Category Archives: musicology

artist spotlite: the weeknd

The Weeknd: House of Balloons Download

Want to leave this artist spotlite as mysterious as TheWeeknd’s sound itself. Download their free mixtape now to hear what the fuss is all about surrounding Drake‘s latest co-sign. The future of R&B is here MF.

track anatomy: queen.breaka



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janet.live


Saw Miss Jackson live in concert for the third time last month! What made this outing so impressive was the intimate setting and non-stop hit repertoire… for most artists, selling out Radio City would be a big deal, but, for the soft-spoken Janet Jackson (whose played to stadiums worldwide for decades) it was a stripped-down, zero-floss production. Everything was on point: from the fanatical crowd to the choreography all the way down to the costumes (designed by Todd Lynn and Donatella Versace) and did I mention she sang live? (Pretty amazing for a woman who revolutionized the art of the lip-synch in the mid-80’s: Janet Jackson headset, anyone?) As she’s done with all her world tour stops thus far, she dedicated one of her 35+ #1’s to NYC – we got Luther and Janet’s early 90’s duet, “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (below). I’ll let my man, Michael Eric Dyson do the rest of the commentary… (below)


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Song of the Day: “The Best Things In Life Are Free” –
Janet Jackson & Luther Vandross

Opening: The Pleasure Principle


Feedback: bustin’ out!

Stop pressurin’ me!

Performing Scream for the first time live in concert

Rhythm Nation on dat ass

Finale: Together Again

get.in.check

WORLD PREMIERE: “Make Some Noise” – Beastie Boys

The Beasties know how to do lo-fi right.
The original white boys that could return later this year.

fab.core


Hard Fab



Soft Fab


the.magnificent


World Premiere: “Shame” – Jill Scott (Feat. Eve)

She’s BAAAAACCCKKK and betta than eva. Jilly’s been my girl since the 8th grade. Nothing comes between us two. Especially after this one where she experiments with a definite hip-hop-induced early-90’s sound (partially courtesy of guest MC, EVE). Watch for JS’s new album dropping this spring.

miss.lopez

World Premiere: “I’m Into You” – Jennifer Lopez (Feat. Lil’ Wayne)

Really feelin’ this JLO summer jam which hearkens back to her good ol’ days when she looked like a wet, greasy cholita, loved rhinestone initial jewelry, and wasn’t seen without a pair of hella-hoops… even if spring in NYC has been postponed until further notice… JLO‘s there to keep me warm. On The 6 and J.LO are still in my 6 CD disc changer. And you know this, man.



track anatomy: lo.lambada



fry.day


Big ups to Ark Music Group…

YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS!!!!!!!!

nate.the.great

A sad day for hip hop…
Rest In Peace Nate Dogg
…I’ve always admired you.
Regulate
1969-2011

the.blog.made.me.do.it.vol4


The long overdue fourth installment in the ‘Blog Made Me Do It‘ series: Master & Commander, was formulated by scientists to rock boats and make waves, all the while throwing passengers overboard. Tested by infants and hoodrats alike, it’s been approved to knock blocks, rattle cribs, flip chips, and turn tricks. Culled from the digital depths; the sprawling, essential 41-track set brings together hints of trance with street sounds to create lawlessly commanding rumble muzik. In other words: it’ll change your life. Featuring unreleased productions by Timbaland, Araab Muzik, Jahlil Beats, Bei Maejor, Polow da Don, Tricky Stewart, Los da Mystro, Duke Da God, and Boi-1da, with appearances by Jazmine Sullivan, Slim Thug, Vado, Ace Hood, Styles P, Young Jeezy, Keri Hilson and newbies: Tory Lanez, Meek Mill, Kendre, ZayBucks, Britney Mac, Six, The Dean’s List, and more. Warning: not approved for chumps, pregnant women, non-believers, and those with epilepsy. Remember where you it heard it first & bang on MF. (click the link below to download the .zip file)

Sample some tracks below…

Smoke & Mirrors presents…
The Blog Made Me Do It, Vol. 4: Master & Commander
An MH Mixtape

View tracklist after the jump.
Continue reading

rip.big


Still B.I.G.

