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Kanye West

7/6/16

Made a list of my favorite albums of the year so far. Everybody else is doing it! Went with 11 instead of 10, because all of these albums have been really great to listen to in my mind. My biggest impression: The alt-rock offerings this year are truly profound and poignant albums, and the alt-country/folk female contingent is killing it.

Also, with upcoming scheduled releases from the likes of Moose Blood, Blind Pilot, Angel Olson, Local Natives, Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard and hell, maybe even Brand New, a year-end list will prove to be quite competitive.

  1. The Hotelier – Goodness
  2. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
  3. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs
  4. Pinegrove – Cardinal
  5. Deftones – Gore
  6. Brian Fallon – Painkillers
  7. Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool
  8. Empty Houses – Daydream
  9. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
  10. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it
  11. Daughter – Not to Disappear

Special shout-out to “Best Kept Secret” for being my new favorite song about California and featuring beautiful Chinese strings.

Merits more listens/honorable mentions:
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
letlive. – If I’m the Devil…
Panic! At the Disco- Death of a Bachelor
Beyonce – Lemonade
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Sara Watkins – Young In All The Wrong Ways
Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
Thrice – To Be Everywhere is to be Nowhere
Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat

“I talked about my misery, you called it pain of pain
How we light a pile on until we go insane
‘Til we go insane
Until we go insane
You’re the best kept secret in Silver Lake.”
~Best Kept Secret
case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs

6/26/16

FullSizeRender

I’d never been to The Forum before this past Friday, and I’d also never seen so many people taking selfies prior to a show. The crowd was filling in about an hour before the second screening of Kanye West’s “Famous” video, and thanks to the live streams from the earlier premiere, most of this crowd probably knew what they were getting into. Naked celebrities, or at least their likenesses, on an arena-height screen. It wasn’t a sell-out but it was damn near close, and I was enticed by my longtime fascination/respect of Kanye West and the relatively affordable $25 price point to order a ticket online. $25 for a night out at a new venue with one of the most preeminent artists of our time, after a springtime of near-daily listening to “The Life of Pablo?” Sign me up.

Inside the arena, the movie screen showed a brimming orange sunrise, vibrating with a countdown clock. Somehow it served as a reminder it was Kanye’s own celebrity that drew us here, that we were all here because he had made something epic to show off. Showing up early was a good call, as I was happy to wander The Forum and observe the crowd,  united in our infatuation with Yeezy. Looking around the audience filling in, most people had their phone in their hand, snapping and texting proof of their whereabouts to their friends. I had to follow suit. Then, one minute before the video, all heads and phones turned to face the soundboard in the front row of the balcony, where Kanye and his wife Kim, as well as Khloe Kardashian, had entered. We shouted, we waved, they smiled, and then it was time.

k&KThe crowd cheered and jeered throughout the video, snapping pics and videos all the while. “Famous” is one of the stronger tracks on “Pablo” and the video’s close-ups emphasized its edginess, while a pause in the song gave way to heavy breathing and snoring before the song’s final, memorable Sister Nancy and Swizz Beatz outro kicks in. The last few moments where the camera zooms out to show the entire bed and all its members, mimicking the painting “Sleep” by Vincent Desiderio, were polished and poised compared to the night vision of the previous shots, a dramatic and glamorous finish to what previously felt voyeuristic. The credits turned into a popularity contest as the names of the pictured celebs flashed one by one: huge cheers from this crowd for Kim K., Caitlynn Jenner, Rihanna, and Ray J, boos for Donald Trump, except for the guy in front of me inexplicably wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.

Every move Kanye makes is controversial and the “Famous” video proves no different. Particularly his use of Taylor Swift, who I imagine might be considering legal action over the rights to her image as some sort of apex to their ongoing feud. According to unnamed sources, she is horrified —  and rightfully so. A lot of people are calling Kanye an asshole for what he did. If I were Taylor, or George W. Bush for that matter, I would be mortified. What gives this artist the right to use my face, my image, in his video without my permission?

