Tag : personal

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Paul Kalkbrenner to debut 'Back to the Future' live show in LA – Dancing Astronaut

Over the past two decades, dance music pioneer  has become one electronic music’s bonafide superstars, filling arenas with his live shows and headlining major festival’s worldwide. On Friday, November 3rd, the Berlin-based producer will venture to Los Angeles to deliver a singular journey through the history techno.

The live show, titled “Back to the Future,” underscores a previous in which Kalkbrenner personally curated over 5000 underground works in Berlin between 1987 and 1993. The compilation was meant to channel those feelings freedom and abandon that permeated the warehouse parties East Berlin during this seminal period techno.

By proxy, Kalkbrenner’s US debut will showcase the evolution techno and rave culture throughout the late 80s and early 90s. “Back to the Future” marks a rare chance to witness one electronic music’s true pioneers in an intimate setting, and become exposed to the music that shaped not only Berlin’s club culture, but the global techno landscape.

Paul Kalkbrenner to debut 'Back to the Future' live show in LA - Dancing Astronaut

Paul Kalkbrenner to debut 'Back to the Future' live show in LA - Dancing Astronaut[hupso]
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It Is Not Okay to Listen to Accused Serial Rapist R. Kelly

June 14, 2008, Robert Kelly shudders a sigh relief and walks out a Cook County courthouse a free man, cleared multiple child pornography charges in a trial that lasted six years. Look at him, armored in an expensive suit carefully chosen for the way its deep blue threads convey a calm and assertive innocence, look at him waving to supporters, one whom tells a reporter, "I just wish they leave the Kells alone." His face is the face a man who had his invincibility challenged and then reaffirmed, a man who would emerge from his trial by fire not only unscathed but strengthened. 

Now stop looking at Robert Kelly because Robert Kelly is a rich and powerful man and rich and powerful men can command our attention any time they choose. Instead, let your mind's eye wander over that linoleum drenched courthouse and into the city Chicago, into the home the girl who was on the tape that brought Robert Kelly to trial, the girl who at 14-years-old was raped and then had the videotape her rape played and replayed and analyzed and dissected, brutal frame by brutal frame, for a jury disbelieving strangers. Don't look away because she is not a rich and powerful man, and those who are not rich and powerful men rarely receive our attention. If only for a moment, give her your attention. 

It's been some thirteen years now since R. Kelly was first charged with child pornography possession, and since his acquittal we've settled into a drudgingly predictable pattern in which every few years the spotlight fades and then brightens again on the "stomach-churning" sexual assault allegations R. Kelly has faced, after which we see a wave intellectualized articles about separating great art from the sometimes terrible people who make great art, after which absolutely nothing happens, largely because the media's insistence on reframing R. Kelly's alleged systematic, repeated rape children as a question about art. 

"Is It Okay to Listen to R. Kelly?" asked Vulture in a recent article, making sure to credit him as a "musical genius" first and foremost before writing that he's been accused "awful things." And when we do that, when we insist on including R. Kelly's genius and music into our thinking about the things R. Kelly has been accused , it gives us a welcome escape hatch, it allows our attention to shift away from the path human devastation R. Kelly has left in his wake, away from the very real damage done to very real human beings, and into the land ideas and intellectual debate and cultural analysis, a land where it's far easier to continue to support R. Kelly because is it okay to listen to R. Kelly? If it's even a question it must be.

Ignorance is an excuse, although the weakest one, and one I know well. For years I gleefully bought and memorized R. Kelly albums, turned up the "Ignition (Remix)" when it came on the radio, wrote multiple articles about "Trapped in the Closet" alone. I knew Kelly had been charged with a sex crime, but in my mind, that trial had largely been reduced to a Chappelle Show skit, a reduction which conveniently allowed me to freely laugh at "Sex Kitchen." I'm now ashamed to admit that it never once crossed my mind that there was a child, an actual child with a name and a family and a favorite TV show, at the center those charges. And then, about two years ago, I actually took the time to read the "stomach-churning" sexual assault allegations against Kelly and suddenly I saw the very real children involved and I saw their parents putting on a brave face for their children but crying behind closed doors and I saw Kelly, unrepentant and untouched, and I was nauseated. So since that day I haven't listened to a single R. Kelly song or watched a single R. Kelly video or written a single word about R. Kelly, until now, because knowing what I now knew, how could it possibly be okay to listen to R. Kelly?

The litany allegations against Kelly, a litany that extends far beyond his one well-publicized trial, aren't classified, aren't hidden, many them are matters public record and easily accessed by anyone willing to look for them. So I have looked for them, because the stories young black women rarely demand our attention, particularly when placed against the stories rich and powerful men. Here are those stories...      


  • Kelly met Aaliyah when she was 12-years-old and then married her when she was 15, he was 28 at the time. He falsified marriage documents stating that she was 18, the marriage was later annulled and Aaliyah signed an NDA nondisclosure agreement] preventing her from speaking about Kelly and their relationship. Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah's uncle and Kelly's then manager, writes a letter to Kelly's attorney in an attempt to get Kelly psychiatric help for his "compulsion to pursue underage girls." 
It Is Not Okay to Listen to Accused Serial Rapist R. Kelly
  • Tiffany Hawkins sues Kelly, alleging that beginning when she was 15-years-old he repeatedly had group sex with her and other underage girls.
  • Patrice Jones sues Kelly, alleging that beginning when she was 16-years-old Kelly had sex with her repeatedly, impregnated her at 17 and then forced her to have an abortion. According to Jones' lawyer, "That abortion haunts her to this day. She’s under psychological care now. It’s changed her life.” 
  • Tracy Sampson sues Kelly, alleging that Kelly began having sex with her when she was a 17-year-old intern at Epic Records and that Kelly impregnated her. 
  • Chicago prosecutors charge Kelly with 21 counts child pornography centered around a tape that purportedly shows Kelly having sex with, and urinating on, his goddaughter, who was 14-years-old at the time. According to Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago-Sun Times reporter who covered the trial and wrote several stories investigating Kelly's alleged abuses, "You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his 'gift.' It's a rape that you're watching." Kelly is acquitted after his attorneys successfully argue that the tape could have been manipulated to make the man in it look like Kelly.
It Is Not Okay to Listen to Accused Serial Rapist R. Kelly
  • During the trial, Lisa Van Allen testifies that she began having sex with Kelly when she was 17-years-old and had participated in group sex along with the 14-year-old girl in the tape. In her testimony, Allen also says that she once broke down crying during a taped sexual encounter and Kelly became angry because the footage was now useless. “He couldn’t watch that, he couldn’t do anything with that,” she said.  
  • Kelly is arrested in Miami on 16 additional charges child pornography, authorities claim they found multiple photos nude, underage girls and photos Kelly "involved in sexual conduct with the female minor" while searching his residence. The charges are dismissed because the search warrant was deemed to be invalid.
  • An unnamed young woman alleges in a more than one-hundred page lawsuit that when she was 14-years-old Kelly discovered her at a Chicago school, Kenwood Academy, and began to have sex with her along with other underage girls he recruited from the school, giving them sneakers and other gifts. She says she's "scarred" by the experience and later attempts to kill herself by slitting her wrists.
  • In 2004 another sex tape leaks and the woman in that tape, Deleon Richards, says that she began having sex with Kelly a decade earlier when she was a teenager.
  • According to DeRogatis, there have been "Dozens girls - not one, not two, dozens - with harrowing lawsuits," all which have been settled by Kelly. DeRogatis also recounts that he also routinely fields calls from other women who say they can't sleep because they're haunted by Kelly's sexual abuse them as a teenager. It's important to note that all the examples above, dozens examples, only include women who went as far as filing lawsuits against Kelly. There are also reportedly several other examples in which Kelly settled with women before a lawsuit was filed, and droves other women allegedly abused by Kelly who never pursued any action against him. For example, a woman told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kelly began having sex with her when she was 17 after they met at a video shoot, another said she was involved in group sex along Hawkins, another said she was one the other girls from Kenwood Academy whom Kelly routinely had sex with, and Chicago area police twice investigated Kelly for completely separate incidents than the incident he was eventually charged for, but dropped those charges when the women declined to press charges. 
  • Kelly's longtime publicist, Regina Daniels, abruptly quit saying that Kelly has "crossed a line" by having sex with their then college-age daughter, who Kelly had known since she was seven.  
  • Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, alleges that Kelly attempted to get him to say he was the one in the sex tape, which he refused to do. He also alleges that he was routinely asked to find girls who "looked underage" at Kelly's shows and get their phone numbers.  
  • Demetrius Smith, Kelly’s longtime friend and personal assistant, publishes a memoir, The Man Behind the Man, in which he writes that: “Underage girls had proven to be Kelly’s] weakness. He was obsessed. Sickly addicted."


When we read about R. Kelly's career and the allegations surrounding him we ten see words like "complicated" thrown around, except there's nothing complicated about our relationship to R. Kelly's continuing career at all. It's exceedingly straightforward, at least once you've seen the full scope and horrific weight the sum allegations brought against him. You can choose to believe that those dozens women, Tiffany Hawkins and Patrice Jones and Tracy Sampson and Lisa Van Allen and Deleon Richards and the girl who slit her wrists in a failed attempt to kill herself and all the broken, anonymous women who never sued and have called Jim DeRogatis simply because they need someone who will believe them, are all liars, all them, in which case you can listen to Kelly's music without burden. Or you have to believe that R. Kelly is a serial rapist who routinely preys on children. It really is that uncomplicated, there is no gray area, no middle ground, no haze. And if you believe that R. Kelly has done nauseatingly terrible things to children and you still choose to buy his albums and attend his concerts and listen to his music, then you're choosing to support a serial rapist. It's exceedingly straightforward. 

The complication comes not with R. Kelly himself but with our own lives. None us have any actual relationship with Robert Sylvester Kelly, and so it would be strikingly easy to cut him from our lives, except through his music he's permanently embedded into our most valued possession, our memories. We hear "I Believe I Can Fly" and think about Space Jam and remember our childhoods, we hear "I'm A Flirt" and remember how impossibly good our freshmen year crush looked that night at that house party, we hear "Happy People" and remember dancing with our aunt at our cousin's wedding and what his music means to us because it was playing while we were with the people who mean something to us and in the places that mean something to us. I remember driving down Harvard Ave. one November night, parking and then literally running into my friend's apartment to tell her about this incredibly strange and amazing....song?...they'd just played on the radio, "Trapped in the Closet." Of all the thousands hours my life I've forgotten, I still remember that hour. Our memories are sacred spaces, and so, course, we fight to protect them, wrap them in layer after layer denial and intentional ignorance if necessary to keep them pure and untarnished by the ten crushing truths we learn later. 

And so we tell ourselves that R. Kelly has never been convicted in court as if we truly believe that the justice system is a perfect reflection actual guilt and innocence. And so with each allegation, we concoct an explanation, most likely one provided by Kelly for us until the sheer volume allegations and explanations defy any logic. And so we tell ourselves that R. Kelly is a genius, detour into intellectual debates about the lines between the art and an artist's personal life as if any amount genius can be equivalent to the pain a raped child. As if you would ever look one those abused women in the eyes, women who could be your daughter or sister or mother or friend, and say, "But he makes great music." We all perform these mental contortions to avoid confronting hard truths so we can continue to live our lives in comfort, especially out fear being guilty by association, myself included in more ways than I can count, but here, in this specific case, with all these dozens  women who have said Kelly abused them, it really shouldn't be that difficult to place their pain in front our own entertainment. 

Shattering the sanctity our musical memories, our heroes, is a painful, difficult business, but I've found one force stronger than even our resistance to change - compassion. It's easy to ignore the allegations against Kelly when they're presented as ideas, a thing to be debated and thought about and questioned, it's nearly impossible to ignore them when you see those women as real, actual humans. As I write this my two daughters are sleeping and it's not hard to imagine them in the place Tiffany Hawkins and Patrice Jones, those fears come quick and devastatingly sharp to parents. I imagine them telling me they were raped, I imagine finding them with their wrists slit. I imagine them telling me who raped them, and then I imagine that man walking free out a courtroom, shuddering a sigh relief armored in an expensive suit carefully chosen for the way its deep blue threads convey a calm and assertive innocence. I imagine that man going on to gather fame and adoration and money and it's not hard to imagine because I know it's some father's reality and now I'm on the verge tears and deciding that I'll sleep in my daughter's room tonight so I can know she's protected and safe. 

If I could make you see their face when you look at Kelly, if I could make you hear their voice instead Kelly's when you listen to his music, I would, because they're all I see and hear now, and if their names are one day more well known than his, then there might be something like justice.

It is not okay to listen to R. Kelly.

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Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

The glow promise and potential radiated by the end Drake’s verse on “Ransom.” The classic loosie was my introduction to the Toronto newcomer; Lil Wayne’s feature encouraged the initial listen, but I went back for the kid who said, “Add until they subtract me, I’ll never be your equal.” He captivated with wit and charisma, providing a first impression that led me to press play every time his name was attached to music posted on blogs.

In 2008, I didn’t expect that I would still be pressing play nine years later―I didn’t expect Drake to become the biggest music sensation since Kanye West―but since “Ransom,” I’ve listened and witnessed him grow and evolve, receive love and loathing, reach new peaks and jump over mountains with each new album. He is everything I never saw him becoming, but I’ve watched every step the way.

