11/10/2017

Title is the date cuz I ain’t talkin bout nothin


Whatever, Fresh Bop comes and goes as it pleases. Today was supposed to be a full review of Taylor’s Reputation but since she’s all anti-streaming and I’m not about to buy her music…that will have to wait. Or maybe I won’t do it all because you have enough money so give us the music instead of being annoying for no effect. What else? Kimbra aka bae released a new track called “Top of the World” and it’s amazing. Girls have been annoying this week and I’ve been tired since Tuesday.

Today I thought of this fantasy world that I created when I was younger. As the main character I would put myself in all sorts of situations and come up with missions that I had to take care of. I did this deep into my teen years for whatever reason. I don’t remember a lot of the specifics but I want to write about it because I’m bored.

So I watched a lot of cartoons and anime growing up. Toonami was the best thing to happen young boys. Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Teen Titans, Naruto, etc WAS. MY. SHIT. I’m pretty sure Raven is the origin of my very real attractive to that emo, goth look. Anyway. I wanted to be one of those super-powered teens, I wanted to fight powerful villains and hordes of monsters. So in my head I just did it. I remember having Yusuke’s spirit gun, an ability to pull out LITERALLY any weapon from some invisible, inter-dimensional fanny pack. I could literally do anything I could think of which obviously made me the most powerful being in the universe. That’s twice I’ve used literally and I mean it. I could do it all. No cooldowns, fatigue or drawbacks. Anything.  Flying. Done. Invisibility. Child’s play. Super speed, energy blasts, telekinesis. EASY. My “costume,” which I thought a great deal about, was a hoodie and shorts. Thinking back, for safety reasons, probably not the smartest but it is still the most comfortable outfit in the world.

There was this one mission I was sent on. Where everyone was bad so my only option was to just blow up the entire planet. The conflict occurred because I did not want to do such a thing; obviously there had to be innocent people that  did not deserve to get vaporized. I did it anyway since the bad outweighed the good and I was a heartless teenager. The government wanted to experiment on me because of my abilities and I let them. In all other shows the heroes wouldn’t let them which I always thought that was weird. Like if I didn’t like some of the test I would just leave, they couldn’t stop me. Fantasy Justin had a blast and I don’t know why I just went to that place so frequently back then. I could be at church, school or just in bed before I passed out creating scenarios that I would have to fight my way out or defeat some evil.

Ok that’s it. Seriously check out this Kimbra song:

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Bad Bars: Orange

I was gonna do flips of the daily prompt word, throw in some rhymes but the word is….orange….ORANGE. I’m not Eminem so I won’t rhyme with that but I am gonna try to have fun.

Your skills are on a sharp decline

Losing steam with those faulty rhymes

The crowd throws fruit cuz your act is terrible

The oranges move bodies like the Broad St Line

You can catch these hand wherever, I will run up on this guy,

Follow him to the bathroom, I won’t even say hello

Sneak him while he pissing, have him bleeding out his nose

Docs be seeing orange when I mixed that red and the yellow

You can leave and I don’t care where you go

Go somewhere cold, somewhere hot, or somewhere a little toasty

But don’t drive, you better fly, or I’ll run you off the road

And then you can die just like Marissa in the OC

Shots fly, rounds bouncing off the floor

Come back the next day, scouts need to see more

Good prospects, I got agents coming to your door

Basketball scheme just cuz basketballs are orange (that’s a super reach, jeez)

Weed dealers coming into town, get rid of them with rational means

Agent Orange the crop, side effects be damned

Bodies covered in orange like the Dutch national team.

I plant the best trees, my results are nonsensical

My apples are regal and my oranges are presidential.

That’s a Trump bars and my rhymes are inessential.

 

OK that’s enough. These are so bad but was so fun to think of. Gotta go listen to music #DoublePostFriday

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Orange

Thandi Ntuli-The Offering

Alright, so another music post but at least this time I focus on one project…Right!? Guys?? Please don’t leave!


Well, last night I had an epiphany. I’m picky about my jazz. The problem is that I really can’t afford to be. Jazz is a well established genre complete with sub-genres and strange offshoots but it is probably the least popular form of music in the world (idk this is conjecture). These artists need our support though; they deserve all the recognition and attention that pop garners. The problem is that when your favorite pop artist makes a song with a little jazz influence, it is heralded while true jazz musicians starve. For example, look at the acclaim To Pimp A Butterfly received or how popular La La Land was upon release. Jazz can work if properly presented to the public but only in small doses because the attention span just isn’t there. I got way off topic. My point was that I’m picky because like EDM, there is so much jazz and so much of it can be similar. For me it takes something special; some innovation, a new approach to rhythm/melody or extreme skill to keep me engaged and win me over. This isn’t the birth of jazz, you don’t get brownie points for knowing how to play your instrument and presenting a solid solo.

