One line on 4:44, the 13th solo album by rapper Jay-Z, implores listeners to “Stop me when I stop telling the truth.” If that’s the case, you can’t stop this album for its entire 34 minutes. Featuring some of his most introspective and lyrical wordplay since 2007’s American Gangster, 4:44 is essentially a comeback record after a series of projects that were commercially successful but weren’t particularly critically well-received by reviewers or fans. It finds the 47-year-old drug dealer-turned-rapper-turned-multi-millionaire businessman at a crossroads of sorts, reflecting on his choices thus far and laying out the motivations for the directions he’s going in next; each of the ten tracks weave the musings of the man Shawn Carter against the rap mogul Jay-Z and back again. [Read more…]
Cracked Actor (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
Sweet Thing/Candidate (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
In honor and in celebration of Cracked Actor, the new live release from David Bowie’s infamously depraved yet musically stellar ’74 tour (the new album narrows in on one evening, his September 5th show at Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheater, which I had the blearied pleasure of attending!), Riot Material scratched up a BBC documentary from that same tour, titled Cracked Actor: A Film About David Bowie. The 1975 film, viewable below, is directed by Alan Yentob: [Read more…]
We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service Reviewed by C von Hassett
A Tribe Called Quest just dropped their first album in 18 years, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Released mere days after the Great Debacle of 2016, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service is remarkably, if not thrillingly present tense. Wholly animate in both sound and vision, it is a record that is also uniquely relevant — as much for being in essential response to the angst and rancor of the day as it is for inspiring, as good art tends to do, a requisite spark that might yet ignite conscientious action in the days and months ahead.
Theirs, with this exceptional release, is the resounding shot of this new cycle, and it is one which heralds little quarter. Straight-in they reject a presidential promise that unblushingly assures “all you Black folks, you must go / all you Mexicans, you must go / all you poor folks, you must go / Muslims and gays…” The vitriol, borne high on foul national sentiments, amounts to a kind-of maniacal voodoo, to use their image, and they counter the venom with their own dream serum of living in a world inclusive of all, one without division “no matter the skin tone, culture or time zone.” We are long on a grim horizon from there, but in the storm that is surely in approach, “young leaders will rise / in the eyes of despair and adversity.”
Whatever Will Be