Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Amir Obeid—DBA Amir Obè—grew up in Detroit, heavily influenced by the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Michael Jackson. He began making his own hip-hop and R&B in his teens before temporarily moving back to Brooklyn (his place of birth) after high school. Representing Detroit and Brooklyn, or Detrooklyn, he’s worked with others, like Drake, producing the If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late track “Star67,” and on his own, Obè (above, his video for “I Am Def Jam”) has released a slew of mixtapes, singles and EPs, including None of the Clocks Work (stream it below), which dropped this past spring. “Consisting of seven tracks, the set finds the enigmatic artist delving into a world where emotions trump material possessions,” according to Billboard. And Fader says “that it’s still possible to make icy, atmospheric R&B sound fresh.” Winding down an August tour, Obè plays The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Seattle singer-songwriter EMI opens the show.
Tag Archives: Drake
Dirty South rapper Gucci Mane burst into the mainstream more than a decade ago out of Atlanta. He’s since become known for his raw talent, speaking his mind and doing work: Last year alone, he released Everybody Looking (stream it below)—with guest appearances by Drake, Kanye West and Young Thug—followed by Woptober (stream it below)—with cameos by Rick Ross and Young Dolph—and then The Return of East Atlanta Santa (stream it below)—which features Travis Scott and Drake again—shortly before the end of 2016. And with all of that new material, Gucci Mane (above, performing “Last Time” with Travis Scott on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) is out on the road touring the country, which brings him to Terminal 5 on Sunday night. Chicago MC Dreezy opens the show.
Tags: Drake, Dreezy, Everybody Looking, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Live Music, Music, New York City, Preview, Radric Davis, Rick Ross, Terminal 5, The Return of East Atlanta Santa, Travis Scott, Video, Woptober, Young Dolph, Young Thug
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Mad Decent Block Party – MCU Park – August 6, 2016
Mad Decent Block Party – MCU Park – August 7, 2016
Tags: Alison Wonderland, Big Wild, Boi-1da, Boombox Cartel, Brooklyn, Coney Island, Dillon Francis, Diplo, DJ Snake, Drake, FKI 1st, Gryffin, Kesha, Live Music, Mad Decent Block Party, MCU Park, Music, New York City, Party Khan, Pat Tabb, Photos, Slushii, Tory Lanez, Zeds Dead
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Gabriel Garzón-Montano is a musician’s musician: He sings, he composes and he plays the violin, guitar, drums, piano and bass, plus he’s even been sampled by Drake. Following the release of the soul-and R&B-inflected Bishouné: Alma del Huila (stream it below) in 2014—about which, CMJ opined, “This promising young artist touches on love and loss, and always buttressed with a sly bit of vintage style”—the multitalented New Yorker toured across Europe opening for Lenny Kravitz. But the energetic performer (above, doing “Everything Is Everything” for Brownswood Basement Sessions) is the headliner when he stays home in Brooklyn to play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night. Nick Hakim and Space People open the show.
Tags: Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Brooklyn, Drake, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Lenny Kravitz, Live Music, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Nick Hakim, Preview, Space People, Video, Williamsburg
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The deck was stacked against her. The Best New Artist Grammy had never before been awarded to a jazz artist. Plus Bieber Fever was in full effect, and it wasn’t just Justin Bieber—all of the other nominees, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons, were inarguably more famous than she. But nevertheless, 26-year-old Portland, Ore., native Esperanza Spalding strode up to the podium to collect her award in 2011. By that point, she’d already been playing music for more than 20 years. Spurred on by seeing Yo-Yo Ma play the cello on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when she was just four, the precocious Spalding took up the violin when she was five. Not content with one instrument, she next conquered the oboe and clarinet before discovering the upright bass in high school. And if all of that weren’t enough, the talented performer began writing lyrics, and she could sing in English, Portuguese and Spanish. After spending time at Berklee College of Music, Spalding began touring in support of other musicians. And then upon graduation, she started teaching at the famed music school and recording her own albums. The third, Chamber Music Society (stream it below), caught people’s attention, eventually netting her that surprise Grammy. But it’s been her sixth studio full-length, Emily’s D+Evolution (stream it below), out last month, that’s returned Spalding (above, performing “Good Lava” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) to the spotlight, winning nearly universal praise. “Esperanza Spalding’s new recording, Emily’s D+Evolution, is an astonishing beauty, a set of a dozen songs that artfully and persuasively bridge genres. It is simultaneously the most forward work of the singer and bass player in the way it combines her musical influences with coherent and powerful lyrics and a project that feels rooted in a 1970s sensibility—reminding us of a time when pop, soul, jazz, rock, and singer-songwriter tradition were in constant dialogue,” according to PopMatters. “Because Spalding’s individual strengths as a fleet singer and superb instrumentalist are so perfectly set in these songs, they do not sound like throwbacks, however. Emily’s D+Evolution is a recording only Spalding could have made, and it shouts with invention, confidence and style.” Currently working her way down the East Coast, Spalding plays the world-famous Apollo Theater tomorrow night.
Tags: Apollo Theater, Chamber Music Society, Drake, Emily’s D+Evolution, Esperanza Spalding, Florence and the Machine, Harlem, Justin Bieber, Live Music, Mumford & Sons, Music, New York City, Preview, Video, Yo-Yo Ma
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Cœur de Pirate – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 22, 2015
Born in Quebec, Béatrice Martin, better known by her stage name Cœur de Pirate, sings largely in French. And her classical training on piano serves as the backbone to her compositions. Although simple, Cœur de Pirate’s delicate vocals are a beautiful soundtrack for a lazy afternoon. After signing in the summer with Cherrytree and Interscope, her latest album, Roses, offers more English songs paired with her usual French reveries. Martin resembles a young Brigitte Bardot sans gap in her teeth.
