Praise Yeezy!

I first heard kanye-west1Kanye when his song, Jesus Walks, hit the airwaves. His lyrics. Punchlines. And how he delivered his wordplay was just awesome. What this artist represented and how he came out with it was just out of this world. Personally, I felt like Tupac Shakur had risen from the dead (if you believe he actually died, you conspiracy theorists lol). I never got to listen to much of his work on the first album, but a couple of albums later, I think he came up with his greatest work to date. Graduation, this was an album that even today I relate to the songs on a personal basis. Despite the mainstream and commercial success of the album, it still left a mark in my life. It’s still on my top ten favorite albums of all time. I was pretty disappointed when he cancelled his concert back in 2013 here in Minneapolis.

His star has shone brilliantly since his first album but somewhere along the way, he let that stuff get to his head. Somewhere along the way, Kanye West lost his appeal to me as a human being. I felt like he started making tracks for the hell of it. Pulling publicity stunts that ten year olds don’t even think about.

Honestly, from Graduation, he felt like he had established the biggest brand in hip hop music and we had no choice but to go along with it and this wasn’t the case. Despite the fact that his fifth studio album really appealed to the masses and Pitchfork gave it a 10/10 rating which, for that time was really a huge feat and Rolling Stone gave it 5/5 stars, it still didn’t appeal to me on that level. The Kanye West I knew had lost himself somewhere along the way and I wasn’t feeling this new guy. Power was the only track in the album I could relate to from him.

His latest release, Yeezus, tried to pull me back to the guy I first listened to back then. I think the album is great. Black skinhead is by far the best track on that album – LOVE IT.

Anyway, I know artists should be dynamic and adapt to the ever changing market trends and Yeezy, you have to admit, has really adapted to take the industry by storm. And he has grown and diversified the Kanye West brand to fashion. He is one of the most prolific male fashion icons on the planet right now and well, you gotta give him credit for that.

He always has a way of pulling himself out of the ashes; dropping out of college, the serious car accident, the death of his mother.
He inspires and that’s what we all love about YEEZY, he reminded us that your dreams are only a leap of faith away when he dropped out of college to make his music dreams come true. And they did.

This is a great role model to look up to and learn so much from. Despite my criticism for most of his latest works, I have to admit that this guy is a storm of controversy and publicity that’s not gonna end anytime soon.

One Direction

one-directionOk let’s talk about boy bands. Love em or hate em, there’s not doubt that they crank out poppy hits that make metric s-tons of money. So with that out of the way, let’s talk One Direction, a boy band which is currently composed by four members: Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson all of them born in England, and Niall Horan who is from Ireland, plus former member Zayne Malik who announced his departure from the band just last week.

The band was founded in 2010, and all we can say now is that they HAD tons of success: global fame, world tours, dozens of awards but the most important was likely millions of truly rabid fans that would give everything to share a brief moment with their idols, because the boys of One Direction (or 1D, as they’re commonly known among fans) have become more than just musicians, they’re a downright global phenomenon.

We see their faces in all sorts of random crap like balloons, napkins and all kind of objects for a kid’s party; they have their own card album, probably thousands of different posters in music stores all over the damn world, not to mention magazine covers and even some books about them.

The phenomenon is just amazing, it doesn’t matter if they are going to have a concert or just a little presser/signing, the fans get absolutely CRAZY. Obviously, the vast majority of One Direction fans are girls between 10 to 20 years but there are also a lot of younger boys who like this band, probably because they want to be them lol.

Since their first album in 2011 “Up All Night” they found the magical formula for commercial success with songs like “What Makes You Beautiful”. They won the hearts of fans and actually become a hit success even before they launched their first album, when they ended up winning third place on the show “The X Factor” a British televised signing competition. Incidentally, I believe they’re also managed by Simon Cowell, so put another golden goose in his portfolio of money-printing artists for him. Their first real award came in 2012 when they won the Best British Single on the BRIT Awards, and they’ve gone on to win the MTV Video Music Awards, the Kids’ Choice Awards and NME awards.

