J. Cole – Born Sinner album review

For most rappers, it would be audacious to sample Biggie, compare themselves to Jay-Z, or to dedicate a track to Nas and yet on his sophomore album J. Cole does all three to great success. Born Sinner, out June 18th on Dreamville Records, is an opus filled completely with familiar J.Cole themes of inner conflict coupled with religious imagery and it is also head and shoulders above any hip hop release so far this year. Unlike his first album, Born Sinner carries a thematic darkness throughout and it results in some of the rapper’s best lines so far. On the opening track “Villuminati”, a hectic beat propelled by clattering drums, baleful strings and a Notorious B.I.G. sample, we hear Cole address homophobia, Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything”, and even drop a “Boy Meets World” reference. In the first verse alone.

The whole album carries a darker tone than any of his previous releases from the cover art to the numerous gospel samples and church themed skits, going so far as to ask “Where’s Jermaine?”, a questioning skit about Cole’s alienation from his upbringing in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is not to say that the album is inaccessible or anything short of an artistic triumph. Each song on the album would be a strong track on almost anyone else’s sophomore album so the stand outs on Born Sinner are especially potent with “Crooked Smile”, guest featuring TLC, being a pop ready hymn to imperfection and “Chaining Day” acting as an indictment of the materialism in the rap game today. Both of these however are secondary to what is indisputably the heaviest song on the album “Let Nas Down”. Biting the hook from Yeezy’s “Big Brother”, Cole vents about his freshman album and the experience of trying to make a radio friendly single. As he raps the intro, a play on “Nas Is Like” from Nas’ album “I Am…”, Cole lays out the story of his single “Work Out” and realizing after a phone call that he had let down one of his idols by selling out on his art just for a hit.

The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the album sees as much commercial success as it deserves. J. Cole has made one of the best hip hop albums in recent memories and despite guest appearances from names like TLC, James Fauntleroy and Kendrick Lamar, it is still very much a show about J. Cole. As much as he recalls his past in songs like “Land of the Snakes” or “Rich Niggaz”, it is clear that J. Cole has grown leaps and bounds as an artist since The Sideline Story. Be sure to cop Born Sinner; you won’t be disappointed.

Kid Cudi Reveals Super Powers in New Single “Immortal”

Kid Cudi captured our souls with the release of his debut studio album Man on The Moon: The End of Day in 2009. Since then, he has been the leading champion in creating a new direction for Hip-Hop/Rap music. With his purely unique vocal, Cudi has successfully introduced us to a realm of music that glows with futuristic beats and profoundly insightful lyrics.

With his most popular songs “Day n’ Nite,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” and “Memories” ft. David Guetta, Cudi presents catchy fresh beats and masterful flow. However, it is songs like “Heart of a Lion” and “Cudi Zone” that show his deep lyrical messages on life.

Cudi reveals his true artistry with the release of his rock album WZRD. As he picked up the guitar a year before recording WZRD, Cudi ended up playing the guitar, keyboard, percussion and drum portions for this album. Ultimately, WZRD proves to be a relatable experience as Cudi tells stories of love, pain, and heartache.

The recent release of Cudi’s self-produced single “Immortal,” off the yet to be released album Indicud, is a fascinating song that reveals Cudi’s super powers as he reverses and speeds up MGMT’s “Congratulations.” The beauty in the song lies in his lyrical confessions as he laments, “Spent the last month feeling bad ‘bout myself, I couldn’t speak anything of real hope.” Conversely, Cudi now has grown stronger from the painfully challenging moments in his life with a “sudden peace in [his] walk,” while ultimately possessing a feeling of immortality.

Indicud is set to release April 23, 2013 and will feature Kendrick Lamar and his G.O.O.D. Music partner Pusha T.

Osheaga 2013 line up announced

After having fun by dropping hints via its social networks, OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival presented by Virgin Mobile is proud to announce the lineup for the festival’s 2013 edition which will take place from August 2nd to 4th at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal.

Headliners include Mumford & Sons, who recently won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year; legendary New Wave-era English bands The Cure and New Order; folk act The Lumineers; as well as hip-hop sensations Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Now in its 8th year, Virgin Mobile presents OSHEAGA Festival has welcomed more than 400,000 fans and presented more than 600 bands since its creation. Having been sold out for the first time last year, OSHEAGA will once again offer local and travelling music lovers an exceptional experience this year thanks to great artists, an amazing atmosphere and all the energy of Montreal during summertime.

Festival passes (3 days) for Virgin Mobile presents OSHEAGA 2013 will go on sale on Friday, March 15th at noon. If availability allows it, single day tickets will go on sale later. An exclusive presale will be offered to Virgin Mobile Members as of 9 am on March 13th.

