North Coast Music Festival returned to Union Park with a few tweaks to usher in its seventh year. After last year's lineup, which generally skewed to an older crowd drawn to legacy acts and less electronic dance music, the annual Labor Day weekend event mined its roots.
Like its earlier years, organizers booked a more even spread of EDM, hip-hop, and indie and jam bands, including weekend headliners Odesza, Grouplove, Logic, Bassnectar, Zedd and Umphrey's McGee. North Coast drew an estimated 18,500 people Friday, the first day of the three-day festival.
Chicago's music festival landscape has grown exponentially since North Coast's inception and the proliferation of festivals has seemed a contributing factor to less crowded grounds for some, such as the EDM-heavy Spring Awakening and Pitchfork. However on Friday, North Coast festival co-founder Michael Berg said this year's event was on track to surpass last year's attendance. An estimated 54,500 fans were expected over the weekend. The fest also eliminated one stage, which alleviated the sound bleed that has plagued previous years.
The decision to add back more EDM may seem ill-timed when interest seems to be waning. Perry Farrell recently told the Chicago Tribune he was not a fan of the newer EDM that spawned his own stage at Lollapalooza. While Berg agrees that there's good and bad in the genre, he contends some EDM has evolved in a way that renews interest. "The live (instrumentation) side of it is the cooler, hipper side of it at this point. It's not just button pushing, which is what a lot of people negate the art form for." That was evident Friday, with most of the electronic acts adding live instrumentation to the mix, which gave fans more visuals and musical layers to dance to. Live horns, a guitarist and multiple appearances by the Chicago Bulls Drumline, which grooved while delivering beats, buoyed headliner Odezsa's cinematic soundscapes. Galantis, consisting of Miike Snow's Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow, jumped on and off its rig wielding drumsticks, augmenting their song's rhythms. Australian duo Hermitude's set included a keytar.
Bands spanned a range of styles, from Chicago artist Jamila Wood's soulful, poetic sway earlier in the day to Grouplove's giddy and quirky closing set, which included "Tongue Tied."
The penultimate acts of the night were also the most disparate and indicative of the fest's eclectic vibe. Sleigh Bells upped the ante (and the volume) on the day's beats with its visceral, chest rattling noise-pop that reverberated through to the back of the audience. The duo, joined by a touring guitarist, provided a welcome cacophony of thunderous beats and metallic riffs juxtaposed against Alexis Krauss' melodic vocals. A riveting juggernaut, Krauss thrashed, twirled and headbanged her way through the set, which included "A/B Machines," "Demons" and "Infinity Guitars." She delivered the most commanding, empowered performance of the night. On the other side of the park, Juicy J's set felt composed in comparison. Still, the veteran rapper had the crowd grooving and singing along to his hits, such as "Low" and "Bounce It."
Althea LegaspiChicago Tribune
Althea Legaspi is a freelance critic.
HKid Cudi is trying to start a culture war. But does the lonely stoner have enough ammo to dethrone the two most famous rappers in the world?
Cudder let off a string of tweets Wednesday calling out his former mentor and collaborator Kanye West, as well as his longtime peer and former pal Drake, for betraying Hip Hop’s most sacred tenant: Keep it real.
According to Cudi’s standard of authenticity, Yeezy and Drizzy have violated a number of creative codes, the biggest being taking credit for other artists’ work. In the eyes of Cudi and many other Hip Hop purists, last summer’s revelation that Drake enlists unknown writers to help pen his bars disqualifies him from any discussions among the all-time great MCs. Kanye has also been taken to task at many points in his career for tapping skilled lyricists like Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco, Cyhi The Prince and Consequence to help write some of his biggest tracks.
The practice of performing someone else’s lyrics is common in most other genres of music. Throughout Hip Hop’s nearly 40-year history, ghostwriting and co-writing have produced seminal records including “Rapper’s Delight,” “The Chronic” and West’s 2010 masterpiece “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” But even though Drake and Kanye usually credit their collaborators in their liner notes (making the term “ghostwriter” inaccurate), it still rubs many fans and artists — including Cudi — the wrong way to hear Kanye or Drake boast about being the best when we don’t even know if they authored their bars themselves.
But Cudi’s beef is deeper than ghostwriting.
