Thursday, April 16, 2015

TINASHE TRYING TO WIN


Tinashe. Armed with a major-label blueprint to merge into the lane formerly known as Aaliyah's while unfortunately lacking the inherent star quality to break through, which is why her journey hasn't quite captured our imagination yet despite major praise and four-star reviews for the Aquarius album.

It's such a crowded field out there; takes more authenticity than a tightly A&R'd album to connect with a loyal following.  Poor Tinashe. She's a talented writer, a working actress, a DIY-video and mixtape chick that gets her own hustle on. Probably why homegirl's grabbing on those Amethyst crystals to calm her ass down while she curls up in a corner crying 'bout why nothing's truly detonated into a mainstream success when Schoolboy Q, ASAP Rocky, and Future do blazing features on her singles.

lol nah, I'm playing-- sure Tinashe has no beef at all with her place in the world.

Besides, the buzz is steadily building. Big sign right here: when Giraffage starts fuckin' with your songs. One thing the San Jose EDM producer/DJ excels at is flipping R&B songs into sick remixes-- and he's added new touches to Tinashe's "All Hands On Deck"-- a single currently limping up the airplay charts. Maybe they consider working this version. (See: DJ Snake/AlunaGeorge "You know You Like It" for reference).


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TECH N9NE's "HOOD" CROSSOVER


Kansas City's Tech N9ne is the business.  And the dude has been around for a light year, no easy feat with rappers these days.  Not only does this man handle his business on verses but is a bona fide hustle mastermind as well.  Tech's been expanding his empire, getting his Lucious Lyon on with the independent label Strange Music that he founded, and building on a considerably large and loyal fan following by steadily touring. But he's mostly stayed underground, keeping his middle finger firmly fixed in the UP position towards the more mainstream maneuvers of exposure such as FM Radio. Actually it's the other way around, Radio didn't ever get him.

2015 'bout to change all that for him tho.  In late February Tech dropped "Hood Go Crazy," a party joint with a beat by Bay Area's N4 that channels the iconic bassline from "Humpty Dance" and busts an interpolation on the bridge from the hypest part of Black Sheep's classic "Choice Is Yours." Plus the record features Atlanta's own 2 Chainz and B.O.B. -- both regular fixtures on the Hot 100 Airplay charts.

The firestorm combo has clicked: "Hood Go Crazy" debuted on Rhythm Radio's Mediabase chart this week at number 30, racking up over 1000 spins and support from some key tastemaker spots (if you can even say that shit about radio anymore but whatevs) like KUBE-Seattle, KQKS-Denver; WZMX-Hartford and KUUU-Salt Lake and they aren't bullshitting on airplay either, these markets have it in power rotation, which indicates a hit record. Check it out.

Tech N9NE's new album Special Effects drops May 5th.

Monday, April 13, 2015

MARIAH'S FULL-CIRCLE INFINITY


Mariah Carey has officially returned to Sony Music, where she began her illustrious career in 1990. Signed to Epic Records by CEO L.A. Reid, the best-selling female artist of all time will unleash her smash-packed greatest-hits package with 18 #1 songs. The set, titled #1 To Infinity, hits on May 18 via Epic/Columbia Records/Sony Legacy. Also included will be the brand new single “Infinity,” which arrives on April 27 with a video directed by Brett Ratner.

Meanwhile, Mariah is readying her Vegas residency, MARIAH CAREY #1’s, at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The AEG Live production opens on May 6. A Ken Ehrlich-produced TV special capturing one of her Vegas performances is in the works.

All this coordinated activity serves as part of an aggressive new blueprint to relaunch a second half of Mariah’s career after a few years of missed connections like the underperforming album Me. I Am Mariah... Chanteuse, which sold less than 250K. By focusing on her incredible musical legacy instead of competing with artists half her age with brand new songs, Mariah and her team are trying to reshape the conversation about who she is in the music world.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back together again with Mariah,” said Reid. “There is really no one who comes close to Mariah as both a songwriter and a singer, and as the world knows, her vocal range is legendary and truly incomparable.  Her music is indelibly etched into our culture, and she’s shattered so many chart records that she’s now firmly entrenched in the history books."  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TYLER THE (NEXT LEVEL) CREATOR


