorder at Amazon and at Kid Cudi’s official online store. His store sells digital and physical copies of the album, as well as the vinyl. On April 23 the hype becomes real.
Update (4/1): Today Indicud popped up on iTunes and is now available for preorder at that popular destination for music. Once you get there, you’ll notice that a previously unheard song “Girls” (Featuring Too $hort) is available for download. That’s the fourth single off the album–preview it at iTunes. Also, after the break I’ve posted Cudder’s first live televised performance of “Immortal” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Click here for more…)
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, better known by their stage name Daft Punk, are hard at work on their followup album to 2005′s Human After All. True, they worked on the soundtrack for 2010′s Tron: Legacy, but this new collection of tracks marks the fourth studio album release for the French electronic music duo. The name of their next album is Random Access Memories (I love it) and it will include 13 new tracks, one of which was teased in a commercial break during a recent episode of SNL. Take a listen to the 15 second snippet above.
Random Access Memories is out May 17 and it’s up for preorder at iTunes today ($11.99). Visit the Columbia-signed artists website to preorder a physical copy of the CD ($12.98) or the vinyl ($39.98) which includes a digital album download code, an LP size booklet, and a 180 gram double vinyl gatefold. Check out the official album artwork after the break.
Come on, people; it’s time make it get funky. (Click here for more…)
Justin Timberlake’s ’20/20 Experience’ is out now; watch the “Mirrors” music video [Update: Big sales]
Justin Timberlake’s ten track The 20/20 Experience is out now. It’s available for digital download at iTunes for $10.99, but if you consider yourself a true JT fan you will make the trip to Target to purchase the deluxe physical version that includes two bonus tracks ($13.99). Oh and by the way, the standard version, the deluxe version, and the vinyl all feature different artwork. (And there’s more where this came from; Timberlake has confirmed that a 10-track sequel album is in the works to complete the “20/20″ listening experience.)
Accompanying the grand total of 13 new tracks and the previously release music video for the Jay-Z assisted “Suit & Tie” is a new music video for the album’s second single “Mirrors.” The song is arguably the best cut off the release, and its music video does it the ultimate justice by telling a touching and engaging about an elderly couple exploring their long and journeyed relationship. The clip opens with a dedication to JT’s grandparents William and Sadie; his grandfather passed away last year after making it 63 years with his now-widowed wife. The Floria Sigismondi-directed music video does a fine job at interpreting the song’s lyrics:
Cause I don’t wanna lose you now/I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me/The vacancy that sat in my heart/Is a space that now you hold…And now it’s clear as this promise/That we’re making two reflections into one/Cause it’s like you’re my mirror/My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me.
That’s the hook and the actors who are portraying JT’s grandparents put on a believable performance as we watch their relationship blossom by a jukebox and a pool table. The video takes some twists and turns but by the end you should come to a realization of what it was all about: finding your soulmate and having the power to let go when the time comes (at least that is my interpretation). Intriguingly JT lets the story play out and is absent for the majority of the clip; he doesn’t turn up until the 5:45 mark when he catches the ring released by “his grandmother” (she’s letting go of her departed husband of so many years) to continue to legacy of love. He’s trapped in a fun house of mirrors and dances his way out of it in a fashion only JT can maneuver. A great song matched with a compelling music video; can’t really ask for more than that these days.
So how’s the album overall? For that I will guide you to SpeakSonic’s album review that covers the bases; spoiler alert: it garners a rave review.
Update (3/29): In its first week of sales, The 20/20 Experience quickly shot to #1 on the Billboard 200 selling 968,000 copies. This makes JT’s latest effort the best-selling album of the year so far outpacing Mumford & Sons’ Babel which has sold 658,000 to date. 20/20 also performed well in digital sales in week one with 452,000 downloads making it the third-largest debut indigital ever only behind Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (662,000 in 2011) and Taylor Swift’s Red (465,000 in 2012). JT’s third solo album is also his most successful debut, sales wise. His previous releases FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006) and Justified (2002) sold 684,000 and 439,000 copies, respectively, in their first week on the market.
To promote his upcoming new album The 20/20 Experience, the versatile Justin Timberlake visited Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for an entire week. So when Friday rolled around and viewers hadn’t seen a new installment of “History of Rap” yet you knew it had to be coming. And it did!! Fallon, Timberlake, and The Roots collaborated for a fourth time to span the history of rap to produce one entertaining medley that you never want to end. Before the performance begins, JT admits “But this is the last time…” and JF finishes his sentence “until the next time we do this” and then JT echoes that hopefully meaning that this in fact won’t be the final musical trip around the beat-driven genre.
And now, without further ado, I present “History of Rap Part 4.”
On Friday at midnight Kid Cudi released the third single off his coming album Indicud for the world to hear. The track is called “Immortal” and in it Cudder forgets he’s a rapper and croons his way through a self-produced track that features a rock-ish vibe similar to what can be heard on his collection of songs found on his 2011 release WZRD. In the chorus he sings, “I am living my life as if I had powers/And tonight I feel immortal.” Clearly Cudi is high offa life on this track and the positive vibe is definitely infectious. However, if you were looking forward to hearing hard raps and rhymes you won’t find that here; but then again, I think it’s time we acknowledged that Cudder has evolved into a unique artist flaunting his ability to rap, sing, and rock a mean guitar.
