He’s only 26, but producer (and member of the electronic-music collective WeDidIt) Henry Steinway has been forging a name for himself for several years now. First as Clockwork, crafting bouncy electronic house music and playing big stages, from Holy Ship! to Ultra. But since 2012, he’s been making a name for himself with big-time trap anthems 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 before finally releasing his first studio LP, Void (stream it below), in 2014. Renowned for Sound called it “a pretty damn impressive debut from someone so enviably young. Just as adept on his own as he is in collaboration mode, RL Grime’s first full-length album is a comprehensive introduction to the myriad of different tastes, technologies and talents in his possession and will undoubtedly continue to see his star deservedly rise.” He’s steadily been releasing singles (one of them, “Stay for It,” featuring Miguel, above) for his much-anticipated second LP, Nova, and now in the middle of his fall tour, energetic performer RL Grime lands at Terminal 5 this weekend for a pair of shows, on Saturday and Sunday. DJ-producers Graves and Kittens open both nights.
Tag Archives: Kanye West
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.
Tags: Amir Obè, Amir Obeid, Bowery Ballroom, Def Jam, Drake, EMI, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Kanye West, Live Music, Lower East Side, Michael Jackson, Music, New York City, None of the Clocks Work, Pharrell Williams, Preview, Video
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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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Holly Miranda – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2015
In a wide community of transplanted musicians to Brooklyn, Holly Miranda has carved her own storyline. As a fledgling 16 year old, Miranda moved from Detroit to Kings County and played cafes and coffeehouses throughout the city. In true indie fashion, she has recorded several albums through a variety of channels—self-releasing, crowd-sourced and eventually one worldwide release, The Magician’s Private Library. Five years since her global introduction, her latest, Days Are Shorter, Nights Are Longer, has the singer-songwriter returning in fine form following a successful writing trip in Joshua Tree. Pitchfork noted the album “feels both disarmingly intimate and broadly universal, and Miranda’s voice—fragile and fearless in equal measure—mesmerizes even when the lyrics veer toward nondescript platitudes.”
Donning pigtails and a cap, Miranda took the stage at Mercury Lounge just before midnight on Friday evening. Playing largely from her latest album, she began the set with “Mark My Words” and “Desert Call.” The singer asked the crowd, “Are you OK?” before admitting she was “pretty fucking drunk.” Despite her state, one could hear the haunting vocals and anguish in her lyrics, which have been noticed by the likes of Kanye West and Trent Reznor. The energy picked up on the rollicking “All I Want Is to Be Your Girl” as a group of fanboys feverishly danced up front. Switching to the piano, Miranda fussed with the chair before rebooting “Come On.” In an odd but playful moment, the performer explained that she’d received a bucket of garlic from a fan in D.C. and concluded that she had to toss the bulbs into the crowd.
After a few more song restarts, Miranda complained that this is what happens when you play a late show. The effects of too many preshow Negronis did not seem to take away from her lively cover of Morphine’s “Mary Won’t You Call My Name.” She admitted that the set would not be her best show but could be good, which explains why she wanted to get songs right after false starts. It was especially telling on the torch ballad “Everlasting,” as Miranda achingly strained to a trickle, emoting the hills and valleys of heartbreak. The late evening was punctuated with an uplifting rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” complete with the singer’s rapping skills on full display. No encore was needed. It was late and Miranda deserved a good sleep. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Days Are Shorter Nights Are Longer, Holly Miranda, Kanye West, Live Music, Mercury Lounge, Morphine, Music, Review, Sharlene Chiu, The Magician’s Private Library, TLC, Trent Reznor
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Miguel – the Space at Westbury – August 7, 2015
In a recent short documentary produced by Yours Truly, R&B superstar Miguel revealed his struggles as a young artist navigating the music industry. He spoke about his material being shelved early on in his career because folks just weren’t ready for his sound as the ebb and flow of popular music tastes fluctuated. How times have changed—and the proud L.A. singer released his third album, Wildheart, in late June to universal acclaim. After sold-out shows at Terminal 5 and The Bowery Ballroom, Miguel headed to his last New York stop, out in Long Island at the Space at Westbury on Friday night.
