Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake Also Dealt With Our Perception of Musical Output and Frequency

J. Cole’s now-taken-back diss track ‘7 Minute Drill’ had a couple of lines that some saw as criticism of Kendrick Lamar’s musical output. “He averagin’ one hard verse like every thirty months or somethin‘ /If he wasn’t dissin’, then we wouldn’t be discussin’ him.” It is the same sentiments that Drake said (in another deleted for different reasons), ‘Taylor Made Freestyle,’ “I guess you need another week to figure out how to improve / What the f*ck is taking so long? We waitin’ on you.” After “Li

Taylor Swift and The Tortured Critics Department

This post was first published at Capitalize the B Newsletter

Given the state of the many choices of social media platforms and their catering to a different piece of your attention, it’s been harder to cultivate communal moments like we used to. Fewer artists seemingly stop the world and invoke curiosity with each project they release. (Again, you can attribute this to how we receive and consume music). But this past Friday was different as Taylor Swift released her 11th full-length album, The

Grimes's Coachella Difficulties Show That Tech Shouldn't Supplant Craft

Coachella is never without news or surprises. However, one particular moment is drawing eyes other than the great No Doubt reunion, Blur’s perplexed reaction to the crowd, and Lauryn Hill’s appearance during her son YG Marley’s set. Nope, the topic of discussion is centered around Grimes and the number of “technical mishaps” surrounding her DJ set. She repeatedly apologized to the packed Sahara tent crowd, rage screamed at points, and apologized after her set. Mistakes happen, and I’ve been to s

J. Cole's Skill Will Live On, But This Was The Time To Cement Legend Status

We all love to see our favorite rappers at the top of their game and enter the lyrical ring if the moment calls for it. The “battle” is the essence of what hip-hop is built upon, and it wasn’t like we were going to see the likes of J. Cole, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar take things beyond the realm of the studio. The investment came to see the top dogs go line-for-line to see who can ultimately call themselves number one. That’s why Cole’s verse on “First Person Shooter” was so exciting to hear. It

Beyoncé, Country Music, and the Weight of the American Flag

My first vivid memory of discovering country music was with my grandmother and discovering that she liked Randy Travis. This was a woman who was devoutly devoted to listening to gospel music, so it was a shock to me. It was also at the beginning of finding music outside of hip-hop and R&B. In those moments, there’s something pure about having something different permeate your senses. It’s because there’s a protective encasement around that sense of wonder that does not apply to gatekeeping — bec

Jay-Z's Speech and the Conundrum of Needing The Grammy Award Accolade

Jay-Z’s acceptance speech for the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award included a part in which he highlighted two previous Grammy boycotts he and Will Smith did — while still acknowledging they watched the show anyway. That is a perfect summary of the relationship we have with the Grammys at large now. It’s billed as “The Super Bowl of music,” where the industry’s best comes together with the spirit that the best works from the prior year will be awarded. Again, that’s at least the spirit of what the Gr

'Cry Me A River' Is A Song Justin Timberlake Can't Seem To Shake

On November 25, 2002, Justin Timberlake premiered the video for a song (you may have heard it) named ‘Cry Me A River’ from his debut solo album, Justified. There was a time when he was silent about where the inspiration for that song came from. No doubt it was about a prior relationship that crumbled to the ground, but Timberlake stated it wasn’t specifically about anyone in October of 2002. Cut to the premiere of that video directed by Francis Lawrence, and the resemblance of the faceless blond

The Essentialness of Music Journalism Must Be Recognized

Music is magical. It’s one of the few mediums where you can relive the feeling of hearing something for the first time in repetition. It will always repay you if you allow yourself to be overtaken by melodies, rhythm, and the shared stories of instrumentals and lyricism. For me, it was my late grandmother’s love for the piano and Gospel music. Then, it grew from my uncle’s vast CD collection full of R&B and classic hip-hop. Soon, I would make my own discoveries by watching MTV, where Nirvana’s “

The 2024 major Grammy categories belong to women and (finally) not lip service

To say that the look of the top Grammy nominations from this year is an overall rebuke of former Recording Academy president Neil Portnow’s comments that female artists had to “step it up” to get recognized in 2018 would be an understatement. That’s with a year when albums such as Lorde’s Melodrama, SZA’s Ctrl, Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom, and Lady Gaga’s Joanne, amongst many great pieces of work, were released.

