A Balancing Act: Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE

Remembrances of Egypts Past

“No words.”

That phrase has been a pretty recurrent maxim in recent times for me, and easily applies to my music blogging (non)ambitions. Sometimes writing about music unleashes the best in my thought process, and at other times, it almost seems to disturb the process that music itself sets out to perform. That is, writing about music can kinda kill it, because the analytical process inherent in writing is kinda antithetical to the non-elucidated artfulness of music. Music is music, expressing itself by means musical.

Some music demands elucidation and unpacking though, and that’s the point of criticism. But what I’m sayin here is that sometimes the jams are so perfect, their clarity of meaning so sublime, that writing about them can be superfluous, or worse, tarnishes the musicalness of the music.

This is the danger of applying words to one of my favorite new musics, Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE. I feel “no words” about this album, because it flawlessly says what it needs to say, by means of lyric, structure, and production. I ain’t sayin this album is perfect (gets off to a slow start, probably too many interludes, that song “Forrest Gump” sucks), but it does perfectly express its artistic goals as an album: it’s a balancing act of style and substance, disillusionment and hope, light and darkess.

The “speakers” of channel ORANGE are given voice in a variety of registers, inhabiting many bodies and attitudes. “Thinkin Bout You” has the bashful analogies of like some young John Donne sonnet (“got a fighter jet/I don’t get to fly it though” and the grizzled wisdom of a dying poet (“we’ll take this road till it changes from color to black and white”–[that shit makes me cry!]). On “Pink Matter” Frank lyrically performs a slow zoom out from the womb (pink matter) to the concept of self (gray matter) to the infinite, bewildering cosmos (aliens watching from the purple matter); the guest, Mr. Benjamin, gives his most emotionally honest verse maybe ever, aligning a present in which he cannot escape his heartbreak and a parallel universe where he and that-one-who-got-away are together.

In another deeper-than-rap balancing act, the universe of swag appears all over this album, but as a backdrop for personal disenchantment instead of the usual brags-about-riches. “Super Rich Kids” and “The Sweet Life” are a Salinger-style observation on the emotional emptiness of decadence and decadent people. The penthouse/Louboutin/Cuban cigar lifestyle so often inhabited by Rick Ross and the Watch the Throners is perversely twisted by Frank in the album showstopper “Pyramid.” I can’t help but picture the late/absurd Michael Jackson video for “Remember The Time,” every time I hear the first 5 minutes of this song, what with the dancing in a palace, the cheetahs, the jewels; the milieu is Egypt-cum-50’s Hollywood film, complete with a purple-eyed harlot as the object of the speaker’s desire, revealed completely before the camera, but remote. As the instrumentation transitions from its slinky, mysterious funk into a dreamier, slower mode, it’s like scales fall from our eyes, and all of a sudden the majestic Egypt is traded for a shitty motel, and Cleopatra is getting decked in stripper clothes before hitting the Strip. It’s a twist: Cleopatra is a stripper at a joint called “The Pyramid.” The unglamorous reality of hustling undoes the opulent fantasy of wealth.

We are taken to other places in channel ORANGE; sunny California, the back of a cab, a dream-like Sierra Leone, the crack house. The thing that allows Frank to balance his speakers’ personas and his settings is his miraculous, god-given gift of PHRASING. Often overlooked by people who don’t have any idea what it takes to sing, Ocean sounds like an old pro, with as much style as a crooner of yore, and charm for days like an R&Ber out to take your pants off. He knows how to sell a line with a droll laziness, earnest belting (one friend compared it to the somewhat embarrassing earnestness of Rufus Wainwright!), a flat directness, all in perfect tandem with the careful, cinematic scope and tone of each song.

So though the words I’ve chosen to use about channel ORANGE go too deep on some levels and don’t go there at all in other ways (have you noticed I haven’t mentioned his musical influences or, gasp, his sexuality???), I’m so deeply grateful that Frank pulled together this deeply personal, widely universal document of balance, of the minute and large, of desire and deprivation, of wealth and poverty. I hate to be all collegey and pullin out the dialectic, but the ole dialectic a constant of a lot of good art; it’s about navigating with our gray matter, not getting bludgeoned with big, bold strokes. I don’t have enough words for dudes like Frank, who paint with the subtleties of their craft and leave us with something as listenable and re-listenable as channel ORANGE.


Several Songs Daftpop Enjoys Right Now: The Series, Part II

Young Jeezy: Only like Malcolm X if his motto was "buy any jeans necessary"

Well gee, it’s been a minute since I wrote on this blog. I’ve been sitting, thumbs a-twiddle, waiting for bloggerly inspiration to come for weeks now. Finally I realized that I of all people should know that blogs need not be the medium for deep thoughts (for instance, my last post was about Clash of the Titans).

In accordance with my lack of inspiration, and perhaps my recent lack of sophistication, I will discuss some notable songs of the moment… Ahem.

Welcome to Several Songs Daftpop Enjoys Right Now, The Series! (It needs a better title, but I’m working on it. Woman can only do so much in between work deadlines, smoke breaks and caring for needy dogs.)

1. Jeezy feat. Clipse: “Illin

Jeezy’s got a new mixtape out, for anyone who cares. I don’t, but I stumbled upon this track, and was taken aback by its sonic otherness. “Illin” features an insanely warbled, gnarly violin sample; it’s something from your nightmares, or maybe a zombie debutante ball in Baton Rouge, 1914. Jeezy’s husky, lumbering flow rarely conveys much of anything; the content of his rhymes is often self-aggrandizing bullshit, sometimes heart attacks, and one time about black presidents and blue Italian sports cars. But here, Jeezy is forced to hustle a little due to the presence of his guests, the every-day-they’re-hustlin’ rappers of Clipse. Jeezy + Clipse makes for a visceral clash of personalities; Jeezy’s verse is essentially about how effortless being him/being rich is, while Malice and Pusha sound anguished and paranoid, per usual. If only Clipse could learn a little something from the dumb self-assuredness of Jeezy, and Jeezy could maybe get a little writerly ambition from Clipse… then everyone would win.

2. Freddie Gibbs: “Crushin’ Feelins

To some, Freddie Gibbs is some 2009 hype; to others, he is the future of hip hop. To make a long story short: Gibbs is from Gary, but currently lives in LA. He is something of a classicist gangsta rapper. His beats aren’t all that dope, but he can double-time it like Twista and spins the most eloquent of street elegies. And oh yeah, he’s performing at P4k this summer. Weird!!! It can be hard to know where to start with 3.0 rappers like Gibbs–dude has no proper studio album or radio singles, just some mixtapes, all of which are epic in length–so where to begin? Start here, with “Crushin’ Feelins.” In less than four minutes of breathless, glorious raps over the fucking smoothest guitar ever, Gibbs tells you everywhere he’s lived, states his life goals, talks up his skills, and most importantly, explains everything you need to know about him: that he can “easily bring you defeat with [his] vernacular” and is “too deep in the streets to be beefin’ with other rappers.”

3. Drake: “Over

I never thought I’d cop to liking a Drake song, but here I am. While I don’t relish the concept of “Over,” (which is yet another navel-gazing extravaganza and features several of his fucking imbecilic non sequitur couplets) the scuttle-shuttle of the beat that drops at 30 seconds is as beautiful a thang I’ve heard on the radio in a while.

4. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: “Beverly Kills

Pop bliss! “Beverly Kills” is a scatterbrained but marvelously melodic ditty recalling psychedelic Californian summers, like an acid trip at someone’s 60’s hippie party in L.A. Or something. Anyway, AP’sHG might be poster-children of lofi-ness, but a friend recently commented to me that there is something very deliberate in their aesthetic; lofi for them is not tossed off or motivated by a sort of punk recklessness: it’s a production choice , a wonderful mindfulness of what is being evoked by certain sounds. This song is yet another good example of this phenom; plus, it’s just good, silly fun.

