Let’s consider for a moment what Lil Wayne apparently thinks rock music is.
A few years ago he contributed a guest verse to “Let It Rock,” the debut single from producer-turned-singer Kevin Rudolf. “Let It Rock” isn’t really a “traditional” rock song in any sense; it’s more of a typical club banger that happens to feature power chords. The song itself is okay, but I really bring it up because it seems like the seeds of Weezy’s ill-fated attempts at crossing over were planted within that track. Ever since that song came out, he’s been trying to add rock elements to his usual rap and AutoTune pop and… well, let’s just say it hasn’t really worked out.
In January of 2010 Lil Wayne unleashed Rebirth to a world that had been dreading its arrival since the day it was announced. The album had been delayed so often that by the time it finally came out its lead single “Prom Queen,” which is already a strong contender for worst song of the decade, was all but a distant memory. The critics, of course, completely eviscerated it – and rightfully so; Rebirth was a total disaster.
Rebirth was a rock album made by someone who had no clue how to make rock music – hell, he could barely even play two notes on the guitar – but tried anyway because nobody was going to tell him, “Dude, this is a really bad idea.” It was filled with extremely overproduced guitars, cheesy solos, and quite possibly the worst singing I’ve ever heard from a major-label artist. This is probably an unfair distinction to give it – Lil Wayne was, after all, a rapper using excessive amounts of AutoTune, but it was his idea to let us hear him warbling like a whiny robot and so he must pay the penalty.
There are a lot of cities in America that can closely identify with a specific genre of music. Chicago was where Delta bluesmen began forming bands and plugging in their guitars. Los Angeles had glam rock in the ‘80s and gangsta rap in the ‘90s. Detroit? Motown, baby! Seattle has grunge, Nashville’s got country, Philly’s got soul, and Atlanta’s got “dirty South” hip-hop. New Orleans? They’ve got jazz – or at least they did until the franchise packed up and moved to Utah (*rimshot*). Memphis was one of the birthplaces of rock and roll. DC has a famous punk scene, and Baltimore’s indie rock is only an hour’s drive on I-95 away. And New York… well, they’ve got pretty much everything.
This year has seen the rise of another city that hopes to become a new mecca for hip-hop. That would be the Steel City itself, Pittsburgh, PA. It’s home to six Lombardi Trophies, three rivers, and two colors that all their sports teams wear: black and yell—well, gold, actually. Which of course brings us to Wiz Khalifa, the Pittsburgh rapper whose breakout single “Black And Yellow” has been practically inescapable in 2011. The Steelers adopted the song as their team anthem during their run to Super Bowl XLV this year.
And the rest of America has been remixing it like crazy ever since. Lil Wayne turned it into “Green And Yellow” in honor of the Green Bay Packers. Snoop Dogg did a Lakers version called “Purp And Yellow.” Even Tom Hanks’ son did “White And Purple” for Northwestern University (I swear to God that is NOT a joke). Basically, if your favorite team wears colors, somebody has taken Wiz Khalifa’s song and painted over it with those colors. Brace yourselves, Flyer fans – soon I’ll be set to unleash “Black And Orange” on all y’all. (Oh wait, San Francisco Giants fans beat me to it. DAMN YOU ALL!)
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Now That’s What I Call Music series of compilation CDs that come out with a new edition every few months or so. The series began in the United States around ten years ago, which was a good 15 years after the franchise as a whole was founded in the UK back in 1983. The US version of the Now series has just reached its 31st installment, which was released last week and is currently at #14 on the iTunes Top Albums chart.
The Now series, of course, collects all of the most ubiquitous Top 40 radio hits from the last few months and puts them all on one disc for your convenience. I can understand why people might have snapped these up back in the days of the Internet’s infancy, before iTunes and Amazon and torrents and file-sharing became household words. The artists featured on these CDs tend to make albums that only have a couple decent songs surrounded by forgettable filler, so why not grab a CD that only gives you the song you actually want to hear?
The answer comes after the jump.
(originally aired on Dec. 5, 2008 show)
I have a real knack for coming up with really really long titles for these lists, don’t I? And there are more long list titles where that came from, trust me.
Anyway, this top 5 is a list of the songs that basically secured my status as a fan of these bands. In other words, if I had ever been on the fence about these bands, these are the songs that got me off that fence. For some, I had already liked a few songs but hadn’t felt the urge to add some albums to my collection until I heard a song on this list. With others, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the band at all and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. And in a rare case or two, I found my previous opinion of the band being completely shattered. These were the songs that sealed the deal, the songs that made me want to check out some albums by the artists on this list. And in each case, I’m so very glad I did.
AN OPEN LETTER TO ANY BAND WHO SPAMS (OR WOULD LIKE TO SPAM) ITUNES TO PROMOTE THEMSELVES:
Please stop doing that. And if you haven’t done it, don’t.