Kanye West Archive


Pusha T releases ‘Fear of God II’ details

Wow. On paper, Pusha T’s next LP, Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (due November 8th) is totally killer. First of all, we’re relieved to see that banger, “Trouble on My Mind (f. Tyler the Creator)” made the tracklist (we hate it when great songs released between albums don’t end up on the next  album). Also, browsing through the tracklist (below), you’ll notice a killer lineup of co-conspirators. Joining Tyler the Creator on Fear of God II is Kanye West, Jeezy, 50 Cent, Pharell, Rick Ross and more.

But hey, let’s adjust expectations. Fear of God (free download), released earlier this year, also had strong lineup of contributors (Kanye and Ross among them), but we weren’t too impressed with the end result. Still, based on “Trouble on My Mind”, we’re pretty stoked to dig into Fear of God II.

Pusha T: Fear of God II: Let Us Pray
01 Changing of the Guards [ft. Diddy]
02 Amen [ft. Kanye West and Young Jeezy]
03 Trouble on My Mind [ft. Tyler, the Creator]
04 What Dreams Are Made Of
05 Body Work [ft. Juicy J, Meek Mill, and French Montana]
06 Everything That Glitters [ft. French Montana]
07 So Obvious
08 Feeling Myself [ft. Kevin Cossom]
09 Raid [ft. 50 Cent and Pharrell]
10 My God
11 I Still Wanna [ft. Rick Ross and Ab Liva]
12 Alone in Vegas


Coachella 2011: Daily breakdown of the best bands

For most of the past month, The Downcast has been cooking up a list of bands we want to catch at Coachella 201. It’s pretty comprehensive (we listened to songs for every band, looked up live clips for as many as possible). And no, we didn’t intend to share this list. But as we neared completion, we figured, why not? And then decided to writeup some quick descriptions for each band, attach them to the list, and publish them for you.

What follows is a list of 50 (out of 180) bands that we’re anxious to see this year. Some bands we’ve seen before, and we can vouch for how killer they are. Others, we’ve added to the list based on our web research and record collections, so we’re really not sure what to expect. Whatever. Here’s the list. We hope it helps.



Can’t miss:

  • Cold Cave: High-charged synthrock with a goth slant to it. These guys deliver a rich wall of sound that will whip you and your friends into a frenzy. New album is killer. Stream it here.
  • Skrillex: Bass-heavy, warped techno ranging from monstrous dubstep to pounding arena-rave. More on this kid at our list of Best 5 Bands You’ll Probably Miss at Coachella.
  • Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Em All: Hip-hop’s hottest emerging artists. Unpredictable, aggressive and obnoxious. These kids are the heir to the Wu-Tang throne.
  • Tame Impala: Australian four-piece that meld late-60s garage rock with the psychedelic sensibilities of the Beatles. Their latest LP, Innerspeaker, made the top-5 on our 2010 list of best albums.
  • Brandt Brauer Frick: Trio of German composers that successfully merge jazz, classical and techno in a smooth, pulsing package. More on these guys in our list of Best 5 Bands You’ll Probably Miss at Coachella.
  • Crystal Castles: Thrashing electronica with roots stemming from death metal, the 90s rave scene and Atari sound effects.
  • Boyz Noise: Super-sized house beats layered with grinding synths and hypnotic effects. We were hoping to see Justice at the festival this year, but this comes pretty close.

Unless there’s a conflict with the A-list, we’ll definitely catch:

  • Mount Kimbie: Quirky, dream-inducing electronica.
  • Yacht: Catchy indie techno. Their latest single, “Dystopia”, was number 2 on our list of best free downloads for March.
  • Nosaj Thing: Rich, shadowy electronica that drifts into an occasional dustup.
  • Breakage: Slow, stoney dustup. This should be serve as a good breather between higher energy sets at the festival.
  • Chemical Brothers: 90s techno legends. Block rocking beats.

We’ll also do our best to see: Warpaint (strong rhythms anchor the atmospheric guitars of this indie rock band), Excision (throbbing dustup), Lauryn Hill (golden-voiced diva of Fugees fame), Scala and Kolancny Brothers (choir that sings alterna-hits), Black Keys (two-piece blues rockers), !!!: Club-ready electronica



Can’t miss:

  • One Day as a Lion: Zac De La Roca (of Rage Against the Machine) fronts this explosive three piece. Hip hop beats, a low-grinding keyboard and wicked rhymes. It’s pretty bad ass. More on these guys in our list of Best 5 Bands You’ll Probably Miss at Coachella.
  • The Kills: We think their new album, Blood Pressures (released a couple weeks ago) is the best of their career. We’re stoked to see them bring the album to life at the festival, and curious to see what they pull out of the back-catalog.