More Life is being heralded as a “playlist project,” but it’s safe to also see it as Drake’s seventh commercially released project. Almost every year since 2010, a new Drake project has been given to the world on a silver platter to be devoured. If you include the free mixtapes, the first being Room From Improvement in 2006, it’s been over 10 years since Drake started putting music out to be heard or ignored. For the next 10 years, his career will likely continue to be placed under the microscope―reviewed, criticized, championed, rated―but that is to be expected when you're a generation's biggest star. That title comes with endless conversation, debates, discussions and arguments.

Since discourse about Drake is both our present and it is our future, we decided to rank all Drake’s mixtapes and albums (and "playlists") from his humble beginnings to his latest ferings.

As a disclaimer, it's important to note that, personally, I prefer bars over harmonies and punchlines over melodies, but my favorite version Drake is when his albums balance these two skill sets. Since Drake has always been judged by the duality his rapping and singing post-So Far Gone, we felt it was appropriate to do the same here.

10. Room For Improvement

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Young Drake, the little brother to Little Brother. This is the Drake more influenced by the underground, by backpack rappers more than anyone on the charts. You can hear it in his flow, delivery and even the hooks―on this self-released, DJ Smallz-hosted mixtape Drake was out to truly prove himself as a rhyme slayer in a world full rappers uploading mixtapes to DatPiff and sending them to blogs.

This was the last time fans got a chance to hear Drake rap over a Lupe Fiasco instrumental, or hear him start a song with, “Get in my Slick Rick mode.” There are moments that shine with promise, glimpses an artist who could have been an underground darling, but as the title states, there was room for improvement.

Drake was still discovering himself as an artist―still finding his voice (at times he seems to be rapping in a library), searching for the pen a memorable songwriter and discovering the sound he could call his own. Drake wasn’t completely lost, but he had yet to find himself in the music.

There’s a sense nostalgia if you want to hear what Drake would sound like as a backpacker, but most the music doesn’t age well. 

Highlights: “A.M. 2 P.M.,” “Come Winter,” City Is Mine”

9. What a Time To Be Alive (w/ Future)

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Drake's collaborative project with Atlanta’s most renowned lean-sipping wizard is highlighted with booming trap anthems, but is mostly dominated by Future’s enthralling presence; Drake is a visitor on What a Time To Be Alive instead sharing the glowing spotlight. There’s a lack balance to truly make their union Shaq and Kobe, they’re more like Will and Carlton on the first season The Fresh Prince Bel-Air.

The production is a blessing―all the right architects were brought in to build the perfect foundation for some infectious records―and the project is easy on the ears, but it doesn't leave the listener with a strong desire to revisit as time goes by. What a Time To Be Alive is the Big Mac Drake’s catalog―sounds good when starving for a quick burger, but there are far better food options in his discography, and the same can be said about Future.

But hey, some days you just want a Big Mac, a large fry and a sweet tea to calm your hunger for junk food. 

Highlights: “Digital Dash,” “Diamonds Dancing,” “30 For 30 Freestyle”


Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Drake’s commercial behemoth: Views dominated charts and streams, and transcended him to the top both the rap and pop mountains but is the one album lacking the most luster in his catalog. Views is bloated with too many records, is long-winded in length, and struggles to maintain any kind captivation from beginning to end. It's enjoyable in small doses, especially sonically, but Drake was the anchor that truly dragged the ship down―some his most cringeworthy, corny raps can be found sprinkled across the 1 hour and 21-minute runtime.

Even when the music is superb―warm dancehall, quiet storm R&B and sugary pop make for some noticeable songs―people still look to Drake for rapping, and the raps on Views fell below the bar he set for himself at the beginning his career.

There’s a hollowness if you're seeking soul and nothing but boasting and bragging if you prefer painfully honest and sincere. While I liked the idea Views, and I enjoyed most the songs, as an album, as an entire body work, it is the Titantic―spectacular, grandiose, larger-than-life, but sinks towards the bottom Drake’s discography due to the many glaciers that ruined it’s sail to the top.

Highlights: “Feel No Ways,” “Redemption,” “Controlla”

7. Thank Me Later

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Drake’s commercial debut Thank Me Later is the type project that is forever changing positions in ranked lists. When I first heard this album back in 2010, it felt rushed, as if the music was crafted too quickly in order to ride the So Far Gone explosion. Over time, though, the album has grown on me.

You won’t find the best production or the best rapping or the best singing, but there’s an honesty that is prevalent on each track. Thank Me Later is the album made by an early-20s rapper who was suddenly thrust into the spotlight; you get the waves confidence and insecurities, the struggle to adjust and the fear failing.

