It’s one of those pulpy paper flyers stapled to a telephone pole, and it’s too deliciously cryptic for Abbey not to rip down and keep. Why not be totally changed into fire? There’s a picture of a robed and hooded figure raising his hands to heaven, his fingertips bursting into little spits of flame. Below the text is a phone number.
When thinking about trilogies of music released in under a year’s time, I’m fondly reminded of the months I spent listening to The Weeknd in 2010, or Young Thug in 2015. That Abel played up his mystery by secreting out of Youtube’s ether and withholding a face for the drug-addled lothario until releasing his trilogy entire bolstered the listener’s excitement that they were truly discovering something new. The mythic aspect of Young Thug’s Slime Season mixtapes did much the same: recording hundreds of songs in a matter of weeks in some deluge of inspiration which were then doled out over a more human timescale of months. Thug seemed surprised to discover that artists needed more than a few minutes to record a song; true, we only need that many to listen, a few more to digest. The Weeknd created a mood and a spectre; Thug seems reliably bent on reinvention album to album. Both have gone on to great fame, arguably thanks to their ambition and staying in the listener’s ear for most of a calendar year.
Remember the time it snowed moths
on New Year’s? That sweltering December
melting into January, a hush of wings
as they settled, cocooning the church,
drifting over the flagstones like dry leaves,
little things borne on a scrap of breeze.
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2017
Week 1: Johnny and the Campbellian Hero’s Journey. In medias res: Who is Johnny and why did he come to San Francisco with only two suitcases?
Read more Post Modern Film Class Syllabus for The Room
You don’t take acid. You run into your friends smoking in the little fence area outside the Roseland and one of them offers you some, but then it turns out your other friend ate it all. That’s probably for the best. You’re flying across the country on the red eye right after the show to spend Thanksgiving with your family. Somebody on the street walks by smoking a joint and the guy working the door starts shouting at all the cigarette smokers to “put it out!” so you all put your hands up and head inside. There are boxes of 3D glasses stacked by the guy taking tickets by the stairs, and he’s handing a pair to everybody who goes up.
There’s a lot of weight behind Jay-Z’s name, to the point that it requires more explanation to leave him out of your top five emcees of all time list than to put him in. Both his body of work and his ability to remain relevant make Hov arguably the most influential rapper of all time. It’s been over twenty years since Reasonable Doubt, his classic debut album, was released, and nearly thirty since his first appearance on wax. Not everything he’s put out has been great (or even good) but if you stack all his hit records they outweigh just about anyone’s. If you ask me, the last great Jay-Z album came out in 2003 and each release since then has continued to get worse. I’m happy to say that with 4:44, that streak has ended.
Read more The Breakdown, 4:44, by Jay-Z
Micah: What began as an online collective of like-minded musicians has turned into one of the most innovative and interesting rap groups in the game right now. Brockhampton was born on the Kanye West fansite KanyeToThe, and is fronted by rapper/singer/songwriter Kevin Abstract, who is joined by a hard-to-determine number of affiliates, including a host of vocalists, producers, designers, and managers.
Read more The Breakdown, Saturation by Brockhampton
Watch: Bach Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: I. Vivace
I’ve been paying attention to a small group of musicians that are doing something that I haven’t heard anywhere else. They’re taking the virtuosity of classical music, mixing it with the fervor of bluegrass and humbling it with the rustic charm of folk music to create an incredible fusion that I just can’t get enough of. While the group changes slightly with each iteration, the group swirls around the center that is the lyrical bassist, Edgar Meyer.
Micah: It’s been two years since To Pimp a Butterfly dropped and expectations couldn’t be higher for Kendrick Lamar. In the six years he’s been releasing albums, he’s vaulted himself into the highest echelons of the rap game, and has made a strong case for the title of greatest rapper ever. He says it himself: “I feel like debating on who the greatest can stop it / I am legend”. While it felt premature to make such claims with the last album, if Damn. stands the test of time in the same way that Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and TPAB have, I’m confident he’ll make his way into my personal all-time top five. With more great albums under his belt than The Notorious B.I.G. and a more consistent opening run of albums than Nas, Jay-Z or Kanye West, you have to at the very least put him in the conversation.
Read more The Breakdown, Damn. by Kendrick Lamar