Virgin Mobile Members who want to get in on the presale can head to www.virginmobile.ca/benefits. Members will also have the opportunity to win exclusive experiences including front of the line bypass, access to the VIP Members Lounge, backstage tours, artist meet and greets and more. Follow @virginmobilecan on Twitter for ongoing updates.

New this year, the Osheaga Experience notably gives access to a dedicated viewing area at the 2 main stages and to the Experience Lounge, where festivalgoers will be able to enjoy a catered dinner and a private bar as well as golf cart transportation from the main stages to the Lounge.

FESTIVAL PASSES (3 DAYS) (including taxes and service fees):
– General Admission Festival Passes: $235
– Reserved Seating Festival Passes: $395
– General Admission Experience Passes: $740.94
– Reserved Seating Experience Passes: $1159.45

OSHEAGA ACCOMODATIONS
In 2012, the Osheaga Festival presented by Virgin Mobile introduced the Osheaga Hotel – a low-cost, high quality hotel reserved exclusively for fans of the festival. With strong demand from festivalgoers, the Osheaga Hotel sold out in less than 48 hours. In 2013, we are proud to announce that the Osheaga Hotel has grown to meet the needs of our fans. Now known as Osheaga Accommodations, we have added two more properties for Osheaga fans to call home during their stay in Montreal.

Our 2013 offerings are the Maison d’Aga, the Maison d’Oshee and the Chateau Marmotte. Located in McGill University student residences, all three properties were formerly prestigious hotels (Sheraton, Marriott and Renaissance) and are located in downtown Montreal just 15 minutes by metro from the festival site. Official Osheaga Accommodations guests will be entered to win exclusive prizes such as meet and greets with Osheaga artists as well as backstage tours which will include a meal from Chuck Hughes’ famous catering tent. Please note that all Osheaga Official Accommodations guests must be at least 18 years of age – minors will not be permitted entry.

OSHEAGA TRAVEL PACKAGES
Also new this year, Osheaga offers travel packages including accomodations at Centre Sheraton Montreal and Marriott Château Champlain. All packages includes 3 day festival passes, exclusive Osheaga water bottles and posters as well as the metro passes to get to the site. For more information on the travel packages visit www.osheaga.com .

GALAXIE CHANNEL
Galaxie is bringing you the Osheaga channel on the Galaxie Mobile app. Listen to all the best music from the artists performing at the 2013 edition of Osheaga. There is no better lead up to the festival than this. The channel will be available as of Wednesday, March 13th at 10am.

Stream the 100 commercial-free Galaxie channels on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android device. The Galaxie Mobile app offers a 7-day free trial and can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or from Google Play. For more information visit galaxie.ca.

AIR MILES OFFER
This year, the AIR MILES Reward Program comes on board as an official sponsor and will be offering Collectors the ability to redeem AIR MILES reward miles for 3-day festival passes. AIR MILES will also be hosting exclusive upcoming events and contests for OSHEAGA fans. Stay tuned to airmiles.ca/events for more information as it becomes available.

OSHEAGA will announce more bands and the daily lineup soon. More news on OSHEAGA Arts and Osheaga + MEG Pro industry gathering (formerly MMOI) will also be announced shortly.

Please note that OSHEAGA will present several shows at the Esplanade du centenaire du Canal Lachine before the festival: Of Monsters and Men with Half Moon Run on May 24, The XX with Grizzly Bear on June 7, The National with The Barr Brothers on June 13, and The Tragically Hip with Sam Roberts Band and Rural Alberta Advantage on June 22.

OSHEAGA will also host a SXSW showcase on March 16, with performances by Folly & The Hunter, Humans, Valleys, Half Moon Run, Lisa Leblanc and Plaster.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to know everything about Virgin Mobile presents OSHEAGA 2013 and visit www.osheaga.com for more details.

ABOUT OSHEAGA:

Since 2006, the Osheaga Music and Arts festival has established itself as the most important festival of its genre in Canada. With its numerous outdoor stages located at parc Jean-Drapeau on Montreal’s Saint Helen’s Island, Osheaga attracted 120 000 music lovers from North America and Europe last year. A huge celebration dedicated to music and visual arts, Osheaga has given itself the objective of discovering local and national emerging talent offering them the opportunity to play alongside some of the biggest international artists in the business including: Coldplay, The Killers, Iggy & The Stooges, Sonic Youth, The Roots, Rufus Wainwright, Arcade Fire, Weezer et Eminem. Over the course of several days, approximately 100 bands will take to the various stages at parc Jean-Drapeau and across the city in the festive ambiance that only a Montreal summer can provide. Osheaga also holds a series of concerts and exhibitions in several locations around the city during the week leading up to the main event. For its eighth edition, the Osheaga Music and Arts festival, presented by Virgin Mobile, promises an exhilarating experience with, among others: The Cure, Mumford & Sons and Phoenix.

