Everyone’s been asking — what’s Janet’s take? Were they still as close post-Scream? What does she have to say on his untimely death? This should answer it all. She speaks for her family, still trembling in shock and fighting back tears, at last night’s BET Awards.
I cannot even comprehend…
I can’t think of a life without Michael Jackson. He’s been with me since I was born. Today is a day I will never forget. His gift is one I can never forget. My thoughts go out to his family and anyone he’s ever touched.
R.I.P. MJ 1958-2009
I will always be inspired by you, my love. You will live on in my heart.
I’ve been intrigued by round-frame sunnies since I watched Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act when I was a little boy. I remember begging my mother to buy me a pair from the local Rite Aid. She got me red ones that I still have. A decade and a half later…
…they’re back — this time on my female counterpart, Miss Olsen. So, again (as she once did for the Wayfarer), she’s brought back another vintage frame, this time, the round-frame Windsor. Not to start a war (because I, of course, have massive respect for her and admit sharing similar stylistic influences – beggars, rockers, stoners, etc.); but hell, I wore the ones my mom got me back junior year (’07). It wasn’t that I felt a trend churning; it was the simple fact that I had been home for Thanksgiving and my mom rekindled the flame when she found them in storage. Peep the pic of my mom and I below. Since then, it’s been much easier to find the babies all over town due to Mary-Kate’s heavy retail influence. To date I have 10 pair. The New York Timesis hella late.
Presently, they’re still my favorite sunglasses. They fit my face better than most frames do. My favorite pairs are in black and yellow.
1994 had its fair share of nastiness. Madonna’s Erotica album (1992) set off the trend and MTV’s The Grind did the rest. The most explicit radio-hit of that year was 20 Fingers’ “Short Dick Man.” I remember listening to it on my Party to Go mix in my basement so my mom wouldn’t hear. Most of the lyrics were bleeped out for Top 40, but still got the message across. Gilette’s repetitive flow is something of a base for current Bmore Club’s revolving-door sound (listen to Chelley’s “I Took The Night” audio no. 1). Peep the vid and try to spot the 90’s fads. I spy: baseball henleys, hats worn backwards, plaid vests and caps, berets, Doc’s, overralls, and peasant shirts. The only thing missing is Jenny McCarthy.
1 “I Took The Night” – Chelley // The bitch could’ve easily made FannyPack. Except for the fact, she can’t count. 1, 2, 4, 3? What’s up with that?
2 “I’m The Ish” – DJ Class // A Bmore Club throwdown that’s just too good not to mention, is this past winter’s “I’m The Ish.” His autotuned voice, ego-fied lyrics, high-paced snares, and bass drops are classic Bmore. The self-assured house jam hasn’t broken the airwaves just yet, which is surprising, since it has club novelty written all over it. Maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t, but the point is you haven’t heard it enough. If 20 Fingers had a radio hit, then Class is definitely down. If only this track would be played! It would undoubtedly be this summer. Have a hear …
3 “My Life (Extra)” – DJ Technics // If you’re a fan of the spastic, hard-hitting Bmore sound, then sit back with some Wire and codeine, and have a listen to this DJ Technics quickie. You can hear where Diplo found his calling.
It’s likely you missed Kevin Michael’s self-titled debut album when it was released back in ’07 by Atlantic Records. Unfortunate, since it was exactly what the radio was missing – a politically-inclined, bi-racial, R&B crooner with equally relevant and sentimental lyrics for the Obama era. He had two singles released; that if charting, could’ve easily knocked Ne-Yo from his pedestal. The problem with his Atlantic management was the fact that most of his album sounds exactly that – Ne-Yo. His tracks were placed in videogames, cell phone commercials, and as the free “single of the week” on iTunes; creating a false pretense for what he could actually do. Michael is no Ne-Yo. He’s old soul. He sounds best with acoustics and meaningful verses, in a way Amy Winehouse and Raphael Saadiq do not. His singles sound more current and sincere with less reliance on retro-novelty than those aforementioned.His tenor chops and afro-pick add to his 60’s-era simplicity. He takes these characteristics and juxtaposes them against current-day lyrics like DJ’s in the club, Jesus freaks and thugs, We all want the same things, We all want the same thing. At 23 years old, Michael’s already saying things Marvin Gaye only got to saying before his untimely death. To think of the possibility Michael had to become the voice of his generation so shuddered by bling – it’s hard to understand what went wrong. Cross your fingers he gets another round to prove to Top 40 that songs with substance can, in fact,hit harder than anything Taylor Swift or T-Pain. Hits should be measured in their impact socially, too.
Listen to the single version of “We All Want The Same Thing” below, featuring Lupe Fiasco. Although it’s not my favorite version of the song (peep the acoustic version), it sure is a porch stomper.
