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(Post-it notes for Kanye’s studio):

Kanye West – “Love Lockdown (Remastered)”: All those people who bought this on iTunes are huge suckers. Remember like two months ago when this supposedly came out? And then a new version came out that was better? And then this version came out? Well, if rushing out an album in two weeks struck anyone as a bad idea, this is proof that sometimes it pays to tweak things until they are better. This song still isn’t going to win any awards (well, I mean, it probably is, but that’s not the point), but ramping up those tribal drums and the filling out the bassline and whatever else is different, was a really good call. Hey, there’s still a lot of post-election goodwill, maybe nobody will be upset if it takes a couple more weeks to fine-tune this album.

Kanye West – “Heartless (Remastered)”: I’m not exactly sure how this song was changed other than moving the bass on the equalizer up a little bit, but I don’t really have an ear for these things. I kind of liked the spareness on the original version, but this one was altered so slightly that it won’t make a huge difference. The video is really cool, even if animated Kanye is still a terrible actor. “Any Way” would have been a better single pick than this one, though.

Jay-Z – “History”: Oops, you mixed this wrong. This is an awesome beat, but seriously, despite the problem I mentioned on the “Heartless” note, within two seconds of this song starting I could tell the bass needed to be brought up and the vocals on the sample sounded tinny and high-pitched. I think I can fix this with the EQ dials on my car stereo, so it should be possible on ProTools too. It would be a shame to put this version on the album because this is an amazing song. In addition to the implications that this song has by being leaked the day after Election Day (the original leak version sounded a lot fuller, by the way – bring that back, that’s all), it sees Jay confronting his role as the preeminent figure in hip hop. There is obvious desire to read into the lyrics about making history and achieving victory as a commentary on Obama, but this is also about Jay’s career, and it’s deep stuff. With its personification (Victory, Defeat, Success, History, etc.) there is little subtlety, but it still is dipping into the literary concerns of poets like Spenser and Shakespeare. In his Amoretti Spenser claims “For I myself shall like to this decay/And eek my name be wiped out likewise./Not so, (quod I) let baser things devise/To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:” hoping that his poem will immortalize his love. This is not the kind of thing that it’s cool to rap about. The fact that I’m quoting a 16th century poet proves that. But consider Jay’s lyrics:

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We interrupt our usual programming to bring you this special Election Day bulletin: Vote. But don’t take my word for it, a lot of our favorite artists want you to as well:



6th Sense:

(You can download an mp3 of this one here.)


You may have noticed there’s a political bent to these. I’ll let them speak for themselves. You can vote for whomever, as long as you vote. Seriously, stop reading this right now, get in your car or bike or bus or whatever and go vote.

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If there is a symbol of the mashup in mainstream music culture, it is undoubtedly Jay-Z, whose collaboration with Linkin Park was basically the record industry’s only stab at the genre, and whose presence on Danger Mouse’s Gray Album basically made Danger Mouse’s career. Yet while MTV will pretty willingly gush over Jay-Z mashups, the online music community generally ignores them, preferring instead to mashup things like Outkast and Of Montreal (zing!). As a result, with Entertainment Weekly and VH1 gushing over the latest big-name Hova mashup, Viva La Hova, it may be tempting to ignore this one too, especially when it involves as gauche a pairing as Coldplay.

Nonetheless, it comes from notable mixtape producers Terry Urban and Mick Boogie and features production from the likes of 9th Wonder and 6th Sense. And actually, it’s not really so much a mashup album as a Jay-Z remix album that only samples Coldplay. This may sound dumb in theory, but basically it’s a run through recent Jay classics (the verses are almost all from The Blueprint, The Black Album and American Gangster) over dense guitar samples, and it turns out great. It closely mirrors Viva La Vida’s aesthetic, which works well, and most of the producers do very cool things with these Coldplay songs. Until Mick Boogie totally bombs with “Lost Part 2,” every track is convincingly solid, and if this mixtape were only the first two thirds plus 6th Sense’s show-stealing “Falling In Shadows,” it would be basically perfect. As it is, it’s definitely one of the best mashups/mixtapes of the year, largely because it’s hard to go wrong when you throw twenty solid Jay verses on anything. Also, although Terry Urban and Mick Boogie are reasonably well-known names in the online hip hop circuit, I wouldn’t be surprised if their careers blow up after this (although the real stars are some of the low-profile producers who drop dope tracks here, especially nVMe).

