Showing posts with label lupe fiasco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lupe fiasco. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2019

the top ten best hit songs of 2011 (VIDEO)

And here we are - great list to put together, really happy y'all seemed to enjoy watching it, and it's the last of the retro lists finished for the 2010s!

Next up, I've got an episode of Resonators coming so stay tuned!

the top ten best hit songs of 2011

You know, I've said a number of times that my favourite lists to make are the top ten hits of any respective year, mostly because I have peculiar taste when it comes to my favourites and any chance to compliment songs people have actually heard... well, it's a nice boost. And once this is done - and with the exception of 2019 - I will have created these top tens for every year in the 2010s, and given that seemingly everyone is doing a retrospective, it does feel nice to place everything back in context.

But really, if you're examining 2011 in any way, shape, or form, it's a year that defies easy contextualization. Generally a really good year - although I still give a slight edge to the best of 2012 and 2015 - but not one that seemed to fit with any specific trends or sounds. If anything, it felt more like a year dominated by personalities, from the dueling pop divas to the rise of Adele's thunderous 21, an album that seemingly defied all expectations with its success. Yeah, rock was kind of non-existent on the Hot 100 - and you could argue hip-hop was kind of a mixed bag sliding through transition from the club boom - but between pop, soul, R&B, and a surprisingly bright year for country, there was a lot to like about 2011. More importantly, it was a year where the great songs were consistently great, where I didn't even have much difficulty filling out a solid - albeit surprising - list of Honourable Mentions. As always, the songs had to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end list in 2011 to qualify, so let's get things started with...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

video review: 'DROGAS wave' by lupe fiasco

Yeah, I can't imagine this'll go well... but hey, it's a Lupe review, you kind of expect it when he's not releasing a record that's universally condemned. 

Next up... okay, either Vallendusk or milo, so stay tuned!

album review: 'DROGAS wave' by lupe fiasco

I wish I could say I was hyped for this.

Seriously, I do - I might have a complicated relationship with Lupe Fiasco's mixtapes and albums and the wild turns his career has taken, but to this day I'm still a fan. I'll still go back to Food & Liquor and to a lesser extent The Cool, and there are cuts even on Lasers I'll stick up for to this day! And if you saw my year-end lists in 2015, you'll see a number of Lupe Fiasco songs that made those lists and for damn good reason! And when I heard that he was going independent after Tetsuo & Youth I was excited for some high concept, ambitious hip-hop...

Which we didn't get with DROGAS Light. Let's not mince words, as much I really liked the song 'Jump' off that album, it could have been pitched to any major label willing to take a stab with Lupe's brand of pop rap and he'd have been mostly fine - and yet even on that basis it's a sloppy, overlong project seriously let down by its production and even Lupe's rapping. But more critically, it compromised my faith that Lupe Fiasco, outside of major label restrictions, might not make the best judgement calls when it came to his work, and I'll admit some big reservations stepping up to DROGAS Wave. Not only was it running an hour and a half, it was a concept album telling the story of a slave ship that had sank in the Atlantic and where the slaves had adapted to live underwater. And while I was inclined to say that Mick Jenkins kind of beat him to the punch with analogous metaphors as another Chicago MC, this did seem to be more like what I wanted to hear from an independent Lupe Fiasco, and I wanted to give this a chance, so what did we get from DROGAS Wave?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

video review: 'DROGAS light' by lupe fiasco

I expected there to be a much bigger backlash on this video than what we got. Not complaining, mind you, but an interesting observation. 

Next up, though... after Billboard BREAKDOWN, things get interesting, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

album review: 'DROGAS light' by lupe fiasco

Anyone else get the feeling that Lupe Fiasco is trolling all of us?

Look, I've made my complicated feelings on this Chicago MC public before: an imaginative and fearlessly ambitious MC who never felt comfortable with the mainstream due to his tendencies to indulge in all manner of twisty, cerebral weirdness. And the key word is 'indulge': he has the same penchant for extravagant ambition that can make for incredible moments and songs like 'Prisoner 1 & 2'... but can also lead you to the impression that despite good flows or beats his material is more clever than outright insightful. Which is frustrating, because when Lupe could focus on smaller subjects he made songs like 'Kick Push' and 'Deliver' which allowed him to channel his underappreciated pop sensibility, he made phenomenal tracks. But at the same time, he's also got more than fair share of big idea duds that don't have the intellectual heft to back their pretensions - and sometimes he doesn't even have the big ideas!