As Kanye West’s “All Day Nigga” played, the lights dipped low, members of Miguel’s band, all in white, filed in, and the man of the evening topped off the lineup in a white leather jacket with feather-fringed sleeves. Although “A Beautiful Exit” intro’d the set, the song would return throughout the evening as a transitional interlude. The band kicked up the tempo with Kaleidoscope Dream’s “The Thrill,” and Miguel’s gyrating on old fave “Sure Thing” had female fans immediately screaming. The night felt like a scene from Magic Mike XXL, as a mostly topless Miguel had the ladies in the palm of his hand. After a quick costume change into a “Wildheart” tank, he soon stripped off that, saying he was “sweating up a storm” because of all the “hot ladies” in the room. Cue tank soaked in the heartthrob’s sweat chucked into the crowd.
To counterpoint the steamy antics, Miguel spoke openly about the album’s inspiration, citing individuality as the core of being wild hearts. After a soulful rendition of “Leaves,” he continued to preach. “Normality is subjective and not our job to conform. It is a plague on society,” he said. “Limiting individuals to dream outside of the box.” Offering a window into the creative process of “What’s Normal Anyway?,” the Angeleno shared his experiences growing up as a mixed-race youth and feeling pulled to pick a tribe. His music represented his varied background from the salsa-like rhythms on “Waves” to a mini cover of 2Pac’s “I Get Around” into “Do You.” Miguel jumped into the masses crowd-surfing to the jubilation of his admirers. (No injuries on these attempts unlike at the Billboard Music Awards.) An encore trio of tunes included summer-hit “Coffee,” a mash-up of “How Many Drinks?” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank),” and the always favored “Adorn” to end the night. The sound went out momentarily on the mash-up, but Miguel didn’t skip a beat, continuing without amplification as audience members quickly joined in on the chorus. His inability to stop even during technical snafus only highlighted the artist’s persistence and true individual spirit. A wild heart all the way. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: 2Pac, Bowery Ballroom, Kaleidoscope Dream, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Live Music, Miguel, Music, Sharlene Chiu, Space at Westbury, Terminal 5, Wildheart, Yours Truly
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While much of the Paris techno scene revolves around upbeat dubstep, Mike Lévy—who records and performs under the name Gesaffelstein (a combination of Gesamtkunstwerk and Einstein)—mines a darker, more dissonant industrial territory while still driving people to the dance floor. Lévy is busy working as a DJ and producer. He’s remixed and worked with big names like Lana Del Rey and Kanye West, producing two Yeezus tracks, including its first single, “Black Skinhead.” His debut full-length, Aleph (stream it below), came out last year to plenty of love from critics and fans alike. Consequence of Sound called him “a noted producer on the frontline of reinstating the timeless techno sound.” And furthermore: “During his live sets, France’s Gesaffelstein isn’t afraid to throw down a techno banger, but across his 14-track Aleph LP, there is a steadfast focus on infusing dance-floor chaos with hushed melodies, soul-piercing vocals and isolated, minimal basslines.” And before he returns to Europe, Gesaffelstein (above, his video for “Hate or Glory”) plays Terminal 5 tomorrow night. Local duo Fixed (JDH and Dave P) open the show.
Ex Hex – Mercury Lounge – November 2, 2014
Ex Hex took to the stage at Mercury Lounge on a cold and blustery New York City Marathon Sunday evening, where at least one attendee displayed his race-finishing medal along with a whiskey and Coke. It turns out a marathon wasn’t a bad visual metaphor for independent-rock endurance racer Mary Timony, a purveyor of catchy garage rock since the 1990s, and her latest project, Ex Hex. Timony’s latest band articulated something beyond the well-worn loneliness of a long distance runner.
Playing songs from their appropriately titled debut LP, Rips, Ex Hex showed no signs of wearing out. Instead, the Thin Lizzy drums and guitar riffs settled the three-piece into a place that sounded newly generative and well-worn. The band had finished their sound check to the pounding sound of Kanye West’s “Hold My Liquor,” but “Don’t let me get in my zone/ I’m already in my zone” might have been better entrance music for a trio so steeped in both the present and the past. Dressed in black, Ex Hex opened with “Waterfall” before moving through “Don’t Wanna Lose” and “How You Got That Girl.” The sold-out crowd shuffled and bounced to match the down-stroke guitars coming from the stage.
