Continuing to look back at some of my favourite albums released earlier this year, this time I’ll take a look at the month of February. A month where everything seemed normal, it was the calm before the storm, as the full impact of COVID-19 lurked around the corner. Donald Trump was being impeached, Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars, Storm Denis hit the UK, and the world was still in self-destruct mode. But alas, there was new music. This month saw the return of The Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, Tame Impala coming back after five years, and a blisttering second album from Liverpudlian band Loathe, not to mention new albums from The Amity Affliction, Grimes, Green Day, and King Krule, just to name a few.
Last night, Fever 333 performed a live demonstration to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with all proceeds of the livestream going towards the Black Lives Matter and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Further to the performance, the band shared the below message:
Like many, I’ve been following the news of the shocking and appaling murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by police in Minneapolis, USA. The consequential outrage of his killing has not only sparked protests there, but spread to other cities in the United States too and across the world, with demostrations in Auckland, Berlin, London, and more. George Floyd’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, is one of many examples of police brutality and racism towards the black community in America. As things began to boil up over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breanna Taylor in Louisevill, and the consequent investigation (or the lack of), things have now boiled over to the point where enough is enough, and things need to change. The worldwide response shows that this sort of racist behaviour isn’t just succluded to America, the insututional day-to-day injustices and the things we don’t see, are happening all over.
The current situation with COVID-19 has left the world in lockdown, with venues closed and tours cancelled or postponed, a lot of artists have been forced to find new and innovative ways to stay connected wth their fans, such as live streaming performances from their home, going back through the archives and releasing footage of previous shows, or hosting Q&A’s and listening parties. Like many, I’ve had the extra time on my hands to watch a lot of these performances, and found it interesting to see the various ways in which bands and artists are approaching these difficult times.
It was August 3rd, 1995. The second annual Source Awards was taking place, at the Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater in New York. The events that night would change the course of hip-hop forever. At the time, Tupac had been shot and was sequestered in jail, with a bitter rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast reaching a boiling point. This boiled over at the Awards ceremony, with Suge Knight, of Death Row Records (West Coast), taunting his rival Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, of Bad Boy Records (East Coast), onstage. The nature of the attack didn’t go down well, and the night descended into a tit-for-tat between the rival areas, with Snoop Dogg confronting the crowd after getting abuse, and Diddy throwing shots back at Suge by saying, “I live in the East, and I’m gonna die in the East.” The rivalry ballooned into violence and ultimately culminated in the deaths of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G, a year later.
Since 2008, National Public Radio have hosted an online live music series called ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’. Featuring artists from all genres, the show has starred musicians such as Chance The Rapper, Sampha and Cigarettes After Sex, to name a few. The format continues to routinely deliver, allowing artists to perform a few of their favourite tracks in an intimate office enviroment. After watching Jorja Smith‘s mesmerising performance in her latest Tiny Desk Concert, I decided to pick out five of my favourite sets from recent months.
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
Whatever your opinion of Kanye West is, you can’t deny that he has made some great music. The enigmatic figure, love him or hate him, loathe his manipulation of the media and outspoken personality, his relationship with Kim Kardashian, he’s an artist who has consistently released good music, whilst pushing boundaries and often changing perspectives. On ‘Kids See Ghosts’ he is joined by long-term collaborator Kid Cudi, who like Kanye is returning to music after battling depression.
At different times in life music will come along and make an impact on you that words will never do justice. A particular band or a musician may encapture all those feelings, or it might just be a genre or a scene. During my teenage years it was mainly hip hop and grime, mixed with a flavour of pop punk and nu metal, that fueled my inner angst and confusion with the world. Artists such as Kid Cudi and Blink 182 would be interchangeably blasted from my room. It was a weird mixture of styles, summing up my varying music tastes but also the confusing, conflicting and changing times that growing up through your teenage years can be like.