Unless there’s a conflict with the A-list, we’ll definitely catch:

  • Ras G: Sample-heavy electronica reminiscent of Madlib.
  • Goth Trad: Murky, pulsing dubstep. But it’s not going to melt your face off like Skrillex or Excision will on Friday.
  • Lil B: This Bay Area MC has built a pretty big following producing beats in his bedroom and matching them with his delirious flow, reminiscent of Lil Wayne.
  • Broken Social Scene: Canadian indie rockers that craft lush, sprawling music covering the range from hi-charged anthems to experimental pop and chill ballads.
  • Trampled by Turtles: A five-piece bluegrass band from Minnesota. We’re hoping they play the Deliverance song. Yeeee-haw!
  • Riva Starr: Italian DJ delivering catchy, latin-inspired house.

We’ll also do our best to seeDJ Kentaro (scratches like mad over hip-hop beats), Elbow (indie/pop/rock, UK’s answer to Spoon), Erykah Badu (neo-soul goddess), Fedde Le Grand (super-catchy house beats), Joachim Garraud (house beats with a gnarly edge that leans towards rave), Mariachi El Bronx (yeah, Mariachi), Mary Anne Hobbs (dustep), Raphael Saadiq (R+B, soul), Scissor Sisters (disco pop), The Tallest Man on Earth (one man acoustic), Yelle (french bubblegum pop)



Can’t Miss:

  • Lorn: Electronica in the style of Flying Lotus’ 1983. Daring, bold beats with sugary mechanical melodies. No surprise this badass producer is on FlyLo’s Brainfeeder imprint.
  • New Pants: Beijing pop-rockers that range from Ramones-inspired rock to Devo-ish synth rock. More on these guys in our list of Best 5 Bands You’ll Probably Miss at Coachella.
  • Kanye West: “Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it… I guess every superhero needs his theme music.

Unless there’s a conflict with the A-list, we’ll definitely catch:

  • Take: An up-and-coming producer in the thriving LA beats scene specializing in slow-smoldering beats with spacey textures.
  • CSS: Brazilian indie pop band that covers that hovers in the new wave / synth-rock range.
  • PJ Harvey: We’ve always had a weak spot for this indie rock queen whose career began in the late eighties. Her new album is pretty strong, too, so we have high hopes for a great show.
  • Death from Above 1979: This band started a riot at SXSW this year, how can we miss this hard-charging two-piece dance/rock outfit?
  • Trentmoller: Most of his music is ambient electronic. Super chill. But we’ve heard some remixes that push his sound into house territory. We’re curious to see what he brings to the table at the festival.
  • Duck Sauce: We usually don’t recommend a band when we’ve only heard one song by them. But “Barbara Streisand” is a pretty cool song that everyone immediately loves when they hear it, so we’re looking forward to a high-energy set.

We’ll also do our best to see: Duran Duran (80s radio rock darlings), Fistful of Mercy (a band featuring Ben Harper that sounds like neo-Crosby Stills and Nash), Health (hard-grinding avant-techno rock), Jack Beats (heavy, Deadmau5-y house), Leftfield (90s electronica), Men (Brooklyn techno pop with members of Le Tigre, Ladybug Transistor), Tokimonsta (LA-based electronica), The Strokes (indie rock band channeling Television and The Velvet Underground).



Pusha T drops mixtape featuring Kanye, Rick Ross

Pusha T, half of hip-hop duo Clipse, is set to release his solo debut later this year. In the meantime, he’s offering the Fear of God mixtape for free. (Consequence of Sound) We’re a couple songs into it, and so far it’s pretty dope. Download here.

Though you’re probably not familiar with Pusha T or Clipse, they’ve been around since the early 90s. And despite working with producers like The Neptunes and Diddy, they haven’t made much of a commercial impact. But that could change soon. Pusha T recently signed to Kany West’s GOOD Music label, and he’s been a regular on Kanye projects lately (including the GOOD Friday singles and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).

Fear of God features contributions from an impressive list of hip-hop heavyweights including Kanye, Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Pharell and a bunch of others (Rick Ross’ verse on “I Still Wanna Rock” is particularly bad ass).



