“I apologize for everything that’s about to happen in the next 90 minutes.” Those were the final words of the 21-year-old girl sitting in front of me at an Ariana Grande concert. As soon as Grande stepped onstage, the young girl started screaming and hysterically crying as her hero began the concert.
That was just a small sample of what I witnessed last Saturday night at the Barclays Center for the Ariana Grande concert. I went with fellow Daily Mix Reporter, LordTreeSap. I’ve always liked Ariana Grande. Obviously, Grande has a great voice. No note is too high for her. Her singles are usually pop and dance-friendly that will blast on your car radios for months. However, her live performances and shows were something I knew little about. That is until I witnessed Grande in her element. As soon as Grande walked onto the stage for her opening set, the crowd’s roar was deafening. I happened to see One Direction back in 2012 when they performed on X-Factor and that was easily the loudest roar I have ever heard for a band in my life. Ariana Grande is now the second loudest I’ve ever heard.
Grande’s concert mirrored a play rather than a concert. The concert was a five-act play with an encore. Grande would sing 4-5 songs with unique set piece/theme, leave the stage to change outfits, and come back onstage to sing the next act with an entirely new backdrop. I marveled at Grande’s choreography and set pieces. Grande was in control the entire time, hitting her marks with ease and transitioning from song to song seamlessly. It’s not just a show. Rather, it’s an experience. Grande tells a story within each act that revolves around various themes such as female empowerment, breakups, love, loss, and relationships.
The average person at the concert might not realize how many hits Grande truly has. At age 25, Grande has released five albums with two of those, Sweetner and Thank U, Next, coming within the past year. Most of the songs from the show came from the two most recent albums, but Grande turned back the clock for some of my personal favorites, “Break Free,” “Side to Side,” and “Into You.” I was bopping my head the entire concert like the awkward white guy that I am. What I appreciated from Grande the most were her vocals. Grande’s vocals shined especially during ballads such as “R.E.M,” where she dropped to her knees and poured her emotion out to the crowd.
Below is the entire setlist from the show.
Sap and I talked about seeing artists and bands during the height of their powers. Imagine seeing the Beatles in the 60s, Elton John in the early 70s, Bruce Springsteen in the 80s, Tupac and Biggie in the 90s, and even recent stars like Beyonce and Taylor Swift in the 2000s. Ariana Grande may never end up as big as those stars and perhaps, she may even be bigger, but it was quite clear during the concert that the young singer is a superstar who is here to stay.
Back in the Mix. It’s become a yearly tradition that I make this list, so I figured to keep it rolling over here. Even though I feel like we say this every year, 2018 was an epic 365 days in hip-hop, as fans received an array of albums from some of the best the industry has to offer. If you can’t find a style of rap within the genre by this point, you’re just not searching hard enough.
When we look back on this year in rap, I think it will be able to go head-to-head with just about any other campaign since hip-hop’s conception. From Cardi B to Travis Scott and the long-awaited joint album from Kanye West and Kid Cudi, here are my official top 10 albums of the year.
10. Drake – Scorpion
Even in a year he gets embarrassed in a scathing rap battle with Pusha T, Drake still comes out victorious. Drizzy owned the headlines and the charts (35 Hot 100 Entries) all throughout 2018 with a pop star-esque rollout for Scorpion. The double album went on to produce three No. 1 hits on the Hot 100, as well as one of the best songs in his catalog with “Emotionless.” After an exhausting year, I think the 6 God has earned some time away from the spotlight to hang with his now-exposed son, Adonis. Scorpion will compete at the 2019 Grammys for Album of the Year.
9. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V
Following a treacherous legal battle against Birdman and Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V was finally freed this summer. The long-awaited project lived up to the hype, boasting a decorated guest list and woozy punch lines from Weezy that probably could’ve existed in any of the last few years. Flashing glimpses of the Wayne we fell in love with throughout the oversaturated project, I’m totally fine with this being the last installment of the historic Carter series, if he chooses.
