This week's "Our Spilt Milk" also includes Caetano Veloso, Violent Soho, and a reader writes in support of Motel Radio.
On Thursday, while the hip-hop world buzzed with anticipation for Chance The Rapper's new project Coloring Book, a track appeared quietly online. "Grown Ass Kid," it seems, didn't make the project's final cut, but it's certainly album quality. The track has the same "gospel rap" sound that characterizes all of Chance's recent work, and features the same brand of upbeat production with heavily layered vocal samples and dramatic major chords.
Chance is joined on "Grown Ass Kid" by fellow Chicago natives Mick Jenkins and Alex Wiley. All three rappers muse on the theme of growing up, poking fun at the notion that becoming a famous rapper should automatically make someone wise or mature. Chance mimics the scolding voices of adults ("Boy get your big grown ass home / Old ass home, broke ass drinking up all the milk / But can't do no laundry), whereas Jenkins puts it more bluntly in his strong opening verse ("All of your opinions facetious, it's feces"). Wiley's verse is forgettable, which may be why the song was ultimately cut from Coloring Book, but anyone who felt cheated by the brevity of Coloring Book will be grateful for the extra material. (Raphael Helfand)
While driving through the North Georgia mountains, I rediscovered “The Minimalists” podcast. “The Minimalists” started as a blog, created by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and they reject the idea that being a minimalist is just about not owning an excess of physical things, like having only T-shirts and one pair of pants–even though Nicodemus does only own one pair of jeans. The minimalism they describe focuses much more on removing internal clutter from your mind. They advocate for only things that add value. Granted, there are exceptions to every rule, but this idea of living deliberately– a la Henry David Thoreau–has helped me to better curate and develop my creative work.
There’s something to be said about an ideology, or a way of living, that rejects the fast-paced-rat race of 21st century living. It has helped me focus on projects as individual entities that deserve their own time and attention. It has also made be a more conscious consumer of art and music. In general, I take the time to appreciate an artist or a song with much more intention. It’s helped me to clear my mind of things that I don’t find interesting or compelling, not because they aren’t valuable or important, but because they aren’t inherently valuable to me. It sounds simple, but that’s the whole point, right? (Piper Serra)
When writer Ben Ratliff tries to assert during the New York Times "Popcast" that a recent anti-slavery song by Caetano Veloso is universal, Veloso corrects him. The Brazilian singer and songwriter asserted that the song was specifically Brazilian. The flower that gave the song its title was Brazilian, and the associations that made it speak to slavery come from Brazilian history. Ratliff was right in the big picture—anti-slavery sentiments cross cultures—but his assertion ran contrary to an essential feature of Veloso’s career.
Veloso is known for his role in the Tropicalia movement, along with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Ze and Os Mutantes, who in the mid-’60s dared to imagine a pop music that spoke for young Brazilians. They didn’t turn their backs on samba and bossa nova, but those were their parents’ state-sanctioned music. They drew as well on the international influence of The Beatles and in the process pissed off the political left and right, who united in their concern that Veloso and Tropicalismo was insufficiently Brazilian, and its growth was a threat to Brazil’s greatest musical export: bossa nova. The military dictatorship imprisoned Veloso and Gil for four months in 1968 before exiling them to London.
Throughout Ratliff’s conversation with Veloso, I wished that there was a deliberate effort to make a pop music that reflected American youth today. Then I realized there is: EDM. For more on Veloso and Tropicalismo, check out his autobiography Tropical Truth, which reveals just how thoroughly rebellion can be coded into a song without it sounding even casually confrontational. (Alex Rawls)
Chelsea Handler promised to break the mold of traditional talk TV with her new Netflix show Chelsea, and, spoiler alert: she doesn’t. But even if it isn’t the talk show revolution we were promised, Handler still delivered the first pilot week for what it was—a hot, fascinating mess. If nothing else, her dog Chunk will have me back for more this Wednesday around noonish, day drinking—as Prof. Handler would encourage—to see what interviewee he will rightfully snub. (You’re not good enough for Chunk, Pitbull.)
Handler here is in her prime: charmingly unedited, unabashed, and unapologetically naive (yet willing to learn!) about any and everything about the world. Her show is more watchable when she’s outside her comfort zone, interviewing and giving platforms to Education Secretary John B.. King Jr., and the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chadwick Boseman. Oddly, friends Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow weighed the show down, but that’s what you get with a program trying to find it’s footing. (Emily Tonn)
Saw Motel Radio at Jazz Fest first weekend at Lagniappe, and it was my highlight until My Morning Jacket blew up Prince and Neil Young blew up the sky. Bought their CD and can’t stop listening. Remind me of another young band, Water Liars from Oxford, Mississippi. Beautiful harmonies at times, not unlike the Byrds, R.E.M., Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Futurebirds, New Madrid, etc. So happy to have them be from new orleans. They’re playing Bayou Boogaloo and Gasa Gasa this weekend. (Walker Lasiter)
Violent Soho just announced a North America tour hitting most major cities in the U.S. and Canada (but not New Orleans). The post-grunge foursome clawed their way to the forefront of the indie rock scene in Australia with 2013’s Hungry Ghost, and recently released a follow-up to the successful record, Waco. The four describe their style as “stoner rock,” and the album showcases influences from such bands as Weezer, Mudhoney, and Wavves.
The lead single, “Like Soda,” is misleadingly slow at the beginning before it becomes a proper homage to the high-speed, guitar-crunching sound fans have come to expect from the band’s earlier work. Violent Soho’s ability to transition from twangy, clean guitar and minimalist drums to powerful, melodic hooks is progress, and for the band, that counts. In 2014, singer Luke Boerdam said, “I don’t think you have to change your sound every record and be fucking Radiohead going from OK Computer to Kid A or anything like that, but I do think progression is healthy.” (Sean Doyle)
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