Illmind On Producing For Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Drake, J. Cole And Travis Scott (Full Interview)

In this full-length interview, Illmind shares his thoughts on winning two Grammy awards, the depths of his music catalog moving to Brooklyn about 12 years ago, and the way in which J Dilla inspired his style as a music producer. From there, the 41-year-old reflects back on working with 50 Cent and G-Unit for the first time before sharing what it was like to work with Lin Manuel on the soundtrack for “Moana” and the “Hamilton Mixtape.” As the discussion moves along, the New Jersey native shares his thoughts on why Kanye West chose to boycott the Grammys this year. Lastly, Ill Mind talks about working with heavy hitters such as Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, and Beyonce.

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

McDonald’s partners with Travis Scott in launching signature burger to win over Gen Z and millennial customers

Starting September 8, McDonald’s is adding Scott’s favorite meal from the fast-food chain — a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, medium fries with BBQ Sauce, and a Sprite — to the menu for $6. It will be available through October 4.

McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley told Business Insider the fast-food chain started thinking about teaming up with Scott more than a year ago, in part because the company knew the rapper was a fan of the chain. The Scott partnership marks the first time McDonald’s has put a celebrity’s name on its menu since Michael Jordan in 1992. 

“His ability to kind of see where culture is going and have a hand in where culture is going is really unique,” Flatley said in an interview on Friday. “Then you couple that with his huge followership and his fans, social-media footprint, and … 3 billion streams. He just has an incredible audience.”

The partnership has caused some controversy within McDonald’s, with some franchisees pushing back against a deal with the rapper. These franchisees felt that a deal with a rapper known partly for explicit lyrics was a departure from the chain’s more family-friendly voice. 

Flatley told Business Insider many other franchisees and employees were excited about the deal and that at a chain as big as McDonald’s, differing opinions are the norm. The Scott partnership is key to remaining relevant and winning over younger customers, she said.

According to Flatley, people under the age of 34 are “becoming more and more challenging for brands to reach.”

Source: Business Insider

Apple launches Apple Music Radio with 2 new stations (Apple Music Hits & Apple Music Country); rebrands Beats 1 as Apple Music 1

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Apple Music Hits will play popular songs from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Apple Music Country will be playing popular country music songs.

The company has said Apple Music Hits will have daily on-air hosts such as Jayde Donovan, Estelle, Lowkey, Jenn Marino, Sabi, Nicole Sky and Natalie Sky, George Stroumboulopoulos, as well as Ari Melber and others. There are other shows that are set to be hosted by artists like the Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Mark Hoppus, Huey Lewis, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor and Shania Twain.

Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music, Beats, and international content, said this launch has taken a lot of behind-the-scenes work.

“For the past five years, if ever there was a meaningful moment in music culture, Beats 1 was there bringing human curation to the forefront and drawing in listeners with exclusive shows from some of the most innovative, respected, and beloved people in music,” he said. “Now, Apple Music radio provides an unparalleled global platform for artists across all genres to talk about, create, and share music with their fans, and this is just the beginning. We will continue to invest in live radio and create opportunities for listeners around the world to connect with the music they love.”

Apple Music 1 is expected to play the same type of music and have the same content overall as Beats 1.

Source: Appleosophy