8. Black Panther The Album
Kendrick Lamar was tabbed with the hefty responsibility of curating the Black Panther soundtrack. Hopefully K. Dot serves as a trailblazer in having more rappers involved with putting together soundtracks because he definitely exceeded expectations, properly aligning with the tidal wave of hype behind the acclaimed Marvel blockbuster.
7. Vince Staples – FM!
Vince Staples goes back-to-back after landing the futuristic Big Fish Theory on this very list in 2017. The shrewd Long Beach native returns with more ingenuity, crafting his third LP in the style of a radio show with none other than Big Boy’s Neighborhood at the helm to make the effort a total West Coast affair.
6. The Carters – EVERYTHING IS LOVE
The long-awaited Jay-Z and Beyonce joint album seemingly dropped out of the sky this summer, in the midst of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music five-project run. Looking back, the effort didn’t get the proper acknowledgment as fans were quickly onto digesting the next flurry of albums in the coming weeks. Built around a Migos’ reference track, “APESHIT” serves as the project standout and hit record. Jay takes aim at his detractors like the Grammys and the NFL, while Bey shows that she can probably out rhyme your favorite MC on any given night.
5. Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
Nipsey Hussle delivered his highly anticipated debut album with Victory Lap at the start of 2018. I was worried that his magnum opus would be buried by 2018’s end, but Nip stood the test of time as the cream of the crop in street rap. VL will be well-represented at the Grammys in the stacked Rap Album of the Year category. If you haven’t yet, make sure to give the West Coast project a listen, you’ll even pick up a few gems along the way.
4. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Many wondered how Cardi B would follow-up her prolific 2017 campaign with her debut album. The Bronx native showed that she could take her artistry to the next level on Invasion of Privacy, usurping the throne as the queen of rap from Nicki Minaj. Producing a strong debut effort in the midst of a turbulent high profile relationship with Offset and having her first child, just solidifies Bardi’s status as an authentic global star and a force to be reckoned with in the future.
3. Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
If Yeezy’s Ye album from the week prior was a microwaved meal, Kids See Ghosts was slow-cooked and seared to perfection. Even with the sky-high expectations I had going in, CudYe surpassed what I could’ve imagined with their seven-track genre-bending collab. It’s a shame the project has been overlooked on many year-end lists, which may have something to do with critics being turned off by West’s “antics,” but that’s the media for you in 2018. I hope there’s more music (or a tour) to come from the pair in the future.
2. Travis Scott – Astroworld
This right here is astronomical. Scott completed the vision of bringing his childhood theme park to life through his experimental art with Astroworld, which completed his gradual rise from underground darling to mainstream global superstar. At its core, La Flame proved to be the ultimate collaborator with his third LP, precisely unleashing a prolific lineup of guests in prime opportunities for success, all of while remaining the star attraction.
1. Pusha T – DAYTONA
“DAYTONA, album of the motherfuckin’ year,” Pusha T claims on the outro of his eviscerating “The Story of Adidon” Drake diss. King Push continued to use that slogan on merchandise and across social media platforms to make sure he talked the future accolades into existence. At 41-years-old, Pusha cashed in the best year of his solo career, where his drug-laced raps sounded as fresh as ever over Kanye West production. The Virginia native didn’t waste a breath across the 21-minute effort, featuring hard-hitting guest verses from frequent collaborators in Rick Ross and Yeezy. Nobody did more with less than Pusha T, and he deserves to be rewarded for it here.
Honorable Mention: Kanye West – Ye, Lil Baby & Gunna – Drip Harder, Migos – Culture II, Jay Rock – Redemption, 6ix9ine – Dummy Boy, Nas – Nasir, XXXTentacion – ?, Meek Mill – Championships, A$AP Rocky – Testing
Song of the Year: Travis Scott Feat. Drake & Swae Lee – “SICKO MODE”
In the most polarizing album review of 2018, Pitchfork described Greta Van Fleet’s debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, as “stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism.”
