Monday, September 2, 2013

A Special Musical Moment: "You Song" by Lil' Wayne Ft. Chance The Rapper

 (This song is explicit. If you don't like explicit songs, you won't like this.) 

 "You Song" off Lil' Wayne's newest mixtape Dedication 5 is a special treat. It is a rare moment of tenderness and unguarded reflection, a song that cuts away the usual cartoonish rapper persona and exposes the man behind the character.
 If you aren't familiar with hip-hop, a big part of the appeal for many rappers is an almost super-human amount of excess and debauchery. The old stereotype of "money, drugs and hoes" is a very accurate description for a lot of what very famous rappers talk about. Lil' Wayne is the prototypical materialistic rapper. He is entertaining solely because he has a tremendous way with words, when he is at the top of his game his wordplay, metaphors and punchlines make an endless description of sex and intoxication listenable and even enjoyable.
 In "You Song" Lil' Wayne tries to tell one story but he isn't convincing. He tries to be a victor, the conquerer, but he fails. And he ends up revealing himself far more than he may have meant to.

"Give you the world if it was for me
My diamond grill make it hard to see I'm lying through my teeth
And now I'm flying on my PJ, looking at the clouds
Thinking about yo ass and how it look like a big smile
I get mental flashbacks of you asscrack
Lemme get back on track...
You say I act like I don't miss you, that's because I don't act
But anyway, we can role-play or get straight to it
Sorry, my mind in the gutter, better yet sewer
And when you say I love you, I stutter "I-I-I love you too"
It's Wayne's world, she say "what is this world coming to?"
And she know me and whoever together, she hope we come a loose
She told if she ain't the one, she gon' throw up the deuce
I laughed at her, we took a bath together and splashed each other
Then she got serious, she said "Tune I gotta ask you something
Do you really love me?" I tried to change the subject
So I said some crazy shit to her like: "what if you and I were just letters?
That be unfortunate we'd have to rob a fortune teller
But I swear I think I love you, fingers crossed in my pocket
Okay that's a dead subject, you bring it up that's a zombie
You remind me, of my memory ain't what it used to be"
She said she ain't tripping, I know cause I move my feet
And when she figure out that she been swindled
I'll be cleaning that love bird shit off my window
I-I-I love you too.."

 Part of the reason the song betrays the lyrics is the story behind Dedication 5. Lil' Wayne has been on a downward spiral for years. His last truly great album was Tha Carter III and his last great mixtape was No Ceilings. He went to jail in 2010 and hasn't been the same since. If you listen to his newer albums Tha Carter IV and I Am Not A Human Being Pt. 2 Wayne was not only bored-sounding, he sounded physically weak. A life of extremely hard partying and immense drug consumption had caught up with him, and he became more weezy than ever. Early this year he was hospitalized because of intense seizures, also probably stemming from drug consumption.
 Dedication 5 is billed as part of Wayne's comeback. This is him trying to get back in the groove, trying to churn out more interesting wordplay and bring more energy back into his music. He is, by and large, successful in this- but you can tell he isn't the same man he used to be. Many of his jokes fall flat and his boasts no longer ring true every time. One of the best parts of the tape are actually the skits, where we hear him just rambling in the studio. He seems more interested in his company and his fans and everyone that has stuck with him all these years than the music he is making. Weezy isn't the best rapper alive anymore and he knows it.
 So while "You Song" tries to portray Wayne as a player, getting and ultimately using the girl, you don't really believe him. All his jokes and affectations seem put on. You get the sense that he really does love this girl, but he doesn't want to believe it himself. He sounds awkward, afraid to grow up and commit. Afraid to admit to himself that he isn't the same, that things have changed. He seems scared and more than a little bit confused.
 He isn't ready to change yet, but I can't help but think maybe next time it may be different. Maybe he'll finally accept that he is a human being.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Vince Staples And Larry Fisherman- Stolen Youth

It would be easy to say this year in hip hop is a showcase of big names putting out great work. We have already gotten grade-A performances from Kanye West, Mac Miller and J. Cole- and we have new work from the Wu-Tang Clan and Deltron 3030 to look forward to (hopefully). However, this year has also seen the rise of newcomers who are putting out great work on the road to fame. Big K.R.I.T released his sonically excellent King Remembered in Time and Chance the Rapper brought a lot of cerebral fun in Acid Rap.  Vince Staples' new LP Stolen Youth definitely continues this trend. (Listen to it for free here)

 "Intro" sets the tone of the album. It opens with a chillingly beautiful choir singing. Slowly, the song begins to expand and build up, drums kick in, for a moment it is almost ambient with birds or insects chirping. Then Vince barrels in; he wastes no time with clever wordplay or explanation, instead he unleashes a barrage of intense mental images of violence and loss and pain.

"Lie from delusion.

Die on the street,

Then reside in the ruins.

Run and hide from police,

Then throw the nine in the sewer."

Vince is a ferocious storyteller; every single verse he drops adds another layer to the listener's understanding of his mind. The places Vince takes you are familiar yet unique. His authorial voice is clear and concise, his persona is dark and intense and personal. He talks about his real life in a way that anyone can viscerally understand. 

The various featured artists don't feel like they just needed to fit a tracklist, Mac Miller is surprisingly solid on his track and Schoolboy Q absolutely owns "Back Sellin' Crack". The lyrical quality is as good as a studio album.

       Something must also be said about Larry Fisherman's production. If the album succeeds at transporting you into Vince's mind, that is partially because Larry expertly sets the stage. Though geographically set in the West Coast the album feels very East Coast-inspired. It is claustrophobic and baroque, it's emotive while not overusing audio flourishes. One of the best moments in the whole album is in the song "Guns & Roses" where the hook is punctuated each time with a jazzy bell.

     I feel like Stolen Youth is going to get buried in all of the great hip hop this year, I just hope Vince doesn't get buried as well. He is one of rap's best new voices.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Armchair Gamer Podcast Season Three Episode One "Team ICO Show"

 Happy late New Year listeners! Welcome to a new season of the Armchair Gamer Podcast. The first episode of season three is mainly a discussion of Team Ico’s Ico and Shadow of The Colossus. I’m joined in this discussion by Cody Bauman. We talk about both games and how they relate to each other. Also, I briefly eulogize THQ. Warning: We will rather nonchalantly spoil both games!

Listen To The Show:

This link is better for streaming:
I’d recommend downloading it here:
You can download/listen to old episodes here:

The Stars:

Braden Fox (the host) follow me on Twitter:
Cody Bauman (the guest) is on Twitter here:

The Music:
At the top of the show I played a track from Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates.
The second track in the introduction is “The Makers Theme” from Darksiders 2 (the soundtrack is composed by Jesper Kyd) the soundtrack is available on Amazon here:
The Theme Song (as always) is The Advantages cover of “The Moon” from Ducktales.
Two tracks from the ICO- Melody in the Mist soundtrack are used (“You Were There” and “Heal”) this soundtrack comes from Michiru Oshina. It is available on Amazon:
Two tracks from the Shadow of The Colossus Official Soundtrack are used (“Prologue-To The Ancient Land” and “The Opened Way- Battle with the Colossus”) The composer is Kow Otani.

Helpful Links:

If you own a PS3 and have not played ICO or Shadow of The Colossus you should drop a little cash for the HD collection (available on Amazon here:

Finally, the interview with Fumito Ueda I mentioned in the show is on Youtube here: