Day 1 of the Meadows Music and Arts Festival is in the books and there was no doubt who the people came to see on Friday night. NYC’s (Brooklyn) own Shawn Carter (Jay-Z, HOV, HOVA, Iceberg…) gave a master class on how to headline a music festival. This should come as no surprise to anyone, Hov has been in the game for 22 years, has 13 solo albums, and hits for days. When headlining a festival an artist like Jay-Z will obviously have die hard fans in attendance who love the “B sides” but there will be a large contingent of people who only know the singles. Hov performed for roughly 90 minutes and left everyone walking away satisfied after watching a master craftsman at work.
At this stage of his career, we don’t even need any new music from Hov. But don’t get it twisted ‘4:44’ was, as the kids say, lit. The best project the rapper has released in years. However his catalog is so expansive he can just rake in hundreds of millions over the rest of his life doing a greatest hits tour with the “appropriate” amount of “B sides”. Last night, that was kind of what we got.
The Marcy Projects native opened the set with “Run This Town” “No Church in the Wild” and “Lucifer.” The first song, one of his stadium “bangers”, got the crowd hyped with the opening piano chords and the sounds of Rihanna singing the chorus. Once Hov grabbed the mic and uttered “We are…” the excitement level of the crowd jumped another level and everyone began rapping along with the God MC. It was a tremendous opening to the set. He led with a song all level of Hov fans know, and it’s a collaboration with the biggest names in music. Followed it with another single from the Watch The Thrones album and concluded with a “B side” from The Black Album.
The assembled crowd is now in full lather, waiting for the next song. While Hov is talking to his tour DJ and longtime producer Guru, I overhear a conversation from a group of twenty somethings. The crux of the conversation is, who they think Hov will bring on stage. Special/surprise guests have been a thing in live shows forever and many people often attend shows with that hope. Personally, it doesn’t much matter to me but I was curious to see if any of their guesses would be proved correct. They weren’t. Hov begins “Bam”, a serious smoker off the afore mentioned ‘4:44’, and in typical Hov fashion he stops it, and talks to Guru about the crowd being so hyped that they need to come correct. When he restarts “Bam” none other than Damian “Junior Gong” Marley appears on stage. The youngest child of the global cultural icon, Robert Nesta Marley aka “Tuff Gong”. The crowd lost their collective shit as the reggae beats pulsated from the speakers, Marley and Hov were effortless in their performance showing great on stage chemistry. Hov then gave Marley the stage and let him perform his classic “Welcome to Jamrock” to keep the reggae vibe going. Hov then followed with “Where I’m From” another “B side”.
From here on out Hov alternated between his many hits and classics, sprinkled in with the new material from ‘4:44’, which is quickly moving up the ranks as one of my favorite Jay albums. From his flow on “Marcy Me”, “Family Feud”, “Moonlight” and “The Story of OJ” this is high level Hov. “Marcy Me” in particular on Friday night had a special sound to it when Hov said:
"Streets is my artery, the vein of my existence
I’m the Gotham City heartbeat
I started in lobbies now, parley with Saudis
Sufi to the goofies I could probably speak Farsi
That’s poetry read a coca leaf from my past"
Not one for a lot of long drawn out talk sessions during his concerts Hov did pay homage to a few people. He dedicated “The Story of OJ” to Colin Kaepernick, the late comedian Dick Gregory and “to anyone that was held back and you overcame.” Hov also performed “Numb/Encore” in its entirety and dedicated it to the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.
Something I’ve noticed about Jay as he’s gotten past the “Young Hov” stage, he’s quick to let people know that he’s still got it. During Friday night’s performance of “Heart of the City” he did a mean a cappella outro. Yes, if there was any doubt, Hov’s still got it.
We are long past the point of Hov dropping a fire album every year or eighteen months. But we don’t need that. The hip hop master and God MC is a husband, father of three, and CEO (well maybe co-CEO. What you got on that Bey?) of a billion dollar enterprise. He is a master performer with decades in the game. He understands and knows how to deliver every time it is required. Friday night’s performance was a de facto dress rehearsal for his upcoming North American tour in support of ‘4:44’, and if that was an indication of what to expect, Hov fans are in for a tremendous show.
See Hov at Meadows performing classics like “Izzo” “PSA” “Empire State of Mind” and more.
