Headphones: Round 2 Taylor vs. Kanye

If you were looking at the headlines this past week in entertainment, you may have felt some déjà vu.  Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West… sounds familiar right?  Back in 2009, Kanye’s career took a notorious turn when he jumped up on the MTV Video Music Awards stage while Taylor Swift was accepting the award for Best Female Video.  Upset that Beyoncé was snubbed for the award, Ye’ dissed Taylor’s win as an insult to true artistry.  The backlash Kanye received in turn was harsh, and maybe rightfully so.  However, this past year things had begun to look different.  When West was honored at the MTV Video Awards show last year with the Video Vanguard Award, it was none other than Swift herself.  She gave a lengthy speech in presenting, and stood by West’s wife Kim Kardashian as West followed with his acceptance speech.  Fast forward to February of this year, Kanye releases the much delayed Life of Pablo album.  The album was characteristic of his blunt style, but one song in particular stood out lyrically.  The track Famous, which was previously covered in our Headphones column, contained an unflattering line about Swift, notably saying that WestMade that B**** famous.’ The public was quick to go after West for his perceived slight against the presumably innocent SwiftWest promptly responded by saying that Swift OK’d the lyrics, and that’s where the controversy would begin. 

At this year’s Grammy Awards, Swift won the award for Album of the Year (which was a stretch to begin with in this publications opinion) and used her spotlight to fire back at Kanye: “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame."  The important part her is the ‘fame’ line, a knock at the song title of Famous.  Fans rallied around Swift as she played victim, while Kanye remained silent, which proved to too hard for his celebrity wife Kim Kardashian

In recent months, rumors spread that there was a video of the conversation between the two where Swift can be heard signing off on the lyrics.  If this materialized, it would expose her as a fraud, playing off the sympathy of the public.  As these rumors ran through the tabloids, reports were coming out that Swift’s legal team was threatening against any leaked video.  While rumors, this gave credence to the suspicion that she had lied all along. 

On Sunday July 16th, Kim Kardashain dropped the bombshell we had all been waiting for.  Displayed on her Snapchat, you can see the video where West is talking to Swift on the phone. Continued in our Noteworthy section.

Album of the Week: Schoolboy Q – Blank Face: Schoolboy Q’s west side rap is characterized by the funky beats and rhythms he employs.  There’s no better way to set this tone on Blank Face by recruiting Anderson .Paak to ring in this year’s 2nd Top Dawg album on the opening track.  Throughout the album the beats slide and scratch, much like Q’s flow.  Top Dawg’s group of rappers, hailing mostly from the L.A./Compton area, all boast a varying depth of street cred, however Q feels like their senior here. Q, who joined the Crips around age 12, has the background to rap about much darker stories and does so on this LP. His style is more laid back.  He’s not characterized by exploding on fiery tangents or exhaustive verses.  He knows life could have been a lot different for him and it shows in his style.  His life of self described ‘gangbanging’ has formed in to the artist he is today, and he’s better for it.  The album doensn’t contain the same bangers that his last album Oxymoron, which debuted at #1, contained.  Instead it opts for an album that feels more comprehensive in its style and flavor.  It all stays within its theme of rapping about street life and the luxuries of reaching ‘the divine.’  You find a hard core hip/hop backing, R&B-Jazz accents and a groove that makes the whole LP fun to listen to from beginning to finish.  The key tracks here are John Muir, By Any Means, and That Part.  The tracks that fill in between may not receive the same radio play but all pleasing all the same.  If you’re looking for a fun rap album to listen to on the road, go no further than Blank Face.

Music Videos

Pop: Meghan Trainor – Me Too: The All About That Bass singer returns opting to trade her mic in for a tooth brush, as we watch her go through her day.  A fun flirty song about feeling herself as this red head "don't need no one else' but the reflection in the mirror. 

Hip/Hop: Schoolboy Q – By Any Means:  Follow our Artist You Should Know as he takes you through a day of life on the streets in L.A., where Schoolboy Q use to live the life of a 'gangbanger.'

EDM: Borgeous- Lost & Found: One of the up and coming DJ's on the festival track brings in Neon Hitch for the hook, while using an electric and static beat.

Alternative:  Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities: One the best selling artists of all time return with their first radio hit in years, a lead single of their latest album The Getaway

Country: Florida Georgia Line – H.O.L.Y: Country's top duo changes out their familiar style of tailgating and partying for a ballad about love lost over a piano ridden backing.

Noteworthy: ...“ I mean, it’s like a compliment kind of,” said Swift, who replied as Kanye read the lyrics aloud to her on the phone.  Kanye, who is known for video taping everything in the studio, seemed genuine, who repeatedly referred to his relationship with Swift as something that he deemed important.  Not quite the behavior of someone who recklessly would trash Swift.  It’s a stark contrast for Swift’s character however, who has always reveled in the spotlight as a victim, and not just with West.  She has a long, repetitive history of making a buck off past relationships with men and almost always plays it off like she was the target.  

The video acknowledges the fact that Swift not only lied about not knowing beforehand, but she also uses circumstance to her benefit.  How long has she been doing this? Who knows, but she’ll have to play her cards more carefully in the future.  As expected, more rumors of legal action have swirled but as of Tuesday it has come out that Swift knew about the conversation being recorded.  Even her attempt to salvage the mess, a post on instagram seemed stage, as she posted a long message that seemed to be done long before the video was released.  Lending even more to the narrative that she knew all along. 

Most shocking of all is Kanye West, who has remained silent on the matter, almost as uncharacteristic as his the current support he is receiving with fans.