This is one Drake’s clearest selfies, the first three songs exhibiting a level transparency that will always be relatable. The more Drake reaches the status an artist who caters to the world, the easier it is to appreciate the young rapper who poured his heart into every bar. Yeah, this was the st Drake, the throw-him-in-the-locker Drake, the sit-outside-your-ex-house-and-cry Drake, but that’s who Drake was—the Drake we knew the best. If only the album was better put together.

Highlights: "Karaoke," "Miss Me," "Find Your Love," "9AM in Dallas" (included as a bonus track on the UK iTunes version)

6. Comeback Season

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Comeback Season is a far more developed version  Room For Improvement, an example what happens when Charmander reaches level 16 and evolves into Charmeleon.

Lyrically, Drake is a much better rapper, a sharper pen with far more conviction in his voice. Comeback Season is the project where 40 begins working with Drake, as an engineer but not yet a producer. With 40 on the boards, the mix is far more pleasant on the ears. This is the Drake that I would have loved to hear as an artist signed under Jamla; 9th Wonder would’ve molded this baby Phonte into something special.

I get why this Drake is missed―this is before he started to really incorporate a strong R&B presence into his music―since this is the final form Backpack Drake. If you ever wanted to know what Drake sounds like over Dilla and 9th Wonder, this is the only project when such a phenomenon occurred. 

While quality rapping can be found on Comeback Season, it doesn't fer much appeal for repeat visits all these years later. Underground rap may desire this Drake, but he most likely would have hit a ceiling if he didn’t change his approach. He wouldn't destroy Billboard and become the world's biggest star rapping like Common Sense. 

Highlights: "Must Hate Money," "Think Good Thoughts," "Man the Year"

5. More Life

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

More Life has only been in this world for a few days, so this is the most tentative and premature placement on this list. I went into this musical fering looking for a project that was better than his last, wondering if he could correct all the limitations that prevented Views from being a stronger project. Again, Drake went Titanic―a massive project full grandiose beats, global influences, and luxury raps―but despite another lengthy cruise, More Life is the far more enthralling experience.

More Life is a people pleaser as if he sought to touch every corner his audience and fulfill their every Drake desire; while this creates a project that essentially isn’t for everyone, you are likely to find the Drake you like most somewhere in the 1-hour and 20-minute listen.

There are only a handful lines that caused me to cringe, while most the music is pleasant to the ears. More Life is considered a “playlist project” because its 22 songs will be scattered across playlists and Drake will be completely unavoidable. This is his attempt at conquering streaming, cornering the market, while pleasing a majority his fans.

As an album, it suffers from a few the same shortcomings as Views, but it’s an overall improvement in almost every way. Time will tell, but this position could change as we sit with the album more.

Highlights: "Free Smoke," "Passionfruit," "Do Not Disturb"

4. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, the surprise mixtape they refuse to call an album. 

In a way, this album is the complete opposite Thank Me Later―braggadocious, boastful, with an arrogance that was rare to see. This is the album where Charmeleon becomes a self-assured Charizard. This is Drake going into the trap atmosphere with vigor and zeal, rapping with an assortment tricks that makes each song a memorable moment.

I’ve always felt like this was Drake’s victory lap, the project you drop when you feel as if no man on this Earth can stop your reign. Despite being a sonic change, this is one Drake’s most cohesive, well-balanced albums; he delved into the trap on his own terms, never feeling like an outsider.

It can be argued that Quentin Miller’s pen is the reason why Drake was able to make such a graceful leap into a new environment, and while If You’re Reading This will always be seen as the project that outed Drake as a ghostwriter employer, the music is undeniable.

How can you hate on the stream bangers from “Legend” to “6 God?” Or "6 Man"? IYRTITL houses, arguably, one Drake’s best R&B cuts in “Jungle.” Even if this album will always be seen as more an orphan than fspring, the music captured a moment and continues to age well.

Highlights: "Energy," "Know Yourself," "6 Man"

3. Nothing Was The Same

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

“Tuscan Leather” is the best intro that Drake has ever made. I will fight any man, man-child, or Demogorgon about that. From Drake’s rapping to the way 40 flipped the sample like a master chef making a supreme flapjack, it’s an incredible way to begin the album.

From there, Nothing Was The Same delves deeper into the psyche a blossoming rap star coming f an acclaimed sophomore LP. Cohesion is both the gift and curse NWTS, the album is a seamless listen and it flows effortlessly―smoother than driving a brand new Porsche in Malibu. At the same time, however, that same cohesiveness sucks you into a world that begins to feel repetitive, by not adding variety to the album's soundscape, even good songs feel extraneous.

