Spike Jonze puts a Spike Jonze twist on old hip-hop schtick for ‘Otis.’
I can’t think of a more tired concept for a hip-hop music video than a couple of pop stars riding around in an expensive car with a handful of models. But somehow, director Spike Jonze does exactly that and winds up with a classic. He’s come a long way since getting high in high school.
For starters, ’Ye and Jigga strip down a Maybach to look more like a luxury Jeep Wrangler, and then they start playing with fire. Literally. Watch for yourself. And keep an eye out for a brief Tom Haverford cameo. I wonder if they shot it in the City of Pawnee?
Modern-day hip-hop legends pair up to go ‘hard as a motherf***er.’
Hip Hop/Rap Matt Carney
Hey, have you guys heard of this new rap band called Kanye West and
Jay-Z? Yeah, apparently they released an album exclusively on iTunes
last week that pissed off a lot of record-store owners. Not sure if
you’ve heard of it, so I’ll try to break down “Watch the Throne” for
you, since these guys are kinda obscure.
In case you were curious what two of the world’s biggest pop stars performing live for the masses looked like.
Well, this is exciting. Kanye and Jay-Z played their new hit together at the VMAs, and, despite apparently not rehearsing, they totally rocked an arena full of cheering fans (save for a certain Biebster who did not appear impressed). I think I speak for the planet when I say that it needs a “Watch the Throne” tour.
A lot of hip-hop critics’ criterion for great rap is in the combination of social criticism and delivery. I agree, and I don’t think anybody’s climbed further up that totem than Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones.
Hardly in his 20s, the self-educated, middle-school dropout’s debut, “Illmatic,” captured life in early ’90s New York ghettos with more imagery than any series of photographs and in truer, grittier, more dizzying prose than any novelist could. Or has.
Now 38, Nas debuted the video for “Nasty” yesterday, and if it’s any indication of the forthcoming LP, “Life Is Good,” then we’re in for another high-caliber album. The video was shot in his home neighborhood of Queensbridge, and just look how elated those little kids are to see him and mug for the camera. Actors can’t do that. Watch:
And now a few lyrical samplings:
Self-aggrandizement: • “Queensbridge leader, no equal / I come from the will of Ezekiel / to pop thousand-dollar bottles of scotch / smoke pot and heal the people.” • “I’m skinny, but I’m still too big for a Bentley” • “Gotta bunch a niggas in prison, braggin’, sayin’ it was Nas I used to hustle with”
Insults: • “Your flow cheap as limousine liquor” • “Any rebuttal to what I utter gets cut”
Philosophy: • “I guess entertainment means blatantly lyin’”
Allusions • Jackie Onassis • “Carlito’s Way” • Faith Evans • Michael Jackson
Nas’s technical game is as impressive as ever. I’m excited to see if his production and concepts on “Life is Good” are on par.
Watch a couple of locals mix genres and styles on ‘Chevy Bricktown Showcase.’
OKC psychedelic rock band Horse Thief interviews local rapper Jabee in this genre-busting edition of the “Chevy Bricktown Showcase.” Denver Duncan gives the silky-voiced loop assist in this performance. Watch:
Photos from Lil' Wayne's visit to the WinStar World Casino.
It’s half a mile from one end of the WinStarWorld Casino to the other, and that 800 meters consists mostly of slot machines. It really is a sight to behold – the overwhelming rings and buzzing of winners and losers, and enough neon flashes to rival Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” music video. It’s all so distracting that, while leaving, I overheard one older patron ask “Why are there so many damn kids in here all of a sudden?” apparently unaware that one of the planet’s most prolific rappers had just performed less than 500 feet from her for about an hour and a half.
I’m a miserable sucker for big-budget pop hip-hop, and the opportunity to shoot a major player like Drake’s boss proved too irresistible to ignore the two-hour drive to Thackerville. Unfortunately I found out when I got there that house rules prevented entry to the security pit near the stage, so I had to compete with a mongrel horde of iPhone-wielding nutjobs, but I think I got a few decent shots of the rapper.
First things first, Weezy, who makes me think he’s a gremlin who won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hot Topic whenever I see him, was sporting a cartoonish hoodie advocating Odd Future’s most mysterious member, Earl Sweatshirt when he came out onstage. He pulled “Tha Carter III” staples “Got Money” and “A Milli” out pretty early, as well as “Swag Surfin” off the excellent “No Ceilings” mixtape, all of which drove people into a frenzy. Unfortunately the mostly-Dallas crowd’s collective energy waned over the course of the show, as Wayne snuck away from his best material and into his newer, less interesting catalogue.
It’s been a good year for guest spots from the New Orleans emcee (arguably even better than most of the verses on his own “Tha Carter IV” album), and his contributions to Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” (gah, how awesome would it have been if he'd have pulled out that Busta Rhymes verse, too?) and Drake’s “HYFR” were sandwiched into the middle of the set with his own “John,” which is basically a Rick Ross cover anyway. A predictably lewd, comical R&B suite followed, punctuated by a cheeseball version of “Lollipop” complete with acoustic guitar and maracas, and his most recently regrettable song, “How to Love.”
And for the big, clumsy rock-and-roll near-closer Wayne strapped on an unplugged guitar and strummed it a few times for “Prom Queen,” which was really unfortunate considering much of “Tha Carter III” and the mixtapes immediately before it constitute serious low-culture art. But the people all around raged their faces off to the trumped-up tunes anyway
“6 Foot, 7 Foot” was the true final song of the night, and the dude just unleashed a deranged ferociousness that even extended to Cory Gunz’s hair-singeing speed verse that made me wish he’d attacked every song like that. Oh, well. I suppose there’s a price to becoming one of the world’s biggest pop stars, and only Kanye knows how to pay it without souring his musical output.
Here’s the best from a new year’s bumper crop of hip-hop mixtapes.
Hip Hop/Rap Matt Carney
My favorite hip-hop moment from 2011 was when the speed-rap once-superstar Busta Rhymes, now almost 40, resurfaced from the 1990s on Chris Brown’s excellent “Look at Me Now” single, as confident as if he’d been around all this time.