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On this EP release, Tamara doesn’t shy away from the stigma of being labeled a “female rapper” as long as you know she’s your favorite rapper PERIOD. Tamara Bubble is primarily known for her singing in many genres, but she’s back with 100% bars this time because her fans asked for it! Within 7 tracks, Tamara will turn you on, make you dance, think, and lyrically turn you out! Topics include domestic violence, gambling vs. saving, investing,
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Stormzy was praised as he asked Theresa May “where’s the money for Grenfell?” in his live performance at the Brit Awards.It was an eventful night for the Croydon grime artist, who won both the British male solo artist and British album of the year awards.
In a freestyle rap, he said: “Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? What you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?”You criminals, and you’ve got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages, you should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”
Brits viewers were quick to praise Stormzy for the performance.One person described it as “so powerful” while another said: “#Stormzy using his platform for good, making sure that hundreds of families from Grenfell continue to be remembered.
“Whether you agree with his use of the platform or not, you can’t say it hasn’t got you thinking. #BRITS.”Labour MP David Lammy also joined in on the applause.
He wrote: “Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? You think we forgot about Grenfell?”. Respect @Stormzy1 speaking truth to power. #BRITs2018.”
The Tottenham MP also congratulated the music star for his double win, and added: “He’s changed the game, his story is so inspiring and his music has given a voice to a generation of young people living in our inner cities. Respect and love from Tottenham.”
Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad tweeted: “Thank you for speaking truth to power, @Stormzy1. “Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? You think we forgot about Grenfell?” he sang live on the #BRITs.”In Kensington we will never forget. We will never stop fighting for Justice. No justice, no peace.”
Earlier at the awards, Stormzy became emotional when he was revealed as the winner of the British male solo artist prize.He then became overwhelmed as he was announced as the winner of the most coveted prize of the night, the British album award, beating favourite Ed Sheeran to the accolade.
He fell to the ground in shock while in the audience as he was announced the winner for his debut record Gang Signs And Prayer.Accepting his prize, the rapper told the audience: “Firstly, I always give all the glory to God, God this is all you, this is all you God.
“I know that a lot of people, when I give the glory to God, it seems such a strange thing, but if you know God, you know it’s all him.”
Poet. Writer. | Poetry editor @MuzzleMagazine | Author of The Crown Ain’t Worth Much & They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. | Ohioan
Much like last year, I have decided on a somewhat random number of albums. I do appreciate how the list format can be equal parts exciting and somewhat exhausting during this time of year. But for me, it’s a good place to mention a lot of albums that I loved but didn’t always get to write about or talk about a lot this year. In 2017, I went from (arguably) writing too much about music to not having nearly as much time to write about music as I wanted to. I hope to strike a balance in 2018. In the meantime, here are my 39 favorite albums of the year. Like last year, if there was good writing on the artist or album, I’ll link that as well.
If anything, though, the BPI is actually underplaying the success of streaming, as it relies on data from the Official Charts Company, which does not currently count music played on YouTube towards its figures.
It has been estimated that if YouTube was included, the number of streams accessed by music fans in the UK would double.
Most-streamed artists of 2017
1) Ed Sheeran
3) Little Mix
5) The Weeknd
6) Calvin Harris
8) Kendrick Lamar
10) Post Malone
Overall, sales of music generated £1.2 billion for the UK economy last year, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.
At the opposite end of the technological scale, sales of vinyl continued to grow, with 4.1 million LPs purchased in 2017.
Again, Ed Sheeran was the most popular artist on the format – closely followed by Liam Gallagher and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, which featured in the top five vinyl albums for the third year in a row.
CD sales down
However, vinyl only accounts for 3% of the overall music market, and its success is in stark contrast to the decline in CDs and downloads.
CD sales, which peaked at 162.4 million in 2004, now languish at 41.6 million.
Digital downloads are also on the way out, with just 13.8 million albums bought on stores like iTunes and Amazon last year, a drop of 23%.
Overall, music consumption was up by 8.7% – the fastest rise since 1998.
Sales and streams contributed £1.2 billion to the UK economy, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
Apart from Sheeran, the UK’s biggest artists included Rag N Bone Man, whose album Human shifted more than 885,000 copies by the end of the year.
