Photos and Story by Scott A. Smith Armed with loud guitars and aim-to-please set lists, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent brought their Midwest Rock-N-Roll Express Tour screeching into the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on May 8. All three acts served their A-game to 10,000 cheering fans inside the darkened, great-sounding venue, assertively taking [...]
Posts tagged: Review
Story and photos by Scott A. Smith Acting as some species of rock-and-roll phoenix, Audio Adrenaline has resurrected itself and is creating some terrific, hard-hitting music. With original bassist Will McGinniss and former DC Talk singer Kevin Max at the front of the stage, Audio Adrenaline won a hero’s welcome from fans of all ages [...]
Story and Photo by Scott A. Smith Soft-rock jokes be banished: Chicago rocks — really rocks — in concert. A still-strong staple of American popular music, Chicago stormed through a perfectly orchestrated set list April 18 for a sold-out, multi-generational audience at the Joint inside the Tulsa Hard Rock. A seemingly endless sonic stream of [...]
Tyga is having one of those rare bursts of creativity in music. It’s reminiscent of Kanye when he put out My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy concurrently with the GOOD Fridays sessions, or Bruce Springsteen’s wealth of material that came out of the Darkness on the Edge Town recordings.
Well, okay, maybe Careless World, the Well Done 3 mixtape and now Hotel California won’t go down in history as a landmark moment in the history of popular music, but Tyga is putting in work. You can’t take that away from him. Three lengthy releases in little more than a year is an impressive output.
He doesn’t lack for new material on Hotel California, with 18 full-fledged tracks and only one track carrying over from the mixtape. He does, however, seem to have taken a step back from the surprisingly well-rounded Careless World. He’s also missing some of the energy and fun of Well Done 3.
He comes out of the gate unabashed on “500 Degrees” featuring Lil Wayne, who at this point just needs to lie down. It’s been a long time since his presence has adding anything of value to a track other than his name, including his own material. Tyga leaves no doubt, however, of his extravagant lifestyle with one over-the-top boast after another:
“T-raww, fuck y’all, money tall, dick large/Tiger in my backyard/bitcheses on my futon…Thrilla manila, I buy straight from the dealer/I’m politickin’ in Paris, I’m buying statues and pillars/All from the Louvre…mosaics from the museum…”
The money, the cars, the women, the clothes, the art pieces – Tyga leaves no doubt through the album that he’s bathing in these status symbols.
The next track, “Dope,” raises your hopes to the highest level. A sinister cocktail of bassline, synth and sample propel Tyga and Rick Ross to their bests. Ross sounds uncharacteristically nimble, though not out of character: “I done seen it all but it’s back to these broads.” Ah, the grind of being a Don.
The rest of Hotel California’s seemingly endless first half is illustrative of a major problem in rap right now. A minimalism so tinny and deadening it comes off as hollow and nearly depressing. It’s a sound personified by everyone from Rick Ross to Weezy to 2 Chainz – an almost anti-quality aesthetic with no depth, vibrancy or musicality. Its end can’t come soon enough.
“Get Loose” makes you feel anything but with its series of beeps and handclaps, and bone-headed, repetitive lyrics: “Bitch ‘cause I’m loose off the goose, goose/Loose off the goose, goose/Real shit, I ain’t never been a liar.”
The lead single “Molly” is a catchy, but murky, dark ode to a purer form of ecstasy. “For the Road” is one of the few tender moments on Hotel California, featuring Chris Brown of all people. “Show You” features the awful autotune stylings of Future and “It Neva Rains” is corny Cali sentiment, using the same effects we heard on “California Love” nearly 20 years ago now. Will West Coast rap ever let go of its undying affection for Roger Troutman’s Electro Harmonix?
Tyga seemed to be aiming to create as many versions of “Faded” and “Rack City” as he could muster on this latest record.
However, just when you’re ready to write Tyga off for his crass banality and low-brow instincts, he somehow manages to find his footing. In the final tracks, he presents a picture of the young, rich and reckless, but also the vulnerable.
On “Enemies,” he’s tormented by a secret love affair: “I wanna tell the world about you, but it’s like we’re sworn secrecy/Why do we sacrifice growing up to fall in love so fast, hope we don’t become enemies.” But later he declares, “Lies, you can’t take it, cheated before, but not much lately/Lately I’ve been so into this shit, love is amazing.”