Is it necessary to have “Wu-Tang Forever” and “Own It?” “Started From The Bottom” and “Worst Behavior?” “Connect” and “305 To My City?”

NWTS is Drake showing that he is a master his universe, understanding the balance between bourgeois rap star and R&B aficionado, strip club connoisseur and famous casanova, the honest transparency mixed with bulletpro bravado. This isn't a cover-to-cover listen, but after this hit the mainstream, as the title suggests, nothing was ever the same.

Highlights: "Tuscan Leather," "Furthest Thing," "Too Much"

2. Take Care

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

The album that will be argued until the end days as Drake’s "undeniable classic." Take Care, a moment that rap will never forget. I fear that the moment has always clouded my judgment on this album, like being attached to a memory better days.  

Sure, Drake will get flak for making “Marvin’s Room,” but at the time, I never heard a song that was so painfully pure on the radio. Take Care has so many these bleeding vein moments, like Drake didn’t care if an audience heard him spill out his soul, the words needed to come out. He embraced being the simp, he embraced his fury against naysayers―everything he was feeling in his life at the moment can be heard on this album―and he got in touch with his feelings and let them live over incredible production.

Some his best music is on this album―”Cameras/Good Ones Go,” “Doing It Wrong,” “Underground King,” “Look What You’ve Done,” “The Ride,” “Over My Dead Body,”―with the highs hovering way over Toronto's CN Tower. It should be noted that The Weeknd’s contribution to this album can’t be overlooked, he is a big reason why Take Care sounds the way it does. 

The Drake that will always earn my money is the genuine, earnest, honest rapper who captures a generation kids chasing dreams, loving and losing, all while striving to leave a mark on the world. Take Care left a mark.

Highlights: "Over My Dead Body," "Marvin's Room," "Cameras / Good Ones Go Interlude"

1. So Far Gone

Ranking Every Drake Album From Worst to Best

Everything good that I’ve written about Drake in this ranking feature can be found in So Far Gone, his breakout project and magnum opus. And to be clear, we're talking about the mixtape, with all Drake's original vision intact, not the watered-down, commercial cash grab that was the EP.

Drake isn’t a complicated rapper. When it comes to depth, he isn’t taking us into the deep end, but he’s great at allowing us entrance into his life. So Far Gone is the doorway into the world Aubrey Graham. He finds his voice as a singer without sacrificing his prowess as a rapper, is able to craft great songs with nod-worthy bars, is cohesive without being repetitive, and even though he owes Kanye and Cudi for the soundscape, Drake makes this dreamy, R&B-drenched world his own.

If More Life is a slice Drake’s broad palette, So Far Gone is a Hyperbolic Time Chamber where he makes the most with limited tools. As a pony with only a few tricks, he made sure each one was better than the last.

This is the first project where 40 took on the role producer, flipping all the samples that Drake desired. He found his sound while penning some his most heartfelt music. Cool and sensitive, romantic yet with more heartbreak than heartbroken, assured with a hint doubt―So Far Gone was the mixtape Drake was born to make and the album he’ll always try to overcome.

From front to back, So Far Gone is his best work to date.

Highlights: "Lust For Life," "November 18th," "Say What's Real"

By Yoh, aka You Can Hate Me Now, aka @Yoh31

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Fat Joe & Jay Z Chartering Plane To Deliver Supplies To Puerto Rico

Fat Joe and Jay Z are working together to personally bring relief to the victims Hurricane Maria. The two Rap icons are chartering a plane to deliver much needed supplies to Puerto Rico.

In an Instagram video posted on Thursday, September 28, the Terror Squad boss announced that along with TIDAL, he and Jay Z are privately chartering a plane to personally deliver the goods to Puerto Rico. The collection is taking place at the famed Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan on Saturday, September 30. Joe appealed to the masses to donate what they can to the drop.

Cartagena detailed that that cargo plane will carry 200,000 pounds supplies and will leave Saturday, October 7. He will personally touch down with the cargo and will meet Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee in Puerto Rico to start the distribution.

TIDAL has also partnered with Bacardi Rum for its’ third annual TIDAL X Brooklyn concert at the Barclays Center on October 16 with the proceeds going to Hurricane Maria relief. Hosted by the original butter pecan Rican Angie Martinez, the show will feature performances from Jay Z, Fat Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Daddy Yankee, DJ Khaled, Kaskade, Chris Brown, Cardi B, Willow Smith, Machel Montano, Princess Nokia and Rapsody. Rosie Perez is also slated to make an appearance.