Little Mix’s Glory Days continued to sell well, while Pink and Drake were the best-selling international artists.
It was also a better year for new artists after a dismal 2016, where only one British debut album (Bradley Walsh’s Chasing Dreams) went gold.
2017 saw the likes of Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Harry Styles and J Hus achieve the 100,000 sales milestone.
Top 10 albums of 2017 (combined sales and streams)
“The result of the black-pop continuum, jazz and soul and hip-hop and R&B, slow-cooked for more than 50 years.”
(I’m actually only 39 so that’s technically impossible, but thanks guys!)
I have made a career out of experimentation, freely embracing or discarding sounds, traditions and expectations. I learned from jazz legends like Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton and McCoy Tyner and then branched out to work with artists as diverse as Flying Lotus, Goldie and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Now, a decade after my debut album “The Dreamer” was released people are wondering, “Who is the real José James?”
Here’s the truth: It’s me. It’s all me. Everything that I’ve written, sung, recorded, produced and conceived is from me. No one put a gun to my head or a piece of paper in front of me and said, “Son, this’ll make you famous,” or, “Do this OR ELSE!”
I know you might have your favorites. I have mine, too. While You Were Sleeping is the closest to my heart. That was the most “José James” you’re gonna get. I produced, conceived and wrote that album along with a genius all-star cast and I’m proud of that one. Yes, it was moody. Yes, it’s kind of dark. I needed an outlet from the hell of going through a divorce and that’s what came out.
In 2011 I decided to take artistic control of my life. I had no label, no management, no idea of home. I had lived as an adult in both London and New York and the only home I knew was the road. My life is the stage. I invested my savings in a session with Pino Palladino, Chris Dave and Robert Glasper. With Russ Elevado engineering. Bad boiz. We recorded at the now defunct Magic Shop NYC (RIP!!!!! All cozy condos now!! Wow, gentrification is ruining NY, London and every culture mecca the world has. But I digress).I also did a session with the amazing Hindi Zahra in Paris, again on my own dime, without a label.
I took the mixes to Don Was, the new president of Blue Note Records, and I became his first signee (thanks, Don!). It was and is an honor to be on such a legendary music label. I went straight back into the studio, this time working with producer Brian Bender to create my first Blue Note album, “No Beginning No End.”
This was 2011 still. I was so happy and in love it was disgusting. That’s what you hear in songs like “Come to My Door,” “Trouble” and “Do You Feel.” Pure optimism. I know that’s why my fans want me to keep making albums like that. Everyone does. I want Obama back in the White House and the UK to have voted “remain,” but life moves on. I moved on. We all moved on. There was no way, no possibility, no chance that I would be able to make that album again. It was a moment, an artistic moment. A beautiful moment, and I cherish that moment, but that moment is gone.
Still with me? This is the un-fun part, the bad stuff, the mess that no one talks about unless you’re famous and you go on Oprah. I’m not famous and I didn’t go on Oprah. Instead I went through one of the most painful experiences a human being can have, my divorce. I’m getting over it now 4 years later, thus the explanation. I can’t go back y’all, but you deserve to know why.
At some point in my career, I became known for my blend of jazz, R&B and hip-hop. I enjoyed the press and the love. “The return of jazz.” All that shit. I even coined the description “The jazz singer for the hip-hop generation.” I was that. I was. But I’m not anymore.
A lot of things happened, some simple, some complex. Mostly I realized that although the art form of jazz — the only true original American art form??!! — is open to endless variation, study and exploration, the jazz industry is not. The collection of managers, promoters, agents, lawyers, labels, artistic directors, impresarios, collectors and producers. The people that exist between the artists, the musicians and their fans.
Someday I will write a book that will include all the racist and sexist things I have felt, heard and seen in the industry, but not today. But believe me that stuff pushes one roughly towards a door marked “jaded.” I have not yet opened the door, but I know its color, shape and size. My hand has rested on the doorknob, and I know all too well what waits on the other side. Misery. Gloom. Sadness. Depression. Hatred. Anger. Failure. We have all seen artists that we cherish, love and adore walk through that door. I don’t want to be one of them.
