Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Yep, There's a Kanye West and 'My Neighbor Totoro' Mash-Up

    Rap Songs of the Week: Yep, There's a Kanye West and 'My Neighbor Totoro' Mash-Up

    Astro Kid, "My Neighbor Yeezus"Wherein some Soundcloud weirdo layers the candy-colored marching-band weirdness of Joe Hisaishi's "Sampo" — from the soundtrack to Hayao Miyazaki's much-loved, low key, two-kids-and-a-totally-adorbz-smiling-cat classic My Neighbor Totoro — atop the Wax Trax goth-hop of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead." Hopefully, part of a larger mash-up project that will yield more of these, there's a playful wit to this stitched-together refix, something that even the slowly-losing-his-sense-of-humor Kanye could appreciate, given the animé moves of Graduation and, of course, this tweet.Common, "War"So Common has announced a Chicago street-violence concept album called Nobody Smiling; the first track we get to hear is a booming '70s-TV-crime-show No I.D.

  • Justin Bieber Made a Pretty Great R&B Album, Despite Himself

    Justin Bieber Made a Pretty Great R&B Album, Despite Himself

    Justin Bieber kicked off his bumpy 2013 by going after Justin Timberlake. On the day of the Grammys — which, as y'all surely recall, was something of a synergy-happy hours-long ad for JT's The 20/20 Experience — JB released a sketch of a slinking Neptunes facsimile called “You Want Me” that began with the pop star declaring, “It's me, Justin,” then pausing a second or two too long before adding, “Bieber.” With that unsuccessful, half-stepped trolling attempt out of his system, he spent the spring and summer tossing out a few interesting songs here and there, transitioning in the fall to a more focused series of excellent, murky slow jams delivered to the Internet for free as part of his “Music Mondays” gimmick.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Nicki Minaj Takes Control of the Dude-Rap Convo on 'Boss Ass Bitch Remix'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Nicki Minaj Takes Control of the Dude-Rap Convo on 'Boss Ass Bitch Remix'

    Drake, "Trophies"Drake threw this Nothing Was the Same throwaway out to the public right before the New Year as something like a victory lap. Laced with "All of the Lights"-style horns, graced by Drizzy in Young Scooter-esque yelling mode, and punctuated by a contorted footwork breakdown that oh my gawd if only it went on a little longer (echoes of Take Care's "Crew Love"), this is a tricky banger and a fascinating look into OVO's editing process. (It presumably got cut because, as great as it sounds, it's a little too rummy to fit with the album's low-key atmospherics.) But when all you make are victory laps these days — when your whole album was a celebration of how damned comfortable you are in your own smarmy skin — is a song called "Trophies" redundant? Drake feat.

  • E-40

    E-40's Endless Bounty, Beyonce's H-Town Alias, and Eight More New Rap LP's in No Trivia

    ALBUM OF THE MONTHE-40, Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil, Parts 4, 5, & 6 (Heavy on the Grind)Nobody needs this much E-40; then again, maybe everybody needs this much E-40. At 46 songs and nearly three hours, this is pretty much a critique-proof, whole-enchilada kind of listen. Is “She wanna sit on my lap like a chair” from “In Dat Cup” actually a hot rap line? Well, not really, but the way he delivers it, with some Southern swing in his voice (because this is a collaborative track with Big K.R.I.T. and Z-Ro), stretching out the air sound in chair, is electrifying. Plus, you know you're in good hands here, because 40 is just a stellar rapper, which gives him some room to get goofy.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Beyonce Does Her Best Kendrick Lamar Impression on 'Haunted'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Beyonce Does Her Best Kendrick Lamar Impression on 'Haunted'

    Beyoncé, "Haunted"Put this in the same baffling category as other recent hot-mess No Trivia favorites like Eminem's “So Far...” and Childish Gambino's “Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information).” Another really tricky expression of an artist's celebrity, warts and all, “Haunted” begins with a white person mispronouncing Beyoncé's name, which imbues a random, frustrating indignity from her youth into a full-blown, racially loaded origin story. In 2013, would anybody be so clueless as to call her “Bee Awnz” Knowles? She won. And like all winners, she's lost the common-people map a little bit, so there's plenty of Watch the Throne-style, well-meaning one-percenter sympathy here, filled with pats on on the head (to us commoners) and pats on the back (to herself), best exemplified by her decision to repeat that “9 to 5 just to stay alive” line way too many times.

