Pusha T delivers something old, something new and something borrowed with DAYTONA

By Owen Yule (@OwenYule)

Back in 2006, alongside his brother No Malice and enabled by the collaboration with producers The Neptunes, Pusha T told us that we were “watching the evolution of one of Rap’s greats”.

And although his proficiency as an MC is showcased as 1/2 of Clipse, and through the We Got it for Cheap mixtape saga, uncertainty remains regarding Push’s ability to reach the same heights of Hell Hath no Fury as a solo artist. Nonetheless, the aforementioned evolution is still very much at play with DAYTONA.

An esteemed veteran in today’s rap climate, Pusha T sticks to his guns with his 4th solo release. It would appear that King Push is dead. instead, bold in its title and audacious in its cover, we have DAYTONA. Hot of the presses of the Wyoming recording sessions , Push confirmed DAYTONA to be a dissection of the initial plans for King Push. Push himself describes, the record as a creation from two artists (with Kanye West handles production ) who have the luxury of time. Sonically focused at 22 minutes long, the 7- track LP is a breathe of fresh air considering the typically superfluous byproducts of today’s streaming era.

Rising to prominence in an era that bridged rap’s golden age with today’s trends, Push is insisting that DAYTONA transcends generational soundscapes he came up in between. This is an album that is very much fundamental Hip Hop at its core, whilst simultaneously comfortably slotting in to the modern rap landscape. DAYTONA very much places Pusha T on a sky scraping perch in which he solidifies his reputation as a seasoned warrior of the rap game… a reputation affirmed through Push’s meticulous word play all through the project. Competent jabs at his contemporaries in conjunction with the revere of Wu Tang legends and homages to Jay Z and Tupac, call back to a historic era of rap that Push is clearly trying to re-package.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytzc6ehAvOM]

However, this actualisation of a time of old is very much a team effort, and Kanye’s contribution to DAYTONA is evidence that his finger remains firmly on the button. Dropping the grandiose thats been so prevalent throughout his discography, Kanye’s production is more delicate on DAYTONA – perhaps with a focus to highlight the lyricism, rather than overwhelm it. Ominous at its core, Come Back Baby’s instrumentation matches Push’s self assured vocals, the devastation of Infrared is underlined by looped subtle guitar tones.

As previously mentioned, DAYTONA is very much a flex of Pusha T’s previously showcased muscle, apposed to an audacious stab at something new. Yes, the drug references are rife throughout, but here they are presented as a conduit for lyrical expertise, and when executed with such proficiency… you really don’t care. Whilst other rappers may become repetitive, Push uses previously explored subject matters to explore new avenues of grief. Santeria for example is a solemn expression of pain that shows a rarely seen vulnerability of Push.

DAYTONA then is our first insight of what the GOOD Music label has to offer this summer and with such a professional commencement, parallels can be drawn between the Wyoming sessions pioneering this rollout, with the mystical Hawaii endeavour that preceded the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Bubbling below the surface of all the hysterics and controversy, DAYTONA asserts the creative intentions West has planned this summer, but more than that, it is the Pusha T solo release we have always wanted.

Top 10 Kanye West Tracks

by ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Kanye West is arguably the most famous musician alive today. While this is largely down to his notorious persona and marriage to Kim Kardashian, Kanye would never be where he is today if it wasn’t for his raw talent and ambition. For years Kanye lent his skills in production to countless artists, and while this was, and still is, his specialty, he only ever wanted to be a rapper.

However, perhaps a foreshadowing of how Kanye would push boundaries in his career, the first solo track he ever recorded was done with his jaw wired shut. The resulting track Through the Wire ended up on his debut album The College Dropout which propelled him to stardom and ultimately where he is today.

Kanye West is a unique artist in many ways, and this is what makes his music so special, in that each track has at least something interesting about it; even when he misses the mark, it is never for lack of trying. Since Kanye has so many tracks worthy of discussion and praise, it’s as good an excuse as any to list his ten best tracks and celebrate the genius of Kanye West.

10. All Falls Down

One of the breakout singles from his debut album, All Falls Down remains one of his best songs and also one of his most conventional. Featuring many qualities associated with his music such as gospel and soul influences, layered production and socially aware lyrics, this track was Kanye already at the top of his game.

Accompanied by the luscious vocals of Syleena Johnson covering Lauryn Hills’Mystery of Iniquity, Kanye proves his abilities on the mic with his now signature mixture of wit, observation, and aggression. All Falls Down focuses on the pitfalls of consumerism and more specifically, how the system fails black people. By showing his frustration with hard-hitting lines about racial inequality whilst also landing quips such as “Couldn’t afford a car, so she named her daughter Alexis”, Kanye proved his multifaceted versatility and claimed his place among hip-hop’s elite at the time.

9. Flashing Lights

While Graduation is perhaps Kanye West’s least significant record, it boasts his talent for writing infectious pop-rap bangers, such as Homecoming and this track, Flashing Lights. West’s skill for production is the main attraction here, the beat being one of the best he has produced.

Lyrically, Kanye vents his frustrations with a relationship with a woman, and it is likely there is a parallel between his relationship with the public as well. Talking about how he feels dictated by the other party in the relationship and how his actions are scrutinised, the track explores how this effects Kanye. When the hook changes point of view from second person to first person, it also shows Kanye is able to look at himself critically. Although it is ultimately just a short snappy single, it was widely praised for being a breath of fresh air to mainstream rap at the time and still over a decade later, it still maintains that freshness.