When Meek Mills’ Twitter fingers exposed Drake last summer, most fans agreed that Drake and Kanye were more pop stars than MCs anyway. They are competing with Beyoncé, Rihanna and Taylor Swift more than Jay Z and Nas, so to hold them to the standard of the last generations’ greats was pointless. Plus, it’s not like theycouldn’t write on their own. They were just pooling their resources to write the best songs possible; It’s the same creative process that made Motown and Bad Boy bonafide hit factories in their heydays.
But Cudi’s tweetstorm isn’t just about music. It’s about every dimension of the culture, which he believes he represents truer than anyone else, and which he feels Kanye and Drake have slyly co-opted to remain relevant.
What Cudi really wants is his just due for pioneering the skinny-jeans-clad emo-rap that was once considered “weird,” but is now the flavor-of-the-day. But history rarely remembers the truest trailblazers, and as his relevance wanes, Cudi seems to be plotting a coup that will reclaim the credit he feels he’s owed for his years of influence.
Four days before he tweeted that “the days of the fuckery are over,” Cudi posted a screenshot of a book he was reading. The page he shared was titled “When Collaboration Kills Creativity,” and in retrospect appears to be a subliminal shot at the collaborative approach to production that Kanye and Drake have ridden to the top of the charts.
But if Wednesday’s ambush wasn’t spur of the moment, it means Cudi has been harboring these feelings for some time now. They may even date back to February when he and Kanye celebrated the release of “The Life Of Pablo” together at Madison Square Garden.
So is Cudi really at war with the “groupthink’ model of production that thrives in most creative fields? Or is he just bitter that he’s no longer as relevant or influential as the two artists he so obviously impacted? Many consider “808’s & Heartbreak” to be the project that created a lane for Drake’s Hip-Pop hybrid sound. And it’s no coincidence that Cudi was Kanye’s primary collaborator and muse during the making of 808’s. So what is Cudi really made about? Kanye says it’s Drake. Drake says it’s the weed.
Drake clearly didn’t care enough about Cudi’s shot to pay a writer to pen a better response than “you need to Cudi-it,” but Kanye was clearly hurt by Cudi’s words and struck back while performing in Tampa, Florida.
"Kid Cudi, don’t don’t ever mention ‘Ye name… I birthed you.” – Kanye West"
Ye’s rebuttal continued, “We all dealing with that emo shit all the time. Don’t ever mention ‘Ye name. Don’t try to say who I can do songs with… You mad ’cause I’m doing songs with Drake. Ain’t nobody telling ‘Ye who to do songs with. Respect the God!”
Just as Cudi is justified in feeling bitter, Kanye has every right to feel disrespected. Long before Cudi squeezed into his first pair of skinny jeans, Kanye was challenging the boundaries of Hip Hop and Pop’s old guard with his musical, political and fashion choices.
Ye’s also never hidden the fact that he leans heavily on both his mentors and his signees in the studio. His groupthink approach has brought fans over ten years of classic material and helped launch the careers of countless artists, from Big Sean, to Travis Scott, to Desiigner. And you can’t say Kanye didn’t earn the right, either. He spent years ghost-producing and lacing established artists with his best ideas in hopes of getting his own shot on the mic.
"So when an ex-G.O.O.D. Music soldier fires back at his captain, is it really about protecting the culture? Or is he simply tired of not getting enough credit for himself?"
As Hip Hop matures, some of its most sacred rules have become antiquated. Selling out was once a no-no, but Jay Z has re-written the rules to make leveraging corporate partnerships en vogue. And between Young Thug’s dresses and Drake’s suburban upbringing, this looks nothing like the culture that sprung from park jams in the South Bronx. But that’s because cultures, like the people who compose them, evolve. While Cudi appears justified in defending such a cardinal law of Hip Hop, he’s breaking a golden rule to do so: Respect the architects.
Cudi, Kanye is your OG. You must respect him as such. You participated in his writing camps and benefited from his co-sign for all these years, so it’s a little late to get creatively righteousness. Hip Hop needs anarchists and originators, but not everyone can be “The Chosen One.” It’s not about the credit, it’s about the culture. And no one man can claim to embody the many dimensions of Hip Hop by himself. Even if we expect him to write his rhymes on his own.