Here’s the acoustic version, featuring guitar by Akil Dasan…
“It Don’t Make Any Difference to Me (Acoustic)” is another track accompanied by guitarist Akil Dasan. People treat you different when you’re in between / But it don’t make any difference to me. Love ain’t got no color…
She’s opened for Kanye, signed to Hova’s Live Nation venture [Roc-Nation], is buddy-buddy with ?uestlove, and has the pipes to dry up Amy Winehouse’s career once and for all. The Guyanan singer-songwriter, raised in Toronto, ON, is putting the finishing touches on her debut album, The Bridge, as we speak. Melanie Fiona is like a millennial Patsy Cline. Her first single, “Give It To Me Right” is a sultry, self-righteous ladies anthem, boasting a beastly, whip-snap Zombies sample [“Time of the Season” – how has it gone this long without being sampled?). The track is built on its jazzclub sighs, organ-led background, and smoky alto vocals, all fit for a Bob Fosse routine. Jazmine Sullivan is my favorite of the resurged-retro-soul genre (that includes Adele, Solange, Amy, Duffy, Raphael, …), but after hearing this joint, I’m eager to see if she can keep her slot as top wailer. This is one hell of a first single, if you ask me.
Finally, I give you the Ciara “Work” video in full. Best video I’ve seen thus far this year. Amazing styling – come on, the tool belts! – I’m in love. It’s Ciara at her ultimate hoodness (look at them legs shake). With dwindling budgets, singers have given up on anything too pricey, instead choosing striking locations and high-fashion wardrobes for their videos. This one shows how to make the most of out of lower budgets – the clip looks more like a fashion shoot than anything. Missy looks as if she could be photographer with that megaphone. I heard a rumor this video would not be released in the states, instead that we’d receive “Like A Surgeon” as her next single. I see “Work” charting higher than “Like A Surgeon” any day. It’s sad, also, because I believe the vid is exactly what we’ve been missing – Beyonce’s doing all her’s in black and white and, hell, Rihanna hasn’t come out with anything of her own since “Disturbia.” Plus, the vid’s like a tribute to Janet in her prime (or Benny Benassi?). People say they see Beyonce or GaGa, but I see the one who’s inspired her from the start. It’s obvious Ciara’s learned her domineering stance, backup formations, funkiness, and impossibly athletic choreography from Miss Jackson herself. She looks like her if you squint. She even breaks it down solo like she does in “Pleasure Principle” on the scaffolds. Well, except for the backbends she does where she looks like she’s from The Matrix. The desert scene even hints back to another Janet classic vid, “You Want This.”
I’m up and down with Wale. His first major single has Lady Gaga on it (for obvious reasons), his latest mixtape Back to the Feature is boring as hell, and how much longer can we wait for his official LP to drop? His egocentric rhymes don’t sound as realistic when you consider all the industry politics stalling his status. On the flipside, the guy does put out some ripe tracks (his Seinfeld mixtape is full of them). See “Nothing To Worry About,” for example, from Back to the Feature. Drake and Kanye did it, so why not Wal? The Peter, Bjorn and John sample in the background was just waiting to be ripped. The track is straight kinder-rock with its kiddie chorus and steel drums. The Swedish indie rockers always seem to make hip-hop a little bit more flexible. If you’re feeling Wal’s trademark nonchalance, try the Ritz-produced “Hot Shyt” – another new Wale track featuring a crew that puts all other ensemble tracks to rest. They flow on a wiry guitar riff that T-Pain can’t even hook. Thank god.
Sandra Backlund islike knitwear wi-fi – she’s all over the place. Her designs are beyond anything you’ve ever seen and unless you’re from Sweden, you’ve probably never heard of her. Her looks could replace those of Fifth Element or Mortal Kombat. Starting her label after graduating from Beckman’s School of Design in Stockholm in 2004, she’s been experimenting with morphing the human figure into the impossible. She considers herself a sculptor rather than a tailor seen through her attention to transforming the wearer’s silhouette. She uses yarn in a way that’s almost unheard-of today: she makes all of the fabric herself. Her dedication and craftsmanship shows her support for the slow fashion movement and is a response to the H&M’s and Forever 21’s. Her creations have been featured in Surface and Another Magazine, but have yet to hit any major publication’s pages. Her clothes pin dress and sci-fi spike top have the ability to burst out of editorials, no special fx needed. Some pieces look aggressive, almost Blade Runner-inspired, in their Sean Young bouffant-shaped swirls. Other designs evoke ink blots and Rorschach tests in their symmetry. Her heavy wool collage knits are extra-terrestrial. Have a glance below at some recent season’s works…
Saigon’s just one big sob story. There was Roc-A-Fella, Just Blaze, Mark Ronson. The kid just can’t catch a break. In this track, he lets the beat do his crying. Produced as part of his 24-hour mixtape series All In A Day’s Work, the Statik Selektah produced track sounds as street as it does lush. Prince whales on the background’s sped-up sample (“Do Me Baby” from ’81’s Controversy) while Saigon exposes his industry’s pitfalls. He offers current hip-hop something of an ultimatum: Fuck how many cars you got, tell us ’bout your sister Maya’s addiction / We might listen.
I’m not one for anything more than classic rock when it comes to the caucasian music scene. So, when I recommend a rock band, bet it’s got some soul. The Gabe Dixon Band dropped into my lap accidentally – they’re from Nashville, TN for fuck’s sake – when I was searching for something else on Limewire. Their album sounds like it could have been released alongside Andy Pratt’s or Elton John’s circa 1973. The sound is vintage piano pop a la Steve Winwood and has the voice of Paul McCartney. They’re bluesy enough to rank beside CCR, wispy enough to parallel Paul Simon, have songwriting skills to match Billy Joel, and could easily open for Coldplay (if they wanted to). Dixon’s winding piano style evokes staircases, skies, highways, and backseats. It’s rumored the album took only ten days to record, basing most of its final material on first takes and live performances. They’re still relatively unknown, seeing that they’ve released three albums prior to The Gabe Dixon Band LP without any notice at all. Have a listen below.