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival is back for its second year at Citi Field in New York City. The festival will take place from September 15-17, 2017 and will feature headliners Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gorillaz.
Meadows has a similar format to the three-day music festivals that have become all the rage in the past several years. Think Governor’s Ball, Bonaroo, Austin City Limits, etc. There is music for just about every particular taste, arts, food, drink, and most important, lots of people. BSO will be live during the entire festival bringing you reviews, and sights and sounds from behind the scenes.
For those of you thinking about attending and this might be your first music festival, BSO is here to help. Even if you are a festival veteran, there are so many bands and acts to see, how do you decide? We’ve listed the 10 acts we’re most forward to seeing.
Here we go, in no particular order:
If there is a chance to see Hov you have to do it. Is he in his prime at the peak of his powers? No. But he’s only slightly out of his prime. But that actually doesn’t matter. This is one of the greatest to ever do it. He is a master showman and performer and has an extensive catalog as you know. A Hov performance is guaranteed to have something for longtime fans as well as new ones that maybe only know Hov’s collaborations with his famous pop star wife, Beyoncé. Plus with the release of 4:44, Hov’s 13th solo album, earlier this year you get a chance to hear live performances of his newest tracks.
2. Tegan & Sara
Canadian indie pop twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin the singers of the pop hit “Closer” off their 2013 album Heartthrob. The sisters have been performing for more than 20 years and are coming off their 2016 release Love You to Death. If you like vintage 80’s pop, mixed with a little alternative rock and some punk you won’t want to miss them.
The trap trio from Georgia is among the most popular acts in music right now. If you’re not familiar with the “Bad & Boujee” rappers, and how could you not be, you may remember their contentious interview with Joe Budden. That was quite a scene. In any event, Quavo, Offset and Takeoff are sure to be real crowd pleasers.
4. Milky Chance
The German group is part folk, reggae, electronica, and jazz. The group’s most popular hit “Stolen Dance” is a cornucopia of sonic elements. Oh and it’s real catchy too. In music it’s always nice to hear something different that still plays homage to the traditional and familiar.
The 6’3” Atlanta rapper may be the hardest working guy in the game. He delivered five projects between 2015 and 2016, including the Drake collaboration What A Time to Be Alive. The momentum hasn’t stopped in 2017 as both albums; FUTURE and HNDRXX debuted at #1. Future is a part of the new wave of rappers ascending to the throne/royal court. His sound is of the current time but uniquely his own.
6. Erykah Badu
The neo soul singer extraordinaire puts on a fabulous show. She has an extensive catalog and a number of hits. Badu is also an activist and no doubt will infuse her show with some timely messages. Plus if you haven’t heard her do “Love of My Life” and “On & On” live, you need to.
7. Tory Lanez
The Canadian rapper is a relative pup in the game but has already managed to make a name for himself, controversy with another famous Canadian rapper not withstanding. He started the year of with a bang, releasing two mixtapes and does not appear to be slowing down. “DopeMan Go” is nice track.
8. Sleigh Bells
The duo of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller have been performing as the Sleigh Bells since 2008. Their style is often referred to as noise pop. You undoubtedly know at least one of their songs, “Rill Rill.” The duo mixes pop hooks with an assortment of loud rhythmic sounds. What’s an example of a loud rhythmic sound? Well a sleigh bell of course. Their 2016 release Jessica Rabbit showed growth from the duo. Excited to see how they’ve improved as performers.
90’s alternative rock fans rejoice. Weezer is one of the sneaky good bands from that era where you wore flannel and stayed locked in your room because your parents didn’t understand you. You know their classics from the so-called Blue Album, “Buddy Holly,” “The Sweater Song,” and “Say It Ain’t So.” If they play nothing but tracks off the Blue Album and Pinkerton that will be well worth a stroll down memory lane.
If Nas is performing at a music festival you need to do what you can to see him. The Queensbridge rapper is a legend in the game. Much like Jay-Z, whom we mentioned at the beginning, the man has an extensive catalog and is a poet on wax. His style has evolved from his beginnings as “Nasty Nas” to “Escobar” all the way to the present day. Diehard Nas fans won’t miss this but even if you think you only know some of his work, it’s worth the visit. The Illmatic rapper is half man, half amazing.
