For those of you who don’t know, Radio Monash had a woman elected to the role of president for the first time in a long while at the end of last year. That woman? Me; Aleks. Third year Immunology student. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.
If you know me personally, you’d be very aware at the fact that I’m goal and task oriented. You got a problem? Let’s work out how we can fix it. What’s in my control? What cannot be avoided? What can I start on immediately to work away at the issue? Along with avoiding micro-management at all costs, my other long-term goal for the year is to ensure that Radio Monash grows and flourishes as a space for all creatives. Read more …
Moonlight is the black man’s Brokeback Mountain; less contrived, more intimate and powerfully thought-provoking. For too long has the queer narrative focussed on white voices, whether it be the aforementioned box office success or Blue is the Warmest Colour. Moonlight does justice to the complexities of the battle and struggles faced by millions of men of colour around the world in the clash of perceptions between queerness and hyper-masculinity. It details the coming of age tale of Chiron, a young and relatively poor black boy raised in Miami, a turned hardened man, coming to terms with his sexual identity in a world that expects him to reject seemingly feminine desires. Read more …
Raymond Moore, the tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, told media on Sunday morning that female tennis players were “very, very lucky” for being able to “[ride on the] coattails” of men, strongly alluding to the opinion that WTA players owed their success to the stars of the men’s game. 21 time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was quick to hit back at her post-match conference.
The highly anticipated debut single of former One Direction member Zayn Malik – who appears to go by the mononymous and stylised ZAYN now – dropped yesterday leaving former 1D fans, and who am I kidding, everyone else, reeling over its music video.
Ever since his departure from the boy band early last year, much speculation has surrounded the 23 year old’s solo debut.
A few days prior to the release of PILLOWTALK, Zayn sat down with Zane Lowe to discuss his 1D career, revealing that he “never really wanted to be there” and found the collaborative writing process difficult, speaking graciously of his former band members who would “facilitate” his influences which contrasted the One Direction brand and image.
This new avenue of his has become very apparent considering the sexually charged energy of the song and music video which features arguably two of the most attractive people on the planet right now – Zayn and Gigi Hadid, high profile model and Zayn’s irl gf (so cute) – kissing and canoodling during the clip. Couple this with a visceral futuristic art house theme to a slow tempo electronic track and you best believe you’ve got yourself Internet music video virulence.
PILLOWTALK has been viewed almost 9 million times since its YouTube debut. The video depicts some kind of sexual fantasy comprising of flower crotches, nude silhouettes, and black and red paint tears with kaleidoscope effects used throughout.
Nothing much can be said about the song. It’s incredibly likeable yet frankly unoriginal. Zayn has jumped on board that noir&B train which has been popularised thanks to artists such as The Weeknd and Drake in recent years. The lyrics leave a lot to be desired with the creative genius that is /so we’ll piss off the neighbours/ of the chorus. Despite all this, I can admire a good vocalist when I hear one and Zayn sure has pipes. I look forward to indulging in more of his smoke wrapped buttery vocals with the release of his debut album -Mind of Mine- in the near future.
This entire situation is reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s fall from NSYNC grace and his debut solo release of Like I Love You, short of dope choreography and Pharrell cameos. I personally wish him just as much success and here’s to more slow tempo certified radio bangers.
When asked in an interview with The Sunday Times about the obvious themes of the song, Zayn said that the single was written about sex adding, “everybody has sex, and it’s something people wanna hear about. It’s part of everybody’s life, a very big part of life.”
Damn straight, Zayn and kudos to you and this new direction of yours (pun cringe-worthily intended).
Some time has passed since I first heard of the passing of David Bowie. It’s one of those “where were you?” moments that many of us will reflect upon in the not so near future when one of his songs is played at a party or his name pops up in a pub trivia quiz.
For some of you reading, it may have been a Facebook article or post made by a friend on social media; for others, a tribute on the radio. It was Jennifer Keyte’s matter-of-fact voice reading the daily headlines on the 6 o’clock news that left me reeling. At first, I thought I’d heard wrong and it wasn’t until the story was dissected about 5 minutes into the show that I was hit with the sobering weight of it all.
