Song of The Year- Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd
I am very excited to sit back and watch all the critics who buried The Weeknd two years ago do a pirouette into Abel Tesfaye appreciation. Compare him to Michael Jackson or Prince if you want. You should never have given up on him so easily. We all rocked House of Balloons in 2011. It was a mixtape moon landing that changed the game…where did you think that genius went?
Anyway, the task that Beauty Behind The Madness tackles is going pop respectfully. Translating the deep hurt and jarring imagery into something that can play on everyone’s radio. Instead of rap features we get Lana Del Ray and Ed Sheeran (the only guests). I don’t think Can’t Feel My Face is my favorite song on the album but it’s a smash. I think Shameless is a more beautiful and intelligently written song but Can’t Feel My Face achieves a forward momentum that we didn’t know was in Abel’s arsenal. The reason people jumped off the bandwagon originally was that listening to The Weeknd felt like something you only did at your lowest point on a rainy day, otherwise you get lost in depression town with a long work day ahead. Can’t Feel My Face is the best example of polishing scary content until it’s too fun to worry about. Even more than Future’s DS2 and that’s saying something.
It’s exciting that he’s taken back this maudlin drugged up party kid character and updated him…because this is his character. I always felt weird hearing other people borrow from the persona while we acted like that’s ok. Now that he’s back dropping gems again, it’s like he says on Tell Your Friends (my favorite song) “Last year I did all the politicking, this year I’mma focus on the vision.” When The Weeknd is all vision the outcome is always something to behold.
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Tagged Abel Tesfaye, Can't Feel My Face, Dirty Sprite 2, Ed Sheeran, future, Future DS2, House Of Balloons, Lana Del Ray, Michael Jackson, Prince, sad drug music, song of the year, The Weeknd, Weeknd
Mixtape Review-Happy Belated by Chaz French
This morning I looked out my window and it was fall. Through the thick damp fog I could see the fresh wet leaves coating the ground with contrasting colors observing how sadly beautiful it was and said “It’s a Chaz French kind of day.” Like fall his new mixtape Happy Belated is very much about entropy. The slow painful passing of what we love most (at least in New England the summer is what a lot of people live for I’m sure in Arizona it’s different). Through the thick mist and groggy darkness the beauty of the scene remains. Even as the mixtape closes we get the only really upbeat song, its called Before I Die but I promise its upbeat, filled with sincere piano and an endearing chorus that promises a glimmer of happiness.
Beyond the artful design of mood Happy Belated showcases some incredible technique. Came Down is a perfect example. Chaz projects volume and a violent approach while packing in short perfect jabs like “You should fix ya shoelaces N don’t trip,” alongside startling confession “N if ya only knew the struggle how a N couldn’t eat in a one bedroom with no lights. Then we got evicted started slippin’ living in a hotel with some bitches didn’t know wrong from right. Round the same time I got addicted to the liquor getting sicker every minute I’m doing it out of spite.” His flow has so much dexterity that the emcee on Drugs couldn’t be mistaken for the one on Came Down. On Drugs he’s not yelling at all but calmly destroying twitter gangsters for the first minute and a half with a laundry list of personal insults.
Sometimes French aims his huge mind at doubters of different kinds but sometimes its at his own personal history. Whatever he discusses he dives all the way into. At first this seemed like it was going to be the House of Balloons of rap mixtapes, it isn’t. It’s actually significantly more complex like on YNN where he teeters back and forth between narratives desperately trying to figure out where he actually is emotionally “I’m stress free reflecting on life and what it could be. But what’s a could when you should be a should’a been.” This isn’t an expanding narrative it’s a scrapbook of mental breakdowns, dreams and triumphs. He says he rarely see’s his daughter but he’s not making a dedication song to her to make it better. He knows that’s too easy. Just when you think fall is beautiful you realize it’s just as cold, wet and dank.
The production is primarily handled by Super Miles and Kris Minor. They do a great job setting the feeling in the beat and setting the beat distinctly behind French who needs every word heard. Happy Belated is a vision that needs production as gentle as French is aggressive (example: Do Better) to create the impression it leaves. I’m pretty sure it’s going to eat up my playlists; just getting better and better with every listening. As depressing as it seems like it is its so much damn fun to listen too (see: Primavera).
Stream or download Happy Belated below:
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Tagged beautiful but gross, Chaz French, fall music, flow changes, groggy darkness, Happy Belated, hip hop, House Of Balloons, Kris Minor, livemixtapes download, mixtape review, rap, Super Miles
Song Review-What You Need (The Weeknd Cover) by Kwamie Liv
The 7 song Lost in The Girl EP is more proof that this is the year of the R&B mixtape release. Kwamie Liv pushes her alluring voice in all kinds of cool directions. Lots of the songs have beats that shift and change as if to confound expectations but when the largeness of the sound is held back far enough for you to really hear her voice…its breathtaking; like a gust of cold wind choked out in perfectly desperate and deliberate diction.
A great cover song raises everyone’s stock. This song made me want as much Kwamie Liv as I could get my hands on (that was not creepy, stop it). Beyond that, the precision she puts into it really highlights the brilliance of Abel Tesfaye’s (Weeknd’s real name) songwriting. What You Need is the scariest flipping song in modern R&B history (for those of us who are not sexually predatory) which makes it the ideal centerpiece for his monstrous debut mixtape House of Balloons. No matter what you think about current Weeknd content no one can take away the importance of this song and what it did for the genre.
If you get through this and love it like I did do two things. 1. Reload House of Balloons in your phone/mp3 player/lawnmower and think about all the artists who borrowed Abel’s style. 2. Download Lost in The Girl EP (http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/kwamie-liv-lost-in-the-girl#!bG5i5r) and enjoy all the different tempos of whistful Kwamie Liv you can get. You won’t be let down.