Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kanye West: Can't Tell Me Nothin' Mixtape

Gold Digger aside, Kanye West's last album was a big ol' bag of bollocks. A self-aggrandising ego stroke, with little of the insight, wit, or playfulness of his stand-out debut, The College Dropout.

Clearly, West thought so too. He reneged on his promise to release three albums in three years and went back to the drawing board. Now he's ready to emerge from his hip-hop hidey hole, and has "leaked" (released) an official mixtape featuring some of his new tracks.

At first, it seems as though he's retreated slightly from the egomania that caused him to proclaim "I'm carrying the whole of hip-hop" in 2005. "I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny. And what do I do? Act more stupidly," he confesses in the first couple of minutes.

But he can't restrain himself for too long. By the half-way point, he has launched into a three minute diatribe about being misquoted in the press. Boo fucking hoo, you big girl.

The songs are rather good, though. West hasn't been refiling through obscure racks of dusty vinyl for his samples - I spotted Daft Punk, Deee-Lite and Peter, Bjorn and John amongst the backing tracks - but he has always been an excellent producer, twisting familiar hooks into audacious new shapes like a clown making a daschund out of a balloon [stop murdering this metaphor right now - ed].

The best tracks, however, are the non-West ones. Lupe Fiasco wrestles Thom Yorke's Eraser into a spooky hip-hop pressure cooker on Us Placers; Kid Sister goes day-glo on her ode to varnish, Pro Nails; and Common once again proves his lyrical genius by dropping in a reference to Finding Nemo on The People.

My guess is that West is behind all three of these tracks (he appears as a guest on two of them), but by contrasting other rappers' flow with his own - rather dreary - delivery, he ends up giving weight to the argument that, College Dropout aside, he should have remained behind the mixing desk.

Download links: (the file keeps getting deleted, so you might have to do a bit of searching on technorati if the links have expired)
Hip Hop Planet
The Rap Up
RJ's GFX and Music
The Leak Source
My Hip Hop


01. Kanye West - Friday Morning, May 25th, 2007 (Intro)
02. Kanye West - Stronger (Snippet)
03. CRS (Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West & Pharrell) - Us Placers
04. GLC - I Ain't Even On Yet
05. Kanye West - Can't Tell Me Nothing
06. Common feat. Kanye West - Southside (Snippet)
07. Common - The Game
08. Kanye West - Porno (Interlude)
09. 88 Keys feat. Kanye West & Malik Yusef - Stay Up (Snippet)
10. Talib Kweli feat. Kanye West - In The Mood
11. Bentley feat. Pimp C & Lil' Wayne - C.O.L.O.U.R.S.
12. Kid Sister feat. Kanye West - Pro Nails
13. Kanye West - Young Folks
14. Kanye West - Interviews (Interlude)
15. Common - The People
16. Big Sean - Get'cha Some
17. Consequence - Don't Forget Em
18. Sa-Ra - White! (On The Floor)
19. Ne-Yo feat. Kanye West - Because Of You (Remix)
20. T-Pain feat. Kanye West - Buy You A Drank (Remix)
21. Kanye West - Throw Some D's (Interlude)
22. Kanye West - Throw Some D's (Remix)
23. Tony Williams - Dreaming Of Your Love
24. Really Doe feat. Jennifer Hudson - Magnetic Power
25. PM - Hater Family

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Salma Hayek may explode

As Defamer puts it: Now more than ever, Salma Hayek is a series of massive, congruent orbs.

That bun is ready to come out of the oven.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Steve Tyler to quit / remain in Aerosmith

Lippy love-machine Steve Tyler, 92, is going to quit the iconic rock group who became a bit shit, Aerosmith, says the New York Daily Post.

"Her dad is going to announce he's leaving Aerosmith soon because he can't take how the rest of the band is treating him," said the source (who the Daily Post hilariously call a 'spy', as if you need to be trained in covert surveillance and the numerous methods of adminstering deadly poisons in order to overhear a celebrity in New York). "She said they don't appreciate him."

The Daily Post went to the trouble of checking out the quote with Liv Tyler's people. "Liv never said anything about her father leaving Aerosmith," they said.

In a nutshell, then: Man who does thing is not going to stop doing the thing, his daughter did not say to a stranger.

Ain't journalism grand?