8. Love Lockdown

Three albums into his career and Kanye West was a pop star. However, following the death of his mother in 2007 and the subsequent break-up of his engagement to Alexis Phifer, his public image began to fade as he consistently became the object of scrutiny. However, he proved here that he can let his skills as a musician speak for him. He created 808s and Heartbreak, a completely new direction for Kanye and the new sound is well represented on the lead single Love Lockdown.

Gone were the soul samples and witty remarks synonymous with his work, and in its place was minimal instrumentation, auto-tune vocals and more of a singing delivery. While this song and the album as a whole still divides fans and critics today, Love Lockdown still serves as a breakthrough moment in his career and music in general. The track’s production incorporates a simple drum beat, which then moves into piano chords before the iconic African drums kick in for the chorus. Once again, Kanye’s skills as a producer come to the fore here as he paces the way for a whole new wave of rap and pop music while at the same time turning his grief and pain into the recipe for his own success.

7. Bound 2

Somewhat of an anomaly on Kanye West’s sixth album Yeezus, Bound 2 features the soulful samples and playful lyrics we have come to expect from Kanye but contrasts to the abrasive and dark sound found on the nine tracks that precede the album closer. However, due to the theme of the album, the track fits perfectly. Documenting the rise and fall of “Yeezus”, the album ends with a happy ending, as Kanye accepts his past that he details on the rest of the album and looks to the future, that being with his wife Kim Kardashian.

Bound 2 is a love song in the most Kanye way possible; it oozes his personality and humour and with that shows it’s sincerity. This doesn’t sound like a man convincing himself that he is in love, moreover, Kanye is ready to move on from his past and be a better person and with that, finally enjoy a healthy relationship. Bound 2 is often overlooked for its wacky sound and often hilarious lyrics, but this gives it endless charm and personality and it benefits from that.

6. Real Friends

In 2016, Kanye finally released his most anticipated album yet. The album’s release was unlike any seen before, as its every final touch was documented via his social media, including its multiple name changes and track additions, and now removals, eventually resulting in the release of The Life Of Pablo, which was still tampered with and added to after it’s release – even at the time of writing, it’s still being tinkered with. Despite all the hype, the album ended up being his most inconsistent, but with the egotistical lows, came the introspective highs, such as Real Friends.

Laid out over a sombre beat, Kanye reflects on how his current life course has affected his friendships and family relationships. Considering his public perception at the time, this track was completely unexpected as many had assumed he was no longer able to look at himself in such a critical manner. The credit goes to the uncertainty of the track, at points Kanye blames his friends, but then blames himself, and instead of being hypocritical, this shows the complexity of human relationships and how no one really knows how to balance everything and please everyone and this results in a stunningly human moment from Kanye even at his most famous status.

5. Hey Mama

Kanye’s close relationship with his late mother, Donda West, has been well documented both in the media and in his music. Nowhere else is his appreciation and admiration for her displayed so explicitly on Hey Mama from his second album Late Registration.

After the success of The College Dropout, Kanye no doubt felt compelled to include this song he wrote a few years earlier in his next project as his mother had always supported his decision to pursue a music career despite originally believing he should complete college. Debuting the song on Oprah with Donda in the audience, Kanye shows his humility in thanking the one person who believed in him. The song tells the story of how his mother provided for him and promises that he will always be thankful and ultimately admits “I just want you to be proud of me.

Listening to this track over a decade since his mother passed away and knowing how the shock and loss affected Kanye and how is seemingly still suffering, it is an emotional listen but a wholesome moment in his discography.

4. Gorgeous

Undoubtedly his best album, Kanye solidified his status as one of the greats with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. While this list could have been the tracklist of that album, one stand out track is Gorgeous, a product of Kanye’s frustration with the racism prevalent in America.

Set over one of West’s most inventive beats, the sprawling guitar riff beautifully contrasts Kanye’s hard-hitting lyrics that express his frustration with racism in America. Perfectly executing his skill for mixing anger with humour, Kanye delivers some of his best verses on this track. Referencing everything from South Park beef to the theory that the government created AIDs to eliminate African Americans and featuring a guest verse from Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon, the track personifies the hip-hop masterpiece that the album it comes from is.

3. Jesus Walks

Kanye continued to show his ambition on his fourth single, Jesus Walks. Told by everyone that a track about his belief on God wouldn’t get airplay, Kanye did what he wanted anyway and although this attitude has been hit and miss for him throughout his life, here it paid off and ultimately birthed his career.

The track features gospel samples and a classic Kanye beat as he discusses his own struggle with life and how his faith in God helps him through. From his first single, Kanye proved his ability to consider complex ideas such as redemption whilst still delivering a hit song with a catchy hook. Additionally, looking back at the track it seems to foreshadow his future work such as similar themes and the overlapping falsetto background vocals from Kanye himself that are reminiscent of future projects.

2. New Slaves

Yeezus is the album where Kanye showed that he really could do anything. Again going in a different direction than expected, the album featured jarring beats, violent and sexually explicit lyrics and boldly embraced his own ego.

New Slaves is arguably Kanye at his most creative, aggressive and passionate. Venting his anger at racism, especially in the fashion industry, the track sticks in your mind due to its raw power. Possibly his best verse ever appears in the latter half of the song and it has to be heard to be appreciated for its lyricism and sincerity. Ending the track stretching his vocal ability singing “I’m not dying and I can’t lose” as his vocals lead into a beautiful outro from Frank Ocean, the track claims its place as one of Kanye’s best.

1. Runaway

It’s no surprise why Runaway is often considered Kanye’s best track, and if not at least his most important in reflecting upon himself and his past. Looking back on his several failed relationships, Kanye rejects the toxic view that no one is good enough for him, but instead tragically releases it is himself that is the problem and that he needs to work on himself.

