As you’ve no doubt heard by now, last night during the NBA Finals, a commercial aired announcing the upcoming release of Jay-Z’s next record Magna Carta Holy Grail (word play!) on July 4. So far so boring. But there was a twist! The album is going to be available exclusively for the first 72 hours to Samsung Galaxy owners, one million of whom will be able to access it through a specially designed app for the phone. Savvy marketing, right? Jay-Z is nothing if not a consummate businessman, and what’s the harm in pre-selling a million albums of your record? That is, besides the fact that it’s a corny-ass punk move.
The backlash to the stunt was swift online, as was the backlash to the backlash. As The Atlantic points out, this isn’t even the first time Jay-Z has pulled off such a deal.
Back in the heady days of 2003, when Jay was releasing The Black Album and openly saying it would be his last, Jay made a deal with Nokia to pre-load the album on Jay-Z-branded versions of the Nokia 3300 phone. They called it “The Black Phone.” He had his own cell phone. No one complained that loudly then. The Black Album went on to be one of Jay’s most successful and critically acclaimed records. Jay-Z is a pioneer of bridging the hip-hop cell phone divide and we have to accept that.
Ten years ago we were all a lot less media savvy though, weren’t we? And we certainly didn’t have social media to trumpet our confusion about the intersection of art and commerce like we do now. What’s our excuse now?
The blurring of what the rules are now, when most people won’t buy records anyway, is a point Jay himself makes in the commercial:
“We don’t have any rules. Everyone is just trying to figure it out. That’s why the internet is like the wild west, the wild, wild west. We need to write the new rules.”
Just like the wild west, like when armed bandits would execute daring train heists on the condition that if the amount of loot they made off with wasn’t sufficient to meet their needs they’d get a check written by their corporate caretakers back in the big city.
In essence, that’s what Jay-Z has done here, securing a promise from Samsung that his new record will ship one million copies, making it go platinum, before a single actual fan has expressed an interest in it. It’s obviously a canny business move, probably for both parties involved, but it seems that Samsung isn’t exactly getting what they paid for. The association with Jay-Z is only worth it if the brand they’re hitching themselves to is the cocksure king of the hip-hop world—what’s the upside up in teaming up with an acrobat who won’t do a cartwheel unless there’s a safety net and a team of paramedics on hand just in case something goes wrong?
Similar stunts have been pulled off in the recent past. Prince had an album bundled with UK newspapers. Soundgarden back-ended to platinum status deal with the video game Guitar Hero. As the Boston Phoenix‘s David Thorpe wrote at the time:
It’s strange to think that an album could go platinum just by being unloaded on a million people who might not give a shit about it. But, hey, congrazzles, your gimmick worked! Next, we’ll have dudes going 20x platinum by putting their discs between burger buns — rock your mouth with the Aerosmith Platinum CrunchWhopper Extreme!
Speaking of mouths, Jay-Z has long been the epitome of putting his money where his actually is—this is the exact opposite of that. How is this any different than conservative groups pre-ordering copies of prominent Republicans’ books in bulk to game the system into getting them on the best-seller list, then giving them away at church groups? To use an analogy that Jay-Z, famed New York Yankees fan could probably appreciate, it’s the equivalent of the phoney Red Sox sell-out streak attendance records, in which they’d give away big groups of tickets to corporate sponsors in order to make it seem like there was never an open seat in the house. It’s why you can’t even call a sold out concert a sold out concert anymore.
In short, it’s phoney as fuck, to use a technical term, and coming from an artist who’s built his entire shtick on authenticity, it’s no surprise that there would be a backlash. This should be the final nail in the coffin for any misgivings we had before now—not just for Jay-Z, but for the whole thing, the music business, commerce, art in general—but it won’t be, of course. Any con usually takes at least two parties to pull off successfully: the one doing the grifting, and the one eager to get their shit took.
Fulfilling his longstanding dream to have his name appear in a headline with a dead woman, Chris Brown, noted breakdancing necromancer, has resurrected the corpse of the long-dead Aaliyah for a guest vocal on his new track ”Don’t Think They Know.” The video, which is shot in black and white with red highlights, which automatically elevates it to Schindler’s List-style poignancy, intercuts footage of Brown dancing in front of the spectral aura of the late pop star’s ghost.