Maybe he doesn’t have the right. But maybe that’s exactly why he did it.

Kanye’s move provokes all sorts of questions about the culture of celebrity, its trappings and the secondary influences. We don’t think about people like Taylor Swift and Donald Trump and Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West having to to pump their own gas in their cars, worry about their credit scores, or shuffle around their wallets for their grocery store discount card like the rest of us. But their lives have the added inconvenience of a constant microscope: Taylor can’t post on Instagram without the entire catalog of entertainment magazines and blogs seemingly jumping on it. Donald Trump has propagated his own fame by putting himself in the running for president, which is a position that merits more scrutiny than being a musician , but the end game is the same: reactions from the world to all his thoughts and moves. But how different does that make them, really? They do have bodies, they do have their physical selves, which are made of no more or no less components that rest of us. Flesh. Bone. Muscle. Blood. Breasts. Limbs and lips and eyes.

kanye1So what’s the consensus on the privacy of celebrity skin? Are they just like us, or is the fishbowl of fame our twenty-first century culture imposes on a certain few a transformative force? Is a person the same as they were before when their every move will be looked at, criticized, commented on, thought about, copied, hated on or a million other public reactions? How difficult it would be to *not* be conscious of that along the way.  But while the limelight has notoriously caused the injuries and illnesses and even deaths of artists or thinkers who found themselves in its equivocal cast, it is still how we define our upper echelon of society.

Kanye knows this. And he wields it. For forty minutes after “Famous” aired at The Forum, he DJed a playlist of some of best tracks from Pablo and otherwise — songs like “Power,” “Streetlights,” “Waves,” and the newest single “Champions.” He bounced his arms, the crowd bounced his arms, he paused the track before a line, the audience shouted it back. Kanye smiled and we smiled. Kanye whispered in Kim’s ear, as she beamed her mysterious and coy smile, and we wondered what they shared.

So many people like to say Kanye isn’t an artist. I vehemently disagree. Art is about creating what it is you want to create, regardless of the reaction from others. Art is about pushing boundaries, either yours or the world’s or both. Art is about staying true to yourself, and no one can accuse Kanye of caving or compromising on any of his creations or values. Yes, he showed a complete lack of respect for the personal space of his fellow celebrities, but that was his choice he made in course of deciding what kind of artist he wants to be. I imagine he’ll suffer the consequences with aplomb.

12/12/10

Top ten albums of the year, according to how excited I was to listen to them, how many listens they’ve received, how groundbreaking and advancing I think they are for music right now:

1) The National – High Violet
2) The Black Keys – Brothers
3) Jimmy Eat World – Invented
4) The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
5) Minus the Beat – Omni
6) Taylor Swift – Speak Now
7) The Weakerthans – Live at the Burton Cummings Theate
8) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy *
9) Neon Trees – Habits
10) Beach House -Teen Dream

*I know this is the probably the most popular and overarching album on the list, and I do really enjoy it. Kanye is the trendsetter for the rest of the trendsetters, and I loveeee his work. However, taste is a factor, and I’m more likely to put on one of the higher-ranked albums than MBDTF, solely based off of mood and style factor.

But ya know, no one has to listen to me. Hats off to Lovedrug and States for the most talent-ridden EPs I’ve heard maybe ever.

1/24/09

I might be creepy, but, I could spend hours reading comments on Kanye West’s blog.

9/11/08

Kanye can’t lose his temper like this or he’ll ruin

I really like Kanye. I don’t care if he’s not a good rapper, I don’t care if he’s kind of a douchebag. Dude gets what he wants, raps about what he wants and acts how he wants. He’s kind of a hero of mine *sniffles* though the random acts of violence thing definitely makes him lose a few points.

I feel like I was just told the tooth fairy isn’t real. Kanye IS just like every other celebrity.

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