Usher – Tell Me

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Priscilla Renea

Looking forward to seeing her get some shine as a solo artist. She has two new songs on Tidal and Spotify right now.

Gentle Hands is a country song with an urban breeze.

Heavenly is a ballad showcasing the strength and versatility of her vocals.

http://read.tidal.com/article/tidal-rising-artist-of-the-week-priscilla-renea

Dragon Energy

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What the fuck is wrong with Kanye West y’all? That was rhetorical. Kanye isn’t doing anything new. Let’s take a minute to analyze who Kanye is and what his motivations are.

Kanye has always been an eccentric rapper/producer from Chicago. Kanye West has always been driven by his own ego. I consider myself a fan of his music, but truth be told, he can’t really make a hit without a sample. So he’s not the greatest producer, but making hit singles isn’t exactly easy, so he clearly is an artist.

I personally don’t view College Dropout as the same masterpiece that everyone else does. I personally thought Late Registration was way better. That’s because I am less in tune with a rapper’s message than I am with how good the music sounds, and to me, Late Registration is just better on the ears. Simply put, there’s more songs that I enjoy and would replay on his second album than on his first.

So somewhere around the time of the release of Late Registration, Hurricane Katrina happened and Kanye West famously did this:

Kanye is clearly an emotional person. And saying something like this felt like he was saying something we all wanted to say at the time. Kanye West became our hero that day.

Then came Graduation. I remember when this album was on the way, 50 Cent apparently famously claimed that if Kanye West outsold him first week that he would quit doing music. From what I recall, Kanye’s album stomped 50’s. But of course 50 didn’t quit. I don’t recall Kanye ever saying anything about it, but I found it ironic that one of Kanye’s biggest singles from the album coincidentally had a line referencing a 50 Cent line.

50 told me go ‘head switch the style up 
And if they hate then let ’em hate
And watch the money pile up

Here’s where things begin to take a turn. 808s and Heartbreak was a huge risk on Kanye’s part. Because let’s be honest, nobody wants to hear Kanye sing.. Not for a full goddamn album. There was some decent music on that album though and there are plenty of people who would say that was his best album. It definitely revealed Kanye as a risk taker.. But it essentially killed the “Old Kanye”. I recalled having arguments about Late Registration because fans of College Dropout felt Kanye had already moved too far beyond his conscious roots and depth to make more sonically enjoyable and shallower music. But like I said, I loved that album. Those College Dropout fans would naturally see 808s and Heartbreak as a continued fall from their ideal Kanye, even though that album might be considered his most personal album.

If that album wasn’t controversial enough, the next came this..

I have never been a Taylor Swift hater but on the other hand I agree with Kanye here. Beyonce’s Single Ladies was iconic. Taylor Swift’s single was great and all, but Single Ladies was an anthem and the video was one of the most memorable things from that year, aside from Kanye shitting on Taylor’s moment at the VMAs of course. On top of that, there’s this:

If this isn’t a pretty hardcore blow to the ego, I don’t know what is. The first African American President verbally expresses an opinion about you, and it aint positive. Obama has only ever had good things to say about Jay Z. Big Brother wins again.

I would say all of this put the cracks that started Kanye’s rift with black America. He got points for the Taylor Swift thing, but everything else kind of left him as a bad taste in our mouths.

Then came 2010.. The comeback year. Kanye dropped My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. That album to me was a masterpiece, and furthermore masterfully marketed.

He debuted one of the singles at the VMAs. I remember people wondered if he was apologetic toward Taylor Swift and if would possibly take this opportunity to express that. Nah. He performed Runaway, which seemed to be Kanye embracing his place as the guy who has to say the wrong thing at the right time because somebody has to:

It was perfect. Furthermore, he created a movie showcasing the music from the album:

And was going around shopping the album with his artists in suits, walking around looking like black Wall Street.

On top of all of that, one of the singles pretty much showcased Nicki Minaj’s lyrical skill, making her a household name overnight:

You couldn’t tell Kanye shit in 2010. He had fallen and risen like a phoenix (which by the way was one of the subject’s of his Runaway movie). His artistry was on full display and those of us paying attention were in awe of it.

One thing nobody acknowledged tho.. Remember that white girl that was with him at the VMAs during the Taylor Swift fiasco? Well obviously they were done. And if you listen closely, half of Dark Fantasy is about her. Especially this song, which I am pretty sure features her:

So yeah, I wonder if that phoenix was Amber Rose. Who knows.

After a year like that, why wouldn’t Kanye take some time to himself. But in that time, with little to no positives to drive his image, it began to deteriorate. That’s when his relationship began with Kim Kardashian. That’s when he dropped his most mediocre body of work, Yeezus. That’s when he was trying to break into fashion and feeling like his genius was being held back. That’s when he was going around defending his new found passion and music and being demolished in radio interviews:

Around this time I began to consider that maybe Kanye West really was a genius. See he was having yet another bad year. But he had followed up 2009 so beautifully after the whole Taylor Swift thing that I figured this might be by design. So at that time, I decided that regardless of what happened, I knew Kanye was going to come back in dramatic fashion afterward. And I was almost right. Kanye learned to stop talking about fashion so much and just started doing that shit. His shoes, Yeezys, are a success story. They still sell out when released to this day. His follow up album could probably be considered a success. I didn’t care for The Life of Pablo as a whole, but it was definitely a step above Yeezus. However, there seemed to be an apparent fallout with Jay Z. And then there was shit like this:

It all has just felt like Kanye has been trying to hold on, but is still deteriorating. Understandably. I think Kanye’s ego is quite fragile and fame is crazy. It can make you crazy if you don’t manage it properly. Look at everything Michael Jackson went through.

