Radio DJ personality Big Boy landed a new gig working at REAL 92.3 in Los Angeles, and he brought some serious firepower to his radio show: Kendrick Lamar freestyling to Notorious B.I.G. classic … and it was glorious.
My favorite rhyme? “From Compton, to Congress/ It’s set trippin’ all around/ Ain’t nothin new but a flu of new Demo”crips” and Re”blood”licans/ Red state vs Blue state/ Which one you governing?
It’s Grammy’s week in Los Angeles, which means everyone who is anyone in the music industry descends upon the city. Starting this past Monday, venues big and small played host to elite parties celebrating the industries best and brightest. Continue reading →
It feels just like yesterday that Terrace Martin released his last album, the sublime “3ChordFold”. But ever the relentless, working musician, you knew that he had more up his sleeve, ready to share with the world. His latest release, “3ChordFold Pulse” is a follow up worthy of some serious attention.
Not only does he once again call upon the help of some of the highest caliber musicians around (Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, 9th Wonder and Ethan Farmer, just to name a few), but the album is a musical offering that, at least upon my initial listen, seamlessly covers the musical spectrum.
From the jazz elements in the title track “Pulse” (ft. Preston Harris) and “Its Yours” (ft. Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy and Thundercat), to the soulful R&B vibes in “You and Me” (ft Preston Harris), “Come and Get Me” (ft. Wyann Vaughn) and All The Things (ft. Don Dolla), to the surprising blues offering in “Lets Go Get Stoned” (ft. Snoop Dogg and Tone Trezure) to the jazz infused hip-hop of “Poetic Justice [Live in New York] (with Kendrick Lamar) and “Never Have To Worry” [Live in New York] (with Snoop Dogg) … this album has a little bit of everything.
Perhaps my favorite track on this release is Terrace’s live rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” which was recorded at the Del Monte Speakeasy, a show I was privileged to have been at, and features otherworldly performances from not only Terrace, but also Robert Glasper, Ethan Farmer, Marlon Williams and Ronald Bruner. It’s an amazing recording. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to purchase it to have in my collection for life.
Hey, Terrace? When are you dropping your albums on WAX?!?!? I NEED!
It’s been a while since I’ve heard a good concept album. A Concept Album is an album where “all of the musical or lyrical ideas contribute to a single overall theme or unified story.” In this decade (the 2010’s) there have been some solid, highly regarded concept albums that have left their mark: Adrian Young with Ghostface Killah collaboration called Twelve Reasons to Die (a black mafia member who gets betrayed by his lover), Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs (its themes focus on regret and lost youth) and Danny Brown‘s XXX (about growing up, the fall of Detroit, and the impact of drugs on both).
A concept album was even nominated for both Album of Year and Rap Album of The Year at this year’s Grammy Awards (2014), Kendrick Lamar‘s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City” which centers around Kendrick’s life in Compton, California and how he strived to escape it. Each song in the album follows this theme and furthers the story line. As an aside, even though I loved “The Heist”, Kendrick should have won the best rap album award … just sayin’ …
Coincidentally, a producer on Kendrick’s album released a pretty damn good concept album in 2013 as well. His name is Terrace Martin, and the album is titled “3ChordFold”. Terrace is a musician’s musician, who has produced tracks for and worked with artists like Kenrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, 9th Wonder, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, etc.
Though the album is filled with many guest appearances by notable artists (Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop and Lalah Hathaway), Terrace’s songwriting and musical sensibilities shines through with his latest effort, use elements of jazz, soul, R&B and hip-hop, creating an album that is based on a theme of the three types of “loves” one may encounter in the search of their true love: The Freeloader, The Renter and the Buyer.
Everyone can take what they want from the music, but listening to the album in a vacuum, I came up with my own “summary” of the album. Perhaps, I have missed the mark on a song or two, but hey, it’s music. Take from it what you will. You need to listen to it for yourself and make your own determinations.
Set against a strong saxophone line, Ab Soul introduces the idea of the trials of love, and the perils associated in the quest of looking for someone who is not a freeloader, or a renter, but someone who will “buy me out” (Intro). The problems are more fully set forth in the next song which explains the conundrum of when a “circle and a square don’t fit (Triangle Ship). The soft and sultry voice of Wyann Vaughn (the “poetess”) introduces in spoken word the idea of the “The Freeloader” which immediately has Terrace (the “protagonist”) romancing the freeloader with offers of leaving it all behind and taking off with him (Get Away) only to have those hopes shattered when he realizes that the person he is in love with isn’t as into him, as he is her (Something Else).
