Daily Archives: May 10, 2017

Logic Talks Race and His Dense, Intense, 70-Minute Rap Opus 'Everybody'

Over the phone from Southern California, Logic, the 27-year-old MC who’s released two Gold albums for Def Jam without a radio hit to speak of, reads a list of topics discussed on his third, Everybody: “mental health, domestic violence, mass shootings, drug abuse, racism, indigenous peoples, anxiety, depression, suicide, happiness, money, education, upper and middle and lower class, fear, hate, acceptance, fame, religion, childhood, individuality, peace, love and positivity.”

Naturally, the album is a hefty, dense, immersive listening experience, a 70-minute concept opus told through different characters, featuring famous assists (Killer Mike, Alessia Cara, Black Thought, Chuck D, an unbilled appearance by J. Cole) and tied together with a surreal skits starring famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson playing the role of God.

Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, is an unusual major label rap star by any standard. Raised in poverty in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Logic is a proudly nerdy biracial kid whose signature stage flourish is solving a Rubik’s Cube while rapping. His first two albums, 2014’s Under Pressure and 2015’s The Incredible True Story, each went Gold. Everybody, released on Friday, is likely to become his first Number One.

Rolling Stone talked to Logic about his heady album and his unlikely rise.

Did you go into Everybody with a concept or did it happen organically?
It just happened as I went. I didn’t go into the album and say, This is what I was going to do with, for example, my own race. I didn’t wanna make this album. I was scared to make this album, period. I looked at where we are in the world and realized that millions of people listen to my voice, and I do have a voice. When I released the first song which discusses my race [“Everybody”], a lot of people were like “Oh, he’s pushing the whole biracial thing, he’s pushing the whole biracial thing.” Nobody would tell Q-Tip or Mos Def or Black Thought that they’re pushing the whole black thing. This is who I am. And the crazy thing is in my entire professional career, on my albums, I have never touched that, and I’ve been scared to. So honestly, I had written the script for the album, and I knew I wanted it to be from other people’s perspectives. But how could I write about other people’s fears if I didn’t have the courage to first address my own?

So you scripted the dialogue for the interludes before you made the songs?
Yeah. I did have “Everybody” first, and I also did have “Hallelujah.” But at the time those … weren’t even the full songs. It wasn’t until I realized I was gonna move forward with the script, and then especially once I was able to get Neil deGrasse Tyson to voice God, I knew how impactful it would be. That’s when I began to write the script. And as I wrote the script, that’s when I truly found inspiration for what I wanted the subject matter of all the songs to be.

Religion is one of the main themes on the album. Some of it’s overtly Biblical, some of it is irreverent like the Neil deGrasse Tyson guest spot. Did the gospel elements on the album come from any kind of personal church background or was it more of a musical choice?
I think for me, that was just sonics. Gospel music’s beautiful music, y’know, choirs and soul and all that. And that’s a part of my childhood, a hundred percent, but it didn’t come from that place. “Confess” is rapped from the perspective of a man who’s broken into a church at night. So that’s why it has that Chicago house four-on-the-floor gospel vibe with it, to drive the concept sonically as well. I guess the best way I’d refer to it is as a sci-fi take on religion. It’s not about religion, it’s not about race. It’s about people, it’s about humanity and society.

I remember, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement – not that it’s dwindled any, it’s still a very serious thing – but there were people on Twitter who were like, “Why aren’t you hashtagging Black Lives Matter, what are you not black or something, you’re not black enough?” They’re makin’ me feel like shit, and I’m the kind of person who’s like, “No, I’m just not gonna start tweeting about things I’m not necessarily educated on.” And I don’t mean Black Lives Matter, what I’m talking about are the deaths and shootings, there are so many shootings, I can’t even keep up anymore. And when people were attacking me, I was like, y’know what? Fuck that! I’m not gonna tweet this shit, I’m gonna go make an album about it.

I just thought it was really funny, because for me, it’s not about what I believe in. Am I religious? No. Do I believe in God or in energy? Yeah, sure, whatever, that’s my personal belief, but I’m not here to push that on anybody else. That’s why I got an atheist to play God, you know what I mean? If [deGrasse Tyson] doesn’t believe in God, why would he play the role of God? Because it’s not about religion, it’s about helping others, and it’s about just getting them to just open their mind, and that’s it.