5. M.I.A.: “XXXO

I love M.I.A. so much that I get sort of befuddled when I have to talk about her. Ever a monitor of the postmodern condition, M.I.A. here comments on the identity-eroding properties of modern telecommunications. I am glad I received this warning from M.I.A.,  because I almost wrote this entire post in internet lingo and emoticons. JK! She sings in a lifeless monotone against a backdrop of menacing (if somewhat conventional) electropop. “XXXO,” both the song title and the clutch of letters meant to represent a kiss, are M.I.A.’s shorthand for the ways in which we are dehumanized by technology. The lyrics aren’t very cohesive, but the whole is suggestive: “you want me be someone who I’m really not,” “cuz everytime we try to get close/there’s always something I’m  thinking about,” “if you like what you see/you can download and store.” Seduction and the possibility of love have been reduced to a mechanization, a screen touch, a tapping away on T9.

6. Robyn “Dancing On My Own

Apart from being Swedish, looking sorta gay, and having hot shit producers, there is yet one other element that separates Robyn from the baser spectrum of pop. This is the vulnerable and self-aware emotional center of her lyrics. I suppose this center does not always hold, especially when you consider the embarrassing lyrical content and rapping affectations of “Konichiwa Bitches,” which would have benefited from some self-awareness. But in her best songs–“With Every Heartbeat,” “The Girl and The Robot,” and now “Dancing on My Own”–Robyn acknowledges, in uncomfortable detail, the desperation and various humiliations involved in being a lover scorned. She dances on her own in this ditty, whose narrative concerns going to the club in order to see her recent ex get busy with his new woman: “yeah, i know it’s stupid/but i just got to see it for myself.” She then gets shit faced and, after stumbling over some broken bottles in stilettos, the world starts spinning off its axis. By song end, it ain’t hard to imagine our song’s heroine falling flat on her lovely YET STILL REJECTED face. My suggestion is that Robyn get with also-frequently-embarrassedly-in-love/fellow Swede Jens Lekman, and then they can make sweet music together until they die.

Horseman of Hip Hop Apocalypse: DRAKE

I'm "thinking"

Gosh, I’ve started about four posts I still haven’t completed, about legit topics such as WKW’s finest films and a movie I saw last weekend called “Un Prophete.”

But what I want to talk to you about now is how much I hate Drake. I take it for granted that everyone hates him, but then I realize that this is not entirely true. But, I mean, for serious, what’s not to despise? That slyly arrogant expression permanently plastered on his face? His meaning-devoid, self-aggrandizing ‘rhymes’? His middle-school-poetry-reading flow? His monotonous drone, which, after a few verses, bores into your skull like a dull knife–that is, slowly, ineffectually, and yet painfully?!?!?!

I have seen Drake described as “deft” and “affable” by Sasha Frere Jones. I mean, seriously, wtf. Have you heard the song FOREVER, Sasha?

Pfork’s review of Drake’s first mixtape was POSITIVE. But it also contained this thought about his rise to prominence:

Blame Kanye. Drake isn’t just a post-Kanye artist; he’s a post-808s and Heartbreak artist, possibly the first. On that album, Kanye drifted lazily from rapping to singing over a bed of rippling lush-but-sparse electro…When [Drake] swings from rapping to buttery teen-idol singing, it feels organic and effortless, like he’s just doing whatever makes the most sense at any given moment.

This strikes me as an extremely prescient observation about the moment in commercial hip-hop, but not really as an endorsement of Drake. Let me explain.

You see, Drake is spawned from the crass, disgusting materialism of the Lil Wayne Young Money posse. Lil Wayne, by himself, is a gifted spitter of nonsense; he’s the Joyce of hip-hop, a master conjurer of imagery via a totally psychedelic stream of consciousness; the big difference, of course, is that Joyce can sustain centuries of lit students doing close readings, and Wayne probably couldn’t explain what two of his words strung together were ever supposed to mean.

But Wayne is not remarkable, it should be noted, for the company he keeps. As Wayne has told us on many occasions, he is an “alien,” and all the more for it when compared to his associates (ie Drake, Juelz Santana, et al).

