Kanye West’s DONDA Begins Design Lecture Series

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Image via @virgilabloh on Instagram

Kanye West probably holds a record or something for how many simultaneous tours he has going on at once (count ’em, 2). After recently resuming the Yeezus tour in Philadelphia on Saturday, West spoke to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design about his creative enterprise / design company DONDA.

DONDA was created on January 5, 2012 when West tweeted that he was creating a 22+ division company to “to dream of, create, advertise and produce products driven equally by emotional want and utilitarian need…To marry our wants and needs.” Virgil Abloh, Creative Director of DONDA and creator of “#BEENTRILL” streetwear savvily snapped the photo above of West speaking to the graduate students and stated that this was the first stop in the DONDA Design Lecture Series.

DONDA’s creative design devision is also responsible for several recent album’s cover artwork including: Lil Wayne’s “I Am Not A Human Being II”, 2 Chainz’ “B.O.A.T.S. II #MeTime”, and Pusha T’s “My Name Is My Name”. West has been quoted saying he hopes to make DONDA the first “trillion dollar company.”

West (as expected) spoke about himself on topics ranging from his admiration of the students’ work, his personality during interviews and politics. He was also quoted saying: “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design and everything needs to actually be architected,” “And this is the reason why even some of the first DONDA employees were architects that started designing T-shirts instead of buildings.”

A video of the lecture can be seen here and a full transcript here. Enjoy.

Seems like Kanye has found a way to rant and share all of his opinions through the identity of a teacher and without all of the screaming. Here’s to hoping for West’s continued success in developing the empire that is DONDA.

Kitty – “Second Life”

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Image via SoundCloud

Kitty has begun to make good on her commitment to her new album “Flower Violence”; earlier today she released the single “Second Life” whilst explaining her disdain for labels:

“frick a label uoeno

here’s a song from my new album i’m making, it’s called flowerviolence and it’s gonna be weird but whatever i really like it and i’m tired of waiting for other people to decide what happens to my music because it’s boring and i like this so here u go.” – Kitty via SoundCloud

What we have with “Second Life” is something wildly different from what we’d expect from the girl who bit Tupac Shakur’s moniker, deeming herself “kittaveli”. Full of synths rapidly ascending to a ridiculous drum loop only to break down just long enough to leave you thinking, “Wait, what am I listening to again?”, Second Life is not a tale of the online computer game, but almost the soundtrack to the topic of Kitty’s idea of a lucid dream. The subject of the track being the cause of said dream.

You made me this quiet thing I’m not used to being
Inside of this second life, I live in lucid dreams
I’m excited, I’m losing sleep
You’ve got me lost in my lucid dreams.

Kitty quietly spits her flow over the synthpop loop produced by Ary (of Anamanaguchi) and does it with ease. It seems as though Flower Violence is going to be extremely experimental for the rapper, an album full of growth and quite literally not caring about what anyone thinks. Needless to say, we’re excited to hear more from Flower Violence.

In an email full of grammatical errors and a lack of capital letters to Kitty’s mailing list she said the following about “Second Life” and her new album:

” hi guys ^_^

so i know i haven’t emailed u in a while but i’ve been crazy busy/anxious/whatever because all these crazy changes are happening and i’m taking charge of my life and being a very proactive human for the first time ever (*pats self on back*)
my boldest (read: maybe dumbest) move was basically putting out a song on my own which is not what people are supposed to do according to the ~standards of the music industry~ but i kinda realized lately that i’m kidding myself if i think i’m a dang pop star and i have to live by these weird business man rules.
im soooooooo punkkkkkk rockkkkkkkkkkkkk
aaaanyway, this song i put out on friday morning- it was basically an instinct move that i made out of frustration with other people telling me what to do. you guys wanna hear my music (i hope????), i am making music because i want YOU GUYS to hear it- who cares about the rest of that s***, right????
V
V
V
so even though this new song isn’t necessarily what the ENTIRE album is gonna sound like, it’s probably my favorite song i’ve ever made and it was written about a time/person that i really really needed to write about to get it out of my crazybrain. it was like therapy for me, so even though it doesn’t have any sick burns or good jokes in it, i’m still down and hopefully you guys are also down because for the first time i’m doing stuff that i believe in!!!!!!!!”

Mixtape Monday: Chief Keef – “Almighty So”

cover1Image via FakeShoreDrive / Interscope

Straight out the concrete jungles of Chiraq, Drillinois (and/or some jail somewhere) returns Chief Keef with his newest mixtape “Almighty So“. Released on October 12th, 2013 at 10:17 PM, the specifics regarding the time were in order to pay homage to label mate (and owner of the 1017 Brick Squad record label) Gucci Mane. Keef enlisted only 2 relatively unknown guest features in Cdai and Tadoe putting the spotlight mainly on himself (when DJ Scream isn’t… well… screaming…) and what you get from this is a whole lot of what you’d expect from Chief Keef.