The Sydney based singer/songwriter Montaigne dropped her most recent single Clip My Wings late last month in anticipation for her nationwide tour later in the year. Jessica Cerro first made herself a name as one of the triple j Unearthed High finalists in 2012 and adopted the moniker Montaigne, inspired by the 16th century philosopher.
“Clip My Wings is about attempting to push back against your oppressors,” explains Montaigne. “I am resilient and have become more self-confident, I am less afraid to stand up for myself and my self-belief and I am expressing that through this song.” She manages to capture that sentiment in a format more aggressive and opulent than previously known of the 20 year old and we can only hope it’s a hint of more good things to come.
This single should be used as the prototype for a baroque pop/art pop feel-good power ballad. A strong beginning with the strumming of mighty guitar strings and a wholesomely indulgent bass line, the kick drum follows suit with clap beats to boot. Thus far, this introduction has all the right ingredients hitting all the right spots. Delicate yet formidable, Montaigne’s soaring vocal line makes an equally as powerful entrance. I love the subtle flurries of vibrato and contrasting vocal growls adding layered texture of ethereality to the composition.
The first chorus and its playful key signature shifts tease us once again into the familiar verse. It’s like Montaigne knew we weren’t ready for it – we needed an appetiser before she hit us with the main course. The floodgates have now opened with the second chorus and I welcome its holy goodness washing over me. It’s robust, darkly romantic and sickly sweet, and I cannot get enough.
And just when I think she can’t hit tug at my heartstrings any harder, she manages to snap them with gusts of pizzicato from the strings section in the bridge. ORCHESTRAL STRINGS. GIRL. WHY YOU PLAYIN’?
The climbs and cascades of the melody and instrumental tell a truly adventurous tale and support the narrative of the lyrics perfectly. Montaigne condenses the sound to only her echoing voice and basic piano chords before building to the final chorus.
By this point, I’m fist pumping in solidarity with Montaigne on this victorious journey she’s taken us on. Every element has come together for the finale of this anthem of self-worth and determination. But just as suddenly as it crashed onto the scene, it disappears without a trace or a tacky fade out.
3 minutes and 32 seconds of uplifting purity and I feel all the better for listening to it.
English songwriter Lianne La Havas has built upon the success of her critically acclaimed debut album with –Blood– released late last month. Inspired by her trip to Jamaica in an effort to regain a connection with her roots, she cites the album as homage to her Greek and Jamaican bloodline, hence the album title. La Havas steps away from her previous acoustic sound, sourcing a variety of elements from soul and jazz through to reggae and doo-wop. An exciting fusion of sounds and textures, the album bursts with love and tender nostalgia, transporting you to a time and place you never experienced, yet reflect upon fondly.
Unstoppable – the first single of the album – is meditative, ethereal and equally as playful. The soaring vocal line and La Havas’ unique vibrato are complemented perfectly by an infectiously funky bass line. It’ll leave you choreographing an interpretive dance sequence in your head.
Green and Gold is groovy and a little sexy. The seamless blending of time signatures between the thumping bass line and lilting acoustic guitar perfectly accompanies La Havas’ strong alto range. What You Don’t Do follows suit; it’s a sweet, swinging, soulful love-song. The wonderful vocal blend of the gospel chorus is a standout.
Tokyo begins with the faint murmuring of a city street and with it a free-flowing acoustic melody. Once the track starts grooving along, the slap bass and falsetto vocal-backing transform the track into something reminiscent of a disco-era ballad.
Wonderful is sultry and earnest. Gorgeously layered, airy vocals and the strings section create a ghostly atmosphere. In contrast, Midnight brings us back down to earth with its blasting brass and robust vocal line. An effortlessly cool track, it is a true testament to La Havas’ vocal strength.
Grow is darker and evokes heartbreak. A sense of urgency is created by the acoustic guitar, percussion and strings playing cat-and-mouse, each part twisting and tumbling into one another. The jazzy bridge catches you by surprise and just before you start wrapping your head around it, the chorus makes a final appearance.
