May 27, 2024

On the Radar: AFI, Paris Jackson, Missy Elliott and More

Elliott, Missy

AFI drops The Blood Album

After months of waiting, AFI’s The Blood Album is finally here! I eagerly prepared by listening to AFI non-stop throughout January. So what’s my final verdict? Meh. The album is enjoyable, but far from their best. It barely tops their 2013 release, Burials. The main issue is it’s so mediocre. There’s very little about the record that’s memorable aside from the singles. When I hear tracks like “Get Hurt” and “Pink Eyes” I think “Oh, that’s nice” when listening to the entire album. But do I remember them once it’s over? Not really. Very few of the songs are exciting or hard hitting like their past work. They’re just there. In the scope of the album, it’s okay, but I can’t imagine listening to most of these songs on their own.

There are a handful of exciting songs. “White Offerings,” “She Speaks the Language,” and “Dumb Kids” are the most energetic tracks on the record. These songs show flashes of their past work. Otherwise, the rest of the songs are decent. I don’t hate the album. I just wanted another record that hits me in the gut the way Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground did. Despite this, I’m still looking forward to the band’s Chicago show at the Riviera Theatre. Who knows, after hearing the new tracks live, I may change my mind.

Tom Araya speaks out; pisses off everyone

It’s no secret a lot of musicians hate Donald Trump. Various artists and bands have made that clear in months leading up to the inauguration with anti-Trump songs and participating in various protests around the country. You would think heavy metal icons Slayer would follow suit, but one person in the band thinks otherwise. Slayer frontman Tom Araya received backlash when he posted a photoshopped image of the band hanging out with Trump. The image was later taken down only to be reposted on Instagram. Araya then commented on the photo saying he didn’t understand where all the hate was coming from and called the commenters “snowflakes” for their disdain. Here’s what he had to say:

“I thought it was funny … I was amazed at the comments about the picture some positive some negative more amazing was in 2 hours there was 10,000 likes … But I never would have guessed that there were so many snowflakes commenting their distaste for the new president.”

“Like him or not he is the president … woke up the next morning and found someone had deleted the post … can someone please explain why…?”

The band later released a statement to Rolling Stone pretty much saying the photo is all on Arya. The band said “As was verified by Tom, this was his post, is not something the band would have posted if asked, and does not belong on a Slayer social page.”

They added: “We all have our personal opinions, some of which we have voiced in the past, but Slayer has never endorsed any political party or any candidate, and the band intends to keep it that way.”

It’s a relief to know the band doesn’t necessarily feel the same way as Araya, but it’s still shocking. Slayer is the last band you would expect to call out people for hating someone in power. They’re usually gung-ho for rebellion, standing up to authority, and not going down without a fight. At least the rest of the band have made their feelings about the situation clear.

Missy Elliott returns with new music

Missy Elliott has always been one of the hottest, weirdest rappers around. Her videos for “Super Dupa Fly” and “Beep Me 911” are iconic and set the rapper apart from others in the genre. I still remember the summer when “Get Ur Freak On” was the song to lose your mind to. Everyone in my sixth-grade class thought they were cool for knowing all the words. It’s still a killer song. Put it on at a party now and see who doesn’t start jamming out.

After being out of the spotlight for way too long, she finally released new music in 2015 with the single “WTF (Where They From).” Last year she dropped the single “Pep Rally” and did that weird Amazon commercial with Alec Baldwin. Last Friday she surprised fans with the slow burning new single “I’m Better.” And yes, it came with a wonderfully weird video. Featuring a verse from Lamb, the song features a hypnotic ticking beat while Missy spits hot fire over a slow pulsing beat. Though it’s not a fast club jam, you can already picture people popping and locking on the floor.

So far, this is the best new material Missy’s dropped in recent years. It gets you pumped for her new album. She started the project in 2015 and there have been few updates. Hopefully, the new album will drop sometime this year.

Paris Jackson and Frances Bean Cobain in the news

Michael Jackson daughter
Paris Jackson

One of the most interesting stories of the past week was Paris Jackson’s exclusive interview with Rolling Stone. The daughter of the late pop icon Michael Jackson, talked about her troubled past, growing up with a superstar, and her future plans. She talked openly about her past suicide attempts, some drug issues, and how she was cyberbullied on numerous occasions. But some of the most intriguing bits came from her life with Jackson. She described him having a potty mouth, making the best fried chicken in the world, and being a loving father. Honestly, we wouldn’t expect less from Jackson, maybe not the swearing. Gotta say, didn’t see that one coming. She also revealed some disturbing details about her father.

She talked about how he used to tell her his fears about someone trying to kill him.  “He would drop hints about people being out to get him,” she says. “And at some point, he was like, ‘They’re gonna kill me one day.’ And she absolutely believes her father was murdered. All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bullshit, but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it.” She continues by saying “It was a setup. It was bullshit.” These rumors have been spreading since Jackson’s death. They seemed ridiculous at first, but since Jackson’s own daughter believes it’s true, you start to question it. Read the interview here.

Paris Jackson isn’t the only famous offspring in the news. Frances Bean Cobain made headlines due to her divorce from husband Isaiah Silva. Things are getting heated as Cobain wants back her father’s guitar, which Silva currently has. He claims it was a gift while Cobain says she would never give away a family heirloom. Considering this was the guitar her father, Kurt Cobain, played on the iconic MTV Unplugged in New York special, there’s a good chance Silva just wants some priceless memorabilia for keeps. Hopefully, the guitar will go back to its rightful owner. Both Jackson and Cobain are taking up careers as models. Cobain was recently announced as the new face of Marc Jacobs, while Jackson is the new face of Chanel. We wish both these stunning women the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Hip Hop meets Harvard

Nas rapper
Nas’ Illmatic

Hip hop and Harvard are the last two things you would expect to hear in the same sentence, but it’s happening. Hip hop producer 9th Wonder is currently working on a project for the university. He’s building a hip hop archive for the university and his first four picks are pretty stellar. Last weekend, the producer revealed via Instagram that the first albums he picked for the collection are Lauryn Hill’s 1998 debut, Nas’ Illmatic, The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest, and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Not only did he pick some of the best and most iconic records in hip hop, he also threw in one of the best albums of 2015. That’s gotta make Kendrick Lamar feel pretty good.

This is a major event for the genre. Though fans and artists know differently, hip hop and rap still aren’t held up in the same regard as other music. Yes, there’s a lot of bad rap out there, but there’s so much good to it also. So much of the hip hop that’s gone down in history elevates it to another level. It’s an art and finally, it feels like it’s getting that recognition. It’ll be exciting to see what other records will make it into the archive. 9th Wonder is working on picking 200 albums that will be housed in Harvard’s Library. The collection will also feature each album’s liner notes and production vinyl. To keep up with updates, check the hip hop archives website.