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?
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.
It's officially October, the United States government is currently shut down, and Miley Cyrus just put out an above-average pop album — three realities no one wants to hear, but that we all have to accept as fact.
I can't explain where September went. As for the government shutdown, I could explain it, but it would just be a string of expletives followed by the calling out of congressmen à la Kendrick's "Control" verse.
Miley, however, is something we can, and should, talk about. At semi-length. And now that the stream for her new album, Bangerz, is available on iTunes, the discussion can take place without all the nonsense. Nothing about her VMA performance. Or her interviews. Or her outfits. Or her friends. Or her haircuts. Or the fact that she's the first woman to bend over and wiggle while looking back at it. None of it.
So Drake took "It's Yourz," off Wu-Tang Forever — one of the greatest, hardest, truest punch-your-best-friend-in-the-face rap songs of all time! Of all time! — and integrated it into a, uh, you know, Drake song. And people are mad. But come on: This is Drake being Drake. We're still mad about Drake being Drake? Now relax, and imagine fleets of tweens across the North American continent, tracing their hero Drizzy back to his source material — "MACHINE GUN RAP, FOR ALL MY N----- IN THE BACK" — and just having their fragile little unformed minds obliterated.
I first got put on to "Bugatti," at the embarrassingly late date of "a month ago," during a set by Crank City DJ's infamous DJ Horse Hoof Haver (a.k.a. my friend Jackson). In my defense, I'd been out of the country for six weeks — but really, that's no excuse for failing to keep up with the latest in advanced American radio rap technology. Because when you first hear a song as massively and perfectly, to borrow a phrase from the children, "turnt up" as "Bugatti," you feel as if you might not have need for any other musical sounds ever again. These particular windows-down volume-all-the-way-fucking-up jams, you see, they lay waste and salt the earth. And that first time with "Bugatti," I felt that way, even though DJ Horse Hoof Haver was peppering his trademark "horse neigh" drops all over the place.
South by Southwest will always be the place where it all began.
My first trip to Austin for the festival, last year, was my first big assignment. The objective: go, do things, write about them. That's all. While that was important, it also was the first real example of my Internet world coming to life. Mysterious, funny Twitter handles suddenly drinking beers, wearing tank tops, and ferociously taking notes together on their phones. Finally.
After last year's 10-day bender came to an end, I knew that in addition to the new real-life colleagues whom I now refer to as "friends," I had also found my happy place. My adult summer camp. My extremely tiring vacation oasis. And, more than anything, I knew I was coming back the next year.
The lead-up to last year's SXSW was a very confusing time for me, because I didn't know what I was doing. About a week before the festival, fellow Grantland staffer Amos Barshad graciously sent me a giant spreadsheet that was making the rounds of every single thing that needed to be RSVP'd to, along with the amount of free food and drinks that would be supplied and which musicians would be in attendance. I was eternally grateful, because up until that point, I hadn't ventured beyond SXSW.com.
This year, I made the spreadsheet. I was ready, and even though the time between SXSW 2012 and 2013 had seemingly taken six years off my life, I was convinced I could do the full 10 days again, but even better. And if the high right ankle sprain, hoarse voice, wristband tan, scruffy face, and occasional dizzy spells are any indicator, I'd say that my goal was achieved.
I have a beard, I own both What's Going On and Thriller on vinyl, my collection of rap magazines with Rick Ross on the cover is impressive, and on overcast days I'm usually posted up inside the crib, making cat videos. This clip settles it: I am only a skull-candle (and several bazillion dollars’ worth of jewelry) away from being Rick Ross.
"I used to be a way better writer and a rapper when I used to want a black Carmengia.
Now a n---- speedin' in a Porsche, feeling like I'm going off of course."
— André 3000
Three notes here:
The one obvious criticism: I really don't like how André 3000 is TOTES ripping off Kendrick Lamar's style here.
Chill, bro. That's a joke. Stay out of my inbox about it.
By the time you get to the end of this song, chances are you'll forget that T.I. is even alive because André 3000 is GODDAMN TOUGH here, son. If you're a rapper and you're on a song with him and he starts doing that hyper-nasally sing-song thing that only he and God can do, then just fuck your life. You're taking that L, that's all there is to it.
Before you get into the story, let me preface it by saying that it does not end well.
It's not a tragic ending, now. Nor is it even a particularly interesting one. Sad to say, it's just another one of those times where nobody gets eaten by a mountain lion.
The plan seemed solid: I’d go to the mall to purchase an anniversary gift for my wife (a disaster every year). While shopping, I’d listen to a motivational mix of cutting-edge rap music in my headphones. I’d select the perfect gift. I’d take it home. I’d hand it to her. I’d tell her to open it. And then I’d watch the surprise on her face as she realized that for the first time in 1,000 years, I did not screw up the gift-giving process.
As it does every year, XXL has just released its 2012 "Freshman Class" cover, a collection of MCs the magazine has decreed to be ascendant, near-world-conquering types. Considering the basic facts of the exercise — the max number of people that can be represented, the implied attempt at diversity in the selections, the sheer impossibility of getting a bunch of rappers together in the same room at the same time — the omissions and inclusions on this list always piss people off. So, congratulations to: Machine Gun Kelly, Danny Brown, Kid Ink, Future, Roscoe Dash, Hopsin, Macklemore, Don Trip, Iggy Azalea, and French Montana. Now here are the manners and reasons as to why people are mad at you on the Internet right now.
Please, allow this nice gentleman to welcome you to the new Black Keys album. It’s called El Camino, it’s out December 6th, and it is apparently so good it’ll make you want to lease and operate a motel just so you can dance in front of its offices whenever you want.