ABOUT VIRGIN MOBILE CANADA:
Virgin Mobile Canada rewards, entertains and connects like no one else, delivering the super-hot phones on the blazing fast 4G LTE network. Virgin Mobile Members also get benefits like exclusive VIP access and deals and award-winning service. 91% of Members would also recommend Virgin Mobile to a friend.

The Virgin Mobile group of companies has attracted more than 18 million customers worldwide. Virgin Mobile phones are available at more than 4,000 locations nationally including The Source, Virgin Mobile retail locations and additional retail partners. Virgin Mobile products can also be purchased online or by calling 1-888-999-2321. Get personal with Virgin Mobile Canada on Facebook and Twitter.

Bonnaroo 2013 Festival Scheduled Line-up

Definitely favouring a more urban feel than previous years, Bonnaroo 2013 is definitely seeming to be one of the year’s most appealing festivals. Manchester, Tennessee is now used to putting on the prestigious festival event, with the White Castle in Murfreesboro being amongst the best staff to advice you about the various precautions to take in planning your trip. Buy your tickets today when they’re first released to the public, as I’d be extremely surprised if they didn’t sell out.

Click here to purchase Bonnaroo 2013 tickets.

Some of the Hip Hop/Electronica highlights at the 2013 Bonnaroo include:

Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, R. Kelly, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, A$AP Rocky, Porter Robinson, A-Trak, Earl Sweatshirt, Big K.R.I.T., AraabMUZIK, Action Bronson

And lets not ignore the other performers of other genres, hardly to be sneezed at:

Paul McCartney,
Mumford & Sons,
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers,
Björk,
Wilco,
Pretty Lights,
Daniel Tosh,
The National,
The Lumineers,
David Byrne & St. Vincent,
Passion Pit,
The xx,
Grizzly Bear,
Animal Collective,
Of Monsters and Men,
ZZ Top,
Beach House,
Cat Power,
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes,
Jim James,
“Weird Al” Yankovic,
Tame Impala,
SUPERJAMS:
Soul SuperJam ft. Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters), Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more TBA!,
Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation Superjam with special guests
Boys Noize,
Glen Hansard,
Gov’t Mule,
Gaslight Anthem,
Portugal. The Man,
Wolfgang Gartner,
Billy Idol,
Sam Bush & Del McCoury,
Dwight Yoakam,
Foals,
Local Natives,
Matt & Kim,
Dirty Projectors,
Trombone Shorty,
John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension,
Noam Pikelny & Friends,
Amadou & Mariam,
Alt-J,
Father John Misty,
Baroness,
The Tallest Man On Earth,
Walk The Moon,
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The Vaccines,
Paper Diamond,
Holy Ghost!,
Divine Fits,
Mike Birbiglia,
Purity Ring,
Swans,
Frank Turner,
Allen Stone,
Cults,
Lee Fields & The Expressions,
Fatoumata Diawara,
Two Gallants,
The Sheepdogs,
Four Tet,
Calexico,
Japandroids,
Death Grips,
Conspirator,
Wild Nothing,
John Fullbright,
Django Django,
HAIM,
Killer Mike,
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti,
Clockwork,
twenty | one | pilots,
Reptar,
DIIV,
Milo Greene,
Lord Huron,
Futurebirds,
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit,
Charli XCX,
JEFF The Brotherhood,
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors,
Sea Wolf,
JD McPherson,
Trixie Whitley,
Deap Vally,
Patrick Watson,
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers,
The Stepkids,
Aoife O’Donovan,
Bombino,
Bernhoft,
Matthew E. White

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, M.A.A.D. city album review

For “good kid, M.A.A.D city” a kitchen too full of cooks has served up an all-time positive outcome for the burgeoning talents of rapper, Kendrick Lamar. A feast for both the common and particular ear, this sumptuous spread of contemporary hip-hop has received nothing but praise and rave reviews since its major label release on October 22nd, 2012. Nearly every track is weighted with a unique set of competing personae, ids, and super egos, dished out by a wide assortment of big name producers and guest appearances – Dr. Dre, Drake, T-Minus and Mary J. Blidge to be named among many.

The album in its entirety is cinematic to IMAX proportions. Short skits in the form of voicemail color the subject matter with striking subjectivity, in a way quite similar to “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. Lyrically and atmospherically speaking, Lamar, Top Dawg, Aftermath Entertainment, and Interscope Records have created a short film, telling the all too familiar tale of an impressionable kid growing up in the rough-and-tumble communities of Compton, California – with a subtle twist. There is more to growing up in L.A. than the glorification of “women, weed and weather,” as in “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “Poetic Justice” we learn that mob mentality and running from gang violence were a very real source of fear for Lamar’s younger self.

