Tag Archives: Lizzo

What If The Grammy’s Didn’t Completely suck? And why they do.

2020 grammys

What If The Grammy’s Didn’t Completely suck? And why they do.

by Dan-O

I remember being angry about how much the Grammy’s suck since grade school. It was just a sad naked reality. A giant bloated out of touch parent leaning over and saying “That Will Smith, huh?! Best rapper alive.” Interestingly, their problem is very grade school. When the 2020 nominee list announced Lizzo leading the pack with eight nominations we all understood she will likely walk out with a bushel of gold statues. The problem is not Lizzo, who is charming with a great voice and feverish energy. My question is why does Lizzo need that spotlight? She’s got platinum and gold plaques on the wall. The Grammy’s remain a boring homecoming king/queen ceremony rewarding the most rewarded and exposing the most exposed.

Life is not the homecoming dance. Life is the chaos of a billion hues and it is an award show’s job to paint with those colors, turning them into something a viewer can be truly engaged by. They should see a performance from an artist who wins and hit google with wide eyes. Who is that?! That is what the Freemusicempire awards would strive to do. I decided to stop complaining and clear out their brackets, fill them with what I would showcase and look at the difference.

Let’s start with Album of The Year. This is their list.

Album of the Year
“I, I” — Bon Iver
“Norman F—ing Rockwell!” — Lana Del Rey
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish
“Thank U, Next” — Ariana Grande
“I Used To Know Her” — H.E.R.
“7” — Lil Nas X
“Cuz I Love You” (Deluxe) — Lizzo
“Father of the Bride” — Vampire Weekend

Mine:

Album Of The Year

85 To Africa by Jidenna

Father Of The Bride by Vampire Weekend

Bandana by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

Beware of The Dogs by Stella Donnelly

Help Us Stranger by Raconteurs

Kiwanuka by MK & Danger Mouse

African Giant by Burna Boy

Hiding Places by Billy Woods

So I only kept one of their nominees and I can go over the people I ejected but that’s not as fun as imagining the world riveted as Billy Woods holds up a gold statue and delivers the illest, hardcore depressingly political acceptance speech. Imagining my mom texting about this charming Jidenna fella as he performs before the award is given out. I’m the weird one because everyone else wants to reward Bon Iver’s 5th best album or Lana Del Rey ballading in Adele’s lane. I’m not mad at Lil Nas X because my kid sings Old Town Road like a Romero zombie…but I’m not gonna pretend like the album was good. Popularity is immaterial. Regardless of what you feel about Vampire Weekend the album was DOPE. I won’t see Burna Boy dumped in some “World Music” sub category, that album is AOTY contender through and through.

Next up, Record of The Year: their list

Record of the Year
“Hey, Ma” — Bon Iver
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish
“7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
“Hard Place” — H.E.R.
“Talk” — Khalid
“Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
“Sunflower” — Post Malone & Swae Lee

A lot of their nominees happen because of the radio. I listened to the Ariana Grande once and moved on. Having a kid I get as much Sunflower as I do Old Town Road but I still wouldn’t put it top eight. Shout out to people bumping Khalid; please explain to me how his music isn’t generic and his vocal range a straight line.

Here are mine.

Record Of The Year

Old Town  Road by Lil Nas X

This Life by Vampire Weekend

Anybody by Burna Boy

Cuz I Love You by Lizzo

All Your’n by Tyler Childers

Bop by Da Baby

Sing Along by Sturgill Simpson

BGM by Wale

Their nominees for Best New Artist:

Best New Artist
Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

Mine:

 Best New Artist

Da Baby

Megan Thee Stallion

Lil Nas X

Rosalia

Lizzo

Stella Donnelly

Ari Lennox

J. S. Ondara

I respect that the Grammy committee put Rosalia and Black Pumas on their list. I refuse to accept Lizzo as new on her third album. I refuse to create a best new artist list without Megan Thee Stallion who has blown the doors off her own songs as well as guest verses with Maxo Kream, Wale, etc. She has been WORKING. Not every genre is creating new vibrant stars but folk has J.S. Ondara and Stella Donnelly who don’t have “one album wonder” vibes at all. They will be around for years.

Onto R & B here is their best album:

Best R&B Album:

1123 — BJ The Chicago Kid
Painted — Lucky Daye
Ella Mai — Ella Mai
Paul — PJ Morton
Venture — Anderson .Paak

Mine:

 

Best R&B Album

Shea Butter Baby

Kiwanuka

Friends by Omar Apollo

American Love Call

While We Wait by Kehlani

Case Study 001 by Daniel Caesar

The New Breed by Dawn

Ugh, Those Feels Again by Snoh Aalegra

Only regret I had was ditching BJ The Chicago Kid who I love and always rep for. Before we get into the rap categories, before you get mad at their nominees, know that The Grammy’s know Rap like John Candy knew Physics, like Newt Gingrich knows humility.

