Today is Kanye West‘s 34th birthday, and while we would be happy to praise our favorite controversial artist to high heaven, we’re sure no amount of laudation would be enough for the notoriously immodest West. So we decided to take a different approach: pinpointing the 34 moments that shaped Kanye. Some shaped his life; some shaped his persona; some shaped the way he’s seen. All of them either have found or will find their way into his highly personal music. Happy birthday, Yeezy!
DATE: June 8, 1977 EVENT: Kanye West is born
It wouldn’t be Kanye’s birthday if he hadn’t been born thirty-four years ago today, in Atlanta, where his parents settled after they both finished graduate school.
DATE: August 28, 1980 EVENT: Kanye’s parents, Ray And Donda, divorce
In her memoir Raising Kanye, Donda West recalls that, to her mind, her husband Ray was putting his new photography studio ahead of his own family, so she filed for divorce and full custody of young Kanye. Two weeks after the divorce was final, Kanye and his mother left Atlanta for Chicago. Imagine the life he might have led had he grown up in Atlanta!
It may seem surprising that hip-hop would dominate anything at Bonnaroo, the giant music festival (and party) that began in Tennessee a decade ago with hippie-ish jam bands and roots rock. But this is what we discovered when using Next Big Sound to gather social media stats on all 150 or so acts on the lineup. For our inaugural “Bonnaroo By the Numbers” feature, we’ve compared the top 20 acts on the lineup versus their total number of social media fans (Facebook, Twitter, LastFM, MySpace, YouTube, etc.).
While the top acts on the lineup are a solid mix of roots rock, hip-hop and indie rock, the hip-hop artists tear it up in the social space. Eminem, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa would be the top three acts if Bonnaroo were to order its lineup based on which artists have the most social media fans. While Eminem tops both the bill and social media (nearly 50 million followers!), Lil Wayne is #7 on the lineup and Wiz is down at #44. Atmosphere would also be #10 on the lineup, not #39.
After the top three hip-hop acts, the next three would be a trio of indie luminaries: The Strokes, Arcade Fire and The Decemberists. It’s not too surprising that the roots rock or jam band contingents don’t register very high. To be fair, we didn’t break out the individual musicians of the reunited Buffalo Springfield — and Neil Young has more than a million Facebook followers alone. Then again, we can’t really imagine him sharing his knack for poetry on Twitter.
When My Morning Jacket played “Circuital”on their episode of VH1 Storytellers, frontman Jim James talked in almost spiritual tones about how the heat of recording conducted sound really well and made the recording sound great. Maybe it was really hot in the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon studio yesterday, too, because the band turned out not only a killer rendition of their single, but also one of the better-sounding musical performances we’ve ever seen on television.
Fallon’s staff deserves a bit of the credit: television performances are notorious for sounding bad (the audio equivalent of the old chestnut, “the camera adds ten pounds”), but somehow the band sounded as good as ever. Recently Billboard (in the May 28 print issue and an online supplement) and Pitchfork both ran features on the expanding role of late-night television in music promotion, especially for niche artists like My Morning Jacket. Both articles had kind words for Fallon’s music booker Jonathan Cohen. Judging from last night’s performance, the audio mixer needs some serious shine, too. It didn’t hurt that, even when it’s an open secret that musical performances get last billing because audiences are most likely to tune out, the show gave the band the full seven-plus minutes so they didn’t have to abbreviate the song or pick a different performance. The audience got the whole song?”greatest guitar solo of all time” (that’s Jim James on Storytellers again) and all.
Latin-flavored pop music rarely crosses over in America unless the lyrics are sung entirely in English, but you can’t blame Shakira for trying. Her latest album, the bilingual Sale el Sol/The Sun Comes Out, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 (#4 among Digital Albums) when it was released in the first week of November against tough competition (namely, Kings of Leon and Sugarland), but the English-language version of single “Loca” featured British rapper Dizzee Rascal, who’s talented but hardly an American hitmaker.