DRAKE , KANYE WEST , KID CUDI
Sean Paul review – Don of Dancehall gets busy delivering at the Electric Ballroom, London The sparky showboater’s glory days may be some way behind him,
but his rueful rhythms haven’t just aged well over the years – they carry added weight‘Fully committed to turning the audience into a perspiring heap of sportswear’ … Sean Paul at Electric Ballroom. Photograph: Brigitte Engl/Redferns
“People would pay hundreds of pounds to be here. They’d give their heart to be here!” asserts radio presenter Ras Kwame, whose job it is to ensure that enthusiasm blazes away at a level just below outright hysteria. Technically, tonight’s event, titled Island Life Presents, is a showcase for a handful of acts affiliated with Island Records, but few are here to see sweet-voiced London trio WSTRN or sunny reggae newcomer Kiko Bun. It’s the prospect of a one-off appearance by Sean Paul that’s brought fans out in their sweaty multitudes on the hottest September night in decades.
Paul’s mid-noughties purple patch, when he near-singlehandedly took Jamaican dancehall into the mainstream, is well behind him (and to add insult, he’s recently been treated to the sound of Justin Bieber and Major Lazer using dancehall as “inspiration”). Lately, he’s transitioned into a more appealing Pitbull, hired to deliver the bouncy coup de grace to other artists’ hit singles. But Paul’s confidence in himself as a headline act hasn’t waned. His peppery contribution to the Sia track Cheap Thrills helped to launch it into the sales stratosphere, but tonight he slips it in with zero fanfare, zipping through it so he can return to the more pressing business of playing his own songs. It’s the same with Tory Lanez’s hit Luv: a priapic-by-numbers read-through, then back to Paul’s own considerable hits catalogue.
Half-chant, half-croon, his lilting flow is irresistible. Complemented by the melancholy minor chords that make his biggest tracks – We Be Burning, Get Busy– sound like queasy laments, he directs every word at the front row, who sing them back at him. An athletic figure who looks half his 43 years, he’s fully committed to turning the audience into a perspiring heap of sportswear: “Ladies in the house, you have a dangerous kind of love for me,” he says, before rapper Fuse ODG bounds on stage and the two deftly trade verses on Dangerous Love.
A thread of sexual yearning grumbles through every song, poked and prodded by Paul, who is never so focused as when a girl appears – one lady leaps on stage and dances with him during the easygoing I’m Still in Love With You, the show’s only nod to the reggae of his youth.
It’s crowded up there: a pair of mostly naked dancers twirl alongside a DJ, whose console is decorated with a Jamaican flag; MC Fahrenheit parades around, arms aloft; and guests appear for a number or two, then leave. At times, the show is directionlessness; but thankfully Paul’s hit songs make this a minor complaint. His dancehall rhythms haven’t aged – if anything, their lamentful quality makes them a good fit for this strange, troubled year, and the genre’s renewed popularity could send him back to the top. “Who’s smoking tonight?” he asks coyly, and smiles regally at the ensuing cheer.
Exclusive Broadcast of No Limit DX9 vs Usher
Usher is one of R&B's most dependable figures, dutifully delivering radio-ready smoothness and pounding club anthems and pulling off his dance moves with a smile.
DX9 is a Multi-Genre Remixologist who always wanted to work with legendary vocalist, firstly as a songwriter but now as a Remixer / Producer. Now he dropz the White Label Promo Video and Song Remix of Usher's No Limit.
"My fav toon from Usher is "You Remind Me" when I first heard it I knew then this guy was special" (DX9)
No Limit proves Usher's been listening closely to the radio the past few months, ditching his vibrato'd R&B vocals and delivering his best sung-rap Drake impression before dipping into Ty Dolla $ign-soundalike vocal effects on the chorus.
DX9 told me, I just "Stumbled" upon Usher's vocals, as producers do, LOL, when I played it back I immediately went into the lab and made a beat to the vibe I was getting. Now this might sound strange but I had never heard the original complete song before. After I finished the Remix, I went on Youtube and had a listen. I am sooo happy of the outcome. The beat and vibe is totally different from the original. The video inspired me to Remix the Video as well, and the rest, as they say, is becoming History.