For those who would like to donate but are not in the New York City area can go here. Props to these two Rap champions on stepping up.

Photo: WENN.com

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RZA: Wu-Tang Clan Missed Opportunity To Remix Drake's "Wu-Tang Forever"

RZA has told Power 106 Los Angeles that a Wu-Tang Clan remix Drake’s “Wu-Tang Forever” is probably never going to happen. Admitting that Drake pretty much threw them an “alley-oop” by writing the song, he now feels like the opportunity has been “missed.”

Asked whether a Wu-Tang remix the track, which featured on Drake’s 2013 album Nothing Was The Same, was in the pipeline, RZA said, “That should have happened. First all I just want to shout Drake out, I think he threw an alley-oop to us right there.”

“I think we missed it,” he continued. When one the show’s hosts told him she thought it was “never too late,” RZA remained unconvinced. “I gotta say we missed it. I don’t regret it for no popularity or nothing, I just regret it for the fact that, yo, as you become an elder, it’s your duty to go back and work with youth and rekindle that fire.”

RZA shared stories artists like Isaac Hayes and Quincy Jones reaching out to help him, and said, “When somebody like Drake reaches out to Wu-Tang and says ‘Yo, let’s collaborate,’ it’s more our duty, forget the business. We gon’ make money regardless.”

The rapper/producer/actor revealed that he employed this policy with Joey Bada$$, recording songs with the 22-year-old and his crew, saying, “I recorded four songs with them … let ’em drop their acids on my studio floor. Let ’em smoke their blunts and drop their acids. My maid had to come and take care that.”

Watch the full interview below:

RZA has spoken about Drake’s “Wu-Tang Forever” previously. The track samples “It’s Yourz” from the group’s Wu-Tang Forever album, and RZA personally allowed Drizzy to use the sample free charge.

“I appreciate it,” RZA said. “He sent me the song because they couldn’t clear the sample. So I did it myself, personally, for free. Free charge. Because to me, that’s what we meant when we said, ‘Wu-Tang is forever,’” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “We didn’t think we were going to live forever. We meant that the energy what we do would spread on in culture, generation by generation.”

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Jhené Aiko Dives Deep For Surprise "Trip" Album

Singer Jhené Aiko has dropped a surprise album, Trip, on her unsuspecting fans. Laced with 22 tracks, the project features her boyfriend Big Sean, Brandy, John Mayer, Kurupt and Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee.

The album revolves heavily around the death her brother, Miyagi, who passed away from cancer in 2012. She uses her experimentation with psychedelic drugs to pull out some her most personal material to date (but not too personal), something she talked about in a recent interview with Billboard.

“Even though it was even more vulnerable than I’ve ever been before, it’s still not like, everything, you know what I mean?,” Aiko said. “I have a large wealth stories that I keep to myself just because some things you have to keep for yourself. You can’t give it all away or you will just be a shell a person. I think I do a great job at balancing things or thinking creatively about things.”

Check out the album stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Jhené Aiko Dives Deep For Surprise "Trip" Album

1. LSD
2. Jukai
3. While We’re Young
4. Moments f. Big Sean
5. Olla (Only Lovers Left Alive) f. TWENTY88
6. When We Love
7. Sativa f. Swae Lee
8. New Balance
9. Newer Balance (Freestyle)
10. You Are Here
11. Never Call Me f. Kurupt
12. Nobody
13. Overstimulated
14. Bad Trip (Interlude)
15. Oblivion (Creation) f. Dr. Chill
16. Psilocybin (Love in Full Effect) f. Dr. Chill
17. Mystic Journey (Freestyle)
18. Picture Perfect (Freestyle)
19. Sing to Me f. Namiko Love
20. Frequency
21. Ascension f. Brandy
22. Trip f. Mali Music

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DJ Khaled To Host BET Hip Hop Awards For 2nd Year In A Row

New York, NY – BET is all in with DJ Khaled. The network is bringing back the affable Hip Hop personality to host the BET Hip Hop Awards for the second year in a row.

“I am so excited to host the BET Hip Hop Awards for a second year,” Khaled said in a press release. “This is such an iconic show that highlights the hustle Hip Hop artists in the industry. It is a huge honor to be a part a night that pays homage to some the greatest talent our generation and I’m looking forward to the amazing performances and tributes. You know I’ll be bringing the cloth talk and the keys – Hip Hop Awards 2017 is going to be major!”

Khaled will not only be the master ceremonies but could also take home a few awards too. The veteran DJ received nine nominations for this year’s awards, including Album the Year.

