The Hypocrisy Of The MF DOOM Fan

MF DOOM deserves a college course dedicated to him. He feels like a puzzle, trapped in an enigma, bear-hugged by metaphor. Since the 1999 release of what can be considered his solo debut album, Operation Doomsday, MF DOOM has lived in a self-created mystical world on the opposite side of the universe from contemporary Hip Hop. He’s impossible to pigeonhole and incredibly tough to describe, because he assumes different characters constantly. His music is the best kind of bar-heavy, astoundingly vivid. Almost always unconventional song structure. Few hooks allowed. Let’s break it down…

MF DOOM, Renowned Masked And Masterful Rap Artist, Dead At 49

MF Doom, the cerebral and willfully mysterious rapper and producer beloved by hip-hop connoisseurs for the complex rhymes he delivered from behind a metallic mask, has died. He was 49.

His death was announced Thursday in an Instagram post signed by his wife, Jasmine, who said that Doom had “transitioned” on Oct. 31. A spokesman for Rhymesayers, a label for which Doom recorded, confirmed his death. No cause was given.

Known for close collaborations with producers such as Madlib and Danger Mouse — and for his use of a variety of alter egos including King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn — Doom, born Daniel Dumile, cut a proudly idiosyncratic path through rap music in the 1990s and 2000s, burrowing deep into a self-made comic book-style mythology even as hip-hop reached increasingly commercial heights in the pop mainstream.

His music was dense but funky, gloomy yet streaked with an off-kilter sense of humor; his records helped clear a path for younger hip-hop eccentrics like Playboi Carti and Tyler, the Creator.

“My soul is crushed,” Flying Lotus tweeted Thursday, before adding that 2004’s “Madvillainy” album was “all u ever needed in hip hop.” On Instagram, El-P of Run the Jewels thanked Doom “for keeping it weird and raw always.”

Of his decision to perform in a mask, Dumile, who was born in London and grew up on Long Island, told the New Yorker in 2009, “I wanted to get onstage and orate, without people thinking about the normal things people think about. Like girls being like, ‘Oh, he’s sexy,’ or ‘I don’t want him, he’s ugly,’ and then other dudes sizing you up. A visual always brings a first impression. But if there’s going to be a first impression I might as well use it to control the story. So why not do something like throw a mask on?”

Source: LA Times

The Dual Album Design Of Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut Offers A Glimpse Into An Alternative Future

The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future. 

It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.

Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers. 

On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar. 

Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.  

“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.” 

Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.

There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away. 

The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.” 

Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city

“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”

Source: AIGA Eye On Design

Full-Scale Ultra Music Festival Event Takes Place In Taiwan, Where COVID-19 Has Been Contained

While music festivals remain a distant memory in most parts of the world, a full-scale Ultra Music Festival event went on in Taiwan on Saturday, November 14th. The event, which took place at Dajie Riverside Park in Taipei, was billed as a part of Road to Ultra, the long-running series of one-day festival events in cities around the world created and founded by the team behind the famous Miami electronic dance music festival.

The Ultra event in Taiwan was headlined by Swedish progressive house maestro Alesso and featured performances by LA-based duo Slander, Israeli production pair Vini Vici, and America DJ Kayzo as well as regional supporting acts JuniorRayRay, and Pei Pei. It welcomed crowds of thousands to enjoy a full music festival experience complete with lavish stage production, pyrotechnics, and fireworks in addition to live painting demonstrations, global street food, and a graphic art wall created by Taiwanese designers. The event was streamed live online to a global audience.

The successful festival serves as a big win for the Ultra organizers, whose Covid-imposed cancellation of Ultra’s flagship Miami event in early March was among the first in a cascade of cancellations that saw much of the global live music industry to screech to a halt over the ensuing weeks.

As the United States struggles with its nastiest spike to date and the prospect of a full-blown music festival remains entirely out of the question, Taiwan has had immense success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As of the end of October, the East Asian country had gone 200 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case.