That brings me to Thandi Ntuli and her album The Offering released in 2014. I had never heard of this South African pianist until yesterday when I was told to check her out. She hails from Capetown where she studied jazz in college there as well. My initial reaction to the album was that Ntuli has a strong grasp of the things that make great jazz as well as a formidable command of her instrument. Technically, there is nothing wrong with the project. The players execute things very well and Thandi makes commendable songwriting decisions that hold my interest. There is a wealth of solos by everyone and, I will contradict this later, a lot of them are very non-masturbatory. This sentiment actually bleeds out to the whole album and I appreciate the restraint. There is no “Look at me! I can blaze over these chord changes!” My favorite solos occur in the tracks “201 Aa”(the first piano solo) and “Uz’ubuye(Intro)”, the latter of which is just a five minute piano solo. I was told that which makes Ntuli so great is that she has great command of the the alto region and after listening I can understand that statement. She stays in her bag and does so much in that space.

But…but…I…I just want more. I set super high expectations with this album for two main reasons. I have recently listened to Mark Guiliana’s Jersey and Christian Scott’s Emancipation Procrastination and those projects blew me away. I thought I was hitting a hot streak. The second reason was all I knew about this project was it is South African jazz. I was strapped in and ready for new rhythms, possibly a wealth of auxiliary percussion and other musings that represented the artist’s home. Sure we get track listings and the DOPE cover art but outside of that, it is just a jazz album.

The other issue is that the lack of risk/innovation. Now, I’m very aware that this could be a personal opinion but I stand by it at the risk of sounding stupid. This lack of risk taking is mostly felt through structure and in the solos. I applauded this safeness earlier because its ideas are executed well but I will contradict myself here. At no point did I feel like any of the players were just going for it. I wanted blood. I wanted to imagine that after a solo people were exhausted, someone’s mom was crying, wigs tossed. Obviously that doesn’t belong on every project but The Offering definitely had some room for it. There is a trumpet solo on “H.T.” where I feel like dude was heating up a little bit but then the guitar solo afterwards does in fact cook. Outside of that and half of “Uz’ubuye”…*shrugs* tasteful and controlled solos. There is one exception. On the second track “Contemplation” and the last song, “In Between Spaces” we get pretty lackluster drum solos which is a shame because the space given is so perfect.

Overall, The Offering is really good. I can always appreciate well made music that is recorded well. Highlights for me include the aforementioned “201 Aa” and  both “Uz’ubuye” tracks. Thandi Ntuli is now on my radar and she has an album coming out this year. Hopefully she continues to grow and comes with fresh ideas. I appreciate this recommendation and this album.

Check it out here:

Fresh(ish) Bop Friday 10/20/17

Uhhhhh

I heard somewhere, “If you wait until you feel like writing, you’ll never start.” So here were are. Yes, I skipped a week (again). Yes, this has seemingly turned into exclusively a music blog (I’m sorry, that will change…but not today, it’s Friday. Duh.) 


So last week was cool and this week is kind of light so this worked out a bit. Still this post will be kind of light because I’m exhausted.  

Lies. This turned into a long thing.

Image result for dancing gif

Taylor Swift-Gorgeous

My expectations of Taylor are kind of gone and I’m just waiting for the full album before I care anymore. “Gorgeous”, Swift’s newest single, is totally fine. The instrumental kind of reminds me of video game music in its whimsical synths and almost 8 bit-like drums. It doesn’t suck so that’s good. At this point I’m just glad that the last two singles weren’t anywhere as bad as “Look What You Made Me Do” *barf*.

Future, Young Thug-Super Slimey

I’m like halfway through this but I don’t feel like much will change as I progress through the project. This takes me back to early 2017 with its fully trap fill beats with Future and Young Thug spitting over top. It definitely knocks but has that odd emotional touch that both rappers bring to their music along with the women, money, drug stuff. Maybe since the middle of the year when I dove into pop music I have kept up with hip hop less but this almost feels dated? It’s perfect to have on while you write (heh) or process paperwork at work. Meh.

Christian Scott and Jessie Ware

These two artists are so good. I’m combining them because I haven’t listened to their albums YET but I will. I’m sure they will both be great.