Best Rap Song: “Bad Idea” — Chancelor Bennett, Cordae Dunston, Uforo Ebong & Daniel Hackett, songwriters (Ybn Cordae ft. Chance The Rapper)
“Gold Roses” — Noel Cadastre, Aubrey Graham, Anderson Hernandez, Khristopher Riddick-tynes, William Leonard Roberts Ii, Joshua Quinton Scruggs, Leon Thomas Iii & Ozan Yildirim, songwriters (Rick Ross ft. Drake)
“A Lot” — Jermaine Cole, Dacoury Natche, 21 Savage & Anthony White, songwriters (21 Savage ft. J. Cole)
“Racks In The Middle” — Ermias Asghedom, Dustin James Corbett, Greg Allen Davis, Chauncey Hollis, Jr. & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Nipsey Hussle ft. Roddy Ricch & Hit-boy)
“Suge” — Dababy, Jetsonmade & Pooh Beatz, songwriters (Dababy)

Best Rap Song

Palmolive by Freddie Gibbs featuring Killer Mike

XXL by Da Baby

Threat 2 Society by 2 Chainz

Cash $hit by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Da Baby

Even Tho Its Hard by Trae The Truth

Oprah by Rapsody featuring Leikeli47

Nobody’s Favorite by Rick Ross featuring Gunplay

BGM by Wale

Let them lead on Best Rap Album and I will play the closer.

Best Rap Album:

Revenge Of The Dreamers III — Dreamville
Championships — Meek Mill
i am > i was — 21 Savage
IGOR — Tyler, The Creator
The Lost Boy — YBN Cordae

Best Rap Album

Hiding Places by Billy Woods

Freddie Gibbs x Madlib-Bandana

Brandon Banks by Maxo Kream

Baby On Baby by Da Baby

Eve by Rapsody

Wow…That’s Crazy by Wale

Shelby by Lil Skies

Psychodrama by Dave

  1. ROTD III is great but too long not cohesive, a great compilation but not one of the best rap albums
  2. Tyler knows that album is not a rap album.
  3.  The nerve of not including Maxo or Freddie Gibbs or Rapsody is staggering.

So before you get mad at the nominees take a piece of paper out and pull your most important categories, wipe them clean and put your own nominees on paper. Look at them. Make sure you bought all those albums, so those artists you love ate off you. If we are going to keep pointing angry fingers at awards getting it wrong, we have to manage our own ethics.

#Bandcampgold-Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka produced by Danger Mouse

#Bandcampgold-Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka  produced by Danger Mouse

by Dan-O

An albums first song needs to put you squarely in their world, so the rest of the songs can expand it. Think about how important it is to start Eric B & Rakim’s Paid In Full with I Ain’t No Joke. My go-to favorite first song-off-an-album this year was Cuz I Love You by Lizzo. It really sets the table for the boisterous heartfelt ride your about to go on. You Ain’t The Problem might actually have it beat.  You Ain’t The Problem starts with the tambalas, drums certainly but not the kind you may have been expecting. You hear a crowd a woman laughing and the music really kicks in. We don’t actually hear Michael Kiwanuka until one minute twenty two seconds into the song. When the voice comes he is singing in sharp bursts to meet the pace of the music. When he says “Don’t hesitate, time heals the pain, you ain’t the problem…” it’s as soulful as the songs he is known for but this time it’s groovy fuzzed out and moving. Kiwanuka builds on the advancements made by Danger Mouse and Michael Kiwanuka on 2016’s collaboration Love & Hate. The sonic background is dense, as an example, Rolling moves as fast as the first song; thick with handclaps tamborine bass and guitar. You have to think of Michael Kiwanuka as both the author and the instrument. Danger Mouse’s job is to challenge the instrument.

What makes it one of the best albums of the year is that somehow it’s complications manage to feel simple. A lot of post-Ocean R & B is daring to be daring. You can feel new sounds and ideas being hurled into songs where they normally wouldn’t be and it doesn’t always work. As a singer, Michael Kiwanuka has a voice that is clean and clear. His songwriting matches. His songs sound essential rather than attempted. Famous producer, super nerd, and great twitter follow Young Guru once spoke of him as the new Bill Withers and I think that really is his best comparison. He makes everything clear.

If your Danger Mouse and you have access to that unique an artist…why not brew these songs as advanced as you can…as thickly orchestral as they allow? The voice will always be there to keep the listener on track. That being said, when things slow down its really beautiful. Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love) is an amazing heartbreak song that benefits from its intro.

