Archive | February, 2013

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP

24 Feb

Only once in a while do we come across greatness, whether it is in the form of movies, art, literature or music. Greatness which doesn’t present itself to us in the form of a fluke, but sheer talent. Greatness which can be spoken about, even a hundred years after the particular event/form of art has been created. I’m going to talk about one such masterpiece that I was lucky enough to observe at its inception.

This particular art is none other than Eminem’s 2nd major label album- The Marshall Mathers LP. The album is one of the most aggressive and important music albums to release during a time when the frustrated, directionless and angry youth was trying desperately to find someone they could relate themselves to. A time when hypocrites and fakes were rampant in the music industry. This time was during the late 90’s & the year 2000.

Just when people got used to calling Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys as the greatest artists of all time, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem aka Slim Shady stepped onto the scene.

Eminem changed the face of hip-hop & rap, particularly with his album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which came out on May 23, 2000. This album, apart from being extremely controversial, it eventually sold 10,598,000 copies, becoming one of the most commercially successful rap albums of all time. It has been ranked as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time by Rolling Stone, Time, and XXL. It is also one of the only albums to be acclaimed by critics, as well as the mainstream-pop loving- audience. It influenced us all.

Every song on the album was a classic; even the skits were worth listening to. The album starts off with the satirical “Public Service Announcement 2000” where Eminem reminds us in under a minute that he doesn’t mind being sued over what he raps about. It smoothly merges into one of the most shocking diss songs – “Kill You”. Eminem aggressively takes shots at his ex-wife, Kim, the mainstream radio shows and yes, his own mother.

The next song on the album is the famous “Stan”, where Em talks about obsession from a deranged fan’s point of view. It is a brilliant song- right from Eminem’s solid storyline verses, to Dido’s haunting hook. After this song, we have a skit called “Paul”, where Eminem’s attorney, Paul Rosenberg seems dejected after listening to this album.

The next song is “Who Knew”. This is an extremely raw song, which reminds me of the songs on the Slim Shady LP, Eminem’s first mainstream album. Eminem is at his most honest and straightforward self in this song, where he questions parent’s upbringing of their children. For instance, pay close attention to the lines- “Told them that my tape taught them, to swear/ What about the makeup you allow your 12 year old daughter to wear?”

The end of this song marks the beginning of a skit called “Steve Berman”, where Steve gives Eminem a piece of his mind because he hates the album’s themes and he compares his album to Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 explaining why the latter was so successful. Next on the list is “The Way I Am” where Eminem reminds the world why he doesn’t give a f*** and warns us to leave him alone in peace. This is followed by “The Real Slim Shady” where Em tells us how despite millions of people imitating him, there will be only one Eminem.

The next song is “Remember Me” featuring RBX and Sticky Fingaz. All 3 rappers produce solid verses which soothe as much as they sting. This song has one of the best Dr. Dre beats in it. After this, “I’m Back” commences, which is one of the most aggressive songs Eminem has done, even without his trademark screaming. He reminds us that he is back with a vengeance and is here to stay. This sparks the next song which is “Marshall Mathers” where Em tells us that he’s just a normal human being like the rest of us, and how his fame & fortune paved way for even the most hostile people to embrace him.

Now, the next song is a skit called “Ken Kaniff”. I’d rather not give a description of what exactly happens in the skit, but it’s basically where Em makes fun of Shaggy 2 Dope & Violent Jay, two other artists who Em had a beef going on with for many years even after the album was out. The next song is “Drug Ballad”, where Em talks about the ill effects of drugs, in his own twisted, satirical way.

This is followed by “Amityville” which features ex-D-12 member, Bizarre. Eminem raps about how he’ll kill you if he’s pushed too far, especially in Detroit. Bizarre gives us one of the craziest verses in rap history. You better hear it to believe it. The next song is “Bitch Please” which has a star studded guest feature- Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Xzibit. All the artists show off their rapping skills, where as usual, Eminem outshines the rest.

The next song is the brutal “Kim” where Eminem kills his wife after catching her cheating with him. After this, Eminem gives us another hard hitting, vulgar song “Under The Influence” which features his group D-12, of which he’s a part.

The final song is “Criminal”, which, personally is one of my all time favourite Eminem songs. He is crazy, funny, brutal and serious at the same time. The song also includes a funny skit where he and Dr. Dre pull off a bank heist without getting caught.

So there you have it. I actually reviewed the entire album tracklist in the correct order without even looking at the album back-cover. Yes, such fans do exist, and there is a REASON why such fans exist. I hope whoever reads this gives this album a listen. Especially those who think rap & hip-hop is comprised of only people like Nicki Minaj, Soulja Boy etc.

– Faisal

The Strokes: “All the Time”

22 Feb

All the Time

In 2011, an impeccable ensemble of talented musicians contributed to a Strokes tribute album, entitled Stroked, to commemorate the ten year anniversary of Is This It?. Also in 2011, the Strokes released their fourth studio album. Wrap your head around that for a second: the Strokes elicited this voluntary, collective homage despite being a band that is young enough to add fresh material to its own discography. There are very few bands as iconic, as beloved, and as representative of a time and place in music history – while being fully functional – as the Strokes are. So how do you react when a vintage-yet-active band releases new music? Well, it depends on what kind of Strokes fan you are.

Type 1: The Uber Fan

Cooler than you'll ever be.

Cooler than you’ll ever be.

In 2001, the Strokes released an album that changed the face of music. Is This It? was and continues to be a flawless record, pushing thousands of kids into their garages to create bands that would never be as cool as Julian and the boys. But in a way, the very kids that played the Strokes’ debut all day every day made it rather difficult for the Strokes to move on as a band. Any deviation from ‘the quintessential Strokes sound’ was denounced; any song with more effort than ‘effortless’ was deplored.  Synths? Forget about it. (I’m looking at you, Angles.) “All the Time” is definitely no “Hard to Explain”, “Reptilia” or even “You Only Live Once”, but it has that undeniable, wholly inimitable Strokes vibe that’s sure to satisfy the most ardent of fans. In fact, it almost sounds like it could be wedged right into Is This It?, and that’s always a good thing.

Type 2: The Casual Fan

The Strokes perform on Ellen

If you didn’t spend the better part of your musically formative years analyzing every trough and peak of the Strokes’ debut, then you are going to like this song. Why? Because even if you’ve only heard a few of their songs, even on a bad day, even on a weak track, the Strokes are effortlessly cooler than anything you’re going to hear all day. On “All the Time” , the uber fan might think that the outro is too long, or that Julian’s voice isn’t crisp enough, or that the guitar solo lacks the sheen of the old days. All you’re going to notice, though, is how great this song is. Enjoy!

Type 3: The Non-Fan

Watch the following videos, and please let us know if you don’t convert to Type 2 or even Type 1.

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… we could go on.

Five long years passed between their third and fourth albums; just over two years will transpire between the fourth and the fifth. “All the time that I need is never quite enough/ All the time that I have is all that’s necessary,” sings Julian on “All the Time”, and we couldn’t be happier about that. Long story short, drop whatever you’re doing and listen, because the Strokes have released a new track. “All the Time” is the first single from the Strokes’ fifth studio album Comedown Machine, releasing on March 26th, 2013. You can listen to the song (with lyrics!) here.

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