Ghost shifts the gear of the album yet again. Structurally and instrumentally, it’s a simple track. Despite this, the song gives the impression that we’re edging toward something yet we never quite make it there, reminiscent of unspoken conversations and relationships that could have been but never were.
Never Get Enough is undoubtedly the most intriguing track of the album. It manages to combine grunge and Latin fusion – and it pulls it off pretty well. The song has multiple personalities; offhand and blasé, to livid in a heartbeat.
A beautiful and equally as melancholy adieu, Good Goodbye closes the album strongly. It will leave you with a heavy heart; partly due to the stirring strings and piano but mostly because La Havas left it too short with only 10 tracks.
–Blood– is a wonderful tribute to the re-emergence of the neo-soul genre and truly showcases La Havas’ talents as a vocalist and artist. I look forward to seeing her perform the album live.
DISCLAIMER: As a white woman, I aim not to further divert the conversation from its core issues while amplifying the sentiment of various women of colour and their opinions of the matter which I have encountered via social media in the past day regarding Nicki Minaj’s misogynoir (or anti-black misogyny; a term coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey) tweets, Taylor Swift’s derailment of this conversation and the media’s inaccurate portrayal of the call-out.
I’m not entirely sure where to begin. Dare I say I’m not surprised? Sadly, yes. This is yet another example of misogynoir within popular culture and the surrounding media. I think it’s worthwhile to recap the events before I launch into wider discussion.
Earlier yesterday, the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced. Nicki Minaj responded to her lack of nomination for Video of the Year for her Anaconda music video and Best Collaboration for her Feelin’ Myself music video with Beyoncé in a series of tweets which read as follows:
Hey guys @MTV thank you for my nominations. 😘😘😘 Did Feeling Myself miss the deadline or…?
Firstly, I’d like to deconstruct some of the arguments surrounding this situation.
Regardless if you personally thought Anaconda (or 7/11 for that matter) was worthy of a nomination, Nicki is within her right to discuss her lack of nomination and criticise the VMAs and MTV as institutions.
Award ceremonies like these are notorious for snubbing artists of nominations and considering Anaconda was such a cultural phenomenon as pointed out by Nicki herself, I can understand why she was vexed. At last year’s VMAs, Nicki’s live performance of the song was a feature; the hypocrisy in commodifying its hype for ratings while leaving her off the nominations list is again, not surprising but gross nonetheless.
Earlier in the year, Taylor Swift was praised for her open letter criticising Apple Music. Macklemore even went as far as apologising to Kendrick Lamar for robbing him of a Grammy in 2014. And who could forget Beck inviting Kanye back on stage after he jokingly reminded the world of the events of the 2009 VMAs in defence of Beyoncé’s snub. Is Nicki not free to criticise the industry in a similar manner?
Too often I have witnessed the misrepresentation of black female artists in the tabloids. Recent exchanges between Iggy Azalea and Azaelia Banks as well as Kylie Jenner and Amandla Stenberg come to mind:
Azaelia Banks and Amandla Stenberg are both portrayed as angry and irrational in order to dismiss valid criticism while those commodifying significant aspects of black culture are victimised. Unfortunately, similar headlines made their way around today (see Buzzfeed and Business Insider for example).
I personally can’t get enough of Anaconda. Sampling Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit Baby Got Back, Nicki built an empowering anthem off the back of an iconic and equally as sexist one. The music video satirises hyper sexuality while celebrating sexual liberation on the artists own terms; not the mention that the banana chopping frame deserves an award in itself.
The video broke the 24 Hour Vevo Record, trumping Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball which was also equally as provocative and culturally impactful. The only difference is that Wrecking Ball was not only nominated but also won the award in 2014.
Taylor was wrong to assume the tweet was directed towards her. Nicki was merely critiquing the lack of acknowledgement and blatant racism that black artists and black culture receive in all forms of media. Rock and roll, vogueing and twerking are accredited to Elvis, Madonna and Miley Cyrus respectively in mainstream culture, bastardised and popularised to the point that not many people are aware of their origins in black communities.
