It’s been a privilege watching Chance the Rapper ascend to claim his godhead. Since 2013, he’s gone from earnest-eyed tripper to outspoken family man on his journey towards becoming hip-hop’s presiding minister. What hasn’t changed is his indomitable optimism. It sustains an auditory space like the holistic bubble of an acid trip, a memory of summer, or a hymn’s harmonies emulating the divided unity of the holy trinity. It’s a feeling that comes across as a confidence in his cadences, offset by a vocal vulnerability and a lyrical honesty that has the miraculous effect of shielding him from all sin. But he would probably tell you that it’s called faith.
Henry: I haven’t listened to much James Blake to be honest, though I’ve heard his music around and generally liked it. That being said, I have to be in a certain kind of mood to listen to him. His slow, atmospheric style has a kind of pensive melancholy to it, which can either be nice or sorta depressing. I do like how smooth this whole album is, almost entirely devoid of sharp, high frequencies, save for rim-shot snares and crisp hi-hats here and there, which cut through the swelling harmonies to carry this thing along.
The story of addiction always involves a chase, so it’s no surprise that Open Mike Eagle & Paul White’s new video for “Admitting the Endorphin Addiction” features just that. What is of interest here is not so much the chase itself as the thing being chased: a high that looks like the mesmerizing smile of Isis Avalos. Open Mike Eagle plays himself, again unsurprisingly, since the song is from his latest album, titled Hella Personal Film Festival.
“I didn’t ask for this!” growls a hysterical Andrew Lincoln in a monologue sampled on the intro of Doc ILLingsworth’s latest release, which takes its name from the line in question. In the original context, Lincoln plays Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead. The lines are from a pivotal scene where he outright takes control of the group of survivors. “Let’s get one thing straight,” he says, his tone now grim. “You’re staying? This isn’t a democracy anymore.”
Louis C.K. may have the most emotive brow of all time. It scrunches and wrinkles as he listens. He sighs. Sometimes a smile plays across his lips. Sometime his face falls. Sometimes he weeps, holding his head in his hands. In his latest series, Horace and Pete, he stars as a chronically sad bar owner, Horace Wittel, alongside a fantastically manic Steve Buscemi as Pete Wittel, his brother/cousin and co-owner of the bar. The confused familial relationship of the duo is just the tip of an iceberg that extends deep into the history of televised drama and the subconscious of a uniquely American dysfunctionality.
Micah: I used to hate Drake. A lot. I’m a total bandwagon Drake fan. I used to hate Drake in the same way I hated Lil’ Wayne when he was in everyone’s face ten years ago. At the time Wayne was dropping endless mixtapes and features and it was way too much for me. Later when I heard he had signed a Canadian singer who was writing for him and making songs like “The Motto” I was not stoked.
Have you ever dreamed that you were wide awake, or gone through a day feeling as though you might actually be sleeping? That’s kinda what it’s like listening to Wake Up, the debut release from Toothbone, a project springing forth from the mind of multi-instrumentalist Dan Rossi.
I first came to Portland as a fresh-eyed eighteen year-old cellist whose interest in the formal world of classical music had all but disappeared. I began playing the cello at the age of six and remained immersed in music throughout my teens, but by the time I was a Junior I no longer harbored an intrinsic motivation for etudes. My desire to improve my classical chops had steadily waned. I stopped taking lessons–they had become something I had to do as opposed to something for which I yearned.
Henry: It’s tough working with a dead person’s art. How can we know if we’ve stayed true to their vision? The obvious answer is that, well, we can’t. Posthumous releases will necessarily be a projection of what we thought the artist would have wanted, and the degree of the projection depends on the completeness of the work as it has been left to us, and the extent to which the creator gave instructions for how they wanted their legacy to be fulfilled.
Talking to Matt Takiff, you get the feeling that every word he says is true, or is a truth, or is not a lie, even if he made it up. The difference between those three things is subtle, but that difference lies at the heart of good songwriting, which could also be called something like emotional honesty.