Tag Archives: Madonna

The Grammys 2015: Wrap-Up

grammysIf you watched the Grammys last night, you probably heard the phrase “Grammy Moment” over and over again.  It was the main theme of the night.  “So and so is going to make a Grammy moment.”  “Don’t miss the Grammy moment, coming up next!”  The 57th Annual Grammy Awards took place last night, and there were indeed a lot of moments…some more memorable then others.

Right off the bat, the award for Best New Artist, which was presented by Taylor Swift, was given to Sam Smith.  This surprised me a lot, considering the fact that Iggy Azalea was in the category as well.  (Although I really wouldn’t call her “new”)  This was the start of two new trends for the night.  Iggy, who was nominated for four awards, took home a big zero.  On the other hand, Sam Smith cleaned house with a grand total of four Grammy’s, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album, in addition to his New Artist award.  This was a big night for the emotional Sam Smith, who accepted the awards with a lot of gratitude.

grammys sam smith

Other notable award winners included Beck for Album of the Year for Morning Phase.  This was by far my biggest surprise.  Beck had a pretty successful and critically acclaimed album, but I didn’t think there was that much buzz around his album, especially compared to the other nominees in the category.  Kanye West must have thought the same thing, as he almost performed “I ’ma Let You Finish” Part 2.  Luckily, he refrained from interrupting Beck, but it was still one of my favorite moments from the night.  Others didn’t find it funny, calling Kanye a jerk.  This is true in a sense, but I don’t think Kanye did anything wrong last night…besides his later comments about Beck and his win.  Anyway…

Other award winners include Pharrell Williams for Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Happy” and Beyonce for Best R&B Performance for her song “Drunk In Love” with her hubby Jay Z.  One surprising omission from the show was the absence of the Hip-Hop and Rap awards being presented live.  All of the awards for these categories were announced before the live show…for reasons I can’t really explain.  Either way, Eminem won Best Rap Album for The Marshal Mathers LP2 and Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Performance for “I”.  There were a lot more awards that were left out of the picture during the live show, with only nine awards being given out at the big show.  The awards were three hours long and only nine were actually given out?  That only means one thing…performances.

grammys beck

So how were the performances?

Well, there were so much that host LL Cool J had to skip his normal comedic (that term used lightly) monologue in order to make room for the plethora of artists that made the stage.  This year there were twenty three performances, kicked off by the rock legends AC/DC with “Rock or Bust” and “Highway to Hell.”  It was a strong start to the show, and it probably had a lot of people confused as to why they were even up there.  Then things started to go downhill…

grammys acdc

We got some love songs from Ariana Grande and the duo of Jessie J and Tom Jones.  The two performances were alright, but they were nothing special.  We then got a rather forgettable performance from Miranda Lambert who sung “Little Red Wagon.”  Surprising to most, Kanye West picked things up a bit with his minimalist act of “Only One.”  It was then Madonna who gave a weird and often times uncomfortable performance of “Living for Love.”

There was then a long string of unmemorable performances that just didn’t make an impression on me.  Pharrell Williams however, gave a cinematic and epic performance of “Happy”, debuting a new elevator boy hat.  I hope the tradition continues every year.  Katy Perry, after a talk about domestic violence, gave a somber, yet dazzling performance of “By the Grace of God”, which was one of the standouts of the night.  One of the other standouts was the much anticipated performance of “FourFiveSeconds” by the trio of Sir Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye West.  It was an upbeat live showing of a song that just doesn’t get old.  They three had fun with it.

grammys four five seconds

The show closed with two final performances from Beyonce and John Legend, featuring rapper Common.  Beyonce performed an angelic version of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  It was a powerful performance that further cemented Beyonce’s status of dominance in music.  As an encore of sorts, John Legend and Common performed the Oscar nominated “Glory” from the Oscar recognized Selma.  It was another epic performance, complete with instrumentals and a full choir.  The Grammys started strong and ended strong…but had a ton of rough patches in between held up by the occasional memorable performance.

The Grammys weren’t what I thought they were going to be this year.  They were kind of a let down.  Yes, some very talented musicians took home there well deserved awards, but I kind of wished there were more awards, instead of the performances that were just thrown in there to fatten up the runtime.  Half of the performances could have been cut out, leaving room for more awards and what ever else they could have come up with.  It was a big night for music, no doubt…but it could have been bigger.

grammys beyonce

Here were some of the winners from the night…

Record of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

Song of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version]

Album of the Year

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best New Artist

Sam Smith

Best Pop Solo Performance

Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Best Pop Vocal Album

Sam Smith – “In The Lonely Hour”

Best Rock Album

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best Rap Album

Eminem – “The Marshal Mathers LP2”

Best Country Album

Miranda Lambert – “Platinum”

Best R&B Performance

Beyonce ft. Jay Z – “Drunk In Love”

grammys happy

Now, what about my predictions?  Well…here’s how I did…

Record of the Year

I predicted… “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

Album of the Year

I predicted… In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Actual winner: Morning Phase by Beck

Song of the Year

I predicted… “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version] by Sam Smith