The Québécois sat behind a piano at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night moving largely through her latest release. In a black tent dress that fully displayed her tattoo sleeves, Cœur de Pirate began with “Oceans Brawl” and “Undone.” She mentioned it would be a bilingual show with songs in French and jokes in English with no guarantees that the latter would be funny. Breezily drifting from English to French, the chanteuse described “Saint-Laurent” as a song about waiting at a bar for a Tinder date, only cuter because it was in French.
As her band received a mini-break, Martin played solo on fan favorite “Francis” and a slowed-down, sad cover of fellow Canadian Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” When not on piano, Cœur de Pirate’s arms and hands gesticulated as if casting a spell on the audience. In a sweet moment, Martin explained that “The Way Back Home” was written for her daughter to combat some woeful goodbyes when she would have to depart for a tour. The charming songwriter encored with a pair including “Comme des Enfants,” which she revealed was taught in schools along with classics like “Frère Jacques,” and the first single off her latest release, “Carry On.” Merci beaucoup, Cœur de Pirate.
Talib Kweli – Rough Trade NYC – May 17, 2014
Talib Kweli is an MC who takes his mastering of the ceremonies very seriously. Back in Brooklyn only for Saturday afternoon, coming directly from LaGuardia and leaving out of JFK that night, Kweli treated his hometown fans to an intimate performance at Rough Trade NYC. He had everyone’s hands in the air, dancing and singling along, an impressive feat for an afternoon show, with most of the crowd sober and/or hungover. The man knows how to treat his fans and gets it back in love, no matter the time of day.
Talib Kweli is an artist with a lot to say. With nearly 20 years of music behind him, he’s always been a rapper who takes his words seriously. His Rough Trade NYC performance included a rare live rendition of “Rare Portraits,” telling everyone afterward that he usually avoids the autobiographical songs at shows in favor of the more “rah-rah, let’s party” selections. Performing his new song, “State of Grace,” about a rap fan feeling disconnected from the hip-hop she loved and grew up with, Kweli’s lyrics came out so fast and furious it was like he was racing himself to get across the song’s message.
Kweli loves talking to his audience, and he took time to discuss how he took a page from comedian Louis CK’s playbook by releasing his latest album, Gravitas, on his Web site directly to his fans, without a middleman. The MC had his own audience laughing, too. After his DJ threw down the hook for Rick James’ “Mary Jane” and Kweli realized most in the audience didn’t know it, he explained the genius of the song and how “you had to be covert with that shit” when rapping about smoking weed in the ’70s. “We got some lazy weed songs,” said Kweli, poking fun at Drake’s material and Kanye West’s “Get Em High.” The performance ended with the now-classic “Get By,” and then Kweli worked his way over to the record-store half of Rough Trade NYC to meet fans, take pictures and sign records. —Dan Rickershauser
Photos courtesy of Andie Diemer | issuu.com/andiediemer/docs/portfolio
He’s only 23, but producer (and member of the electronic-music collective WeDidIt) Henry Steinway has been forging a name for himself for several years. First as Clockwork, making bouncy electronic house music and playing big stages, from Holy Ship! to Ultra. But since 2012, he’s also been doing work as RL Grime, walking the gritty line between hip-hop and electronic beats on a host of singles, remixes—for the likes of Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake—and EPs, the most recent of which, High Beams (stream it below), came out last year. Pitchfork says he caters “more to stomps than pumps. And RL Grime really is all about that life; he fiddles with the bass and messes with tightly wound beats, pulling away from the explosive, emotionally manipulative pandering of his EDM counterpart. But the meg-aclub mentality hasn’t completely escaped him.” In fact, you can experience it for yourself tonight at Webster Hall. Dubbel Dutch, “an accomplished producer of cosmic tone poems and club anthems from the abyss,” opens the show.
Francis and the Lights – The Bowery Ballroom – March 28, 2014
It shouldn’t surprise you that someone with a name like Francis Farewell Starlite is the illuminating man behind New York City’s Francis and the Lights. They’ve previously shared bills with the likes of MGMT, Drake, La Roux and Ke$ha. Starlite is a less-is-more kind of guy. He explained in an interview: “Before a performance, I tell myself to only say and play what is important. Ultimately, it’s just to do less, do less, do less. It’s as hard as it gets. I fail at it more than I succeed.”
On Friday night, Starlite crooned the opening lines of “Like a Dream” backstage before taking the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom. His voice wasn’t completely ready, missing a few keys here and there, but he fully made up for it with his jig that’s enthralled many. Donning a black jumpsuit and aviator sunglasses, he quickly warmed up his vocals with “The Top,” and accelerated with a high falsetto resembling Barry Gibb’s on “Strawberries.” Starlite’s pace quickened and his jumpsuit was soon unzipped for the rest for the evening. Bouncing back and forth between keyboards on either side of the stage, Starlite seemed to be unable to sit still or stop from fluffing his disheveled pompadour until he sat at a white piano for the falsetto ballad “I’ll Never Forget You.” The enigmatic singer then treated fans to a pair of new songs, “Scream So Loud” and one yet untitled.
Truly thankful for the opportunity to perform, Starlite ended his set with the folk-tinged love tune “It’ll Be Better” and his signature track, “A Modern Promise,” complete with the exclamation: “They call me Starlite now.” Returning to the stage, he encored with “Striking” and “If They Don’t Come Tomorrow.” The latter had the man of the night basked in spotlight, seated at his keys, which only seemed the appropriate way to conclude the evening. Shifting back and forth from soul-infused ballads to infectious dance tracks, Starlite is best described in his own words, “The idea of extremes: black and white. Black and white could be dark and light. I like that idea.” —Sharlene Chiu