“Find My Way” is my favorite of the trio’s tracks. You can feel each piano key slammed as it were playing live in front of you. I challenge you to keep your foot still.
“Til You’re Gone” is a Winwood-style piano jam that’s a bit Bill Withers, a smidge ragtime, a tad folk, a hint blues, and a sliver gospel.
“Far From Home” is afternoon music. To think of how polished it sounds in only one take – it’s astounding.
“Ever After You” is like an updated Billy Joel and Wings lovechild. It’s as if nothing’s changed since “Piano Man.” If only. The swelling strings give the midtempo a majestic tone.
Lastly, I recommend “Sirens.” It sounds like Paula Cole in her heyday. Raise your hairy pits and imagine you’re at a men’s-only Lillith Fair.
90’s R&Boy band Silk is ridiculous. They’re smoother than Swiss chocolate. They’ll fly you all ’round the world while whisper-fucking you. 1992 was the year for quiet storm jams and Family Matters – Boys II Men, anyone? – and this one is the culmination of all things “Bump ‘n’ Grind.” I was never a fan of Color Me Badd or All 4 One, so Silk’s “Freak Me” was always my alternative baby-making pick. The pervy verses over the deep bassline will forever be ingrained in my memory. You can tell their sounds have inspired those of producer Polow Da Don (“DJ Play A Love Song”). Loosen your top button, sit back with some whipped cream, and enjoy some Silk satin.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a thing for remixes, blends, mash-ups, refixes – whatever you wanna call ’em. I remember playing DJ SiiK’s refix of Amerie’s “One Thing” at my first apartment’s housewarming party three years ago and having people ask me where the hell I had found a better version than the original. Don’t get me wrong, Rich Harrison is one of the greats production-wise, but the SiiK refix has Amerie sounding within the ranks of Diana Ross or Donna Summer. The guy can make Michael Jackson sound like Al Green. Simpler said than done, DJ SiiK has made it his duty to retune current and 90’s R&B tracks with fuzzed-up 1970’s B-side heat. With all original vocals intact, his cut and paste method is pristine and plays like an enitrely new song. He, in other words, makes two tracks procreate while you’re listening. Thank god someone is taking it upon themselves to retool 90’s sounds. He takes some of my all time favorite songs and and mushes them into a batter. Consider it a lesson for the crowds of those who believe that with Garage Band and a Vampire Weekend track they can make decent blends. His tracks sound like Kanye in his Blueprint stage, but even more frill-less. He makes his recycled tracks sound strikingly organic. The little gems are hard to find, so they’re posted below for your aural pleasure. It’s easier than burning you all a mix (who’s got that money anymore). Remember where you heard it first.
INOJ may be one of the most forgotten acts of 90’s era R&B. It’s surprising, though, when considering the one-hit-wonder songscape that was the 90’s; the girl’s in fact had two big hits (the other being a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”). There’s “Macarena,” “Barbie Girl,” “Blue (Da Ba Dee),” … but usually left unmentioned is the softcore BJ classic, “Love You Down.” It’s a cover of the much funkier Ready for the World jam, and as the original is obviously better, this one instead gained more cult. The video’s like an urban Clueless; there’s jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, and INOJ… who seems to enjoy singing verses leaning on columns and sitting under willow trees. The light, childlike background is a tad scary seeing that the song is about oral sex. Her meager voice is even worse than Cassie’s and ends up being lost whenever the beat stirs up its tempo. But that’s not a bad thing – the beat is so smiley you’ll forget anyone’s singing at all. Check at 2:08 to see her try to dance and give up; she instead resorts to a whiteboy raise-the-roof and retreats back to her spot under the tree. Perhaps it’s the reason she’s so forgotten; I figure she’s the loser that hid in the bathroom during lunch period. Either way, the song’s cheeserific background and timid vocals have inspired producers even today. Peep Dr. Luke’s (“I Kissed A Girl” and “Circus”) production “Tell Me What Your Name Is” off Ciara’s latest, Fantasy Ride, and hear what I mean.
If fresh was a house, this would prolly be the ceiling. And yes, the sample is Eddie Murphy from Coming to America (refresh your memory above). The beat is by The Knocks, a production duo comprised of fellow New Schooler Benjamin Roc (shouts: BRoc) and JPatt. “Soul Glo (The Knocks Remix)” has this slee-ed Kenny G-sounding horn sample that sits behind tight, high-pitched strings, creating a slow-wind exaggeration for Paper Route Gangstaz’s ‘Bama flow. When they’re not rapping about collard greens and cotton picking, they have one liners like; watch out Jermaine, I’m comin’ straight for Janet. Released on Diplo and Benzi’s “Fear and Loating in Hunts Vegas” mixtape, this is one of many hot PRGz tracks. But, for now, let this one shine through.