When talking about must see acts at a music festival it is impossible to create a top 10 list without leaving some people out. There are a host of other incredible artists like: Run The Jewels, 21 Savage, Big Boi, LL Cool J, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, and Foster the People.
Tickets are still available, if you’re going to be in and around the NYC area visit https://www.themeadowsnyc.com/tickets/
A trailer was released today for a new documentary titled Public Enemies. The documentary details the tenuous relationship between Jay Z and Kanye West. The longtime collaborators and friends have been on the outs lately. The story, at least from Jay’s side, is he felt as though Kanye forced Kim Kardashian on he and wife Beyonce. Apparently Jay and Bey are no big fans of the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star. For Kanye’s part he feels that his “big brother” is not showing him enough love and support. Particularly during the difficult time when his wife Kim was robbed at gunpoint in Paris. The doc is set to premiere next Monday, July 31 on Channel 4 in the U.K. No word on when it will be air here in the states.
The timing for this documentary is pretty good. Internet speculation about the nature of Jay and Ye’s relationship has intensified. Jay’s latest album ‘4:44’ took direct shots at West. Which were in direct response to Kanye’s twenty something minute rant in Sacramento last year during his Saint Pablo Tour.
The documentary contains unseen footage and interviews, as well as first hand knowledge from Mr. Hudson; a frequent collaborator of Jay and Ye’s. Hudson spoke to Complex and said:
"It’s tricky for me to speak on that stuff. I think that they’re like brothers, right. Since ‘Big Brother.’ Those guys, they’ve been working together for 20 years so I’m sure it’s all good. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs."
Jay and Ye are, arguably, the two biggest names in the rap game. All time greats and have produced some fantastic pieces of music. Maybe the relationship has just run it’s course. Maybe they just need some time away from one another to remember what connected them at first. One of the interview subjects in the doc said,
“One is a New York street dude. The other dude is a mama’s boy from Chicago.”
They say opposites attract, but they rarely last. Hopefully the doc will reveal new information that we haven’t been privy to, and delve into some of the underlying tension in the relationship.
Kanye West will be the subject of an upcoming lecture at the prestigious Washington University, in St. Louis. You may be saying to yourself, didn’t someone already do this? Yes, you are correct. The same professor that brought you the “Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics,” is at it again. Complex Music is reporting that Dr. Jeffrey McCune will be presenting a case study through a lecture titled “Name One Genius That Ain’t Crazy: Kanye West and the Politics of Self-Diagnosis.” The case will present how West is both a “genius” and “crazy” simultaneously. Something many of Ye’s most ardent defenders, fanboys, stans (*cough*) have been saying for years.
McCune will explore, through Ye’s public breakdowns and meltdowns, the larger framework of the way society uses labels like “crazy” and its impact. In comments to the media, McCune said:
Ultimately what I’m getting at in this lecture is not just about Kanye, it’s also about the larger notion of crazy and how we utilize it.
This is really interesting when run in tandem with something Ye himself said at the Oakland stop on his Saint Pablo Tour last year. I was at Oracle arena that night when Ye stopped to go on one of his famous rants and he said the following, I’m paraphrasing:
Why does society say crazy like it’s a bad thing?! Like oh man, he’s crazy something is wrong with him. Like, I know I’m crazy, but crazy to me is genius. Like wow, he’s crazy he’s gonna be the next Steve Jobs or Walt Disney.
This struggle and pull between “genius” and “crazy” is in my opinion what Ye has been wrestling with for years. This idea of being labeled and placed into a box he clearly cannot, nor has any desire to be constrained in. McCune’s lecture will also argue how race impacts and intensifies the label of “crazy” as a mental illness opposed to the use of the word in reference to someone who is seen as an innovator. No doubt drawing from the countless material available on the black experience and aesthetic in popular culture.
This is actually very important work being done by McCune, mental illness is another label we “otherize” in our society and using a popular figure like West can bring about the necessary high level conversation that is desperately needed. McCune says:
I want to give people permission to be enraged. Give people permission to be upset, to be angry, to be frustrated. Give people permission to have moments where they break. Give people permission to have moments where they experience depression. I want to give them permission to have those moments without being characterized as being some type of deviant figure in the community. I don’t want to take away that experience and call it crazy. It’s reasonable. And it must be addressed with love, compassion, care, generosity.
