Headphones: Kanye Loves Being Famous

Leave it to Kanye to make headlines in the wake of an awards show.  On Sunday night, the BET put on a great ceremony, with dazzling tributes to Prince and surprise performances from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar.  While this was all newsworthy, it still falls second to the buzz created by Kanye West earlier in the week.  After previously shelling out new tour dates for his Saint Pablo tour, he quickly followed up with the news that he would debut a new video for the controversial single Famous.  You may remember this as the song that said some unflattering things about Taylor Swift.  In the past week, that controversy has heated up, with the speculation that Kanye West had a video of Swift ‘O.K’ing the lyrics.  As Swift’s legal team threatened the release of any recording of Swift, Ye quickly sold out LA’s Forum for a watch party.  Similar to this past February’s Yeezy Season 3 Fashion Show, it would be streamed via Tidal for the rest of the world.  On Friday night, Taylor Swift did make an appearance in the video, just not the cameo we had all expected.

What debuted on the screen, and to millions of viewers watching via stream, was an 8-minute ‘art’ piece that depicted ten of the most ‘Famous’ people in the world as wax figures, lying in bed naked next to each other.  In the center of it all was Kanye West with wife Kim Kardashian on his right.  More curious however is that on the opposite side of West was Swift, lying naked like the rest of the group.  The proximity of the two could be symbolizing the close connection their respective paths to fame have had since Kanye notoriously grabbed the mic from her at the 2008 MTV Award show.  There has been no word from Swift (or her legal team) since, while Kanye has challenged anyone, albeit via twitter, to sue him , using the hashtag #I'llWait. Also sharing the bed, in order from left to right, are George Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ray J., Amber Rose, Caitlin Jenner and Bill Cosby.  The video is an ode to Vincent Desidero’s painting Sleep, which debuted in New York’s Marlborough Gallery in 2004.  The video itself simply pokes back and forth showing each of the figures sleeping, almost all of which have ties to Kanye’s professional or personal life.  The lone exception to that would be Donald Trump, who has remained silent on the matter since the video dropped.  Critically, the video received mixed reviews.  Some praising it as ‘genius’ while others we simply lost looking at ten naked figures in bed together.  Whether you love him or you hate him, Kanye certainly knows how to make a splash. 

Album of the Week: Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway: When you think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the image that comes to mind isn’t that of a group of aging musicians in their early 50’s. More than likely you still picture the punk rockers that have since the 80's/90’s paraded around shirtless in football helmets and sporting dyed hair with awkward haircuts.  But like everyone else, no one can escape father time, and that’s where we find the RHCP with The Getaway.  The group’s 11th album comes at a time musically where the band find themselves at a crossroads.  Where do we go from here?  Is it a time of nostalgia or is it time to write a new chapter?  With this album we get a little of both.  For this new record, RHCP recruited the efforts of renowned producer Danger Mouse, known for his wide array of work with artists like Jay-Z and The Black Keys.  This adds to the notion of experimentation, as Rick Rubin had produced the previous ten albums.  While the change in production adds small but noticeable differences, the roots are still there, as the six time Grammy winners still do the heavy lifting.  On songs like lead single Dark Necessities, it sounds as if the band hasn’t missed a step.  The sound itself is still led by the driving bass of Flea, and with the added strings and synths the band makes their music feel more atmospheric, similar to U2.  If you were already a fan, this album will do nothing to change that.  It only reasserts the fact the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the great Alternative bands of all time. 

Music Videos

 

Pop: Fifth Harmony – All In My Head: The X Factor alumni recruit the auto-tuned vocals of Fetty Wap for this song, hoping to steal some of his magic as he comes off a year where he saw his debut album Fetty Wap certified platinum.  

Hip/Hop: Anderson .Paak – The Season/ Carry Me: Keeping with the album's cover art theme, .Paak himself directs this artsy video where finds himself running from a Donald Trump trash monster, making it this week's 'must see' video.

EDM: Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna – This Is What You Came For: After teaming up on 2011's Talk That Talk album for the song of the year 'We Found Love', the two try to conjure lightning in a bottle a second time with this summer smash.

Alternative: Twenty-One Pilots – Heathens:  As anticipation and rumors swirl of an upcoming album, the Ohio duo release this song off the Suicide Squad soundtrack.  The video finds them playing in the same jail as 'worlds most dangerous super villains.' Check out the video or hear in the upcoming film Suicide Squad, due out in August.

International: David Guetta feat. Zara Larsson – This One’s For You: French DJ David Guetta still manages to hang around the top of the charts, this time utilizing the vocals of Zara Larsson to create one of the songs of the summer. 

Noteworthy:  BET Awards: As mentioned before, Sunday the BET Awards were fueled by their vigorous performances.  After the recent passing of Prince, the award show sat in the shadow of the late icon.  Instead of dancing around it, they decided to utilize his illustrious catalog of classics to honor him.  Jennifer Hudson highlighted the night with her gospel rendition of Purple Rain, while we received covers from Stevie Wonder, Tori Kelly, and Maxwell, among others.  Overall, they produced a tasteful and at times moving tribute to the late Purple One.

The other highlight of the night was a totally unexpected one; as Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé opened the night with the first live performance of Freedom, a song of Beyoncé’s latest album Lemonade.  The stage itself was transformed into a shallow pool, where the Beyoncé and backup dancers splashed around dancing to her high soaring vocals.  When Kendrick came up through the stage, it sent the crowd into a frenzy, as he joined Beyoncé center (pool) stage to rock out to their political jam. 

Also notable:

-       Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams was presented with the Humanitarian Award for his campaign against social injustice.  During his acceptance speech he dedicated the award to fellow advocates and black women.  "This award is not for me. It's for the real organizers across the country: the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents … that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand.”

-   Anderson .Paak, a favorite of this publication, rocked the stage with his performance of ‘Come Down’, showcasing his skills on vocals, drums, and on the feet dancing.  Immediately following the performance, .Paak became a trending topic on Twitter.  Continue to watch as the extremely talented Californian continues to make a splash. 

Here’s a list of the award winners on the night:

  • Best Male R&B/Pop Artist -- Bryson Tiller
  • Best Female R&B/Pop Artist -- Beyoncé
  • Best Actor -- Michael B. Jordan
  • Best Actress -- Taraji P. Henson
  • Best Movie -- "Straight Outta Compton"
  • Best New Artist -- Bryson Tiller
  • Video of the Year -- Beyoncé, "Formation"
  • Best Male Hip-Hop Artist -- Drake
  • Best Female Hip-Hop Artist -- Nicki Minaj
  • Best Collaboration -- Rihanna ft. Drake, "Work"
  • Best Group -- Drake and Future
  • Best Gospel -- Kirk Franklin
  • Youngsters Award -- Amandla Stenberg
  • Centric Award -- Beyoncé, "Formation"
  • Video Director of the Year -- Director X
  • Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Inspirational Award -- Kirk Franklin
  • Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award -- Beyoncé, "Formation"
  • Sportsman of the Year -- Stephen Curry
  • Sportswoman of the Year -- Serena Williams
  • Best International Act Africa -- Wizkid (Nigeria)
  • Best International Act U.K. -- Skepta
  • Humanitarian Award -- Jesse Williams
  • Lifetime Achievement Award -- Samuel L. Jackson