Opening with the now famous but still as haunting piano keys, the track has a chilling aura to it that is telling of Kanye’s admiration of Stanley Kubrick and the scores to his films. Kanye admits cleanly, and with no sugar coating, of the pain and hurt he has caused the people he loves and simply tells them to leave because he just is not good enough. The track ends with a long outro of initially indistinguishable lyrics that gradually clear up as Kanye sings the hook to the song once more, clearly full of emotion and sincerity. The distortion represents his own view of relationships and why he messes them up, but as his words eventually become understandable, it is clear that Kanye does have some heart, however, he now knows it’s up to him to find it on his own.

check out the tracks above in this handy playlist

Our 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

words and header by liam menzies (@blnkclyr) unless specified

Remember how phenomenal that one song you heard from 2017 was? That album that you couldn’t stop yourself from spinning as soon as it had reached the end of its vinyl? At this point in the year, it can be all too easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses at the year that has passed and while it was great, it would be idiotic of us to ignore what the next 12 months have in store for us. We may very well miss out on some of your hotly anticipated ones, whether that be the album being hidden at the time of writing or sheer ignorance, but the team has put their heads together to come up with this list of the records we can’t wait to get into our ears…


Black Foxxes – Reoli

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Why: Another band that you REALLY should be listening to, Devonshire trio Black Foxxes will be releasing Reoli on March 16th. Their debut album, I’m Not Well, came out in 2016 to high praise, and whilst the themes in the album, including depression, anxiety & frontman Mark Holley’s struggle with Crohn’s disease are a heavy drink of water, the album is incredibly listenable and a must have on anyone’s playlist. Whilst only one song has broken cover from this album, the smart gambler would put a few chips on this being a dark horse in the album of the year contest. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

When: 16th March 2018.


Blood Orange – LP4

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Why: Having released one of 2016’s most underrated records Freetown Sound, Dev Hynes is set to follow it up with his fourth full-length album this year. It seems set to be a challenging, introspective listen if his 2017 interview is anything to go by: “A lot of the new songs on the new album deal with growing up and childhood in England [..] looking at the country that made me”. Admitting that it’ll be a little dark in the same piece, Blood Orange LP4 is set to be an important listen.

Proof: Image above as well as this DIY article.


Brockhampton – Team Effort

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WhyAfter the, let’s be honest, far better than it had any right to be SATURATION trilogy, you’d be forgiven for being a bit burned out on the best boy band since One Direction. But it just seems that that isn’t the case at all. Now free from any continuity restrictions that the Saturation trilogy enforced them to, this next album will hopefully see even more innovation and surprises from BROCKHAMPTON. ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster) & jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Proof: This tweet right here from the boys themselves.


Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

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Why: Before you rush into the comments to tell us that Twin Fantasy was released in 2011 – we know, you’re not special for knowing that. The reason this Car Seat Headrest album is included on our list is down to Will Toledo mistakenly announcing via a now taken down listing that a re-release will be happening. However, as opposed to the traditional meaning, Toledo has the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker, meaning what we’ll get seven years later will be the album he really wanted to make.

When: Feb 16th.


Codist – LP2

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Why: Sleep? Who needs it?! The Codist boys certainly don’t seem to need any as they’re set to drop the follow up to their 2016 debut Nuclear Family (which was pretty fucking good). Having dropped an EP last year on the newly founded LP Records label, we’re psyched to see what this Glasgow rock outfit have tucked away for us.

When: This lil video right here.


Courtney Barnett – LP3

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Why: After a successful collaboration with Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice, fans of Courtney Barnett are eager to see what the up and coming Australian artist is going to ramble about on a new LP. Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was one of the best albums of 2015 due to its undeniable charm and with some well-earned experience from subsequent ventures, we’re excited to see what changes she’ll be making on this record.

Proof: Barnett chatted to Zane Lowe about the new album on his beats1 station.


Danny Brown – LP5

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Why: If the fact that this Detroit rapper’s last album Atrocity Exhibition was our 2016 Album Of The Year isn’t enough to get you pumped up then what’s wrong with you? Danny Brown crafted one of the most exciting and wholly original hip-hop albums of the century alongside Paul White and with this new album set to be “produced by one producer, who’s legendary in hip-hop“, we can’t wait to see what path Danny leads us on.

Proof: Brown admitted on Twitter that he’s working on a currently untitled new album.


Dorothy – 28 Days in The Valley

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Why: Dorothy are probably the best band you’ve never heard of. Or, if you’ve heard of them, one of the best new bands on your radar. Signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, the bluesy brawlers will be releasing 28 Days in the Valley this year, their follow up to 2016’s ROCKISDEAD. Mixing heavy, bluesy rock with frontwoman Dorothy Martin’s swelling vocals, Dorothy have a crunching modern sound that’s full of classic influences. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Proof: The band admitted the album is set to drop in early 2018.


Drenge – LP3

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Why: Hopefully set to return after almost a 3-year absence, Sheffield trio Drenge will look to return with a vengeance. Looking to combine the best aspects from their different but both excellent albums so far, LP 3 will no doubt be well worth the wait. – ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Proof: It exists (unless the guys were in an Edgar Wright mood).


Gorillaz – LP5

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Why: While the critical reception to the band’s much-anticipated comeback album Humanz wasn’t what anyone was hoping for, that doesn’t mean we aren’t any less excited for what’s to come. Not much is known about it at the moment but if it’s a Gorillaz record, expect it to be grandiose, entertaining and ignite a lot of discussions.

When: The group’s Jamie Hewlett admitted the album’s existence.