He’s done it. Kanye has become a subject within the hallowed halls of academia. Funny when you think back to College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation; the titles of his first three albums. The themes and issues he was dealing with around being an artist caught between the dream of his mother – and by extension every working/middle class minority parent – that he go to college and “succeed.” Versus the pull he was experiencing within to pursue an “education” through other means. The irony of West and his genius being discussed in the hallowed halls of academia is unmistakeable.
The lecture is set to take place this Wednesday at 6 pm on the Washington University campus in St. Louis. If you are in the area, it will most certainly be well worth it.
Zoe Saldana recently told AFP, she believes Hollywood bullied Donald Trump. Once news of her comments got out, Twitter came for the Guardians of the Galaxy actress.
In the interview Saldana said:
We got cocky and became arrogant and we also became bullies. We were trying to single out a man for all these things he was doing wrong… and that created empathy in a big group of people in America that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises.
Let’s start with the idea that Saldana believes Hollywood became bullies. President-elect Trump is the biggest bully out there. He spent the entire campaign and post campaign using a variety of bullying tactics at rallies, press conferences and other public appearances. Including mocking a reporter with a disability. If Saldana believes that Hollywood became “bullies”, they were simply fighting fire with fire. No sympathy on that one.
The final part of that quote where she discusses empathy makes some sense. Like it or not, there is a segment of this country that believes the Trump rhetoric. That think he was the victim of unfair attacks by the media and Democrats during the campaign and those people, as unbelievable as it seems, were empathetic and sided with Trump. As poorly informed and misguided as they were/are, this particular segment chose to see Trump and themselves aligned as underdogs against the establishment. So Saldana isn’t wrong there.
Twitter of course didn’t use nuance with Saldana’s comments and attacked the actress. See some of the reactions below.
There were other tweets like the last one and several comments centered on Saldana’s ethnicity. Saldana was born to an Afro-Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother. In addition she has Lebanese and Haitian roots. She is also married to a white man. For some Saldana is not black enough, or black at all. All these factors are at play when people critique her for saying anything that isn’t 100% pro black.
I don’t know Zoe Saldana, what kind of person she is, or what she truly feels about her black roots. I do wonder, is it helpful to question/attack her racial loyalty in this instance? She is not a Trump supporter, but did respond to a question about Trump in a way that was not pleasing to many that oppose Trump. Plus coming off the heels of Meryl Streep and other Hollywood celebs’ takedown of the President-elect, this answer doesn’t do much in the way of garnering support for Saldana.
I am on the record as being 100% anti-Trump, and a Clinton voter, so before you get in my mentions, relax. Again, I am simply posing a question. What is the benefit of questioning Saldana’s racial loyalty as it pertains to her Trump comments? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for that.
Solange sits down with big sister Beyonce for a candid interview in February’s Interview Magazine. Long seen as the little sister to the Queen, Solange is a talented artist in her own right. Last year’s release, A Seat at the Table, solidified Solange as her own woman capable of delivering on the biggest stage.
The interview is fantastic and you can sense the bond these two incredibly talented women have. Both have tremendous love and respect for their parents and believe in family. Like all of us, they’ve gone through ups and downs. But, while they share DNA, you come away from the interview appreciating, seeing and understanding Solange as her own woman.
One of the more interesting parts of the interview is Solange discussing the similarities between her and Beyonce’s father and Master P:
SOLANGE: Well, I find a lot of similarities in Master P and our dad.
BEYONCÉ: Me, too. [laughs]
SOLANGE: One of the things that was really, really deep for me in talking to Dad is his experience of having the community choose you [as one of the first students to integrate his Southern elementary and junior high school]—to do that, to go out and be the warrior and the face of that is just such an incredible amount of pressure. And to evolve from that and still have your sense of independence and still have your stride and your strength, and to dream big enough that you can create something from the ground up bigger than any community, neighborhood, or those four corners … I remember reading or hearing things about Master P that reminded me so much of Dad growing up. And they also have an incredible amount of love and respect for one another. And I wanted a voice throughout the record that represented empowerment and independence, the voice of someone who never gave in, even when it was easy to lose sight of everything that he built, someone invested in black people, invested in our community and our storytelling, in empowering his people. You and I were raised being told not to take the first thing that came our way, to build our own platforms, our own spaces, if they weren’t available to us. And I think that he is such a powerful example of that.