“Unity is what we are afraid of, so fear is insanity, let’s love each other. – Not CB, just Christopher” reads the text at the beginning of the clip. That’s probably all you need to know about how much thought went into this whole project.
While the name Ski Lodge may evoke all sorts of cold, wintery imagery, that’s in direct contrast to the post-punk (twee division), summer vibes of the New York band’s music. All is not as it seems on “Boy” however. The band’s name, frontman Andrew Marr has said evokes “an image of being warm by a fire, alone or with friends, while outside exists the cold and cruel winter.”
There’s a cruel winter to be found under the surface of the track, from the young group’s debut LP Big Heart, out this summer on Dovecote Records. ”I guess for me the song is about feeling trapped and feeling like a total victim of circumstance,” Marr explained to us. “Whether it’s in a relationship, or in a city, or a job. Just like, ‘I’m dying, get me the fuck out of this place, it’s not my fault I’m here.’”
One of the chief criticisms of the fashion industry is that in order for the clothes that they’re selling to actually look anything remotely like they do on the runway or in print, you have to have the same perfectly-sculpted body of a model yourself. But even the most in-demand working clotheshorse has nothing on these, well, perfectly-sculpted bodies, if you see what I did there.
These styled classical sculptures dressed in modern clothes, by Léo Caillard and Alexis Persani (via Today I Learned), are a juxtaposition of this that and the other thing, sure, but they’re also just really fun to look at, which is what the internet is here for.
We can argue back and forth until we’re blue in the tits about whether or not recorded music has monetary value anymore, and if pirating is analogous to actual real world theft. I happen to think it is, others are welcome to argue that downloading a bootleg of Star Trek 2 is a bold freedom-fighter’s stance, the internet equivalent of marching in the streets of Instanbul. That’s not what we’re here to talk about today, however. Instead, I’d like to consider the enablers of said leaking, as in the case of the new Kanye record Yeezus, which, despite Buzzfeed’s assurances to the contrary just a few hours ago, has apparently leaked.
Whatever your stance on pirating music, and whether or not it actually has a negative effect on sales potential, I think it’s safe to assume that one group of people we wouldn’t expect to be advocates of thievery are respectable journalistic enterprises, particularly music-centric ones. Music publications are in the business of selling music — no artists making it, no one wants to read about it. Taking money out of the hands of musicians means less incentive for making records, less music to write about, etc etc. And yet, strangely, whenever there’s a leak of a prominent record, one that might actually expect to do serious sales numbers, we see music publications enabling the spread of the leak. Granted, many of them will not go right out and share a link to Pirate Bay, or whatever service it is you people spend so many thousands of man hours on in the hopes of saving like $11, but it’s not as if that link is even necessary. The mere announcement that such a link exists is no better than sharing the link itself, you’re basically making your readers do about 12 seconds of extra Googling time to find the download. You may not be literally drawing a map of all the unlocked homes on your street for a hypothetical robber, but you’re simply, you know, saying that there may or may not be a certain window open in a certain big house at the end of the street, and, hey, who knows, maybe an enterprising individual could find something of use in there? Not saying, just saying.
Here are a few respectable publications, music-based and otherwise, who encourage the piracy of music, either tacitly, or implicitly.
Despite Kanye’s best attempts to keep his album Yeezus mostly under wraps, the album is now bouncing around the Internet’s file servers.
Twitter started gabbing about the Yeezus leak around 12:30 p.m. today, and now it seems like most everyone has gotten word of it.
People have been going crazy looking for a leak of Kanye West’s new album “Yeezus” before its Tuesday release. It looks like a version of it has hit the web. A simple Twitter search will help if you want to find it.
‘Yeezus’ has apparently leaked, but here’s our track-by-track guide from Kanye’s New York playback: http://t.co/dp4ns9TIaz
— NME (@NME) June 14, 2013
Now, you can hear Yeezus in its entirety — illegally. A leak of West’s sixth studio album hit file-sharing service What.cd a little after 12:30 p.m. EST Friday (June 14) and is now — likely —floating around the internet.