In a tweet Kid Cudi revealed the production behind his new track. “Ok, so heres what I did. I took one of my favorite bands MGMT’s song “Congratulations“, put it in reverse, sped it up, and produced over it.” It works. So does the opening scream from Billy Madison‘s Adam Sandler.
Listen to “Immortal” below and anticipate Indicud‘s April 23 release.
That post title–it’s like music to your ears. Justin Timberlake and ”Suit & Tie” featured artist Jay-Z are headlining a tour together. The “Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour” starts July 17 in Toronto and ends August 17 in Miami travelling through a total of 12 North American venues (the others include New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hershey, Detroit, Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia). Tickets go on sale next week on Thursday, February 28 at Ticketmaster.com; if you RSVP to the event on Facebook you can gain access to presale tickets one day earlier. Also, if you obtain tickets using the Live Nation app you can snag tix on the 27th as well. All dates excluding the stop at Yankee Stadium will be available to the general public starting 2/28; New York sale information is “to be announced soon.” Jump after the break to view all the tour dates.
In addition to a summer tour, JT is exposing his brand in other ways. On March 9 he’ll be hosting Saturday Night Live for the fifth (!) time and he’ll also be serving as the evening’s musical guest. And from March 11 through 15 he’ll be featured on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Justin Timberlake shows off the moves we’ve missed in a music video that’s all dressed up in black and white and directed by The Social Network helmer David Fincher for the Sexy Back singer’s latest single “Suit & Tie.” Rapper Jay-Z breaks out a smoking cigar for the occasion and makes a cameo, too.
JT’s third solo studio album The 20/20 Experience is due out March 19; preorder at iTunes today.
There really wasn’t a single solitary winner at this year’s Grammys, which happened to feature some really great live performances. Gotye won the coveted Record of the Year award with his catchy ubiquitous tune “Somebody That I Used To Know”; Gotye and his featured artist Kimbra also won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for this song. Mumford & Sons took home Album of the Year for their sophomore effort Babel; the group also won Best Long Form Music Video for “Big Easy Express.” Fun. also got some recognition as they beat out Frank Ocean to be named Best New Artist and their song “We Are Young” was crowned Song of the Year. An honorable mention goes to Skrillex who managed to scoop up three Grammys; his EP Bangarang was named Best Dance/Electronica Album, the track “Bangarang” won Best Dance Recording, and “Promises (Skrillex and Nero Remix)” won Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical.
To view the full list of winners, click here.
For the first time since 2008′s admittedly awesome change-of-pace effort Folie à Deux, Fall Out Boy is reuniting for another record dubbed Save Rock and Roll. The lead single off their fifth studio album is the very wordy “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” and I’m happy to report that it’s way different from their previous material. Not that their first few albums were bad, but they were able to successfully revitalize their brand by going in a new direction with Folie à Deux so it stands to chance that Save Rock and Roll will do the same in 2013. “Light Em Up” is indeed an eclectic track that borrows inspiration from hip hop, hair-metal, and the group’s roots in alternative punk/pop rock. It all layers on top of each other nicely; longtime FOB fans should accept it with arms wide open and newcomers to the once overly emo punk band will be surprised to hear something unexpected.
Listen to the track in a fiery music video featuring rapper 2 Chainz in appearance only after the break.
Download “Light Em Up” at iTunes today. Save Rock and Roll releases in a few months on May 6, the same day in 2003 when Fall Out Boy dropped their debut album Take This To Your Grave. They are also going on tour from May 14 to June 30; check out the dates on their site.
It’s been ten years, FOB fans. Are you excited to hear more? (Click here for more…)
October’s Very Own is back with a new single off his upcoming third studio album. “Started From The Bottom” stars Drake the Rapper since the majority of the track features the former Degrassi star laying down hard rhymes as opposed to his usual crooning abilities. It’s not as bouncy as his previous singles “Take Care” and “The Motto” but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Drizzy gets real in this track as he takes listeners on a journey through his rise to fame.
He took to his blog to formally introduce his latest cut to fans. “I am proud of every part of my past and I’m excited for this song to find a place in your life as well. I didn’t feel I needed any interviews or radio or press to launch this song. It felt right to come back to the site that I started on and release it to the people that started here with me. Judging by this post, the tour that we’ve been planning, the conversations about new songs and album artwork…I think it’s safe to say we’re back together again. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.”
Listen to “Started From The Bottom” here. Download it at iTunes. An accompanying music video hangs after the break.
This round you are being introduced to DDFRx (or Daily Dope Fix, and the Rx makes it a prescription “because you are guaranteed to become addicted to their sound” or so they say). The New York-based group consists of producers and rappers, namely beats maker Eric Ficocelli (who goes by the handle The Fics) and rappers Mike.M and R. Crooked Letter. Their latest creation “PAM,” produced by The Fics with creative direction from Corey Zaretsky (Beatstache), can be described as an electric fusion of dance music and hip hop. It’s got a flashy, positively schizophrenic beat that’s sprinkled with catchy samples provided by Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything.” It’s the kind of music you’d want to hear at night clubs precisely when the night reaches that point of ecstasy.
Preview “PAM” in full below and download it for keeps at DDFRx’s SoundCloud page. There you will also find the group’s previously released track “Media Training” which features rhymes from Mike.M. Coming soon is a new Fics beat with Mike.M and R. Crooked Letter taking turns at the mic. As DDFRx continues to expand its exciting sound we’ll follow its steps.