(parts are quotes taken from Maeve McDermott, USATODAY)
It’s not just music that owes a debt to Prince Buster, it’s all of popular culture, says the founder of the Specials"Jerry Dammers" It seems that we have very sadly lost yet another from a time when musical giants walked the earth. Possibly because he was part of a postwar, post-colonial social revolution, Prince Buster seems like some sort of ghetto supe- pioneer: a boxer, soundsystem operator, DJ, producer, live performer, humourist , social and political commentator, owner of a record shop-label-and-jukebox empire, sharp dresser and all round coolest guy in Kingston, and therefore Jamaica, (and therefore quite possibly the world at the time).
All his activities complemented and were complemented by the main event, which was his completely unique and inimitable voice, delivery and lyrics. He pronounced himself Prince, the Voice of the People, and made sure he lived up to his claims by being the best. Just as he apparently made sure he would win every boxing match, he made damn sure he only used the cream of Jamaican musicians, on the hottest and hardest rhythms for his backing tracks and productions.
When the time eventually came that he could no longer achieve that, I admire the fact that he largely quit the studio: nothing less than the best was ever going to be good enough for Prince Buster, and that ensured that his incredible output remains undiluted and in tact to this day. He continued with the occasional live appearance, some of which I saw and which were always of the highest possible standard.
I was lucky enough to travel with him to one gig and he really exuded the true meaning of cool ( a word which has become greatly abused now). It didn’t matter what craziness, idiots, moaning or whatever went on around him (as inevitably happens with a legend like him on the road): he remained so completely unphased and calm – courteous but saying not a single word more than was necessary to anyone. It was funny to watch.
Prince Buster really was nobody’s fool and had a brilliant sense of humour. That ghetto humour was at the heart of a lot of his lyrics and a huge part of his popularity in Jamaica. It could be brutal, as could the ghetto morality that went hand in hand with it in his lyrics. One example which I like is his intro to Rude Rude Rudee, a version of the Cuban tune Perhaps, where he more or less issues an order: “You say you are a rude boy … but you live in a glass house … so don’t throw stone!!!”
On the stage when THAT voice was given free rein, it remained completely unspoiled – like his legacy – and came out exactly the same as ever. It really was the cliché of hairs on the back of the neck. He had always mixed singing and speaking so seamlessly and tunefully that at times it is almost impossible to say which of those two things he is doing. You would be very hard pressed to find anyone who has ever mixed those two things together better.
I don’t suppose Prince Buster ever made an enormous amount of money himself , but I truly believe he turned out to be among the most influential figures in late 20th century music worldwide. Myself and all the Two Tone bands owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. None of us would have had the career in music we have had if it hadn’t been for Prince Buster and his fellow Jamaican musicians.He was the first real ambassador of Jamaican music worldwide, he was a voice of the third world – luckily for us, speaking in English, and that made him accessible to anyone in the rest of the world who spoke English and was willing to listen. At first he was picked up in this country largely by working-class kids who could probably relate to the subject matter. Initially ska and reggae was mainly ignored or ridiculed by the mainstream and rock critics – maybe that was partly because Prince Buster was at the forefront of Jamaican lyricists, blatantly and unashamedly covering subject matter that was more or less unheard of in either Europe or America. From ghetto violence and crime, to sex (in detail), from black power and black pride, to commenting on social injustice and poverty, from advocating freedom from colonialism and solidarity with Africa, to other important matters like ridiculing his musical rivals or consigning them to the boneyard, or describing the music on his own record itself and how good that was – nothing was off limits. In that way lyrically he influenced hip-hop and a lot that was to follow the world over.
Buster and some of his Jamaican peers were liberating the sort of real language and subject matter years before it would eventually become commonplace not just in music, but in mainstream TV drama and comedy. Stylistically , the very idea of reciting over an instrumental backing track, which Buster was a pioneer of, became the basis of hip-hop years later when the Jamaican DJ Cool Herc introduced it to the Bronx. From hip-hop to grime to dancehall to reggae,there can be very little which hasn’t been influenced to some extent by Prince Buster and his combination of singing and talking over rhythms.
Buster was really the first king of Jamaican music and started an international process which, with the help of its second king, made reggae probably the most popular music in the world, only to be eventually surpassed in popularity by hip-hop, a form which it had itself helped create.
In the words of Madness: “Bring back the … we want the … bring back the Prince”.
This is an edited version of a tribute to Prince Buster issued by Jerry Dammers on 9 September.
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