Brandon Soderberg



  • Mykki Blanco / Photo by Timothy Saccenti

    No Trivia's Rap Release of the Week: Mykki Blanco's 'Betty Rubble: The Initiation'

    Not that you need to be reminded, but thanks to the Internet, music trends move faster and faster. For better and worse, the result is that artists seem to go through a career-length number of transitions in a matter of months. And they can fizzle out if they don't keep moving forward. Consistency is no longer a virtue. Consider Le1f's more subdued, Jodorowsky-ian Fly Zone mixtape, released less than a year after the cyberpunk fight-rap of Dark York, or even, the tangible Kendrick Lamar tics and grunts that suddenly dominated Chance the Rapper's style on Acid Rap.

  • Kanye West on 'Saturday Night Live'

    Kanye West Has Become Our Pink Floyd, Just Admit It

    Projected onto a wall in 66 different locations across the globe on Friday Night, Kanye West's new single, "New Slaves," off his upcoming album Yeezus, is vital, singular, muddled, and fairly hypocritical, like a lot of Kanye West statements. He expresses frustration with the way his aspirational raps have been imbibed and misread by everybody: "What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain? / All you blacks want all the same things / Used to only be niggas, now everybody's playing / Spending everything on Alexander Wang / New Slaves."The point seems to be that those things which Kanye perceived as aspirational, or even transgressive, have with his help become painfully middle-brow and attainable.

  • Khalil Nova's '808s of Life'

    Stream Khalil Nova's Head-Nodder 'Gunnin' 4 a Palace'

    Towards the end of 2011, Georgia Khalil Nova — the anime-obsessed, lo-fi beatmaker/rapper from Stockbridge, Georgia — appeared with a bizarre, broken-down mixtape called 808s of Death. It capped off one of the more fruitful years for anything-goes hip-hop and was given an early cosign by Danny Brown. Since then, Khalil Nova has released other mixtape, The Black Layne Staley, which should have plenty of SPIN readers reaching for the keyboards to download the thing, right?

  • No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Vampire Weekend Prove Their Rap-Nerd Bonafides

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Vampire Weekend Prove Their Rap-Nerd Bonafides

    Eve, feat. Pusha T & Juicy J "She Bad Bad Remix"The only two songs that remind you her lunkheaded label stuck its grubby paws in Eve's otherwise excellent Lip Lock are "Make It Out of This Town," a beyond forgettable party-pop track featuring Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship (in her SPIN review, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd quipped that "featuring Gabe Saporta" was "one of the most tragic phrases in pop culture"), and this end-of-the-album remix of "She Bad Bad," featuring Pusha T and Juicy J. These are the two places left in the mainstream for rapping right now, it seems: As just another moving part inside of some hopelessly corny EDM non-starter, or indulging pop-enough street-rap's dirty old men. It's bleak out there, people. But hey, if it takes aging-out creeps Pusha T and Juicy J remixing a rubbery dance-rap track to get Eve the attention she deserves, that's cool.

  • Homeboy Sandman / Photo by Gavin Thomas

    Homeboy Sandman, 'Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent' (Stones Throw)

    Last month, Hot 97 morning-show host, notoriously aggressive "real hip-hop" defender, and professional Nicki Minaj antagonizer Peter Rosenberg released the pointedly titled free mixtape New York Renaissance.

  • Eve / Photo by Getty Images

    No Trivia's Rap Release of the Week: Eve's 'Lip Lock'

    Finally, after 11 years, we've got a new Eve album. Her first since 2002's Eve-Olution, it actually lives up to the buggy, nervy promise offered via a half-decade of underrated and unfairly maligned singles like "Tambourine” (air-raid siren meets a Soul Seachers sample yammer-rap), "Me N' My" (a dubstep-pop track before everybody was doing them), and "Coolin'" (a scream of squeak-synths from producer Swizz Beatz). Although none of those tracks ended up on Lip Lock, most of the record — save for an unfortunate collaboration with Cobra Starship vocalist Gabe Saporta called "Make It Out of This Town" — works off that same blueprint of rap-rave weirdness.

  • Chief Keef

    The RIAA's On-Demand Stream Policy Is Hostile to Hip-Hop

    As SPIN reported via Billboard last week, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that it will now count the number of streams an album receives towards its gold and platinum status. The services whose streams will be considered are MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, and Xbox Music. Also, video views from, VEVO, Yahoo! Music, and YouTube are going to be factored in. A hundred streams will count as one download, because, well, the RIAA says so.Although this looks like an aging-out aspect of the industry acknowledging the present, it will have devastating effects for hip-hop and, ultimately, may leave the genre further out on the margins of the pop mainstream.

  • Action Bronson / Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Action Bronson Is About to Get His Axl Rose On

    Ab-Soul - "Back Then"In which Ab-Soul, one of XXL's 2013 Freshman (even though he's been flirting with the mainstream going on two years now, and is bros with everybody's big-time rap hero Kendrick Lamar), bleats over a skittering, half-evil Harry Fraud beat that nods to both exploitation movie synth-trash, and throbbing strip-club bangers. “Back Then” makes a case that Ab-Soul, the most eccentric Black Hippy member, could become a radio-friendly rapper run amok. Between this and Ab's appearance on Chance the Rapper's "Smoke Again," is he molting into some kind of weirdly nimble booty-club lyricist? Wale, watch out!

  • Riff Raff, from 'One Life to Live'

    Riff Raff Trolls James Franco, Channels Brando, on Surreal Soap Opera 'One Life to Live'

    Yesterday, Riff Raff appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live as a menacing art dealer straight out of Miami named Jamie Franko. This stunt, it seems, was inspired by James Franco's own stint on General Hospital, and fueled by Franco's steady refusal to acknowledge the influence of Riff Raff on the character of Alien in Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. Although this is an absurdist coup for Riff Raff (and some stellar trolling of a Hollywood superstar), it is also important to point out that this shit is beyond low-stakes. One Life to Live is a long-running soap opera now relegated to being shown only on Hulu. It isn't exactly Franco doing General Hospital for, like, three years. Riff Raff is just creating another jokey-not-jokey layer to this whole James Franco vs. Riff Raff pseudo-tiff that Jody Highroller seems intent on milking and mocking for as long as possible.

  • Chance the Rapper / Photo by Gabriella DeGirolami

    No Trivia's Rap Release of the Week: Chance the Rapper's 'Acid Rap'

    Last week's rap release of the week was Rittz's sturdy The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant. Mostly because the obvious pick, Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap, was going to get a thorough evaluation thanks to a SPIN review (it was named an "Essential," read the review here). That Rittz album is special — the kind of thing you'll end up coming back to way more than you expect — but it doesn't possess the inspired sprawl of Acid Rap by any stretch of the imagination.This week, there are a couple of notable releases. Scotty, an Atlanta traditionalist wise enough not to saddle his rhymes with a savior complex, just released F.A.I.T.H, a confident step up from 2011's quite-good Summer Dreams (RIYL: Kevin Gates' The Luca Brasi Story).

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