Pitchfork – “Greta Van Fleet sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves. The poor kids from Frankenmuth, Michigan don’t even realize they’re more of an algorithmic fever dream than an actual rock band. While they’re selling out shows all over the world, somewhere in a boardroom, a half-dozen people are figuring out just how, exactly, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are supposed to fit into the SUV with the rest of the Greta Van Fleet boys on ‘Carpool Karaoke.'”
It turns out that Greta Van Fleet is more polarizing than I thought. Last Friday, Greta Van Fleet released their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, last Friday to predominantly positive reviews. However, Pitchfork was nowehre in the congratulatory mood. In fact, the writer of the article, Jeremy D. Larson, went above and beyond to say in simplest terms, “I didn’t like the album.” This is not the first time Pitchfork has written an overly negative review about an album.
The Mumford & Sons review needs to be rewritten right now because there is no way in hell that Sigh No More is a 2.1. A 2.1! That’s a crime in all 50 states. This is why I tend to not rely on Pitchfork for album reviews.
Back to Greta Van Fleet. I’m all for giving your opinion. Hell, I’m a blogger. I give my opinion on a daily basis. I understand that it’s important to stand out and be different. However, that Greta Van Fleet review seemed to focus on creating shock value to drive the review. I’m sure their traffic was through the roof. You want to know whose traffic probably increased today as well?
Greta Van Fleet.
“Any publicity is good publicity.”
Maybe I’m naive, but I do not understand the hate for Greta Van Fleet. The biggest argument that the opposition uses is that they are unoriginal and a knockoff Led Zeppelin. I will counter with this. What’s wrong with being compared to Led Zeppelin? In an era where mumble rap and autotune dominate the streaming era, is hearing a young band that sounds like one of the greatest rock bands of all time such a horrible thing? It’s quite the opposite. It’s refreshing. I am fully aware that Greta Van Fleet sounds like Led Zeppelin and that’s not a bad thing. I’m getting a vibe that finding new ways to make fun of Greta Van Fleet is the cool thing to do. It’s like hating on Nickelback.
Listen to these songs and tell me you dislike them all. I dare you.
Folks, I’m not seeing it. Long live Greta Van Fleet. This band is here to stay.
“My legacy could never be undone,” Nicki raps on Queen standout “Hard White.” Based on her recent Twitter outbursts, it’s almost like she’s forgotten about her decorated resume. Before moving forward, I want to be open about being a big Nicki fan since her acclaimed debut and will always give her credit for carrying the burden of being the only premier woman MC in rap for the decade’s entirety.
I also want to preface my upcoming statements by saying I really enjoyed Nicki’s highly anticipated Queen album. But between her album’s women empowerment themes, recent interviews, and Twitter rants, I feel as if there’s been some contradictory messaging throughout the different channels of communication.
On one hand, you have the uplifting messages looking to churn out more woman bosses walking the earth. On the other, it’s been insecurities bleeding through aggression, where she has to embarrass and eviscerate any detractor standing in her way to remain atop the mountain of hip-hop’s elite.
Nicki Minaj says her total for “QUEEN” which right now says 190K first week isn’t accurate. She says wait till Sunday!! pic.twitter.com/4AsaXTNHxJ
Billboard announced that Nicki would come in at No. 2 with 185,000 equivalent album sales on the Billboard 200, after previously asserting that earlier projections were going to be wrong. Minaj finished behind Travis Scott’s Astroworld, which took the top spot for the second consecutive week as memes broke out across social media amid the warring fanbases.
The 35-year-old quickly hopped on Twitter to assert that she spoke to Travis about how she really had the No. 1 album in the country and attempted to expose Scott’s tactics in “cheating the system” to increase sales thanks to merchandise, tour passes, a boost from girlfriend Kylie Jenner and daughter Stormi. It’s odd to witness a vulnerable Nicki trying to justify herself when the Young Money rapper already went through a phase of hitmaking and chart domination at the top of the decade. She even finished behind Taylor Swift’s 1989 to end her streak of No. 1 albums in 2014 with The Pinkprint.