Still in love with freeloader, the protagonist has his first epiphany, learning that “love changes over time” and in this case, “you don’t call, you don’t text, no love, not even sex,” asking “what I’m supposed to do? Sit around and wait for you?” After the first epiphany, both the freeloader and the protagonist admit and realize that this relationship wasn’t meant to be (No Wrong No Right). Even though the protagonist knows that the freeloader can never be his, he still mourns the loss of the little things from the relationship lost (Watch U Sleep).
The poetess’ voice fades back in, and explains the situation of “The Renter”, where both parties already know “the terms” of the relationship at the outset, as they’ve both signed “the lease”. The protagonist and the renter then sing about the possibility of building a bridge between them, perhaps to erase the renter moniker, but really the renter’s modus operandi is already deeply rooted, and turning the renter into a buyer seems an unlikely scenario (Move On).
In trying to move on from the renter, the protagonist is offered the advise that “love can’t hurt you, it should be motivation” (Motivation), which seems to be taken to heart as the protagonist tells the renter that he doesn’t want to rent, he “just want[s] a happy home”, and he’s willing to do it with “The Buyer” (Happy Home), who will be his “angel” (Angel).
The protagonist then further goes into what qualities it would take for his buyer to have his love (You’re The One). On the outro, the protagonist, in spoken word, professes his love to a potential buyer, and during his preaching of what love means to him, the poetess fades in and completes the thought stating “Freeloaders get expensive, Renters never stay […] but me, I can’t help how I feel […] I’ve signed the final paperwork [.]” The protagonist’s voice then fades back in to join the poetess on “finished up in escrow, I got you baby. Long haul […] Let’s go.”
The album seems to be heading towards a happy ending as the next song is a profession of both parties swearing that they won’t play games with each other’s hearts (I’m For Real), even going a step further by offering words of encouragement with the mantra of “just pray and be patient” (Gone). There is, however, a sense of rough waters ahead as the vocals seem to warn that they are “moving to fast”. Following a wandering instrumental, the music morphs into a cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” which on the one hand could be seen as a reaffirmation of the love that the protagonist has of the buyer, but on the other hand, reading into the lyrics, just who is the “angel in disguise”? Didn’t the protagonist already acknowledge the buyer as his angel? Could it be that the protagonist finds another angel and can’t help but retread the 3ChordFold again?
These days, the consumer predominantly tends to only purchase singles off an album. And though those individual tracks are able to stand alone, sometimes they are much more meaningful when listened to in the entire context of the album as a whole. I think Terrace Martin’s album is an album that needs to be listened to in its entirety if you are to really appreciate the music’s overall sentiment. I’ve told Terrace that his album is an album that should be released on vinyl, not only because I selfishly want to own a copy for myself being a record collector, but also because it’ll force the “buyer” to listen to the entire album without fast forwarding or skipping tracks.
I woke up Saturday morning still in a daze from The Mrs. Carter World Tour performance that Beyonce put on at Staples the night before, but I still had two more full days of music ahead of me.
BET set up an outdoor venue they dubbed the “Music Matters Stage” where “the stars of tomorrow shine today”. Some of the acts in years past have included Miguel, Melanie Fiona and J. Cole, so I decided to take a look at the schedule to see who was performing that day. Ummm… Marsha Ambrosius at 1:15pm? Damn. I was actually a bit surprised to see her scheduled to perform because in my mind she’s already a Grammy Award-winning star of today, both as a member of Floetry and her solo career.
I checked my emails and noticed that there were some items that needed some attention, so after spending a greater portion of the morning and early afternoon slaving away at the computer, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it in time to see Marsha Ambrosius perform.
After I had pushed “send” on the last work email that Saturday, the Scorpio in me made a rather impulsive decision. “Gee,” I told my self, “it’s such a nice day! Why don’t I try taking public transportation from West Los Angeles to downtown Los Angeles? I could use the exercise”. I threw on my clothes and my credentials, and started the journey. One bus, one train without air-conditioning and an hour and a half later I got to my destination. Wasn’t so bad, but I did take a little longer that I had anticipated.
The area around the heart of the BET festival was buzzing with activity. I looked at my watch, and noticed that I probably could catch one or two acts before I had to head over to the restaurant for dinner. I walked to the Music Matters entry area and flashed my credentials, and thereafter made a b-line to the main stage where Bridget Kelly was performing. I wasn’t too familiar with her catalog, but I seemed to be the only one who didn’t as it everyone at the stage to watch her in the blazing summer heat were singing along. She did sing a respectable cover of the Lauryn Hill classic “Ex Factor”. I knew that song.