No doubt about it, Neapolitan designer Francesco Scognamiglio is dead on. I remember the first time I experienced one of his ruffled masterpieces at hand. While interning at Elle, I had become enamored with a rack of clothing I was organizing comprised of heavily pleated pieces. The selections ended up being used for the ’08 Madonna cover story. My ongoing obsession with Amadeus-inspired looks are exemplified in Scognamiglio’s collections; his ruffled, steep collar button downs have been permanently atop my Hanukkah list since he started three seasons ago. His most recent collection (A/W ’09) could’ve been accompanied by The Little Mermaid soundtrack considering all its references to sea urchins. His high-collared tops, this time, look echinoid in their intense colors and protruding ruffs. His suiting has always been strong and this collection’s no exception. His first test in knitwear passed with flying colors – well, gold, really – the roped tight-knits look akin to Christopher Bailey’s. The ruffled blouses even have a labia shape to them, perhaps a nod to recent Miuccia (see Prada A/W ’08). The collection’s by far one of the top 2009 Ready-to-Wear collections. Take a peek at some highlights (especially the incredible chest plate) from the past two collections below.
“My Boo” is my jam. Always has been, always will be. Continuing on with my love for all things 90’s R&B, this joint is known but tends to go nameless. This may even be your first time hearing it since the 3rd grade. It’s by Jermaine Dupri’s post-Xscape girl group, Ghost Town DJ’s, and it hit radio in 1996. The song is so summer; hell, look at the video. It’s a lot like the “Rump Shaker” video, but definitely steps things up with its car wash scene. The girls getting ready, towelling off and painting their nailsez… it’s like a trip back to Sister/Sister. The J.D. beat is trademark So So Def and is what gave way to his later hits “We Belong Together” and “Confessions.” Borrowing from Miami Bass with its low toned hiss and high-tempo electro beat, the track to this day sounds flawless.
I didn’t yet have a blog when Mark Fast’s third collection hit; so, backtracking a bit (so unfashion, no?), I now have the outlet to examine his past season’s work. Consisting of just 15 looks, the Canadian expatriate (originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, but trained at the prestigious St. Maarten’s in London) knitwear designer’s A/W ’09 aesthetic borrows from body-con extraordinaire Azzedine Alaia to explore the atmosphere’s many instabilities. Fast recreates squalls and thunderstorms with flowing, almost splash-y viscose strands and ladder-like runs, a tailored yet trashy hat-tip to Alaia’s methods. The dresses are short and skintight, evoking a stormy streetwalker appeal. His braided pieces look like siblings of Christophe Decarnin, but are decisively more contemporary (Balmain is strictly 80’s as of late). Educated by Louise Wilson, he’s one of only two knitwear graduates to show to raves and was recently featured on Another Magazine’s S/S ’09 cover (see below). His collection was one of my past season’s favorites and seems to get better with every glance. I look forward to seeing his growth in the next few seasons.
Below is a favorite cardigan of mine which looks like an obvious ode to Fast’s knits with a necklace Jackson made for my friend Michelle (shouts: M.Viau)
(To view full size images, click the thumbnails.)
Another Wilsonite, Mary Katrantzou, showed for the first time this past spring in London. Her concept was topnotch: flipping what Jean Paul Gaultier and Givenchy did with their female body-as-perfume bottle’s upside down, she placed colorful perfume bottle graphics on top of simple shift dresses to flatter the figure. The dress’s silk-printed graphics give a mirage-like silhouette unlike any form-fitting, draping, or fabric manipulation. Her jewelry line is also unlike any other. With the help of a furniture maker in Greece, she creates insane, unwearable pieces made exclusively for the pages of fashion glossies (see below). Another designer to watch.
This Lil’ Wayne cover is unlike anything else out there; filmed in one take with vocals and verses recorded on set, the video’s method is almost entirely unheard of (shot by Last-Pictures). But, I guess, that’s what you get when you’re one of the chosen few selected to attend this special recording subset of NYU undergrad. The video features violins, banjos, a piano, trombones, hot babes… it’s insane. If you haven’t seen the vid, it’s a must. Call it opti-rap – how you let the beat build.
I’m going to share with you a secret. I know your new favorite band. They’re from Denmark and they haven’t hit stateside yet other than a few blog mentions here and there. Their name is Private. Two guys, one chick. And they blow all that other hipster shit right out of the water. They’re 80’s pop purists: think Prince, MJ, Debbie Gibson, Culture Club, George Michael, Tiffany… hybridized. Their album is close to perfect other than it’s practically impossible to find this side of the pond. Fuck MGMT, Scissor Sisters, Annie and Lady Gaga; if you want those saccharine 80’s sounds, look no further. They take all that’s dated and fantastic about 80’s music and need not update it at all, they use it as a module for perfection. They’re tacky but highbrow in a way Chromeo isn’t (they’re always in head-to-toe Hedi Slimane), the frontman’s sensitive affect is so outrageous and moody, it can only be praised. I heard their debut album when it was released back in 2006 and it sounded as if it hadn’t aged a day past ’85. The album has so much eccentricity and character that it makes up for its lack of substance. It carries itself on its camp. It’s in [current] Prince’s lack of humility that he’s unable to sound this good. Leave it to Copenhagen and the rest of Europe to concoct such a novel pleasure.