Travis sold over 50K of these. With no requirement of redeeming the album! With no dates for a tour, etc. I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week. I love my fans for the #1 album in AMERICA! I’ll explain on #QueenRadio 4 albums in, #1 in 86 countries ♥️ pic.twitter.com/CiYEuczgm3
I put my blood sweat & tears in writing a dope album only for Travis Scott to have Kylie Jenner post a tour pass telling ppl to come see her & Stormi. lol. Im actually laughing. #Queen broke the record of being number 1 in 86 countries. Thank Jesus & thank you to my fans.
Nicki then took aim at Spotify for treating her unfairly and continued to bring up her successful debut’s sales. An artist who has accomplished this much in her career should never have to look to sales for affirmation a decade later. It was honestly sad to witness the Trump-esque tweets in a borderline meltdown, which she claims as “dry humor and sarcasm.”
My first album sold 400K. No one is doing that with debut albums now. So I’m so grateful. I lost out on 12 hours of sales and did 200K in one week after I was supposedly cancelled. I bit my tongue last #QueenRadio but I won’t On Tuesday. I love you guys so much
I looked at the numbers the Carters, Kanye, Nas, etc recently did. Travis sold 200K in his first week of clothes alone. I spoke to him last night & he said he’s been selling clothes b4 the music. Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this, so it should be changed now!
There’s also absolutely no reason to tear down La Flame’s accomplishment while he enters the prime of his career, in what has been a historic month for the 26-year-old from Houston. Nicki has engaged in some of those same marketing tactics by attaching albums to merchandise, tour passes, and even added 6ix9ine’s “FEFE” to her album on streaming platforms to boost first-week numbers. She should be mad at her team for not bypassing the Billboard algorithm in an optimal fashion. All artists are rightly doing everything in their power to maximize profits and sales while the opportunity is present.
This is what happens when you release a great body of work after they spent millions to ruin you. Lol. 4 albums later still breaking records. #1 in 86 countries after they said it was a wrap. Praise God. He’s about to expose them. They writing about 69 cuz #Queen is flawless.
Throughout the rants, Minaj has also made it known she believes there are forces at work within the music industry that are pulling strings to see her fail. Now, I necessarily don’t believe that, but I do feel that it’s become the “cool” take to hate on Nicki Minaj. Some of the backlash has been deserved. I strongly disagreed with the Queens native’s attack on an innocent journalist for an honest musical opinion about her. Sending the Barbz fanbase on the attack after hopping in her DMs with various petty insults is just uncalled for at 35-years-old.
In a world where everyone asks for the old version of their favorite artist, I’m looking for the next evolution. Nicki’s pen remains lethal and if her mindset matures going into crafting the next album, the Barbz leader’s magnum opus could still be on the horizon.
“A Queen knows her past, understands her present and moves toward the future.”
DJ Khaled did it again. 2018 was supposed to be the Summer of Drake. So far, his toughest competition has been Cardi B. That all changes now. DJ Khaled just released “No Brainer” and this will for sure become the Song of the Summer. No doubt in my mind that this will debut at #1 on the Hot 100. Just look at all accolades that the “I’m The One” racked up. Khaled rounded up Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and Quavo (friend of the DMR) for round 2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
My biggest takeaway from this song involves Bieber. It seems like he’s been gone for awhile, but he really hasn’t been. Besides “I’m The One,” Bieber was also featured on “Despacito” remix. Have you ever heard of that song? It’s a small one. The song only eclipsed $5 billion views on YouTube, but who’s counting? When I said that it feels like Bieber has been gone awhile, I’m referring to the fact that he has not released an album since 2015. Will we get one by the end of the year? Who knows, but I will be ready to play his jams once they are released. Congrats on the engagement to Hailey Baldwin!
If you don’t know the name Greta Van Fleet, write it down, store it in a safe, and remember it because this band is going to be the one of the biggest acts in rock music within 5 years. Last night, the band from Frankenmuth, Michigan, had their biggest television gig to date on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Greta Van Fleet consists of Josh Kiszka (vocals), Jake Kiszka (lead guitar), Sam Kiszka (bass), and Danny Wagner (drummer). The band has been around since 2012 and they found some small success early on, but the big break came when their song, “Highway Tune,” was featured on Shameless in 2016. Fast forward to April 2017, the band released their EP, Black Smoke Rising. Ever since that release, Greta Van Fleet has soared in popularity with two #1 singles on the US Main. Rock charts. The band’s second EP, From The Fires, went to #1 on US Hard Rock charts. Here are some of the band’s singles.
