There is a new yardstick for the size of the universe. It is approximately equal to the size of Kanye West’s ego.
That’s not necessarily bad. Hip-hop runs on self-glorification, the transformation of underdogs into self-invented legends. Sooner or later someone was bound to claim what Mr. West’s show did on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden: that he’s “the biggest star in the universe.” That was not only part of the script but also a crucial plot twist for Mr. West’s headlining set on his Glow in the Dark Tour, a quadruple bill with Rihanna, N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco.
Mr. West’s set was the most daring arena spectacle hip-hop has yet produced, and in some ways the best, even as it jettisoned standard hip-hop expectations. The rhymes, the beats and the narcissism were there; the block-party spirit and sense of community were not. Until the encore Mr. West had no human company on the arena stage.
The spectacle is framed as a sci-fi space odyssey, with Mr. West as a lone explorer whose starship crashes on an unknown planet. He’s stranded in a landscape of colored lights, billowing smoke — probably enough dry ice to cool Death Valley — and gorgeous, panoramic video images of clouds, galaxies, fireworks and cosmic eruptions. He converses with his computerized ship, named Jane, and with shooting stars. He raps with barely a respite, and bounds around the stage: striding, hunching, pumping his fist, falling to his knees, grinding against the stage, flailing, shouting his rhymes. It is a show of stamina and lonely self-determination that takes on its own obsessive momentum, like a Samuel Beckett scene staged by Robert Wilson and George Lucas.
Mr. West’s songs — chronicles of his striving, success, fashion sense and media missteps — don’t have much to do with a planet devoid of paparazzi or designer labels. At Tuesday’s show, praying to get back home, he promised God that if he made it, he’d “stop spazzing out at awards shows.” But he wrenched the songs into the concept, turning “Gold Digger,” for instance, into a tryst with a hologram generated by his spaceship.
The music was rearranged (for a band sequestered in an orchestra pit) to sound less triumphal and more melancholy. Mr. West reaches pop audiences with pop hooks, but the concert often held them back, starting instead with drumbeats and reverberating minor chords before allowing sweetness in. The audience joined him every chance it got, and he did eventually get back home, to share an encore with Lupe Fiasco. But in Mr. West’s tour de force, it was lonely at the top. Cosmically lonely.
The other acts were also pushing genre boundaries. N.E.R.D. is led by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, who as producers are a hip-hop hit factory called the Neptunes. N.E.R.D., however, is a rock band that ricochets among rap-rock, sardonic new wave and glimpses of Beatles chords. Mr. Williams, who does most of the singing and rapping, plays the perpetual Lothario in songs that dip into wordplay — like the group’s new “Everybody Nose,” about clubbing and cocaine — and make come-ons like, “I just love your brain.”
Rihanna, whose career arrived with dance tunes, keeps broadening her perspective. Her video-ready set flaunted three costumes and revealed her as a full-fledged singer, with a voice biting enough to leap out of speakers but also supple enough to be inviting. Amid Caribbean-tinged dance grooves and ballads, she sang about flirtation and self-assertion, and also tossed in part of M.I.A.’s gun-toting “Paper Planes.” For her biggest hit, the R&B loyalty hymn “Umbrella,” the singer Chris Brown joined her in an unannounced duet.
In the opening set the rapper Lupe Fiasco showed his own ambitions, verbal and musical. He rapped not only about stardom but also about skateboarding, child soldiers and a worldwide plague. And the music in his short set, using three backup singers, encompassed chattering electronic beats, smooth R&B and mournful rock. It was a good start for a concert that insisted hip-hop hasn’t run out of possibilities, even on this planet.
My illustration Simple Living is an idea inspired by the medias constant cover of completely meaningless things. My thought was: Since doing nothing but wearing designerbags and small ugly dogs appearantly is enough to get you on a magasine cover, maybe it is worth a try for people who actually deserves and needs attention.