Where does that leave my fans? A lot of you feel as though you know the “real” José James. There he is, on The Dreamer. No, he’s the crooner singing jazz in a tux in the 50 Shades Darker film. Nope!! He’s that bad mf who collaborated with Gilles Peterson and Moodymann and Taylor McFerrin and only exists on vinyl!!! (180 gram, if you please). Wrong again, he’s the next step in post jazz neo-soul with No Beginning No End! Making jazz cool again with no solos and Emily King features! Hmm he’s definitely not the tortured guy trying to sing indie rock. Or trap. Or whatever goddam future R&B shit he’s trying to ruin his God-given voice on these days (yeah I know some of you guys didn’t dig LIATOM, let’s all move on shall we?).
Where does this leave me? Who is José James?
Is he the awkward mixed race/biracial kid that grew up in the white, blue-collar NE Minneapolis 80’s where everyone seemed to hate him? Yes. Is he the kid who loved jazz because his dad did, made his daddy’s dreams his own to try to get attention and then surpassed him? Hell yeah. Is he the Black kid who was raised white so he didn’t fit in anywhere but loved everything and all music? Does he see himself in all others? Is he defined by an absence, by not belonging? Did he hate school and all that it stood for (including music school)? Love the nightlife and clubs? Was he a genius giant fuckup until he wrote “The Dreamer” at age 27?
Still with me? What if anything does this have to do with jazz, with R&B and with Black culture? Everything, everything, everything. Train tracks and guitars. Sirens and red and blue lights. Getting pulled over for a violent frisk and grope by Minneapolis’ finest. Prince and Michael Jackson dying of overdoses. My dreams expressed in a Thelonious Monk solo. In Eric Dolphy’s horn. In Coltrane’s search. In Miles’ bloody collar. In Nat Cole’s smile. In Billie’s cry. Why not Dead Prez? OutKast? Nirvana? Rage Against the Machine? Bjork? Maria Callas? Joni Mitchell? Sufjan Stevens? Baden Powell? SZA? Kehlani? Drake, Snoop, Pac, Digable Planets, Al Green, Marvin, Baldwin, Twain, Whitman and Toni Morrison?
“Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world”
I’m not turning my back on jazz. I am jazz. I am the son of a jazz musician. How fucking dare you. I will always be the music, which has existed since before we had words, definitions, cages for it. I have given my life, my heart, my everything to the stage and to the One. Amen.
And now I want to go home y’all. No not America, land of the greed and home of the slave. I was born here, probably gon’ die here (with a song on my lips — cue violins!).
“Sittin’ in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won’t give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had.”
I can’t go back and neither can you, but we can go forward, together. That is my wish for us. One family, a human family. Naive definitely, but I’d rather believe in a dream that includes all.
I’m sorry if I confused you, misled you, perplexed you or disappointed you with my music. I assure you I had (and have!) the best intentions. But I hear you. “Pick a gottdam lane, shit!!” Lmao. It’s true though, you’re entitled to that. I hear you.
So I offer, in the spirit of brotherhood, of sisterhood, the music of Bill Withers. A music of pride, of community. Of Grandma’s Hands, unwed mothers, apple cores and a piece ‘a candy. Of overcoming discrimination, obstacles, boundaries. A music of love and of friendship.
Shit is real right now. So real. We are in trouble and we need to unite to save ourselves and save the planet. We need to believe women and people of color. We need to listen and be honest with ourselves and with each other. We need to understand how our words and our actions impact the world that we live in and are creating/destroying. We need to value each other’s voices and stories.
I thank you for riding with me this far. I hope I sang a song or two that made you laugh, cry, think, shout, feel and dance in the last ten years. Thank you for the beautiful nights and stages in the last decade. The full houses, empty houses, walkouts and standing ovations. For everything. I love you and I love music. Now let’s go make this world a better place, together.
2017’s two most commercially successful and critically judged rap albums are assuredly going to come from Jay-Z, via June-released 4:44, and Eminem, with his December 15-releasing, ninth studio album, Revival. As hip-hop culture prepares to enter its 45th year, it’s possibly shocking to note that artists who are as old as Kool Herc’s DJ set at Bronx, NY address 1520 Sedgwick Avenue on August 11, 1973 (Jay-Z is 47 and Eminem is 45) could be at the vanguard of the genre. However, it’s astoundingly 19-year old pop rapper Lil Yachty who has the best perspective on how and why this turn of events has come to pass. As he told Hypebeast in August 2017, “[Now], you can do anything at any age, and we have it all at our finger tips. It’s amazing, it’s like the best thing ever.” In reflecting on what Yachty said, the idea that, maybe being a commercially and culturally viable personality in rap music is no longer intrinsically tethered to being between the ages of 18–40, is an evolution worth discussing.