You can get more information and download Viva La Hova at

I’m excited. Too bad Timbo’s not doing any production though. Just in case you forgot what we’re looking forward to: Jockin’ Jay-Z (live at MSG, from Kanye’s last US date on the Glow in the Dark Tour, as previously posted).

Also, Maino slapped Yung Berg? One inconsequential rapper slapped another one? Although I have to admit, I like all of their singles more than I should.

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It’s been a while since I’ve written on here; in fact, it’s been a while since anyone’s written on here. But that’s about to change. I’m solidly installed in Beijing now, and I’m itching to write about music. There’s only a few problems: #1: torrents don’t work here, and I have yet to find a record store, so I’m pretty much dependent on blogs for new music right now; #2: I haven’t listened to anything remotely relevant in a while because I’ve been traveling; #3: Apparently a lot of WordPress, like tags, doesn’t work when you’re working through a proxy. Balls. Nonetheless, I’m back with all my fascinating commentary, and here’s what I have to say on the few pieces of music that have drifted into my sphere lately:

Everybody Awesome – “Swagger”: How the fuck did Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, and Kanye all get out-rapped by T.I.? I mean, I love T.I. more than anyone I know, and even I will acknowledge he’s probably the worst MC in that group. Yet while Jay-Z spits about half a bar and Lil’ Wayne and Kanye auto-tune the fuck out of crappy verses, T.I. comes out spitting fire. I think this is probably just proof that T.I.’s really been working hard lately because he’s about to go to prison. As if I needed anything to further convince me that Paper Trail is going to rule. On the same note, though:

T.I. – “Whatever You Like”: I listened to this song and “Throw Some D’s” a lot while I was traveling, and, although this is a pretty catchy song, I hope someone else realized how misogynistic the line “brain so good, you think she went to college” is. First, it’s about oral sex, which, while ostensibly degrading, is hardly a bizarre topic, but it also describes said oral sex by pointing out the girl’s lack of education. What happened to the T.I. of “Why You Wanna” who “compliment[s] you on your intellect and treat[s] you with respect?” Also, I’m pretty sure T.I. refers to his penis as Big Boy in this song.

Of Montreal – “Nonpareil of Favor”: I’m hardly enthusiastic about Of Montreal compared to Greg, but this song is fucking great.

That’s all for now.

Oh yeah, and for the record, I’m as excited about The Blueprint 3 (download the live version too, I like it better) as everyone else.

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At Kanye West’s Glow In The Dark Tour show at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday, Jay-Z came onstage, and spit some new tracks: this little number right here, and a song called “Ain’t I”. These are potential tracks for The Blueprint 3.

There isn’t much to go on besides rumors, but Timbaland is slated to produce the majority of the album (EDIT: Several sources have brought to my attention that this is no longer the case; No ID and Kanye West will do some too).

There are also talks of a collaborative record between the two. If you have talked to me in the last two weeks, I have mentioned this and quoted Timbo as saying that it would be “like ten Big Pimpin’s”. Let me remind you how incredible this song is:

Seriously, holy shit. This is the apex of party rap, rivaled by few and equaled by none. Imagine an entire album of it. You’d run out of Cristal to pour on the legions of video vixens who follow you around everywhere. So let’s cross our fingers and hope that it happens. Blueprint 3 could potentially come out as early as this December, which means the other album can’t be too far behind…

Download: Jay-Z — Girls, Girls, Girls (Greg Faletto remix)

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There’s a considerable list of hip hop related news and tracks that I’m excited about today, so rather than giving each the post it probably deserves or I would give it on a slow day, I’m just going to summarize:

Jay-Z has already mentioned that he’s ready to get back in the studio, and it might be even more interesting given the fact that Timbaland claims that he will be producing the whole next effort. Obviously, Jay can get pretty much anyone to produce for him, but Timbaland claims that they want this album to have “10” “Big Pimpin'”s (their previous collaboration). We’ll see. Timbaland was pretty hot two years ago, but his style has sort of stagnated since then. I’m dubious, especially considering Jay’s record of following good albums with disappointing ones. I mean, I thought American Gangster was pretty good.

Flava Flav’s got a kid! Does this mean that there won’t be a Flavor of Love 3? What will I watch at the gym now? I’m probably going to gain weight because of this.

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