Vuittons, Vocals & Ventriloquists
And the V is for newsletter #5.
Today we’ve got Jay-Z’s return to the stage via Louis Vuitton, thoughts on live performances with background vocals, some new music, and finally… a hip-hop ventriloquist?
Last week, Jay-Z delivered a full concert performance for the first time since his 2019 B-Sides 2 concert at Webster Hall.
Performing at Foundation Louis Vuitton, the event was billed as a Jay-Z Celebration Concert:
“To coincide with the Basquiat x Warhol. Painting Four Hands exhibition, JAY-Z will give a celebratory concert to pay tribute to Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, on Friday 14 April 2023 at 9 p.m., in the Fondation’s Auditorium,”
In addition to running through his hits, he also performed a brand-new mash-up of his own “Empire State of Mind” mixed with Gil Scott-Heron’s “New York Is Killing Me”:
“NEW YORK (CONCEPT DE PARIS) by JAY-Z, Gil Scott-Heron”
Beyond the new remix (available on all streaming services via the link above), here’s a great compilation of footage from the performance:
Here’s some amazing photography of the event by Raven B. Varona.
And why not checkout his most recent single performance: his epic “God Did” verse at the 2023 Grammys.
If you’re interested in Frank Ocean or Coachella, you’re probably already aware of his polarizing performance. My personal interest however, is in the small subset of conversations that came from the moments when he was just playing and vibing to his studio song recordings (something he doesn’t normally do). It brought back the classic discussion about rapping (or vibing in Frank Ocean’s case) over the original song audio as opposed to an instrumental or band.
This TikTok [explicit] perfectly covers the topic.
As always, you can listen along via my “Alej Archivez” playlist on Apple Music, Spotify, or Tidal.
“Back In Office” by Saba & No I.D.
This single comes almost a year after an Apple Music interview where Saba confirmed he has 120 beats from legendary producer No I.D. Although there’s no official confirmation of a collaboration project happening, this single has people hoping there will be, including me.
Milli after milli, they gon’ hear me like I’m Bangladesh
Cole passed on this beat back in 2009
#1: I love the Lil Wayne “A Milli” reference. #2: The reference to J. Cole really has me thinking that Saba’s doing a bit of vocal adjusting to sound like J. Cole on this song, does anyone else hear that?
Speaking of J. Cole, look-out for a short piece on him next week.
“Ain’t 2 Proud” by Pat Lok & Kiinjo
In a similar style to last week’s up-tempo Nina Simone remix, we’ve got another modern take on a classic. This time it’s a Pat Lok mix featuring soulful vocals from The Temptations’ “Aint Too Proud to Beg”.
I’ve noticed that lot of great producers and beat-makers seem to come and go through the algorithms and recommendations, but I realized have favorite after favorite song by Pat Lok in my music library.
I’ll definitely show-case my favorites in the future, but in the meantime search for his music and enjoy this fun Insomniac biography:
Pat Lok, named “Canada’s candy-colored R&Beats favorite” (Billboard) has become a staple in playlists worldwide. Combining feel-good vibes with a love of soul, funk, and disco, his releases have earned millions of streams and landed him on tour with acts such as Galantis, HONNE and The Magician.
“GOATED.” By Armani White & Denzel Curry [Explicit]
I need to dive deeper into Armani White’s music because everything I’ve heard has been a banger. I’m hyped to see this blowing up, although it’s entirely possible that I’m just seeing it all over TikTok because I liked this fire dance TikTok.
If it is indeed blowing up, I’m super happy for Denzel Curry as well who I’ve been a huge fan of since his high-energy TA13OO album in 2018.
One More Thing
Let’s end the newsletter and start the weekend on a silly note.
It turns out that Twista, known for his Guinness-record rapping speed, is also a ventriloquist!
This made the rounds last summer, and it specifically made it to my feed via a viral tweet of a different video showcasing that yes, Twista's dummies can rap as fast as Twista.
Twista, who broke into the mainstream via his 2003 song “Slow Jamz” (featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx), even sat down with Pitchfork to discuss his ventriloquism in depth: A Very Important Interview With Twista About Ventriloquism.
Enjoy the silliness and have a great weekend!