The Huffington Post has heard the album and, by cross-checking it across the version played at West’s listening party Monday night, can verify that it seems legitimate. We’re not posting links to the leak, though, so happy hunting.
Against all odds, Kanye West‘s Yeezus has leaked. OK so it was probably bound to happen, but everything had been so secure and we were so close to the June 18 release that we honestly thought we’d have to wait until Tuesday. And ya know what? We’re kind of disappointed that some (hero?) leaked it. If Yeezus Christ can’t beat the leak economy, then nobody can.
As well as that Mega.co.nz link, we’ve also heard it became on private BitTorrent site What.CD.
Here’s a List Of Publications That Want You to Steal Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’
Robert Downey Jr. has been in western Massachusetts in recent weeks filming for his new project The Judge, a movie about… a guy who…judges things, one supposes. As often happens when a big production descends on a quiet town, there have been ample opportunities for hob-nobbing with the hoi polloi, like this little fella shown above, a baby by the name of Jaxson Denno, who was devastated to learn that super heroes aren’t real, and that we’re all, even the most famous among us, just regular old middle aged dudes.
“He was fine as soon as he talked to him,” Jaxson’s mother, Heather Denno, told People magazine. Jaxson “was so confused,” according to Denno. “Because I kept telling him it was Iron Man and he knew it wasn’t. Well, not Iron Man in the suit.” (via Boston Magazine)
Looking like the steep angles you’d expect to find on a modernist architect’s Pinterest board, the graph of tweet gripes reached ever upward, the steadily-incremental echo of disdain thundering on social media with enough chorus to make one’s bile ducts flutter. Notification alerts pulsed on iPad minis. In the sleek communal office spaces from Cambridge to Brooklyn, a sea of social media mavens in dress hoodies #smh’d at the hypnotically dorky galumphing of the latest New York Times Style Section trend piece.
Away from the fray, late adopters could be overheard invoking The Return of the Club Kids, or The Return of Vinyl, or The Hipsterfication of Brooklyn, the long-neglected, but suddenly ascendant borough of New York City, just across the river from Manhattan, a short subway ride away. Three models from the Netherlands, Italy, and Brazil were off being models somewhere, oblivious to the significance. “We had dinner with Tiesto,” the Dutch model said, name-dropping a famous D.J. from her homeland. No one could hear her speak, because it was Thursday, Style day, or Thurstyle, as its becoming increasingly known from Cambridge to Brooklyn, and also Austin and other top cities around the country. San Francisco, say.
One might expect such predictable in-fighting in Manhattan, the center of the publishing world, and also various other ascendant industries. But this was Brooklyn, probably — or more precisely Twitter, a borough of Brooklyn, a social media platform where the best examples of complaining about how late the Style section is on a trend piece has become itself a sort of jumping off point for meta-trend pieces about trend pieces.
A dozen hours after that one piece on vinyl making a comeback, bemoaning the corniness of the Times is itself mounting a comeback, one thousand tweets a minute at a time.
Twitter has been the crucible for the revival. In addition to that one piece about adults throwing themselves proms, two other trend pieces have raised the hackles of social media’s early trend piece complaint adopters, or TrePiComAdos for short, a piece about people taking the bus from Williamsburg to the Rockaways, and the prevalence of Tumblr, a spirited social media platform favored by avant-garde types and teenage porn addicts.
There were always social media specialists and unemployed recent J-School grads who disdained the trend piece, arguing that a newspaper should report on topics of import, with a depth the speed of the blog could not match, blogs being frequently updated.
But the market, as their friends do, largely ignored them. Nobody reads real news anymore, many publications have made huge cuts in their staff, and also people are really into dance music right now which we didn’t have a chance to point out yet, but this seems as good a spot as any. EDM they call it.
Daft Punk. Arrested Development.
As it turned out, that early resistance was not futile, thanks largely to an audience of idiots, many born after blogs were invented in the 1990s, the pop culture highlights of which people are fond of being reminded of on such sites a FeedBuzz and Vine.com.
A growing number of social media users with predominantly college-age maturity levels have had similar complaints.
Some members of Twitter are taking notice of this trend of outdated trend pieces. One such Twitter user, @fart_doctor69 on Twitter said “Can’t even with this Style piece right now.”