decida.style


Ever wonder why Robyn’s looked so FIRE lately?
Peep my interview with Robyn’s stylist/creative director, Decida, on V here.
Be sure to check out Decida’s personal blog here.



photos courtesy of (top) shaon chakraborty & (bottom) 2faced1

O.O.F

OOF! There it is…

jessie.j.takeover

WORLD PREMIERE, Pt. I: “L.O.V.E.” – Jessie JI gave you her first single last year and she’s proven to be a force to be reckoned with – an unlikely vocal powerhouse with a vibrant personality. Now that she’s made enough noise, Jessie J is officially braced to release her full-length debut LP entitled Who You Are on April 12, 2011. Enjoy a first-listen to two never before heard album cuts above/below.

WORLD PREMIERE, Pt. II: “Who’s Laughing Now?” – Jessie J

j.love?

WORLD PREMIERE: “Run The World” – Jennifer Lopez
(Feat. The-Dream & Rick Ross)

Eat it:
I still love my girl LO-LO.



jen.kao

Jen Kao / Fall 2011 / New York Fashion Week

J. Kao presents… a wardrobe fit for Ms. Minanana.
Happy to see someone’s been listening to the forecast.
It’s raining pink’s, yellow’s, teal’s, and fuschia’s!


View select detail shots below.








kanye.copycat

Um, Kanye…
Did you think we wouldn’t know?

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cowa.bunga

WORLD PREMIERE: “Best Luv Song” – T-Pain (Feat. Chris Brown)

The Return of Teddy Pinder
sounds like cartoon-paced stadium rock, an epileptic fit, or both simultaneously.
And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

it’s sure got the white people leanin’

squirt.n.splatter



(top) photo courtesy of jonas akerlund & (bottom) courtesy of alexander mcqueen archives (tFS)

f.a.n.g

World Premiere: “F.A.N.G.” – Nyle

This one’s for the couples!
Happy V Day MFs!

a.tell.tale.mixtape


If you haven’t already, download the full Dawn Richard mixtape or stream it in its entirety below. Undoubtedly, the sound of my NYFW ’11.


#ATellTaleHeartMixtape

color.me.badd

10.years.today


It was ten years ago today that the term ‘wardrobe malfunction’ entered our vocabulary. And for that, we thank you Miss Jackson.

dawn.richard

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World Premiere: “Me, Myself, & Y?” – Dawn Richard

Damn, baby… do you.
Happy to see Dirty Money grow into solo projects!

nas.talks.tapes


INfluence

best.tracks.10

SMOKE & MIRRORS’
best tracks of 2010


Better late than never.
View last year’s track list here and this past year’s best albums here.
50 to 1 – Go!