When we’re presented with the same images in the media over and over again, we might start to believe that they’re important.
As I was reading the book ”Not on our watch” by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast last summer, I felt horrified by the fact that even with the genocide and other ongoing atrocities in Darfur, Paris Hilton was the one getting all the attention. Is it possible that show business have outruled common sense?
If you can’t beat them, join them. This is why I have chosen to mix the cruel reality with showbiz elements in my drawing.
When you look at ways to help Darfur on the website: www.savedarfur.org, amongst other things it says: Raise awareness. Raise funds. So that is what I am trying to do.
100% of the profits from the Simple Living t-shirt and poster are donated to Divest for Darfur “Divestment offers a powerful way to exert economic pressure on the Sudanese government to cooperate with international peacekeeping efforts.Your gift will help fund the Divest for Darfur campaign and other crucial awareness and advocacy programs that play a critical role in building the political and economic pressure needed to end the crisis in Darfur.”Louis Vuiton Marc Jacob Darfur Louis Vuiton Marc Jacob Darfur Louis Vuiton Marc Jacob Darfur Louis Vuiton Marc Jacob Darfur
More safety than vision, this pair of concept sneakers - called the Pioneer - include a built-in LED that will shine a path up to 4.9 feet in length. The LEDs are powered by kinetic energy, so no need to worry about recharging.
The distillers of Sweden's Absolut vodka have withdrawn an advertisement run in Mexico that angered many U.S. citizens by idealizing an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as Mexican.
The billboard ad has the slogan "In an Absolut World" slapped over a pre-1848 map showing California, Arizona and other U.S. states as Mexican territory. Those states were carved out of what had been Mexican lands until that year.
Although it was not shown in the United States, U.S. media outlets picked up on the ad, and after a barrage of complaints, Absolut's maker said on Sunday the ad campaign would cease.
Defending the campaign last week, Absolut maker Vin & Spirit said the ad was created "with a Mexican sensibility" and was not meant for the U.S. market.
"In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues," a spokeswoman wrote on Absolut's Web site. "Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal," she wrote.
Absolut's blog cite has received more than a thousand comments since the ad campaign was launched a few weeks ago, with many calling for boycotts of the Swedish company. "I have poured the remainder of my Absolut bottles down the sink," one blogger wrote.
A war between Mexico and the United States from 1846 to 1848 started with Mexico's refusal to recognize the U.S. annexation of Texas and ended with the occupation of Mexico City by U.S. troops. At the end, Mexico ceded nearly half of its territory to the United States, forming the states of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. Mexicans remain sensitive about the loss and the location of the border. At the same time, the United States is fortifying barriers to keep out undocumented Mexican migrants. Some Mexicans use the term "Reconquista" (reconquest) to refer to the growing presence in California of Mexican migrants and their descendants.
France's Pernod Ricard is taking over Absolut vodka, one of the world's top-selling spirit brands, after buying Vin & Spirit from the Swedish government at the end of March.
Kanye West got together with Reebok under the S.Carter (Jay-Z) collection, and they collaborated on three sneakers. The model comes in three colorways, with each one featuring the Kanye West bear head on the back side.
It is my opinion that if the majors knew what they were doing I could also post Erykah Badu's wonderful video and you could see it and that would make you want to buy and listen to her album in a loop, like I have for the past 48 hours, but Universal knows better than to engage into grass-root marketing... DUH!!! So they are trying to make sure that this video can only be seen on their YouTube sub-site, but cannot be embedded anywhere else... I still recommend you go check it out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9jpkF1ehD8&NR=1 unless their effort to prevent her video from spreading is as effective as their strategy (which so far is resulting in ~20% sales decline year over year for the past 5 years), in which case these two windows below won't work for long. Remember these guys sued Napster, and resisted iTune, because you don't get horrible shareholder value destruction and insane artist promotion without a clearly failed but strictly implemented strategy, so limit your expectations, these guys are good at doing it wrong...