Best New Artist

I predicted… Iggy Azalea

Actual winner: Sam Smith

Best Pop Vocal Album

I predicted… Prism by Katy Perry

Actual winner: In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Best Dance/Electronic Album

I predicted… While (1>2) by Deadmau5

Actual winner: Syro by Aphex Twin

Best R&B Performance

I predicted… “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Actual winner: “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Best Urban Contemporary Album

I predicted… Beyonce by Beyonce

Actual winner: Beyonce by Beyonce

Best Rap Song

I predicted… “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Actual winner: “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Album

I predicted… The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

Actual winner: The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

grammys taylor swift

Basically, I didn’t do so well.  I knew Sam Smith was going to win some awards, but I wasn’t expecting him to take the show.  I also expected Taylor Swift to take his place with the top song categories.  Obviously that didn’t pan out.  As for the Rap categories, I did alright.  I also did a good job with predicting Beyonce to win big as well.  I could have done better, but I went with the popular route.  I should have known better…


Review: Tetsuo & Youth

via Dawgz.fr
via Dawgz.fr

Tetsuo & Youth (2015)

Lupe Fiasco

Rap / Hip-Hop

Atlantic Records

Album delays have been a prominent theme in hip-hop the past couple of months.  Lil Wayne has been very public about the inner altercations with Cash Money which have prevented his album to come out, leading him to release his Sorry 4 The Wait 2 mixtape.  Tyga has been facing the same sorts of trouble with his album as well.  Lupe Fiasco was pretty much in the same situation, except he was caught up with Atlantic Records.  Lupe’s made it clear that his fifth studio album, Tetsuo & Youth, is his last album with Atlantic Records and that he is going independent for the rest of the road.

It’s pretty safe to say that Tetsuo & Youth, which was supposed to be released last year, was worth the wait.  Lupe has done a lot of work on the album, and he brings his a game on this release.  The album’s artwork is actually a piece from Lupe himself.  He calls the oil painting “Uomo Mangiato Tigre”, which translates roughly to “Man Eating Tiger.”  It’s a peculiar piece of artwork, and it’s fitting for an album that is a piece of artwork in itself.

via Ddotomen
via Ddotomen

It’s hard to pick out the most eminent themes on the album, considering there is so much to take from it.  The complex nature of Lupe Fiasco’s style is bursting through in every single track.  The album starts off with an instrumental titled “Summer”, and goes through the rest of the seasons intermittently throughout the album.  You could consider them a signifier of progress through the album, or you could consider them the calm before the storm, considering they are followed by mammoth eight to nine minute songs.  They’re an interesting touch.

Those epic songs include “Mural”, “Prisoner 1 & 2”, and “Chopper”, which features the likes of Billy Blue, Buk of Psychodrama, Trouble, Trae The Truth, Fam Lay, and Glasses Malone.  They were probably the standout tracks on the album.  It’s amazing how much ground Lupe could cover in these pieces.  “Prisoner 1 & 2” is a very deep song that has multiple moving parts that drive it.  The song talks about incarceration and racial profiling, which have been unfortunate trends present in the current climate.

via Hype Trak
via Hype Trak

A lot of the songs on this album act as double edged swords in terms of meaning, which is common with Lupe Fiasco’s rapping style.  A lot of the songs had multiple meanings besides the surface level concepts.  My go-to example would be “Deliver”, which was released as the first single for the project.  On the surface, it talks about how a pizza shop won’t deliver to a house because it is located in the rough parts of town.  Going deeper, we see themes of deliverance, and the absence of deliverance in the ghetto communities.  The song, which features Ty Dolla $ign, is a perfect example of a song that has a ton of substance no matter which way you look at it.

Some other favorites of mine included the deeply emotional “Madonna”, which relates mothers in the ghetto who fear for their sons to the Virgin Mary, and her fear of prosecution of Jesus.  This isn’t the only song that features a lot of religion as a driving theme, considering that the next song is “Adoration of the Magi”, which was another one of my favorites.  It was also revealed by Lupe Fiasco that this track was his favorite as well.  As he revealed in a tweet, “Adoration of the Magi is my favorite song off the album.  I had a conceptual epiphany (pun intended) in the studio & been smiling ever since.”  The song contains a pretty clever hook and a lot of lyrical substance that made me realize why it was Lupe’s proud accomplishment.

via Upprox
via Upprox

The production work, which included work from S1, SimonSayz, Vohn Beatz and DJ Dahi was next to flawless.  The songs sounded great and profoundly added more weight to the songs.  The sax solo by Terrace Martin at the end of “Body of Work” is remarkable and ever so smooth.  The amount of hard work that went into the sound on this album was clear as ever.  No I have to admit, some of the songs ran a little long and dragged on a bit.  It wasn’t a big problem, but it was still there.

Tetsuo & Youth is a complex piece of work that consists of so many different, but connected parts that all come together like a nicely oiled machine.  This might not be much of a surprise for fans of Lupe, since a lot of his work has been like this, but it really shines in his latest work.  Plus, it’s always refreshing when you get an album that has more substance and metaphors than you can point a stick at, especially when you have the endless stream of “gangsta rap” that can’t go any deeper than the surface.  Testsuo & Youth is a wonderful example of how it’s done.

tetsuo & youth score