People often reach a crossroads in their life. When it's time to make serious decisions about where they need to head next. For some, its obvious. College, real job, wife, 2.4 kids, and the picket fence. For alot more of us, it is not that simple. This album, Fame Kills, is my document of reaching of that crossroads. And I how I dealt with it. Drugs. Drugs are fun. They gave me the fuel to go out, the ability to reach new feelings and levels of thinking that I was not aware of. They make bad situations good, and bad feelings disappear. Drugs are also evil. They cause normal people to become seedy individuals. They ruin that same drive they supposedly uplift. They tore apart relationships with significant others and family members. This album isn't an idea of which is right and which is wrong. It's just my own personal struggle with drugs, framed around the idea that I'm trying to achieve some level of fame. There is no moral, no happy ending. It's just life. - Alex Ludovico
July 2nd ‘86; oh shit, it had to be. Two days before the 210th birthday of our great nation, a boy named Kyle Hargrove was brought into this world. These past twenty-three years and change haven’t been the best to him, with his path to adulthood paved with divorce, drugs, and depression. I don’t know Kyle personally, so all of the intimate details of his past have come to me through his music as Alex Ludovico. Packed with a buoyant flow, a reference base wider than the vast majority of young rappers in the game today, and a willingness to display his own flaws and vulnerability, I knew this kid was special. When I heard the playback from our first collaboration, “A Round of Anger”, I was slack-jawed. Ludo came through with more intensity than the blaring horns smeared all over the track, his music smarts in overdrive, shouting out the band I sampled in the first verse. After listening to “A Round of Anger” for an hour straight, I came up with the idea for us to collaborate on an entire mixtape. I was determined to draw a classic out of him. Our mixtape, Winning/Losing, finds Ludo using his elastic flow over nineteen beats to clear his cluttered mind, touching on everything from his depression, to his willingness to put everything into music, to autotuned farts. Some may derisively refer to Winning/Losing as “emo-rap”, but Alex doesn’t victimize himself. This is more of an honest account of a fiercely intelligent lyricist on the cusp of his mid-20s. That is, if he chooses to live long enough to make it there. Winning/Losing is about winning and losing. It’s about achieving goals, winning. It’s about cleaning up nosebleeds after trying to cope with a breakup, losing. It’s about selling your soul to the devil in order to be the best. There is a reason why there are beats from the dearly-departed James Dewitt Yancey are sprinkled all over this release. Death hovers over almost every track, whether it’s Alex’s belief that God does not exist, his own suicide fantasies, or the scary image of one of his characters slapping down their pregnant girlfriend and lying down on the floor with her. To coin the title of one of Ludo’s all-time favorite records, death is certain. If Kyle does indeed try to go out “at 27 like the legends”, it’s now my purpose to make sure he leaves a body of work behind that showcases his brilliance as an MC, that showcases his heart, that showcases his gift to bare it all, to shed the façade of the rap star and do what most rap stars fail to do: Keep it real. Winning/Losing is the start of this body of work. We hope you enjoy it. Douglas Martin Blurry Drones
This whole Rick Ross date rape thing is interesting to me. First, who enjoys date rape? The point of sex, IMO anyways, is to find someone who WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU. Like I can't even wrap my brain around why it's remotely appealing.
CIAO! Chicago is loosely based on Ciao! Manhattan, the amazing Edie Segwick film. Drugs, family issues, all these things that most of us deal with. I'm really proud of the record. And I hope you enjoy it when it's released.
I've been rather quiet as of late. No worries, I'm still doing stuff. One thing, I've recently started writing for a website out of NYC called The S.C.U.M. Times. My 1st assignment was to write about Iman Shumpert's newest rap tune....which is aggressively average.
I recently had my license taken away by the state of Georgia, so I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think…..
I’ve recently been reading Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. The book revolves around this couple that are having relationship issues, partly because the male is obsessed with a fictional musician named Tucker Crowe. Crowe is painted by his fans as the classic recluse, genius musician. He actually isn’t that, but this isn’t going to be a summary of the novel. The idea of the recluse musician got my brain going……
Is that what I’ve become? Im not suggesting I’m a genius or anything special. I think I’ve made good bodies of work. Clearly, not well enough to achieve what I set out to do, but good enough. I’ve been in Atlanta about a year and a half. In that time period, I’ve done little of anything in the pursuit of my musical dream. I work non-stop, and by the time I’m done working, I’m too exhausted to do anything besides play Borderlands or binge watch episodes of New Girl. Money was my motivation for moving, but money to be used in chasing my original dream. Now, I just save with no goal in mind, other than to buy houses.