“LOL,” was a common refrain among Mr. _doctor69′s increasingly growing online following.
“They certainly do seem to write about things long after everyone already knows they’re a thing,” said another social media user. “I should probably point that out to people.”
The invasion of copy-cat complaints about copy-cat pieces on copy-cat trends has only begun. The Times Is On It, is a popular Twitter account, which focuses mainly on obviously trumped up trend pieces. There’s even a White House Petition with 5,000 signatures asking President Obama to get involved. They even have their own Facebook page. Models are typically employed in the borough of Manhattan. Publishing is another thriving field here.
“A lot of people were surprised when the New York Times went in this direction, but it’s the future,” said Noah Pippingberg, an owner of a popular Tumblr blog, as well as being friends with various models and DJs and bloggers for popular Tumblrs. “The bitching about media business is cyclical. We’re seeing it come full circle from the last week and every other week for years to now.”
Here are 25 Ridiculous New York Times Trend Pieces.
While I’ll probably go to my death bed cursing the internet gods for turning it into a wasteland of animal gifs, I’ve always said the one acceptable exception is looking at pictures and videos of dogs riding in cars. It’s funny because people are the ones who normally ride in cars, not dogs! Dogs are supposed to sit in the corner of an apartment until you get home to take them for a ten minute poop furlough. This video from You Tube person and ostensible dog lover Odin Parker fits that description. You’ll probably find it overwhelmingly charming, then boring, then charming again, if you’re anything like me, at which point you’ll start thinking about how all of those dogs will probably be dead in the next few years or so, much like everything else. Cute though.
Hayley Coupon is a musician from New York City who recorded a strident, jaunty piano-rock number called “True Friend” a couple weeks ago. We never heard of it until just now, when this cover she did of buzzy internet stars Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” appeared in our inbox. Upon further inspection of said email, we later learned that Coupon has a symmetrically pleasing visage.
Coupon, we also soon discovered, has a lovely singing voice, which, after those two aforementioned details above, is third on the list of things we look for in a song to post about on the internet.
The track, played on mandolin, tones down the trippy-psychedelic haze of Tame Impala’s song, in what is, we have to admit, a lovely performance and a unique arrangement, which is, in part, why we’re sharing it with you here.
While we normally wouldn’t be ones to use the expression OMFG, because its overuse has devalued its true meaning, in the case of this video from an incident at a San Francisco public transportation station a few weeks ago it seems warranted. While the headlines about it seem like they’re of a joking nature, as does ours, and it might seem like a playful, if disturbing scene at first when you watch the video, it turns downright terrifying as the true extent of this naked, high as fuck, menacing gymnast become apparent. NSFW for nudity, and being scary as hell.
A commenter from MissionMission has more details:
Wasn’t that “amusing” as you are despicting it. Just saying. Just left 16 and Mission Bart station and as I was approching the ticket exit, a completely naked man with his penis hard was backing a woman coming from work I assume against a wall and he threw her down to the ground. Someone tried to stop him and he ended up throwing the guy to the ground and then got on the ticket exit/entrance thing and squatted over for everyone to see his anus and then and then and then….. the point is that no one could control the situation and then he started going after an older man and had him by the neck. He was obviously on PCP since he was so strong and out of it ( i think???)) wtf! Everyone ran out and no one could help. I heard “the police were on their way” but we all ended up getting out of there. I didn’t stick around. Thank god my kids weren’t with me. Sad world and fucked up people. Fuck 16th/Mission Bart. At your own risk!
The man was identified by BART police as 24-year-old Yeiner Garizabalo. Friends said Tuesday he goes by Yeiner Perez and is a dedicated acrobat and performer. The episode, they said, was strongly out of character.
“He’s been through a lot of stress — he seems to have been having a breakdown,” said Slim Chance, who leads the Berkeley circus troupe ClownSnotBombs. Perez was a member from January to early May. “That seems to be the tip of it right there. I just can’t tell you anything more because I don’t really know what his state is. It’s not at all like his normal character.”
Chance said Perez, normally a “workaholic acrobat,” stopped showing up to the group’s practices several days before the episode.