All posts in Music

Miley Cyrus for W Magazine

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Didn’t even recognize little Hannah Montana in this picture. Her look has definitely changed but is it evolving or just falling to attract the lowest common denominator? Is this just to shock people into paying attention?

That type of PR only lasts a few minutes. Long careers are built on talent, not award show mishaps and magazine covers.

Grammy’s 2014

Of all the award shows, the Grammy’s are my least favorite. The outfits are more bizarre than haute couture and the awards rarely go to artists that I find deserve it, but seem to be the most easy to digest.

However, the Grammy’s have been the platform for memorable performances. It was during the 1984 show when Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk while performing ‘Billie Jean’. An unforgettable moment in music when a legend showed the world why he was the King of Pop.

So although I didn’t tune in last night, I followed along here and there on Twitter (you can find me on @RealDelina) and there were three performances that stood out – Beyonce’s ‘Drunk In Love’, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragon’s ‘Radioactive/m.A.A.d. City’ and lastly Pharrell and Daft Punk with Stevie Wonder for ‘Get Lucky’.

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Since Beyonce secretly dropped her last album, the song ‘Drunk In Love’ has been a huge hit. I probably play it once a day. Do Not Judge! So you take the formula of gorgeous Beyonce and her track record of being a power house on any stage, this performance was guaranteed to be off the charts. But maybe it was over hyped for me, because I was left feeling less than satisfied.

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Don’t get me wrong, she worked that chair and that stage was steaming afterwards, but between the awkwardness of Jay-Z and the crowd who looked like they were all caught accidentally stumbling on a couple in an intimate act, there was a disconnect somewhere. There have been folks on Twitter who had an issue with how racy it was saying that there were kids who tuned in. I may not have kids, but I wouldn’t allow them to watch the Grammy’s to begin with. What exactly is there on the Grammy’s that an 8 years old needs to see? It wasn’t the provocative nature of the performance (she’s a grown woman comfortable enough to express her sexuality to her husband. Kudos to her!) it was the subdued nature of it after she got off the chair. Nonetheless, Beyonce still delivered.

Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers

I’ve been a huge fan of Daft Punk ever since I was 16 and saw the video for ‘Da Funk’ featuring a human size dog lost in NYC. That album ‘Homework’ still gets played in my car every now and then. And their follow up album, ‘Discovery’ featured another track I can never forget, ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’. You might remember it as the track Kanye sampled in  his song ‘Stronger’. This French duo are known for never showing their face and doing interviews in various disguises, which I admire. In an industry that focuses too much on what musicians look like, what they wear, how fit they are and so on its refreshing that these two have gone the distance to hide their physical identity to contain their anonymity. With them its about the music and just the music.

pharrell at grammy 2014

So its no surprise that their recent album ‘Random Access Memories’ garnered Grammy wins last night. But this performance seemed so disjointed. Not sure if having Stevie join them threw things off, but it seemed like they hadn’t rehearsed. Although the crowd got up and were dancing, Pharrell looked like he didn’t know what to do with his hands and feet half of the time, bouncing from Stevie to Nile Rodgers (gentleman on the guitar). Always great to see Stevie but I think this would’ve been better if Daft Punk was allowed to do a medley of their hits and Pharrell was left to rock out.

Kendrick Lamar Grammy

Hands down the best performance of the night was Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons who teamed up to do a mash up of rock and rap together. I couldn’t find a clip on YouTube but the best clip I saw was on HipHopDX. It started of with Imagine Dragons doing their song ‘Radioactive’ then Kendrick  jumps into his track ‘m.A.A.d City’. I’m not familiar with Imagine Dragons, but Kendrick I know. His second album ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’ was nominated for Album of The Year. This album is a poetic look into Kendrick’s life growing up in Compton, California. When it first dropped, critics to hip hop legends hailed Kendrick for bringing back story telling to hip hop. It is a remarkable album that I suggest you check out if you haven’t already.

Mixing two genres is hard. Mixing two genres at the Grammy’s….almost career suicide. But this performance had the crowd jumping. Imagine Dragons backed up Kendrick perfectly while he rapped and Kendrick even got on the drums when Imagine Dragons sang. Random, but my favourite part was seeing Steven Tyler from Aerosmith rock out as I remembered him and Run DMC being the first guys to merge hip hop and rock. Although both genres have grown so much since then, they are still close in audience impact.

Even though Kendrick didn’t win for rap or best album and there has been a lot of social media buzz about whether Macklemore deserved to win over Kendrick, in terms of owning the stage Kendrick won hands down.

Did you guys tune in and if so, which performances did you enjoy?

Yonced

beyonce

Love her or hate her, Beyonce is larger than life. As an entertainer, I’ve always enjoyed her music and don’t hesitate to belt out her tunes in the car/shower/anywhere.