The 2017 edition the award show takes place at The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami, Florida on October 6. The ceremony is scheduled to air on October 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Check out a teaser for the upcoming event below.

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Suge Knight Hints Tupac May Still Be Alive, Again

Los Angeles, CA – Suge Knight will once again revisit his long-held view that Tupac may still be alive when FOX airs its investigative crime special Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? this Sunday (September 24).

In an exclusive clip obtained by TMZ, hosts Ice-T and Soledad O’Brien speak to Suge Knight over the phone from the Los Angeles County Jail, where he is currently incarcerated. During the brief exchange, Knight questions how Tupac’s health deteriorated so quickly in hospital, claiming to have been “laughing and joking” with him after the infamous shootout in Las Vegas in September 1996.

“When Pac died, if he really did laughs], you know?” Knight says before O’Brien interjects.

“If he really died? What do you mean by that?” she asks.

“I mean when I left that hospital, me and Pac was laughing and joking,” Knight replies. “So I don’t see how somebody can turn from doing well, to doing bad.”

“So you seriously think he might still be alive,” O’Brien says while shaking her head, to which Suge Knight replies: “I’m gonna tell you this: with Pac, you never know.”

Tupac was shot in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. He died six days later on September 13. As with the slaying The Notorious B.I.G., which took place six months later, the murder Tupac Shakur remains unsolved.

The theory that Tupac may still be alive has been outlined numerous times by Suge Knight in recent years.

In 2012, Knight claimed that no one saw Tupac dead and alluded to the idea that the rapper may still be alive.

“Maybe the question is that Pac really not dead. Pac’s somewhere else,” Knight said during an interview with 93.5 KDAY in Los Angeles. “I mean it’s the truth if you really look at it. Nobody seen Tupac dead. The thing is this: the person who supposedly cremated Tupac – his mother wanted it done quickly – he passed. So this guy got about $3 million personally from me, cash. And next thing I know, I never heard from the guy or seen him again. He retired and left.”

In 2014, Knight questioned why no one has been arrested for Tupac’s murder, despite individuals reportedly confessing to the killing.

“Why you think nobody been arrested if they said they the one killed Tupac? Because Tupac not dead,” Suge said in an interview with TMZ. “Tupac not dead, nigga. If he was dead, they’d be arresting those dudes for murder. You know he somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar on an island somewhere.”

Suge Knight is currently incarcerated at the Los Angeles County Jail, where he has been held since January 2015. The former Death Row Records CEO is facing a murder charge stemming from the an incident at a Compton burger stand that resulted in the death his close friend Terry Carter. Suge Knight is expected to face trial on January 8, 2018.

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Wiz Khalifa & French Montana To Star In Netflix’s Hip Hop Comedy “The After Party”

Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and Teyana Taylor are among those set to star in Netflix’s upcoming Hip Hop comedy The After Party, according to Variety.

The film, which is written and directed by How to Make It in America’s Ian Edelman, is reported to revolve around two best friends trying to land a record deal on their last night together before one heads f to college and the other leaves for military service. During the course one wild night, the pair embarks on a tumultuous journey that will determine the fate their futures.

The picture, which has recently started production, will reportedly shoot for six weeks in New York, including on location at The Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field in Queens, and a live concert at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan.

Def Pictures – Russell Simmons’ newly founded film and television production company – will team up with Live Nation Productions, WorldStarHipHop and Hunting Lane Films to make the film.

The late founder WorldStarHipHop, Lee “Q” O’Denat, was inspired to develop the idea because his love classic films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and American Graffiti, an accompanying announcement said.

Ventura, CA rapper Kyle, Blair Underwood, Jordan Rock (the brother comedian and actor Chris Rock), Harrison Holzer and Shelley Hennig are also reported to star, along with a number yet-to-be-announced celebrity cameos.

The film is scheduled for release in 2018, according to IMDB’s listing.

Netflix has released a number Hip Hop-related programs in recent times. The streaming platform released a four-part documentary series titled Hip Hop Evolution late last year, which traced the origins Hip Hop culture back to its roots in The Bronx and featured in-depth interviews with a number cultural personalities.

Earlier this month, it was reported that John Legend was collaborating with Netflix and former NBC executive Jeff Gaspin to develop Rhythm & Flow, an unscripted talent competition series that pits rappers against one another while also focusing on soul and R&B.

Netflix did cancel their Hip Hop-centered drama The Get Down after just one season earlier this year, citing low ratings and production issues. The show was reported to be one Netflix’s priciest endeavors, costing over $120 million.