If it weren’t for Taylor’s interjections, the main focus of Nicki’s tweets would have been on the double standards of the industry as intended. When Nicki referred to the “other girls” in one of her tweets, it was clear that she was pointing out the privileges that come with whiteness and slimness in popular culture, an issue that desperately requires attention. Instead, click-bait media has fabricated a feud between the two artists.
“Pitting women against each other” is an overused and tired phrase that intends to silence those criticising misogynoir and wider racism amongst women, originally invented and perpetuated by men. Taylor’s knee-jerk response highlights her Introduction to Feminism 101 level of understanding of the issues that not only black female artists face but black women from all professions and walks of life have to deal with. Her, like so many other hyped white “feminist” celebrities (think Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Emma Watson) are perpetuating this introspective and exploitative brand of feminism that subjugates others and their deep-rooted struggles against white supremacy.
I also find irony in the fact that Taylor’s Bad Blood video (equally as hyped as her feminist-lite rhetoric packed full of celebrity cameos) is reportedly a rip off of KPOP 2E1’s Come Back Home video; her comments made even richer by the widely spread rumour that the song is about her feud with Katy Perry. She utterly misses the point on this and her final response was barely appropriate:
@NICKIMINAJ If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.
Nicki is so often slut-shamed and discredited because of her genre of music. Her brand of feminism may not be comfortable for everyone but it’s what the music industry needs. Nicki Minaj has taken Lil’ Kim’s legacy of empowerment and has run with it. It may be folly to read into this situation as much as I have but I truly do believe that the entertainment industry is a microcosm for greater society. Accurate representation of all people in widespread media is an essential aspect of addressing issues of discrimination as popular culture impacts all of us and has the ability to shape our behaviour more than we’d like to believe, especially for those more impressionable amongst us.
Again, while I’m not surprised, I’m still disappointed. It saddens me greatly that this situation has been derailed as much as it has. White women have never been innocent bystanders to racism and it’s important that we, myself included, acknowledge this in our everyday lives and learn from Taylor’s mistakes.
The four-piece Melbourne based quartet Hiatus Kaiyote delivers undoubtedly their most ambitious and delicious body of work to date with Choose Your Weapon kicking and screaming its way onto the scene earlier this month. This 70-minute cathartic sonic experience will knock your lil’ socks off, shaking up the entire future-soul genre with its experimentation of instrumentation, rhythm and influences. I couldn’t have said it better than the band members themselves; this truly is some “Multi-Dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangster Shit”.
The title track kicks us off with a fanfare reminiscent of the THX theme which transitions to a calming psychedelic soundscape. Overlaid robotic repetitions of “choose your weapon” and airy vocal riffs epitomise the album’s wonderful cluster-jam of sounds; frequent juxtapositions that always work in perfect harmony, with funky keyboard grooves and jarred rhythm patterns smoothly transitioning into the next track.
Shaolin Monk Motherfunk fuses Afrofuturist and oriental aesthetics in its introduction, with bass-line beats, jungle soundscapes, and what appears to be mimicry of the traditional Chinese Guzheng. When the drum-kit kicks in, the familiar swinging jazz structure follows suit. Nai Palm’s vocal gymnastics begin, perfectly complimented by rim-clicks and high-hat playing tag. Latin influenced percussive rhythms slide their way into the mix about mid-track and we seem to come full circle with the familiar opening tribal x oriental sound reappearing towards the back end of the track. Grungy hip-hop synths and snares aid the transition back into jazz swing.
Synths and staccato vocals reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald in Laputa are yet another faultless fusion of elements and influences. Vocal harmonies are simple in numbers yet complex in structure, and with a sprinkling of jazz scat, you can’t go wrong with this indie little track which manages to transport you to that very island in Gulliver’s Travels with that Hayao Miyazaki flavour.
The soundscape interlude that is Creations Part One takes us out of the jungle, and we end up somewhere along the coast. As Borderline With My Atoms crackles through, I can’t help but think of Destiny’s Child’s earlier work — The Writing’s On the Wall perhaps — with elevating harmonies and lazy soul sensuality. The track begins to build and build with crescendoing riff-filled vocals but it crouches back into hiding before ever reaching the perfect climax; frustratingly addictive to say the least. The track manages to maintain its smooth groove while continually experimenting with rhythm.