Christian Scott is a young trumpet player whose roots in jazz and makes his music soar through genres such as R&B, rock, and obviously jazz. He plays with so much heart; you can feel it when he plays. His last project was incredible and at times it felt like he deferred the melodic load to other instruments. It’s so much more than just a trumpet album, it is an full fledged project that happens to led by trumpet. I expect The Emancipation Procrastination to be no different. Oh and this dude has released three albums already this year………

Everything about Jessie Ware is beautiful. She just seems like the nicest woman ever. I listened to her first album Devotion a ton when it came out and kind of fell in love with her pure voice. Her smooth contemporary R&B/pop sound is just so delicious and warm. I knew this project was coming out but somehow completely forgot that it was today. I just listened to the first song on Glassdoor and it’s absolutely wonderful. Randomly, I had a though like “Oooh if Demi was like way more mature, this could fit at the end of her last album”. Really looking forward to this one. Just looked her up and found out she’s married so my life no long has meaning.

Stuff from last week

I did this to myself but I did want to touch on a few projects that came out last week that really deserve to be talked about.

Gucci Mane-Mr. Davis

Honestly, this is the first Gucci album I’ve listened to the whole way through. Currently, Gucci features on one of my current favorite songs and he’s also kind of just winning at life. Mr. Davis clocks in a hair over an hour and you can tell. Like I know we’ve been waiting for this full length for awhile but near the end it felt like rehashed topics and beats. The feature list on this album is great though. It was good but I can’t see myself coming back to it over and over again.

Beck-Colors

Man, I don’t know anything about Beck. My knowledge of him goes as far as “Oh he’s the dude that one Album of the Year over Beyonce that one year.” Anyway, I try not to be ignorant so when I saw that Colors had dropped last week, I figured I would give it a chance. What the fuck? It’s so good! The first song is such a well produced uptempo pop/rock masterpiece. A healthy amount of pan flute, claps, and drums set a perfect stage for Beck’s vocal performance complete with many additional vocal parts. It’s a great way to start an album. From there it doesn’t really stop in its excellent production even if some of the ideas aren’t the most interesting. The song “Wow” is a little weird but I kinda dig it. Anyway this was a surprise and now I have to go back and peep the catalog.

St. Vincent-MASSEDUCTION

So…like…I love St. Vincent. It’s a big deal when my dad is like, “Justin, you gotta check this girl out.” I remember watching her perform on Austin City Limits all those years ago and falling in love with this weird, pale, guitar shredding woman. Her music is all the eccentricity and brilliance that I was pretentious about back in like 2010. So she has a great deal of great credit with me that will allow her to slip up every once in awhile and remain absolutely adored by myself. I thought MASSEDUCTION was her about to dip into that reserve when I heard some of the singles. She’d seemingly all but abandoned the indie rock, damn near orchestral turns of her early work and replaced it with sharp synths. To her credit, it was all still working and I loved it. I neeeeed artists that I love to show growth and innovation but maybe we were about to go a step too far. The result is yeah, she went there but I still liked it. It is synth heavy and programmed drums all day. She still creates interesting melodies and rhythms but the instrumentation has changed. It’s still weird and still undeniably St. Vincent. That being said it is not even close to my favorite of her work. After I got over the initial shock of the albums differentness (that is definitely not a word) I still found it quite enjoyable.

 

Ok that’s enough. There was a TON of good stuff that came out last week and today so go try to listen to it. I will be going back to listen to Glassdoor because the first couple songs kinda won’t let me go.

 

Fresh Bop Friday 10/6/2017

Kinda light week but here we go. I was greatly distracted by stuff.

I was busy today. 


As I type out this intro I am listening to Kelela’s Take Me Apart It’s good and unlike the Latina wave that’s rising, I’m all for this women led modern R&B movement. SZA, Syd, Solange (AND MORE DON’T @ ME) have lead the way in this vibe but you can add Kelela’s name to that list. Maybe she’s been poppin’ but I haven’t heard of her until this week. Sweet almost delicate voice that dances over well produced tracks. It’s relevant and it sounds good. I’ll have to finish it when I’m done talking about the other stuff.

