Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • Eminem

    Eminem's 'Survival': No Match for Kendrick Lamar Mania

    The arrival of a new Eminem song just one day after Kendrick Lamar's gauntlet-throwing tirade of a verse on Big Sean's "Control" is unfortunate.

  • The Underachievers

    The Underachievers: Brooklyn Psych-Rap Duo Elevates Our State of Mind

    Who: Issa Gold and AK, a.k.a Brooklyn duo the Underachievers, whose February mixtape Indigoism presented yet another tweak to the New York boom-bap model. "People always mention the '90s when discussing our music, you know," says Gold. "And I was brought up in the '90s, so it's the main influence. But I would consider us to be more like the '60s." He cites Jimi Hendrix and Richie Havens as precedents for what the group's trying to do: Create educational music that addresses spiritual concerns.

  • George Duke

    Dukey Sticks & Doo-Doo Jokes: George Duke's Silly, But Very Serious Career

    Pop-jazz purveyor, canny fusionist, and playful funkster George Duke, who died on Monday from leukemia at the age of 67, began his twisting, turning career in the world of straight, po-faced jazz. The keyboardist was then scooped up by Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, joining the band in 1969 and contributing to a number of their brain-fried compositions (do yourself a favor and hunt down his strange, self-deprecating appearance in Zappa's 1971 movie 200 Motels), while also playing with virtuoso violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. From there he briefly split from the Mothers to play piano and electric piano with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley (check out the graceful inventiveness and Vince-Guaraldi-gone-gaga spirit of this live version of "Black Messiah Pt. 1"), but then returned.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Drake Channels Toto's 'Africa' on 'Hold On, We're Going Home'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Drake Channels Toto's 'Africa' on 'Hold On, We're Going Home'

    A$AP Ferg, "Hood Pope"The A$AP Mob are good to great at making highly derivative, high-profile versions of other peoples' under-the-radar idiosyncratic rap songs. It's just what they do. And on "Hood Pope," from the A&R-cultivated cult weirdo and former fancy belt designer A$AP Ferg, the blueprint is Chief Keef's Eno-trap Finally Rich bonus track, "Citgo." The elements are there: a beat that's snap-and-crack aggressive and downright gorgeous at the same time, and a sing-song, about-to-fall-apart rap-talk mumble.

  • Not pictured: Curren$y's Samsung Galaxy S4

    Curren$y Unveils His Own #NewRules

    Last week, Curren$y's Jet Life crew released Red Eye Mixtape, the latest in a steady stream of product from the wordy stoner-rapper and his crew, which includes former-No Limit-grunter-gone-super-smooth Fiend alongside weed capos like Cornerboy P. But the delivery system was new: BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file-sharing client. The torrent lets you immediately download Curren$y's new single, "Right Now" (featuring Young Roddy, another weed capo) and what they're calling "interactive art," which provides you access to concert tickets. Give them your email and you can unlock the entire 13-track mixtape, a short video documentary, and a whole bunch of other digital swag.A significant PR rollout surrounded all this, similar to Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail business-speak-meets-music-distribution mini-event.

  • Busdriver

    Hear Busdriver's Raving Mad Remix of Migos' 'Versace'

    Migos "Versace" remix mania continues! This time, we've got Busdriver, the Los Angeles rapper and member of the legendary Project Blowed, delivering a witty rewrite produced by Riley Lake, who gently adjusts Zaytoven's blooping beat, moving it a little more into Busdriver's IDM-rap world. "Versachi" begins "Versace, Versace, I'm down in the lobby like Salvador Dali / I'm twisting my 'stache and I'm getting the cash and I'm sipping on coffee," and gets more out-there after that. Absurdist wordplay ("Dancing fancy free to Fugazi") slams into refreshing regular dude honesty ("I can't afford Versace"), and toward the end Busdriver stops rapping altogether, letting the track devolve into gutteral shouts and breathy exhortations, paying tribute to Migos' own ad-lib heavy, energy-packed raps. "They only play this in Martian colonies," Busdriver boasts of his demented riff on Migos' hit.

  • Jay Z

    Worst Beef Ever: Jay Z vs. Harry Belafonte

    "If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be / Lyrically, Talib Kweli / Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense / But I did 5 mil, I ain't been rhyming like Common since / When your cents got that much in common / And you been hustling since your inception / Fuck perception / Go with what makes sense / Since I know what I'm up against / We as rappers must decide what's most important / And I can't help the poor if I'm one of them / So I got rich and gave back, to me that's the win-win."That's Jay Z's conversation-starting verse on "Moment of Clarity," off 2003's Black Album. He was taking on the "conscious" vs. "ignorant" hip-hop debate that was still a big deal at the time, and offering up a free-market argument for why he was more powerful and significant engaging rap's mainstream than he ever could be as part of the more mindful and preachy underground.

  • Drake

    Rap Songs of the Week: Drake, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean Make It All About Them on 'All Me'

    Drake ft. 2 Chainz & Big Sean, "All Me"Weird how all the talk about rap lyrics and their detrimental effects never falls back on Drake, who releases anti-#posi songs like "No New Friends" and empowers suburban pricks with "Started From the Bottom." Here, the former child star and nephew to funk legend Larry Graham continues to further this stupid-ass story that he got here on his own and just plain gets his Ayn Rand on. One sign of "maturity": He no longer even knows how much money he's making, so he isn't whining about having to pay taxes, as he did two years ago on Take Care. Baby steps, Aubrey, baby steps. Then again, the song begins with a knowing sample of Aziz Ansari's clueless Randy character from Judd Apatow's Funny People, and the beat by Key Wane (Big Sean's "Guap," Meek Mill's "Amen") humbly hums and nods off, much more unsure of all this success.

  • Migos Mania: The 40 Most Fascinating 'Versace' Remixes

    Migos Mania: The 40 Most Fascinating 'Versace' Remixes

    Atlanta trio Migos' notoriety got meteoric when Drake jumped on a remix of their track “Versace.” But typical of the way rap works, that was only the beginning; soon it was a remix free-for-all. After a weekend spent scouring every nook and cranny of Soundcloud, YouTube, etc. and listening to approximately 200 remixes/refixes/edits/bootlegs of “Versace,” here are the 40 most interesting makeovers (and/or trainwrecks), with each track ranked from "1" to "10." As is often the case in this baffling anything-goes Internet era, the worst or most bizarre examples of a trend are also, in their own weird way, the most successful. Or at least the most entertaining. So, if your favorite regional rapper's take on the track, or your buddy's bro-step mash-up isn't included, no hard feelings. Maybe it just didn't suck spectacularly enough, ya know?

  • Ka

    Ka, Rapper-Firefighter-Auteur, May Have Released the Best Hip-Hop Album of 2013 with 'The Night's Gambit'

    Ka is a truly singular rapper/producer from Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood. Last year, he put out Grief Pedigree, a confident and almost entirely inside-its-own-head record, all twinkling millisecond samples and veering-on-spoken-word raps delivered in a voice barely louder than a whisper. It ostensibly carried on the tradition of dead-eyed, burnt-soul '90s hip-hop — the weed-roasted paranoia of early Mobb Deep, in particular — but it also adjusted the style to something far less swaggering and cruel. Whereas Prodigy and Havoc walked past and stared you down, Ka stares straight ahead, unaware you're even there. He doesn't make any concessions to the world at large.Often, his work feels like a willful misreading of early-'90s street rap. He certainly knows that time period well.

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