THE BLOOD OF LIL UZI VERT

Push me to the edge
All my friends are dead

As this song continues and he must repeat these somber, horrible words, Uzi sounds as if he is falling apart, hardly able to finish as they roll around for the 8th time.  Immediately what follows is a verse with sharp resilience — yet still self-aware of immense loss.  Within the context of art and as a listener, one can still perceive these lyrics metaphorically; because what we relate to is the loss of friends and family, something that everyone experiences.

As a listener and as lyrics in the context of pop music, we connect to that loss in our own ways.  There are degrees to loss and that’s why this connects to something within us all, even those only in proximity to the feeling.

However you look at it, black kids are dying from violence in America and here’s someone who is young, musically inclined and black.  What’s one of his best songs?  A song about how fucking alone it feels to have every one of your friends die.  He’s an artist and as such he is at liberty to choose how real his personal lyrical narrative becomes.  With this considered, the chorus blurs the line between whether or not it’s his girlfriend or himself talking — or both.  This is a particularly genius touch on what was already a song that went miles-deep.

As dark as this song is, it’s triumphant and glorious at its core — even life-affirming.  Vocally, possibly intentionally, Woods [Uzi Vert] has a similar vocal and existential vibe to Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 [just imagine Blink-182 with Uzi Vert as the lead].  In the early 00’s the angst of 182 was largely introspective, but in 2017 Lil Uzi Vert is channeling an angst based on external, environmental circumstances.

Uzi Vert is 100% okay as he reassures us on the opening (“Are you alright? I’m alright, I’m quite alright…”); but hearing him fall to pieces over the song (and keeping the hype of the song going) it’s just one of the best things you can hear right now.

 

Congratulations to Quavo & Post-Malone

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I think this song has solidified Quavo in the ‘best of all time’-status for me.  I mean dude has Versace and has basically given life to a wasteland… and he continues to do so.  It shouldn’t be surprising (as most fans know of migos’ talent from early singles, particularly ones showcased on their monolithic-NO LABEL 2), but it is.  I’m not alone in the feeling that we’re overexposed to an under-abundance of new ideas, but there are definitely great, exciting things happening.

Congratulations is one of them.  And in its way, the song is largely echoing what I just spoke of above — resilience and optimism, maybe a little melancholy (but only because you’re so happy you don’t know how to process the feeling), but overall a song focusing on looking at what’s bright, rather than what’s faded(/ing). The exciting sounds and ideas happening in music, which echo what is ultimately occurring across our planet together.

Read these lyrics (not from this song but)

STIILL BE PLAYIN
WITH POTS AND PANS
CALL ME QUAVO
RATATOUILLE

Dude I’m listening to every lyric of every f**ing song I hear — really taking it in… but time after time, I always miss some sort of greatness.  & here’s this line i must’ve heard 30 times before ever really listening to it.  That’s from BAD AND BOUJEE a song that actually came back around for me, rather than burning out (like most songs) under the attention and exposure.

In those lyrics you read, it’s not about the literal — it’s about the feeling.  When you hear him reference that idea in the context of Quavo’s rapid-fire annunciation, it’s breezy.  It’s exciting; fun+ny.  It’s what rapping is all about — catching you off guard with something inspired.  That level of rapping is getting harder to hear because everyone’s giving everything they’ve got (all at the same time).

…All that means, is… you have more choice.  We’re in a time period where you can look up how to do anything you want to do.  There is no longer an excuse to not live your destiny and even with limitations the ability to transcend circumstance has never been more possible —

— and that is an immense pressure.  Songs like “Congratulations” keep you chill on the razor-sharp journey.  Post-Malone does a fine job but Quavo practically sounds four-dimensional (and i think Post-Malone would be the first one to tell you that — and proudly).

Post-Malone / Quavo – Congratulations

“Andrew the Rapper”

When I was 16 I recorded a ‘rap album’ with 11 tracks, a 15 dollar microphone and a program I still use today — Audacity.  I made it mainly because I wanted to liven up the tedious routine of school and I rapped about very tame things (the class botany project; in-jokes with friends recorded for friends and Dance Dance Revolution, sampling South Park’s then-popular episode).  I even tried to make a “real” song, of which I’ll spare you the details.