  • Brandon Soderberg's 25 Best Albums of 2013

    Brandon Soderberg's 25 Best Albums of 2013

    To finish out the year, we'll be offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Today, Contributor Brandon Soderberg.For me, it was the year of event-album letdowns. The consensus picks that I could get behind tended to sneak up on you, unannounced, and never really climbed out of the rap-nerd world, anyways: The mordant humanity of Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap, and the playful, more-profound-than-you-realized inanity of Migos' Young Rich Niggas. Whatever it was that Justin Timberlake's tedious, privileged The 20/20 Experience offered all of you, I found in the bashful dork-funk of Toro Y Moi's Anything in Return, and the Sade-if-they-rocked-mesh-shirts solemnity of inc.'s No World. Meanwhile, Kavinsky's OutRun was the EDM implosion I (unfairly, yes) hoped Daft Punk would give us with Random Access Memories.

  • Stream Sean Price and M-Phazes' Grimy, Scatological 'Land of the Crooks' EP

    Stream Sean Price and M-Phazes' Grimy, Scatological 'Land of the Crooks' EP

    Brownsville rap hero Sean Price (of the Boot Camp Clik and Heltah Skeltah) teams up with Melbourne, Australia beatmaker M-Phazes, who recently received a high-profile credit on Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (he co-produced the first part of MMLP2's "Bad Guy") for Land of the Crooks, a terse, nervy, five-track EP. Intro track "Bag of Shit" contains classic punch-you punchlines such as "I will clap your Kangol," and enacts a kind of gully Cheech & Chong routine throughout the hilarious track: "The bag with the shit got shit on the bag, man." "Dump in the Gut" slurs a sample of OutKast's Big Boi on UGK's "International Player's Anthem" for the hook, while the title track features mosh-rap legend Billy Danze of M.O.P., New York renaissance rapper Maffew Ragazino, and Dilated Peoples' DJ Babu's scratching.

  • Childish Gambino

    Rap Songs of the Week: Childish Gambino Gets Popped With a 3D-Print Gun

    Childish Gambino, "Zealots Of Stockholm (Free Information)"Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's Childish Gambino, whose Because the Internet just received a "Worst New Music" on this very website, but hey, this track capably gloms onto the wordplay-as-psychedelic-Jimi-Hendrix-solo steez of Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller and others, all while approximating Yeezus noisemaking and Frank Ocean syrup-singing. There is a moment on this weird-as-hell song where chipmunk-soul seagulls squeal amid doom-and-gloom strings while Gambino conflates TMZ with TMI, abstractly endorses gay marriage, and then imagines himself sitting in a Denny's and getting shot by a maniac with a 3D-print handgun. He also paraphrases Sam Kinison and sounds dead freaking serious about it all.

  • SPIN's 50 Best Rap Songs of 2013

    SPIN's 50 Best Rap Songs of 2013

    Whether you were, like Kanye West, contemplating how good and screwed the country was in the confines of your impeccably furnished abode, or sitting in a Mike WiLL Made It-soundtracked party staring into into the abyss, it was a year of raps that sounded like everything collapsing. About the only respite from all this simmering hopelessness was oddball underground types, either swallowing their own syllables and falling down a Auto-Tune rabbithole laid down by Future, or riding the lyrics-are-cool-again zeitgeist of Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, seemingly rapping to keep from crying. Let's all slap a smile across our faces and put down the syrup in 2014, maybe? Never stop yelling about privately-funded prisons and other institutionalized fuckery, though.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Kendrick Lamar and YG Hootie for President(s)

    Rap Songs of the Week: Kendrick Lamar and YG Hootie for President(s)

    Big Baby Gandhi, "Boomerang"A bit like Earl Sweatshirt's "Chum," what with the never-getting-off-the-ground chord organ beat and the regular-dude pathos and all. And that Earl song was already riffed on a few months ago via Danny Brown's similarly fractured "Float On," which puts this Big Baby Gandhi bonus track — in anticipation of his debut, called, um, DEBUT — in some very good, hard-spitting, self-effacing, I'mma-do-me company.

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