“As I continue to stay who I was – a Rubik’s-Cube-solving, video-game-playing, married, puppy-lovin’ motherfucker who can rap well – I’ve found peace.” – Logic

You are still pretty young, but there’s a bit at the end of the album where a character refers to your fourth album as “his final one.” Is that a joke or did you really announce that you’re only making one more album?
It’s definitely not a joke, but it’s also something I don’t wanna talk about yet. That’s something that I’ll just let stay out there for a while, and I’ll address that when I’m ready.

You made interesting choices with the guest spots on this album. You had Killer Mike doing kind of an inspirational monologue on “Confess” instead of a rap verse. Did that idea come from you or him?
I had that idea for Killer Mike, because I knew, people would expect a verse, but in my mind I was like, ‘Nah, fuck that, I’m gonna give them something better than a verse.’ I had this whole idea, I explained the song, I explained the point of view, this specific man of color, who feels run down and at his wit’s end, I just told him. He literally walked in the fuckin’ booth, in my house, said all that shit, and walked out. That was it, one take, one and done, I couldn’t believe it. He was like, “You wan’t anything else?” “No.” And the funny part about that is, you actually can hear him in the very beginning of the song, because my engineer mistakenly started recording at the beginning of the track, and I had to cut him off and say “No, no, no, it’s at the end.” It was my idea and he executed it flawlessly.

Very few rappers from Washington D.C. and Baltimore have reached national success, and it’s interesting how you’ve done it from the suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland. How would you say this happened?
I got it to my audience one person at a time. Literally, I’ve been doing now this for seven years, and it’s really crazy to think that, and I’m so happy to be where I am. And for so long, I’ve been told, “Oh, you’re from Gaithersburg, so you’re wack,’ or ‘You look white, so you’re wack,” and all these hurtful, terrible, insensitive, disgusting things that people say on the Internet. And you know what I fuckin’ did, man? I persevered through that shit. Because I wanted a radio hit when I was a young, dumbass kid, and I wanted the praise. But then I started seeing all the people with the hits and with the praise come and go. It used to be that someone would have a hit record and be around for two years, and then it’s one year, and then it’s six months, and then it’s three months. And as I continue to stay who I was – a Rubik’s-Cube-solving, video-game-playing, married, puppy-lovin’ motherfucker who can rap well – I’ve found peace. And it really just hit me that, ‘Hey, dude, you’re you, it’s okay to be you, and you cannot stand out and fit in at the same time, so pick one.’ And I chose to stand out and be happy.

Not many rappers get three albums on a label like Def Jam without a radio hit, but you’ve done pretty well without one. Is that still something you want?
Who wouldn’t want a radio hit, right? Who wouldn’t want a smash any day of the week? But I am where I am right now with no hit. And I got it without having to subject myself to trying to create something that somebody else would like. Instead I say, “Hey, what do I like, what am I into? What do I want?” And that’s what I did. But yeah, I would absolutely one trillion percent love a radio hit or this or that. Who doesn’t want to win a Grammy, to be loved and adored for what they do? But I’m so stoked and I’m so happy to be alive.

What’s it like to live in Southern California now as opposed to Maryland?
Maryland is … I’m gonna think about how I say this, because I don’t want it to be taken in a negative way, but it can be a black hole. And it’s just not Maryland. Any city that an artist is from, whoever you are, it’s good to get out, you gotta get out and experience things.

Six years ago, my manager said “Do you wanna be the man in your city? You go to the movie theater, you go the bowling alley, you go to the mall and everybody knows you and stops you? But then you cross your city limit and nobody knows who you are? Or do you wanna be known around the world?” And I said “I wanna be known around the world.” And he said “then you gotta make music for the world, not just where you are. But you have to include where you are, and you have to be proud of where you are.” And that’s what I did.

I wasn’t accepted in the DMV, period. They were like, “Oh, this white boy, you suck, you’re wack.” There were a few, though, don’t get me wrong, there were awesome people who did support me and did love me. I always have to love and respect and shout out home, but need to go out into the real world. And I went out into the real world, dude, and they hated me just as much. But I did it anyway. And now, arguably and respectfully, I’m arguably the biggest rapper from back home. Once again, arguably: You have people like Wale and Phil Ade, all these incredible artists that inspired me to get to where I am today. I stayed through all that hatred from home and outside, and I stayed who I was. And it’s funny because now, the only real negativity I get is, “That dude’s fuckin’ corny,” Yeah, but I’m comfortable being me. It used to really hurt me, because I’m like, You don’t know me, I came from nothing, you should love me, I’m the underdog, I made it out. What I realized is it’s not about me. And once I realized that the issue wasn’t with me, it was with themselves, internally, it truly set me free. And now I’m a very happy man.