I’m not going to get into the grand nature of Beyonce’s musical career but delve into her recent self-titled album, Beyonce. A 14 track album with 17 videos that was released unannounced with no promotion. Unheard of in this day and age when artists now give you minute by minute details leading up to their single releases, concert dates, marriages, divorces and nail appointments. Ok, I exaggerate a little but in an over exposed social media landscape this is a huge divergence.

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A few nights ago a friend of mine held a Beyonce viewing party at her place. Yes, these parties happen. It involves watching Beyonce videos, dancing, eating sugary food and in our case analyzing the music videos and lyrics.

The group ranged from Bey fans, nonchalant admirers to indifferent listeners but we all agreed on one thing – Bey knows how to put on a show. From her lyrics to her outfits to the dances in the videos, it reminded me of running home after school to see Michael Jackson videos premiere on television. The crazy dance moves, the catchy hooks and being able to talk about it with my friends. Bey is an icon. Can’t deny it. 

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Yet, the discussions got heated around two topics – her appropriation of ‘feminism’ via the use of Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi’s famous TED Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists‘ and Jay-Z’s lyrics in the song ‘Drunk In Love’

The song ‘***Flawless’ opens with a few lines from Bey’s song ‘Bow Down B*tches’, then interwoven are snippets from Chimamanda’s speech. For me the disconnect happened when in one instant Bey is telling her female counter parts in the industry to ‘bow down b*tches’, then Chimamanda comes in saying that as women we need to stop raising our daughters to see each other as competitors. Yes, Chimamanda notes that often women compete against each other for the attention of men, and not jobs and accomplishments which we sees would be good.

But for me its the proximity of the word ‘b*tch’ and an empowering message from one of Africa’s most impressive authors. This didn’t sit well with me. Did it stop me from dancing around singing ‘I woke up like this”? No, I got my dance on!

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Jay-Z’s lyrics in ‘Drunk In Love’ also didn’t sit well with me. I was already bopping to this song by the time he came in. By the way Bey’s little drunken swaying dance in this video is getting imitated at various clubs and school dances from here on out. FYI it might be the next Single Ladies dance.

Anywho, in this song Jay refers to himself as Ike Turner and even uses the line ‘I said eat the cake Anna Mae’, which if you ever watched the biography of Tina Turner, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’, you’ll recall that was a disturbing scene in the movie where Ike tries to force Tina to eat a piece of cake in a restaurant while shouting at her.

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Tina has openly admitted to Ike being an abuser and having him used as a reference in a song feels off-putting. Call it over analysis but Bey’s music is heard the world over by all ages and to imagine that she once performed Tina’s famous hit ‘Proud Mary’ at VH1’s Divas. It might just be pop music, but there will be tons of kids and even adults just rapping along about Ike Turner without any thought to what it means but it made me stop and think.

This is not in any ways a call to action or me venting on anything. As a person who appreciates pop culture and works in the field of curating public perception whether around a brand or a service, I know that when it comes to Beyonce’s image and music nothing is an accident. This is a well crafted show we’re watching. A very entertaining show. Me and my girls are often singing along to her songs and discussing her career.

Just wanted to bring light to some things that caught my attention and hope we all absorb art critically and not passively.

Diamond Life

Dr Maya Angelou’s words with Tupac

Tupac was using vile language and preparing to fight someone on the set of Poetic Justice. Dr.  Maya Angelou was on set and here are the powerful words she employed to diffuse the fight which eventually made Tupac cry:

“When was the last time that anyone told you that ‘it’s all for you,’ that we lived 300 years on the edge of a dime so that you can exist? When is the last time? Do you know that we stood on slave ship decks and stood on auction blocks and were hosed down like dogs for you, so that you can live?’

Strange Fruit

 STRANGE FRUIT

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

 

 

 

 

Suave

 

 

Late 1970s – early 1980s:

New York

New Jamiroquai – Smile

Jamiroquai is back! The jazz funk sound of Jamiroquai has been missing for a while now and its stellarific (yes, I made that word up) to hear their unique rhythm back. Since their debut album “Emergency on Planet Earth” in 1992, this band has been electrifying fans all over the world. I haven’t heard from them since 2006 when they released a greatest hits collection. This new song, ‘Smile’, harks back to their signature jazz funk taste. Listen or download it below and enjoy!

Jamiroquai ‘Smile’

Les Nubians ‘Afrodance’

These ladies are amazing. Its been a while since we’ve seen new music from them, but Les Nubians are back with their latest single ‘Afrodance’. Their ecclectic style, enthusiastic sound and funky videos have always captivated me. And this video is no different – great displays of various African designs and hair textures. Bravo ladies!