Start off with their overseas hit “My Secret Lover.” The frontman (Thomas Troelsen) sounds adolescent over the bassline and if you listen closely, it sounds like there’s some keytars, keyboards, synthesizers, and xylophones in the room with him. And are those video games I hear in the background? It’s classic 80’s tack and could pass as a Controversy-era Prince track – the overt falsetto, phone call interlude, and melody are straight from the pages of his songbook.
Here’s one that could have made the Purple Rain tracklist;”We Got Some Breaking Up To Do.” The shimmering synth-cussion gives the song a Europop-meets-The Time vibe (think “Jungle Love” without the ooh-wee-ooh-wee-oh). Troelsen’s voice at times sounds like a whinier Justin Timberlake, but, who’s really listening when you’re dancing?
Next up is “Crucify My Heart.” Cross Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” with Michael Jackson’s Dangerous [album], add some Italo-disco, and this is what you get. The choir never gets old. Sing it sister.
“Waiting for Tonight” is my favorite. It’s eccentric. The spanking snares and sharp synths are the perfect background to Troelsen’s melodramatic affections. It’s definitely not Jennifer Lopez.
Lastly, “That Boy Is Hurting You.” It’s the least 80’s of the bunch and instead sounds a bit gender-bent, like 90’s Roxette or Savage Garden. Don’t say I didn’t warn you you’d fall in love.
As I am a (dreamer) aspiring fashion editor, each month I’m going to give a curated post of my picks for the month. There’s no look or theme, only selections from my overflowing closet. Click on the image to see it full size.
1 Helmut Lang stingray oxfords
2 Dolce & Gabbana long black silk overcoat
3 Vintage destroyed acid wash jeans
4 Vintage teddy bear handkerchief scarf
5 Vintage navy chef’s jacket
6 Jackson small brown pigskin L-zip clutch (pre-order info coming soon)
7 Vintage leather-rimmed round frame sunglasses
8 The Row sheer white tee
9 Vintage blood coral stone-cut necklace
10 Vintage coin-stud belt
11 Vintage sterling & onyx feather ring
12 Hermes “Collier de Chien” black/silver cuff
13 Burberry Prorsum gunmetal spike bracelet
14 Jackson medium tan calfskin top-zip clutch (pre-order info coming soon)
People have always asked me how I remember each and every R&B track from the early to mid-nineties (seeing that I was only six during its heyday) and the answer is always the same: my babysitters. They’d drive me around, top down, listening to Total, Jodeci, Brandy, En Vogue, Xscape, Keith Sweat, and so on and so forth, while the rest of pop radio was stuck on Lisa Loeb. This song, though, is one that gets everybody. You remember it, but either hadn’t heard it in a decade or had no clue who it was by.
Come correct. The song is “Swing My Way” and it’s by Atlanta, GA one-hit duo K.P. & Envyi. The track’s hop-skip morse code beat has always been one of my favorites. Smooth at the chorus, spastic with each verse; the song is certified ’97. The video, too. The girls are practically swimming in rayon and K.P.’s patchwork pants are definite FUBU (sunglasses, for sure Tommy). The club scene looks almost lesbian and yes, that’s Polow da Don playing fuck interest/video hoe. His jheri curl seals the deal.
Isn’t it beside the point to advertise for shoes that’ll never go past the showroom? I’ve never been fond of jumpsuits until I saw this and am still crushed by the fact that when I start to like Olivier, they kick him to the curb. Still, though, the collection’s at the top of my list for F/W ’09.
J Dilla is like Elvis or Hendrix. His catalogue is so prolific, he could release a song a day for the next two decades and never repeat a single one. His posthumous career, sadly, has gained more attention than his living work; he released his first and only official LP three days before dying of Lupus. Given, his tracks average only a minute in length, Dilla carries with him the power and prestige to make that minute work, dead or alive.
In this track (off Dilla’s latest tribute compilation J$P), featuring The Roots frontman Black Thought, the M.C.-turned-producer flips a dusty Spanish guitar riff to sound like an amped-up “Takeover” [Jay-Z]. Using his trademark sirens and lo-fi shout tracks, Dilla starts and stops the beat while Thought namedrops reality shows A through Z. Scribbly and raw, the song is frantic.
Any track mentioning Danny Bonaduce or Scott Baio – I’ma give it its day.
Christopher Kane is one of my favorites of the current period. With a Topshop capsule collection, t-shirt line, and Versus accessories relaunch under his belt, he yesterday released his Resort 2010 lookbook. Consisting of 22 looks, Kane continues his mega-popular S/S ’09 Photoshop print experimentation (of the screaming gorilla), this time showcasing nuclear test photos as his focus. The bright, contrasting hues of the photos make for some vibrant substitutes to the overused summer floral prints. While the best part of the collection isn’t for sale (yes, those fresh shoes were in fact compiled last minute of fabric scraps), the clothes will definitely help relieve his last collection’s lacking tone. Highlights include the mushroom cloud dress and cumulus-sunrise motorcycle jacket.
I never understood why those infamous, kiddie porn-looking CK jeans ads were banned back in the 90’s, until now. After viewing these simultaneously pulled television ads, you’ll see too. The disgusting grunts and comments by the unseen cameraman will turn your stomach past any sense of artistic statement for fear of pedophilia. Sorry Calvin, but what were your artistic directors thinking? The wood-paneled basement shots are enough without sound.
