This has been a big 24 hours in the world of celebrity sneaker deals. Yesterday, Adidas confirmed it was partnering with Kanye West after the artist made a statement last week that his relationship with Nike was no more. The deal is reportedly worth $10 million, 95 percent of which America hopes he will use to build an athletic shoe that will enable fellow Chicagoan Derrick Rose to safely play professional basketball.
Monday night, Staples Center, Los Angeles, North America. Headliner is Aubrey Drake Graham, representative from Young Money/Cash Money/October's Very Own family of labels, and of north North America, specifically Toronto. Time ticket says show starts: 7 p.m. Meaning of "7 p.m." in this context: 7 p.m.! Therefore: Representative from Grantland dot com arrives late for opening set by Future. Representative from Grantland dot com is still finding seat as Future, leather-pantsed, begins climactic spin through hits: "Turn on the Lights"/“U.O.E.N.O."/“Bugatti." DJ for Future stops music before "Bugatti" line RE: smoking "good Jamaican" so Future can instead praise/toke California's native cannabis. Purple-lit fog fills stage during "Honest." Future acknowledges lone stage-right audience member waving "KISS ME" sign, seems sincerely appreciative. DJ for Future exhorts crowd: "If you from California, make some noise!" Crowd, by volume of reaction, is predominantly from here.
Future's stage set: Minimal. Consists of DJ podium decorated with Ramonesish "Freebandz" seal, DJ, and Future. Stage set for second opener, Miguel, involves many Tetris-block banks of lights. Assembly required. Primary set-change activity for Drake fans at Staples Center: Selfie-taking. Representative from Grantland dot com has sensation of being repeatedly/inadvertently immortalized as weird guy in background of multiple selfies. Representative from Grantland dot com reflects on institution of ever-more-stringent anti-smoking laws and concurrent uptick in popularity of selfie-taking. Replacement idle-hand activity? Representative from Grantland dot com reflects on Drake's music — intimate/confessional, remote/calculated, by turns — as expression or possibly endpoint of a "selfie" aesthetic. Writes "like a musical selfie" in notebook. Ponders phrase "musical selfie": Too Entertainment Weekly? Too Lisa Robinson? Probably is. Also, "selfie"= terrible word. Like poking tongue in rotten tooth. Representative from Grantland dot com ponders alarming red spider crawling past sneaker toe, stageward bound. Hashtag RIPDrake, hashtag spiderbite?
Jeezy has decided to name this song "Benihana" as an homage to the fantastic circus of a restaurant chain. The song is chock-full of food references from all three rappers, and the hook contains both Paula Deen and Greg Maddox references. So yes, listen to this. Loudly.
Drake's father is Dennis Graham, a journeyman Memphis drummer known for his work with Jerry Lee Lewis. His adoptive uncle is Teenie Hodges, the legendarily silky Memphis rhythm guitarist. His other adoptive uncle was the late Willie Mitchell, the paterfamilias of Hi Records, the Memphis label that released knuckle-cracking love songs by Al Green, Syl Johnson, and Ann Peebles. This trio — not Canadian, not soft-hearted, definitely not OVO — represent Drake's secret history. Though raised by his mother in Toronto and burdened by the familiar father issues created by a broken home, Drake clings tightly to this side of his family's story, in the American South. Wouldn't you? It's the soul, the history, the consequence. Toronto is for partying and pretty boys; Memphis is for music, integrity, reality, and men.
Drake's current concert tour, which hits arenas in 39 cities across the U.S. and Canada and features Miguel and Future, is off to an inauspicious start, and it's only just begun. More than an hour after Saturday's Philadelphia show was slated to start, the set was canceled because of "an unexpected technical issue" (reportedly a catwalk snafu) and rescheduled for December 18. Fans were upset, having waited for hours (with many having already taken their seats) before being informed to hold on, for they were going home. At least Miguel, artist of the people/artist falling all over the people, went on to perform a consolation concert at another Philadelphia venue after tweeting his surprise that the show had been canceled.
Drake was going to bring auto-tuned messiah Future on the "Would You Like a Tour?" tour, everything was looking great, and then Drake found out that Future — like lots of us — wasn't crazy about Nothing Was the Same, Drizzy's third straight LP of rap-singing about social media. (The moneyquotes, from Billboard writer Erika Ramirez, who spent time with Future: "Drake made an album that is full of hits but it doesn't grab you. They're not possessive; they don't make you feel the way I do ... I've been on the songs of all these rappers that put out an album, and my music is still better.") Now Future is suing Drake for $1.5 million in lost wages. This is regrettably distracting Drake from recording the next verse for the Great Kendrick Beef of 2013.
The band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has no connection to the NASCAR driver, nor to his legendary father, other than lifting the name for their own musical purposes. And they don't necessarily write songs that call to mind cars hurtling around a track hundreds of times. Their second album, released on Tuesday, is called The Speed of Things, however, and that doesn't necessarily solve the NASCAR confusion. We now conclude the racing-related explanations, and we highly recommend you check out the record. We're also very pleased that DEJJ's Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott are taking this turn as guest editors on Songs of the Week.