Kanye West says Tyler the Creator’s ‘Yonkers’ is video of the year

Kanye West announced Tyler the Creator’s video for “Yonkers” is the video of the year via his Twitter feed. [Complex] Video of the year? It’s only February. Then again, Kanye didn’t get to where he was without seeing some things before the rest of us do.

We must say, “Yonkers” is pretty cool. It’s a raw dispatch from purgatory complete with blood, vomiting, murky eyeballs and suicide. Gather the family and see for yourself.


Kanye West – Dark Twisted Fantasy – Album Review

Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Slant, Entertainment Weekly and PopMatters all gave Kanye West’s Dark Twisted Fantasy a perfect score. At least a dozen publications gave the album a greater than 90% score (according to Metacritic).

They’re all wrong.

Fantasy is a pretty cool album. But that’s it. Not great. Not awesome. Just cool.

We’ll give Fantasy this, it is unpredictable and bold. And there are layers upon layers of interesting sounds, beautiful instrumentation and perfectly tuned beats to examine. But the complete package has a bloated, mediocre feel to it. There aren’t many moments that make you want to kick out your chair and stomp around, waving your hands and rapping (however horribly) along with Kanye. Do you remember what that’s like? Put in Jay-Z’s Black Album. That’s what that’s like. That’s a good feeling. That’s the power of an awesome album.

Kanye is incredibly self-aware, self-critical and self-destructive (good qualities for an artist to have). And he’s a smart guy. But he lacks the epic swagger of Jay-Z or the awesome madness of Lil’ Wayne. Still, he is a gifted producer. But not an amazing producer (he’s not Dr. Dre or J Dilla in their primes). Seriously. How is Fantasy better than The Chronic or The Shining?

Fantasy starts off with a good setup cut, “Dark Fantasy.” But it leads into a snoozer of a tune, “Gorgeous (f. Kid Cudi)”. The next cut, “POWER” has a little strut, but after the setup of “Dark Fantasy”, we need to hear a banger. Maybe the next song? No. “All of the Lights” is a formula radio hit with a curious, over-anxious drum pattern that makes it a little interesting, but still, we need a release for all of the energy built up by the album’s opener and all of those perfect reviews. That’s a lot of pressure for the next song, “Monster”, which kicks ass, but it ain’t Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” (from the Black Album) or J Dilla’s “E=MC2 (f. Common)” (from The Shining).

After “Monster”, the album disintegrates, actually, it expands into something truly overwhelming and dense. It’s piles of echoing strings and synthesizers mixed with bland samples over tepid, occasionally cluttered beats. And the songs are long. Wow. there’s a nine-minute, eight-minute and two six-minute cuts on the second half of the album. The one bright spot is the pounding, gritty “Hell of a Life” which features (a perfectly respectable) ripoff of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” verse melody, which is repurposed as the cut’s chorus.

If you hadn’t read a review of Fantasy, you’d reach the end of the album thinking, “okay, that was pretty cool, but wow, I’m a little worn out.”  If you had read a review, you’d probably feel ripped off and wonder how the reviewer still has a job.

But hey, in all fairness, a lot of those reviewers are right a lot of the time. I think they all got swept up in some strange hysteria that was started by whoever the first person was to hand this perfectly average album a perfect score.

Standout tracks: “Monster”, “Power”, “Hell of a Life”

Around the web

  • His most maniacally inspired music yet, coasting on heroic levels of dementia, pimping on top of Mount Olympus…. nobody hallway sane could have made this album.” (Rolling Stone, 5/5)
  • if the album doesn’t make Kanye any more of a contender for the title of Greatest MC than he was two years ago, it handily confirms that he’s rap’s greatest producer.” (Slant, 5/5)

Coachella fans v. Kanye a racist spat?

Over at the Washington Post, they have a list of “highly entertaining festival feuds.” One of them is Kanye West versus Coachella Fans. Apparently, some Coachella fans wanted to boycott the festival since Kanye was selected as one of the headliners (back in 2008 he didn’t go onstage at Bonnaroo until 4:30AM). Among the reasons the Washington Post suggest for the tension are “Racism, Rock-ism, Age-is” –wait. Racism?  Seriously?

You’d think the Post would back up that claim with a quote from an angry fan or something, but I read through the article and there was nothing.  They may have been referring to another of the festival feuds (like Jay-z vs Glastonbury, Kings of Leon vs. Reading), but again, we couldn’t find any quotes to back up the charge.


