Complex City Cyphers will travel to various cities to highlight local rappers and musicians. In this pilot episode, A$AP Ferg, Wiki, and Your Old Droog freestyle over music provided by Grammy nominated jazz musician Christian Scott. This cypher is deeply rooted in the traditions of freestyling in hip-hop and improvisation in jazz.
I'm a fan of Kendrick Lamar; I'm hugely supportive of him as an artist even if I don't love all of his music. But the above video is important because it's a reminder that Kendrick isn't the only one doing the Kendrick thing. He's just the most well-known.
Rings is the just-released first single of Aesop Rock's new solo record, The Impossible Kid. I still remember meeting him at SUNY Purchase in 2005. I'd lie and say I've dug much of his stuff since Bazooka Tooth, but this one seems to have some of that old fire. I hope the new record is just as good.
Kanye's second child Saint was born in early December, and there's something distinctly preoccupied about this whole project—it feels wry, hurried, mostly good-natured, and somewhat sloppy. Like a lot of new parents, Kanye feels laser-focused on big stuff—love, serenity, forgiveness, karma—and a little frazzled on the details. "Ultralight Beam" opens with the sound of a 4-year-old preaching gospel, some organ, and a church choir: "This is a God dream," goes the refrain. But everything about the album's presentation—the churning tracklist, the broken promises to premiere it here or there, the scribbled guest list—feels like Kanye ran across town to deliver a half-wrapped gift to a group birthday party to which he was 10 minutes late.
This is probably the best review I've read of TLOP. This is the only assertion that I disagree with:
The Life of Pablo is, accordingly, the first Kanye West album that's just an album: No major statements, no reinventions, no zeitgeist wheelie-popping.
The way TLOP was and/or is in the process of being released is the big deal here. In five years or so, I think we'll look back at this moment and realize that this was when the gate officially came crashing down on the old way of doing these kinds of things.
In memory of David Bowie, I asked some past Song Exploder guests to help curate a playlist for the show’s newsletter. They each picked their favorite David Bowie track, and wrote a few words about the song they chose.
The playlist is here, but make sure you hit the link above to check out what each person said.