Archive for the ‘ Hip-Hop ’ Category

The Show Floats on—Tremendous Feat or Musical Suicide?

Publicity Photo from http://www.lupefiasco.com

Now that Lupe Fiasco’s single “The Show Goes On” has become a Top 100 hit around the world, it is time to mention its “originality”. Many people consider Lupe Fiasco an original and innovative artist. However, this single is not very original.

I understand that greats learn from the successes of other greats. Innovation is finding a new way of doing something or improving on an existing work. The music industry is no exception. Lupe Fiasco has been an innovator in the past based upon his unique subject matter and sound, like in his 2006 single “Kick, Push”. Now, Fiasco attempted to improve an existing work; that work was Modest Mouse’s “Float On”.

The first time I heard “The Show Goes On” it was on a hip-hop radio station. I thought to myself, “Why are they about to play Modest Mouse on this station?” I continued to listen and nearly gagged. “Float On” is one of my least favorite songs in the entire world. Personally, I think Lupe Fiasco made a HUGE mistake sampling this track.

The initial guitar lick is enough to draw parallels to the greatly successful Modest Mouse track. Fiasco goes on to imitate the chorus as well. Modest Mouse’s song sings “All right, already/We all float on” and Lupe Fiasco’s sings “All right, already/The show goes on”. The similarities may be used to introduce Lupe Fiasco to a new market, fans of artist like Modest Mouse. He may have also used the technique employed in many Caribbean songs. Once a song becomes popular, ten more songs will come out on the same riddim so they will be well-received.

Unfortunately, taking Modest Mouse’s “riddim” may not work for Fiasco because fans of the two artists may not overlap. He may consider the music universally attractive. The universally attractive theory proves to work; it ranked #7 in U.S. Rap Songs and #2 in Australia. The idea of listening the “The Show Goes On” a few more times does not completely disgust me, so I would say Lupe Fiasco accomplished a tremendous feat. He took a love-it-or-hate-it alternative rock song and turned it into an extremely successful hip-hop single.

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Green & Yellow Lives On

This year’s Super Bowl had a new level or excitement with not one, but a song to support each of the teams involved.  Wiz Khalifa recorded a Pittburgh anthem entitled “Black & Yellow”. Later, Lil’ Wayne recorded “Green & Yellow” in support of the Green Bay Packers. As you may already know, the Packers won and Wayne’s track will live on.  To listen to “Green & Yellow”, click play below.

Lil’ Wayne’s song is simply a Packers-minded remake of “Black & Yellow”. To listen to “”Black & Yellow”, click play below. This still raises the question: will support songs be the norm for major American sporting events? I can see sports teams collaborating with musical artists in the future to create team anthems. Will it happen?

Nicki Minaj Marries Mediocrity

Nicki Minaj in "Moment 4 Life" Photo: Derick G (http://derickg.com)

When a music video is promoted as much as Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” was, viewers can expect it to be a good one. Waiting for the video to premiere on MTV drove excitement as its advertisements came on every commercial break. The excitement turned into disappointment because the video had no true plot.

Die-hard Nicki Minaj fans may have enjoyed the video, but it was not a genuinely great product. Minaj is known for her alter egos, and she introduces a new one, Martha, in this music video. Martha plays King Nicki’s fairy god-mother which draws parallels to Cinderella. The video alludes to the fairytale once more when Nicki receives her diamond stilettos, not glass slippers. In Cinderella, the slippers are the only gift from the fairy god-mother that is not time-sensitive. The rest of the night diminishes and Cinderella cannot hold on to the moment past midnight.

If the storyline had influences strictly from Cinderella, it would have been much better. The costumes are the biggest problem with this video. The opening scene at the vanity is a set straight out of another Disney princess film. With many references to Cinderella, why does Nicki’s costume look so much like Jasmine form Aladdin? There is a costume that could have been left out completely as well. There is no introduction to the character with pink hair in the brown gown. In a video based so deeply in plot, costumes and shots strictly for aesthetics should be avoided. Nicki the bride should have dark hair as well to maintain continuity; the pink hair does not belong at all.

If Nicki prides herself in her acting as much as she claims, then she should have had more control over her video—or less depending on the decisions she made. The video seems like a short film about King Nicki wanting to hold on to the moment of her wedding for the rest of her life. However, due to set and costume changes it seems like King Nicki and the bride are completely different people. If she wanted a Cinderella story, she should have reconsidered the primary costume choices. If she wanted it to be a good video, she should have clung to one idea rather than merging the ones she thought were decent. The music video is nice to look at, but overall it is just okay.

Parents Still Don’t Understand?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

In an interview with Yahoo! Music, Willow Smith states that there is a possibility that she may cover her father’s song “Parents Just Don’t Understand”. Willow has been very secretive about the content of her songs or what influences them. She reveals that all of her songs will have a positive message like her first single, “Whip My Hair”.

A song about how parents don’t understand the life of a teenager doesn’t seem to fit Willow’s style or message. This is especially true when you are reminded that she is only ten years old. However, as some of you may remember a 12-year-old Lil’ Romeo teamed up with Nick Cannon and 3LW to remake the song in 2001 for the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius movie. Romeo starts the song in a child’s perspective school shopping and Nick chimes in for a teen point of view when he takes his mom’s car.

The 2001 version created a whole new life for the extremely-late-80’s song. By including female voices, the song has a whole new sound. The combination of artists makes the song appealing to more people: Lil’ Romeo fans, Nick Cannon Fans, and 3LW fans. If Willow remakes the song, she would have to completely reinvent the song or collaborate with an older artist (possibly one or both of her brothers).

Covering a song can be hit or miss. The original 1988 version by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince had a specific sound and will always have a standing as the original. The 2001 version added more fun and let a new generation relate to the song. I don’t think it was an improvement, but it definitely reinvented it and brought the song back into the spotlight. It may have just sent more people looking for Smith’s version though. A 2011/12 Willow Smith version would need to be more fun than the original, with an up-tempo dance beat and a child’s perspective.

Personally, I think it would be a bad move for her to cover the song. However cute it may be, the second the song starts playing it would get compared to the original. Coming from a famous family, people probably compare her to her parents and siblings enough already. The song would just be another reason to compare her to her father and could be a death sentence for her career.

Do you think Willow can improve upon her father’s 1988 smash hit?

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