It tastes like a trend — you know, the street label that signs the young, blue-eyed crooner (see Chester French on Star Trak or Mr. West’s new butt-boy, Mr. Hudson), in hopes of capitalizing on Kanye’s famed emo/indie-rap formula (you’ll find Chris Martin play hook man on more mixtapes than Lil’ Wayne, second only to the almighty autotune). Yet with most trends, there are exceptions to the rules of ephemera: see Colin Munroe. The 28-year-old, Toronto-native (big ups), knows his place. He realizes he’s of the trend (he was recently signed to the urban subset of Universal-Motown, Rowdy Records) and plays the part of token, pianist slash hook boy almost jokingly; screwing with his vocals to sound like an infant beside Jim Jones on “Piano Lessons (Remix)” (posted below). He’s recorded recently with Black Milk, Brick and Lace, Drake, and 88-Keys, but has yet to release anything more than a mixtape.
This is the remix to “Piano Lessons.” Produced by Colin alongside Black Milk, the song speaks of Munroe’s upbringing. The beat evokes something street yet suburban. It’s an interesting listen…and the screwed vocals are strangely attractive. I bet a million to one you’ll agree.
Next up is “Last Cause,” featuring a phoned-in verse by 88-Keys (another little-known breakthrough M.C.). The beat sounds like a tweaked version of Angie Stone’s “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You Anymore.” Again, his screwed vocals are in place and sound incredible (without them the track would sound like Ben Folds).
Lastly, it’s the reason the kid’s gotten any mention at all. Featured here on Drake’s “Cannonball” (off mixtape Heartbreak Drake), Colin demonstrates indie-hooking 101. Consider it a lesson in swimming in Olympic pools of money.
In 1984, this probably looked really modern and avant-garde. Now, sadly, we’re back in the same place, trying as hard as we can to replicate such modern, avant-garde brilliance. [Ha] Fuck it. Stop trying Empire of the Sun, Chester French (while I do love their stylist), and Lady Gaga – you only look foolish (examples below). Let Alphaville have their shine. The front man’s practically leaking lip gloss for god’s sake.
It makes me happy to know one musn’t necessarily live street to go hard in them. See Homeboy Sandman – a UPenn grad with book smarts to match his streetwise. The 6’5″ Queens-bred M.C.’s been hyped as an underground stunna for some time now, performing for the likes of Rakim and The Roots without any major record deal. He released his first non-mixtape LP under his own label (Boy Sand Industries) entitled Actual Factual Pterodactyl last year with only a YouTube clip for support (watch the low-budget vid below). You could consider him an “absurdist;” he has little interest in commercial success, merely honing his craft. His only drive seems to be his enjoyment of the English language to the extent in which he practically spews Merriam-Webster. Confusing as his rhymes may be: they do make sense. Especially when taken line for line, his lyrics tend to weave themselves into Ivy-League brainstorms. On first listen, his tracks sound nonsensical and humorous (which they are), but not for long – his talent for linguistical lists will tangle you up in a web. Who said good music had to be practical any way? Sex, lies, burgers, and fries…
The first track up is the smart alic “Us & Them.” It’s a shorty, only two and a half minutes long. The beat’s Soca horn sample is one of his mixtape’s best.
If you’re into Eminem’s sing-a-long flow (I don’t know why you would be anymore), stream Homeboy’s “I-Tunes Song” below, featuring hilarious one-liners like, I don’t really write rhymes, I write haikus.
Lastly, I give you Homeboy playing politico in The Roots-vs-Coldplay-sounding stunner, “Wise Up,” featuring P.CASSO. Past the turntables, there’s something profound. Consider it one of his best.
Here’s a sneak peek at Janet:Reloaded’s (a.k.a. Ciara’s) latest video off current album, Fantasy Ride. While the album may not be much, the video looks to be sure fire (almost feels like Pac’s “California Love” or Mya’s “Case of the Ex” video with its evening desert setting). If you were into “1,2 Step” then you’ll definitely be down with its part two, “Work.” Listen to the upcoming hit, featuring production by Danjahandz and a verse by Missy Elliott, below.
Praised as Dream’s finest yet (at least, of those the singer-songwriter’s left for himself), “Fancy,” is also his mildest composition. Like a long drive’s perfect soundtrack, the song builds itself up to become something of utmost satisfaction. The light keys, Parisian street accordion, and Dream’s cloud-like voice together create a Zen palette for his trademark vocal Tourette’s (eh‘s, ella‘s, etc) to run wild (listen to the end). While his lyrics may have no purpose other than to fill the space atop Tricky Stewart’s cinematic backdrop (they’re comprised of the usual array of post-Puffy era nothingness – hot cars, hot broads, etc), they do sound like an homage to past era’s doo-wop mentality for radio-ready records.
The man knows what he’s doing. Six minutes and thirty seconds later, you’ll realize how he got an entire planet singing ella-ella-ey-ey-ey everytime the word umbrella’s mentioned. It’s his knack for catchiness that’s hypnotized the most unsuspecting listener, hit after hit. “Fancy,” while not a single, maintains this Motown-set formula for Billboard grandeur.
And the Christian Lacroix mention towards the end – now that’s fancy.
You should probably read this post while listening to someone who reminds me of a mini-modern-Mozart…The-Dream. Just imagine the 5’8″ composer hovering over his skyscraping organ as if he were in an Austrian opera house beating it up like gorilla.
