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Lil Wayne (#110 of 7)

Nicki Minaj & Nick Jonas Raise Eyebrows with Lyric Videos for “Only” & “Teacher”

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Nicki Minaj & Nick Jonas Raise Eyebrows with Lyric Videos for “Only” & “Teacher”
Nicki Minaj & Nick Jonas Raise Eyebrows with Lyric Videos for “Only” & “Teacher”

Lyric videos, a relatively recent promotional tool, started out simply as a means to keep royalties-paying audio on YouTube in the days or weeks between a single’s release and the premiere of an official music video. But artists and record labels have become increasingly creative and enterprising, squeezing every last ounce of promo possibilities from what used to be a rather banal, straightforward text-on-solid-background format.

The Blender: Lil Wayne, Ced Hughes, Phil Ade, & Cory Gunz

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The Blender: Lil Wayne, Ced Hughes, Phil Ade, & Cory Gunz
The Blender: Lil Wayne, Ced Hughes, Phil Ade, & Cory Gunz

[Editor’s Note: “The Blender” is a new series dedicated to highlighting notable new releases in the mixtape world.]

Blockbuster rap albums belong to the summer just as surely as FX-stuffed action flicks. Leaving your retailer of choice with a much-hyped rap release in hand, you scan the back of a jewel case, quickly assess the roster of featured guests, then cue up the CD player and prepare to push both bass and AC to their limits. For cinema-goers, summer ’11 has provided no shortage of spandex-clad warriors and explosive fight scenes, but the rap game’s superheroes have been uncharacteristically coy: Lil Wayne’s fourth Carter album has been delayed for months, the Jay-Z/Kanye collabo finally hits stores next week after a half-year’s worth of bait and switch, and Drake passed on giving the season a high-profile closer when he pushed his Take Care from mid-September to late October. If, in desperate search for a suitable soundtrack, we’ve turned to Khaled-produced posse cuts and Tyler, the Creator singles, who will accuse us?

The mixtape game hasn’t been immune from this unseasonable rap sleepiness, but the month of July did find a few rappers self-releasing long, ambitious, and widely downloaded street albums—certainly nothing on par with the major-label flagships mentioned above, but albums that could qualify as minor events in their own right. Ced Hughes’s One Day We’ll Wake Up earned props across the rap blogosphere: Largely self-produced, but running 25 tracks in all and featuring songs by Röyksopp and the Neptunes’ Chad Hugo, the VA-based rapper’s project splits the difference between DIY charm and blockbuster spectacle. Hughes’s production aesthetic is spare but expressive, a homespun and minimalist variation on the type of blissed-out soul cuts that Kanye West was making for Common circa Be. His flow isn’t showy or technical, but Hughes is still highly engaging on the mic, combining the incisive intelligence of indie rap with a shameless appreciation for pop-culture minutiae. There’s a great track called “Hot Dogs and Toupes” where Hughes boasts that “in this rap race my code name is Centipede/A hundred legs running on you Earthworm Jims” before making an even weirder joke about his ride’s rims and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

House Playlist: The Drums, Lloyd, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

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House Playlist: The Drums, Lloyd, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
House Playlist: The Drums, Lloyd, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

The Drums, “Money.” Despite just one EP and one full-length to their name, surf-rocking Brooklynites the Drums have mastered the art of delivering a catchy tune, and single “Money,” from their forthcoming Portamento, is no exception. The antsy track offers everything listeners have come to expect from the trio: a mixture of tongue-in-cheek inanity and genuine despondency from leadman Jonathan Pierce, three-note guitar hooks, electro-synth punctuations, and the wonderfully dense reverb of an affected chorus. As always, the Drums continue to deliver on their unassuming, indie-everymen personas: “I want to buy you something,” Pierce opines, “but I don’t have any money.” Kevin Liedel

Indie 500: Sparks, Lil Wayne, Belle and Sebastian

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Indie 500: Sparks, Lil Wayne, Belle and Sebastian
Indie 500: Sparks, Lil Wayne, Belle and Sebastian

I remember a friend telling me once about how, in some dreadful class where they purport to teach how to structure scripts properly or something equally proscriptive, he had to defend Scream. The charge was that Scream lacks emotion, to which he reasonably responded that sarcasm does have an emotional component. Flash-forward to “Strange Animal,” the second song on Sparks’ 21st album, Exotic Creatures Of The Deep, where auto-critique leads the brothers Mael (Russell and Ron) to spit back one of their most common criticisms (lots of snark, not much depth) unadulterated: “This song lacks a heart ... an emotional core/Isn’t that what songs are for?” Answer: not necessarily. Songs can be emotions, but they can also just be musical ideas worked out, or they can be satire, or they can be jokes on how long an inane pun can be developed.

Music Video Round-Up: Lil Wayne & Kanye West

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Music Video Round-Up: Lil Wayne & Kanye West
Music Video Round-Up: Lil Wayne & Kanye West

’Got Money’ directed by Gil Green (2008)

“Got Money” is the big, dumb pop-rap song of Lil Wayne’s two-million sold Tha Carter III because it’s got buzzing synths, R&B crooner (and maybe the second weirdest dude in pop-rap now) T-Pain on the hook, and it’s loud and about making lots of money. The video, directed by Gil Green and undoubtedly conceptualized by Wayne himself, is not about making lots of money for one’s self, but a kind of anti-capitalist, Robin Hood of “the hood” redistribution of wealth, contextualized in an awkward but effective prologue about the continued economic fallout for victims of Hurricane Katrina.