Whatever you might think of Master P, the founder and CEO of No Limit Records blazed a trail. He wanted to create opportunities and empower a community. There is certainly no back down in him, that’s the only way you can rise to the top and create something in the face of adversity.
Matthew Knowles embodies much of that same drive, spirit and determination. He has passed it down to his daughters and they are blazing their own trails. Solange makes music her own way, in her own space. She is empowered.
People Magazine and numerous outlets are reporting that iconic actress, Carrie Fisher, best known for playing Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise has died at the age of 60. Fisher suffered a heart a few days ago while flying from London to Los Angeles.
Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd has released a statement through a family spokesperson:
It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.
Fisher is the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher and grew up in the bright lights of Hollywood. She starred in The Blues Brothers, The Man with One Red Shoe, Hannah and Her Sisters and, When Harry Met Sally. But it was George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise that made Fisher a star and household name.
Carrie Fisher is survived by her mom Reynolds, daughter Lourd and beloved French bulldog, Gary. May the force be with her.
Rick Ross and Ashley Graham were the guests on this week’s episode of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s Potluck Dinner Party. Let’s just say, things got a little steamy between Rozay and M. Diddy (tell me you knew that was Martha’s prison name).
As reported by First We Feast, Rozay was very flirtatious with the iconic business woman and convicted insider trader; rubbing her shoulders and whispering in her ear. In one of the more livelier exchanges after Snoop praises Ashley for reppin’ all the full figured women, Rozay said, “I wanna make some noise for Martha, ‘cause baby got back!” M Diddy jokes with Rozay that her ex-husbands are all richer than he his. She even asks, how big his “boat” is?! The banter between the two is hilarious and mildly disturbing. But, hey love is blind, right?
What do you think, are Rozay and M Diddy a thing? Think about it like this, Rozay has that 100 room mansion; he could certainly use Martha’s decorating help. He likes to throw parties, who can host better than her? Also, insider trading aside, she is a hell of a business woman. She can show him how to diversify his empire.
Watch the video of Rozay and M Diddy flirting and judge for yourself.
According to Hits Daily Double, Troy Carter, the man behind the careers of Lady Gaga, John Legend, Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor has been hired by Spotify as their new Global Head of Creative Services. The move by the streaming music service is an attempt to compete with Apple and Tidal on securing exclusive artist content.
In a statement made on Facebook Carter posted:
"There’s a famous quote from JFK that says, ‘Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’ With that said, I’m a firm believer that Spotify is the future for music. In my new role as Global Head of Creator Services, my job is just a natural continuation of what I’ve always done – protect the voice of artists. Always have and always will."
This is an aggressive yet calculated move for both Spotify and Carter. While Spotify is the undisputed leader in music streaming, boasting more than 75 million users and 30 million paid subscribers with $2.1 billion in revenue last year; the music service is behind when it comes to original artist content. Tidal and Apple have deals with the biggest artists in music today including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Adele, Drake and Kanye. With some deals so exclusive (Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Adele) the music is prohibited from appearing on any other service.
No doubt Spotify hopes to tap into Carter’s deep industry ties and secure exclusive Spotify deals. If he is able to pull it off, his stock will soar even higher.
It has been a year since rap superstar and business mogul Jay-Z acquired the little known Swedish streaming service Tidal. In an over the top press conference, Jay and other top flight artists, including: Beyonce, Madonna, Kanye, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and many others signed on to become co-owners in this venture; in an attempt to give control (read:money) back to the artists.
Well, it has been a year. How is Tidal actually doing? More specifically, in comparison to the other streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music. The answer is, better than expected. Tidal does not come close to boasting the subscriber numbers of Spotify and Apple (30 million and 11 million respectively). But, in the year since the artist takeover, paid subscriptions have passed the 3 million mark.
Tidal may never achieve the sheer volume of subscribers of Spotify or Apple but it has something the other two services have little to none of. Exclusive content. Prince, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Kanye have all released Tidal exclusive content in the past year. Kanye’s latest album The Life of Pablo was streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days of release according to Tidal.
If Tidal is able to corner the exclusive content model, it will soon acquire more than enough paid subscriptions to be a profitable business model. My free trial is about to run out and I’m seriously considering switching to Tidal.