”Super Bowl” - Cousin Stizz
I was at Cousin Stizz’s show last week and came up with this new theory after seeing him completely win the crowd over: the easier it is to learn a song the more memorable it is. Think of these lines for a second:
I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops.
You used to call me on my cellphone/Late night when you need my love
God show me the way because the devil’s tryna break me down/ The only thing I pray is that my feet won’t fail me now.
Whether its due to strong enunciation or a slow delivery, these lines became memorable. Ill Smith’s slow delivery has done just the same:
I’m the fuckin Fresh Prince, think my name is Ill Smith.
Who you know from out here, your name ain’t ringing no bells boi
Dirty bands come from dirty work
It only took one delivery of each line for the crowd to catch on, and his repetition allowed us to participate. He follows suit in “Super Bowl” with “Fuck, drink, smoke all day/Count bank rolls all day/Work hard then go play/ Party like the Super Bowl, ayyyye!” His easygoing flow is contagious, and then he named Tom Brady and officially became my favorite rapper of all time sorry guys those are the rules.
”Blue Lights” - Jorja Smith
Just an incredible voice. And then the beat dropped and kept the party going. And then you head the Londonite’s lyrics, painting the city around here. She’s a mashup of Rihanna and Lauryn Hill, lots of talent for someone who’s only 18.
“White Privilege Part II” - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
No, this song isn’t sonically pleasing or organized. Yes, it’s important.
Macklemore has been outspoken on many things like gay marriage (“Same Love), drug addiction (“Otherside”), and consumerism (“Wing$”). All have been received with mixed fanfare, and his text apology to Kendrick Lamar after stealing the Grammys from him was a huge blow to his image. But Ben Haggerty is a smart, thoughtful man and musician. If you don't believe me, check out this interview he has with Ebro and Peter Rosenberg regarding white privilege in hip-hop. Given time to collect his thoughts, his voice is one of the most important in the game.
That last sentence alone is partially due to his own white privilege. He’s fully cognizant of that and on “White Privilege Part II” he makes the decision to have multiple people speak on the track, all the while never declaring himself the so-called “savior” people resent him for. Feel free to bash the man, but he consistently puts 100% honesty is his music. DeRay McKesson, a notable Black rights activist, spoke to Mack and gave his approval on its intent. He argues that awareness, given Macklemore’s audience and his own platform, will raise critical conversation on the matter. It’s not a pleasant listen. Then again, neither is the subject at hand.
Concert of the Week: Bayonne at The Standard Hotel
My friend Shezeen and I entered the The Standard Hotel in East Village with zero expectations. I found out an hour before that Bayonne’s show would be in the penthouse, and we couldn’t believe our eyes when we got up there. The entire floor was glass, flaunting an amazing view of Manhattan in every angle. After geeking out over the situation and our pricy drinks, the set begins.
Roger Sellers, PKA Bayonne, began with “Appeals”, a lush track filled with synthesized wonder and heavy percussion. Pigeons and Planes nailed their description of the song: “"If blossoming flowers had a soundtrack, this would be it.” He continued straight through his 45 minute set with songs of similar feel. The sounds coming across his live DJ set were fresh and exciting, much like Washed Out before him.
Best from Not Last Week: “Brain Cells” - Villain Park
Shoutout to Andrew Saltman for the tip on this LA rap group. Funny, you’d expect they would be inspired by Dre, Pac and NWA given their location but they sound nothing like them. The only influence prevalent is Kendrick, and even that is a play on the TPAB poem, mocking “I remember you was gettin’ lifted, always under the influence.” They don’t take themselves seriously enough to elicit those comparisons.
Instead, their are rooted in the boom bap stylings of The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief, Tribe and the early music of The Roots. Being embedded in the old school sound is risky but Joey Bada$$ helped open the door for the throwback style that Villain Park exudes. In “Brain Cells”, the members trade technical bars, rapping about nothing like the old days. At their young age, there’s nothing better to rap about.
Best from Last Week: “All Night” - SG Lewis ft. Dornik
With all due respect to The Weeknd and FKA Twigs, there isn’t a musician making sexier music right now than SG Lewis. The Liverpool producer made huge waves when noted music supervisor Scott Vener added “Warm” to an episode of HBO’s Ballers. Songs like “No Less” and his remix of Disclosure X Lorde’s “Magnets” continued his run of jams.
He takes another huge leap here with “All Night”. Lewis’ production follows the theme of his previous songs: sparse arrangement, soft drum kicks, slowed down 80’s synths and swirling repetition. I consider him the heir to the sound that Drake’s partner in crime 40 fostered, but with more sensuality and less resent. Essentially, it sounds how intoxication — due to alcohol, romance, or both — feels.
On top of the stunning production is Dornik, the London crooner whose self-titled debut make some noise in the blogosphere last year. His voice reeks of seduction reminiscent of “Human Nature” era Michael Jackson. They’re not overpowering vocals, but match to SG Lewis’s aesthetic. The lyrics match as well:
You say you're leaving, but your eyes say otherwise
You're so impatient, but I know what's on your mind
You've been holding back for so long, Bet you think it's better without
And there ain't no way to rush this if we’re doing it right.
“All Night” is in my opinion Lewis’ best song yet. The fact that we’re getting so excited about his work after only 6 songs is evident of all his potential. As long as people keep having sex, music like his will be in the cultural landscape.