What’s been picking at my brain this week? Rappers boycotting the Grammys, new music from Depeche Mode, Eminem and more. Check it all out on this week’s edition of On the Radar.
Boycotting the Grammys
Seems like the Oscars aren’t the only awards ceremony with a diversity problem. Turns out several artists are going to sit out this year’s Grammys ceremony over a lack of diversity. TMZ reports that Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Drake and Justin Bieber will not attend the ceremony on February 12th. Drake and Bieber both agree the Grammys don’t fairly represent black and younger artists. Kanye West, on the other hand, has issues with the ceremony due in part to his past snubbings. A source even told TMZ “He’s received 21 Grammys, but when he was head-to-head against a white singer, he never won.”
Frank Ocean previously voiced his displeasure about the Grammys diversity problem last year. When explaining why he didn’t submit his 2016 albums, Endless and Blonde, for consideration, he said “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” Ocean explained in an interview with the New York Times late last year. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”
When you look at this year’s nominees, it does look pretty bad. Sure, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Drake are nominated, but they’re the only artists of color to be considered for Best Album of the Year. Other categories, such as Best Rock and Pop Album are less diverse. They’re prominently dominated by white artists even though there are non-white musicians in those genres. These artists boycotting the event will bring more light to this issue, which seems to have gone under the radar for years.
So far, you can still catch Bruno Mars, John Legend, Adele, and Metallica perform at this year’s ceremony, which airs on February 12 on CBS.
Depeche Mode finally drops new music
Last year, Depeche Mode announced plans for their new album Spirit. At the time, no other details were available, including the release date. Now, that’s changed. This week, the band revealed their fourteenth studio album will come out March 17. And to give fans a taste of what’s to come, they dropped new single “Where’s the Revolution.” Listening to the song, it’s clear the band are worried about what’s happening in the country right now. Though they originate from England, both Martin Gore and frontman Dave Gahan live in the states.
You can hear the sense of worry in the track and they seem to poke fun at Trump. Check out this line and tell me what you think: “You’ve been pissed on/For too long/Your rights abused/Your views refused.” It’s not the most exciting song Depeche Mode have released, but it gets you moving with its pulsing beats. Plus, it reflects what’s going on in the country right now. Check out the track for yourself and see what you think. Personally, I can’t wait for the new album. Depeche Mode has been making music since the 80s, yet their new material is still exciting, thoughtful, and just good. It may not hit you the same way as their classic stuff, but it’s more interesting than the mediocre stuff most “classic” bands put out these days.
Lately, I’ve noticed Eminem popping up in my shuffle more and more. My mp3 player happily goes from “Crack a Bottle” to “Rap God” during morning commutes making them more entertaining. I’ve been listening to the rapper since the days of “My Name Is” and like other fans, I’ve been on edge waiting for new album news. Em broke silence last year when he dropped the blistering track “Campaign Speech,” but has done much since aside from some guest spots on other songs.
So what has Eminem been up to? Rumors are circulating that a new album is coming this year. Apparently, the tracklist has been leaked on Reddit by user CarryMarryBlood, but take the picture lightly. Even the user who posted says it might be a fake. Going off the picture alone, if it turns out to be true, the rapper will team up with Adele, which seems unlikely, Chance the Rapper, and Kid Cudi. Sounds pretty awesome, but we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, you can hear Em diss Donald Trump on Big Sean’s new track “No Favors.”
Prince’s music comes to Apple Music, Spotify, and more
During his lifetime, Prince made it clear he wasn’t the biggest fan of the internet. Any fan trying to watch music videos or listen to his music online quickly learned it’s nearly impossible. Starting in 2007, Prince began removing Youtube videos with unauthorized use of his music. In 2010, he famously told the Daily Mirror “The internet is completely over.” In 2014, he sued 22 internet users for posting live bootlegs of his concerts. The same year he deleted his social media accounts and pulled even more music from Youtube. In a surprising move, Prince signed an exclusive streaming deal with TIDAL in 2015. So yeah, Prince had a really tight hold on his music. It sucks for fans, but you can’t really fault him when you hear how about the stressful relationship between artists and streaming services.
But now, fans can finally jam out to Prince on their favorite platform. The Purple One’s music will hit streaming platforms Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, and Spotify. The catalog is set to launch on these platforms February 12, the night of the Grammys, according to reports. Finally, right? Now, you can listen to the Purple Rain soundtrack wherever and whenever you want to. It’s great news for fans, though you can imagine Prince may not approve. Though his fight against these services is understandable, it’s also kind of stubborn. The music industry has changed dramatically. And artists who refuse to change with it often suffer. But seeing as he signed an exclusive deal with TIDAL, chances are he would’ve come around eventually. He just wanted to do it on his terms.
Goodbye, Black Sabbath
Say it isn’t so. Legendary heavy metal act Black Sabbath marked their final touring performance last weekend. The group played their last show together in their hometown of Birmingham, England on February 4. They ended the 15 song set with what is perhaps the biggest song of their career, “Paranoid.” While fans rocked out inside the Genting Arena, fans online gushed about how much the band means to them. Anthrax’s Frank Bello said “I never say goodbye. Number one, I can’t imagine a world without Sabbath, so I never say goodbye because I’ll always pray and I’ll be bugging Geezer [Butler] for this about a one-off show somewhere and hopefully that we’ll be able to see somewhere. So, I never say never because Sabbath is forever.”
Zakk Wylde, who previously played guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, said ““Lord Iommi is basically the architect of the music that we all love. When you actually create a genre of music, it’s incredible. They created jazz or classical or blues then you have this other form of music; it’s called Sabbath.”
After the success of their 19th album, 13, the band said they would work on a follow up and set out on a final tour in 2016. It’s sad to think that one of metal’s most iconic bands won’t be touring anymore. But as they say all good things must end. There’s a point where it’s clear our favorite acts should quiet while they’re ahead. Otherwise, their outings may turn into “hit packages” where they only perform popular songs, a sad attempt to recapture a lost time and lots of cash. Black Sabbath at least gave us a one more killer album before saying goodbye. And hopefully they’ll keep their word and release a follow up soon enough. The band may not be touring anymore, but at least they’re still giving us plenty of kick ass music to enjoy for years to come.