Sam Smith-“Pray”

The first seven seconds of this song are very confusing for me. “Ooh we’re gonna get a bouncy piano driven diddly…no it’s an islandy bop because that first measure of drums definitely felt spicy. Oh, it’s a slowish Sam Smith song.” I promise I don’t hate Sam Smith but I just want more. This song is Sam looking for answers to his problems and finally turning to prayer. The problem I have with this is that he spends a good chunk of the song letting the listener know that he doesn’t believe in God or religion. “Everyone prays in the end” yeah they suuuure do but that’s not how it should work and WOW I’M ABOUT TO GET ON A SOAPBOX. Growing up in church I’ve become very skeptical of people that randomly turn to prayer. You were an atheist yesterd…HOLY MOLY I’M DOING IT AGAIN. Choir sounds good even though they are being used to reinforce not believing in basic church things and then the tropey double clap at the end. Ugh. Whatever. Whatever. Whatever. Production and vocals sound good. I don’t know why the religious aspect of this rubbed me the wrong way.

Lauv-“Easy Love”

I haven’t heard of this dude before but I liked the album art. This song bumps. I like how it begins with the synths and vocals. The drums come in at the chorus and really turns into something really groovy. Lauv uses cool rhythms to sing over the instrumental and the whole thing is just…cool. There are strings that hang in the back, well crafted harmonies and a random guitar bit during the bridge. “Easy Love” is put together well and I will be checking out some of Lauv’s other stuff.

Charlie Puth-“How Long”

So I’ve been listening to “Attention” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore” A LOT recently. Those songs are good. No qualifiers needed. Good voice, production and interesting. So when I saw this, I figured I’d check it out. This song is fine. Pretty unoffensive and formulaic. Decently upbeat, slow bridge. Meh, it’s there.

Metro Boomin’-“Blue Pill” ft Travis Scott

Just saw this. No way am I not about to talk about this. Beat wunderkind Metro Boomin’ and soon to be father, Travis Scott dropped this hazy, kinda hard track presumably about drugs. I like the beat with its deep bass tones and high pitched synths. Feels like there’s a bunch of auto-tuned singing in the middle but I will listen to Travis rap verses all day. It’s not super hype but I got a lil stank face. I’ve been THIRSTIN’ for new Travis so this was a welcome surprise. Thank you for this.

Other Stuff

Marilyn Manson dropped an album. Out of pure curiosity, I skipped through a few songs and I’m worried I may like it…so I stopped.

Maroon 5 is an embarrassment to who they once were. I do not care at all if it has made them more famous. “Help Me Out” is wack.

P!nk released another single.

The Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack came out and I’m excited to hear it….after I watch the movie. I saw the original Blade Runner earlier this week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was also AMAZING. I have full faith in the Hans Zimmer so I’m sure this is fantastic but I’ll wait.

A bunch of hip hop came out by lesser known artist the past two weeks that I have just ignored because I’ve been busy but go listen to it. I’m sure some of it is good.

 

GO LISTEN TO MUSIC

 

 

 

 

GUNS

I swear yall, this is not a political blog. It’s just been a crazy couple weeks. 


There is no denying that there are problems in our country. People will admit things are wrong but will shift the blame to make themselves feel better. I want to talk about this Vegas situation and the returning argument about gun control. We know what happened, I’m not going to rehash the situation. People are saying that America has a gun issue. “What’s the purpose of a civilian owning a machine gun?” and “There needs to be a stricter process for people trying to obtain guns.” While others posit, “Should I be punished for the actions of a few? I’m not crazy.” and the ever present “Guns don’t kill, people kill,” statement. I don’t know where I fall in this argument but I’m going to work out my thoughts.

Paris Las Vegas was dimmed to honor victims. 

The other week I defended the kneeling in the NFL not only because I believe in Kaepernick’s original cause but because the country players live in allows them to do so. So how does that freedom of choice relate to the next highest constitutional right? Sure the law was written hundreds of years ago but it still exists despite its glaring issues. One of its many problems is the context around when it was written compared to the modern era. The primary purpose of a firearm should be for protection of one’s property and to a lesser degree, sport. Obviously that has not been the case as guns have been the center of tons of unnecessary deaths. So just have the government take the guns away. Simple?

Nope.

The much bigger problem is that the United States has a mental health problem. No normal person goes on an “unmotivated” killing spree. People don’t up and kill themselves to the surprise of friends and family. Aside: I REALLY  REALLY REALLY REALLY hate how it is seemingly glorified now to have some sort of mental issue. Like sure, you went through something traumatic or whatever the case may be but you shouldn’t let that define you or project that as your defining trait. Get the help you need and try to be the best person you can be. End Rant. Now yes, that is easier said than done especially with the history of oppression mental health has faced in this country but strides have been made to alleviate that stigma. It’s not enough though and I don’t know when it will ever be enough. How can you even start to help people that 1. don’t know they are sick 2. are afraid to get help. Then one day you get pissed and they kill a bunch of people. How do you prevent that? Justin, we already said it. Take away the guns or reform the gun laws.