Ex Hex—also the name of one of Timony’s solo albums in one of those meta moments where the art and the artist grow increasingly more intertwined—sat their best song, “Hot and Cold,” in the middle of the set. Despite the blowing waste outside on Houston St., or the hours-earlier struggles of runners on the Verrazano or Queensboro Bridges, Ex Hex suggested something different about temperature and age. Timony sang, “I cannot see through your disguise,” and then the intentional dissociation: “So young, so old.” The band’s set headed for its conclusion, a mixture of the aged and contemporary, and for the moment, with the chunky guitars and Ex Hex’s big hooks, we were all finishers.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but Ryan Leslie is smarter than you are. He aced the SATs, getting a perfect score, when he was just 14 and then graduated from Harvard at 19. The oh, so talented Leslie has since gone on to become a successful producer, rapper, singer, multi-instrumentalist (all documented on his YouTube channel) and businessman. He’s written and produced for Beyoncé, Britney Spears and New Edition while still finding time to put out a few of his own singles and mixtapes. As if he weren’t busy enough with that, Leslie has also released four albums. And while the first two were much more influenced by R&B, on his third effort, 2012’s Les Is More (stream it below), and last year’s Black Mozart, Leslie (above, performing “Ups and Downs” live in studio for Sway in the Morning) dives into the rap world alongside notable guests like Kanye West. See him play a hometown show tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom.
Glass Animals – The Bowery Ballroom – July 7, 2014
Glass Animals, a freshly minted indie-rock group hailing from Oxford, England, hit the United States on their first headlining tour in support of their debut album, Zaba. What began as a solo bedroom project for frontman Dave Bayley blossomed into a full band with the recruitment of some childhood friends. And as summer hits full swing, their jazzy, trip-hop melodies provide the perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach or hanging out on the stoop. Last night as the quartet descended upon the unlit stage of a sold-out Bowery Ballroom, Bayley cried out, “What’s up, New York?”
Beginning the show with material from their self-titled EP, an undercurrent of tenor beats against a bubbling effect introduced “Psylla,” followed by the Afro-jazz toned “Black Mambo,” which had most in the room bobbing their heads to the infectious rhythm. Fan favorite “Exxus” elicited a sing-along of the chorus: “Gone in the blink of my eye.” Moving on from their earlier works, the fresh-faced lads offered “Hazey,” “Flip,” and “Gooey.” Bayley’s ragdoll movements and upraised arms used for exclamation had the lead singer resembling a young Thom Yorke with a rapper’s flair.
Having a great night, Bayley gushed, “You guys are too cool to us,” as his shoeless feet bounced across the stage and his pedals. He encouraged everyone to dance for “Wyrd” and treated the dancers to a slowed-down cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” before closing the set. After a brief exit, the band returned for an encore of “Pools,” which would be perfect for a day at PS1’s Warm Up. Needless to say, get on this rising band STAT and score your tickets now for their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg at the end of summer. —Sharlene Chiu
It’s probably safe to say Alain Macklovitch has music in his blood. His older brother, David, handles guitar and lead vocals in Chromeo as Dave 1. And Alain has risen to prominence as a turntablist, producer and label head—he founded Fool’s Gold Records alongside Nick Catchdubs. But if his name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s probably because you know him for his DJ work as A-Trak. He’s won a slew of awards and DJ-battling championships, not to mention his numerous singles, EPs, mixtapes and remixes of big names like Kanye West, whom he’s often performed with, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A-Trak (above, performing on Holy Ship!) is equally at home in small clubs, big festival stages and arena and stadium shows. And he’ll have you dancing tomorrow night at Terminal 5. Cam’ron and Salva open the show.
Tags: A-trak, Alain Macklovitch, Cam’ron, Chromeo, Dave-1, David Macklovitch, Fool’s Gold Records, Holy Ship!, Kanye West, Nick Catchdubs, Preview, Salva, Terminal 5, Video, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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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.