50 “Check It Out” – Nicki Minaj (Feat. Will.I.Am)
49 “Holding You Down (Goin’ In Circles)” – Jazmine Sullivan
48 “Blackout” – The Knocks
47 “Under The Sheets (Remix)” – Ellie Goulding & Chiddy Bang
46 “Shake” – Game
45 “Hard Way” – Miguel
44 “In The Cut” – Wiz Khalifa
43 “Feelin’ Good” – Chrishan
42 “Who Dat” – J.Cole
41 “Hello Good Morning (Remix)” – Diddy-Dirty Money (Feat. Nicki Minaj & T.I.)
40 “Cold War” – Janelle Monae
39 “She Was (A Broken Love Story)” – Bei Maejor
38 “Lil’ Freak” – Usher (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
37 “All These” – Sterling Simms (Feat. Kid Ink)
36 “Large On The Streets ” – Vado
35 “Just Me & You” – Ricky Blaze
34 “Bang Bang” – Verse Simmonds
33 “Deuces” – Chris Brown & Tyga
32 “Yamaha” – The-Dream
31 “Hometown Hero” – Big K.R.I.T.
30 “Karaoke” – Drake
29 “Aston Martin Music” – Rick Ross (Feat. Drake)
28 “Like A Tattoo” – Droop-E
27 “Rose Garden” – Shad
26 “Woop Woop (Stand Back)” – Big Remo (Feat. Ricky Ruckus & 9thmatic)
25 “Whip My Hair (Remix)” – Willow Smith (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
24 “Deadly Medley” – Black Milk (Feat. Royce Da 5’9” & Elzh)
23 “Power” – Kanye West
22 “The Train, Pt. II” – Big Boi (Feat. Sam Chris)
21 “You Be Killin’ Em” – Fabolous (Feat. Ryan Leslie)
20 “Get Big (Remix)” – Dorrough (Feat. Cassidy)
19 “Window Seat” – Erykah Badu
18 “Far Nearer” – Jamie XX
17 “All I Want Is You” – Miguel (Feat. J.Cole)
16 “Closed Chapter” – Black Milk
15 “Bedrock” – Young Money
14 “Yeah, Yeah You Would” – Diddy-Dirty Money (Feat. Swizz Beats & Grace Jones)
13 “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna (Feat. Drake)
12 “Do It Like A Dude” – Jessie J
11 “Fuck You (Remix)” – Cee-Lo (Feat. 50 Cent)
10 “Bang Bang Bang” – Mark Ronson (Feat. Q-Tip & MNDR)
9 “Pass Out” – Tinie Tempah
8 “All Of The Lights” – Kanye West
7 “Roman’s Revenge” – Nicki Minaj (Feat. Eminem)
6 “Ride” – Ciara (Feat. Ludacris)
5 “F.I.L.A.” – The-Dream (Feat. T.I.)
4 “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley” – Lloyd Banks (Feat. Juelz Santana)
3 “Shut It Down” – Drake (Feat. The-Dream)
2 “Hold Yuh (Remix)” – Gyptian (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
1 “Monster” – Kanye West (Feat. Rick Ross, Bon Iver, Jay-Z, & Nicki Minaj)

pink.moment

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World Premiere: “Moment 4 Life” – Nicki Minaj (Feat. Drake)

george.condo.opening


George Condo
‘s “Mental States” Exhibition Opening
@ The New Museum, NYC


Read my full post on V here






🙂 SMILE 🙂

come.on.cavalli






red.velvet.ri

J.train

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Expect 2011 to be the year of the J. Learn more here.

issue.69




Song of the Day: “MuNY” – Nicki Minaj



the mu-mu-muny, the yen and the pesos

world.tour.2011


SHE’S BAAAAAACCCCKKKKK!
The legend lands in my city… March 18, 2011.
You ready?

watch.the.throne


I suppose Tisci gave up on Ciara when Yeezy comissioned this…
Too soon?

WORLD PREMIERE: “H.A.M” – Kanye West & Jay-Z

best.albums.10

SMOKE & MIRRORS’
best albums of 2010


This honorary list is compiled beyond the qualifications of merely good singles (see those that made the best tracks of ’10 next week) and is based heavily on the artist’s cohesive vision. Where have all the LP’s gone? Ask iTunes. These are the select few that made start-to-finish, definitive listens …

10 EARL – Earl Sweatshirt

Under OddFuture’s FADER-blog-underground-rap reign, Earl sits as the ultimate free EP savior. In a year that found Eminem “return to reverence” and M.I.A. piss off The New York Times and fans of her original sound, Earl made disgusting, offense-spewing misogynist rhymes with ugly, disoriented backgrounds sound better than anything since “Stan” or “Galang.” Gross.

09 Last Train To Paris – Diddy-Dirty Money

How embarrassing is it to put a Diddy album on a year-end list? To be honest, kinda embarrassing. But, not as much, this year. Not because there was nothing better, but because his album (which took approximately 5 years to develop, produce, and then delay off-and-on) was actually mad good, especially if it’s listened to as a pop album. The sound is all over the place: from Bossa Nostra jazz and Hotel Costes lounge to Grace Jones’ percussive screams and Danja-Tron-ic bravados. Did I mention the babes? Diddy enlisted two R&B beauties to take the edge off the fact that he can’t rap for the life of him, but no worries, ’cause it kind of worked.

