#BestAlbumsOf2013

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Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” are all major releases,  but “The  Music  of Grand Theft Auto V” is one that probably flew under most people’s radar. Instead of opting for a ranked list, here’s our take on those that are must-hears. You ain’t got the answers Sway!

Image: MTV.com
Image: MTV.com

Here are our selections (in no particular order):

  1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  2. Kanye West – Yeezus
  3. The Underachievers – Indigoism
  4. Arctic Monkeys – AM
  5. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
  6. Phoenix – Bankrupt
  7. The Music of Grand Theft Auto V, Vol. 1: Original Music
  8. Joey Bada$$ – Summer Knights
  9. A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP
  10. M.I.A – Matangi
  11. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
  12. Jay-Z – Magna Carta…Holy Grail
  13. Death Star Militia – Bang Da Rebellion
  14. Juicy J – Stay Trippy
  15. Drake – Nothing Was the Same
  16. Action Bronson – SAAAB Stories
  17. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
  18. Tyler, The Creator – Wolf
  19. J. Cole – Born Sinner
  20. Lorde – Pure Heroine
  21. Haim – Days Are Gone
  22. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
  23. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
  24. A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord
  25. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP2

#Beyonce As Sexy and Versatile As Ever On The New Visual Album

Beyonce It is entirely possible that Beyonce Knowles, Ruler of the R & B Divas, is a Greek Goddess sent down from Mount Olympus to spread Bootyliciousness, and in the now-famous words of Kanye West, make “one of the best videos of all time.” So it’s only fitting that Mrs. Carter make a fantastic entrance by creating visuals for every track on her most recent album, and then release them all as a suspenseful last-minute iTunes surprise. Her latest effort is part of an ongoing exercise in the mystery of her varied personas, which was most apparent on “I Am…Sasha Fierce,” and now has new chapters: a sexy, at-the-same-time-subtle 17-video montage of her life, almost acutely appropriate for today’s social media-driven world. But if current pop stars like Kanye, Kim Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus are the masters of trashy celebrity sexiness, Beyonce proves herself a virtuoso of graceful show-and-tell who by no means shies away from risqué topics. The videos for “Partition,” “No Angel,” and “Blow,” all reveal Queen Bey in a range of racy costume changes, including but not limited to: high-waisted Levi’s shorts, diamond-encrusted braziers, and neon-colored 80’s workout gear. Not to mention that the lyrics “Can you lick my Skittles/It’s sweetest in the middle” are sure to make Beyonce-lovers everywhere want to Taste the Rainbow. One would have to be a drooling adolescent of Justin Bieber age not to look past sex to the deeper themes on the album. Motifs like motherhood on “Blue,” which features Beyonce carrying Blue Ivy Carter through the youth-flooded favelas of Brazil, and “Pretty Hurts,” which sees Miss Bootylicious USA using a beauty pageant to make a lesson on superficiality sink in. Editor’s Note: The “Pretty Hurts” video also features modeling’s first ever albino male model, named Shaun Ross, who appeared in Lana Del Rey’s “Tropico” as well. You can read our excellent review of it here. For a star of Beyonce’s magnitude, who can sell 80,000 copies of a previously unannounced album in its first three hours, high standards dictate that such ambienced, bass-heavy production be handled by only the qualified elite of R & B: Frank Ocean, Miguel, The Dream, Justin Timberlake, and Hit Boy. That’s not to say that too many cooks always spoil the soup, as the range of musical styles only serves to enhance the experience. Just take “Drunk in Love” for example, where Beyonce’s southern drawl upstages her husband, and not only proves that she can be the Queen of Sizzurp just as much as southern rappers, but also that Jay-Z seems ever-more focused on other things besides his rhymes – perhaps negotiating contracts for Robinson Cano.

jayz cano
Image: eurweb.com

The whole visual album is executed perfectly, from classic Beyonce black-and-white video on “Rocket,” to the kaleidoscope effects of “Grown Woman” that seem to reference the early days of MTV. There is one exception: given the rumors that Destiny’s Child split up due to Beyonce’s bossiness, one has to feel a little bad that Michelle literally can’t escape her former bandmate’s shadow in the video for a song quite ironically named “Superpower.” Miss Knowles seems as determined as ever to hammer home the fact that she is now a mom and wife who has conquered not only the world of music, but that she is still a “Who Run The World? Girls”-style feminist (see “Flawless”). She is also a  polyglot of international fame who speaks French on two of the albums 14 tracks. Whether rioting in the streets next to flannel-clad Hipsters, crooning alongside Drake, or premiering home videos of her and Destiny’s Child practicing for “Star Search,” Beyonce shows us there’s very little she can’t do. Our only regret is that it cost $15.99 for the experience. You can cop the full “Beyonce” album on iTunes, but we’ve got you covered with 30-second previews of all the videos below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlkrm8nLCJo&feature=share&list=UUuHzBCaKmtaLcRAOoazhCPA&index=2