Low and behold – the 67th installment of the Grammys got it right, and seven of the ei

Rage Against The Machine’s legacy was always bigger than the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Timelessness is a concept I have been more aware of as I listen to music lately. Some of the best bodies of work not only strike specific feelings inside of me the moment I listen to them, but keep their same purpose while applying to the current times I live in. I remember the first time I listened to Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 self-title album, 1996’s Evil Empire, and 2000’s The Battle for Los Angeles, and remarkably, they haven’t aged the bit. Not just from a musical standpoint.

The fou

Olivia Rodrigo confidently excoriates the vortex of our expectations, fame, and love on ‘Guts’

Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album, Guts, is a confident, heart-bearing, intricately disorienting encapsulation of what it must feel like to be a young woman trying to sift through the world of unrealistic societal expectations, heartbreak, and artistic pressures. Sometimes, you want to wallow in a particular betrayal. Other times, you want to get with a group of friends and contemplate methods of revenge against said ex-significant other. You don’t have everything figured out yet, and that’s the

UPSAHL’s world is driven by inspiration and refuses to be locked down by genre or definition

I first met Upsahl in 2019 before she did a set at the BMI stage in Chicago at Lollapalooza. She had just moved to Los Angeles from Phoenix, Arizona, and was on the cusp of releasing her Hindsight 20/20 EP. In reality, that was the first stage of a career that began with her first self-titled project she released when she was 14. It’s great to see artists move through all the noise and figure out their own flavors with the ways they want to put their creativity into the world.

When we met again

Lollapalooza 2023 boasted familiar headliners, new diverse acts, and a lot more fans

“I don’t care if it’s the last thing I do; I need to be upfront for Lana Del Rey.” This is one of the many things I heard taking the MTA to the Laselle stop on the way to Grant Park. Another constant was how people would try to divide time between the headlining sets of Kendrick Lamar and The 1975 on Friday night. If you’re a music festival-going veteran, you’ve experienced your fair share of schedule conflicts. On the first night of the festival, you had to choose between Billie Elish and Karol

50 Cent’s first ‘Final Lap’ Brooklyn tour stop was a celebration of his legacy and the past and present of Hip-Hop

“We got MC Hammer budgets!” Tony Yayo declared during a brief pause in 50 Cent’s set comprised of pyro, male and female dancers, a backing band, and illuminating backgrounds which would take the form of Curtis Jackson’s South Jamaica, Queens hometown or to show his vast accolades from music, acting, television producer, and author. It’s fitting that 50 Cent’s first night at Barclays Center on his Final Lap tour coincided with Hip-Hop’s 50th-anniversary celebrations. If you’ve listened to hip-hop

Has Governors Ball finally found a home venue? The 2023 iteration makes the case.

Smoke storms be dammed! The week of Governors' Ball looked a bit dicey compared to the days before the three-day New York music festival’s air prospects due to the ongoing wildfires in Canada. It was a stark reminder (and hopefully not foreshadowing) of what climate change's effects can impose on outdoor performance spaces. The history of Governors Ball is undoubtedly steeped in battling the elements. Who could ever forget the great mud pit of 2013? (the spare boots that I quickly threw away aft

Spiritbox’s second ‘Eternal Blue Tour’ stop in New York shows they got the goods to hang with the best

Spiritbox knows how to have a good time. That’s not just from the first-person standpoint of witnessing the Canadian metal band tear up Irving Plaza in New York during their second consecutive sold-out show – they do it in all senses of the phrase. Before their roughly hour-and-a-half set started, DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide” and Beyonce’s “All Up In Your Mind” played in preparation. During the show, the band went into their own iteration of No Doubt’s “Hella Good.”