There’s something that’s always caught me about 18th century (and prior) men’s dress. It’s probably the fact that “macaroni” fashions were more peacock than pasta, in that they’d incorporate, as a rule, much more extravagance than their female counterparts. Heels, stockings, jewelry and wigs, were among the uniform for the upper class 1700’s male who considered it critical to exemplify status. Viewing these heavily adorned males beside powerful men today is somewhat of a joke: Mozart could pass as Dita Von Teese for all its worth. Found in 1984’s Amadeus, the men’s costuming can be seen as a sort of competitive exploitation of wealth and virility. How funny it is to see how things have changed to become what they are today… If anything, I’d say men don’t have the sort of fun women do with fashion presently in that they have their limitations set so strongly by society.
If I had to say which style I’ve been most inspired by, I would have to give it to Amadeus. My obsession with ruffled collars, top-heavy silhouettes, puffy shirts and ringed fingers, big hair and organ sounds, has its root in my 5th grade music class. We learned of Beethoven and Mozart, while all I could focus on was their impeccable sense of style. They seemed to understand what it was to dress for statement and self-identity. Nowadays, the formulaic man’s dress constricts any expression except fear from being outwardly portrayed. To think, there was a time when men got glee from challenging any sense of homogeneity in fashion is still exciting to me. Below, you’ll find a photo from my trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London last summer, where I found what I hope to look like in forty-plus years. Beneath it is a photo showing how to modernize the Rococo-era aesthetic with a ruffly shirt, torn jeans, and high shoes. The hair helps.
Lost to Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” for Best Rap Solo [Performance] at the 1997 Grammy Awards, Skee-Lo has since disappeared from the mainstream (and thus, the underground too). His one and only hit, “I Wish,” though, has proven to stand the test of time as one of the decade’s most recognizable. His humorous, failed playa flow carries Bernard Wright’s “Spinnin'” sample seamlessly to sound like Urkel’s take on g-funk. The verses are as catchy as they are hilarious and the whistling in the background sounds a lot like ma and pa’s ‘food’s ready’ at the block party. Give it up for the nerd.
Diane Pernet reported today that Karl Lagerfeld will not be renewing his contract at Chanel. [Sigh] Thank god. Karl has been controlling too much of fashion for far too long; from his roots at Chloe to his reign on Fendi and his own Lagerfeld line; he sort-of needs to die (he’s 75) for fashion to move forward and reinvent itself. Rumor says Alber Elbaz of Lanvin will take his place atop Chanel, while Nina Ricci’s former, Olivier Theyskens, will take his place at Lanvin. Excited to see how Theyskens will update Lanvin and how Karl’s words will come back to haunt him when Elbaz takes his seat (he has voiced for years his distaste for the obese). I still think Hedi Slimane could do a hell of a revamp for Chanel, but, we’ll have to see what pans out, as this is still only a rumor.
Saw this dude two years ago with Mark Ronson and since then have grown to appreciate his braggy flow. Hailing from D.C.’s Go-Go driven music scene, Wale strattles a thin line between blogger’s draft and major label success a la Drake. Amassing stacks of critically-acclaimed mixtapes along with his involvement in Ronson’s tour has both helped and harmed him – he has yet to put out his Interscope debut. It seems the more buzz he garners, the slower his album creeps to release, which is sad since it appears he has more support than ever. This, though, is a step forward… and a step back. His official single “Chillin'” has gone through several edits to become what it is at the moment (M.I.A. was supposed to do hook duties). The beat is solid; having mashed together the Steam sample with heavy Casio spirals, it sounds Danja-meets-Jock Jams (even though it’s Cool & Dre). The problem is: with such hot verses and beat, the tacked-on Lady Gaga (does M.I.A) hook sounds like a forced attempt at a hit…which it obviously is, even though it sounds like two separate songs. But, hook aside, this may be the single that catapults Wale to levels he’s bragged about since claiming to have originated the [Levi’s] Shrink-to-Fit trend. The hope is that he gets to the place he’s depicted at in the video, walking inside his local bodega to his very own California Closet. One can only hope.
The Mulleavy sisters have added some umph to their California couture operation – jewelry. And shit is it hot. Designed by Mark Walsh and Leslie Chin, the line encompasses Rodarte’s evolved, refreshing response to ‘the new romantic’. With amethysts and eyeballs, the line’s mystic factor is full-on.
Interning at Black Frame PR my freshman summer, I fell in love with Rodarte and their studded pony hair Louboutin Ariella booties when they were pre-Olsen. I had always wondered if they’d expand into other accessories and now all that’s left is handbags. I say go for it.
