This week on Limmy’s Hot Take: Kanye simply living his truth – hashtag no filter – continues to be one of the most entertaining things happening in music right now. It’s so rock and roll.
Yesterday he arrived at his Sacramento show reportedly an hour and a half late, only to scrap the whole thing after performing just two songs. But not before adding some real value to the evening with an epic rant aimed at pals Beyoncé and Jay Z.
As NME reports, he called out Bey over her alleged condition that she would only perform at the MTV Video Music Awards if she was awarded Video of The Year over rivals Kanye and Drake.
He tells the crowd: “Beyoncé, I was hurt! ‘Cause I heard that you said you wouldn’t perform unless you won Video of the Year over me, and over ‘Hotline Bling.’ In my opinion — now, don’t go tryin’ to diss Beyoncé, she is great. Taylor Swift is great. We are all great people, we are all equal. But sometimes, we be playing the politics too much and forgetting who we are — just to win. Fuck winning! Fuck looking cool! Fuck looking cool! Fuck being cool! Fuck all that!”
I mean I do see a few points here that aren’t at the end of a finger. But fuck that, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to be cool. I don’t think Beyoncé’s alleged request is that outrageous, do you? You’d almost expect it. I definitely would if I were her. I mean, you won’t see it come from me via email, text or DM but I’d definitely make sure someone in my team gets on the phone and takes care of that. Also, how you gon’ have Beyoncé bring the kind of elaborate performance she always does to your show and not honour her in some way?
I know she was up for 11 VMAs this year, which by the way is the most amount of nominations she’s ever gotten in a single year, but let’s face it Video of The Year is the one. Also, let’s be real, out of Adele’s ‘Hello’, Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, Kanye’s ‘Famous’ and Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, ‘Formation’ was surely hands down Video of The Goddamn Year, mate.
Ye’s rant trying to expose Beyoncé as a greedy, game-playing, scheming corporation is not exactly a new angle. And better yet, the reality of that is not something you can change by being mad about it either. There are tons of super talented musicians and entertainers that fall to the wayside. Talent is not enough. You need more to slay in the game. You need great business acumen (thank you Mathew Knowles), power and influence. This empire was not built in a day. And it sure as hell wasn’t built on unprofessionalism and cancelling shows 10 minutes into it. But you know what, they’re both different artists and Kanye has real moments of greatness that is undeniable. What he does have, in place of Video of The Year, is a real candid quality about him. For better or worst he is himself, and that is actually really entertaining and refreshing in a world of heavily media-trained and overly cautious stars.
In other news, M.I.A. has also called out Beyoncé (and other A-listers like Madonna and Rihanna) for stealing from her. According to Idolator, here’s what the British rapper and producer told Q Magazine:
“I’m fine with Madonna or Beyoncé or Rihanna being ‘inspired’ by my work. But I would like them to then go, ‘Yeah, this immigrant who came out of nowhere influenced us, so maybe not all of them are fucking terrible’. They don’t even think like that. They go ‘Yeah, maybe me stealing the stuff says she’s all right. She should be thankful we’re stealing it’. But sometimes you just think, ‘Fuck, I have to pay some bills,’ you know? Beyoncé comes from the school of Michael Jackson-ness. Where the family built an entire world to support you. From when you were a child. I never had that luxury. If you’re working class, music doesn’t belong to you like it used to – it would be really hard for Oasis to happen now. I’m just fodder. A template for pop stars to create more content. We constantly feed the top of the pyramid.”
I’m dead curious to know which tracks she is specifically referring to now. But overall, this is giving me pains circa Kat Deluna when J.Lo hooked up with RedOne and started jacking her sound for the very lucrative, career CPR-ing ‘On The Floor’/Love? era.
We’ve seen this happen over and over again, and it isn’t fair. It must be hard for an artist who is, I suppose, ‘not mainstream’ by nature, with very brilliant and occasional commercial crossovers, to straddle those worlds. It must be soul-crushing to be in those circles and see the money and opportunity, and be on the radar where people are watching, listening and having their creative team pin your shit to Pinterest boards, and you are not getting any recognition for it. It is also shit when you’re repeatedly told you’re ‘underrated’. That shit can take a toll – case in action, aforementioned Kat Deluna and the artist formerly known as Wynter Gordon, now relaunched under her real name Diana Gordon, who I’m very happy is winning now (you should read her interview with Fader).
I know this won’t help pay the bills but I take comfort in knowing that the age of the internet has opened so many more doors for artists. Real talent always shines, and I believe when you’re creating something of great quality that is also truthful to you, there will be an audience there. In a time where genres are breaking down and listeners are more guided by recommendations and artists that sound similar to the ones they like, things like playlists and those ‘Related Artists’ steer our consumption a lot. Perhaps there might be something in fostering a network of like-minded artists on your level that respect your craft and complement your artistry and brand, and pull each other up together. Collaborate! Create cool shit together! Do promo together! Go on tour together! Unite your fanbase! People seem to only be out for themselves now, trying to be the next mononym star. But seriously, come together!
Update: This thread by a songwriter, which came into my periphery after Guyliner retweeted it, is a good read.
Top tunes of the week
Bruno Mars’ entire 24K Magic album
I’m genuinely surprised I’ve chosen the new Bruno Mars album over Little Mix‘s. You know I love my pop girl bands. But to be honest, Bruno’s 24K Magic is everything. Nine tracks of hedonistic, solid 90s R&B and funk. I went through a phase of immersing myself in lots of New Jack Swing earlier this year so this couldn’t have come at a better time.
ZAE ‘Letting Go’
If you like Banks, chances are you’re gonna enjoy West London singer ZAE‘s ‘Letting Go’. She told The Line of Best Fit that the song was directly influenced by the singer and was in fact the very first song she wrote. Not a bad place to start, mate. Although that story is almost too good to be true. But what is good and certifiable true though is the intimate music video that comes with it, portraying a two young men in a volatile and emotionally-fraying stage of their relationship.
Kate Miller-Heidke ‘You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude’
I’ve always loved me some Kate Miller-Heidke. Unquestionably, the Professor Dumbledore of what she does, which is cleverly observant and sensitive lyrics and, every now and then when the mood calls for it, a theatrical performance like this one. ‘You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude’ is a nails down the back, bluesy rock clapback at misogyny.
Jhene Aiko ‘Maniac’
The camp-as-tinsel-on-Alan-Carr kid in me immediately thought of the Michael Sembello/Flashdance song but no this is something more of a sexier outing. ‘Maniac’ could have easily been mistaken for a Tinashe banger or a very slick Kelly Rowland comeback single (Sis, take notes!). It doesn’t sound like the Jhene Aiko I know but it’s definitely closer aligned to her joint album with Big Sean as Twenty88. “I’m a low-key freak you don’t know me yet”, she coolly sings over crystalline trap beats. That may be the case.
For more of my favourite tunes, check out my NEWEST playlist.
Quite a few tweets this week reminiscing on the great pop songwriting output of Cathy Dennis, who of course, is responsible for Britney‘s ‘Toxic’, Kylie‘s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, Sugababes ‘About You Now’, and a couple of good Heidi Montag tracks you should not be ashamed to say you like (this is a safe space). So here’s a playlist of songs she has written for other artists and some performed by Cathy herself.
Tweet me your fave pop songwriters over at @feedlimmy.