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Beck Colors Inside the Lines

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Colors

Beck
Produced by Beck and Greg Kurstin
2017

Just as Beck was riding quietly into the horizon, 2014’s Morning Phase won the Grammy for album of the year, much to Kanye West’s chagrin. Mr. West can only hope for the same relevance 30 years into his own career.

Save for one track, Beck’s follow up Colors, is a complete 180 from that last record. Instead of (once again) mining his masterpiece Sea Change for tone, Beck does what he does best; something brand new. Colors is Beck in pure pop dance mode. While he’s played with contemporary beats and sounds throughout his career, he’s never produced something so radio friendly. Not even 1999’s irreverent Midnite Vultures.

Beck going pop is good or bad depending on what kind of fan you are. Some people still haven’t forgiven Dylan for going electric. But Beck has littered his catalog with such varied sounds that anything this side of Opera could hardly be a surprise. Although I can imagine a track like Up All Night sounding a little too Pharrell for some. Me? I say shut up and dance.

While I’m tempted to compare these tracks to the best of Beck’s catalog, I wonder if that’s missing the point. In truth, Square One could be a cool Earth Wind and Fire joint, and a song like No Distraction could put Sting back on the map. Spoon would be proud to have I’m So Free in their repertoire. Even a song like Wow (an early single released last year) sounds like something Kanye might conjure up, if he ever returned Beck’s phone-calls.

If I had any complaints, it would be that there’s not enough air on the record. Kinda like when you’re listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and wish Anthony would shut up thirty seconds to let the band shine through. There’s so much interesting musicality on this album that gets buried behind vocals, which is why that flute break in the title track is such a relief.

Who knows what’s next for Beck? I sure don’t. And that’s a good thing.

See what other critics have to say:
Rolling Stone
Spin
Pitchfork

Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

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Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way by U2 (Beck Remix)

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Touching video by the Broken Fingaz for Beck’s remix of U2’s “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way.”

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The Lyrical Summer

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The Lyrical Summer is upon us! 2018 has been on a nice run (musically) and the lyricists have something to do with it. So if you’re into lyrical content and raw talent, I have seven projects for your indulgence.

Peep the list below and tell a friend to tell a friend! Your soundtrack to the summer has just began!

KOD (J. Cole) – Another solid effort by the Rocnation/Dreamville star. You’ve probably got a good feel for this album from all of the outtakes during the NBA finals. If so, i’m sure you own it already. If not, get in the game already.  Standout Track1985

 

Streams of Thought Vol. 1 (Black Thought) – Contrary to many Christopher Columbuses out there. You did not just discover Black Thought was ill from his freestyle on Funk Master Flex’s show. He’s been nice for decades! So suck it up and catch up by getting into this EP. You won’t be disappointed. Standout Track9th vs. Thought

 

August Greene (Robert Glasper, Karriem Riggins and Common) – This album has been out for a bit but plenty of you have missed the boat. This is a diamond in the rough full of soul and straight jazz that any and everyone can appreciate.  Standout TrackPractice

 

Daytona (Pusha T) – Unless you’ve been in solitary confinement for the last couple of months, i’m sure you know who Pusha T is. Besides delivering a death blow to Drake at the likes we haven’t seen in some time, he dropped a lot more bars on his 7 track offering. Move on from “The Story Of Adidon” and get into Daytona. Standout Track – Senteria

Ye (Kanye West) – There’s plenty I can say about Kanye’s recent marketing campaign but i’ll stick to the music. And when it comes to the music he rarely disappoints. Once again he dropped a notable project that deserves a listen. Standout Track – All Mine

Nasir (Nas) – Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper got together with your favorite producer’s favorite producer and created what we hoped for. A creative unique experience that stays on repeat. Standout TrackEverything

 

Everything Is Love (Beyoncé & Jay Z) – Now that the internet is functioning again after these two gave it a scare. Chemistry is the first word that comes to mind after hearing this duo. It’s evident, genuine and works perfectly. Standout TrackLove Happy (sorry Tidal ain’t having it)

 

 

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What’s Beef? Pusha-T vs. Drake

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Bronx-born rapper Pusha-T has dissed Drake for years about having ghostwriters but turned up the heat recently on “Infrared” from his Kanye West produced album Daytona.

Drake responded with “Duppy Freestyle,” defending himself as a ghostwriter, too, on Kanye’s Life of Pablo, and suggesting (correctly) that Pusha’s beef is a Daytona marketing ploy. When Pusha jokingly suggests Drake should send him an invoice, Drake does.

After Drake mentioned Pusha’s fiancé by name on “Duppy Freestyle,” Pusha broke the part of the internet not distracted by Roseanne with his response “The Story of Adidon,” taking off the kid gloves and calling Drake a “deadbeat motherfucka” for fathering an illegitimate child with a porn star. Pusha, no stranger to controversial artwork (see Whitney Houston’s drug den bathroom on the cover of Daytona) released an old picture of Drake in blackface to accompany the track.

Drake defended himself on Twitter saying the pic was an old acting gig representing “how African Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment.”

Pusha ain’t buying it, calls Drake out for being “silent on all Black issues,” and offers 100K to anyone with dirt on Drake. In the hopes of squashing the beef, and perhaps any potential bloodshed, Kanye stepped in tweeting that “lines were crossed and it’s not good for anyone so this is dead now.

So consider yourself caught up, and let’s hope there’s more bars and less tweets as the beef progresses.

Take a Deeper Dive 
The Washington Post 
The Independent 
The New Yorker

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