Peoplez was wondering last year if hip hop was dead (while others disagreed). Yet it is near consensus that Raekwon’s “Time Machine Back to 1995” album was the best thing to come out in 2009. Others pointed to unsigned, (technically DROPPED from Interscope), Gary-born old school gangsta rapper Freddie Gibbs as the best rapper to come on the radar in a while. These two facts, among others, make it seem like the best recent hip hop has not been innovative, but rather has fallen back on identity tropes (gangsta/balla/king/etc) and well-worn genres. Even Jay-Z rues the fact that he’s still on top of the game, and when kings, unconstrained by things like constitutions and term limits, are complaining about unrivaled sovereignty, you know you gots a problem. Hip hop no longer informs pop music; it looks internally, or worse, it looks to pop music.

Yes, Drake is tha billboard chartzz finest example of the hybrid indie/hip hop/r&b artist. While artists who R&B and rap at the same time are not the newest phenomenon (fuck, even Ghostface made an album like that last year), these folks’ unprecedented radio presence is new, along with their mopey, somewhat dreamy aesthetic (courtesy of 808s).

And Drake ain’t alone in this. There’s that guy Theophilus London. TL’s mixtape from last year was called This Charming Mixtape and the cover was a redux of Elvis Costello’s 1978 album This Year’s Model. He freely uses Smiths lyrics (“HumDrum Town”), he sings, and honestly he raps a bit like Lupe Fiasco. I wouldn’t mind if Theophilus got real famous, he seems so pleasant.

Then, of course, there’s Kid Cudi. Drake and Kid Cudi have a lot in common: so much so that one has appeared in the other’s video. They both have worked with indie acts (drake with lykke li, kid cudi with ratatat, etc), they both sort of sing, and they both don’t have anything interesting to say. (Kid Cudi uses his tear-soaked journal for lyrical inspiration [hence: “tell me what you know about night terrors: nothin’/you don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow”], while Drake just keeps reminding us that he got here by pulling himself up by boot-straps and that he never plans to leave us alone [hence: “Forever”]. In other words, they are pissing their young masculinity, and all the implied egomania, over the unwitting listener.) Most importantly, their identities wouldn’t make any sense were it not for the tight-jeans-wearin & genre-hopping sensibilities of Kanye.

All that the world hates about Kanye–his wily vulnerability, his never-ending masculinity-in-crisis mode, his lack of loyalty to a particular hip hop genre, and his mainstreamin–has been distilled by these young lads to its dumbest form. And it looks like it’s here to stay, for at least the next year or so.

Robyn, Röyksopp, and the Land of Ice Castles

The gate to Annie's recording studio

Perhaps it is telling that the first piece of music I ever purchased was Ace of Base’s The Sign, or perhaps not, considering it was purchased in 1994, when Ace of Base was ubiquitous, and I was 9 years old. But to this day, I enjoy few things as well as an ice-crystal clear, mellifluously melodious Scandopop song.

I’ve always imagined that Scandinavian producers hide out in ice castles, and wear ultra-sleek polar gear to stay warm while recording. They probably go ice fishing for lunch (fresh salmon roll, y’all?) and take photographs of polar bears in between takes.

In what is either a racial accident*** or a very cultivated cultural kinship, the electropop coming out of the northern lands is slick, clean and gorgeous, from Abba onward. Their synths are sharp and pure enough to cut ice, their voices sweet and warm enough to melt the above mentioned palace. The only relevant antithesis is The Knife, who have rebelled by using distortion and reverb as a miserable, sloppy fuck-you to all their shiny brethren. Honestly The Knife may have more in common with metal dudes, aesthetically speaking, than they do, say, Röyksopp.

Which brings me to my point. Fucking Röyksopp. I always saw their foreign name, their umlaut, and thought, that is something Swedish that I don’t have the energy to get into. But today I heard the second best Robyn song ever, and she made it with Röyksopp last year. It’s called: THE GIRL AND THE ROBOT.

You know you’re in for something epic when the song starts with a Wagnerian chorale and a pummeling beat. Robyn uses her signature sincere, love-lorned phrasing to describe her crazy-in-love-love for a robot. This is all wonderfully hilarious and meta, considering the subject matter of Robyn’s other songs.

“The Girl and the Robot” is what emotion sounds like from the north: rigorous structure, strings for added emotional impact, and, most notably, thematic content related to the love between human and machine.

