Converse do a good job of integrating their brand among music types. If you’re at SXSW next week, for instance, you will see no shortage of One-Star logos plastered across Austin. (You probably have a reasonable chance of going home with a free pair of Chucks or two, honestly.) Anyway, the sneaker company will head into SXSW with some self-financed buzz, in the form of the new installment of their Three Artists One Song series. The new track has been written and recorded by none other than Frank Ocean, Diplo, Paul Simonon, and Mick Jones. Technically four artists, although Simonon and Jones here are presumably just lumped together as the Clash. (Still technically four artists.) The song drops on Monday, which you can confirm over at Converse’s Tumblr, although there’s no more information there than you’ve already got right here.
Last month Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, who has become one of Brooklyn’s most in-demand collaborators in recent years, announced her debut solo album as Ramona Lisa. It’s called Arcadia, it was recorded on a laptop in Rome, and it represents Polachek’s stab at “pastoral electronic music.” We already heard the eerie title track; now comes a second single, a clattering, dystopian electro-pop tune called “Backwards And Upwards.” Check it out below in a lyric video with artwork that seems to be inspired by Italy’s many ornate cathedrals.
This year is going to be a strange one for anniversaries. On one hand, we have a slew of British albums turning twenty — Definitely Maybe, His ’N’ Hers, Parklife — that mark the rise of Britpop. While that movement was just starting up across the ocean, over here grunge was simultaneously huge but also dwindling. In Utero turned twenty last year, as did Pearl Jam’s VS.; this year the latter’s Vitalogy will also hit the milestone. And, of course, here we have Soundgarden’s Superunknown, in many ways the band’s peak, which will be twenty years old tomorrow. Between Cobain’s suicide, Pearl Jam’s willed removal from the spotlight, and Soundgarden’s 1997 breakup, this chapter of American rock music was already coming around to its conclusion. There would still be major works from prominent American artists to follow — Weezer’s debut also turns twenty in June, which was then followed by Pinkerton in 1996; the beginning of the reign of the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie hits two decades next year — but by and large, when looking back, albums like Superunknown start to feel like markers of the end of an era, even while this one garnered Soundgarden their greatest success.
Schoolboy Q’s great new LP Oxymoron is the #1 album in the country, but it’s also a rough and clattering rap record with precious few concessions to Q’s new Interscope overlords. Even a track that would seem to scream “next single” — like “What They Want,” which has a Mike Will Made-It beat and a 2 Chainz guest verse — comes out fractured and tense. And Q’s new video for “What They Want” fits the song’s tone. He filmed it in New Orleans, looking extremely blunted in a strip club and wandering dessicated post-Katrina wastelands and hanging out with skull-faced reapers. Watch it below.
Future’s trap-spaceship banger “Move That Dope” is easily my favorite rap song of 2014 thus far, and it’s probably my favorite song period. For a music video, it deserves nothing less than, like, a Paul Thomas Anderson film, and that’s more than director Benny Boom is capable of. But Boom has still put together a fun clip for the song, with screaming sirens and Point Break-inspired president masks and Zack Morris cell phones. This is sadly the Casino-free version of the song, but Future and guests Pusha T and Pharrell all display dangerous levels of charisma. Also, Pharrell is still wearing the Smoky The Bear hat, and Schoolboy Q and Tyler, The Creator show up for why-are-they-there cameos. Watch it below.
Rick Ross’s new album Mastermind came out on Tuesday, and he’s been all over the late-night TV circuit for the last few weeks. But he saved the big guns for last night’s performance on Arsenio. Doing the album highlight “Sanctified,” Ross performed with that song’s two guests, Kanye West and Big Sean (though sadly not with soul veteran Betty Wright, who sings the song’s hook). Kanye and Sean were surprise guests on the show, and the staging of the song is great, with all the entrances done for maximum impact. Among the A-list of rap stars, Kanye might currently be the most charismatic performer, something that’s really driven home whenever he shares a stage with his peers. And while the performance is a ton of fun, it also works as an exhibition of why live bands shouldn’t be trying to replicate DJ Mustard synth sounds. Watch it below.
Lena Dunham and the National star in a Very Brooklyn Episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend. It will be a chance to see if the Girls creator’s brand of tragicomic realness translates to a larger audience and maybe also to hear some Crimea jokes. In these promos for the show, the National pose for a selfie with and get tickled by Dunham and cast member Taran Killam. The band doesn’t utter a word, but they giggle on cue.
The new Converse-sponsored CONS EP VOL. 1 features unlikely collaborations that were recorded at the show company’s Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn. We’ve already posted the Trash Talk/Flatbush Zombies collab “97/92,” and now another song, “Spaceshippin,” unites the young brother band the Bots with the bilingual Panamanian rappers Los Rakas for some starry-eyed border-crossing. Download it below.