Breathing Underwater keeps to the DC theme with layered, powerful yet effortless vocal harmonies. The complex rhythm transitions coupled with synth-riffs create peaks and troughs that keep us on our toes. The key-change is one of my favourite parts of the entire album with little introduction needed for ultimate impact.
The oriental theme and Guzheng sound makes a brief comeback in the staccato heavy track Cicada with various percussive instruments mimicking the insect of the same name. Swamp Thing’s opening is grungy rock and roll and Simon Marvin’s keyboard prowess is in full flight during this funky little number. Chromatic choral builds give off a Labyrinth x Rocky Horror vibe and the piano outro gets us back into the jazz groove just in time for the next track.
Fingerprints is sexy and simple. Blue-eyed soul sensuality is complemented with horn synths to give it that futuristic flavour. This vibe continues through to the next track. Jekyll’s gorgeous jazz piano intro gets funky then Latin influences from earlier on in the album make a comeback. Similar to earlier tracks, its smooth yet experimental rhythm changes dotted throughout will keep you on your feet.
Prince Minikid contains some of the most beautiful chord progressions of the album and will leave you thinking you’re floating through intergalactic space. At one point, the cimbalom — or an instrument of a similar effect — makes an appearance, giving the track a Godfather-esque vibe of menacing proportions.
Atari is conceptually the best song of the album. At around 1:10, the double-time rhythm will leave your head spinning. Synth riffs create the perfect 8-bit atmosphere. A heavy bass line at around the 4-minute mark glitches the track and is yet another example of well-executed juxtaposition of sound textures within this album.
By Fire’s epic intro experiments with the placement of the beat then a choral build leads us into the funk. These guys can’t get enough of their synth-riffs but I’m not complaining; its super duper groovy. And my brain can’t come to grips with the time signature when they keep switching it around but again, not complaining. Don’t think; just let it wash over you.
Creations Part Two is yet another beautiful and celestial interlude which transitions perfectly into the next track. The strings of The Lung are achingly gorgeous and accentuate Nai Palm’s mesmerising melismata. The guitar and piano create an acoustic vibe and varying placement of the rhythm will have you floating on cloud 9.
Only Time All the Time: Making Friends with Studio Owl is a nifty little interlude track leaving you wishing it was full-length. The keyboard intro of Molasses will have you thinking you’re listening to a Whitney Houston track – sickly sweet bubble-gum pop vibes throughout with just a dashing of funk keep to the album’s overall theme.
Building a Ladder is the final tune of the epic 18-track album. This track truly highlights Nai Palm’s vocal strength as she hits notes with sweetness, then aggression. It’s a beautiful blend of all of my favourite genres; rhythm and blues, doo-wop pop, soul, and funk. The keyboard, percussion and groovy bass are underscored very well, with props to Perrin Moss, Simon Mavin and Paul Bender for not overpowering the vocal line and allowing it to soar. The outro’s half-time rhythms guide us back down to earth after the musical whirlwind adventure we’d been taken on over the past hour or so.
This punchy concoction of soundscapes, genres, techniques and vibes continues to build off the breakthrough experimental sounds of their first album Tawk Tomahawk while steering clear from over-complication, making it easy to listen to. Their upcoming tour is bound to create waves and here’s hoping for a piece of the action when they return back home.
For anyone that knows me personally, you’re fully aware that I dislike Iggy Azalea with a burning passion. Whenever I hear her strangled voice crow that stupid line “first thing’s first”, I go full SJW and begin listing every problematic thing about her. And to my friends’ dismay, there’s no way of shutting me up until the station is changed and they pretty much have no choice but to do so— especially if they’re trapped in a car with me.