“Rabiosa,” on the other hand, features Miami rapper Pitbull, so it’s getting a much bigger push, which seems warranted, since the lyric video posted a week ago already has nearly half a million views. (Granted, Latin artists perform disproportionately well on YouTube when compared to other charts.) Read more…
New York tri-state power-pop fans have a big reason to be happy today: hyper-prolific songwriter Adam Schlesinger has re-teamed with his bandmates for the first Fountains of Wayne album since 2007’s Traffic and Weather. The critically-acclaimed but perennially underrated (and isn’t that always the way with power-pop?) band returns with “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart,” the first single from the forthcoming Sky Full of Holes. The song premiered this morning on Vulture.
Schlesinger has kept plenty busy in the interim, of course; he’s written dozens of songs for television and film, including the theme to That Thing You Do!, which won him an Oscar nomination, and, most recently, interstitial music for the Billboard Music Awards last month. He was also the primary songwriter for the super-group Tinted Windows, formed by his Scratchie Records partner James Iha, and featuring Taylor Hanson and Cheap Trick‘s Bun E. Carlos. But it’s good to have the old band back, if you’re into bright pop songs about love and/or the Northeast Corridor. And who knows? Maybe this record will have another “Stacy’s Mom.”
The video for Katy Perry‘s new single “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” premieres in a week, but today Perry released an entire teaser package, including not only the clip above, but also a Twitter account and Facebook page for the fictional “nerd persona” that we first saw on the single’s cover art. “Kathy Beth Terry” is some sort of mid-90s teenybopper everynerd; on Twitter she follows BOP and Tiger Beat, Popstar! Magazine, and teen idols from a range of years centered around 1995 (Leonardo DiCaprio, Hanson, Jared Leto, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Rider Strong, and Devon Sawa), plus two NASA accounts, Sudoku Fun, LARP Craft, and, of course, the Katy Perry account. Read more…
Dr. Dre cruises around Los Angeles in a Chrysler 300S playing an instrumental track through the sedan’s Beats by Dre speakers in a television spot that premiered on Sunday during the NBA finals. HipHopDX is reporting that the instrumental is the beat for a Dr. Dre/50 Cent collaboration from the long-promised Detox. Does this commercial lend support to the most recently rumored Detox release date?
We’ve got a live one! Leaking last night with the rest of Beyonc?’s album, 4, “Party” might be one of the strongest new contenders for our Song of the Summer, and we’re hoping it will also be her third single. Produced by both Kanye West and Consequence and featuring an insane verse from novelty-spitter Andr? 3000, this sweetly sexy track delivers something for every listener, including a silly line from Yeezy woven in-and-out that’s so cheesy it might actually grow on us (I mean, “swag sauce” and “dripping swagu”? If you say so!).
But don’t let the song title deceive you; while “Party” can easily help complete a laid-back, trill evening with friends, its sound is more reminiscent of a come-hither lady anthem from the R&B 90s. And who better to pull off a grown and sexy summer smash than B, singing sassy lyrics that demand the most intense kind of intimacy from her suitor– but only if he “don’t tell nobody tomorrow.” The need for intimacy, however, is a self-proclaimed bi-product of a (perhaps unrequited?) love that crowns the track’s endearing confesional nature. Of course Beyonc? is a happily married woman, but at one time, she was a single lady looking for love and cruising for a man to be her equal. Perfectly suited for brewing summer romances, “Party” can serve as the backdrop to a BBQ, a bikini-targeted workout session, or -you guessed it- some good old-fashioned boot knockin’. Proceed with caution, y’all!
The best part about the promotion of NBC’s The Voice is that Cee Lo Green keeps turning up on late night. Last night, backed by a seventeen-piece band, including horns and strings, he continued his “Bright Lights, Bigger City” victory lap on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Frankly, a lot of his backing music was probably unnecessary, but Cee Lo is one of the best when it comes to selling it, so it worked?much as it did on his episode of Storytellers. Watch it above.