Reasons why one should believe that hip-hop cultural excellence is a gift that’s only reserved for the young are many. Firstly, Biggie and 2Pac died at 24 and 25 years old, respectively. Also significant are facts like Will Smith released his last album at 37, and his children Jaden and Willow are currently a combined total 36 years of age. Last, but certainly not least, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Uzi Vert are under 25.
Prior to a year where Jay-Z could win Grammy’s Album of the Year and Eminem could release a series of flyover state and #RESIST anthems, hip-hop’s most significant cultural icons were never allowed to age while maintaining pop relevance within the culture. Kanye is currently living through his Pablo-esque surrealist mid-life crisis at the age of 40. Apple employed, legendary, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted 52-year old billionaire Dr. Dre will still occasionally get grilled by the general public as to the release date for Detox.
Whether by invocation of some “27 Club”-esque rule or because, as Moby once told me, “22-year olds are always going to make great records and the most interesting culture,” there’s ample reason to believe that the idea that two rappers with a combined 92 years of age between them releasing rap’s albums of the year is a thing that should not be.
How then, is this happening?
The most significant thing to note about being well past 40 and making dope rap records is that the context into which your creativity is considered could heighten. The expectation for success if this occurs involves recordings having to successfully shift in tone to discover creative comfort when being judged by an advanced critical paradigm. If this occurs, the payoff comes in almost immediately achieving a more iconic level of success.
Songs made by young/younger artists just trend in teeny bopper and early adult bottle popper nightclubs, and the top of Billboard charts. Comparatively, the hubbub surrounding both Shawn Carter and Marshall Mathers’ more old age-aware 2017 output is a mind-blower when contemplating the breath and depth of the artists’ impressively dynamic socio-cultural reach.
Jay-Z matured from “big pimpin’ and spendin’ cheese” with then Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash to discussing how his marital infidelities and subsequent psychological therapy sessions with 61-year old New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.
As far as Eminem, he’s matured from being “interesting,” and “the best thing since wrestling” to being quite possibly the most ardent Midwestern and “red state”-representing voice in opposition to the chicanery surrounding the United States Presidential administration of 71-year old Donald Trump. As The Daily Beast notes, “Em has thrown himself into the center of the national dialogue on race, Donald Trump and white supremacy.”
Jay-Z has advanced to the status of being a wizened sage. Thus, he is not rapping as he once did. Rather, he has become a preacher of the gospel that we should all — as a unified, and nearly five decade old hip-hop adoring body politic — generally be able to be intelligent enough to be “smart enough to know better.” On 4:44 this idea is prevalent enough in the album’s narrative for CNBC to report that on 4:44’s brilliant “The Story of O.J.” that, “the rapper bemoans rising real estate values in his home city, calling out one of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods and saying, ‘I could have bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo for like $2 million. That same building today is worth $25 million. And guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo.’” As well, they note that Jay “touches on return on investment — he earned on artwork he purchased years ago for $1 million that is now worth $8 million — and underlines the importance of a buy-and-hold strategy.”
Also, in a manner meant to invoke the — and I’ll coin this phrase here — Lauryn Hill doctrine of “adding a motherfucker so the ignant niggas hear me,” Jay also states in “The Story of O.J.” that “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” The Atlantic was right to note that “it’s beneath Carter, a writer and artist of astonishing ability and sophistication,” to recall “the anti-Semitic canard that Jews maintain financial control of everything you see.” But, as related to the “Lauryn Hill doctrine” outlined in the previously linked Fugees’ track “Zealots,” in Decoded, Jay-Z notes regarding prior claims regarding his possible anti-Semitism that, “when I use lines like this, I count on people knowing who I am and my intentions, knowing that I’m not anti-Semitic or racist, even when I use stereotypes in my rhymes.”
