Archives for posts with tag: music
robert johnson deal with devil blues

The devil watched the sun creep low from up in his tree. He swished the toothpick about his mouth silently before sticking it back out one side of his lip and sucking. In the distance a woman lugged a large suitcase towards his crossroad.

The sun was falling faster and faster. The woman moved slower and slower. One of the wheels broke and she profaned his names at her poor luck. He couldn’t help but grin. Shadows elongated and the orange streaked sky teased reds and purples. His hour drew closer, as did the dark unsuspecting woman. In minutes he would materialize for the night. As agreed in the covenant of old. The toothpick disappeared back into his gum line.

The woman was still muttering curses when he jumped down in her way.

‘Oh Lord.’ She said, a hand held against her chest.

The devil dusted off his suit and reached into his inner pocket for a comb. ‘I’m sorry if I scared you there, pretty lady.’

She looked him up and down twice over before speaking. ‘What the devil are you doing up in a tree?’ Her voice was the smoothest gravel. She laughed a short laugh before he could answer. ‘For a second I thought maybe this was a sundown town I’d come to, but my God, you’re as black as me. Ain’t that a relief?’

The devil said nothing. He wanted badly to hear that voice again but the woman waited for him to speak now. He pointed to the overpacked suitcase missing a wheel. ‘Must’ve been a bad set to throw you off so bad.’

She narrowed her eyes distrustfully.

‘It’s plain as day you’re a musician with a voice like that, and don’t try telling me you ain’t!’ The devil waved the comb about as he spoke like a wand, each gesture punctuating his words. ‘Why, I can smell out a musician sure as I can pick out a cat from dogs.’

‘You’re awful observant for a man jumping from trees. In a suit and in the damn near dark, no less.’

He soaked in the coffee cream of her voice. ‘I think… I think you know who I am. You look like a smart little lady. You know the price of the trade.’ He coolly put the comb back in his inner pocket.

The woman broke into a deep belly laugh. ‘Mama always told me this would happen, playing the devil hisself’s music.’ She looked at him with steel resolute eyes. ‘I have no fear for you to prey upon, nor any wants that you can false promise.’

His mouth turned to dry cotton. He believed her, by God. ‘You know what I have to offer. Surely you’ve heard the tales. What I’ve given to countless before you. What I may give to your peers if you pass. The great gift!’

She shook her head, all confidence. ‘What I have is God given. My soul is not for sale.’ With that the woman shook her broken suitcase, and trudged on passed the devil.

The sun was gone now and the devil stood alone at the crossroad.

It’s like a cold story
repeated over and over
in the winters of our mind

And just like that, this jumps straight into my top ten for the year. Easy.

Seeing these bad sumbitches on Friday. Consider me hyped.

The Space Between is such a solid project.

The trouble with ideas are they’re a dime a dozen whilst their execution is a slow arduous process. You can come up with a grand thought in seconds and then spend years before it ever reaches fruition. And that’s if it ever get there. There’s no guarantee that it does. The real easy fun lies in the daydreaming honeymoon phase and not in making the sausage. Making the sausage is kinda fun, but you spend of a lot of time tearing your hair out too. Daydreaming is painless.

So you work, day in and day out. And all along, you keep seeing newer, tastier ideas. Shinier balls to play with. And it takes all the discipline in the world to say no, and get back to your one sausage you’ve been mucking about with for years.

But you take note, you know. “I’ll get round to you one day,” you have to say. “Until then, get in line.”

So. ‘As Worlds Bleed’ multiverse sci-fi series coming 2050

You cannot give a shit about originality. You’re not going to invent a new genre or movement any time soon. Just be authentic and enthusiastic. That is enough.

Your craft will eventually pull you through a fresh take on an old thing. You can’t replicate someone else’s shit if you tried, but why would you want to? Be confident in the knowledge that likewise others cannot replicate you.

Do your own work without putting on airs. Put the hours in, of course. But experiment. Play. Be real weird with it.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Get free.

Also on Apple Music, yay

I’m struggling to put my thoughts together but I wanted to quickly try regardless.

I’ve been listening to rapper Lupe Fiasco’s new album DROGAS Waves since its release last week. It’s his first release as an independent artist, Lu having fulfilled his contractual obligations to Atlantic Records. A label with whom he had a rocky relationship, to put it nicely.

On the ascent back in 2006, Lupe seemed like a sure thing. He had the co-sign of Jay-Z; hookups with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. Contacts in the streets and love for those that inhabited it, yet a clear desire to remain above the fray. He was arguably one of the first true internet rappers and a poster boy for the burgeoning street fashion scene. An unabashed nerd with a love for skateboarding and anime. Oh and he could rap circles inside the circles he rapped ’round his peers. He ticked marketing boxes that were usually mutually exclusive to one another. His entire debut album leaked online, then pushed back and reworked and arguably made all the stronger for it.

But then came the storm. A best friend and partner locked up for 44 years. The label issues. The man was shelved for turning down a ‘360 deal’, where labels make a cut on all an artist’s merch and touring revenue – something which became commonplace in the industry in the years following. Single meddling, sabotaged projects and silence followed. Public petitions forced one album’s release and threats from Anonymous had another quietly discharged to little fanfare.

On other public fronts, Lupe was also not doing very well. A contrarian at heart with a distrust of establishments, he rubbed many the wrong way when he called out Obama (a fellow Chicagoan) for neoliberal warmongering. Twitter did not help. Its 140-character limit reduced him to little more than soundbites and his dry humour came through poorly in text form. His prickly nature and eagerness to argue his truths had him biting on trolls and turning off many casuals.

He turned to his painting for solace. The label received compromised album submissions, which Lupe struggled to put his all into.

But no more. The man is free. Free from his contractual obligations. Free to make the music he wants or to walk off into the sunset. Free to paint all day or finally write that novel about a window-washer’s philosophical musings.

So what did we get from all this? A conceptual album of sorts – Lupe Fiasco right in his wheelhouse and doing what Lupe fucking Fiasco does best. A supernatural rap tale about drowned African slaves that doubles as a story of Lu’s own emancipation. It’s a lot to unpack in the best way.

Summon the forest
Talking to trees like how could you be in the chorus
With something so horrid?
You became boards for the floors and the doors of the warships
Anthropomorphic, the forest returned with a match
Made from itself and said, “Burn us with that”
Then left again and came back with an axe
“We can serve you as furnish or furnace us black”

Slaves rebuke the seas and trees and stars for assisting slavers in the transatlantic trade. Some walk back to their homeland under the waters. Others roam the seas and destroy slaveships to free their brethren.

As I said at the start of this piece, I didn’t have a coherent train of thought before I plunged in. To be honest I was hoping this piece would go into Lupe’s other forays into the comicbook/supernatural (The Cool, Tetsuo & Youth) but instead it’s been more of a historical contextualisation from a day 1 fan. I suppose that can’t be helped. Vibe Magazine released a fantastic article in much the same vein and in true Lupe fashion he bit their heads off for it lol.

Whatever. Twelve years on, I’m glad for his place in music. I’m glad for the music. I’m glad for his resurrection and I’m glad he’s free.

With the exception of Resurrection, which was for a charity campaign, the songs embedded above are all from his ‘bad’ albums.

The kid sure knows how to crank out tunes to vibe to

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