Grimes – LP5

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Why: Explaining in an Instagram video she’s been “in the studio every day trying to legit make something you’ve never heard before”, Canadian artist Claire Boucher has consistently impressed since her 2010 debut and her upcoming LP seems to be no different. With a focus on being fresh and exciting, Art Angels managed to win Grimes a lot of new fans and whatever she has next will, regardless of quality, keep them as well as old enthusiasts surprised.

Proof: This article right here.


Injury Reserve – LP2

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Why: After impressing everyone with their debut studio album Floss and further keeping that smile on our faces with last year’s Drive It Like It’s Stolen EP, this zany and fresh hip-hop outfit seem set to keep the golden streak running with a follow up LP. “we’re about to go hole up in a cabin in northern Arizona and simultaneously put together the best tour of 2018 and the best album of our career so far” is what Parker Corey said recently on his Twitter so with their confidence so high, it’s appropriate to get suitably hyped for LP2.

Proof: New full-length album confirmed here😉


Interpol – LP6

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Why: Marking 15 years since their landmark debut Turn On The Bright Lights, Interpol have performed the album in its entirety across a series of sold-out shows this year. Such a momentous occasion felt like the perfect time to wheel out some new material, which is precisely what happened at London’s Alexandra Palace. Included in the encore was Real Life, the first taste of what to expect from their follow up to El Pintor – a mouth-watering prospect as we wait to see what direction their post-Carlos D era takes them in. kieran cannon (@kiercannon)

Proof: The aforementioned performances of new material last year.


Justin Timberlake – Man Of The Woods

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Why: It might be cool to hate on chart music but if there’s an artist who manages to make even the biggest of bucket hat wearing indie lads bop to a pop tune, it’s probably gonna be Justin Timberlake. With this pretense, you might expect another slick listen but from what has been teased so far, expect something more akin to Bon Iver than anything else – that might repulse some but for people like ourselves who wish to see big stars push themselves in interesting directions, we’re utterly intrigued to see what Man Of The Woods has to show.

When: Feb 2nd.


Kanye West – Turbo Grafx 16

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Why: When you have the late, great Lou Reed praising you then you must be doing something right and the ever egotistical Kanye West looks set to continue his golden run with his new gaming inspired record Turbo Grafx 16. With the record set to feature sampling from the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Young Thug, Kanye may be set to deliver the oddest record of 2018.

Proof: gBzFazu.png


Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – Age of Absurdity 

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Why: After hitting the road playing a mix of originals and covers, plus a six-track EP in 2016, Phil Campbell and his band of bastardy men are ready to release their first full-length album; Age of Absurdity. So far, this band has proven that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Phil’s sons Todd, Tyla & Dane are all incredibly talented musicians in their own right. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

When: January 26th.


Screaming Females – All At Once 

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Why: A band we weren’t aware of up until a recent Spotify recommendation, Screaming Females packs in one of the best rock/punk vocalists in the form of Marissa Paternoster who is just on the mic as she is on the guitar. First cut off All At Once, titled Glass House, is anthemic and builds up to a climax that blurs the line between shaky and untenable: if that’s anything to go by then this LP will prove to be one of 2018’s best rock albums.

When: Feb 23rd


Simon Neil – ZZC

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Why: Big Si dropped a track on Christmas Day, so that’s good enough for me to believe his long-teased solo effort is finally almost here. The aforementioned track, titled The Myth, is a 7 and a half minute long instrumental that goes from orchestral to mathy as fuck rock at the drop of a hat. It’s really, REALLY good, and if it’s an indication of the direction of rest of the album, it sounds like the untethered, mental Simon Neil that die-hard Biffy Clyro fans have been pining for is back, and back with a vengeance. – jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Proof: Si has been teasing this for years now and with The Myth being the opening track, this surely means it’s sooner rather than later for his solo effort.


Vampire Weekend – LP4

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Why: While the band members themselves certainly haven’t been slacking, whether that be contributing to anime or making their own solo album, it’s been a long ass time since Vampire Weekend last blessed us with some new music – half a decade to be exact. With the likes of Kanye West being cited as an inspiration for the yet untitled fourth LP, it’s hard not to be intrigued by what the New York lads have in store for us.

Proof: This juicy lil interview with Ezra Koenig.


The Xcerts – Hold On To Your Heart

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Why: The three singles already released from this album are some of the band’s best work to date and, from what we heard on their live tour in October, the other tunes are certainly going to be a treat as well. gregor farquharson (@grgratlntc)

When: 19th January.

 

Track Review: Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do

By Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

When Taylor Swift teased her long-awaited return with snake animations on her social media accounts, it was clear she was coming out firing for the many enemies she made in the years after her wildly successful 1989 record was released. The title of her new record, Reputation, and accompanying artwork further confirmed this, with Swift’s face half covered by newspaper columns which simply read “Taylor Swift” repeatedly. The album’s title is written in a font that seems to reference Kanye West’s almost iconic The Life of Pablo font, hinting that Reputation could see Swift firing back at ‘Ye following the very public fallout they had last year.

While Swift personally didn’t make many friends off the back of 1989, few could deny the appeal of its sugary synth-pop tracks like Wildest Dreams or Welcome to New York. However, on lead single Look What You Made Me Do, she has completely abandoned that sound, as her vocals are delivered on top of a hip-hop beat. On the basis of this track only, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say she has adopted this sound solely to continue her beef with West as the sound doesn’t suit her whatsoever and her choice of beat is a poppy, watered-down trap one. Yeah, it’s honestly as bad as I’m making it sound.

If Swift singing over a trap beat doesn’t sound bad enough, there are two points in this track where her delivery could legitimately be called rapping – at the end of the second verse and in the track’s simply awful chorus, which hears the mega-star dully repeating the awfully prosaic track title. Not bad enough? The chorus almost exactly rips-off Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, so much so that the group are credited as co-writers.