Who says that a metal band ca

Missy Elliott’s legacy is as rock and roll as it gets

Rock and Roll music was birthed in genres like jazz, gospel, and rhythm and blues – fortified by legends such as Little Richard, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Sh-boom. Some people have come to view rock music with a narrow lens of singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer in the ilk of bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and The Foo Fighters. That’s not to say those bands aren’t vastly important in their own right (they absolutely are), but rock and roll is a genre th

These AI-generated songs sap the soul out of the artistic medium that needs it most

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but one of my favorite electronic groups of all time is Daft Punk. When the duo suddenly broke up in 2021, I was crushed. They made music on their own terms, made releases count, and had those amazing robot helmets (plus, I never got to see them live). An immediate void was created as they exited the incomparable musical partnership together. But a recent interview with co-founder Thomas Bangalter said when asked about why the duo broke up. He said, “As much as I

Foo Fighters ‘Rescued’ shows the band is still committed to finding and being a light

Unfortunately, loss is a part of life we can’t avoid. It’s a certainty that feels like cruelty when we aren’t given heads up to brace ourselves for it. With that token, tragedy has also been a mainstay in music. Examples are the late Chris Cornell with Soundgarden/Audioslave and Chester Bennington with Linkin Park. Knowing they are gone brings sadness from two points – revisiting the music they left us is noticeably heavier, and wondering what artistry they still had to give to the world. We cou

20 Years of ‘Meteora’: Linkin Park’s Confident Entrenchment of Their Previous Sounds

Throughout the countless times I’ve listened to Linkin Park’s sophomore album, 2003’s Meteora, I always felt it was a companion to 2000’s Hybrid Theory. Not in the sense that there’s a continuance of a storyline or anything of that nature. The themes of loneliness, longing, and wanting to break away are still present – if not more defined.

Rather than completely turn away from the rap/rock/electronic foundation, Linkin Park leaned into it. The band became more confident, building upon the found

Paramore’s ‘This Is Why’ is a confident articulation of pandemic anxieties and personal realizations

A full circle moment occurs when you think about the first and last songs on Paramore’s first album in six years: This Is Why. It speaks to the outward projection of the collection of pandemic feelings we all have (or continue) to experience and the band’s own inward battles throughout their almost 20 years of existence. The title enters with guitar strokes and bass lines that play off one another and a rhythmic drum pattern from Zac Farro while lead singer Hayley Williams playfully sings about

Beyoncé’s vast amount of achievements shouldn’t limit how many times we acknowledge her greatness

One phrase that has had even more immense importance while we’ve ridden a wave of catastrophic loss of so many people is “giving someone their flower while they can still smell them.” A particular instance of this that I refer to is the Verzuz DMX had with Snoop Dogg before his tragic passing in April of 2021. Even through the socially distanced chat message format, X could feel the years of love and appreciation everybody carried for him. But that’s the thing about giving flowers – there is no

Let The "Old" Kanye West Go

Five years ago, Kanye West (or Ye as he prefers to be called now) marched up to the TMZ offices and said that “slavery was a choice.” This is despite the overwhelming 400 years of evidence to the contrary and the fact he spent a Yeezus album cycle going from each talk show, speaking about self-empowerment and wanting to break out of the creative box the fashion industry had placed him in. Now, he’s willingly boxed himself with groups of people who will gladly use his anti-black and anti-Semitic

For Slipknot, 'The End, So Far' Is A Sum of All Their Weird and Wonderful Parts

At the beginning of the last track, ‘Finale’ on Slipknot’s seventh album, The End, So Far, lead singer Corey Taylor sings, “Oh, I know it’s a shame, but I gotta stay/’Cause I like it here.” Those lyrics, sung against a crescendo of electronic orchestral arrangements and baselines from Alessandro Venturella, illustrate the exact juxtaposition of why this band is still needed. For over 30 years, Slipknot has been an outlet for aggression, inner turmoil, anger, unity, and experimentation for the ba
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