Chances are you’ve never heard this 1973 masterpiece (or the Roger Daltrey cover version). It’s almost completely untapped (seeing as I couldn’t even link to an audio stream and had to settle with posting this stupid You Tube video) other than a few movie soundtracks through the years (Running With Scissors is probably the most recent). It’s a mystery to any virgin listener in hearing the opening piano bars sound so familiar; as if it were playing second-nature forever beside Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” or Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Pratt’s feminine-view storytelling is fantastic; key-laden and sung in a flying falsetto, could be considered atop the era’s pinnacle of passionate songcraft. You’ll hear resemblance to another currently radio-less rock act, Empire of the Sun; whose members enjoy vocal heights in their choruses strikingly similar to Andy Pratt’s in “Avenging Annie.” Have a hear…
For the first artist spotlite, I’ve got to give it to one of the most underrated and unheard-of lyricists out: Curren$y. 28 years young, C’s been releasing mixtapes almost monthly for the last few years without much attention from bigwigs. He even named his first official release (under his own label Fly Society), This Ain’t No Mixtape. Hailing from New Orleans, he flows so nonchalantly (even moreso than Loso) that he sounds almost comatose (but in a good way?). His rhymes got him noticed by Wayne in ’06 and in turn even recorded a song together with Remy Ma (“Where Da Cash At?”) that never surfaced on a released album. Curren$y is also a You Tube phenomenon. He’s taken his stoner-turned-rapper persona public to host a series of hilarious virals with the name Mythblazers, where he takes on the many misconceptions of marijuana smoking.
When recommending tracks, I’d have to go with his most electric beat-wise. Firstly, “Blown Away.”
You can’t escape the background’s swirling synth and majestic faux-horn. The beat itself could make any listener nauseous (also in a good way). The chorus is as addicting as the drugs he’s on (MDMA and THC) and his flow glides across the tune as if it were laced. But what makes this song a hit is the whistle that fades into the end as it were traveling faster than you can catch.
Second is another with an extraterrestrial sound; “Drug Flow” in which he’s joined by Freck Billionaire.
If you’re concerned with the track shooting lasers at you, relax and think how the quick, synth-heavy background pops and gathers as Curren$y; unamused, reclines in the sky. The high-pitched whine atop the complex drum patterns cushion the chorus from being too repetitive, proving once again the producer’s the one with the hit at hand. What Curren$y lacks in delivery is made up for in his producer’s spacecraft sounds.
Anyone who knows me knows I can’t do anything without a full jewelry drawer. And if there’s one designer I keep coming back to for new additions, it’s my main man Tom Binns. Ever since I got my first Binns piece during junior year of high school (yes, the “flying fuck” necklace) I’ve been coming back for more. He’s one of the only designers I can say has evolved with me every step of the way in developing my own personal style. We tend to agree each season; whether its gem stones, Duchamp-inspired Dada, magazine jewel cut-outs laminated in plastic (see above, below), or his signature skulls; we always seem to be at the same pace.
Thanks to the recent opening of his first store here in the city (on Perry St., shouts to Courtney), I can now ensure my bank account empty until further notice.
Speaking of summer anthems; this one’s up there for 09 consideration. Who can deny a good drinking song? Especially one with a chorus like By the end of the night I’ma have you drunk and throwin’ up / By the end of the night I’ma have you so fucked up.
Produced by Polow da Don and featuring Lil’ Jon and the equally obnoxious T-Pain, this unreleased Keri track was no where to be found on her tragic debut album, nor was it even considered. It’s actually a demo she did for the new Pussycat Dolls knockoff group, The Paradiso Girls (which just goes to show where many Keri-penned gems end up after hiding in the studio for years). While I don’t recommend any sort of Paradiso listening; this demo track, if released as a Keri single, could’ve been what took her writer-turned-singer status to the next-next level. If you’re into Keri’s brand of contagious, novel R&B, you should consider taking a shot of this.
With a beat and flow reminiscent of yesterday’s Hova, it’s easy to see why Drake is the unofficial blogger’s boy toy. Especially when considering he usually sounds more Cudi or closer to a one-off Kanye who can actually sing (which I suppose is the same thing), the song proves Drake can crush a verse into a scratchy background just as Jay once did like hashish. The backing soul sample skips back and forth like a drunken summer BBQ. Ending his last verse with an echoing Hold on-n-n-n-n – we’ll have to hold our breaths its soon.
I’m not one for mentioning menswear, but when I find something I like…bet it’s gonna be real.
This is how you do menswear. It’s a house called Third Floor and it’s based here in New York. As it is in no way for all men (as fashion, of course, should never be), the line does say something for the state that menswear should be in today. Its abrupt shift from tradition to ultra-new is definitely a commendable conversation piece. I mean, contemporary men’s sports sets topped in traditional Samurai armor? Holy shit.
The collection is comprised of menswear classics (the coat, the relaxed trouser) and modern ones (Ghesquiere drape-tops, Hammer – ahem, harem pant revival) as a base for its sharp, simplified warrior looks. Best piece: Ode to The Last Samurai top. Biggest nah: the rat tail.
As fresh as the song may be, the video is oh so stale. I know it’s not just a song and I know it’s not just The-Dream, … it’s most definitely those poorly done LeVar Burton shades and the seemingly unintentional cheese whiz FX that help cement Dream as an audio-only act. And when did BESS start taking custom orders from RadioKilla?
Versace’s resurrecting its younger sibling brand Versus as an accessories-only line and surprisingly it’s not only stomachable but also pretty fucking awe-worthy. Designed by maestro Christopher Kane, the collection pairs hints of Gianni’s famed safety pin dresses with Balenciaga’s Star Trek-inspired looks to par down Versace’s trademark gaud. Cross your fingers it stays at original Versus prices (upper mid-range)…because these babies could easily sway Balenciaga buyers away from their near-perfect accessory prowess. No word on when the line debuts.