“Drive Fast, Live Young” forgoes the clanky production quality of much of Hotel California for more of an epic scale. “Palm Trees” captures the California feel much better than the derivative “It Neva Rains,” and Tyga gives new insight to his high rolling lifestyle: “All-white neighborhood, I feel alone/8 bedrooms, let my thoughts roam.”
Fame comes at a price and the 23-year-old Tyga seems to actually realize that, even if he will dedicate track after blusterous track to denying it.
“Dad’s Letter” is even more revelatory as he imagines what he would say to his missing-in-action father: “Growing up all I wanted was a father figure/Me and mom alone every dinner…”
Hotel California is far more uneven than Careless World, but there’s just enough here to get us into the summer. You may not find much of it is very good, you may be turned off by its simplicity and profanity, but you’ll bang it anyway. It’s another interesting chapter in Tyga’s young but extremely prolific and still promising career.
Photos & Story by Scott Smith A power ballad-filled reputation often tails REO Speedwagon like merciless paparazzi, yet the Illinois-borne quintet is so much more than a metaphorical jukebox crammed with love songs. The popular rock band blazed through a well-paced set Feb. 23 at a packed Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, balancing must-play [...]
The extra-hard working Curren$y defeats all stoner-stereotypes, releasing multiple projects each, suggesting that every day he is on his grind. Yet once you experience his music, you realize that sitting around, smoking weed, and just happening to spit some lyrics over beats is a big part of it. So maybe he’s found his element. With his latest mixtape release, New Jet City, Curren$y delivers more of what his fans love.
It’s hard to compare one Curren$y record to the next, as you pretty much get what you expect from each one; that is, super laid back beats and pot-Picasso’s painted by Spitta himself. He’s got a knack for this kind of thing, even if it isn’t you bag (or sack, rather), completely nailing it on tracks like the Nino Brown inspired opener “New Jet City”. Yet Curren$y is much more the customer, than the dealer.
On the Statik Selektah helmed “Clear”, he and Jadakiss, deliver three minutes of mellow madness, while the potential hit single “Choosin’” with Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa begs the question as to why it wasn’t saved for his next album. The ridiculously produced “Mary”, which happens later in the album, is pretty much Curren$y defined.
There’s no needle-dropping on a Curren$y LP, you just let it play through, and let the more smoked out selections like “Three 60″ and “Living For The City” slowly seep into your mental. Yet it doesn’t always work; “Drive”, for instance, is almost too agressive for Curren$y’s taste, while the Juvenile-featured “Bitch Get Up” merely plods along. Appearances from less-than-stellar rappers like Trinidad James (“Purple Haze”) and French Montana (“These Bitches”) also leave something to be desired.
For the most part, Curren$y continues churning out soulful, blunted music for his fans, and despite a few missteps, for the most part, New Jet City does not disappoint.
Photos and Story by Scott Smith No band plays with more fire, across-the-board talent or purpose than The Who. Nobody. Led by co-founders Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals) and Roger Daltrey (vocals), The Who shot new life into their already-impressive 1973 concept album, “Quadrophenia,” with a front-to-back live rendition on Valentine’s Day at the BOK [...]
Photo and Story by Scott Smith First-night blips were banished as Matchbox Twenty rocked the house via a loud, wonderfully long set list Jan. 29 in Tulsa. The popular band launched its world tour at a sold-out show at The Joint inside the Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and the gig thrilled long-time fans [...]
Photo and Story by Scott Smith Suckers walk and money talks, but they can’t touch Sammy Hagar’s party-time rock. Backed by his super-fit band, The Wabos, the perpetually grinning Hagar let his Red-Rocker persona fly through a best-of set list Jan. 18 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa, [...]
Photo and Story by Scott Smith When Brian Setzer hits the stage, his guitar tone is as tasty as the finest butter, and his dexterous fingers scurry across his Gretsch guitar’s fret-board in an amazing, tornado-esque display. The Stray Cats co-founder led the Brian Setzer Orchestra during part of their ninth annual “Christmas Extravaganza Tour” [...]