Yeah, if I had major concerns going into DROGAS Light, Lupe Fiasco's first fully-independent hip-hop album, it was coming in the buzz that this was a 'refinement' of his infamously contentious and very mainstream-focused LASERS from 2011, not aiming to be as cerebral or progressive. The problem is that I've heard Lupe do this sort of satire of mainstream hip-hop before back in 2014, and his commentary has never really impressed me - especially in comparison with artists who brought more real bite to that sort of satire and especially in 2014. So if we were looking at a full hour's worth of that, which many critics have condemned and Lupe himself has only given a 7/10... well yeah, I was worried. But hey, if I was to give LASERS credit, for a radio-friendly record Lupe does know his way around a good hook and even if the content wasn't up to snuff maybe he could bring a couple great bangers here, right?

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2015 (VIDEO)

Almost forgot to put this video up. This was a ton of fun, really did love making this - always nice to talk about music that's actually all sorts of awesome.

So next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then finally I might have time for this new Vince Staples... stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the top album/songs of the midyear - 2015

Last year when I put together this list, I was debating its very relevance. I mean, would it give away what would turn out to be my top albums of the year overall, or would it find an audience at all?

This year, the debate was different: I knew I had to do a midyear review for 2015 because there was so much quality that came out in the front half of the year that I'm honestly a little concerned I'm not going to get a chance to highlight it all. Between comebacks that delivered in spades, debuts that blew my mind, and records that seemed to have an abundance of creativity more than I would have ever expected, the first six months of 2015 have been overwhelming strong, to the point where keeping my list of albums to twelve was insanely difficult. It'll be incredible if the rest of the year keeps up this momentum, but for now, here is my top albums of 2015, thus far:

Monday, January 26, 2015

video review: 'tetsuo & youth' by lupe fiasco

Man, it's nice to see Lupe Fiasco back on his game. Great album, really enjoyed it.

Next up, Joey Bada$$ - stay tuned!

album review: 'tetsuo & youth' by lupe fiasco

To say I have a complicated opinion on Lupe Fiasco would probably be understating it.

See, unlike most people, I didn't get into him from his first Food & Liquor album or The Cool. Nope, the very first project of his I heard was Lasers - and sure, it was definitely poppy and it hasn't aged well at all and it definitely feels overly simplified in comparison to those earlier albums, but I stand by the controversial opinion that for what Lasers is - a pop-flavoured rap record designed for the radio with only the slightest hint of controversy in its politics - it kind of works and I sure as hell find it to be an easier listen than the preachy, overwrought and yet underwhelming Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

But yeah, going back to revisit Lupe Fiasco's career, I've found an artist that I like but don't quite love. Don't get me wrong, as a lyricist he's frequently strong and his production is always at least interesting even if it doesn't always work - but when it comes to his content... well, do you know that guy in college who's definitely smart and can grasp certain topics well, but never really takes the next step to go deeper into something really poignant or chooses to go for broad appeal that might be popular until the second someone calls him on it? Lupe Fiasco tends to fall into that category for me - a rapper who frequently gets damn close to something almost transcendent but more often than not doesn't take that extra step or, even worse, gets embroiled in conspiracy theory bullshit or broad controversial statements that make him look so much less intelligent or insightful than he actually is. Which is a shame, because when he stays away from that and goes deeper he can make fantastic music unlike anyone else, and songs like 'Kick Push' prove it. It circles back to my hard rules for art and politics, which really can be applied to any art looking to push a message: good framing, populism, and nuance. And while Lupe Fiasco tends to nail the first, he can stumble on the second and trip up on the last. And what this tends to mean is that his records while maintaining a thematic throughline I can respect, they often feel inconsistent, the amazing highs only highlighting the painful lows.

So I'll admit to being very skeptical with his upcoming album Tetsuo & Youth. Not only had it been delayed a worrying number of times, I was not impressed at all with the majority of Lupe's output that he had been dropping throughout 2014. And sure, I had heard he was going back to his roots with this record and that it was his best work since The Cool - and believe me, I wanted to get hyped for a new Lupe Fiasco album again... but I'll be honest, I had low expectations for this record. What did we get?