The part of this track that will generate the real headlines are the lyrics, which sees Swift coming out on the offensive; it’s speculated that there are lines on here about long-time enemy Katy Perry as well as Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian. It feels like Swift wants the beef with the Chicago rapper to hit the front page, with lyrics such as “I don’t like your little games / I don’t like your tilted stage”. More often than not though, the lyrics just feel incredibly petty with lines such as “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama / but not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.” With lines like this, you have to wonder why Swift is even continuing these beefs when both Perry and West have been silent on them for months.

Look What You Made Me Do seems to have been picked as the lead single solely because the unsubtle lyrics will hit headlines, rather than having any real redeeming qualities musically. At possibly the track’s worst point, Swift includes a sample of herself saying “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because she’s dead”, and if this is a sign that she’s abandoning 1989’s sweet pop template to go in this new direction then Reputation could be one of the year’s worst records.

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LEAKED: New Kanye Tracks Drop Online

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

With the ever controversial rapper being rumoured to be working on his new record on the mountaintops, Kanye West has finally shown off some of his new nostalgia-glaced work, though not on the terms he might have expected.

Over the past hour, YouTube has been flooded with leaks with cuts off the long anticipated Turbo Grafx 16, the follow-up to 2016’s The Life of Pablo. The tracks in question both feature stellar appearances with A$AP Rocky, Young Thug and Migos joining Yeezy on these teaser tracks. The links to the three songs are linked below though you better be fast as there’s no doubt execs will want these taken down immediately.

Kanye’s upcoming LP is set to feature sampling from a whole host of games including the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper.


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RANKED: Kanye West

Kanye West is the embodiment of infamy: since day one, the Chicago rapper has brought controversy with him wherever he goes, dividing the public with his antics and rants. Despite this, it’s hard to think of an artist who has had more of an influence and impact on music in the 21st century quite like Mr. West had. To commemorate the man’s career thus far, everyone in the blinkclyro team has put their heads together, democratically voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography. Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s get into our zone and rank…


9. Cruel Summer

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Yes, it’s a compilation. Yes, there’s filler. Yes, it’s not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination but Cruel Summer delivers Kanye West in his “pure hits” form, bringing along his friends from the Good Music label for the ride and the results are worth your attention: Mercy.1 is a particular highlight, opening up with a haunting sample from Fuzzy Jones, and then there’s the mandatory appearance of DJ Khaled on Cold.1, backing up Kanye’s frosty flow with an equally chill beat. Cruel Summer is flawed, that there is no doubt about, but the album is still worth a listen to, regardless if it’s not essentially a “Kanye Album”.Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


8. Late Registration

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The only real fault of Late Registration isn’t really anything to do with the album itself. Unfortunately, it got sandwiched in-between The College Dropout and Graduation, two albums that are so vastly different that it makes LR’s task of standing out all the more difficult. LR still had the same heart and knack for making tunes but it felt like more of a music DLC than it did a full blown follow up to TCD. That aside, LR is still a fine piece of music, sadly given the position of forgotten middle child in the first trio of Kanye’s discography. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


7. The College Dropout

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West’s first album is often considered his best by some for its often humorous tone, impressive wordplay, and breathtaking sampling. When The College Dropout dropped in the middle of the bling era of hip-hop, it sounded like nothing the rap world had heard yet. Not only was Kanye’s lyrics on par, his production was incredible and was able to move it’s way into the mainstream pop market while still appealing to hardcore hip-hop heads. The now legendary Chicago artist was able to commentate on the education system in America while establishing a name for himself as a confident MC through hefty bars and catchy hooks. To this day, it stands out as one of the best hip-hop debuts of all time. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

Honestly, I expected this to be in a far higher position. Not only is The College Dropout one of Kanye’s wittiest and charismatic releases to date, it’s also one of his most polished, showing that right off the bat that West was capable of delivering great produced music much like he had done behind the scenes. Balancing bangers with introspective gems, as well as having the best Kanye West song of all time on it, The College Dropout gets my vote for being some of Kanye’s best work to date. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


6. The Life of Pablo
kanye-west-the-life-of-pablo

“TLOP is probably now my most listened to Kanye album, really connected with it and loved how different it was.” – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

While he may have a tendency to have a social media breakdown just as regular as his wife will post a selfie and his ambitions may have resulted in him accumulating a great amount of debt, there’s no doubt a great sense of this being art. Just like the most prolific artists who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, Kanye has crafted a record that radiates hip hop greatness embedded with a gospel sound as well as his own, despite the few times he colors outside of the lines. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


5. Watch The Throne

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“Watch The Throne really reminds me of my early teens: Otis started playing on a music channel when I was abroad one year with my family and my sister and I still adore it five years later.” – Becky Little (@sometimesboring)


4. 808’s And Heartbreak

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“808’s and Heartbreaks will always have a special place in my heart because it was an album that came out at the perfect time when I was younger, listened to it on repeat.”  Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

“808’s and Heartbreaks blew me away when it came out. It was one of the first CDs I bought with my own money so it’ll always have a piece of my heart devoted solely to it.” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)


3. Yeezus

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Abrasive, crude and sometimes angelic, Kanye created a beast of a record, unlike anything he has released thus far. Influences from alternative hip-hop to acid house fill the 40-minute album and make Yeezus the most shocking release in West’s career since 808’s. Yeezus’s lyrics range from harsh braggadocio to intensely sexual and stand out as some of West’s most controversial lyrics that can come off as cringey at times, while not throwing off the tone of the album. Despite West’s harsh lyricism, Yeezus is a dark horse that powers through from start to finish with such force. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)