Today they have four albums, all of them a huge success one after another. Their last album was titled “Four” and was released in 2014, and now they are on a world tour named On the Road Again, which started in February 2015 in Australia and will end in October in England. With a neverending string of sellout every night , their musical style is basically full of teen pop and dance pop music, with a lot of catchy melodies that are tailor made for mainstream popularity.

They’ve basically conquered the world, as today they are without any doubt the biggest pop band on the planet. They seemingly have everything: talent, great media coverage, tons of merchandise sales, and an army of fanatics. The big question is: where do they go now that one of their members has left? Ultimately, they could decide to press on, but who knows if they’ll retain the same level of popularity. If they can continue on and capitalize on their current level of stardom, the sky is the limit.

Personally I don’t really care for One Direction, but I definitely respect the hustle. They’re capitalizing on their star power, and I for one don’t blame them. The fame on these types of groups are usually short-lived (relative to other musicians), so I’m not one to call them sell-outs, fake artists, or whatever.

And if you’re one of those haters, lemme ask you a question: if you were presented with the same opportunity, what would YOU do?

I thought so.

The Unstoppable Taylor Swift

taylor-swiftThis leggy, blonde beauty has been in the game since her teenage years; with over 26 million Instagram followers and 55 million Twitter followers, Swift is most definitely a household name at this point in her career. She has had endless success since the release of her very first album and continues to be one of the world’s most well-recognized celebrities.

Her first album self-entitled Taylor Swift was released when she was just at the ripe age of sixteen back in 2006. This album introduced us to the classic country Taylor songs like “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Picture to Burn.” Along with these hits, “Our Song” was also on the album and happened to make her the youngest person to write and perform a song on the Hot Country Songs Chart. In total, five singles were released from this album, leading her to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best New Artist.

Her next album, Fearless, was released in 2008; the single “Love Story” became the second-best-selling country single of all time. Since this album was clearly another win for T-Swizzle, she ended up becoming the first artist in the genre of country music to win a MTV Music Video Award: Best Female Video in 2009. Though Kanye West attempted to steal her spotlight, it only made her fans love her more than they already did. This incident received much media attention, but overall had a positive effect because the success of the artist never seemed to slack.

Tay-Tay as her fans lovingly refer to her, continued along the road of success, releasing two more albums; one of which was entitled Speak Now and the following entitled Red. Throughout the albums, fans could see the transition the artist was taking from being recognized as a country music artist to a pop star. In total, six singles were released from the album Red: only two for country radio while the other four were pop and international radio. Though this caused a slight uproar and some criticism by fans who loved and respected Swift as a country singer, she still had a favorable outcome and continued to receive nominations for multiple awards.

Just this past October, Swift released her most recent album: 1989. The album was completely of the pop genre, enthusiastic, upbeat and seemed to receive mostly positive criticism. Swift received the title of Billboard’s Woman of the Year for the second time and will receive a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award for her achievements from the Academy of Country Music later this year. I suppose this makes it apparent that even though Taylor Swift shifted her style, she is still accepted all over the music industry simply because of her talents.

In short, consider me a fan. As embarassing as that may seem, there’s not denying the fact that she’s a hit-making MACHINE, and seemingly everything she puts out turns to gold. The other aspect that is often overlooked with her is that she’s a very calculated marketing pro. She knows exactly what she’s doing, esp with social media. There was an article put out a while back (can’t remember where, maybe HuffPo?) that detailed the very methodical nature of her posts. This girl def knows what she’s doing in that regard.

As you can see, her career started strong and seemed to never quit. She has won seven Grammy Awards already and is only twenty-five years of age. Her fan base continually grows because her music seems to touch all types of people; from her sweet country songs to her fun pop releases, it doesn’t matter what genre you consider it, the music is likable and of great quality. The question is not “will Taylor Swift be relevant in the future?” but rather “what will she be up to next?”