But what will that solve? People won’t have access to semi-automatic weapons but a majority of the gun crime is from handheld guns. Oh, I don’t have a gun check out this bomb I made from household products. Also, do we really trust the government to be able to stop themselves from taking over everything. Let’s bring back prohibition to stop DUI related deaths. Let’s ban the internet to stop porn from ruining our minds. These are super extreme examples but there are people out there that wholly believe that the loss of our guns is the beginning of the death of our freedom…

So this brings us back to the mental health issue. What’s the solution? More money in programs that help those in need, research that looks for earlier signs of problems. Some how getting rid of the fear of the stigma or admitting one has problem and a willingness to go get help–which I see as the biggest hurdle. This is valiant and important work but all of this will take a great deal of time.

So while we tackle the much more difficult people problem, we can more “immediately” (would still take mad long) reform gun laws. I don’t hate guns. I’ve never shot one and I actually really want to. I have no problem with hunting and Olympic events. Guns are relied on a great deal in action movies and you’re not going to stop watching them. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to keep having tragedies like Las Vegas. Crazy people don’t need guns to hurt people but that doesn’t mean we should give them out like candy while we work on a better solution that appeases everyone.

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Deny

Fresh Bop Friday 9/29/2017

OK YEAH I KNOW, I SKIPPED A WEEK


But last week was trash I didn’t/still don’t care about Macklemore. This week was much better and things that I cared about dropped.

So I’m back yo!

J Balvin, Willy Williams-“Mi Gente” Ft Beyonce

Did not get to work and expect to see new Beyonce. Apparently the original song came out awhile ago but this version with Bey is brand new.

IT. KNOCKS.

A majority of it is in Spanish by all three artists but there is a verse in English by the queen. Her Spanish doesn’t sound bad and obviously her English is fine. Overall the vocal performances are great and flow over the instrumental quite nicely. The instrumental is dominated by what sounds like a some sort of vocal sample which repeats throughout the whole song. I love it. I’m still weary if this Latin vibe is the new wave because of how excessively boring “Despacito” is but maybe “Mi Gente” is a step in the right direction. I like this a lot, good job yall.

Kimbra-“Everybody Knows”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She’s back. ALERT ALERT ALERT! SHE. IS. BACK. Ugh, I love this woman so much. Kimbra cannot make bad music. After her last full length release three years ago (help) us Kimbra stans were starved. Sure we got little nibs here and there but it is confirmed that dinner is almost ready. “Everybody Knows” is exactly what I wanted to hear; from the slowly building, layered instrumental to her always stellar vocals. The ever present groove to her music is there along with her just as prevalent quirk. YES!

Demi Lovato-Tell Me You Love Me

We’ve been waiting for this and now it finally here. First let’s lay down some facts. 1. Demi has always been my favorite girl to come out of the Disney/Nickelodeon wheel 2. She can flat out sing. 3. She’s so hot.

Anyway, Tell Me You Love Me is good! I would say the average tempo of the entire project is lower than usual? I don’t know, it felt like the whole thing slowed down right in the middle and only picked up a smidge as we approached the end. Don’t confuse slow with boring though, the songs are well made and still interesting. “Ruin the Friendship” is an absolute highlight for me with it’s pronounced bass line, tasteful horn lines and is seemingly one of the few tracks that don’t have much studio affects on the vocals. I’m sure they all do but it seems a lot more obvious on many other songs and I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or not. My favorite section of the album is the last four songs from “Games” to the end. Hit after hit after hit ending with the hype and dancey “Instruction.” This is nicely put together so well done Demi.

Tennyson-Uh Oh!

My man is a genius. Tennyson has the best drum programming in the glitchy electronic game. Don’t @ me. This new EP has a lot to live up to considering Like What is a masterpiece. Well, Uh Oh! is darn good. All the random real world sounds, interesting synth lines, intricate beats and pauses are back in classic Tennyson fashion. Throw Aloe Blacc’s dope voice on track and this is a wholly enjoyable sixteen minutes of music

 

Other stuff:

Miley Cyrus dropped “Younger Now” which I have no reason to listen to AND heard was gaaahbij

Pink released a song. It sounded like a Pink song.

Shania Twain released an album. Sorry, didn’t listen to this.

PARTYNEXTDOOR put out an EP. I’ll listen to it but I’m tired of writing and this paperwork is piling up on my desk.