The very excellent video for Cryin, featuring Alicia Silverstone

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Some ideas for Friday afternoon

:: Play 80s coin-op classic Asteroids - but with jazz. You get a really kick-ass bass solo if you score 10,000 (nb: I made that up).
[go to Fingertime]

:: Download some superpop MP3s from Sophie "my husband is in a band too" Ellis-Bextor and New Young Pony Club on Fluxblog.
[go to Fluxblog]

:: Marvel that Beyoncé and Jay-Z are still dating. Wasn't her whole last album about being cheated on and dumping your boyfriend? Am I missing something here?
[go to Perez Hilton]

:: Learn to play drums from the amazing Bernard Purdie (this is my favourite clip ever and of all time in perpetuity).

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Neil Tennant goes apeshit, attacks Bono

Only verbally, mind you, but he's been whining to Yahoo Music that El Nobbo only "increases his celebrity" by campaigning for good causes.

"I've always been against the idea of rock stars lecturing people as if they know something the rest of us don't - it looks arrogant," he added.

"It's not as if they have a private source of information. To state the obvious as if you are the only person that knows it is intellectually weak."

The thing is, Bono probably does have a private source of information - or, at the very least, better access to the people that tackle issues like poverty, debt and Aids on a daily basis. It probably wouldn't be too hard for you or I to find out the same things, but most of us can't be bothered. So, in the end, isn't he doing a worthwhile job?

In any case, didn't the Pet Shop Boys headline one of the Live 8 events in 2005?

Tennant, normally a pop star whose opinions I respect, then digs himself further into a deep and murky hole by proclaiming: "The Princess Diana concert is fair enough, but I feel more uneasy about the Al Gore thing."

Words fail me.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rihanna is quite good these days

I can barely believe I'm typing this but Rihanna is starting to turn into a proper pop star. If she succeeds, it will be the biggest career turnaround since Mel Gibson went from cuddly hunk to daft racist. Only in the opposite direction.

Unfaithful, you see, was one of my least favourite songs of last year - hell, of all time. That whiny voice; the fact we were supposed to give a shit about her "dilemma" (I'm a cheating tramp but I feel guilty about it - who gives a shit?); the frizzy 'cat in a tumble dryer' hair. Basically, it was a load of old pants.

Mind you, she won brownie points for her look of utter contempt following Michael Jackson's "performance" at the World Music Awards.

(Is it me or is Rihanna a freaking cyborg monster from outer space?)

But her current single, Umbrella, is a bona fide pop classic. All crunching synths and whip-cracking snare drums, it's firmly lodged at the top of the charts - and, given the CD single isn't out for two weeks, I expect it'll be there for a good while longer.

Her next single is pretty funky, too. It is called Shut Up and Drive and features - yes, you guessed it, a car metaphor. Here she is, giving it some welly at Radio One's Big Weekend in (spit) Preston.

Coincidentally, I star spotted Rihanna at BBC Television Centre yesterday. She is very tall and has a terrible shiny handbag from Topshop. So there you go.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stevie Wonder plays the drums

Fuck, yeah!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

It's been a while, so what has been happening in the world of pop?

:: Rihanna went to number one with her Umberamella. You can stand under it, apparently.

:: Avril Lavigne did not get her waps out for Blender magazine, but they made it look like she did. Avril is not offended, because they paid her in whisky and cupcakes. So that's alright, then.

:: Cheryl Tweedy called Lily Allen a "chick with a dick" after heavy provocation from Gordon Ramsay on his not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be TV show the F-Word. How does she know? Did Ashley Cole [rest of joke deleted on advice of lawyers]?

:: George Michael told Parky that smoking spliffs is, like, totally awesome dude. "Nobody ever came home stoned and beat up their wife," he argues. And they say dope dulls the mind...

:: Beth Ditto got her top off at a concert and people went a bit bananas. It is best not to search for pictures on the internet unless you have a very happy relationship with jam roly poly.

:: Bjork's Volta album was not the return to form we'd all be promised. Instead, it sounded like two cats fighting over a washing machine.

:: Lily Allen wrote a love letter to Cheyl Tweedy on the myspace. "I may not be as pretty as you but at least I write and SING my own songs without the aid of autotune . I must say taking your clothes off , doing sexy dancing and marrying a rich footballer must be very gratifying , your mother must be so proud , stupid bitch ." Ouch!

