beyonce

MELO-X KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES TO CATCH BEYONCE’S ATTENTION
October 7, 2016 12:58 pm

MeLo-X  is traveling at warp speed. Pedal to the metal. The Brooklyn-based multimedia artist has a boundless artistic vision that rejects the conventional division lines between sight and sound.

Although best known for his collaborations with Beyoncé—the free-spirited rapper and hip-hop producer has also directed and scored films, designed art installations that they have at the MoMA and Guggenheim, is a trending fashion tastemaker and an advocate for staying grounded and true to your roots.

It would be difficult to find an artist in Brooklyn with a more varied palette than MeLo-X, and that’s saying a lot.

Yoncé-X

The self-proclaimed Renaissance man—born Sean Rhoden—got his first big break in 2014 following the release of Beyoncé’s self-titled surprise album. MeLo-X released an unauthorized collection of remixes titled Yoncé-X EP  which when picked up speed and went viral, eventually catching the attention of Queen B herself.

And there’s no one more powerful, more influential in the music biz than Beyoncé.

Pop artists are often treated as gods living among mortals—transcending human existence and amassing devout worship. If ever there was a pop artist that fits—if not demands this treatment from her fans—it would be Beyoncé Knowles.

Lemonade

So when MeLo-X was asked to co-direct the accompanying film scores to Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour, he jumped at the opportunity and didn’t look back.

Soon he was flying out to LA to help Beyoncé co-write and co-produce tracks “Hold Up” and “Sorry” off her 2016 album Lemonade.

Keep in mind, producing a Beyoncé album isn’t a typical of the industry. Rather, to visualize the scale of such a project, it’s easier to liken the undertaking to that of a Hollywood blockbuster—dozens of writers and producers converge on each track to produce the most immaculate, pungent production possible. But that’s exactly where MeLo-X excels—collaboration.

His sparse productions, often centered around spaced-out percolating frequencies, give a dark, spatial depth to the music he touches—his voice is understated yet distinct at the same time.

Curate

Both his overall aesthetic as well as his affinity for collaboration are in full view on his 2015 solo CURATE EP which features music from buzzing hip-hop artists Little SimzKilo Kish, and Raury—he also released an interactive app to accompany the EP allowing fans to create their own remixes.

2016 has been nothing short of a whirlwind for MeLo-X. He hit the year off with another remix collection, titled Adele-X, centering yet again on the music of a pop music enigma as his subject.

MeLo-X  also recently released a track with glitch-centric electronic artist Machinedrum called “Angel Voice”—as well as helping produce track “Cleopatra” for up-and-comer Queens-via-Bengal hip-hop buzz magnet Anik Khan.  While it might be impossible to tell what MeLo-X will take on next, it’s certain he won’t be slowing down his pace anytime soon.

MY PLEA FOR JAY-Z TO STAR IN THE NEXT GROWN UPS
June 9, 2016 2:30 pm

I’ve been using Tidal for a few months now. When I first joined, I thought that it’s horribleness was just a meme meant to make fun of Jay-Z and the product itself wouldn’t be so bad. As it turns out, all of the hype is to be believed. Tidal is horrible. I don’t even want to go into detail about it, please, just take my word for it. Do not use Tidal. Jay-Z, one of my all time favorite rappers, had lead me down a rotten path.

But because I’m lazy, and because I know he’s gonna get Kanye too keep Cruel Winter exclusive to Tidal for at least a month, I’m sticking with the misery like a 1950s marriage. Ever since I’ve drastically lowered my standards, it’s actually been pretty okay, kinda! So when the Brooklyn rapper’s streaming service kept sending me alerts last week, insisting that I listen to Pusha T’s new single “Drug Dealers Anonymous” featuring Jay-Z, I naturally obliged.

What followed that was a less than an ideal experience. Holding up his end of the Drug Dealer bargain, Pusha had his exemplary cocaine kingpin raps front and center as usual and I was grateful for every second of it. After Pusha came Jay-Z, which is when things got ugly.

Having already expressed some real hatred over hashtags and retweets on his last record, Jay is no stranger to showing flashes of his true corny middle aged dad self. However, that was three years ago, and all of his paternal cantankerousness was spread across Magna Carta Holy Grail well enough for it to be a non-issue. His Corny Dad levels have increased dramatically since then, though. He is now fully infected with Corniness.

The verse Jay had on “Drug Dealers Anonymous” was ripe with a myriad of ‘Back In My Days’ to choose from, as well as an attempt to reach out to us snake people™ by ending it with him saying “Damn, Daniel” in an all too sincere fashion. Yes, “Damn, Daniel.” The internet meme that has swept the nation. And to counterbalance that, he went into the Hip Slang time machine to retrieve ‘Bling Bling’ from 1999 a few lines prior. It was rough. And that’s without even even mentioning the ‘Google Me, Baby’ part.

google

Seriously, it was rough.

To put it lightly, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for Jay. It’s bad enough that he’s lost his touch as a rapper and Tidal continues to get nothing but venom from the masses, but after Beyonce released Lemonade, her world-stopping, deeply personal memoir of an album about unfaithfulness, his image has taken quite a few blows. If we kept track of rapper approval ratings, his would be at Bush levels right about now.

