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Bound to a Tainted Public Perception

YeThe one thing Kanye wouldn’t say — Jay Z doesn’t deserve nine Grammy nominations.

It’s clearly evident that many people these days don’t like Kanye West. But for all the things people proclaim they hate West for, most of the time it has little to do with his music. So when the Grammy nominations were released on Friday and voters gave West only two nominations in token categories (Best Rap Song for “New Slaves” and Best Rap Album for “Yeezus”) it came as a surprise, but not a shock. Couple that with the announcement that Jay Z received nine nominations, it’s clear that Grammy voters don’t focus solely on music, at least when it comes to hip hop artists.

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Bangerz: A Defining Moment

miley-flowers

Image Credit: Tyrone Lebon

Very rarely do we get an album that will make or break the career of an artist who is already a worldwide superstar. And yet, this is where we find ourselves with Miley Cyrus’ latest album Bangerz. Right in the middle of the musical climax of 2013, one of the best years of music in recent memory, with releases from Drake, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Cher, Lorde, and Kings of Leon — all in the last two weeks — the reception of Bangerz will plot the course for the future of Miley’s career.

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Notions: Hip Hop’s Best Chance For The Grammy For Album of The Year Is Right Now

Left to right: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Yeezus, Nothing Was The Same

Left to right: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Yeezus, Nothing Was The Same

Notions is a weekly column that delves into what did, what should, what could, or what needs to happen in the world of technology and pop culture.

Over the last twenty years and 100 nominations, 12 hip-hop albums from six artists have been nominated for the Grammy for Album of The Year. The only winner was Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004 (Lauryn Hill won in 1999 with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but the album was more R&B than hip-hop). Whatever the reason for the serious lack of hip-hop representation, the 2014 Grammy Awards will be markedly different, with three hip-hop albums from three artists that should undoubtedly expect nominations for Album of The Year. Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, which was released in October 2012, after the cutoff for the 2013 Grammys, Kanye West’s Yeezus, and Drake’s Nothing Was The Same.

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Notions: Nothing Is The Same

NWTS

Notions is a weekly column that delves into what did, what should, what could, or what needs to happen in the world of technology and pop culture.

There are only a handful of hip-hop artists who can dominate the social landscape when their album leaks. There are less that can make Twitter weep. There are only two that have the talent, vision, and respect of their peers to expand an art form that is highly adverse to change. The first dropped an excellent album earlier this year entitled Yeezus; the second only raps part-time.

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The Couple Behind Odd Future’s Unlikely Empire

Kevin Lincoln, Buzzfeed

Raised in the trenches of the major-label ’90s hip-hop apex, the Clancys learned how the old heads thought, and how the old business worked and didn’t. And when they serendipitously encountered a squad of gifted kids, the rawest of raw material, they took their knowledge of the trade and subverted it and became architects of a new system. They’re building careers, not hits, and by already branching out into filmmaking and commercial production and a brand-consulting company before most of these kids are old enough to so much as buy a six-pack, and before some of them have so much as completed proper albums, they’re bending the industry to fit their artists, not the other way around.

Buzzfeed’s Kevin Lincoln profiles Christian and Kelly Clancy — 42 and 33 respectively — the managers of hip hop’s wildest and most innovative group, Odd Future, which includes R&B superstar Frank Ocean.

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The Tainted Holy Grail

Magna Carta Holy Grail Exhibit1

When an iconic musician like a Jay-Z releases a record in this day and age, there are two assurances; the album will be feverishly discussed, criticized, and picked over, and it will leak. Back in 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West changed the rules of the game when their collaborative album Watch The Throne was released on iTunes a week ahead of its physical release to brick and mortar outlets, becoming one of the first major acts to avoid the previously inevitable leak altogether. Building upon that success, Jay-Z decided to change the rules once again, striking a deal with Samsung, which was both concurrently astounding (for Jay-Z) and mind-blowingly inept (for Samsung).

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You Listen to This Man Every Day

Andrew Romano, Newsweek

Rick Rubin got Black Sabbath to return to its roots. He crashed Kanye’s new album In 15 days. From Def Jam to Adele, the hit-maker gets intimate about his last 30 years—and how he’s about to make history.

He may be the preeminent musical genius of the last two generations. If you have listened to music in that time span, you have enjoyed the work of Rick Rubin. The eclectic mastermind behind some of the most influential songs since Reagan was in office, takes us through the process of  producing some of the greatest albums over the last quarter century.

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The Significance of Yeezus

Yeezus

For the last few days, I’ve had the privilege of digesting Yeezus, the newest project from Kanye West. After running through the album numerous times, there are three things that are very clear about what Yeezus is and will mean to music.

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