I've had a long fascination with this kid. He's confusing to me as an MC I mean.... seriously do not get it, but Do You homie. As a creative in every other direction tho, TTC a force to be reckoned with. Genius-level and so firmly rooted in humor; a trait much more appealing and intelligent than teen angst. He had me at "Yonkers" with the roach.  Like a Quentin Tarantino movie, I could not get such a disturbing visual out of my head.  So ILL on multiple levels. That visceral reaction in itself was powerful.  I thought about that shit for weeks. To leave that deep of an impression = artistic greatness in my opinion. Even if I didn't totally get his music Tyler had my fucking respect.   He set the world on edge with bug-eating, vile lyrics and IDGAF attitude but then geeks out over the innocently cute movie Good Burger. Interesting dichotomy going on inside that head of his.

Get him offstage and he's kinda shy. Used to damn near smash into kiddo hauling ass down Fairfax Ave on his skateboard. The 'Fax was his block back in the day and he was ubiquitous there; present all the time whether my errand was sitting with Norm at Will Rise Tattoo or visiting the homies at Twelve Bar.  I'd see him coming down the pavement and smile, and literally feel him blush.  Adorable.

When the President of Motion Picture Music for Paramount asked me about the new talent he should be seeking out to craft a soundtrack for an upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, even though I've never met him, never worked with him-- told Spendlove to seek out Tyler. He'll have a future in film as a director someday, something he talks about wanting to do, and every time he drops a new visual you'd have to be a moron not to believe this is actually a legitimate destiny.

So the kid has a new video out today, a new album coming next week, and a new app too: one that presents some interesting content plus adds a layer to this whole conversation about exclusive extras with all the corporate streaming services. Tyler's wholly independent spirit makes him the absolute antithesis of the superstar three-percenters at TIDAL.  Will be interesting to see where music fans go.




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TIDAL WAVE OF #FAIL


It's not often Jay Z fumbles but his launch for TIDAL (the Swedish streaming service formerly known as Aspiro he paid $56 million to have controlling interest in) was a giant blunder.

Jay along with wifey Beyonce and his #1 Roc Nation client Rihanna - who stood on the opposite side of the stage of Bey (yeah no drama there- cough!) Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk (in full robot costume--weird) Usher, Nicki Minaj, Chris Martin of Coldplay (who facetimed in), Calvin Harris (who also facetimed in), Alicia Keys, deadmau5 (in full mouse costume--more weird) Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna (so desperate to be down with all the "cool kids" it's starting to be uncomfortable at every single moment) all there in the flesh, as stakeholders in this new venture, making the case to the general public that you should pay them even more money for music.  *cringes*

Now there is a solid argument with the "Freemium" tier--  I'm in agreement there should be time limits on the amount of "free" music you get per month from Spotify or Pandora.  But if we want to get people to regularly pay for subs every month, which is the ultimate LONG TERM goal here-- conversion---"Free at first" is vital to encourage a "no commitment zone" for a successful upsell to premium tier.  How do I know this?  I have worked for a digital subscription service.  Jay Z has not.

They don't get it.

The truth is streaming revenue has more than tripled since 2011.  Paid subscriptions make up 27% of the total profits for the U.S. Music industry in 2014, while 37% is digital sales and 32% physical sales of music. And the revenue shares from streaming don't often trickle down to the artists, also very true. However, this is a symptom of their bad record deals, not the public still getting a bunch of music for free. We're a decade and a half into the digital music era now.  They should be taking this issue up with their attorneys, not the general public.  It's so out of step with reality the ask is, to quote Jay and Kanye, "That shit cray." 

If you look at the sales data from last year, more people are paying for music than ever since the dog-day decimation years of Napster's reign in the early 2000s. Additionally, Tidal doesn't offer anything that Spotify doesn't. For a seriously whopping $20 a month (that could be looked at by a normal consumer as my entire Netflix budget plus an Uber ride) you get some better sound quality. That's it.

And that's the problem. I bet none of these artists actually knows what Netflix or Hulu (and in a few days, HBO NOW) costs per month. Nor do they get that people have to budget in the real world.