Now, I’m not going to go and put you through that. Actually, that’s a lie; I am a little (sorry not sorry). Not only does she have no talent (what’s up with that weird southern-American accent?) but she is literally the epitome of cultural appropriation and everything wrong with it, specifically the appropriation of black women’s bodies whereby current beauty standards are influenced by black women (think the big booty and lips trend) but they are given no credit for it. These features are idealised on a white woman but frowned upon when a black woman embraces these attributes. Think Nicki or Beyoncé for example; whenever they shake their little behinds on stage, they’re told they’re token feminists and hyper-sexualising the female anatomy, using their bodies for bad things rather than having some self-respect. But when Iggy twerks badly, she’s suddenly hailed as the queen of empowering rap. For instance, whenever I bring up how awful she is, there’s usually someone in my vicinity who mentions her perfectly sculpted butt and how that somehow makes everything she does okay. In other words, Iggy has the cultural appropriation thing pretty down-pat. Type in ‘Iggy Azalea racist’ into Google images and a plethora of time-stamped tweets will appear with messages of racism targeting Asian and Mexican women. Ol’ Iggy also loves a homophobic slur every now and again and let’s not forget that she refers to herself as not only a ‘slave master’ but an ‘Indian chief’ in some lyrics of hers that she no doubt didn’t write herself.
But with this problem, I present a solution. Instead of being embarrassed by the fact that Igloo is Australian, let’s focus on some actual talent when it comes to the rapping game. If you’re like me, and cringe a little whenever you hear someone speaking or singing in our ghastly accent on radio or the big and silver screens, you’ll just have to push past this inhibition and take note of the underlying talent that’s brewing. Here’s a list of some of my favourite Australian femcees that we should be focussing on.
Tkay Maidza: Zimbabwean born and Adelaide raised, this child genius graduated high-school at age 16 and has been slaying ever since. Now 18, Tkay has sold out shows across Australia and is anticipating a U.S tour later in the year. Her “Switch Tape” EP has garnered much success thanks to tracks such as “Switch Lanes”, “Uh-Huh” and “Finish Them”, full of energy and bubble-gum vibes; the kinds of bangers that make you want a run a mile and feature in your own M.I.A cross Rocky Balboa moment. Her brand new single “M.O.B” pays homage to her ethos “money over bitches”. “It’s an ode from the present me to the future me, talking about what I hope to achieve and what I hope to be” she tells Matt and Alex on triple j, which I think is pretty damn cool.
Blaq Carrie: Hailing from Harare, Zimbabwe, her latest single “Reality” packs plenty of punch with her poetry-slam style delivery. She’s a talented lyricist and hopes to one day achieve greatness to that of her idols including Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, 2Pac and Kanye West. Classic R&B/Soul instrumentals frequent in her tracks which makes her oh-so-easy to listen to. The music video for “Reality” is also a bit of fun, detailing her dreams of breaking free from the ‘burbs of Brisbane through good ol’ fashioned hard-work. I dig her clean-fun hustler vibe.
Jesswar: Once you hit 0:39 of her track “Kendrick Lamar”, your head starts spinning so prepare yourself. This girl can rap very, very fast. The 20-year-old’s ‘two-middle fingers in the air’ energy is raw and nasty. Her new EP “Peachy” is no exception. Her lyrics detail her life on the Gold Coast with her main-squeeze focussing on the trials and tribulations of entering a new relationship featured in her latest music video “Jelly”. She has a Minaj fearlessness about her, especially in her tracks “Lips” and “Bitchy”. She’s not afraid to let you know how it is and her confidence oozes effortlessly from every bar.
Sarah Connor: The Sydney-sider delivers every bar with conviction and urgency. Her lyrics touch on everything from femininity, to gang-violence within her city. And that sound-byte from “Kill Bill” in the song of the same name pretty much solidifies what she’s all about. Price Johnson’s achingly smooth voice on the hook of her song “Coma State” in combination with Connor’s veracious lyrics makes for one of the best Aussie hip-hop releases for 2015 so far.
Madame Wu: The unlikely combination of ethereal hooks and visceral lyricism makes Madame Wu one of the most interesting femcees I’ve encountered. From the super personal to global social issues, each bar seems to hit a soft spot regardless of the theme at hand with her crooning-ferocity hitting a Maya Angelou level of poeticism at times. “Reclaim the Night” is one of my feminist anthems, unpacking often overlooked aspects of the relevance of the movement in Western society, refocusing the white-washed definition to that of something greater and encompassing of intersectionality. Straight up power and respect.