/*Google*/ /*Hosting*/ October 2008 | SFCritic Music Blog


She's Got Her Own Thing: Ne-Yo 'Miss Indepent'

If you haven't heard, Ne-Yo wants an "independent" woman. I was driving tonight when Ne-Yo's new hit "Miss Independent," came on the radio. At first the song sounded like just another producer trying to use synthesizers like Timbaland, and some other singer replacing Chris Brown, who replaced Omarian. On second thought, as I listen to the chorus and Ne-Yo exclaims " she got her own thing/thats why i love her /miss independent," I'm starting to think--sensitive love song that embraces female feminist values? No, couldn't be because then you start hearing what Ne-Yo likes:

1. "cause she walk like a boss/talk like a boss/manicured nails to set the pedicure off shes fly effortlessly"

Now Ne-Yo seems kind of shallow. I mean she's independent because she manicure and pedicures--is that a pick line? Okay, so it's becoming clear this is a typical R&B song, but wait:

2. "ooh there's somethin about/ kinda woman that can do for herself/ i look at her and it makes me proud/ theres somethin about her"

Well he's proud about her for something--that much is clear. The problem is it doesn't seem he knows why he's proud of her independence, because he proceeds by singing:

3. "theres somethin oh so sexy about/ kinda woman that dont even need my help/
she said she got it she got it no doubt/ there's something about her"

Damn! He got this boss lady to take on fixing the sink, and she didn't even ask for his help! I mean, am I wrong--couldn't we hear something a little less ambiguous.

Ok, I'll quit there. The thing is at first I was impressed, a male R&B singer calling out his affection for an independent woman is a big step in hip hop and R&B. No really-no joke, women have been fighting for respect in hip hop for ages. So calling out for an independent woman, not just a ho, is a big step in a different direction. It's just unfortunate that the song lacks any content. The word "something" and "thing" are repeated more times than "Miss Independent." Sadly, this song will be gobbled up by hungry teenage girls who think that Ne-Yo will love their independent side. Check out the video below--no doubt the "Miss Indepedent" dancers strip out of their work outfits.

Breakfast at Sulimays: Common Raps Common

Live Show Review of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

There are No Boundaries for Alice Russel, Live Review


Yo Gabba Gabba

Believe it or not--that's the name of a kids TV show on Nick Jr. The show has positive messages for kids but is engaging for mature audiences with absurd over exaggerations. Here is the intro to the show:

YO GAbba GAbba! Remember, this is a kids show. But like Sesame Street that SFCritic grew up on, Yo Gabba Gabba has popular musicians perform on the show. If you hadn't noticed in the introduction clip, Biz Markie stars on Yo Gabba Gabba, and has his own sequence
called "The Beat of the Day."

I feel actually kind of bad for Biz Markie. He looks ridiculous. Sure, he's probably making bank, but really? Just a note--this might explain why some skeptics say hip hop has been sold out.

For further enjoyment take a look at Feist performing on Sesame Street. Amazing. I mean her music of course.


Music and the Moment

The right song can make any moment perfect. This notion is so accepted that it's cliche to point out that Marvin Gaye is great music for moments of romance. If you've ever been to a professional sporting event in the US, it's likely you've heard in some form Queen's song, "We Will Rock You." At some point, society seems to accept the usage of songs with certain activities.

Unfortunately, music is critiqued in this regard in a very limited manner. All music is reviewed in some context as either danceable or listening music. An album might be referred to as good "car music" or great "club music." This post is about music that can be heard for other uses, particularly, fighting.

I recently got in an argument with someone, which in turn lead me to want to fight the gentlemen. If you know me, obviously that didn't occur; however, to my chagrin--I did imagine myself victoriously standing over my defeated opponent after fearlessly winning the battle. The problem was I lacked a soundtrack to my truimph.

In Hollywood, there are two motifs I've found in "battle" music. If the movie is like Braveheart, it's likely one will hear a orchestra compostion full of heavy drumming and clashing wind instruments. On the other hand, if the movie is like Fast and the Furious or Transformers, it's more likely to hear some fast paced popular rock music or a trash talking rap song in some light of DMX.

Neither of these motifs seemed to fit my need for a soundtrack, so I began digging through my library and these are some of the songs I've choosen to woop ass to:

1. N.W.A. - Fuck the Police
2. Ghetto Boys - Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta
3. Method Man - Bring Da Pain
4. Screaming Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You
5. Sizzla - Solid as a Rock

While maybe the songs I've chosen are not as frequently used, I can't deny that there remains parallels in my choices and Hollywood. To begin--the music must be coarse. Putting on D'Angelo or Marvin Gaye (as mentioned earlier), would seem laughable because it's soothing and warm--lacking the "edge" needed to get rough. The songs can't be slow. A battle is fast, and just like a DJ, you got to match your rhythm.