2. Graduation

Image result for graduation kanye

Graduation is, simply put, banger central. Big Brother, Flashing Lights, Stronger, Good Life, fucking HOMECOMING. Not the best produced Kanye album, nor the most advanced in terms of rhyming ability but I love it to death all the same. – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

Kanye’s third LP is, in my eyes, one of his weakest. However, the importance of context is on full display here as bearing in mind the time of Graduation’s release, autotuned braggadocious hip-hop was all the rave and Kanye seemed to be focused on flinging his hat into the ring. Hit after hit after hit, Graduation holds no punches on priding itself in Kanye’s ability to tap into the public’s minds and making their favourite new chart hit well before they even thought of it. I may not be its biggest fan but when you take it for what it is, it’s hardly a letdown.  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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“You can’t say anything about MBDTF that hasn’t already been said, and that’s a testament to the album. It’s easy to forget that people thought Kanye was done after the Taylor Swift incident but MBDTF is the way to respond. Don’t know any albums (from any genre) that sum up an artist’s personality as well as that record does, and when the artist concerned is Kanye West then that’s vividly entertaining, ranging from tracks as braggadocious as Monster to as vulnerable as Runaway.” Andrew Barr (@weeandrewww)

“Peak Kanye in all aspects, this album combines just the right amount of ego with typically impressive production and enough variety and scope to give us the best album Kanye could offer before and since and probably for the rest of his career.” – Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Kanye reaches blissful highs on tracks like Lost in the World and Runaway to stadium anthems on Power and All of the Lights to the dismal grimy beats on So Appalled and Hell of a Life. With his 5th studio album, the legendary artist created not only his best album but one of the best hip-hop records of all time. With some of the best production of the decade, iconic lyricism and well-placed features, West created his magnum opus and topped both his earlier catalog and most hip-hop artists of this generation. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

“MBDTF absolutely speaks for itself, as a complete work it’s potentially the best album in history and it definitely has a fair shout in being the best hip hop album ever as well. Apart from HOV’s verse on Monster ” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

“MBDTF speaks for itself, start to finish gold.” – By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)


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MOST ANTICIPATED ALBUMS OF 2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Welcome to the very first post on blinkclyro.com in 2017! Feeling hungover? Full of regret already? Don’t worry, you’ve got the next 365 days to make things even worse.

Having had the month of December to reminisce about the best and worst of the last year in music, it’s now time to get aboard the hype train as we take a look at what albums we, more specifically I, are most psyched about hearing in 2017. As always, my choices are purely subjective and there’ll no doubt be a few albums from my list last year making an appearance seeing as some artists actually want to take time with their music? What a bunch of selfish assholes. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road…

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

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ETA: Out Now (STREAMING) / 13th Janaury (PHYSICAL)

Let’s start off with what is undoubtedly going to end up being an album of the year contender: Run The Jewels 3. Whilst technically it did drop in 2016, it was originally slated for a 2017 release and the physical release is set to come out in just over a weeks time so its inclusion is more than deserved, especially since so far RTJ3 is the most polished and politcally charged record the hip hop duo has dropped. Don’t Get Captured manages to approach topics of genrification and police brutality exceptionally with EL-P and Killer Mike’s expert storytelling and flow being displayed. With RTJ2 being my favourite album of 2014, expect RTJ3 to be on repeat for the duration of 2017.

Kanye West – Turbo Grafx 16

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Kanye West attends Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2016 in New

ETA: TBA

When you have the late, great Lou Reed praising you then you must be doing something right and the ever egotistical Kanye West looks set to continue his golden run with his new gaming inspired record Turbo Grafx 16

https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/703447172050788352

With the record set to feature sampling from the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Young Thug, Kanye may be set to deliver the oddest record of 2017.

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Image result for oczy mlody flaming lipsETA: 13th January 

Despite their recent collaboration with Miley Cyrus being one of the worst listens of 2015, The Flaming Lips seem set to return to the glory days of 2002 with their upcoming record Oczy Mlody. Lead vocalist Wayne Coyne described the record as sounding like a drug and second single How is the embodiment of this, sounding like a vapourwave acid trip that reaches the airy heights that the band have previously achieved on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Any album being built up as “Syd Barrett meets ASAP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future” is one worth being on the radar of anyone with even a tiny incling of interest in music.

The XX – I See You
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ETA: January 13th

Being indie darlings since their mercury prize winning debut record dropped in 2009, The XX’s third album I See You has been a long time coming with nearly five years passing since we last heard anything from them. While previously being apprehensive about the band becoming stagnant, it’s a relief to see Jamie XX being given more creative control after his dazzling 2015 record In Colour which is shown masterfully on lead single On Hold, having the classic Jamie XX sampling expertise with Hall and Oate’s I Can’t Go For That making an appearance. With the band stating that I See You will have a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and “expansive” concept than the previous two albums, it’s hard not to get a bit excited about the band’s triumphant return. 

The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

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ETA: February 17th 

While other garage and punk bands such as FIDLAR seem content with spitting lines about drugs and drink at the moment, American rock outfit The Orwells seem to be using their third LP Terrible Human Beings as a maturity stepping stone.  “The whole cute, punk, beer thing—it’s so uncool now,” vocalist Mario Cuomo said in an interview to Spin. “There’s nothing cute about getting head in the back of some parked truck. You know?”. Buddy seems to be the only track that touches on their immature former selves with singles such as Double Feature showing signs of a band who are ready to make their mark this time around, this time not puke related.

Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

ETA: January 27th 

Much like the XX, Canadian rock act Japandroids have been kept fans waiting for nearly half a decade with their unique part classic rock, part punk sound finally making a return on Near to the Wild Heart of Life. 2012’s Celebration Rock is one of the most cohesive records of the decade so far alongside Joyce Manor’s discography and the title track seems to be contiuning this trend while tweaking the formula slightly. Singer Brian King has cemented the excitement for many, saying:

The idea of what intensity means is evolving. It doesn’t necessarily mean screaming or jumping around or flailing about or being really loud or playing really fast. In some ways, we’re approaching this like it’s our very first record. We’re removing all the self-imposed rules that led to the songs and the sound of our whole career up until now. When you do that, you can try anything.

Mac DeMarco’s New LP

ETA: TBA

While information on the new LP by the oddball that is Mac DeMarco is relatively thin, its existence has been confirmed with the man himself going onto instagram to say “that’s a wrap motherfucker!”. We haven’t heard a full length piece of work by the canadian artist since his 2014 record Salad Days with only Another One managing to satisfy fan’s cravings. Expect warbled choruses and capoed guitars a plenty when it inevitably drops.

The National’s Untitled New Album

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ETA: TBA

Having been relatively quiet since 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, Ameircan rock outfit The National have been busy further disecting and rearranging their sound for LP7. Frontman Matt Berninger has stated that it’ll be a huge departure from their last record with reports saying that the band are set to go electronic. Speaking to NME, Berninger said: 

We could probably crank out a great National record in a weekend, but none of us are interested in following up with another record that sounds like ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. That record was a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of it. A lot of songs are going in completely different directions. But that’s a really fun place to be. We’re in the middle of the wilderness, in a rainforest full of really fun noises.

Gorillaz LP4

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ETA: TBA

What better way to finish off this list than with a record many have been eagerly anticipating since 2010. Gorillaz are arguably one of the best bands to come out the UK in the noughties and the Damon Albarn lead project is rumoured to have finished their fourth LP in late october. Not much else is known about the album thoug Gorillaz are yet to disappoint and something tells me that the animated outfit will continue their golden run come LP4’s release.


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Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC97caHUgKk

38. Weezer – Jacked Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOsRoY-na0

37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8wQcKrrhA

36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

https://soundcloud.com/sweet-white/genine-1

25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

Unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style on record The Dream Is Over. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

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How The Reaction To The Media’s Kanye Coverage Is Stigmatising Mental Health

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s not uncommon for creatives to suffer from mental health issues. A well dissected effected named after famous poet and novelist Sylvia Plath is one such documented phenomenon that suggests that poets are more susceptible to mental illness than other writers with some,  including Plath herself, going as far as to end their own lives. The same kind of link can be seen in musicians with Brian Wilson, founder of American Rock band The Beach Boys, being very public about his battle with schizophrenia, specifically pointing out the effect this had on his writing music ability, saying:

I haven’t been able to write anything for three years. I think I need the demons in order to write, but the demons have gone.

So when rapper and music icon Kanye West was seen ranting on stage, which is not uncommon for the Yeezus star, about his support for Trump, naturally outlets and members of the public jumped at the chance to criticise the star. It seemed like West was maybe heeding his own words when he decided to spout out such quotes, as he best put it on I Am A God: “As soon as they like you, make them unlike you”. The word crazy was thrown around relentlessly, something that made an appearance repeatedly back in 2008 when West infamously appeared on stage to take Taylor Swift’s VMA award and declared that Beyonce’s video for Single Ladies was the “greatest of all time”. To this day the moment is brought up at every opportunity despite Swift and West making up afterwards though this was short lived before West’s Famous line (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ I made that bitch famous”) ruined any potential chance of a friendship occurring though Swift was quickly called our for her snakish ways.

With news coming out today about West being moved into a psychiatric ward, further outrage was sent towards the musician. Despite the star previously talking about his battle with depression following the passing of his mother as well as recently being given the news last month that his wife Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris, people were quick to criticise West for being a brat and saying he should man up with many comparing him to other musicians who have triumphed over physical difficulties to perform such as Dave Grohl. What most people neglect to mention is that this recent induction into a psychiatric ward as well as his outbursts occurring on the anniversary of his mother’s death seems to be more than just coincidental. I’m not one to sympathise with someone who said that people of colour should just deal with the fact that they live in a racist country.However, with his aforementioned mental health problems, reportedly suffering from sleep deprivation as well as West repeatedly speaking out against racial issues as recently as this year on his LP The Life of Pablo, it would not surprise me at all if what we’re witnessing is a relapse of sorts.

1455294307_8830105572f8b13697840dbe23f52dc8

Theorising besides, what has enraged me the most isn’t fuelled by the media’s reporting of the news, neither is it some blind fanboyism. Scroll through any of the comment sections of a publication who reported on West today and you’ll witness a flash flood of pure toxicity. NME, who since their move to being a free magazine have become what can only be described as the click bait of music journalism, seem to be the worst culprit of it with their readers showing such a backwards way of thinking in regards to mental health that you’d think that you had hopped into a DeLorean and ended up in the 20th century. Calls for West to stay locked up and to die were just the tip of the iceberg, highlighting the already massive stigma that is attached to mental health. The same people contributing to this are no doubt the same ones who ask what drug an artist was on when they see slightly abstract art. While they may say that West wouldn’t care as he’s a superstar and would hardly mind someone calling him crazy, the fact of the matter is this attitude reinforces the mindset that those who do not act “normal” or control whatever their mental health issues may be, whether it’s BPD or depression, are not worthy of fair treatment or even worse: not worthy of life.