What we hear with “Almighty So” is a 15 track effort guaranteed to bang in the whip; exactly what we would expect from the 18 year old father of one with a criminal record longer than this mixtape’s length. (Clocking in at a bit over 30 minutes). What was meant to be what many considered a redemption for Keef after August’s disappointing “Bang, Pt. 2” Ended up also being a disappointment. The real question is why are many of us so sad about this?

As a critic and a lover of every aspect of hip-hop I really wanted “Almighty So” to succeed and wanted to see Chief Keef grow as an artist. Although considered whack by many he has some great producers backing him and cosigns from people like Kanye Westprobably one of the biggest revolutionaries in hip-hop today (my humble opinion.) Chief Keef brought Chicago’s drill scene to the mainstream and truly defined the popular “#TurnUp” we see running rampant across Twitter these days.

After giving Almighty So several listens and trying my hardest to like every single track I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply cannot. Chief Keef has given me, the whitest kid you know from exurb Missouri the right and the ability to “#TurnUp”, as he’s given so many others. Overall I find the production to be lazy which is abnormal for a lot of Drill music, especially Chief Keef. DJ Scream’s hosting has always been second to Gangsta Grillz and he will never be anybody’s first choice as a host because he does in fact just SCREAM OVER EVERY TRACK. Chief Keef will never be the lyrical mastermind that many look for in hip-hop but his willingness to experiment with flow, rhyme patterns, and beats definitely show on “Almighty So“. Not to mention, as I said above, this tape bangs in the whip.

Across the board of hip-hop when Chief Keef’s name is mentioned you hear two very different opinions from opposite sides of the spectrum. Either Chief Keef is a revolutionary or he is the whackest thing to happen to hip-hop. I ultimately think it shows from the braggadocio (a cornerstone in hip-hop culture) in “Almighty So” that the #1 problem with Chief Keef right now, even for his fans is that he has so much time, so much potential, and so much going for him to just see the hunger he had on previous works (see: Bang Pt. 1, Back From the Dead) fade away. A prime example of “making it” and becoming lazy. The in-and-out of jail stints, etc. can’t be helping either.

Anyway, if you like Drill (and/or Keef) give the tape a listen, stream it courtesy of LiveMixtapes here, download it from Datpiff here, and follow Chief Keef on twitter here. Also follow me (Troy Womble) on facebook and twitter for more updates from S&S.

Choice cuts from “Almighty So“: “Hunchoz“, “Me (feat. Tadoe)“, “Salty“, “Nice
Tracks I do not recommend: “I Kno

They say they want the old Sosa. For what doe?”

(The following is my open message and completely unrelated to Mixtape Monday.)

Well Keef, I think I speak for all of your fans (myself included) when I say what I’ve written here is exactly why we want the old Sosa. I think fans will gobble down everything you put out no matter how lazy it really is. You could make a 15 track tape of you yelling “Sosa!” and people would listen to it if you had a beat they could “#TurnUp” to behind it. But we want to see you hungry again, we want to see you angry again, we want to know that when you’re toting pipes that you would actually do something with it and not just talk about it. We want the Chiraq soldier.  You’re 18, kid, you got a lot of life to live yet so don’t get lazy now.

Pusha T – “My Name Is My Name” Review

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Image via DONDA / GOOD Music / Def Jam

Pusha T, a.k.a. King Push, aka master of ad-libs’ debut solo album “My Name Is My Name” has finally arrived after a mixtape, an EP, and numerous push-backs. It was worth the wait. The G.O.O.D. Music emcee brings to the table the purest, rawest, uncut rap album we’ve heard thus far in 2013, with superb lyricism and songwriting Pusha gives us the classic cocaine rap we’ve come to expect and love from him on tracks like the Kendrick Lamar assisted “Nosetalgia” and showcases his versatility in regards to simplicity on “Numbers on the Boards“. Pusha T definitely brought his a-game with MNIMN.

The album’s intro, the Sebastian Nielsen x Kanye West produced “King Push” sums up the rest of the 46 minute effort in three simple lines:

I’m King Push, this King Push
I rap ni**a ’bout trap ni**as
I don’t sing hooks

What you hear is what you get. The Clipse rapper doesn’t sing on the album at all and there are actually very few “hooks”. He’s known for making cocaine rap , throughout his career that’s been his prime subject matter, it’s what he knows. Pusha T stays true to his roots throughout the album, continuing into the album’s second single “Numbers on the Boards” there’s a perfect showcasing of that with the last line.