Source: Live For Live Music

The Notorious B.I.G. Gets Inducted Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

The Notorious B.I.G. was made a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tonight during an induction ceremony broadcast on HBO. Biggie Smalls was inducted by Diddy, who signed the rapper to the then-fledgling Bad Boy Records in 1993, and was also honored by JAY-Z, Nas, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, in addition to his family: his mother Voletta Wallace, daughter Tyanna Wallace, and son C.J. Wallace.

“Big just wanted to be biggest, he wanted to be the best, he wanted to have influence and impact people in a positive way, and that clearly has been done all over the world,” Diddy said. “Nobody has come close to the way Biggie sounds, to the way he raps, to the frequency that he hits. Tonight we are inducting the greatest rapper of all time into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Notorious B.I.G. representing Brooklyn, New York, we up in here!”

Nas discussed how Biggie opened doors for New York rappers. “Rap music is all about who’s gonna be the king,” he said. “The West Coast, they was sellin’ millions of records, and before Big, I felt like there was only so far New York rap could go as far as sales. Biggie changed all of that.”

The segment closed with Biggie’s children—daughter Tyanna and son C.J. (who has previously worked as an actor and released his own music for the first time in August). “Our father was one of the founding fathers of hip-hop. He helped revolutionize what was a young art form for the Black community and the world,” C.J. said. “I’m honored to share his name and his dedication to Black music, creativity, self-expression, and Black freedom. I love you, Meemaw. Thanks for teaching us who Christopher Wallace was as a son, friend, poet, artist, and father. We love you Meemaw. We love you dad. Brooklyn, we did it!”

Biggie is joined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020 by Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Whitney Houston, T. Rex, the Doobie Brothers, and Ahmet Ertegun Award winners Jon Landau and Irving Azoff. The in-memoriam segment included a tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen.

Source: Pitchfork

Australian Children Musical Group The Wiggles Apologize After ‘Culturally Insensitive’ Song About Indian Food (Papadum) Resurfaces

Australian children musical group The Wiggles have apologized after their song about Indian cuisine resurfaced online and sparked backlash for being “insensitive.”

Back in 2014, the group was a part of the show called Ready, Steady, Wiggle!. They had performed a song called The Pappadum Song in the Lachy’s Pappadum Party episode.

The performers were seen wearing Indian garb and singing along to lyrics that mostly went by, “Pappadum, pappadum, pappa pappa pappa dum.”

At one point, Anthony Field danced with a cricket bat, while the rest of the group held the Indian flatbread behind him.

Many Twitter users weren’t pleased with the video for perpetuating the stereotypes tied to Indian culture. “My jaw hit the floor the first time I saw it. Very, very culturally insensitive, and such a stereotype,” one user wrote.

“I wrote the song, and directed the clip in 2014 (which was meant as a celebration),” Field wrote on Twitter. “It was not my intention to be culturally insensitive to the Indian community or to add value to ethnic stereotyping. Apologies.”

Source: DesignTAXI

Japanese Pianist Tadataka Unno Badly Injured After Attack In New York Subway – Thought To Be Chinese

A well known musician has been badly injured after being attacked near his home in Harlem.

Now the community has come together to support him.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reports, New York-based Japanese musician Tadataka Unno is a beloved member of the local jazz community. The 40-year-old is a renowned pianist and composer.

“He really took hold of jazz culture and embodied it,” said Jerome Jennings, an instructor at the Julliard School, and a good friend of Unno’s. “He’s played in bands with Roy Hargrove and great Jimmy Cobb.”

Jennings says Unno is now suffering mentally and physically after being attacked unexpectedly.

It happened on Sept. 27 around 7:30 p.m. Jennings says Unnon was exiting the subway station at West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue when several young people were blocking the turnstiles. Unno attempted to walk around the group, but was yelled at and pushed from behind, eventually punched in the face and body.

“He got up, tried to run, fell again, got back up, tried to run, fell again,” Jennings said.

Jennings says Unno’s wife says there were racial slurs yelled in the process.

“He did hear the word ‘Chinese’ and ‘Asian,’” Jennings said.

Police say no anti-Asian remarks were indicated in the report but the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made.

Source: CBS New York