Brandon Soderberg



  • Cam'ron

    Rap Songs of the Week: Cam'ron Creepily Aims for Internet Relevance on 'Instagram Catfish'

    Cam'ron ft. Sen City, "Instagram Catfish"Wherein Killa Cam gets Internet topical over a sorta-tropical production (it sounds like something off Le1f's sensuous Tree House) that deals with the very curent and totally awkwarddddd phenomenon of people you meet on the Internet misrepresenting what they really look like. "You lied when you said, 'No filter, baby," Cameron Giles tells the um, disappointing young woman when he meets her at the airport, which nearly qualifies as letting her down easy, right? Then again, it's not actually all that different from the lonely hearts turned self-righteous nincompoops of MTV's Catfish, because pretty much every encounter on that show breaks down when one of the two parties involved doesn't find the other physically attractive and then couches it in some "But you lied to me"-type shit, no?

  • Danny Brown / Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images

    Danny Brown's 'Old' Announces the End of the Pill-Popping Party

    Danny Brown, the Internet's number one most hedonistic rapper, is actually a moralist. The first half of his 2011 XXX mixtape was a crazed collection of blunted beats and freaky tales with palpable thrills that totally overpowered the openly fatalistic hooks. On the second half, though, the other shoe dropped: The rapping slowed down, and the lyrics focused on the cause and effect of all this drinking and drugging, from urban plight that keeps people caught up in hustling and self-medicating to the desperate addicts and nosebleeding party kids wasting away from going too hard in the paint for far too long. But since the success of XXX, Brown's ethical edge has taken a backseat. Savvy if self-destructive, he indulged the eccentric-rapper image for a little bit of fame and controversy (and good for him), though it had the side effect of other-izing him.

  • The Foreign Exchange vs. Kanye West: Jackin' Chicago For Beats

    The Foreign Exchange vs. Kanye West: Jackin' Chicago For Beats

    Chicago house is experiencing an art-pop resurgence entirely separate from whatever warmed-over elements of the sound still sneak into EDM these days. Along with Kanye West's Yeezus, which skronks and fizzles like acid purveyors Phuture (the Chi-town-ian beats provided by French house inverters, Daft Punk), there is Nine Inch Nails' Hesitation Marks, an apocalyptic get-down fueled by rigid, vicious Midwestern rhythms. These releases are reminding keyed-in, geeked-up listeners of just how raw house music can get.Popular music often seems to mind its own checks and balances, grabbing hold of some ineffable something in the zeitgeist and then breaking that zeitgeist over its knee and starting the next trend before the other trend is even over, so now we're experiencing a kicking back against that recontexualization of house as relentless mean-mug.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Drake's Whitney Houston Whirl 'Tuscan Leather'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Drake's Whitney Houston Whirl 'Tuscan Leather'

    2$ Fabo "How The Fuck Did I Get Here"Spaced-out snap-rap legend Fabo (now going by 2$ Fabo, for some weird reason), who recently came back down to Earth to bless Trinidad James' 10 Pc. Mild mixtape and followed it up with anti-molly/pro-molly mitigator “Catch Me on That Molly,” sounds sober and Scarface somber as he looks back at the highs and lows of his cracked career so far. If you recall Mannie Fresh's “Like a Boss” from 2009's independently-released, no-resources record Return of the Ballin', well, this is very much in that vein. Southern legends never taken as seriously as they should be, simultaneously appreciative of all the success afforded to them, hounded by all the mistakes they've made, and staring the brutal rap-right-now reality that it's a different era and no one's cashing out no more.

  • The Rumors of Sampling's Demise Have Been Greatly Exploited

    The Rumors of Sampling's Demise Have Been Greatly Exploited

    Last week's The Atlantic article, “Did the Decline of Sampling Cause the Decline of Political Hip-Hop?” is just the latest in a never-ending barrage of thinkpieces that attempt to explain where rap went wrong or got ruined or lost its soul and blah blah blah. The piece by Erik Nielson, assistant professor at the University of Richmond with a focus on African-American literature and hip-hop culture, however, places rap's decline on the death of sampling and that's sort of a fresh perspective.Nielson's thesis is that following the 1991 ruling regarding Biz Markie sampling Gilbert O'Sullivan, which moved hip-hop away from sampling for pragmatic reasons (you could get your ass sued), also explains why rap has become less socially and politically engaged.