How about this. Kanye West pisses a lot of people off with the stuff that he says (here’s a list of his “ten stupidest” quotes) and he does some mean things (like the Taylor Swift debacle). And while his music is pretty good, it’s not that great (people would probably rather see a better blockbuster MC like Lil’ Wayne or Drake). Also, maybe Coachella loyalists don’t like the mainstream crowd that comes along with artists that are as huge as Kanye.


Drowned in Sound, Prefix list best albums of 2010

We’re not going to pound on Rolling Stone and Spin’s Best Albums of 2010 lists anymore than we already have (you can check out or rant here). But we’re pleased to see other music websites/magazines putting out more inspired summaries of the year in music, 2010. Here are two of those…

Drowned in Sound’s Top-Ten Albums of 2010
01 Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here?
02 The National – High Violet
03 Deftones – Diamnod Eyes
04 Perfume Genius – Learning
05 The Knife – Tomorrow in a Year
06 These New Puritans – Hidden
07 Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago
08 Yeasayer – Odd Blood
09 LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
10 Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

(Here’s the complete DiS wrietup)

Prefix Magazine’s Top-20 Albums of 2010
01 Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
02 Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty
03 The National – High Violet
04 Sleigh Bells – Treats
05 Beach House – Teen Dream
06 Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
07 LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
08 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
09 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
10 Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
11 Twin Shadow – Forget
12 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
13 Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
14 Best Coast – Crazy For You
15 Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude/Sit Down, Man
16 Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
17 Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
18 The Walkmen – Lisbon
19 Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
20 The Roots – How I Got Over

(Here’s the complete Prefix list)


Rolling Stone, Spin list Best Albums of 2010

Rolling Stone and Spin have released their lists of Best Albums of 2010 (see below). They’re both a major yawn. No surprises. Hardly inspiring. They’re lists of albums that everyone (from congressmen to crossing guards) can like, but few can love.

But hey, we’re not hating on Spin or Rolling Stone. We get it. And you know what? There may be a day when the Downcast’s audience is so vast, and we’re so desperate to make them all happy (because we’re approaching retirement age and totally broke) that we start publishing lists like Rolling Stone or Spin’s. But it is not this day. Stay tuned. Our list is coming.

(Albums in bold appear on both the Rolling Stone and Spin lists)

Spin’s Top-Ten Albums of 2010
01 Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
02 Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
03 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
04 LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
05 Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song

06 Janelle Monae – The Archandroid
07 Grinderman – Grinderman 2
08 M.I.A. – Maya
09 Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager
10 Robyn – Body Talk Pt. 1
11 Vampire Weekend – Contra
12 Yeasayer – Odd Blood
13 Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Song Of Chico Dusty
14 Best Coast – Crazy For You
15 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
16 Drake – Thank Me Later
17 Beach House – Team Dream

18 Superchunk – Majesty Shredding
19 No Age – Everything In Between
20 MGMT – Congratulations

(Here’s the complete Spin list.)

Rolling Stone’s Top-Ten Albums of 2010
01 Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
02 Black Keys – Brothers
03 Elton John and Leon Russell – The Union
04 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
05 Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song
06 Vampire Weekend – Contra
07 Drake – Thank Me Later

08 Robert Plant – Band of Joy
09 Eminem – Recovery
10 LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
11 The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
12 John Mellencamp – No Better Than This
13 Taylor Swift – Speak Now
14 Robyn – Body Talk
15 The National – High Violet
16 Kid Rock – Born Free
17 Beach House – Teen Dream
18 Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
19 M.I.A – Maya
20 Neil Young – Le Noise

(Here’s the complete Rolling Stone list.)


Rolling Stone rates Kanye’s new album a perfect 5-star

Rolling stone doesn’t usually hand out perfect 5-star ratings. But they gave Kanye’s new album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, five stars. Hm. Really? Sometime we at the Downcast wonder if Rolling Stone does this just to A) act like they’re still relevant or B) to wake up audiences and remind them that they’re still around.

Then again, maybe C) the new Kanye is really a perfect, all-time greatest album, right up there with the Rolling Stone’s “Exile on Main Street” and the Stooges “Raw Power” (both of which were also given five stars this year).

We at the Downcast do not have the Kanye album, so we can’t say whether or not it’s worthy. And you know what? We don’t really care. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover (though we hope we’re wrong, we’d love to add some awesome new hip-hop to our collection). Who knows, if NPR streams is free we might give it a shot.