:: A probably not very legal collection of rare Madonna and Nelly Furtado tracks went online at Only VIP Media. Get them while you can.

:: Michael Jackson is trying to put a stop to an auction of his personal effects which, claim the owners, include paintings of young naked boys. What’s this? Michael Jackson - the cuddly, friendly Peter Pan of Pop - likes pictures of young men all in the buff and nudey? I don't believe a word of this villainous claptrap.

:: Paris Hilton really is going to jail. In the words of Kermit the Frog: "Yayyyyy!"

:: Cheryl Tweedy 'remembered' (was told by a journalist) that Lily Allen has recently called her bandmates ugly and vile and husband Ashley Cole horrendous. "I can't stand people who give it but aren't prepared to get it back," she told The Sun. “I left school a long time ago and have no time for this." "Are you writing this down?" she probably did not add.

:: Germaine Greer read an article I wrote on the BBC website, likening Serbia's Eurovision-winning performance to a slow-motion lesbian porn film. "Shame on him," she wrote in The Guardian. I hold my hands up, Germaine. I've never seen a lesbian porn film. Have you?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Madonna's Live Earth single

A few points:

1) How can we solve global warming by "just being ourselves" and remembering "nothing is real"?
2) This song is actually Fernando by Abba.
3) Er...
4) That's it

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A few things I had to tell you

Still without an internet connection at home (only a week to go, I'm promised) so here's another perfunctory update.

a) I am listening to Amerie's new album, Because I Like It, right now. It is fucking fantastic. Really, really, fucking brilliant. I'm on track seven and there hasn't been a shitty ballad or hideous "crunk" track with Lil' Jon yet. By default, this makes it the best R&B album since 1997.

b) We got tickets to see Prince in London! I nearly wet myself with excitement but in the end I decided just to go "weee" with my mouth instead.

c) Remember the video of the people lip-syncing to the theme tune of Peep Show that I posted last week? It turns out this group of people spend their entire working day making stupid videos for the internet. Look:

I hate them, but I want to be their friends.

d) The Eurovision was brilliant. I wasn't realy expecting to have such a laugh - but I met Terry Wogan, got to play with the pyrotechnics, comiserated with Scooch and flirted with the Georgian lady (through a translator - a rather disconcerting experience). Obviously, the show itself was shit and the voting a joke, but that's what it's all about, no?

That's all for now. Love you, bye!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Sugababes bitchfight!!!

A couple of Sugababes-related interviews from the past couple of weeks see:
a) The current line-up sniping about their former band-mates
b) Mutya bitching that Amelle is her "clone"
c) Groove Armada saying Mutya is "the voice of a generation" but hopelessly unreliable.

Here are the quotes in all their cut'n'pasted glory...

EXHIBIT A - OK Hotstars
You're heading to America in a couple of weeks. Will you come back with an awful accent like Joss Stone?
Girls: (Laughs) No way!Our accents are fine the way they are!

Are you pleased that your ex-bandmate Siobhan Donoaghy didn't do very well in the charts with her new single?
Heidi: I saw her video...I thought it was quite good.
Keisha: We don't wish bad things on anyone, it just makes you a bad person. She's got talent.

What about Mutya? Will you be buying her album in June?
Keisha: We'll probably be sent a free copy.
Heidi: I won't be buying it.
Amelle: No, I probably won't either.

And will you listen to it?
Amelle: I'll probably give it away as a present!
Keisha: She isn't exactly our best friend...

It's a sad state of affairs really, isnt it?
Keisha: There is no need for all of this. I think sometimes people regret the mistakes they have made and like to put blame on whoever they want. Why can't we all just be happy?

EXHIBIT B - The Guardian
Did the speed of the transition (from Sugababes mark 2.0 to Sugababes 3.0) bother her? "It was quick," she blinks. "Within 4, 5 days of me saying I've left, she's on the page. I literally said to my managers before, 'please, whatever you do, make me feel like I had a place in Sugababes, don't make her like me'. A replacement but not a replacement, d'youknowhatImean? And it was like a cloning."

Mutya went down to CD:UK in early 2006, "I actually went down there with Keisha. I wanted to meet Amelle, I said hello and then I wasn't allowed to see them after because apparently Heidi was shocked and upset, I made Amelle feel out of place and put them all off their performance. (Bristles) It took me to get up out of my bed to come and show there's no hard feelings and I got it pushed back right in my face so I thought 'forget it'. And I haven't really spoken to them since.