  • Separation of Powers: OutKast's 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,' 10 Years Later

    Separation of Powers: OutKast's 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,' 10 Years Later

    Ten years ago this week, OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below arrived. The double album isn't the best OutKast record (that's ATLiens) or even their most influential (that's Aquemini), though it is the most successful (it has sold more than 11 million copies, won the Grammy for Album of the Year), and perhaps most importantly, the hardest one to unpack.

  • Drake Airs Out 'Courtney From Hooters' and Why He Shouldn't Have Done That

    Drake Airs Out 'Courtney From Hooters' and Why He Shouldn't Have Done That

    Drake's Nothing Was the Same is an album full of feels-too-real asides and coy references to his mother's illness, his father's drinking problems, Nicki Minaj not really talking to him these days, and plenty of last-word ire aimed at exes. But the most egregious lines are on "From Time":"The one that I needed was Courtney from Hooters on Peachtree / I've always been feeling like she was the piece to complete me / Now she's engaged to be married, what's the rush on commitment? / I know we were going through some shit, name a couple that isn’t/ Remember our talk in the parking lot at the Ritz?

  • Juicy J and 2 Chainz: Oft-Delayed Projects by Rap Vets Buck Major Label Expectations

    Juicy J and 2 Chainz: Oft-Delayed Projects by Rap Vets Buck Major Label Expectations

    In 2013, rap albums, you know, the kind that are still pressed onto CDs and shoved onto Best Buy racks, are embraced as either blow-the-roof-off-everything events that cannot be missed or "What took you so long?" anti-climaxes that should've arrive up six months ago. It reflects the bipolar mentality that pervades the music industry right now: They either throw everything and anything into the product and ensure it's a success, or they don't even try and let the thing die on the vine and, hey, maybe it'll stay afloat thanks to word-of-mouth and a fervid core fanbase that didn't need a major label to make them aware of the new record in the first place. It's pathological, really.Over the past few weeks, two rap LP anti-climaxes finally arrived: Juicy J's Stay Trippy and 2 Chainz's B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Danny Brown Baits Nostalgics on 'Side A (Old)'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Danny Brown Baits Nostalgics on 'Side A (Old)'

    Abdu Ali, "Fuk Wit Dis"Pentecostal poet/rapper/vocalist Abdu Ali begins this song with a Pterodactyl wail, and then proceeds to screech out his lyrics in a helium-sucking Lil Wayne-like voice. And they're still nearly buried by a Baltimore club din from producer James Nasty (he of a very batty refix of Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice"), who loops a Fade To Mind-friendly #seapunk synth ping around effects-caked gun shots, and a Waka Flocka Flame "Bow!" ad-lib, and then, on top of that, sends the whole frantic thing into a maelstrom of ghetto-tech yells. Is this rap music? Dance music? Is this even music? "Do you wanna see me die?," Abdu asks at one point.

  • Travi$ Scott

    Travi$ Scott: Houston-Bred Kanye West Advisor Turns Rap Inside Out

    Who: Ambitious Houston avant-producer and affable rapper Travi$ Scott, 21, is best known for assisting Yeezus himself, Kanye West, on the visionary producer's latest, as well as turning trap and dancehall into baroque triumph music on last year's G.O.O.D. Music group album, Cruel Summer. Although he produces for G.O.O.D., he's currently signed to T.I.'s label, Grand Hustle, as an MC. "My whole situation is weird, man," Scott explains, though he means "weird" in a good way; the two-label situation gives him to access to two vastly different hip-hop superstars. "Both G.O.O.D. and Grand Hustle together is real shit, man," he says. "Kanye and T.I. both engage with what I'm doing." Scott's most recent mixtape, Owl Pharoah, sounds like a combination of West and company's high-art hip-hop and T.I. and crew's crunked-out bangers.

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