All in all, perhaps we can read Robyn’s all-out yearning for a goddamn robot as Scando’s ballz-out love for machines; after all, without the synthesizer, where would their music be?***

Sometimes you just want to escape to their land of ice castles and clear-cut yearning/hurt/loss/love. In a gray, dirty, humid, windy city such as this, and in the disgusting haze of emotion that is life, isn’t it a comfort to know that something of such idyllic cleanliness and clarity of intent exists somewhere?

***Please keep in mind, this is all facetious, I am not sincerely proposing a racial theory.

Is Ke$ha just secretly Uffie?

Okay, I just have to get this off my chest. When I first heard “TiK ToK” I almost fainted, because it was so annoying. But it was totally annoying in a very distinctive way, in a very familiar way… in a very Uffie way.

If you don’t know who Uffie is, well, thank your lucky stars. She was featured on the song “Thhee Ppaaarrttyy” on the Justice album .

Not only is the nasal, bratty, totally affected “raps” of both these gals uncannily similar, but the songs “TiK ToK” and “Thhee Ppaaarrttyy” are both about the exact same thing: partying rowdy, girl style.

Notice, they both say really stupid things when they are rousing their girlfriends to party:

Ke$ha says: “I’m talkin’ ’bout errrbody gettin’ crunk/boys are tryin to touch my junk.”

Uffie says: “Let’s get this party started right/Let’s get drunk and freaky fly (ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-eyyyy).”

First off, what is freaky fly? Uffie has been out of the United States so long that no one told her how dumb that sounds. Ke$ha, who is not an expat like Uffie, is just trying to place her partying within the tradition of Southern rap. But being featured on a Flo-Rida track does not a southern rapper make.

While “Thhee Ppaaarrttyy” is barely listenable due to Uffie’s offensive phrasing and nonexistent flow, I find myself strangely drawn to “TiK ToK.” At first I was repulsed, but in the end, it was the Miley Cyrus-esque, vocoder-slick, inorganic wall of keyboard in the chorus that won me over. It’s so stupid that ir’s kind of good.

In Paul Lester’s Guardian column, “New Band of the Day,” he characterized Ke$ha’s music like so: “Her music is like an über US version of “chav pop” – trailer trashy to the max – only it’s so full-on it’s almost like some postmodern arthouse joke.” Word.

Lester is a little nicer to Uffie, and courteously points out all her cool fashion and electro cred before noting, “There’s an air of hip insouciance about her every utterance.” If by hip insouciance he means reckless disregard for how vocals should sound, I would agree.

Rihanna Crosses to Dark Side, But Not Far Enough

i stole this glove from beyonce, but it's cool, it looks way more convincing on me anyway

So, Rated R. I still have a hard time knowing what criteria to use when considering the strengths of a pop album, because pop stars are not made by their full length albums, but by the strength of their singles and their image/aesthetic. I love pop music these days, but there are very few albums from this decade’s Billboard artists that I still find engaging or good.

Good Girl Gone Bad had a few excellent singles (“Umbrella,” “Disturbia”), while the rest (“Take a Bow,” “Rehab”) were conservative ballads that were timeless in a bad way: totally generic and characterless. There were a couple of “Watch out! I’m Rihanna and I’m really mad” songs, but those fell flat due to the flakiness of the production; sirens hesitantly blared and should have been more urgent, electric guitars were not nearly abrasive enough, etc. The “bad girl” was barely present; when she was, she was doing stupid stuff like throwing around some nice china and driving fast. Rihanna could have handled tough sounds and a tougher, more avant-garde image, but I suspect her production team was trying to preserve some femininity for the somewhat robotic and aloof star. Verdict: Good Girl Gone Bad was a transitional album, with tween-pleasing characterless ballads and sparingly few jolts of truly forward-looking shit.