Best Tracks on Flying Lotus #IdeasBeatsLoops

From @FlyingLotus “ideas+beats+loops,” which was shared yesterday night via his Twitter account. The full 24-track mixtape is available for free download here.

10 Things to Like About Lana’s Del Rey’s Short Film, #Tropico

Here’s our review of “Tropico,” as written for the homies over at Thrive Magazine.

There’s a lot to love, and definitely plenty to hate depending on which side of the Lana del Rey fence you’re on. But that’s kind of her story as an artist – you either deal with the fact that her music is a hodgepodge of sadness, contradiction, and Nancy Sinatra-like crooning over dark synths and a backdrop of All-American imagery. Or you just find her really emotional and annoying, and at some point she changes your mind. “Tropico” is no different. With her first short film, Lana Del Rey tells the story of sin and forgiveness that begins in the Garden of Eden, before embarking on a journey through the gang culture of L.A., several strip clubs, and frolicking through golden grass-filled fields at sunset. It’s every bit as intense as it sounds, yet well worth each of its 27 minutes. Here’s our list of 10 things to love about the film:

10. Hey, we’re all sinners. When your Mom asks “When’s the last time you went to church,” at least you can say it’s ok, I learned the story of Adam & Eve by watching Lana Del Rey’s short film instead.

9.   6-4s, LA, and Cholos. For a moment you’ll feel like it’s 1993 and you’re back in a Snoop Dogg video.

8. Cameo appearances by John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. If two of the most important actors of the 20th century aren’t enough to make you wanna watch this thing, I don’t know what to tell you.

7. Lana del Rey in the strip club. Just in case you didn’t catch that from our short summary at the top.

6. The element of surprise. We don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that after watching “Tropico,” you might think twice the next time you pull out a wad of Benjamins at Magic City.

5.  It was directed by Anthony Mandler, who is best known for directing Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and has worked with everyone from Taylor Swift, to  Eminem and M.I.A. It was also produced by a pretty important guy named Rick Rubin(Google him).

4.  It was actually written by Lana del Rey. She’s both beautiful and talented, sings her ass off, and stars in videos with A$AP Rocky – what’s not to like?

3. It’s refreshing. After first seeing Kim and Kanye screw on a motorcycle in the Grand Canyon, followed by Seth Rogen and James Franco’s reprise, followed by Miley Cyrus stripping on a Wrecking Ball, and then that guy Steve Kardynal doing his sexed up version on Chat Roulette, our brain needs a break from video porn for a while. While some might find the strip club scenes gratuitous, at least they fit into the storyline.

2. Great Music. Featuring the songs “Body Electric,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Bel Air,” plus some singing by John Wayne, and classic poetry by Allen Ginsberg.

1.  It’s a segue into Lana’s Del Rey’s new album, which is reportedly titled “Ultra Violence.” Sorry guys, there’s no release date just yet.

*Bonus: It also includes a cameo by Pool Boy from Mad TV.

#GIFs – Jeopardy And Alex Trebek Solve the Pronunciation Debate

jeopardy
Image: Imgur

Graphics Interchange Format. Ever since Gif creator Steve Wilhite took to Twitter trying to convince everyone that his invention is pronounced “gif” with a hard g, the debate’s been raging  - how exactly do you pronounce the damn word?

http://nyti.ms/1biPdal

This week Mr. Trebek and the folks at Jeopardy helped put the debate to rest.

Goodbye to #5Pointz

5 PointzIn the same unfortunate fashion as many of Banksy’s spraystenciled gifts to New York City, 5Pointz has been whited out and erased. It was literally here yesterday…and gone faster than we could say “Grandmaster Flash.” Not at all surprising, especially in a City where monthly rents average three times the price of Macbook (about $3K).  As they say all good things must come to an end :(. For more details check out the New York Times.

For music fans with a sense of humor.

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