Regarding Eminem, he’s recently premiered “Walk On Water,” a duet with intriguingly enough, Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce, as his lead-in single to Revival’s release. As Billboard notes, the track’s lyrical content offers something more refined and world-aware from the 45 year old and twice-divorced father of three, (including an adult Haile Jade Scott Mathers, who is now 21). “[r]ather than knife his way through the track with his brash, animalistic delivery, Em enters a reflective state and addresses his insecurities regarding fame and his current standing in hip-hop.” This includes Em saying that he’s “not a God,”and “a beautiful mess.” Moreover, he alludes to having gotten rid of the bleached blonde hair associated with his caustic career as a younger emcee, and also notes that he might one day “fall” from the “heights” of his career.
Unlike Jay-Z, whose success has afforded him an opulent, white collar and high class semi-retired rap life that very few men in the universe could ever achieve, Eminem is in a different situation. Jay is largely above any critical commentary. However, Eminem, by virtue of his blue collar and impoverished upbringing is old, yet still hustling for approval. Thus, he is likely, because he’s “too old to be doing this,” more critically approachable. Though the lyrics to “Walk On Water” may note that he may not believe it, Eminem’s indeed a Jesus-like “Rap God” who can walk among the “scribes and Pharisees” and be subject to their derision.
This critical concern makes itself even more apparent in an Uproxx report that notes, “Em is going back to the drawing board to reassess the release of his what will be his ninth solo album. The first step in that process appears to be be distancing himself from ‘Walk On Water,’ the album’s supposed lead single with Beyonce, as Eminem has stopped promoting the song as his lead single. The track debuted at #14 this week on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, a high debut for sure, but a disappointing one on the heels of Beyonce’s first musical appearance since Lemonade, an SNL performance, and a massive rollout.”
By virtue of being a white person, Eminem can’t “add a (metaphorical) motherfucker so the ignant niggas — and yes, this extends to ignorant people of all racial extractions who love hip-hop culture — hear him.” So, his “smart enough to know better” campaign has had a tougher road to navigate insofar as hip-hop fanatics who are entrenched within the culture. However, when it comes to those who are — and yes, after 50 years there are those who are — newly accepting of hip-hop having a place in their existences, it’s a different story. Eminem, because his age allows him to have established pop (meaning, beyond initially hip-hop specific) cultural resonance, stands to gain much in the way of support of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, Democratic and Facebook adoring anti-Trump #resistance. To that end, somewhere between his instantaneously iconic and Trump-lambasting BET Awards freestyle and Revival’s “new”lead single “Untouchable” which literally starts “black boy black boy, we ain’t gonna lie to you / black boy black boy, we don’t like the sight of you,” the change in tone aligns well with a demographic in line with his age and the nation’s anger best collide for commercial success.
Speaking directly to the aforementioned point, The FADER noted that Eminem’s BET freestyle was “red meat for #TheResistance,” but also noted that, “the rap itself…is bad.” Via their own advertising site, The FADER lists its core demographic as being an 18–34 year old male college attender (note, not necessarily a graduate) earning $40,000 year. In the same FADER piece, it was written that Keith Olbermann, host of GQ’s “The Resistance,” tweeted, “After 27 years of doubts about rap I am now a fan. Best political writing of the year, period. 👏👏👏👏👏 #Eminem2020.” Keith Olbermann is a 58-year old male college graduate, who in 2011 was rumored to be earning $10 million a year on Al Gore’s Current TV. Clearly, numbers and words never lie.
On January 28, 2018, it’s more than entirely possible that 47-year old rapper Jay-Z will make a clean sweep of the Grammy Awards for Song (“4:44”), Record (“The Story of O.J.”), and Album (4:44) of the Year. As well, if there’s any justice, we’ll probably get a performance by Eminem of “Untouchable,” too. In the crowd, marveling at how the depth and scope of expectations for excellence have shifted in hip-hop will be rappers who are half these artists age who will be suddenly confronted with the fact that they now have twice as much to learn about how to succeed and sustain within the genre. Lil Yachty’s right. Because of their age-driven maturity, Jay and Em have everyone from the New York Times to President Trump within a fingertip’s reach, and have likely created 2017’s best and most important rap albums, respectively.
Maybe it’s true that youth is wasted on the young?