Among friends, from then on, I was of-course known by my rap alias, “Hateorade”, not necessarily by choice, but always in good-spirit.  The 14-minute album-in-question, “Hate or Die”, did manage to get played in said science class and yes, when the first track, “With a Beat” came on, a few people started dancing (and laughing).

The memory of my friends’ and classmates’ reaction, in addition to the ‘recording process’ itself (i.e. “Name me some stuff and I’ll make a rap about it,” leading to the classic, “Pancaked”) are clearly why I made the project.  The intentions were so pure and the results were so horrible, but everyone just kept going with it because it was honestly pretty funny – this was in 2006.

This is my ultimate take-away from making music: what you record in the present turns into something which helps understand who you were in the past (and thus, who you are today).  I think when I revisited this, years later, this realization refueled my desire to record music.

Fast-forward to the end of 2010, throughout 2011 and into early 2012 and I began to reimagine my favorite moments in music as platforms on which my perspective could stand – this was done by looping portions of songs, then rapping over these loops.  Those are heady statements, too, because the practical result was some uber-lo-fi, uber-quiet raps over weird-ass samples; amassing maybe a collective 1,000 views on YouTube (and over 17 tracks, that’s even less than you think it is).

It was early 2012 and I realized I had recorded about an album’s length of material, so I released it on DatPiff.  I also realized, judging from said ‘album’, that I was a terrible rapper and it was ridiculous to think anyone should waste their time listening to such “armchair Hip Hop”.   This, in itself, was enough for me to ask the question: “Could I do it any better if I actually tried?”

So I did try — really, really hard.  That very summer I made up my mind I was going to make a rap album that was somewhat listenable.  There was also a serious sense of urgency to the project because part of me was a bit sketched out by talks of doomsday and Mayan Apocalypse.  I knew the world wouldn’t end, but I did wonder: “If it would, what would I want to say now?”

I was making music as if it was the last thing I was ever going to make.  Once it was made, however, I realized that life was still continuing and, since I had at least tried to make something, my sense of urgency faded.  Life kicked into full-gear and I was too busy balancing work and school to really find time for rapping.

During this time period, I used Laptop Rap 2 as personal motivation.  Whenever I felt like everything was too much, I remembered that at the end of the day, I made Laptop Rap 2.  It sounds so silly now, but it was quite an accomplishment (in my own head).  Over time, however, inner(/net) criticism dissolved my halcyon daze and I was back to square one: “Could I make an album which would transcend internal criticism?”

Spoilers: Yes.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that making Hip Hop music, in the 100%-DIY manner I choose to make it, is both therapeutic and a powerful tool for self-motivation.  I’m telling you all this because I wanted those who know me in-person to understand my intentions and that no, I haven’t lost my mind.  If you really respect me as a person, you will indulge my rap-fantasy and give my tunes a listen – you’ll be surprised.

Why Kanye West’s $120 T-Shirt is… genius?

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The truth is, you aren’t going to buy a t-shirt for $120 if you aren’t rich. No one who isn’t rich could justify that kind of money.  There’s nothing about the t-shirt which projects wealth and no one is going to look at the interior lining, so this is why super-fans cannot buy this shirt and understand its purpose.

The purpose of this shirt is for the person who bought the shirt (and that person alone).  It’s a reminder that when you put on your t-shirt, you know the price.  You know how much money you have that you can afford to drop $120 on a novelty.  This confidence will undoubtedly make the person wearing the t-shirt, wear it better.

Additionally, this solves a problem in personal wealth perception, where items like undershirts and white t-shirts were always going to be the same price; they will always feel cheap.  Now, you can have wealth even when it looks like you don’t; a wealth so powerful that it resonates without any indication of why — you are wealth.

Anyone who simply “wears a white t-shirt” won’t have that empowered personal feeling of wealth.  That’s why you have to buy Kanye’s $120 brand.  It’s just enough that anyone could buy it if they really wanted to, but too much for anyone who isn’t rich to casually buy (like you would a white t-shirt).