I still write. Not as often as I used to, but enough to keep my pen sharp. I haven’t been on stage in ages. I have an album I’m sitting on currently, but I refuse to release it until there’s some videos in the can. I worry about quality constantly. I worry about where my place would be in this insane musical climate. I create without these worries, so as to not affect the quality of what I do. They do, however, cross my mind often.
This isn’t me giving up. On the contrary, I’m writing this for myself, hopefully using this to jump start my creative mind. But I need to remind myself of my original plan. I need to refocus, regroup, and attack. When something is embedded in how you define yourself, you can’t stop.
(This was originally supposed to run for a sports website I write for from time to time, but I couldn’t find a sports angle for it. I didn’t want it to be forced. But I also didnt want the writing I worked on to go to waste.)
I know people usually run their lists in December, but I like to let the year marinate in my head just to make sure something amazing I heard in December doesn’t get left off the list.
12) Mykki Blanco - Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Princess
2012 was the first year that hip-hop felt like homophobia would eventually be a thing of the past. It felt like artists were finally realizing that its actually not OK to mock someone’s sexual preference. Also, “queer” rap went from being something people joked about to an actual living, breathing genre. This Mykki Blanco record stands on its on as just an enjoyable, weird release. “Weird” is probably the best adjective I could come up with to describe this record, from the spoken word “Mendecino, California” to the very left field production provided by some dance music veterans. Also, when Mykki decides to make straight-forward songs, they’re usually straight bangers, as evidenced by “Haze.Boogie.Life” and “Wavy”.
11) Flying Lotus - When the Quiet Comes
When most artists make their “returning to my roots” record, its a sign that they’ve run out of ideas or their core fanbase was turned off by their last release. Flying Lotus was suffering from none of these problems, after coming off Cosmogramma, which was stuffed to the brim with amazing ideas and production. When the Quiet Comes is scaled back immensely, but losing none of the talent and sense of rhythm that FlyLo brings to making music. He’s described this album as a record for children to dream to. It’s beautiful and light, yet never loses that swing that comes with a FlyLo album.
10) Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
I think everyone shit on this record so much that it made me like it even more. Yes, I saw SNL, but nerves are a motherfucker and I’m sure if she went back on, it’d be twice as good. As far as this record, I’ve come to enjoy it because she sounds like my dream woman. Beautiful. Crazy. Unstable. Always a good time. “Off to the Races” sounds like a ton of relationships I’ve been in. Emile did a wonderful job with the sounds on this album, especially the string production. It sounds like all that time he spent with Kanye did him well.
09) Ringo Deathstarr - Mauve
Every year, there’s a random band I stumble across who reminds me of the 90s. I usually end up playing the record non-stop. Ringo Deathstarr fulfilled the 2012 quota better than I could have asked. Loud songs, lots of feedback, no songs over 4 minutes. Rawk done properly.
08) Fatima Al Qidiri - Desert Strike
Sometimes, our view of an artist’s backstory affects the way we view the music. (This same thing comes up later in my list) Fatima’s back story is one of living in war-torn Kuwait, with her parents keeping her and her siblings in the house through the use of Sega Genesis. The music she subsequently created takes on the vibe of an old Genesis game, updated for 2012. The music is very haunting and beautiful, yet loses none of the bass that I enjoy so very much.
07) Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
BRUTAL. Aggression turned into amazing art. 22 years and still very few bands can keep up. This is a record of pure energy that hits you over the head from “Aimless Arrow” and does not let up for its entire 38 minute run time. FWIW, I think this is the best thing they’ve ever done.
06) Trinidad Jame$ - Don’t Be S.A.F.E.
NIGGA NIGGA NIGGA. Trinidad became the biggest new artist in hip-hop as 2012 came to a close. I downloaded this mixtape back in August 2012, entirely because of the album cover. He’s been derided by a bunch of writers I respect for being a Lil B clone. I think they’re missing it entirely. He is absolute a post-based world artist. I think he took the off wall style and was able to mold it into something with a bit of pop sheen and ATL style. The tape is stuffed with wall to wall jams, with just enough weirdness to make it something that keeps him interesting. I’m super invested in what happens next, because he’s currently poised to take over the world, one NIGGA at a time.
05) Schoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions
This came out almost exactly a year ago, and has yet to come out of my rotation. “Druggys Wit Hos Again.” “Nightmare on Figg St.” “There He Go” “Raymond 1969. Basically, every song on here is rap on steroids. He raps like a running back, finding pockets and hitting the hole hard. He clearly doesn’t half-ass it on track, with even the interludes. Just a solid, front to back, all caps ALBUM.
04) Disclosure - The Face EP & Flow/Tenderly 12”
The annual winner of “Most played release in Alex Ludovico’s iTunes”. In the club of my dreams, these 2 releases would absolutely destroy the dance floor. It reminds me of the original UK club music I fell in love with, but with a 2012 flair. Impeccable production mixed with fantastic vocal samples. I can’t seem to fathom why this type of music never catches on, especially with America in the middle of an electronic music obsession.
03) Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
I wonder if this record would have been appreciated as much if he hadn’t come out of the closet before its release. I thought what he did was admirable and I feel like helped push the conversation from the “whatever” attitude about gays toward the actual idea of tolerance and acceptance. As far as the music, this album has been fawned over so much, there is very little I can add to the conversation. I will say, that, as a general rule, I don’t care for much R&B. Yet this album captivated me. It works because he has a novelist’s eye for detail. The way the songs draw you into the world of the characters he creates is second to none.
02) Death Grips - The Money Store
This album resides in the same place in my brain as my favorite album of all time, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Both of these albums are LOUD AS FUCK. They both also manage to make loud catchy. The lyrics are also largely undecipherable upon first listen. But something keeps bringing you back. The energy Zach and Stephen put into this album make it one of the best records I’ve ever experienced. Their whole approach to music and the industry is very inspiring for people who feel like they have to conform to some idea of what music is supposed to be. Fuck everyone and make what makes you happy.
01) Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
In my day-to-day living, I tend to listen to anywhere from 2 to 5 new albums daily. My theory on this is that if an album is truly phenomenal, I will remember it and come back to it. Certain albums, however, I treat like the events they are. I lock myself in my room, put on my headphones and completely immerse myself in them. The top 3 albums on this list all received that treatment the day that they leaked. The one that absolutely became in embedded in my brain was this masterpiece. I talked about the novelist eye for detail when speaking on Frank Ocean, but that also applies tenfold when talking about this record. Being around Kendrick’s age, I remember being in similar situations. Getting high as fuck and freestyling with friends in the car. Riding around listening to Thug Motivation 101. Getting in trouble for going to get some ass. This album describes what it was like to be a young black male that came up in the aughts better than any piece of art that I’ve ever come across. Not a wasted breath or skit on this album. A perfect 10 of 10. It has to age for 5-6 years before I call it classic. But safe to say, I don’t see that being a problem.
Was a year I spent recharging my creative juices and putting monetary concerns over all. M.O.B. as the rappers say. I like the idea of being financially stable. But I’m not happy not using my creative side.
Time to get back to what I do really really well.
Haven’t used this in awhile. Everything currently on here is via reblog. I go through Tumblr periods. I actually do that with everything in my life. Somedays I’m interested and invested in living. And somedays, I’d rather lay in the bed and listen to Feist records and stare at my ceiling. I think white people call it depression. My mother calls it “being a lazy bum.” I wish I could figure out a way to stay interactive with life, instead of always feeling like a spectator. Updates…..
1) It’s fantasy football season. HELL YEAH FOOTBALL.
2) I have 347 unwatched movies on my hard drive. The goal is to finish them all by December 30th.
3)Welcome To Mother Superior’shas turned into a full fledged album. If you liked the depression found onFamekills,this is that ratcheted up by about 200%. If you don’t feel slightly suicidal by the end of the record, I haven’t done a good job. Looks like Atlanta wasn’t the mood altering place I’d hoped it be.
3) (Part B) The record is basically done. I’m actually doing some post-production when I get home in a couple weeks. AND SHOOTING REAL VIDEOS. That is basically the hold up. Just making sure this is a REAL launch as opposed to my normal method of just throwing things into the vast nothingness that is the internets and hoping people pay attention. Gonna put some actual muscle into the promo this time. YAY me.