That's the interesting part, when DJing, the DJ has to think about the moment. How will people react to the music? Will it make them want to dance, or sit down? Or in films, is the soundtrack representing the emotions shown through the film?

So, again this is just another way to think about how music reflects moments in life. What songs would you fight to?

For Listening:

D'Angelo, How Does It Feel

Method Man,


Kanye's "Auto-tune" Album..Can't Wait Right?

Recently West had a listening party of 700 invited guests for his new album 808s & Heartbreaks, and unfortunately, the SFCritic was not invited. As host, West offered guests his tunes for their ears and nude girls for the eyes. Kanye contracted artist Vanessa Beecroft to direct a live nude woman dance set behind silhouette. Sounds like a good party.

The new album is supposed to "deliver ideas in the most naked form" as Kanye stated to Rolling Stone. One of the tracks West pointed out was about his mother's recent death last year, after complications with cosmetic surgery.

The album might sound fantastic, and it's might be breaking walls for West, but I don't buy this hype. Don't get me wrong, his new single, "Heartless" is a worthy radio play. It's encouraging to see an accomplished artist step outsides their comfort zone, but West is simply taken a proven tool for success and trying to add it to his library. West's new album is all in "Auto-tune,"--there is no rapping, that's right no rapping. If you don't know what Auto-tune is, see: T-Payne and Akon. Everyone is making money using Auto-tune, what's new about Kanye jumping on board? I'm not trying to hate on Kanye. He's put out several tracks that continued to circle through my Ipod playlists.

The Rolling Stone article covering the release party ended in this manner:

Among the guests was Jimmy Kimmel, who arrived after West performed two songs on his show earlier that afternoon. “I’m sure it’s beautiful art, and many people can appreciate it on a much deeper level than I can,” Kimmel said of Beecroft’s work. “But I look out there and see a lot of good-looking naked girls and it makes me happy.”

Maybe Kanye is not rapping. Maybe Kanye is rapping about about Benz, girls, and Louis, or rapping at all for that matter, but until I hear the album, I'm not going to believe this naked composition is anything more than what it looks like, a ploy to sell two millions copies.

Below is an example of two recent popular hits which use Auto-Tune, and Kayne's new track "Heartless."

Lil Wayne featuring T-Payne, Lollipop

T-Payne featuring Akon, Bartender

Kanye West, Heartless


The Music Times

This clip is intended to accompany the post "It began," but I'm computerly inept and challenged

It began

It was approximately midnight when the SFCritic was conceived. I was in the back of a taxi cab, the window rolled down, with my hands tracing the air as I listened to the driver's tunes. Van Morrison was playing. It wasn't Dancing in the Moonlight, or Brown Eyed Girl, truthfully--I didn't recognize it was Van Morrison until I asked.

I inquired further. Where are you from? The driver responded he had been living in San Francisco for thirty-five years. Originally from Denver as I later learned, the man wore a leather riding hat, had a full white beard that left plenty of room for grooming techniques, and was completely content with just listening to his music and not chatting.

While I sat in this cab, I couldn't think of a better description of Van Morrison's target audience: a fifty something year old, white cab driver, from Denver wearing a rancher's hat, self-identifying as San Franciscan. Perfect. Hippy. Check. Old-timer. Check. Chilled out, potentially stoned. Probably, check.

I think music defines us. I think music can help one understand people by what they do, don't or claim to listen to. Call it judging. Call it tastes. Call it knowledge. We all assess life based on different mediums, beliefs, systems or structures--why not music?

This blog is an intertwining of music critique, and life. Where my everyday life and interactions, what I see or hear, are translated through music. I mean, who wouldn't want to be self-absorbed in talking about their own music soundtrack. Consider my posts the tracks, and the compilation of posts as my playlist. Now of course this is narcissistic, but so is Larry David, and if this blog can't be humorous and interesting, in the end I'm still Jewish.

Don't fret. This is not a diary, but a critique at how music can be used to explain and talk about everyday issues. A simple way to see this is through music with political undertone. For example, "What's Going on" by Marvin Gaye had a strong political message during the Vietnam war, which when reissed in the "All Star Tribute" took on a totally different tone, and context. Seriously! What's going on by throwing P. Diddy (*name at that time or was it Diddy?) Timberlake, Bono, Alicia Keys, and Gwen Stefani on the same track? Looking at the video now, was this patriotism or progandana or both? Check out the total American flag count in the video. I think the song might have been more appropriate if it was released after it was clear that Iraq had no nuclear weapons, but then..."what's going on?" would have a different meaning.

My tags for this blog: music, critique, criticism, popular culture, and life.
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