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In my opinion, the best hip-hop album of all time is “De La Soul Is Dead”

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Being Black: The

For me, the best album in hip-hop history stays “De La Soul is dead”, the group’s legendary second album from 1991. As I said in my “Off the Wall” vs. “Thriller” article, a key part of a great album is making a thesis and combining the songs, sound, and feel of that thesis. If it’s cohesive, it means the songs flow together to create a statement. Historically, hip-hop has given us many amazing, consistent albums, from Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Raekwon’s Onlybuilt 4 Cuban Linx, and A Tribe Called “Low Level Theory” by Quest, “The Chronic” by Dr. Dre, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Nas’ Illmatic. This is not a complete list. There are a lot of hip-hop albums that are consistent. For me, the best of them is “De La Soul Is Dead”, because the thesis of this album is even deeper than most albums that have it – “Dead” challenges the definition of what De La Soul is and in that sense the meaning black.

“De La Soul Is Dead” is like a sequel that requires you to observe the first film to actually understand the deeper undertones of the second film. On their 1989 debut album “3 feet high and soaring”, De La — which includes late rapper Trugoy the Dove, rapper Posdnous and DJ/rapper Maseo — introduced themselves as hip-hop hippies. They emerged at a time when hip-hop was still centered around urban MCs talking about life in the hood. De La was from the suburbs of Long Island and they never tried to hide that in their music or vibe. But being open about who they were made people think they were soft. Sometimes when they were on tour, people would try to fight the guys because they thought they couldn’t fight. Their producer, Prince Paul, talked about this when I talked to him on an episode of Being Black the 80s about De La Soul’s “My Brother’s A Basehead.”

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But being perceived as soft had an excellent deeper resonance, no less than in the late Eighties. At that time, it appeared like the hood was the heart of being black, and being a hood meant you were tough. Being a gang, no less than in a hip-hop context, meant you were tough as hell, world-weary, cold-hearted, and prepared for anything. Being seen as easy was a metaphor for being black.

On their second album, De La got down to break the belief that they were fragile – they wanted to vary the way people thought of them. I do not know of many albums in the history of hip-hop that were so focused on the idea of ​​changing the way people perceived the character of the group itself. Sometimes artists openly change their aesthetics, but that is not the point. This is De La saying you do not understand who we actually are after which trying to clarify who they’re.

The album is crammed with De La’s signature fun and eclectic samples, in addition to plenty of great, complex rhymes and skits from the guys, which adds as much as De La arguing, somewhat angrily, that they don’t seem to be hippies and they don’t seem to be gentle – I can not I consider a rap group recorded an album with the caption: . Consequently, they are saying: yes, we usually are not a gang, nevertheless it is still difficult for us and we’re still black.

Other hip-hop albums have touched on the challenges of dealing drugs and coping with the police, but on “Dead,” De La took on a very different set of challenges. In one song they told us a story about sexual abuse in the family. In one other song, they told the story of Brother Posdnous’s very real addiction to crack. (I’m going deeper into this topic on my podcast, “Being Black: The ’80s.”) In one other song, the guys got incredibly disgusted once they went to Burger King. It’s definitely not on the same level as the other songs, but I say this album is often about their problems because, hey, life in the suburbs will be tough.

“Dead” is a conversation with audiences and critics about who we thought they were based on their first album and who they are surely, which comes from the belief that they usually are not fragile. In an excellent series of sketches, or interludes, a gaggle of three boys find the tape we’re listening to and criticize it. One of them hates it, which is hysterical, and the other one likes it. Of course, the one who hates repeatedly attacks the one who likes it. It’s an incredible meta-commentary on the audience surrounding their album, the nature of hip-hop skits (which were ubiquitous at the time), and the importance of being hard or soft in the culture.

Thanks to “Dead”, De La definitely managed to vary people’s opinion about them – they got rid of the hippie/soft label. They killed the old De La Soul image and did it by creating loads of amazing songs that I still like to at the present time. There are many great albums in the history of hip-hop, but none like the De La Soul album about De La Soul, which aimed to vary the way people thought of De La Soul. We didn’t use the word meta back then, but when we did, “Dead” could be the best meta hip-hop album.


This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Music

Zsela lets go and falls into uncertainty with her debut album “Big For You”

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Zsela leans into the ebb and flow of uncertainty and encourages listeners to do the identical throughout her debut album, “Big For You.”

The album, which was 4 years within the making, is the follow-up to Zsela’s 2020 EP “Ache of Victory,” which she describes as “an imprint of time.”

“I’m connected to it because it will always be a part of my story, but I’m excited to talk about it with the new album,” Zsela said. “I worked rather a lot on myself and on this music. It took time. I feel really lucky that I used to be in a position to get the songs where I wanted them to be this time, and I’m really enthusiastic about where they ended up,” she said.

For Zsela, working on “Big For You” was a test of trusting her instincts and pushing herself beyond her comfort zone, each sonically and vocally.

“I actually began experimenting with my voice in a way that influenced my writing. I had this character that I used to be singing with who got here on a day where I just wasn’t feeling my voice. So I assumed, let me try something different. Really different,” Zsela said of the album’s character. When asked where a particular character appears, she simply replies, “I feel it’s more fun to depart it to the listener to seek out.”

Singer Zsela poses for a portrait on Friday, May 24, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Zsela has a wealthy, appealing voice. Its warm tone is intertwined with upbeat, dreamy melodies and instruments, especially heard on songs like “Fire Excape” and “Not Your Angel.”

“I feel like I’ve become more confident in just the practice of experimenting, of not being so precious, of being open to people and ideas, and really trying to practice listening to myself and where I want to go, and to the outside noise of the world,” she says.

