Off Beat

Monday, April 16, 2012

Watch Tupac's ghost perform at Coachella

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 1:28 PM

For a case of the icky kind of shivers, check out the video above. It's the much-discussed hologram of the late rapper Tupac Shakur "performing" the song "2 Of Americaz Most Wanted" at this past weekend's Coachella festival alongside the still-breathing Snoop Dogg. It's downright creepy. Critical reaction to the spectral appearance has been severely mixed, to say the least. Keep ya head up, ghosty-'Pac.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beyonce, you cyber bully!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 4:35 PM

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I got 99-percenter problems and a beach ain't one.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Azealia Banks vs. Iggy Azalea: Who's who for dummies (like me)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Azealia Banks is the black one; Iggy Azalea is the white one
  • Azealia Banks is the black one; Iggy Azalea is the white one

All these rappers sound the same. Or so it's been said. But sometimes, it's the soundalike monikers more than the flows that can make a complete mess of things. Beyond the neverending plethora of Lil rappers and Yung emcees, Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks (aka Yung Rapunxel) are two of the female upstarts who commandeered blog rap last year. Their talents for getting noticed slightly outweigh any other skills they bring to the game; and besides rocking similar stage names they both have a brash, sexually-charged style that, when pitted against one another as they have been lately, makes them shoo-ins for a new millennium redux of Foxy Brown vs. Lil Kim.

With the recent announcement that Iggy Azalea is falling through Atlanta this week - and Azealia Banks newly released Iggy diss record "Fuck Up the Fun" (listen below) - there's no time like the present to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, with an off-the-cuff breakdown of who's who and what's what. Just to make sure you know who you're rooting for in the latest ridiculously non-essential rap beef.

1) Both take cues from Diplo: Azealia and Iggy have collaborated with the DJ/producer/tastemaker; the latest being Azealia's newly released "Fuck Up the Fun," which launches a few subliminals in Iggy's direction. Meanwhile, Iggy appeared on "I Think She Ready" off Atlanta duo FKi's latest mixtape, Transformers in the Hood; the song was co-produced by Diplo, Derek Allen, and Atlanta's Heroes x Villians. Still, Azealia gets it by a nose: We're partial to the home team and all, but "Fuck Up the Fun" is hard to hate:

Update: Iggy Azalea's "Murda Bizness" ft. her boss T.I. dropped today. It's the first single from her upcoming album The New Classic.

2) Both love to pop that p-word: Azealia made a song about her "P-U-S-S-Y" (sorry mom); like to hear it, here it go. Not to be outdone, Iggy made a song and video about her "Pu$$y." Iggy wins: Azealia's song is tighter (pun!), but Iggy's video was shot in L.A.'s Rollin' 60s gang turf; who am I to argue?

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Discovering Willis Earl Beal is all about the journey

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Willis-Earl-Beal-authenticity.jpg
Authenticity. Music critics and consumers alike (interchangeable terms nowadays) have been obsessed with it lately, thanks in part to Lana Del Rey-gate.

There's something about the emergence of folk-blues outsider and XL Records signee Willis Earl Beal that triggers an equal but opposite reaction. His story is compelling in a way that lends credence to his music, as a recent Liberator Magazine feature confirms:

Much like older performers like Blind Willie McTell or Robert Johnson, Beal has been shrouded in myth and legacy because his tale is so intriguing. Not to say that his story is untrue, but when told who he is, and where he’s come from, he registers in a part of the brain meant for long-ago and far away heroes of folk-lore. Blind Willie McTell is said to have known Georgia like the back of his hand, learned from his wandering the state with only a guitar, playing songs for those who would listen. Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads to be able to play guitar as well as he could. It’s with this sort of legend Beal comes to us. “Already my story has been embellished, and I didn’t do it” he claims. It is his story which really makes us want him.

But beyond his life's narrative, whether designed or deconstructed, is his unbranded blues. There's a difference between mining old material and embodying it. And it's in performance that Willis Earl Beal's identity rings true. You believe he's lived it, whatever it is, because you feel it when he opens his mouth and starts to sing like a backwoods Baptist shouter on that fire-and-brimstone shit.

People talk a lot about how the Internet has impacted the business of music and the way it's consumed, but it's the mystique behind the music that's taken the biggest hit. Sometimes, when I stumble across an artist now that intrigues the hell out of me, like Beal, I'm less interested in Googling all the possible facts and label-manufactured lies than I am in hearing the truth. One note at a time.

If you still haven't seen his performance in Berlin yet, you should watch it — the whole 36 minutes — because there's a story here that's totally intangible. But as it slowly reveals itself, tempered with his tall lyrical tales and bucket-full of raw talent, it confirms everything you hoped you knew about him.

Now if I find out down the road that Willis Earl Beal was never a wanderer, but some cat with a generic name whose major label debut went wood back in ’08, that would be weird. But no weirder than his tryouts for Simon Cowell's "X Factor" TV talent show that went viral a while back:

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

President Obama's ear for Atlanta music

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 6:56 PM

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It's hard out here for a President. Folks throwing shade on I-20 just because your motorcade brings Friday rush-hour traffic to a screeching halt. Fox News talking shit when Cee Lo unleashes the F-word (no, not "fundraiser") during his performance at Tyler Perry's shindig on your behalf. If it ain't one thing, it's another.

But I'm guessing Obama's return trip to the White House after leaving Atlanta last Friday night was made all the sweeter thanks to his new customized pair of "Soul By Ludacris" headphones presented by the rapper at a private function earlier that day. Perhaps.