EXHIBIT C - Australia's Herald and Sun
The standout moment on Soundboy Rock is Song 4 Mutya, featuring Mutya Buena, formerly of the Sugababes.
TOM OUT OF GROOVE ARMADA: Popjustice, this website in the UK, called it the first great pop record of '07. We've never been in that world. We've never really been cool in the way Basement Jaxx were cool. I think this record has moved us into that area while still being a good record. It does that thing great pop records do. My wife's sister, who has the cheesiest taste, loves it, and Popjustice get that it's a good record.

How did Mutya end up on the song?
TOM: We needed an iconic voice. It's the voice of a generation, that generation of female pop acts. The same way that Robbie Williams left Take That at the right time, she left the Sugababes at the right time. The Sugababes are a bit random for me now. It doesn't work any more. She's one of those pop voices, when you mention her, people don't go "What are you working with her for?", they go "She's cool." Mainly 'cos she's so scary.

Did you get the real reason she left Sugababes out of her?
TOM: No, we didn''t get on on that level, really. She's 21. She's on her mobile all the time talking to her friends about hair dye. Occasionally I'd get her in to do some singing. She was always late, very often cancelled, but lovely. We had lunch with her twice and both times she had battered sausages & chips, which I really respect. Very easy to work with, apart from the cancellations after big nights out. She may have a baby but she's 21 and she's still enjoying herself. I like that about her. She's not a mouse who gets pushed out.

HS: The song says Prince's HOT THING is playing while she's driving and she knows every line. Does she?
TOM: Ah, no, that's definitely my lyric. I don't think she'd know what that's about.

This is all great. A bit of pop bitchiness was long overdue. Bring it on!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Very irritating video

Do you hate your dull job in the city, but console yourself with the knowledge that all those preppy US start-up companies full of sexy young people flirting and having fun are a construct of the media, and that your dull existence can be tolerated as long as you understand that One Tree Hill and Desperate Housewives are cartoon-coloured candy-coated parodies of the real world and the spoilt, happy, nubile people that populate them would never last a minute in the harsh light of day?

Then how do you explain this bunch of delirious motherfuckers?

Also, I never knew that the song from the start of Peep Show was an actual record with lyrics and everything. It's Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger, fact fans, and it's quite good, isn't it?
[via Binky The Doormat]

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Calling London - Hello from Helsinki!!

So I've arrived in Finland for the Eurovision Song Contest. I'm currently in the press area at the Helsinki Hartwall Arena, where everyone else is working and I'm, em, updating my blog. None of the keys are in the right place on this keyboard, which should make the next couple of days a bit more challenging...

I got here at about 1200 local time today. The taxi driver who picked me up at the airport opened our conversation by saying: "You're from England? Your song is crap". He's not wrong, so I've suddenly 'remembered' my Irish heritage.

Anyway, my being out of the UK means continued sporadic updates of this here website which is probably more frustrating for me than it is for you. However, you can read about my Finn fun on the BBC website by pointing your webular browser over here.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Siobhan Donaghy video

Siobhan Donaghy’s last album left me cold, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find myself getting goosebumps every time I hear some more of her new material.

Her next single, So You Say, is no exception. It’s a powerful little ballad – more mainstream than the kooky twittering of Don’t Give It Up, but none the worse for it.

I don’t know why the video director made her swallow a lightbulb, though…

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Stop what you're doing and do this instead

I'm not one for viral emails, but everyone in my office is doing that thing where they're pretending not to laugh and sound a bit like they're sobbing. All because of this video:

News: with signing for the deaf and translation for the dumb

It's by Adam Buxton out of Adam and Joe (long-running Channel 4 comedy series watched by students). He has more of this sort of lunacy all over his youtubes and his interweb homepage malarkey.

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Eurovision - pick of the lyrics

I'm off to Helsinki for the Eurovision Song Contest next week - for work, I hasten to add. I'm not entirely sure what to expect... I hear it's run with ruthless efficiency, and that the fans - most of whom are already there - are a little bit on the psycho nutjob side of sanity. Perhaps I'll end up with the same fixed grin as the two hosts Mikko Leppilampi and Jaana Pelkonen (that's them on the right).