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Florida Georgia Line Announce Opening Of First Restaurant And Entertainment Venue – FGL House

Florida Georgia Line's logo of their restaurant and entertainment venue, FGL HOUSE, in Nashville, TN.NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Multi-platinum superstars FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE are proud to announce the establishment of their first restaurant and entertainment destination, a four-story attraction in Nashville’s trendy SoBro district called FGL HOUSE.
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Trey Anastasio on Phish's Epic Madison Square Garden Residency

On July 14th, Phish open their 2017 summer tour with the first of three nights in Chicago. There are 21 shows on the itinerary – but only five cities. That is because a week after Chicago, singer-guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, keyboard player Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman settle into New York’s Madison Square Garden for “The Baker’s Dozen”: 13 concerts from July 21st to August 6th, the most nights Phish have played in a single room, in a row, since they graduated from clubs. For a band constantly reborn in performance, testing their repertoire and improvising nerve from city to city, “The Baker’s Dozen” will be like going on the road – without going anywhere.

“Hopefully we’ll go somewhere – somewhere spiritual,” Anastasio counters cheerfully. “We think of it as a residency. We’ve been talking about it for a number of years. When we started the band, for all intents and purposes, we had a residency. We used to play at the same place.”

The guitarist is referring to Nectar’s – the club in Burlington, Vermont, Phish’s hometown, where the group established and advanced its unique blend of jamming, knotty composition, conceptual adventure and audience-participation jest. “We played long, multiple nights there” in the Eighties, a workload made easier because “we lived about 600 yards from Nectar’s,” Anastasio recalls. “So it was very comfortable and homegrown.

“We kind of always looked for that,” he goes on, “even when we started our own festivals. We’d set up in the middle of nowhere for three days. It was the possibility of a certain kind of looseness. That was the idea.”

Actually, Anastasio expects “The Baker’s Dozen” to be like those nights at Nectar’s in one vital respect – the crowd. “I know people that will be at ‘The Baker’s Dozen’ who were at Nectar’s, a lot of them,” he says. “We’ll be up on stage, but everybody will be in it together.”

Why did you go with 13 shows at the Garden, right off the bat? You didn’t put some dates on sale, then add more. It was like you were setting up for two weeks in the largest club in the world.
The idea was always “The Baker’s Dozen” – buy 12, get one free [laughs]. Traditionally, a residency is something that really works for people who improvise. You get used to the room; you get comfortable and loose.

There is definitely an energy, definitely a sound at the Garden. It actually vibrates. [The arena sits over the Penn Station railroad terminal.] The whole room goes up and down – so much so that the mic will swing back and forth and bump you in the nose. When people start dancing, the mic stand will sway, depending on the tempo.

The other thing, man – New York, what are you going to say? It’s been the center of things since the 1600s. It feels like you’re blocks away from where our nation was born, where the financial center of the world is. When you walk to the venue, you hear 10 different languages in 20 blocks. My grandfather came here on a boat in 1910, through Ellis Island, with that huge wave of immigrants.

And in the late Seventies, when I was a teenager, I used to come from New Jersey for guitar lessons. I’d go through Times Square.

When it was still hookers and sailors.
It was unbelievable [laughs]. There is just a magic to New York.

The summer tour ends with another, more recent tradition: Phish’s Labor Day–weekend shows in Commerce City, Colorado. What is it about that venue, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park? The name makes it seem like the place is full of fishing rods.
It is one of our favorite places to play. It’s got camping. It’s the right weekend, the weather. There’s something about that time of year and that part of the country.

What is the effect on your playing?
You’re outside, under that gorgeous Colorado sky. Everything has an effect on the playing. Chicago is incredible in its own way, We put “The Baker’s Dozen” on the map, then went “How are we going to fill this in? We gotta go to Chicago.” And we hadn’t been to Pittsburgh in a long time.

But Dick’s – we’ve always done these weird things there. We used to spell stuff with the set lists. One year [2011], we did a show where every song started with the letter S. The next time [2012], we started spelling messages to the audience [with the first letter of each song]. We did a show where we spelled “Fuck Your Face,” the name of a Phish song. But we took a short break after the letter U [“Undermind”]. We came back, and it was R-F-A-C-E. [The set ended with the song, “Fuck Your Face”.]