The rhetoric around Tidal was pretty funny, when it wasn’t completely embarrassing.  The audacious presentation didn't help. With 16 of the wealthiest and most powerful music stars lined up shoulder to shoulder like they are the friggin X-Men declaring a "revolution" and then revealing their plan is not actually for some a philanthropic or social justice cause, that for decades past, has been the main motivating factor for superstars of this magnitude to band together and declare some sort of stance..... ummm, no.  Instead,  it was to tell you about their very fancy and thinly veiled money grab.  Ouch!

And the public reaction was so priceless. When Twitter is acting out like The Oracle in The Matrix, #imdead












Thursday, March 26, 2015

THIS SUMMER WILL BE "DOPE"

Regular readers of this blog will be well aware of my long infatuation with ASAP Rocky, who isn't only fine as hell but contains a charisma and emotional intelligence (formerly known as the X factor before Simon Cowell fucked that whole expression up by championing years of wackness under the title) that extends waaaaaay beyond the normal channels of Pretty Flacko's genre.  High fashion caught on early so it was only a matter of time before film directors did.   Enter director Rick Famuyiwa and his movie "Dope".  After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year Sony Pictures won a massive bidding war to have it.  A coming of age comedy/drama movie produced by DiddyPharrell and Forest Whitaker with Rocky in the starring role, "Dope" tells the story of Malcolm, a geek with dreams of attending Harvard but must navigate the toughness and various characters of his Inglewoooooooood, California neighborhood and its assortment of gangsters and drug dealers.  Says IMDB of the film's main theme:  "If Malcolm can persevere, he’ll go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself."  

Check out the special extended trailer below.  According to Deadline, this film is already the largest deal made at Sundance this year, and will be in theatres near you June 21st- also known as the first day of summer.  Come to mama, Flacko.




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ALL THINGS KENDRICK


One of the oldest and most basic canons in our industry is that if you make a great record it will sell. Interscope/Aftermath /TDE artist Kendrick Lamar is the most recent example of brilliantly executing this fundamental music rule.

Despite an abstruse launch a week earlier than expected with a single tweet from Lamar shortly after midnight on Sunday (3/15), then battling through iTunes store glitches that had the new release going on and offline there for hours the following day, nothing could trip up the spectacular word of mouth and full-on social media frenzy about the MUSIC he delivered, that ultimately catapulted To Pimp A Butterfly into the record books.

Streamed more than 9.6m times Monday on Spotify, the album set a new global record for most worldwide streams in a single day by a new release. By day four on the service TPAB had outpaced and eclipsed the former champion, Drake’s monster mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” by clocking in an amazing 24 million plays.

Kendrick has struck such a deep emotional chord because he is delivering a whole experience; a powerful one about being a black man from the hood in our country at this moment in time, while race relations wither under a dark storm of incessant headlines about a reality we hear of daily whether it’s outta control police, racist fraternities or insane gun violence—it’s just hell from Compton to Congress. And perhaps there is a nod to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird here, because this tells a compelling tale about walking around in someone else’s skin—black skin. Through sharply constructed bars you are required to view the world through his lens and whoa, seriously feel him— the rage, confusion, adversity, tragedy, responsibility, guilt, dogma and fear.  Lamar’s self-admonishing song “u” moved me to tears and “How Much A Dollar Cost,” which tells the story about refusing a homeless person who turns out to be God, had me and no doubt millions of others listening in a stunned silence of reflection.

Ever been to a movie that struck you so hard you leave the theatre quiet as fuck while you try to process what you just saw? That’s what listening to this incredible album is like.

Lamar is equally poignant musically, layering his intense verses with a jazz and funk fusion filtered through collaborations with an eclectic group from Flying Lotus to Pharrell and is so future-forward it’s on par with what OutKast achieved when they dropped their debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik – a record so ahead of its time the mainstream white hip-hop fans didn’t get it.  That album was packed with the sounds of another life, intelligent observations about being black in Atlanta as the ATLiens Andre 3000 and Big Boi were feeling like back in the day.

What makes the timing of TPAB even more remarkable is that Kendrick has delivered a work of pure art at the height of his fame, rather than at the start.  By pushing every emotional button possible, he’s pushing the entire genre ahead in both content and character. No doubt there were plenty of artists who went right back into the lab after hearing this, so help me god.  It’s a real conversation, and one that’s desperately needed.