Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • 'Run the Jewels' Cover Art

    Rap Release of the Week: Killer Mike & El-P's 'Run the Jewels'

    Run the Jewels, the new one from Killer Mike and El-P, may lack the ambition of Mike's R.A.P. Music (which flat-out gunned  for No. 1-noise-rap-classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back), but that's probably a good thing. Mike's realer-than-real-talk rapping and El-P's "What would a P.K. Dick novel sound like?"-like production remain, but the goal is something less cohesive and more raw-nerve fun: Two guys trading verses, trying to think of mean-mugging couplets and terse declarations about how fucked-up everything is, over inward-gazing Carpenter-drenched electronica.

  • Charlie Wilson at the BET Awards

    Charlie Wilson Scoops the Youth-Oriented BET Awards

    The highlight of last night's BET Awards was not Kendrick Lamar deservedly winning a whole bunch of awards, or even Erykah Badu assisting an even-better-than-the-album version of Kendrick Lamar's “Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe.” No, it was 60-year-old Charlie Wilson receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, then performing with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, and Snoop Dogg — all of whom seemed appropriately negligible while bobbing and weaving around Wilson's full-bodied performance: “You Are” (Wilson's 2010 song from Just Charlie), “Beautiful” (his 2002 collaboration with Pharrell and Snoop), “Signs” (another Snoop track that also featured Timberlake), “You Dropped a Bomb On Me,” the most well-known hit from his former group the Gap Band, plus another Gap Band hit, “Outstanding.”Those big-deal rap and R&B stars backing him up seemed less there to keep people interested in some old

  • Kanye West / Photo by Getty Images

    Is 'Yeezus' the Tipping Point for Rap Misogyny?

    Kanye West's latest, Yeezus, was supposed to be his statement-making, punk-infused noise-rap record: A rousing, leather jacket-sporting, Saturday Night Live appearance premiered the incendiary "Black Skinhead" and a fascinating New York Times interview (in which Kanye reminded readers of his connection to dead prez), seemingly prepped listeners for a burst of realer-than-real talk from a wildly popular rapper without a whole lot to lose at this point.Instead, Yeezus is a relentless spleen-vent against the women in his life — the women he's fucked or wanted to fuck or who fucked him over or lied to him or whatever, that's occasionally provocative thanks to political asides that West has done more with more nuance and humor in the past. Frankly, even calling Yeezus (particularly it's lumpier second half) a "spleen vent" mischaracterizes its wounded bro rage.

  • Drake / Photo by Getty Images

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Drake the Tastemaker Scoops Up Sampha

    Drake, feat. Sampha "The Motion"So, Drake is just a troll, right? He knows what he's doing. Part of his endgame, it seems, is to make himself look like a clueless dolt who stays winning, regardless. He has no shame. How else to explain the Canadian child star penning "Started From the Bottom," and citing his uncle demanding the car back as an example of less-ideal times? On "The Motion," Drake continues playing himself. He allows his gentle croon to go up against London dubstep's Dean Martin Sampha, who has one of the warmest and accomplished voices in electronic music right now. Then again, maybe this is Drizzy doing Sampha a solid, since Usher's "Climax" was just a SBTRKT featuring Sampha jack? The big-deal rapper bro reaching out to underground-to-lamestreamer artists, like Sampha (or Migos!), is admirable.

  • The three, uh, Migos

    Migos, 'Young Rich Niggas' (Self-Released)

    Young Rich Niggas, the new mixtape from Atlanta bleep-trap trio Migos, is an hour-long, closed-circuit collection of loopy new songs, buzzing YouTube hits, and rinky-dink crack-slanging party rap that's quickly taking the Internet by storm. Migos' three rappers – Quavo, who sounds like Gucci Mane; Takeoff, who sounds like a more confident Soulja Boy; and Offset, who sounds like Future — dropkick into their songs with an enthusiasm that's currently out of vogue. There's an energy to their raps that doesn't attempt to execute hyper-lyrical lyrical-ness, but it does revolve around putting as much passion into each line as possible and attempting to top one another, cipher-style. Migos also have an ear for beats that's just a little off to the side of the typical trap sound.

  • Killa Kyleon

    No Trivia's Rap Release of the Week: Killa Kyleon's 'Lean On Me' Mixtape

    Sorry, but Yeezus just looms large over everything right now and it's tough not to constantly compare or contrast everything that pops up to its bro-talkin' electro-grind. Plus, even though it's pretty critically unstable, it's a helluva lot of fun to compare little slept-on mixtapes to the major-event rap albums; especially when the buzzed-about rap album just ain't all that.

  • Jay-Z

    'Billboard' Intrudes on Jay-Z and Samsung's Echo Chamber

    Thanks to next week's Billboard cover story, "What Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta' Means For The 'Billboard' 200 Chart," the Jay-Z and Samsung sell-out to end all sell-outs just got even more Möbius strip-like. After the making-of a teaser which announced the upcoming Jay-Z album Magna Carter Holy Grail and tied it to the promotion of phone company Samsung, Jay-Z turned the story towards the specifics of Samsung's purchase of a million copies of the album. He tweeted, "If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn't report it, did it happen?," and added the hashtag "#newrules." Jay-Z and Samsung were now selling the idea of selling out. They were trying to turn a canny corporate move into some kind of Steve Jobs-ian innovation for the industry.Now, Billboard has answered Jay-Z's tweet in a cover editorial.

  • Kanye West / Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Kanye West Probably Needs a Fact Checker

    Heems "Turn Me On"Since the break-up of his joking-not-joking group Das Racist, Himanshu Suri has been on a rather fascinating contrarian-art journey. He followed up 2012's Nehru Jackets (easily one of the best rap records of the 2010s) with Wild Water Kingdom, a gurgling, slowed-up sort of rap record that I'm only just now understanding. And here he does bedroom R&B a little late, revealing an angel-voiced, super-sincere side of himself that crams Kevin Lyttle's gorgeously ridiculous pinwheel dancehall hit "Turn Me On" and Bad Boy lovermen 112's "All My Love" (which Lyttle, in part, interpolates) into a PBR&B medley.

  • Jay-Z

    Jay-Z and Samsung Are Selling the Concept of Selling Out

    When you're watching the three-minute teaser for Jay-Z's upcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail, it is easy to forget that it is really just a lengthy commercial for Samsung. A mostly hand-held, Fade to Black-like snapshot of Jay in the studio recording and attempting Ray Lewis-like speeches to his crew of producers and engineers is sorta exciting if you don't think about it too hard. Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, and Timbaland are all there! That one beat almost sounds like the theme song to River's Edge or something, and then it goes dubstep, but, like, real U.K.

  • Iamsu/ Photo by Arturo Torres

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Angry Russian Trap Rap; Iamsu! Shouts Out Stevie

    2Eleven, feat. Freddie Gibbs "Listen"Atlanta producer Tony Gardner is usually mentioned along with Compton Brick Squadder Ice Burgandy. The majority of Ice's Rhythm & Burgandy tape from last year was helmed by Gardner, who takes oft-flipped samples and rediscovers their animal-brain appeal. He exploits the cheap thrill of familiarity, and thrives on the precarious balance between know-your-history homage and straight-up derivative. In that sense, Gardner is the opposite of Tree, the Chicago producer who renders classic soul samples unrecognizable like an even more obsessive Dilla. On "Listen," Gardner molds Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" into a half-chopped, half-hobble with each percussive element crashing down like a RZA snare.

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