It's certainly not the first gift, or embrace, he's received from Atlanta's musical community. Between past presidential performances from the likes of Janelle Monáe (at the White House and a Chicago fundraiser), India.Arie, and the latest from Cee Lo (not to mention the First Lady's endorsement of homegrown soulster Anthony David), the city could play a serious national role in the turnout of the upcoming election — Georgia's automatic red-state status be damned.

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Earl Sweatshirt's virgin radio interview is a golden moment

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Odd Future's long-missing member Earl Sweatshirt, inarguably the best lyricist of the collective, has returned home from that mysterious Samoan boarding military school his mom sent him to just as he was on the cusp of World Wide Web fame. And he had his first interview on NYC's Hot 97 with Peter Rosenberg. It's a genuine moment — however awkward or tentative he seems. They talk about stuff: being followed by fans, being compared to a young Nas, oh, and why his mother sent him away — no direct answer given there, but he says it was bigger than hip-hop. But mainly they talk about how much of an ordeal it's been for him to adjust since returning to all the hub-bub that happened in his absence.

Rosenberg: So are people hitting you up? Are you talking to them while you're gone? Are you aware that shit's bananas?

Sweatshirt: I was aware. I mean, ’cause, the Internet.

Rosenberg: And did it feel weird to be like I'm missing out on something this insane?

Sweatshirt: Yeah, it was—

Rosenberg: Were you pissed? Were you annoyed?

Sweatshirt: Yeah, initially. But then, I also got to fuckin' see that, all this shit isn't fun all the time.

And speaking of Nas, I still remember seeing him in an early interview with Fab 5 Freddy on "Yo! MTV Raps" around ’94. He was awkward as hell, too, eyes cast downward, barely audible, sullen expression. Or maybe he was just high? Anyway, the point is in an age of social media savvy (see: Tyler, the Creator) and fresh-out-the-gate fame-mongerers, it's nice to see that rap can still feel so innocent. It reminds me of that last piece of advice Johnny gave Ponyboy Curtis before he died in The Outsiders: Stay gold, Earl Sweatshirt. Stay gold.

Odd Future. $25. 9 p.m. Sun., March 25. The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. 404-659-9022. www.tabernacleatl.com.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Lil Wayne has a promising future as a basketball analyst

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Or maybe not. This clip comes from the pre-show for last night's alley-oop contest NBA All-Star Game, where the West beat the East 152-149, a totally reasonable score for a game where absolutely no one plays defense. Watch as a visibly intoxicated Weezy gives his sage prediction on who would win the contest and who would end up the game's MVP. "Uh, can I get three choices?" he asks. Sure, why the hell not.

Bonus comes when TNT analyst Charles Barkley expresses his desire to "find [Wayne] after the game." To be a fly on the wall...

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Biting Big Boi

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Yeah, right
  • Yeah, right
It's not like Daddy Fat Sax was the original Big Boy or the last, for that matter. But at least he had the decency to spell it different.

Some BBQ sauce slingin' entrepreneur is biting Antwan Patton's well-known stage name. (That's not even in good taste; we all know the real Big is a liquor man.) Either way, it's time for him to lawyer up. If Blue Ivy™ is already trademarked, I'm sure he's got this one in the bag.

Get the full scoop and some bogus-sounding quotes from the BBQ proprietor on Omnivore.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Mardi Gras! Let's listen to Dr. John

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM

It's Fat Tuesday! For those of us who can't be in the Big Easy on this, the most sacredest of party-down days, at least there are Dr. John videos on the Internet. Above, watch the good Doctor roll through a live version of "Tipitina" on Japanese TV. (Apparently John's big in Japan, because the Japanese are weird and awesome.)

Hungry for more? (Mmm, po-boys.) There's a literal shit-ton of live clips available on YouTube. Laissez les bon temps rouler, y'all.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Grammys 2012: How do we snark from here?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Whitney Houston’s sudden death on Saturday at the age of 48 was sad and strange for many reasons, the least of which being that it cast an inescapable pall over the 2012 Grammy Awards before the ceremony even began. (And let’s be honest with ourselves: this thing needs no further diminishing if it’s to remain sellable.) So it was, uh, a little weird that the telecast began with a grandiose performance from Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band; he played a new Very Patriotic number called “We Take Care of Our Own,” about America, and it was good because it’s the Boss, but it was still like, what about the reverence? “America! Are you alive out there?” Bruce yelled, and America was all, “I guess?”

But the mood did indeed drop immediately afterwards, as host Ladies Love Cool James, dressed, like much of the celeb-filled crowd, in all black (how many harried, underpaid stylists had to figure that out at the last minute?) offered a short, tasteful prayer for the recently departed, a gesture that could’ve felt empty in someone else’s hands but that in LL's seemed really sincere. Thank goodness for that.

Of course the other big story of the evening was the return to the stage of one Adele Adkins, the unapologetically British singer whose recent throat problems, culminating in surgery on her vocal cords (which, by the way, just sounds like an awful thing), had sidelined her from performing for some time. But Delly was back! And ready to sing! And so LL tried his best to pump some life into the proceedings, giving a Hoosiers-type speech about music and love and all that. Hooray, I think!

Bruno Mars just sort of freaks me out. He’s undeniably talented, and his dance moves are pretty sweet, but there’s something about him that gives me the jeebs. “He has the bone structure of a Twilight character,” my fiancée noted. “He is bronze,” observed CL music editor Rodney Carmichael. Yes, and yes.

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