However, when starting her transformation, Zsela says she really desired to strive for “lightness, fun and lightness” in any respect times.

“I really tried to bring it into the room whenever I was alone and working on what I wanted to say,” she said. “It’s almost like opening up and letting go and experimenting.”

“Big For You” was a probability for her to see how far she could go, establishing her creative confidence and creating an enthralling and energetic album, filled with musical tension and rest.

“My friend described this album as sweaty, it feels tense and hot,” she says.

“Big For You” in Zsela’s case means “I love you”, and the album is about love and all its complexities.

“The space we fill and move into the inside of affection is large. Like being ‘full for you’ and ‘filled with you’ and the complexity of the scale of the space we occupy and fill,” the artist said.

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The Brooklyn native takes listeners on an adventure that begins with the whimsical “Lily of the Nile” and ends with “Play” – a song that she claims “ends with a question about love.”

“It’s kind of leaving the album open and hopefully making you want to start over to see what the answer is or if there is one.”

She once more teamed up with longtime Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs collaborator Daniel Aged to provide alongside Gabe Wax.

“I keep my world of colleagues quite private. And that does not imply I don’t desire to ask more, but I feel the intimacy really built loads of trust and that was really vital to create that and to have the option to experiment and find your way home. “

Zsela has played many concert events with artists comparable to Caroline Polacheck and Arooj Aftab. However, this summer she shall be embarking on her first headlining tour and is looking forward to meeting listeners who enjoy her artistry.

“I can’t wait to see who’s in these rooms,” she said. “I’m excited to play these songs live. The whole time I was making this album, all I could think about was playing them live.”

The premiere of “Big For You” is scheduled for Friday. Zsela hopes listeners will absorb the melodies, lyrics and arrangements while driving with the highest down.

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Lenny Kravitz embraced being both black and Jewish, which defined who he was

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Lenny Kravitz is black and Jewish, and that dichotomy has meant a lot in his life. In our Masters of the Game interview, he talked about how he was often teased as a toddler for not being fully either side. “I grew up with kids, and I’m sure you have, too, who didn’t know how to deal with it because they thought they had to fit into one or the other,” he said. – And we haven’t got to suit into both.

Kravitz says his family advised him to rise above it. He said he was taught “to accept all that you are and to honor all that you are and to know that if you have different elements, it’s a gift, that you can draw from different cultures, different things and different aspects of yourself. It gives you more opportunities to work and a greater understanding that we are all truly one. We are all the same. We all come from the same source. So I think having that mix is ​​wonderful.”

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But Kravitz had a very powerful example of being pleased with who you might be in your individual home. His mother, actress Roxie Roker, was a part of the primary interracial couple shown on television when she starred in “The Jeffersons”, one in all the best television series of the late Seventies. “The Jeffersons” focused on George Jefferson and his wife Louise, aka Weezy, who were a part of the black upper class at a time when there have been few of them within the country and none on television . Roker’s character, Helen Willis, lived near the Jeffersons and appeared in almost every episode. Helena’s husband was white. Her character helped normalize interracial relationships within the media and helped Kravitz feel higher.

Kravitz proudly told me the story of how Roker got the job – the show’s creator, Norman Lear, asked her if she can be comfortable playing a personality who had a white husband. Kravitz said Lear said, “Now listen, I just want to talk to you about this because I need to make sure you’re comfortable. Because you’re going to, you know, hug and kiss this man. I don’t know how you’ll feel about kissing a white man. She pulled out a photo of her husband. He was a white man. Lear said, “I’ll see you on Monday.”


This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Timbaland inducted into Songwriter Hall of Fame; SZA wins young songwriter award

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The Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala was an event to not be missed.

Legendary record producer Timbaland has reportedly been inducted into the organization’s 2024 class, with fellow songwriters joining REM, Steely Dan, Hillary Lindsey and Dean Pitchford. Hollywood reporter.

Missy Elliott, Timbaland’s longtime collaborator and the primary female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall, was in attendance and paid tribute to the producer. Timbaland you should definitely thank Elliott and several other other artists he has worked with, including Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Magoo.

“I owe my career to Missy Elliott,” he said during his award acceptance speech to THR. He concluded with gratitude to Songwriters Hall: “Thank you for giving me a seat at the table – I’ve been waiting for a long time.”

SZA speaks on stage on the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala on June 13, 2024 in New York City. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

Timbaland wasn’t the one artist within the R&B and hip-hop space to win the award. Singer SZA won the Hal David Starlight Award, an honor given to young songwriters. The Grammy winner, whose “SOS” was amongst the most important albums of 2023, sang an acoustic version of her song “Snooze” on the ceremony.

“I have exceeded all my wildest dreams,” SZA said during her award acceptance speech, per People. “I’m just so grateful. Thank you for seeing me. I swear I’ll be like, “Oh, I wrote this and I wrote that.” And (people) would say, ‘OK,’ especially in case you’re a lady, especially in case you’re a black woman. So winning this… just means the world.

Songwriters Hall chairman Nile Rodgers presented the award to SZA, who stated that she was “many different people” as an artist.

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“I weighed 200 pounds. I weigh 130 pounds,” SZA said. “I used to be a one that didn’t dance on stage in any respect, a one that could only close her eyes and look down, a one that danced and gave her all. I just went through all this and thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m struggling with being an artist.” As if writing made me feel like an individual, that I had value and will show that I used to be smart, and it went beyond the query: “Am I pretty?” Am I liked? And that principally meant the whole lot to me.

“It made me feel like a human being, that I was doing something valuable,” she concluded. “Basically, receiving this award validates my entire career.”

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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