What he needs is a shift in tone. It would tarnish his legacy if he tries to release another album, or if he continues jumping on these tracks, only to embarrass himself. His now rampant Corny Dad aesthetic does not mesh well in the world of Hip-Hop, but there are other outlets more accommodating to this behavior that needs to be embraced as a way to build up some much needed love.

It’s possible he can redeem himself by simply coming off as a relatable father who makes uncomfortable jokes and wears questionable clothing. None of this is a stretch for him. So what can he possibly do to help him be seen as this new persona to the public eye? Simple: star in the next Grown Ups film.

grown ups 2 poster 1For those who don’t know, Grown Ups a huge buddy comedy centered around Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade. They all each have a wife, kids, or at least some type of adult responsibility, which is crazy because, like, they’re still basically kids themselves! And boy, oh boy, when they get together, it’s like they’re back in high school all over again. Whether it’s having fun  objectifying their friend’s daughter as a group activity, or public urination, these guys know how to let loose.

Also, if you’re into a little more ‘headier’ comedy, don’t worry, Sandman and Co. have just the thing for ya: Toe based puns! Seriously, nothing makes me smile more than seeing Chris Rock, one of the most thought provoking stand-up comedians of all time, call his mean step-mother ‘Toe-bocop.’ You know, like Robocop, the Peter Weller vehicle. I’ve seen each Grown Ups movie at least 10 times.

I honestly have no clue if they’re even planning on making a Grown Ups 3, this is is all speculation. But if they ever do decide to go for the trifecta, adding Jay-Z to the fold would give this franchise brand new legs. Just imagine all the stale ’99 Problems’ jokes they’d let fly without consequence, never leaving out his penchant for ‘Back In My Day’-ing. Would Jay be able to bring his buddy Memphis Bleek along for the ride? Grown Ups can be the one hit Bleek’s been missing his whole career.

And perhaps the most important benefit here is that it would be hard for the outside world to view Jay as a sexual entity after 90+ minutes of slapsticky pratfalls and inane fart jokes. From a multitude of personal experience, I know this to be true. Beyonce will never have to worry about another affair after Jay unwittingly eats a sandwich that David Spade sneakily put dog poop in after he pulled off a successful “made you look” as a distraction. This seems like a win-win.

By choosing to hone in on a softer, more affable side to his personality, Jay-Z would do wonders rebuilding his good name. Right now, he’s nothing more than a cheating entrepreneur who probably wears a fanny pack when he raps. All he has to do now is stop the rapping and embrace the fanny pack. Giving up being cool can be challenging for someone of Jay-Z’s stature. Thankfully, the entire cast of Grown Ups knows exactly what he’d be going through, as they’ve been through it themselves.

BOOTS: THE MYSTERIOUS MASTERMIND
December 11, 2015 1:09 pm

    As a producer, Boots has popped up overnight, influencing the sound on Beyonce’s most recent album quite heavily. And before, there’s very minimal information about him. In a New York Times interview, they mentioned an old band he was in called Blonds, and also being homeless at some point. But both facts were kinda just thrown in there as an ‘oh, by the way, this happened’ sorta thing. But ever since then, he’s been absolutely on fire. He’s worked with Run The Jewels, FKA Twigs, and now he’s trying to make it on his own with Aquaria, his first full length LP.

    And as the Beyonce pedigree might hint at, Boots has a great skill for creating this murky environment that he’s able to bend in different ways. Sometimes a beat on here just knocks, like on “C.U.R.E.” Big drums, sirens blaring, some pots and pans clacking against one another, everything about this song is Boots at his most straightforward Hip-Hop. But he can turn on a dime, like he does on “Only,” churning out a smooth ballad.

    Each of those songs exist in the same world Boots has created, though. And the fluidity is quite admirable here, since it seems like he hates the idea of allowing a sound to wear out its welcome. “Dead Comes Running” is a complete kitchen sink type of song. His soft cooing bookends the song, but in between that is a frenzy of jittery drum patches and heavy guitar churns.

    While his work on the production boards can not be denied, it’s his efforts on the mic that come up a little short. On “C.U.R.E.,” his lyrics fall into the realm of trying too hard to be a conscious, “I’m not like most rappers” type of rapper. The lyrics aren’t bad, but his delivery doesn’t do him any favors with the message he’s trying to convey. The mumble flow IS trendy right now, but it doesn’t really work on a song talking about advertisers and Wall Street taking everybody’s money. It’s corruption, man! Speak up! Anunciate! The rapping doesn’t come natural to him, but he does a capable enough job to where he doesn’t drop any lines that are eye poppingly bad.

   But because of that fluidity of his, he doesn’t spend too much time obsessing over making this a full-on rap record. Buzzworthy producers try reaching like that all the time now, but it seldom works out. Just ask Hit-Boy. And Boots also happens to be a really good singer. He’s got a skill for some subtly catchy melodies and he can get his voice into this trembly high pitch, which adds a lot of vulnerability to his dark and moody soundscape.  

    The maximalist effort on Aquaria is an impressive display of Boots’s talent. He builds off the sound from his time with Beyonce, but also adds new layers that are more experimental in its lack of traditional pop structure. And while that does a great deal of busyness, he works so well with the clutter that it’s still a captivating listen.