Sad Leafs Fan

Original content, like the rest of tumblr.

I thought 2012 was a fantastic year for music, but I think every year is fantastic for music. There’s so much good stuff released in any given year it takes five years to fully absorb it. The sheer volume is oppressive — though only if you’re silly enough to feel confined to a best-of list or a set of assumptions based on the misguided belief that you can possibly hear everything worthwhile. Because you haven’t. And you probably never will.

—Steven Hyden on Grantland

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I reviewed Nas’ Life is Good. It’s quite possibly his best work since 2002’s God’s Son.

Frank Ocean brings Channel Orange, measured stardom to Toronto

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July 31, Kool Haus - Toronto

Machismo and spectacle might be the order of the day for many of his contemporaries, but Frank Ocean instead brought a quiet dignity to the stage at the Kool Haus in Toronto, one of the last North American stops on his Channel Orange tour (he’ll soon take off for several festival dates, as well as an opening gig for Coldplay over in Europe). 

If some of his output on record has garnered comparisons to revered Motown legends like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, Frank Ocean’s stage show evokes a more recent lineage, namely one that includes neo soul stars Maxwell and D’Angelo (in his more restrained form). Ocean’s live set values vocal prowess over theatrics, with a premium placed on emotional connection, not surprising given the nature of his records. In fact, in the context of his show, his lyrics from “Novacane” ("every single record autotunin’ / Zero emotion, muted emotion / pitch corrected, computed emotion") felt more like a critique of the modern music landscape than a consequence of love-struck numbness. 

Showing no signs of a possible bout with the flu, Ocean’s voice was in fine form as he garnished his tracks with slightly new vocal flourishes and sent the fervent crowd into a frenzy every time he slipped into his falsetto (“Thinkin Bout You” being an obvious favourite in this regard). 

Channel Orange was given its due, with album cuts like “Crack Rock,” “Super Rich Kids” (brought to life with springy keyboard stabs) and “Sweet Life” (where Frank really showed off his vocal chops) all getting strong renditions, but perhaps most stirring of all was the terrific reinterpretation of Nostalgia, Ultra. highlight “American Wedding,” full in its emotional weightiness and capped off by an electrifying guitar solo (but not the one from “Hotel California”). If anything, Frank’s 4-piece band could have used more moments like that to add their touches to his recordings.

And for as good a song as it is, the first half of the 10-minute epic “Pyramids” couldn’t help but come off a little strange, with the funky bass—ratcheted up 10 notches—producing a sea of fist pumping on a night characterized more by swooning sing-alongs. Far from a complete misstep, it was a moment that pointed to the kinks* that must be worked out before Ocean’s live set can fully reach the standard of excellence set by his recorded work.

*When it comes to fan interaction, there’s an art to nonchalance that Frank hasn’t quite mastered yet. At times his dialogue to the crowd fell on the forgettable side of humbleness. Fortunately the brisk transitions between songs made up for it.

Amazing.

Amazing.

MadGibbs (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib) - "Shame" (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid) [from Shame EP]

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Dripping with soul.

Lushlife - “Gymnopedie 1.2” (feat. Shad) [from Plateau Vision]

"This is rap for the Raps fans, DeRozan on the break over breaks, this is that jam"

I reviewed Lushlife’s Plateau Vision. Recommended for fans of dreamy, piano washed instrumentals and syllable heavy rappity raps.

Community - "Digital Estate Planning" [S03E20]
Gus Fring x Community = win

Community - "Digital Estate Planning" [S03E20]

Gus Fring x Community = win

King is much more than the weight of a crown
As good as it feels, that ain’t the way that it sounds
Being single is cool ‘til ain’t nobody around
Then I’m chasing you down, cuz you was ready to fly
I can’t be what you want me to be
You’re shooting too high cuz you ain’t aiming at me
One minute you’re calling out for the D
Then the next minute you wanna be free
Then the next minute you hollering out peace
Although I know it’s a war and they’ll be blood in the street
If you call don’t be frustrated at me
Just leave you’re heart at the beep, ‘cause mine is harder to reach
'Cause mine is harder to see
And that don’t make it harder to cheat
Being friends would make it harder to breathe
So if you’re ready to fly, just forget about me
But if you’re willing to try then I’m willing to leap
Out of the window of pain and fall in love at your feet
I ain’t the man you want me to be
I guess that’s what’s been bothering me

—Big K.R.I.T. - “Red Eye” [from 4Eva ‘N a Day]

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A lot of K.R.I.T.’s introspective tracks up to this point have dealt with overcoming personal trials, dreaming for better days, and—after having achieved a certain level of success—reflecting back now that he’s starting to live those days.

But on the standout cut from 4Eva N a Day (a project that has been criticized in some corners for its rehashing of previous ideas and generically-written motivational raps), K.R.I.T. turns his thoughts inwards, particularizing his subject matter and filling in enough details to paint a complete picture. As he’s accustomed to do, K.R.I.T. approaches his topic with humanity; in this case, when rapping about the woman whose heart he holds in his hands, K.R.I.T. is more Wale (pre-MMG) than Drake: he’s painfully forthright, keenly observant, and makes an honest effort away from egotism.

In closing out a series of independent albums that some feel didn’t end up far enough away from 2010’s K.R.I.T. Wuz HereBig K.R.I.T. at the very least shows that his mature, heartfelt writing style is adaptable to new content, a timeless skill that should serve an old soul like him well.

LMFAO indeed.

LMFAO indeed.