Kanye Illustrated, Punk Love, and Gangsta Emoji

kanye west steve jobs illustration

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Posterity Post: I wrote thousands of articles while on staff at SPIN and blogged none of them.

Here’s the most graphic installment in this series. Don’t worry, it’s all (most?) safe for work. These are posts involving the art of illustration. And, yes, that is Kanye West as Steve Jobs glaring at you above. We commissioned Penelope Gazin to bring the man’s boasts to life.

Full Time with SPIN, Senior Writer, Los Angeles

Alright, enough with the third person. I am very proud to share that after nearly three years of freelancing for the very publication that inspired me to scribble about music in the first place, I am going full-time with SPIN starting now with the title Senior Writer. (Unofficially, you might also refer to me as West Coast Dude.) So that means fewer updates here, but it also means virtually all of my work will be appearing in one place anyway, so who needs a blog? Read SPIN. Gonna be a lot of news stories, some shared songs and videos, and a great deal of old school reportage, so keep up over there as we kick off a new chapter of web dominance. Match me, Sidney! So begins my year(s) of living dangerously.

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Give it Up to the Douchebag: Kanye West’s ‘My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy’ is Downright Masterpiece-y

The "banned" original cover of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

The Kanye West album leaks. Spin responds.

“After recording an album-length, Auto-Tuned sigh, Kanye West is ready to celebrate again, but not in the way we’ve come to expect. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy isn’t idly titled. It’s a sinister, orchestral, hugely grandiose affair that owes as much to the artist’s self-aggrandizing ego as to the voracious id that would destroy it publicly. Exhibit A: West to album cover portraitist George Condo: ‘Look, I’ma let you finish, but can you make me look even douchier?'”

Read the entire review of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.


Poptimist Issue 2 Debuts: Artists Of The Decade

As readers of pop culture journalism are well aware (and perhaps lamenting), the dawn of a new decade means twice the list-making. If culture can’t be quantified, well, I’m out of a job. Thus, its in the spirit of thankfulness, nostalgia and horizon-gazing that I offer to you, dear overstretched reader, the “Artists Of The Decade” as determined by myself and the good editors of Poptimist. Read it online (page 34), or pick one up ’round the streets of L.A. Huzzah!

Poptimist, Issue 2

Cult Bit: Wallpaper. AutoTunes Jay-Z

It’s my honor to introduce a furiously banging track by my dear friends in Oakland-based duo Wallpaper. This thing should be viral soon enough, but for now, you can stream it and download (by right-clicking) below.

Jay-Z & Wallpaper. – “D.O.A. + 99 Problems (Wallpaper. Remix)”

Now the backstory: Jay-Z recently contributed his piece to the raging (har har) international debate over the blatant overuse of AutoTune in radio pop. Essentially hopping on an already existing meme, he named his track “D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune)” — co-produced, ironically, by one of the fad’s biggest abusers, Kanye West — and caused a stir with the lyric, “This is anti-AutoTune / Death of the ringtone / This ain’t for iTunes / This ain’t for sing-along.”

Here, Wallpaper., a group that’s used AutoTune as an instrument since early 2005 (that’s pre-T-Pain, for those taking notes), repurposes that lyric for a very singable, digitally modified hook. The somewhat brillaint ironic appropriation doesn’t end there, however. The meat of the track comes from Jay’s monstrous 2004 hit, “99 Problems,” which leads to this rather astute line from Wallpaper vocalist Ricky Reed: “I’ve got 99 problems but my pitch ain’t one.”

Oh, and did I mentioned that Jay’s voice is AutoTuned throughout?