I’m not giving Danger Mouse credit for Kiwanuka (the album or the dude) I loved Home Again when it dropped in 2012. I’m giving him credit for shifting him from automatic to stick shift and putting them both in charge of the different gears.

Kiwanuka is the best pure R&B/Soul album this year. The crescendos of instruments mixing with background singers that give way to the single brooding voice of our narrator on Living In Denial take their place in the history of music. At fifty one minutes and thirteen seconds with fourteen tracks, the average length of song is about a minute and a half longer than your supposed to provide in 2019. Kiwanuka is not consciously bucking conventions; Hero is certainly a radio friendly song and You Ain’t A Problem as well as Rolling are danceable. The great albums set their own tone and make you adjust. Whether it fits in the musical landscape or not. The day it came out a friend of mine texted me saying simply “This Kiwanuka is special.” I can’t find a better way to sum it up.

Stream or purchase below:

https://michaelsamuelkiwanuka.bandcamp.com/album/kiwanuka

Song of The Year-Cuz I Love You by Lizzo

Song of The Year- Cuz I Love You by Lizzo

By Dan-O

This is my favorite first song of the year (it’s from the self-titled album). Sure, Lizzo has a show stopping voice of the kind I would stab an alien for. That is not the most exciting thing about Lizzo. I can’t get enough of how totally reckless and bonkers she is. Her uncontrolled energy bursts in all directions on the title track produced by Ithaca NY rock band X Ambassadors.

I’m sure a lot of people are writing how great this album is from a body positivity standpoint; that it is great to have more vibrant black female voices. Problem with those takes is they come out of a jar ready to be spread out to fit anybody from Janelle Monae to Cardi B etc etc. Artists are specific not general so criticism should be specific.

While listening to the song you can find yourself asking questions: who would hit the high part of their register this much?! Who would open their album laughingly calling themselves a former ho?! When Pitchfork reviewed Cuz I Love You they pointed to ham fisted lines and awkward images as tough to swallow. Lizzo just doesn’t have the time or energy to go Fiona Apple with the lyrics. Her strength is that she doesn’t carry the fear a lot of us do. She’s not afraid to belt so hard she has to catch her breath, and let you hear, not afraid to say something we all know is corny like “I would do it for you all my friend, ready baby?! Will you be my man?” The desperation in the delivery and pulverizing honesty in the lyrics take center stage even as X Ambassadors fill the track with high energy pro-wrestling rock entrance music. Musically she’s so wild she’s free to be honest and in a world this deceptive and artificial it feels so good to hear.

 

Song of The Year-Play by Big Freedia featuring Goldiie

Song of The Year-Play by Big Freedia featuring Goldiie

by Dan-O

When I heard the album Just Be Free in 2014 I must have listened to it the way the kids look at the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (early part of the movie). Living in Maine I’m sure I expressed wide -eyed tap- the-glass confusion before dismissing it. I put it in that mind bin of stuff I don’t understand and know I don’t know enough to comment about… until one episode of The Handsome Rambler podcast. Hannibal Burress and his co-host Tony Trim were asking the question: is it harder to maintain your musical hot streak being lyrically dense with a lot to say or straightforward and energy based repeating phrases. Hannibal brought Big Freedia into the conversation as someone who continually does the latter. Freedia grabs a few phrases and stirs them into the bounce so the song never feels stale but no one has to pull out lined paper and take notes.

When Freedia put out the five song ep 3rd Ward Bounce I completely got it. I had learned to stop figuring it out and enjoy it. Once I let go and did what Freedia asked me to do in 2014 (Just Be Free!) I could see the brilliance in it.

No question in my mind 3rd Ward Bounce is the best EP of 2018. It moves beyond mastering your sound, it’s a sound that can digest so many disparate talents into it. Lizzo fits perfectly in the background of Karaoke not in the shadows mumbling backup but full throated big personality killing the hook(the hook to a Big Freedia song should be called The Super Hook since every second feels like the hook).  Freedia doesn’t need assistance, the lead single Rent has 80’s hip hop Run-DMC flourishes  and still bounces like a shopping cart over cobblestone.  Knowing who you are as an artist is such an important and difficult step but Freedia is beyond it, now she mixes her magic with the talent of others and concocts new recipes.  Goldiie’s superhook on Play is so clean clear and downright pretty that I couldn’t be more excited for what she will do next. The song they create together is the flawless finale this short adrenaline rush of an ep needed letting you bounce but also appreciate the view from where you are. No one takes charge of your body like Big Freedia.