08 Nu Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh – Erykah Badu

Neo-soul’s golden girl came heavy for her sequel to 08’s Nu Amerykah with softcore productions by Salaam Remi and beau, Jay Electronica, to become the unofficial sound to my summer. “Window Seat” took the best video of the year category, by far, but it also may just be the year’s smoothest R&B joint too.

07 K.R.I.T. Wuz Here – Big K.R.I.T.

What does the Dirty South do when half its roster’s locked up (T.I., Lil’ Wayne, Gucci Mane) and G-Side hasn’t released anything since last year? Producers become rappers, of course! See Big K.R.I.T., for example… he took up the rap game after realizing no one knew/gave a fuck who he was. And thank goodness ’cause he’s done the unthinkable, deading the old South and birthing the new one with only one album! Mississippi stand UP. Your day has come.

06 Entrapment – Big Remo

Underground lyricist, Big Remo makes hip-hop sound like there’s nothing to it while producer, 9th Wonder, picks up where Kanye left off with lushly layered soul samples on Entrapment. Call it grown man bizness or just good ass music – Remo’s debut release is as raw as it is serene. Show and prove!

05 Black Diamond Life – Droop-E

How is it possible that in the year that Sade chooses to release her first album in what felt like a decade, E-40’s son comes out with a free concept mixtape that undermines Sade‘s ambiance altogether — and with the bitch’s original music as sample tracks? Um-azing. [Q: Why hadn’t this been done years ago? How did hip-hop just find Sade?]

04 LoveKing – The-Dream

So, The-Dream‘s ’10 release wasn’t as good as his first two, yet it was still incredible (um, obviously — it made the list at #4). But, considering he hasn’t released an album that hasn’t made my top spot since his debut… LoveKing isn’t his best effort. Why? Has his mastered formula worn itself out yet? It’s the best excuse I can provide.

03 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West

Kanye‘s latest work isn’t fun, nor is his pretentious demeanor. It’s a carefully plotted, self-loathing madman’s campaign for the world to hate him while loving him at the same exact time. And with this LP, he got it all and more (including the hardest verse by a female MC ever — “Monster,” anyone?).

02 Thank Me Later – Drake

The most major debut of the year, Thank Me Later, is also one of the year’s greatest. Track by track, Drake becomes increasingly solidified as the voice of a generation – moody, confused, yet incredibly aware.

01 Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico DustyBig Boi

It took exactly ten years to commemorate the unflinchingly eclectic, hip-to-be-strange sound of the Oughts a.k.a. Outkast’s 2000 release, Stankonia. [Even Pitchfork agrees with me on that.] And here it is… as beautiful and magical as ever, the lesser regarded Outkast member saves the day with a funky ode to…well…his sound that wraps up the decade in an exquisitely big bow.

Honorable Mentions:
TSOL – Shad, Record Collection Mark Ronson, All I Want Is YouMiguel,
Pink Friday
Nicki Minaj, The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monae,
Album of the Year – Black Milk.

anticipating.2011

Before I reveal my “Best Of” lists for the year, I’ma let off some rounds in honor of the new one… Take a tour of the latest, freshest sounds direct from the hottest in Hip-Hop and R&B (below) before they hit the streets. From there you can vote for your favorite tune in the poll at the bottom of the post. Remember where you heard ’em first & have a happy, healthy new year MF! Cheers.


World Premiere: “Speechless” – Alicia Keys (Feat. Eve)

World Premiere: “Sunday Morning” – 50 Cent

World Premiere: “Buyou” – Keri Hilson (Feat. J.Cole)

World Premiere: “Let’s Chill” – Wale (Feat. Lloyd)

World Premiere: “Freak” – Jamie Foxx (Feat. Rico Love)


World Premiere: “Love You Long Time” – Jazmine Sullivan

World Premiere: “Hard Way” – Miguel

 

janet.barbie

Janet Jackson Barbie
(complete with reveal)
and 16 other versions they should make next

Vodpod videos no longer available.

k.u.s.h


World Premiere: “Kush” – Dr. Dre (Feat. Snoop Dogg & Akon)

Call it straight kush or designer weed. The day has finally come where Dre has broken his silence … which hopefully means we’ll hear DETOX in the next decade or two. Did it really take this long to make this?