What I have been able to ascertain in advance is the quality of th music. There actually seems to be quite a high standard, given past form. Cyprus, Georgia, Sweden and Finland all have fairly acceptable songs. The less said about the UK's entry - which is one long, tedious knob gag - the better.

But, of course, the main joy of Eurovision is the lyrics. This year sees a paucity of nonsense words (diggy-loo, diggy-lay anyone?!) but there are still some corking attempts to mangle the English language. Here are my favourites so far...

BULGARIA - Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov / Water
Lo, a reckless lad, leading a pony

GERMANY – Roger Cicero / Frauen Regier'n Die Welt
When I found out she wanted to save the environment
I sewed "No thanks" on my parka

ISRAEL - Teapacks / Push The Button
The world is full of terror
If someone makes an error
He's gonna blow us up to biddy biddy kingdom come

FRANCE - Les Fatals Picards / Love The French Way
I am looking for you in the streets
I didn't come because you aren't there any more

CZECH REPUBLIC - Kabát / Little Lady
Behind the railway is her nest
She collects coins from fountains
And then she puts them on the tracks
She's building herself a temple, a bridge made of tin
Already being crossed by the first passenger
So that his legs won't hurt

UKRAINE - Verka Serduchka / Dancing Lasha Tumbai

Hello everybody!
My name is Verka Serduchka
Me English don't understand!
Let's speak DANCE!

Seven, seven, bye-bye
Seven, seven, one, two
Seven, seven, bye-bye
One, two, three

[You can read lyrics from every year of the Eurovision at The Diggiloo Thrush]

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Psalm to the parasol

"Umbrellas. They are handy for keeping the rain off you, unless the rain is coming down at a funny angle or the wind blows your umbrella inside out. Umbrellas are therefore quite useful, but you always end up leaving them on the bus, don't you?"

This is an extract from Rihanna's diary, which I have just made up. It was not the inspiration for the reedy-voiced Barbadian R&B starlet's new single, Umbrella, but this post would be infinitely more interesting if it was.

The song has been banging around for ages but, because I unreservedly hate all of Rihanna's other songs, I've only just heard it. It turns out to be really rather good. Here is why:

  • Rihanna goes "eh? eh? eh?" like Alf Garnett all over the chorus
  • Those drum samples are dope, phat and wicked (according to this 1980s urban dictionary I've just been handed)
  • Rihanna uses the non-conventional cockney pronunciation of Umbrella.

    The video, however, is giving me flashbacks to painting our house and is therefore rubbish.

    NB: Wikipedia's bizarrely literal description of the video is priceless:
    "The video starts out with Jay-Z singing his part in the rain. Rihanna starts singing in a steamy place. Later, she starts dancing with water splashing against her, even though she is not getting wet. She is dressed in an outfit dancing with an umbrella in a hallway. There are shots of her naked in grey oil. She then starts dancing where Jay-Z was singing with her umbrella."

    Dressed in an outfit? Whatever next?!?!!?!1111

    Rubbish Jay-Z version
    Less rubbish version with L'il Mama
    Sublime "this song never needed a rap anyway" version

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  • Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    Is this the best band t-shirt of all time?

    Why, I believe it is.

    [via Karinski]

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    B's DVD

    Well, the house move is complete. It wasn't too traumatic - except for the part where John Lewis turned up with our new washing machine and refused to carry it up the stairs. It's still sitting abandoned and unloved in our hallway waiting for someone to carry it up to the kitchen, while my wardrobe grows gradually smellier. I run out of pants on Friday.

    Anyway, amongst all the domestic madness, I managed to sit down and watch Beyoncé's all-new DVD, which accompanies the "deluxe edition" (i.e. hastily repackaged after disappointing sales edition) of her B'Day album.

    The DVD has music videos for 12 of the album's songs - most of which will never be released as singles. But only the new song Flaws and All eschews the sexy outfit / snappy choreography formula in favour of something more interesting.

    Shot like a home video, it shows a little bit of the real Beyoncé - whose public persona has been craftily stage-managed for years. Okay, it's nothing compared to the warts-and-all melodrama of In Bed With Madonna, but it provides a rare opportunity to see Ms Knowles goofing around instead of fixing her steely glare on the camera and hypnotising you into killing your gran. The song is quite pleasant, too.

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