The next artist who graced the stage was K. Michelle. I never watched and episode of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta , but apparently K. Michelle is a featured cast member. After gaining media exposure through the reality show, she was able to land a deal with Warner Bros. Records. Like Bridget Kelly, K. Michelle’s fans were there in full force, standing in the sun, and singing along with almost all of her songs.
I had to leave the Music Matters Stage before K. Michelle finished up her set, but I was glad that I was actually able to make use of the “Event Staff” pass I had been wearing around my neck to enjoy some of the non-featured music being offered during the weekend.
At dinner, I was given an “Artist Pass” for the Staples Center shows that evening. Forty-Five minutes later, the powers that be asked for the pass back. Apparently, a real artist needed it, so I had to surrender the laminate for the evening. I guess someone else was “Derrick” for the evening. Lol. I wish the team had told me who it was.
Dinner took a little longer than expected, so by the time I got inside of the Staples Center, Schoolboy Q and Miguel had already finished their sets. By the time I had made my way to my seat, J. Cole took the stage.
I know very little about J Cole, other than the fact that his latest album was released the same week as Kanye’s “Yeezus”, and that his record sales for that week second only to Kanye’s. I tried to get into the music, but I found myself being easily distracted with people watching or trying to figure what samples were used in his songs. It seemed that a lot of his crowd pleasers relied on familiar melodies. A few songs into his set, J. Cole looked around and wondered aloud, “Is this how Kobe feels?” The crowd went nuts and he continued his eloquent, if not somewhat monotonous, flow.
After J. Cole’s set, I quickly made my way to the “Chairman’s Lounge” (at least they didn’t take that ticket away from me) to get free drinks. I was sober the night before, but tonight I wasn’t driving, so I decided to double up on the beverages.
I was getting excited to seen Kendrick Lamar take the stage. For anybody who has asked me recently, I’ve been saying that my two favorite hip-hop album purchases in the past year have been Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”. I remember the first time I popped in “Good Kid”. It was the first CD I unwrapped in the Amoeba records garage, I popped it in, and started a weekend commute. I didn’t have to fast forward over any tracks. After the disc restarted, I listed to the tracks 2-4 at least two more times: “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Backseat Freestyle” and “The Art of Peer Pressure”. Solid production. Solid lyrics. Super dopeness.
I saw on the stage monitors that Kendrick was starting his set, so I asked to get my scotch topped off, and I head back to my seat. I had heard from various people that Kendrick’s live show could be, at times, boring, but I would have to beg to differ. Based on what I saw that evening, I saw Kendrick perform with a sense of immediacy. Maybe it was because he was performing in front a hometown crowd, or maybe he’s just evolved his stage presence through the relentless tour he’s been on this so far this summer, but whatever the impetus, he was deep into the performance, spitting out lyrics and meaning with every breath. With the live band providing solid support, Kendrick killed his set. The comedic highlight when Mike Epps danced around on stage had everybody rolling off their seats.
I again went back to the Chairman’s Lounge to get another drink. By this point, I’ll admit, I was pretty tipsy. As I was ordering my drink, I saw Warren G. I’ve been around him before, but I think the scotch may have gotten to me. I approached him and started to blab about how much I loved his music. I told him that I was a huge fan of his album “In The Mid-Nite Hour” and that the tracks with Nate Dogg, “I Need A Light” and “In The Mid-Nite Hour” were, in my mind, classics. I fumbled around with my camera and we snapped a picture when he looked up to the stage monitor and noticed that Snoop had taken the stage. Looking at the TV he announced, “I got to go,” and with that he left the lounge in a hurry. He made it back in time for “Regulate”… that was a relief.
Snoop. He closed the night, and closed the night right. There’s not much I can say about Snoop’s sets. I mean, when you open up with Dr. Dre and perform “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Next Episode”, you can seriously turn the lights up and leave, but Snoop knows how to keep a party going, and he brought onto the stage guest artist after guest artist while going through the most popular songs from his hip-hop hall of fame repertoire.
He performed “Same Damn Time” with Future. He brought up Ace Hood for “Bugatti”. DPGC staples Daz Dillinger and Kurupt were on stage for “Ain’t No Fun” and “Who Ride Wit Us”. Trinidad James and Problem also performed their own current hits. Snoop invited Wiz Khalifa up to the stage to perform Wiz’s newest single, and also slipped in a mention of “High School 2”.
It was the perfect way to close the evening. Snoop is one of the few hip-hop artists who can bring that much star power for an hour and a half set. It was probably more that most of the crowd expected, and Snoop made sure every damn of them got their money’s worth. Chuuuch.