Childish Gambino – Hammerstein Ballroom – March 29, 2014
Although he’s performed in big New York City venues before (SummerStage, Terminal 5), Donald Glover faced a new type of challenge at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night for his rap act, Childish Gambino. Luckily for him, he’s no longer splitting time between his music and acting careers (his final episode on NBC’s Community aired early in the current season), allowing Glover to dive headlong into his musical creation. Gone are the days when he was recording short verses into a laptop over poor-quality samples and spreading them around to fans himself. Childish Gambino now has a life of his own, and it’s evident in the work that went into his most recent album, Because the Internet, which was released alongside a short film, a screenplay, and now a carefully and fairly elaborately produced live show with the Deep Web tour.
For most of the first half the show, a massive living-room scene was projected onto a white sheet at the back of the stage, while some fans sat on two couches on the stage riser beneath two massive chandeliers. Gambino relentlessly charged through much of Because the Internet, getting the biggest reactions on “3005” and “Worldstar.” Every few songs the stage went dark and a shifting geometric shape spun onscreen while a sort-of narration loosely linked together parts of the set, somewhat reminiscent of similar breaks in the action during Kanye West’s Yeezus tour. In fact, a lot Gambino’s show (and music) easily compares to West’s work, although Glover’s show only clocked in at about half the length of Kanye’s three-hour arena epics. But the biggest similarity might be that there’s always something more going on in between the lines, some deeper meaning that Gambino, like West, always wants to communicate to his fans.
As Glover repeatedly shouted the “Send them pics to my phone/ GPOY” conclusion of “Earth: The Oldest Computer,” one of the last tracks on Because, the previously static living-room scene onscreen crumbled into a bluish wormhole before reading “RESET.” After a beat, the stage essentially rebooted into a campfire scene, which was met by wild roars from the crowd as everyone in the room knew the rest of the night would feature songs from Gambino’s less elaborate but just as powerful debut, Camp. Even as now-old tracks like “Fire Fly” and “Bonfire” rattled the room, it was hard to not think that Camp was some sort of prologue to Gambino’s young career, and that Because the Internet— accompanied by the Deep Web tour—is really just the beginning. —Sean O’Kane
Photos courtesy of Mina K
Tags: Because the Internet, CAMP, Childish Gambino, Community, Donald Glover, Hammerstein Ballroom, Kanye West, Photos, Review, SummerStage, Terminal 5, Yeezus
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Grouplove – Terminal 5 – March 26, 2014
Last time Grouplove played Terminal 5, this city (and much of the East Coast) was still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, something that informed how the band approached their set that night—and it was even worthy of a mention from lead singer Christian Zucconi during their show last night. But this time around the band, unburdened from the task of assuaging the fears and pains of the community they were playing for, let loose a little more and showed why they’ve become one of the hottest tickets around.
The California band is certainly one you’ve heard if not one you’ve heard of, as both of their albums are filled with songs that have been licensed for everything from beer commercials to Girls promos. Their West Coast roots influence their often airy, sunshine-ready rock sound, equally matched by a relentless momentum provided by heavily present (and catchy on their own) basslines and backed by thumping drums along an always danceable beat. Plus there are three- and four-part harmonies, and while each band member carries a seemingly endless amount of energy to expend during a set, Grouplove’s main draw is the back-and-forth vocals between Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.
Upbeat is almost a limiting word when it comes to describing Grouplove’s music, as songs like “I’m with You” and “Shark Attack” (both fan favorites) are more four- and five-minute parties unto themselves, as opposed to just upbeat songs. But thanks to their wild, genre-bending sound, the band can veer in other directions too, like taking the stage to Kanye and GOOD Music’s “Mercy,” or knocking a cover of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” clear out of the park (with Zucconi, not just Hooper, hitting Queen B’s notes). “What a surprise, New York’s the best night of tour,” said drummer Ryan Rabin late in the set, met by the roar of the sold-out crowd. That’s a comment we get a lot in this town, but last night, he was probably right. —Sean O’Kane
Jake Stanczak was born in Rochester, N.Y., but he’s been busy doing work as an electronic-music producer in New York City, partnering with the likes of Skrillex and Korn and remixing Kanye West. And while he’s also known to get people on the dance floor under the stage name Ewun, Stanczak makes all kinds of electronic dance music as Kill the Noise—from electro house to dubstep. His most recent album Black Magic: Remixes, which, you guessed it, remixes tracks from his previous release, Black Magic (stream both below), came out last year. And Kill the Noise (above, performing in Las Vegas last year) plays a hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday night.