So I have said all of this to talk about the Kanye we have today. The one who appears to support Trump and at the same time doesn’t mind being vocal about that support. I believe Trump and Kanye are of similar minds. Two individuals driven almost entirely by their ego. It feels like a turn for Kanye to be supporting Trump after being the same man who called out George W Bush on live TV. We would expect that Kanye to have the same opinion about Trump. But that’s because we thought we knew that Kanye. We thought we knew his motivations. Kanye is about self, same as Trump. Kanye most likely feels like we turned our backs on him a long time ago. But he still has to go on.. And Trump didn’t call him a jackass. Truth be told, Kanye West having a relationship with Trump, the most powerful man in the world, will probably be quite beneficial. He blew his chance at having that with Obama, so fuck it, why not Trump.

I’m not saying I approve. But I understand. Y’all think Kanye is fucked up. Nah. He knows what he’s doing. And in the end it will probably benefit him more than being the old Kanye that we all miss. We lost Kanye a long time ago. When it suits him and he actually has something to offer us, maybe he’ll come back. Till then, yeah he’s pretty much in the sunken place. It is what it is..

UPDATE (5/1/2018)

Kanye is up to something..

Also:

To Break or To Retire

j-cole-kod

That is the muthafuckin question! You know I have always spelled it like that. I put a u in “mother” when I don’t pronounce the “er” part of it. Just feels normal. And sometimes I put a ph instead of an F in “fuckin” for no damn reason at all. It’s the rebel in me. Do rebels retire? Probably not. I think we die fighting. There’s respect in that. Retirement seems like giving up. It’s a personal choice. You usually feel like you have done enough or simply no longer want to work, so you take what you got and go chill somewhere.

Been thinking about retirement a lot lately. See I exist in a bubble of comfort. I am ashamed of it to a degree because I am young. You are supposed to grind while you are young so that you can be comfortable when you can’t stand to or are unable to grind anymore. So I might be spending all my comfy points now and Imma be slaving in my 60s, mad af. My dad is almost 60.. And he’s working. He has to. And I see so much of him in me that I figure I’m probably headed down the same road. That’s the beauty of introspection and knowing your parents.. It’s about the closest thing you will get to seeing your possible future. Key word being possible. Maybe one of these days I’ll wake the fuck up and get back to work.

For now I’m going to go ahead and neglect this grind to continue this blog post. I had an argument about retirement at lunch. Before I get into that, shoutout to one of my favorite rappers.

As one of my favorites, I have expectations. One of those is the expectation that he continues to create. However back in 2016, Cole alluded to possibly retiring in “Jermaine’s Interlude” on DJ Khalid’s album. I haven’t actually heard the song but I am familiar with the line: “Said all I could say, now I play with thoughts of retirement”. Here’s the song if you want to listen.

Anyway my homeboy says I shouldn’t have feelings about J. Cole wanting to retire. Part of that is him being a less passionate individual than I am in general but furthermore less passionate about the current generation of hip hop music. There is so much nonsense on the radio that the thought of losing a solid artist to “retirement” upsets me. I just can’t help but think “Nigga, don’t leave us with this bullshit..” That to me would be like Barack Obama retiring in the Senate instead of pushing to the Presidency.

Yes of course, I am being selfish. Fans are selfish. Truth be told we don’t really care about the artists, just the art. I don’t know J. Cole or Barack Obama as people, I just appreciate what they have contributed to their craft and feel it is necessary. And of course, they don’t care about me either. They care about their own lives. And why shouldn’t they.

To side track a bit, I recently watched a video about Seth MacFarlane and his relationship to Family Guy. The author of the video talked about how Seth MacFarlane’s passion for the show probably died the day Bryan (the dog) died in the show. It went over how Bryan is the closest character to the real Seth MacFarlane and how after so many years of the same thing, it’s difficult to maintain your passion. Seth may feel stuck because his passions have evolve beyond Family Guy but there is still an audience for it and money to be made from it (not to mention, probably a contract).

So I get that. But that to me is different. Seth will still create comedy even after Family Guy ends. And J. Cole should stay committed to making music, even if he dabbles outside of his genre the way Kanye West, Andre 3000, and Childish Gambino have. The main point I argued is, you shouldn’t say you are going to retire if you are just going to do something else for a while then come back and drop an album when you rekindle your passion. Jay Z retired. But he “came out of retirement” and made several more albums, one which came out just last year. So. Did he retire? Not in my book. He took a break.

Have the foresight to declare that you need a break. Don’t retire and have your fans thinking you are leaving us hanging. Not to say you owe us something, but I think every artist owes something the their art, especially if they contribute to it in a positive way. Because there are plenty of vultures who will simply use that same art to fatten their pockets and without the balance of genuine talent, fans of that art will become exhausted of all the fakeness and that art will die. Don’t let hip hop die, J. Cole.. At least not until you have passed the mantle. Also, thanks for what sounds like a pretty dope album (tho I can do without so many repetitive hooks).