Saturday, December 13, 2008

YARRRR! Be A Pirate With Me

Word on the street is that this has been around since September 19th, but I just discovered it a few days ago. 

According to the inter-web, every September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day (who knew?) and this year Facebook decided to join in on the festivities, and everyone else can too!!!

Do you want your facebook to talk like a pirate rather than plain old boring english? It's really easy.

All you have to do is go into you facebook settings, and under language there should be an option for "English (Pirate)" like this:

And that, me hearties,  is all you need to do, and then your facebook will be as cool as mine and look something like this:

And that's it. Come be a Pirate with me.

Happy Plunderin'


Monday, December 1, 2008

Listen Once, Wait, Listen Again

*Quick Note* For those of you that check my blog on a daily basis (I know you do) you may notice that this blog I wrote yesterday is completely different today. This is because I had a few conversations today about this topic and feel like I should have given a little more effort to the post, so here goes the second try:

I've been a fan of Kanye since before I even knew who he was. When Jay-Z's Blueprint album came out, it had a new sound to it that rung in my earbuds. Tracks like "Heart of the City" and "Take Over" were a great throwback to when samples in hip-hop were all that was basically done. I didn't know who the producer of those tracks was, but I knew he knew what he was doing. In the years before this album hip-hop had gone the way of funk synthesizers and digital music thanks to people like the good Dr. Dre.

A few years later I heard Kanye's first single "Through the Wire" for his (then) upcoming debut album The College Dropout. From then on I was a huge Kanye fan. I rocked The College Dropout for almost six months straight (there was other thing I also listened to, but was always drawn back into that album). 

I followed him and greatly anticipated all of his releases, from his major ones, Late Registration and  Graduation, to his mixtapes like Get Well Soon...

Through these albums Kanye was always evolving while also keeping things very Kanye-ish. On Late Registration he moved from soul samples to more jazz influenced ones, and then to electronic samples on Graduation.

However, his latest album, is completely different from anything he has previously done.

The first single "Love Lockdown" came out a few months ago and had me completely baffled. This was track with Kanye singing, not rapping, through the biggest trend in urban music today, the vocoder. As well, Kanye was accompanied musically by basic piano and tribal sounding drums. This was a very different path from all of his previous endeavors.

Still, being a Kanye fan, I went out this weekend and picked up the new album 808s and Heartbreak.

I gave the album it's first listening  to while I was doing some school work, and kept thinking "what the hell is this?" The new album is almost all singing, no rapping, and all the music was made from a Rolland TR-808 drum machine. Not at all what I was expecting.

I consider myself to be a real music fan, so I know that sometimes it takes two or three listenings before an album sinks in. So on my way to a friends house later that same night, I popped 808s and Heartbreak onto my iPod and went on my way.

This second listening session on public transit allowed me to pay a bit more attention to the album. It was this second album I was able to feel what Kanye was going for.

He's said while talking about the new album that this was an experimental album for himself. Something for him to breach out of just the hip-hop genre. Some of the experiment worked and others didn't.

On my second listening I was able to pay more attention to the music than the first time. The music on the album is very minimal and digitally sounding, but don't be fooled. It's this minimalist sound that brings out the genius in it. The music is so simple that when you pay close attention to it, it becomes a complex symphony. I know that sounds weird, but you're going to have to take my word for it. Once I heard the symphony come out I haven't been able to put the record down.

That was the working part of the experiment. The failure part comes from Kanye's vocals. I've always admired that Kanye has a quick wit in most of his rhymes, but none of that is present on this album. He sings, a lot, about heartbreak on this album, and the singing just doesn't work. There are a few amazing hooks on some of the tracks, but the verses just didn't do it for me.

Overall I still have to say I love this album. The music from the 808s and the hooks for tracks greatly out power the weakness for most of the verses on the album.

My recommendation: Get this album. Listen to it. Hate it. Wait a while. Listen to it again. Love it.