While the title of this article says that the public reaction further stigmatises mental health,the group I’d like to focus on particularly are black men as it seems that, in the perspective of some anyway, they’re incapable of suffering from such a thing. For instance, black men in Britain are 17 times more likely than white counterparts to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness which, when tied into the fact that the biggest killer amongst men under the age of 50 is suicide, is very worrying. The discussion of such a thing in the hip-hop genre has been alive and well recently, what with Kid Cudi being very open about his struggles as well Kendrick Lamar touching upon it on his 2015 record To Pimp A Butterfly as well as interviews. However, with the stereotype of all black men being strong and fearless on top of the already hot topic of toxic masculinity, assuming that West’s recent actions are anything but the result of the shattered psyche of a man who has had a stressful time is foolish.

What’s important to realise about West’s struggle is that this is a perfect example of separating the art from the artist, something that came to mind when I pointed out that NME readers constantly refer to John Lennon, a repeated abuser, as a legend but state that Kanye, a guy who acts a bit arrogant, the devil in disguise. Whether you think that Kanye is the greatest thing to happen to music this century or you think that his work is ego fueled rubbish, one thing that I think everyone can agree on is that not only should no one have to suffer such mental torture alongside a public onslaught but that no one, regardless of fame or fortune, should be scared to speak out about how they feel.

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FAV ALBUMS OF 2016 (SO FAR)

As we bid farewell to the first half of the year and set out for a new batch of high quality albums and singles, now is a better time than any to have a little retrospective on what we experienced or, better yet, enjoyed between January and July of 2016. Of course there are plenty that I’ve missed out and it goes without saying that these are personal choices so if there’s any albums that I’ve missed out that you’ve loved, chances are I’ve either not listened to it or just didn’t enjoy it as much as you. With that being said, in no particular order, let’s get on with it…

David Bowie – ★(Blackstar)

Blackstar is a special album for an array of reasons: it was Bowie’s first no.1 album in America as well as being his 25th album. Seen by many, including producer Tony Visconti, as a parting gift to fans before his untimely death, Bowie managed to make art even when fighting for his life. Inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 record To Pimp A Butterfly, Blackstar infuses jazz as well as elements of hip hop and rock to make an album that’s not only worth a listen but one that does the late king of, well, music justice.

 

Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost

Modern Baseball have always had a healthy heaping of heart with their witty pop punk sound and Holy Ghost doesn’t stray away from this. Jake Ewald has suffered the loss of a family member and Brendan Lukens has undergone rehabilitation with both artists getting their own halves to experiment and create their own unique music that fuses effortlessly with one another. Holy Ghost further solidifies Modern Baseball as a band to be recognised as well as one to be feared, despite how much they may be scared themselves.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

A Moon Shaped Pool manages to leave a positive imprint on the listener’s mind after every playthrough. Swapping out paramount guitars with ambient keyboard sounds and creating this irresistible, distinct sound makes it clear that you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but Radiohead will certainly lead the class.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Starting its life off as a mess, The Life Of Pablo has slowly evolved since to become a worthy addition to the ever egotistic Kanye West’s discography. Featuring some of the man’s most adrenaline pumping tunes as well as some introspective gems, TLOP managed to take itself just serious enough without forgetting to have a bit of fun in the meantime.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

Best of 2016 so far

With Bottomless Pit, Death Grips have managed to cross past successes with their own creative wit to deliver what is without the long awaited evolution of one of the most exciting acts of the 21st century. Displaying the accessibility of The Money Store, the punk influences of Ex Military and the utter craziness of The Powers That B, Death Grips can’t seem to falter on their golden run.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Kendrick Lamar – untitled. unmastered

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2015 belonged to Kendrick Lamar. In a year full of police brutality and heated politics, To Pimp A Butterfly stood out as the jazz drenched perspective of a man from Compton who has witnessed both, an album that even now I’m struggling to put into words. Untitled Unmastered is very much an extension of what made Lamar’s last record so great, acting like a sweet piece of musical DLC and managing to stand out on its own merits.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Weezer – White Album

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While there may be a criticism from those who feel like some songs rely heavily on framework that the band have established and used for decades, The White Album undeniably feels like the record that Weezer have been leading up to for years. It won’t go down in history for redefining a genre but such an ambitious feat is one that is stumbled upon rather than sought after. The nerdiness is even more introverted, the romance even more anxious and fleshed out than before, and the grunge pop sound even more satisfying. You can shout it from the rooftops: Weezer are back and better than ever.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

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It’s an achievement in itself for an artist to still be evolving eight albums into their discography but what’s even more commendable about Ty Segall is how he still manages to sound just as refreshing as ever on his latest LP. Emotional Mugger may have fell under the radars of many but with its garage and noise rock aesthetic worn on its sleeve, it’s definitely an LP worth a listen to.

Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

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“Blessings keep falling on my lap” Chance The Rapper wistfully chimes and he couldn’t put it any better on his first proper foyer into mainstream territory. Acid Rap blew up and got him a shit-load of attention which he hasn’t let go to waste with Coloring Book, a bombastic release that reinforces Chance’s status as one of, if not the most important rapper in hip hop alongside Kendrick Lamar. In a year that has had albums dropped by some of the biggest names in the industry, it’s nothing short of a surprise to have Chance deliver the best hip hop album of the year as well as providing one of the best releases of the decade so far. Chance has a sniper level of accuracy to execute exactly what he sets out to achieve. Alert everyone: we’re living in the golden age of Hip Hop.

PUP – The Dream Is Over

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Although the band have stated that their name stands for “Pathetic Use Of Potential”,PUP have managed to build upon the strong foundations of their debut LP and hone all of their anger and punk influence into one of the most solid records of the year. In the band’s own words, The Dream Is Over is a “rowdy, noisy clusterfuck” and while it may hark to a low point in their personal lives, this visceral record highlights an act who, health warnings or not, are unstoppable.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)