I might sell a brick on my birthday
36 years of doing dirt like it’s earth day, god.

Pusha T shows he’s able to be versatile through experimentation, this is shown on both the Chris Brown featuring “Sweet Serenade” and the Kelly Rowland assisted “Let Me Love You“, rarely (if ever) do we see the Virginia Beach native stepping into R&B territory while adopting a late 90’s Ma$e flow.

Pusha also showcases his lyrical abilities in the next two tracks, the Rick Ross and (uncredited) Kanye West assisted “Hold On“, where Push rhymes:

Soaring from the heights but I wanted mine purer
Aryan, Blonde hair, blue-eyed like the Führer

And also the Ab-Liva / Pharelle assisted “Suicide.” You would think someone would run out of original ways to incorporate cocaine into their lyrics, not Push.

Next up is the album’s crown jewel and centerpiece. “40 Acres“. A fantastic, heartfelt, breath taking rendition that captures Pusha’s entire career and puts it into one song. The song showcases a man who has finally taken his rightful place at the top yet remains haunted by his past and knows at any time he could go back to it, showcased in the lines:

“I heard the Devil’s new playground is boredom
The California top just falls back like Autumn
And they say I’m on the verge of winning
I’ll claim victory when Malice on the verge of sinning
Old habits die hard
That rainy day bag buried in the backyard

A true masterpiece.

Following up “40 Acres” is the trap anthem “No Regrets“, produced by fellow G.O.O.D. Music label-mate Hudson Mohawke. Featuring [Young] Jeezy and Kevin Cossom we hear a track about true gangster living their lives to the fullest while they have the opportunity. The Trap-American dream.

For those looking for a more party-oriented Pusha, the album does offer up something for them. “Who I Am”, featuring 2 Chainz and Big Sean brings a banger to the table that doesn’t take away from the album’s overall raw feeling, with Pusha shouting some very menacing slang between verses. The only beef I have with this track is it doesn’t set up the next tracks very well, which have a much more serious and personal feel to them.

The closing tracks on MNIMN bring back the personal raw feeling that we’ve received throughout the entire album. Kendrick Lamar delivers a boastful and gritty verse on “Nosetalgia”, opening up with quite the question:

You wanna see a dead body?

Both emcees paint vivid pictures of what it’s like to grow up in the trap and then come out of it successfully, aspiring to be more than what they were. Well done.

Following up are the album’s first single “Pain”, where Future, as per usual, sings an auto-tuned mess of sentences strung together to make a chorus, but Pusha remains lyrically on point. And finally, the Pharrell assisted “S.N.I.T.C.H.”, an ode to all of the snitches out there and the harm they’ve caused. Pusha tells a memorable story to close out the album.

All in all, MNIMN may take a few listens to really understand. It is different from a lot of what we’ve heard in 2013. The entire G.O.O.D. Music roster has transcended the boundaries of hip-hop this year with Pusha, being the last rapper on the roster to release an album this year continuing the trend. Lyrically, Pusha T is matched by very few emcees, he’s a seasoned veteran who is just now releasing his solo debut. His work with Clipse is worthy of hall-of-fame status in itself, deserving of a lifetime achievement award, but now he is showing he can stand on his own two feet. MNIMN was hyped a LOT and it delivered in every aspect. Our only complaint is that it isn’t longer. Well done, King Push.

Stream “My Name Is My Name” on Complex’s website here and pre-order the album on iTunes for $7.99 here. Be sure to cop the album on October 8th, 2013.

Also be sure to follow Pusha T on twitter and like him on Facebook for updates.

written by Troy Womble.
Follow me on twitter for more cool news, reviews, and whatever else. @wvmble

Lorde – “Pure Heroine” Review

Image via Universal.

Image via Universal.

16-year-old artpop sensation Lorde has had an unbelievable amount of success with her debut studio album “Pure Heroine(double entendre?) . Clocking in at an astonishingly short 37 minutes and 10 tracks the Joel Little produced effort is certainly becoming one of the hottest year-end albums out right now. Influences range from indie, to electronica, to hip-hop and it all shines brightly in its’ own form on Pure Heroine, but the 16-year-old shows much more than singing talent on this album, she shows she’s wise beyond her years and coming in at the tail end of Generation Y that’s something to be commended.

What one might find most interesting about the “Royals” star is that she’s been developing her talent with Universal as early as 14-years-old, with her first release “The Love Club” EP releasing just a few years later. The main point here is people are stacking her up with artists like Adele and Lana Del Rey yet she has so much more time to develop than they do. The most unique feature about her is her uncanny ability to tell a completely believable and beautiful story, painting a picture through poetry that the greats would kill for (eat your heart out, Hawthorne.)