Rated R has nothing as good as “Umbrella,” but the sad-sack songs have vastly improved, and, aesthetically, the album is a slightly more cohesive statement than Good Girl Gone Bad. Visually, Rihanna has finally given in to the darkness that she has always courted. The album cover features Rihanna as Siouxsie Sioux in 1982, or something, instead of the curvaceous Barbados babe she was on her last cover. Musically, the album is not as dark as it purported. The album opener is a strange little ditty inviting the listener into the “Mad House.” The organs and narration are straight outta “Thriller,” MJ’s compelling and enduringly spooky musical testament to the weird.

But it all gets lighter from there. In “Hard,” Rihanna’s newest single, she reminds us that she’s a hard mofo; unfortunately, it features Mr. Young Jeezy, who rhymes about heart attacks… again. Remember this, from Kanye’s “Amazing”?: “Standin’ at the podium/tryin’ to watch my sodium/die of high blood pressure/that or let the feds getcha.” What the fuck? What does a podium have to do with anything? Pfork gave “Hard” a 7 out of 10 as a single rating, but I am not convinced that this song is even that good. Even though Rihanna’s diction conveys her robotic strength as an elemental, necessary force, the song is a little silly; for example, none of the instruments sound good, and nothing sounds particularly hard. They should have put some chainsaws (or something) in the song to make it sound more convincingly badass.

“Hard” is followed by songs falling into one or other of these categories: conservative ballad, a la her old days, but with a darker lyrical bent, or stupid, stupid lite rock song. How come R&B and pop people can’t figure out how to make a guitar sound cool? Also, the pianos in “Firebomb” are cut from the Disney-single playbook. You know those Disney singles? Like Christina Aguilera’s version of that Mulan song? Ugh, those sparkly pianos. What I am trying to say is that all the guitars and pianos and everything sound like muzak in many Rihanna songs. This is especially true of the song “Firebomb,” which, again, doesn’t have enough power to sound like it could have things to do with real firebombs. Which are powerful!

Producers on Rated R include the-Dream, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and other cool people; so how come this album sounds bad so much of the time? I hate to bring her up, but let’s talk about Lady Gaga for a second. This woman took an aesthetic and ran with it. She collected all the 90s euro synths she could, and hoarded them onto her album. If she was going to fail, she would fail miserably, as all her eggs were in one musical basket that sounded a bit like 90s Cher. But, hey, guess what, it worked! Congrats, Lady Gaga, you milked 6 singles off of one cd, and they pretty much all sound the same! Rihanna would do well to take a similar chance.

Sometimes, when Rihanna tries to go all classic, it works. “Te Amo” and “Cold Case Love” are both pretty beautiful, touching songs, and they will both age well. (Nevermind that “Cold Case Love,” JT’s contribution, sounds a lot like the gospel choir part of “Losing My Way.”)

Sometimes, songs sound eerily familiar. The dreaded will.i.am makes an appearance on “Photography,” a song whose parts are pretty much jacked from the verses of Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” and Burial’s love-lorned warbles on “Archangel.” I guess will.i.am is finally running out of ideas; thank god, maybe he will leave us soon.

Sometimes, the songs are just right. Take “Rude Boy.” This could be Rihanna’s thing: it’s a fast-paced dance/sex jam replete with synthesized steel drums reminiscent of the Caribbean. The song is a shout out to a rude boy, who Rihanna dares not to get it up for her. Clearly ‘rude boy,’ just sorta means gangsta in this song, and has no specifically place/time rooted identity; too bad–Rihanna and some dude in suspenders, a fedora and skinny black tie dancing in a sultry club surrounded by Jamaican palm trees and 14 kinds of rum would have made for a hot video.

In conclusion, Rihanna needs to come up with a production team that can create all the power she is singing about. She needs to take some chances on an aesthetic, and I think her next move could easily be a sort of goth Caribbean musical hybrid. She’s a big enough star that we’ll all still be with her for her next move.

Update: Kanye West in 2009

Shiny orbs reveal a contemplative Kanye

Last year this time I was sullenly nodding along to Kanye’s “808s and Heartbreak.” This year this time I am marveling at Kanye’s 2009 brand expansion. He didn’t put out an album, but he was all over everybody else’s, guesting, producing, sputtering, chuckling, but mostly, as some might say, spittin’ raw game.