After watching these videos and listening to these songs, you can tell that these four guys have something special brewing. The band is keeping the sound of classic rock alive. Have you guessed Greta Van Fleet’s comparison yet?
Led Zeppelin. Duh. It’s SCARY how much this band sounds like Zeppelin. Is Josh Kiszka the son of legendary singer Robert Plant? Josh’s husky howl is so distinct that I can’t think of anyone in music (besides Robert Plant) who has that similar vocal style. I would love to sync both of their vocals up and see if there’s any difference. My guess is it would be minuscule at best. Add in the fact that Jake Kiszka is Jimmy Page in 2018 and you could see why this group gets compared to Zeppelin.
The kids of Greta Van Fleet, and they’re kids because no one is older than 22, are rockstars. From their vintage style to their old school sound, Greta Van Fleet is one of a kind in 2018. They are currently on a huge tour that ends in November and hopefully, their first album drops sometime within the next few months. All I have to say is hop on the bandwagon now. Greta Van Fleet is here to stay.
The Boss and The Piano Man. Two legends of the music world on stage together at the same damn time. What a moment. Bruce Springsteen joined Billy Joel on stage as Billy celebrated his iconic 100th Show at Madison Square Garden. I have seen both Springsteen and Joel in concert and without a doubt, they are the two best live acts today. Bruce Springsteen has no concept of time because his shows usually last over three hours. I saw Springsteen at MetLife Stadium in 2012. He came on at about 8:30 and didn’t leave the stage until midnight. It’s an experience and even if you don’t like his music, you’ll still have a great time because The Boss knows how to work a crowd. Plus, his 10 song encore included “Born to Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and “Rosalita,” which are all jams.
Billy Joel puts on quite a show as well. I saw The Piano Man at MSG a few years ago. I would consider myself more of a Billy Joel fan than I am a Springsteen fan so I was pumped that I finally had the chance to see him live. Billy Joel “gets it” when it comes to concerts. He knows that fans want him to play all of his classic songs and that’s exactly what happens. That’s what I hate about some bands. They only play their new stuff and skip a lot of the hits that made them famous. That’s quite the opposite at a Billy Joel concert. Billy is playing all of his jams and he’ll even mix in a few lesser known singles just to satisfy the diehard fans. MSG is such a happy environment when Billy is performing. Just like Bruce, Billy makes a personal connection with the crowd, which enhances that experience that much more.
If you have the chance to see Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel in concert, do it. You are in for a treat.
Shawn Mendes kicked off his week long residency at the Late Late Show with James Corden by joining the host in the popular ‘Carpool Karaoke.’ Throughout the ride, Mendes sang an abundance of his hits such as “Mercy,” “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” and “In My Blood,” which was the lead single off of his latest album. The Canadian singer even discussed his Harry Potter obsession and showed off his hockey skills.
The main takeaway from this video is that Shawn Mendes is not just a star, but a superstar. A few years ago, this kid was a star in the making, but not anymore. Mendes is the complete package. He’s good-looking and charming. His voice and guitar abilities are top-notch. Every one of his songs is a head-bopper. It’s hard to look at Mendes and not see a superstar. Mendes draws a lot of comparisons to his idol, John Mayer, but I also see a lot of Harry Styles and Ed Sheeran in him. The craziest part about Mendes is his age. He’s 19 years old (!!!). At 19, Mendes has had three #1 albums and he can’t even drink a beer in the US. If you haven’t already, buy your Shawn Mendes stock now before it’s too late. I can’t even imagine where this kid will be in 5 years. It would not surprise me at all if Mendes passes his fellow Canadian, Justin Bieber, in superstardom. Sky is the limit for Shawn Mendes.
Enjoy my favorite Shawn Mendes song and performance.