Memes based on real people are a dangerous game. Nobody really wants to become a meme — or, more specifically, watch as the Internet mocks and improvises on a picture or video of his or her face — because not only do most people have tiny, sensitive centers that really hate to get made fun of even in lighthearted ways, but there's a sense of losing control of your own image. Many examples of this sharing game are cruel, and when Caitlin Seida wrote about how she felt when a picture of her dressed as Lara Croft was passed around emblazoned with the words "Fridge Raider," you might have felt a little guilty for accepting memes as depersonalized jokes. Then came "Starbucks Drake Hands."
Yesterday we saw the character posters for Metastasis, Univision's Spanish-language adaptation of Breaking Bad. They looked ... cool? Fine? As does this trailer? I'm fairly sure the opinion of any American who just finished watching AMC's series means less than nothing to Univision. What can I say? "They better have twists! Marie better wear blue this time!" "They better keep it the same! I'm skeptical of this cooking-on-a–school bus business." No. I’ve got nothing. I'm sure it'll be a lovely, upsetting experience for many millions of humans who speak Spanish and who haven't seen BrBa and are utterly unfamiliar with its plot.
Kendrick's "Control" verse unleashed a tidal wave of responses, but it was an inversely proportional kind of thing: Unlike the original shit-stirrin' bars, most MCs' retorts were bland and predictable and easily brushed off. You were either:
A dude desperately trying to throw yourself into the conversation (Oh, uh, hey, Cassidy. No, no, no — come in, come in. We just, ah, we just weren't expecting you, is all.)
Happy your name got dropped at all (and somewhere, a gleeful Mac Miller is still doing snow angels).
Not quite built for this battle-rap shit (quoth Sean: "Tyler, The Creator is almost certainly making fun of Kendrick's haircut while sitting in an empty swimming pool.")
The one big, glaring exception in Kendrick's roll call of death? Drizzy Drake.
It's hard for the half-dozen or so megawatt rap stars on planet Earth to each stunt about being the best out there and for us to take it seriously, but this round goes to Drake, no contest. Nothing Was the Sametopped the Billboard chart with 658,000 copies sold in its debut week. The third LP from Canada's favorite “ex–child actor turned MC/semi-competent singer” is behind only Justin Timberlake's first 20/20 Experience disc (968,000 copies) in terms of 2013 releases, which gives new significance to the line "Who else is making rap albums, doing numbers like it's pop?" Drake's almost J.T.-esque sales beat Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail debut (527,000 copies, not counting the weird Samsung stuff because it totally doesn't count); NWTS also decisively bested Kanye "At This Point I Could Give a Fuck About Selling a Million Records" West's Yeezus (327,000 copies) and Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being II (217,000 copies). So enjoy it, Drizzy — at least until Eminem shows up next month with The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and sells all the copies, regardless of whether the record is any good or not.
Every year, Forbes puts out a ton of pop culture wealth lists and they're among my favorite things to read and write about. One of the best is annually curated by the champion of hip-hop wealth journalism, Forbes’s Zack O'Malley Greenburg. The 2013 version of the Hip-Hop Cash Kings list was released earlier this week, filled with a good deal of predictable selections, as well as a few surprises.
The following are his very well-put blurbs explaining how the top 20 have made their money, supplemented by my reactions to seeing how much money these people are making.
Since a South Park episode dedicated to reminding us about Alec Baldwin's homosexuality-unfriendly tweet-spree back in June might have felt a little forced, the show instead anchored its Season 17 premiere to a gag that put us in mind of "HUMANCENTiPAD," "Make Love, Not Warcraft," and "Guitar Queer-O" — episodes we're always grateful to reflect on. Throw in Bill Hader impersonating Baldwin and, well, where do we sign up for Shitter?
Kanye isn’t the only introspective, nation-dividing rapper who'll appear in Anchorman 2. A befro'd Drizzy Drake will also appear, flexing those Degrassi acting chops for the first time in a minute. He elaborated the casting process to Chelsea Handler thusly: "Anchorman was a huge part of my life. I used to have this car that would allow you to play DVDs illegally through the front dash. [Editor's note: Drake, what?] ... No music, just, like, Anchorman consistently looping over and over and over. So people would get in my car and you'd be mid–sex panther scene in Anchorman. So I asked [Will Ferrell] if I could do it and him and [Adam McKay] were phenomenal about it. They let me be part of the scene, I got to improv, I got to interact with [Christina Applegate] and [Ferrell] and I got to look like Blue Ivy, '70s." Process all that while you take in Drake's new "Hold On, We're Going Home" video, packed with gun-blasting, non-Kanye-inspired ski masks, A$AP Rocky cameos, and zero Drake–as–Blue Ivy looks.