The message “good kid, M.A.A.D city” delivers marks the difference between a rapper who has succumb to corruption only to perpetuate it, and Kendrick, who hints at his aim to rise above it, and pass on his wisdom. The voicemail clip in “Real,” seems to sum it up. Lamar’s mother speaks prophetically to her missing son: “Come back a man, tell your story to these black and brown kids in Compton, let ‘em know you was just like them. But you still rose from that dark place of violence, becoming a positive person.”

Beyond the mastery of story-telling, which commands the overall success of this album, the music in and of itself is textured and uniformly enjoyable throughout all 17 tracks of the deluxe edition. The beats take a cue from the neo-soul genre; warm, at times esoteric, laid-back, tuneful and understated, while reminding the ear of an era when music was rebellious and fully conscious. Basslines are velvety smooth, and drawn out, underscoring the busy helium-harmonies and drone-like sound effects which reoccur as a modern motif (i.e. the hook of “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”).

Lamar demonstrates his flare for voice acting, or a possible tendency toward multiple personality disorder, animating each track with a set of Compton characters, versions of himself at different stages in life and his own torn subconscious, all the while showcasing his talent for lickity split, breath defying turns of phrase.

It is advisable to listen to “good kid, M.A.A.D. city” from start to finish toget the full affect of the album. However, some of the more memorable tracks include “The Recipe,” featuring Dr. Dre, “Poetic Justice,” featuring Drake and sampling from Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place,” and “Swimming Pools, (Drank),” produced by T-Minus.

Kendrick Lamar – Section.80 album review

Kendrick Lamar is an impeccable lyricist. His flow seems natural, at times striking with a rapid, staccato delivery. Other times, he slows it down, allowing his rhymes to be malleable, and shape themselves into whatever form they see fit. Lamar, along with Odd Future, Pac Div and many others, have put California back on the map for hip hop, delivering a new, refined approach, and implementing some of the lyrical themes common in rap with a fresh, and innovative perspective. Lamar’s latest album, Section.80 is a testament to that statement.

From the very beginning, what stands out and contributes so much to Section.80’s delivery, is its production. Some parts are minimalist; spacey, Kid Cudi-esque chords float over snares and layered vocals, allowing Lamar to deliver bar, after bar, after bar. “Hol’ Up” showcases the perfect matrimony between great production, and great rhymes. Soulful horns provide the melody, while Lamar delivers in a fashion similar to Camp Lo, creating a story through his effortless flow.

“A.D.H.D.” has an old-school, G-funk vibe to it; reverberated synths provide a surreal atmosphere for Lamar’s “high tolerance.” “Poe Man’s Dream” is Lamar’s biographical track; from talking about family problems, to wanting to help out friends, Lamar creates an evocative narrative, and contributions from rapper GLC, makes it even better.

“Chapter Ten” sounds like something out of a Sa-Ra album; distorted, fuzzy vocals, and a non-stop, onslaught delivery from Lamar, will make you wish this track was more than just one minute and 15 seconds long. “Keisha’s Song” describes the life of a girl with an unfortunate situation. Ashtro Bot’s contributions to the track will not go unpraised; something of a modern-day Frank Sinatra, but with a lot more rasp, Bot’s vocals in the chorus are absolutely infectious.

“Kush and Corinthians” is such a great track; groovy jazz sounds grow and fade out, with different instruments becoming a part of Lamar’s incomplete puzzle, as he reflects on life, and its many mysteries. The soulful vocals from BJ the Mystery Kid are a nice addition too. “Blow My High” is such an out there song, but in a good way. Weird, spacey sounds sporadically appear behind funked-out synths, while Lamar humorously rhymes over it.

“Ab-Souls Outro” stands out with its fast-paced, bebop production, and Lamar’s accurate and precise delivery. Ab-Soul brings an aggressive approach similar to P.O.S. in his rhymes; each one is passionate and heartfelt, hitting you where it counts. Similar to the improvisational keyboards and saxophones in the song, Ab-Soul and Lamar deliver in the same way, some of their rhymes seeming organic and instantaneous, like that of a John Coltrane, or Miles Davis solo.

“HiiiiPoWeR” ends out the album with its enjoyable J. Cole production, and Lamar’s insightful lyrical content.

This album is amazing; it presents itself as something more than just a piece of recorded music. It provides a message, with that message being, “stand for something.” Maybe this is due to Lamar’s upbringing in a world filled with violence and hardship, making a way for himself regardless of his experiences. Where ever the message derives from, it is obviously significant, and allows the album to have something of a concept behind it. The production is flawless; it takes chances, allowing moments to experiment and branch out, resulting in a positive outcome. Section.80 is welcoming and enjoyable, and if you have not heard of Kendrick Lamar, then this would definitely be a great place to start.