Probably because everyone was so mad at him for making a depressing cd, Kanye made up for all that 2008 autotuning with some witty, sad, self-reflective, angry and haughty rhymes on his various guest appearances.

A playlist of Kanye’s 12–COUNT EM’–12 singles is available for your listening pleasure (or displeasure, depending on the song) here. The best of this crop is “Walkin’ on the Moon,” with the-Dream. I LOVE THAT SONG! But other artists with whom Kanye worked successfully include Rick Ross, Keri Hilson and Clipse. Least successful collabs were with the Teriyaki Boyz, as well as with everyone and their mom on “Forever,” which is an EPIC FAIL (to use internet speak) featuring the megastars Drake, Lil Wayne and Eminem. (I think it’s because I HATE DRAKE.)

Many of these songs feature similar themes and references to products. Below is a sort of index for Kanye’s songs of this last year. I was inspired by the index Slate compiled for Sarah Palin’s new book; the index topics revealed a lot about the book, so if you don’t have time to listen to Kanye, this list will fill you in on what you missed.

Brands (cars):

Mercedes Benz (Maybach Music 2, Poke Her Face, Whatever U Want)

Maybach (Maybach Music 2, obviously), also known as “May-what?” (Run This Town)

Lexus (Maybach Music 2, Whatever U Want)

Ferrari (Walkin’ On the Moon)

Volvo, did not buy for family a (Run This Town)

Rav 4, did not become a rapper to drive a (Run This Town)

Brands (not cars):

-Reebok, implying it is okay to wear a pair of (Knock You Down), scoffing that you still own pair of (Run This Town)

-Louis Vuitton, implying it is higher class to wear (Knock You Down),

-Dolce & Gabbana, in your closet, Kanye finds (The Big Screen)

-Grey Poupon, rhymes with poop (Mayback Music 2)


-dykes, at the club, men who are not Kanye get (Maybach Music 2)

-breasts, for women who want them, Kanye will purchase new (Whatever U Want)

-nipples, aka bee stings (Run This Town)

-Michelle Obama, just cuz (Forever)

-sororities, Kanye has seniority at (Poke Her Face)


-Good Will Hunting, in a sea of ill-will, Kanye goes (Run This Town)

-Karate Kid, because Kanye is rhyming with Asians, he mentions (Teriyaking)

-Return of the Jedi, when Kanye returns from out of town, it is similar to (The Big Screen)

-Hollywood (The Big Screen, Forever)

Wine Varietals:

riesling, drank too much (Run This Town)

Champagne, drank a little (Poke Her Face)

Affecting Foreign Accents:

‘chahnce, ‘ British pronunciation of the word “chance” (Supernova)

‘ting,’ Jamaican pronunciation of the word “thing” (The Big Screen)


Macbook Air, Digitial Girl in question watched on(Digital Girl)

Blackberry, please stop using your (Walkin’ On The Moon)

-Macberry, horrible pun referring to iPhone (Walkin’ On The Moon)

-OMG, Internet lingo (Knock You Down)

texting, drunk (Walkin’ on the Moon)

Biology/biological functions:

gonads, someone grabbed him by the (Teriyaking)

poop, used in extended metaphor about world as his commode (Maybach Music 2, Teriyaking)

dick,  to prove point to women, Kanye uses (all songs)

-Medulla Oblongata (Poke Her Face)

-scoliosis (Poke Her Face)

comatosis, rhymes with scoliosis (Poke Her Face)

-sex, in library (Poke Her Face), with mentally challenged girls (Kinda Like a Big Deal)

Musical References:

-Slick Rick, Kanye is the new (Knock You Down)

-Hey Young World, [Slick Rick reference] (Knock You Down)

-Michael Jackson, this is bad, real bad, similar to the album by (Knock You Down)

Joe Jackson, Kanye is mad, real mad, similar to the mood of (Knock You Down)

Emotional Themes:

-palpable regret (all songs, especially Kinda Like a Big Deal, Run This Town, Walkin on the Moon, Knock You Down)

-haughtiness (all songs, especially Mayback Music 2, Poke Her Face, Whatever U Want, Forever)

-combination regret & haughtiness (all songs)

But shiny bags can't take away the pain