the.arrival

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World Premiere: “Ass On The Floor (Mudafuckr)” – Dirty Money
(Feat. Swizz Beats)

I’m pleased to announce the arrivals of two major although oft-delayed, S&M-endorsed albums: Ciara’s Basic Instinct and Diddy-Dirty Money’s Last Train To Paris. They’ve dropped just in time for the holidaze. View the latest vid from Diddy‘s winter-ready opus above (and yes, Kaleena and Dawn are in F/W ’10 Chanel) and stream Ci‘s (hopeful) next single, “Heavy Rotation” below. Gotta melt that snow some how… I got around to chatting with a friend about my attachment to Diddy this past weekend and we both came to the conclusion that it all comes back to this. I suppose floss doesn’t fade that easily.

World Premiere: “Heavy Rotation” – Ciara

track anatomy: jagged.life

World Premiere: “My Baby” – Jagged Edge


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“Fast Life” – Kool G Rap (Featuring Nas)

Overjoyed to hear one of my all-time favorite songs be sampled by
fucking JAGGED EDGE! Total doozie!

big.boi.ballet

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Big Boi & The Atlanta Ballet present… BiG

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Big Boi and the fam’s 2008 ballet production, BiG, straight from the source. Glad to see one of my favorite tracks get the visual treatment. Only wish I could have been there to see it LIVE!

dirty$.anthem

World Premiere: “Ass On The Floor (Mudafuckr)” –
Dirty Money & Swizz Beats

It’s one thing to hate Diddy ’cause he can’t rap, but, Dirty Money‘s another story altogether. He’s toned himself down with two hot babes suited in my favorite Altuzarra season ever (and fucking berets…)!  Listen to their latest buzz single produced by the one-and-only Mr. Swizz Beats-Keys. You hear those drums and gulfstream synths? Shit’ll get you working even if you’re unemployed! Head on over to Vogue.com to sample the Wintour-approved new album now.

front.back




The Blonds’ S/S ’11 Two-Faced Jumpsuit

gimmie.gimmie

World Premiere: “Gimmie Dat (Urban Bass Remix)” – Ciara

Get gully in anticipation for the new Ci LP (out December 14th, 2010) with this new Soundz-helmed remix and burnt-rubber-hot V Man spread.

photos courtesy of V Man

track anatomy: kanye.twisted

Debate: Can one sample all these tracks and still be considered creative?
Go.

s&m.thanksgiving.special


A very Smoke & Mirrors Thanksgiving
-enjoy DRAKE LIVE @ Radio City Music Hall below as a Turkey Day treat-

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where.they.at.now

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Featured both of these incredible, still semi-underground hip-hop acts last year. See what they’re up to nowadays. Spreading love for Homeboy and Nyle – the world over. If u a jazz rap fan – put yo hands up! If you a hip-hop fan – put yo hands up!

fashion focus: justice.4.janet


While we’re on that Janet tip… head on over to The FADER to peep my examination into the sometimes-overlooked style of Miss Jackson from the ’92 street cinema classic, Poetic Justice.

artist spotlite: jessie j


World Premiere: “Do It Like A Dude” – Jessie J

Have you ever heard someone that resonated so much with your life or style that you wondered if perchance you lived-as-them in a, say, former life? Meet Jessie J – singer/songwriter from Essex, most known for penning Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA” and noticed by Universal record execs on the internets – my inner alter-pop star. Imagine taking the best qualities of Xtina (Jessie’s first vid is what “Not Myself Tonight” tried and failed at miserably), P!nk (that wrasp), Robyn (that sass), Nicki Minaj (cartoon character persona), Ke$ha (the wild), Katy Perry (the bob), Adele, Amy, and Lily (that soul) and wrapping them into a chav-tastic little British babe package. Her debut single, “Do It Like A Dude,” is like a page out of my own book (remember this?) minus the Insane Clown Posse makeup. She’s all parts authentic, witty, and gives us another reason to love YouTube all too much. Watch her up-close-and-personal bedroom vid below for an example of her vocal prowess and be sure to keep S&M on lock for updates on my new favorite sistah. Remember where you heard it first MF.