weekend music: wesley’s theory, kendrick lamar

kendrick lamar’s new album, to pimp a butterfly, was leaked last sunday, and it set the music industry ablaze.  markedly different from good kid, M.A.A.D. city, it’s the kind of art that makes you respect hip hop as a modern griot movement and not just twerk team anthems.  my favorite album review came from the atlantic where it was called “a dense, astonishing, cliché-busting confession about how [kendrick lamar’s] fear of failure intertwines with his race, community, ambition, and psychology.”

weekend music: j.cole, be free

hip hop artist j. cole has released a heartfelt song titled “be free” in response to mike brown’s murder. reminsicent of nina simone, he sings “can you tell me why/every time i step outside i see my niggas die?/ i’m letting you know, that it ain’t no gun they make that can kill my soul…” the song gave me chills.

here’s what he had to say on his blog:

There was a time in my life when I gave a fuck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. I was younger. It’s so easy to try to save the world when you’re in college. You got nothing but time and no responsibility. But soon life hits you. No more dorms, no more meal plan, no more refund check. Nigga need a job. Nigga got rent. Got car note. Cable bill. Girlfriend moves in and becomes wife. Baby on the way. Career advances. Instagram is poppin. Lebron leaves Miami. LIFE HITS. We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal.

I made a song. This is how we feel.
– Cole

slow clap for a black artist who’s motivated to use his influence as an entertainer for his community’s well-being. salute j. cole.

weekend music: cyhi the prynce, basquiat

produced by kanye west, cyhi the prynce’s new mixtape is sick. full of socio-politically conscious lyrics with just the right amount of trap references, it’s a must listen.

“g.o.o.d. music, we here to push the culture
we don’t do it for exposure
never confuse a painting with a poster
i can’t believe you would disrespect basquiat”


ten things i learned from kanye west

kanyea few months ago, i told a group of friends that i refused to listen to any more of  kanye west’s music.  after his album graduation, things just got weird. his mainstream success seemed to have bred a pretty rank materialism, and i couldn’t relate anymore.  in light of all the media hoopla as of late — a baby named north who is part kardashian, constant fights with paparazzi and a new album titled yeezus (rhymes with jesus) — i thought i was safe to give a side eye whenever someone mentioned his name.  imagine my surprise when i watched kanye’s full BBC interview and began to actually relate.

after experiencing laughter, anger, empathy and confusion, i’m pretty clear that kanye is an artistic genius who will tantrum his way into recognition. while i still find some of his struggles unrelatable (he complained about fendi not accepting his designs, including the “omnipresent” leather jogging pant), i also bang really hard with his socio-political analysis regarding race and class.

here are my thoughts on 10 gems from kanye’s historical interview:

value yourself

  1. “people are slowed down by their perceptions of themselves.  i was taught that i can do anything, and i’m kanye west at age 36.  just watch the next 10 years.”  possess an undying love and appreciation for yourself — it’s your job to be your biggest fan.
  2. “go listen to all my music.  it’s the codes of self-esteem.  it’s the codes of who you are. if you’re a kanye west fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself.” not only should we posses an undying love and appreciation for ourselves, but it’s also necessary to be keenly aware of how we bless others.
  3. “you will win with me.” we have the power to change our karma and win in these streets.  it’s all about unlocking our unlimited potential.
  4. “dopeness is what i like the most.” why settle for mediocrity when dopeness is at your fingertips?
  5. “when i say i am a God people say who does he think he is? i just told you, a God.”  granted, i’ve never walked on water or fed thousands with two fish and a loaf of bread, but i do recognize that we’ve been created in the creator’s image.  that makes us all a reflection of greatness and power.