The album focuses on topics ranging from the regret and lack of appreciation for youth (crazy for someone who is 16, right?) to what seems like memory after memory turned into poetry. “You pick me up and take me home again, head out the window again. We’re hollow like the bottles that we drain.” She sings on track 2, “400 Lux”, a lesser known jewel from the album. In three lines Lorde describes a scenario kids these days should really have no idea about. It’s almost a form of culture shock to older generations hearing her music. Even I and others my age as the head of Generation Y find ourselves asking “Is this what the kids are like these days?”

The album remains cohesive from beginning to end. The theme remains consistent without becoming dull and repetitive. “Pure Heroineis a complete body of work, not a bunch of fragments with catchy hooks. It’s art, not just music. We hear many sides of Ms. Ella Yelich-O’Connor, from the seemingly scared young girl crafting her vision of growing old in “Ribs” to the bold and fearless woman who boasts “I don’t really think about death, that’s alright if you do it’s fine.” or the ever-classic “Do you really wanna go free? Let me in the ring, I’ll show you what that big word means.” from “Glory and Gore“. We see an array of emotions felt by so many who keep it trapped in side released out of the mouth of a 16-year-old from Auckland. Happy, sad, confused, lonely, and fearful, “Pure Heroine” embodies the emotional state of hashtag generation and will be a defining moment in the post-internet generation for years to come.

Check out Lorde’s Pure Heroine” and buy the album on iTunes here. For updates on Lorde’s music like her on facebook and follow her on twitter.

Written by Troy Womble. For more S&S related material including news, reviews, and whatever other awesome things about music from indie to hip-hop follow me on facebook and twitter.

Open Letter

Where do I begin? I suppose with a massive apology to all my readers. About 3 weeks ago my uncle passed away from heart failure. I left my college to travel three and a half hours home with my granddad at 11 PM on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013. I left with 2 pairs of clothes, a bottle of water, my Bible, my laptop, and a notebook. About 20 minutes into my journey home we found out the tragic news my uncle passed away, my uncle was like a father to me. When we finally arrived home around 3 AM it was just an absolute tragedy.Over the course of the next week I spent a lot of time grieving, I missed classes, I missed work, I just wanted to support my family, and that I did.

I kept up with a lot of stuff that should have been posted for all of you readers but I simply hadn’t been able to make myself write anything. I’ve kept count and I owe you all 3 Mixtape Mondays and if you all gave pennies for every thought I had on everything that’s transpired in music over the last 3 weeks I’d have a couple bucks in my wallet. I failed quizzes from falling behind on my reading for classes and only (as of yesterday) have gotten caught up on all my work.

I appreciate all of your faithfulness and sticking by me through this time in my life. I have a lot of stuff to get into and even more to catch up on for S&S. Even if it’s just in the archive I want you all to see that I’ve been covering things they just haven’t been published. As of right now my priorities lie with Danny Brown’s “Old” and Pusha T’s “My Name Is My Name” and review those and then also a bunch of other stuff.

Again, thank you all. Here’s to you.

– Troy Womble II

P.S. Steve, may you forever praise the Father and dance before Him in joy. Rest in peace fam.

Jon Waltz – “Bang (Left My Home)” [Album Version]

jonwaltzzz

Image via SoundCloud

Earlier this year a young up-and-comer from Memphis by the name of Jon Waltz released a track called “” on his SoundCloud. Today, Jon has released the official album version of the song and the shift from what it was back in May is monumental. Zayd’s production has been polished up and has become much more eerie but what makes this track really stand out among the rest on Waltz’ “Airways Blvd.” EP is his songwriting. Waltz covers a theme of lost innocence that is relatable for many reflecting on their past whilst dealing with the uncertainty of their own future.

Waltz is young, his technical skill still needs developing but that will come with natural maturity and effort. His ability to create a song and tell a story however is something that is unparalleled by many young rappers in the game today; a lot of rappers could take note. His ear for beats is also something to be mentioned, all of “Airways Blvd.” was produced by Zayd who obviously compliments Waltz’ rapping style.

Bang” features sampling from King Krule and some deep, dark 808’s that leave you feeling like you need a hug after they hit you. It gives you a cohesive story of many of today’s youth, literally leaving home with “a dream and a cigarette.” Waltz has captured a moment with “Bang that cannot be replicated by anyone or anything else.

Be sure to check out “Bang” on Waltz’ official SoundCloud or just listen to it below. The first link is the explicit, unfinished version from May and the second link is the album version / official single from “Airways Blvd.” 
which you can download free here.