After I saw the 2018 Album of the Year Grammy nominees, I told myself that I wouldn’t be mad if any of the artists nominated won the highly coveted award. There were no glaring insults to the culture-at-large, à la Beck or Mumford & Sons. There was Bruno Mars, Lorde, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino and, of course, Kendrick Lamar. All of these artists released albums that seeped through popular culture (though you could argue that the extent of Lorde’s and Childish Gambino’s impacts was less pronounced than the other three nominees).
Despite having a lineup of albums that had their valid arguments and did not seem personally imported into the category by John Lennon impersonator and Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, the final win for Bruno Mars’ resounding coronation changed my earlier assertion that I would not fault the Grammys for awarding something like 24K Magic for Album of the Year. The more I began to reflect on Bruno’s win and what it meant, the more I began to question why we should even pay attention.
Last night, LeBron James willed the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Finals victory over a vastly superior team in the Golden State Warriors. It was an incredible feat, and it seems less believable the more I think about it. The Cavs have some real talent, but there are also some absolute clowns on that roster, and some of those clowns played minutes late in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
This led me to compare the team to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, which just released an absurdly fun posse cut called “Champions” that might be just perfect for this moment because of the title and the fact that GOOD Music has plenty of clowns that play in crunch time, too. I think both rap music and basketball benefit from strong personalities. The individuals drive most of the conversation, at the least. That made this string of analogies fun to write, even if they are ridiculous and admittedly completely pointless.
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Unlike His Royal Badness himself, it came suddenly. A text message, then two, a tweet here, a trending Facebook post there, and then it was clear: As TMZ first reported, Prince Rogers Nelson, the ageless king, and queen, of your favorite musical style, had passed away suddenly at the age of 57. As the man himself once sang, everybody wants salvation, but we here at Tuesdays With Horry can’t (knowingly) give you that, so we’ve pieced together a few memories and thoughts on this diminutive genius who was larger than us all. Dig, if you will, our picture.
Tonight, Devonté Hynes will lead his project, Blood Orange, in the second show of a stand at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater with several guests, in charitable performances for Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. Along with the matinee performance this afternoon, Hynes’ two shows at the Apollo were highly anticipated and, as such, sold out almost as quickly as a Bruce Springsteen concert. For the latter, timelessness is an accepted standard; for the former, critical acclaim has become his typical accompaniment, and the Apollo shows should stand to be something of a turning point for Hynes in terms of popular recognition, even in the face of his highly-touted collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen earlier this year, “All That,” which he co-wrote, and the Saturday Night Live appearance which followed.
Before you go jettisoning yourself into superstardom at the Apollo, however, you must prepare yourself for the endeavor. On Thursday night, in a secret show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, Hynes did just that, with an exclamation point.
There was a moment when I just sat staring at the scene in Chicago’s Union Park. It was on Sunday, the last day of the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival. Caribou was playing on the main stage, the smell of marijuana was pungent, and I was enjoying a hot dog. There were people everywhere. Most crowded at the front of the stage for Caribou, some standing idly talking with their friends, and others, like myself, nodding along to the bassline of “Can’t Do Without You.” It was a moment of clarity that I experienced in a festival (my first) marked by a rush of emotional states which played out like a roller coaster through a grueling three day plunge. There was CHVRCHES’ maelstrom of synth, Freddie Gibbs putting Pitchfork on blast for previous line-ups, an actual maelstrom that shutdown the festival for all of 20 minutes, the dirge of listening to Panda Bear and the rowdiness of A$AP Ferg’s energetic dorkiness. Yet, throughout all of it, festival goers noticed a fair amount of community throughout the throngs of festival goers. We weren’t inundated with a slew of corporate sponsors, distractions and a disorienting amount of people. That community created an atmosphere in which we could enjoy the acts, no matter how close or far away we were from each respective stage. It was a community I was glad to be part of for three days.
For what feels like a truly immeasurable number of reasons, the existence of the Wu-Tang Clan is a monumental feat in hip-hop. Consider the genesis of the group: a couple of kung-fu-obsessed cousins in Staten Island recruit some friends and start rapping to each other with a full-fledged five-year plan to take over the music industry. An unparalleled debut album gives way to a flood of solo records, each more outstanding than the others. Individual personalities coalesce and gestate inside the Clan before embarking on a crusade to change the way people think about how music happens and why. On November 22nd, at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, we had a chance to bare witness to this pursuit, as one of the Clan’s most prominent members and his most trusted associate spat and spun the crowd into a full-fledged ruckus as if it were 1994.
What I’m really trying to say is this: from the slums of Shaolin, Method Man and Redman struck again.