Jay-Z is arguably the most successful hip-hop artist in the world. He owns a sports team, created a clothing line, ran a record label and then started his own, and last year beat Elvis Presley as the solo act with the most Billboard 200 hits. This year, he decided to add "author" to his long list of titles. Decoded is part memoir, part argument in defense of hip-hop, part lyrical analysis of his work, both well-known and unknown, and part printed self-aggrandizement with expensive-looking art design to match—like a microcosm of hip-hop itself. (But with more avant-garde black-and-white photography.)
Mixing classics with covers, this edition of BitchTapes contains some of our favorite Christmas songs, spanning decades, genres, and levels of corniness. From Thao Nguyen to Loretta Lynn and from Kristy MacColl to Eartha Kitt, you're sure to hear something you'll like. Plus, our mix contains a fair amount of songs that emphasize the not-so-jolly aspects of the season, like if you're heartbroken, broke, or in prison. Enjoy, and we hope your winter celebrations are swell! (Track list after the jump!)
I know there are some humbugs out there who don't like the holiday season, and that's fine. Cheer and snacks and the spirit of giving (OK, and stress and consumerism) aren't for everyone, right? But when people tell me that they don't like holiday music, I have a tough time believing it. Just about all of the musicians you can think of have recorded holiday music at some point during their careers, and a lot of it is really awesome. So open up your minds, scrooges! I've polled folks around the office and compiled a collection of some awesome holiday tunes, perfect for gift wrapping, wasting time at your desk, or dancing around the tree/menorah. Tracks and videos after the jump!
If Kanye West's new album is too self-centered and misogynistic for you, you can get fun melodies, great rhymes, and great samples from another Chicago-born artist, Nikki Lynette. She raps, she writes, she produces, and isn't afraid to throw genre to the wind. Putting tight beats and R&B melodies over electric guitar riffs, a mixtape called Roses 'N Guns, and a rousing update of Portishead's "Glory Box" are just some of the ways she crosses rap, pop, and rock boundaries.
Light, in the winter months, feels like a commodity. As the days get shorter and darkness encroaches we tend to recede into our homes earlier in the evening, where we can create our own light. This source, electric, solar, and imagined, receives a new awareness in the wintertime, and perhaps a greater appreciation. This week's BitchTapes revolves around the precious lux. Track list after the jump!
Iceland has been called the most female-friendly country in the world, and Scandinavia is world-renowned for producing perfectpopacts, so it was only a matter of time before my obsession radar brought me to female Icelandic musicians. Here are a very few of my favorites, some new to me (Ólöf) and some newly re-visited (Björk, dear Björk).
This week marked the beginning of Hanukkah, which in turn marked the beginning of the gift buying/giving frenzy that happens at the end of every year. Here's a soundtrack to keep you company while you shop (nudge, nudge):
My time with you is winding down, Bitch readers. I will miss you! But I've still got a few posts in me.
I've written about a lot of the women (and men) who have, for lack of a better word, inspired me. Voices and images and guitar, bass, and drum licks that kept me going, made me work harder, blurred out the bad things and come along with me for the good.
I could write for a year and not do any of them the justice they deserve, and there are lots of them that won't make it here—some I meant to cover and didn't because things happened and drove me in other directions, and others I remembered just recently. There are thousands of stories in my life that are connected to music, and probably even more critical lenses with which to focus on a particular song, video, album, performer.
But I've got my last post planned for you already, and so that leaves me with the open space today. And really, only one option that I simply can't miss.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and since today is a day of recovery/digestion, I figured it also might be a nice time to listen to some food-themed songs and reminisce about yesterday's feast. Kelsey did a food mix a few months ago, but it's such a good theme, and there are so many good songs about food, that I had to reprise it. I'm also going to steal her idea to put the songs in chronological food order, from breakfast to dessert. (The mix is a little dessert-heavy, but what can I say...I love dessert.) Dig in!