The Phish spelling bee.
It’s a thing. It’s always been like that with the band. These things take on a life of their own.

How much has the band talked so far about songs and direction for the summer tour, especially the improvising and conceptual possibilities of “The Baker’s Dozen”?
We’re gonna go up to Vermont and hang out at [Anastasio’s studio] the Barn pretty soon. We’ve been very consciously open about this. There has not been a lot of nailing down. The mystery of it is weird, to be set up in this one place for a long time. But we’re relaxed about the whole thing. I think the relaxed feeling is the point of doing a residency.

The idea grew organically: “What if we just stayed here for a long time?” At the Garden, we always have our band rooms in the same place, the rooms for family and friends. Everybody’s hanging around. You get backstage, and you feel like you’re home. Sometimes the soundchecks are so loose. And you have to wonder: How much of that looseness is about the place?

You sometimes include soundcheck material in your Live Phish releases. Have you ever thought of doing just a box set of soundchecks?
I am a huge soundcheck fan. That is a great idea.

For a listener, it’s like getting inside the music before it is formally sent out to you.
Right. It is a conversation that has come up. We get up there and nobody’s thinking. It’s just whoosh! Not thinking becomes habitual. The music is instantaneous. Not thinking has become a lot easier over the years. [Laughs] Maybe we’re just tired.

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Watch Butch Vig Supergroup's Video for Psychedelic Song 'Gravity Rules'

Garbage drummer/acclaimed rock producer Butch Vig‘s new supergroup, 5 Billion in Diamonds, released a psychedelic video for their debut track, “Gravity Rules.” Former Soundtrack of Our Lives Singer Ebbot Lundberg appears in the song’s equally trippy video, floating among the stars in a trance-like state.

5 Billion in Diamonds is a collaboration between Vig, DJ James Grillo and producer-keyboardist Andy Jenks. Their self-titled debut LP, out August 11th via 100% Records, also features guitarist Alex Lee (Goldfrapp, Suede), bassist Sean Cook (Spiritualized) and drummer Damon Reece (Spiritualized, Echo & the Bunnymen, Massive Attack), along with guest vocalists Helen White (Alpha), Sandra Dedrick (the Free Design) and David Schelzel (the Ocean Blue).

Vig produced iconic albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream. He told NME that he and Grillo formed the project after cementing the band name, which he likened to a “cult Michael Caine B-movie thriller from 1967 or something.” Working with Jenks, they created a series of instrumentals, which they fleshed out after recruiting “dream vocalists.”

“One of the first people that James wrote on there was Ebbot Lundberg from Soundtrack Of Our Lives,” Vig says of the Swedish “Gravity Rules” singer. “We’re huge Soundtrack fans. About four years ago when they were getting ready to break up, they did a series of shows up in Stockholm. We went up to see them. James, fueled by many glasses of vino, just bum-rushed them [and] said, ‘Hey, Butch and I have a band, and we’d like you to sing with us,’ and he just [said], ‘Ja, I would like to sing with you.’ It really was that easy. He sang on like, four songs. That happened really quickly.”

Vig says he’s also started working on “new Garbage material,” which would follow the band’s sixth LP, 2016’s Strange Little Birds. Garbage will unite with Blondie for a co-headlining tour this summer, after which the producer aims to book shows with 5 Billion in Diamonds.

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Juilliard Names Damian Woetzel As Seventh President

Damian Woetzel, President-designate, The Juilliard School/Credit: Erin BaianoNEW YORK, May 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Juilliard School announced today that it has selected Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, artistic director of Vail Dance Festival, and former principal dancer at New York City Ballet, to serve as its seventh president…


Hear Snoop Dogg's Strip Club Adventure in New Song 'Trash Bags'

Snoop Dogg navigates the strip club with a “trash bag full of cash” in his minimalist new single, “Trash Bags.” Atlanta rapper K Camp sings a hazy, auto-tuned hook over whirring synth and clattering trap beat, and Snoop rattles off currency synonyms (“dollas, money, paper”) and strippers’ names. 

“Trash Bags” will appear on Snoop’s upcoming 15th LP, Neva Left, which he announced last month. The rapper recently released weed-themed lead single “Mount Kushmore,” featuring Method Man, Redman and B-Real. That track is available as an instant download with pre-orders of the 16-track LP, out May 19th.

In a statement upon announcing the album, Snoop promised that Neva Left “reflects every phase” of his career and “highlights the evolution of the Dogg.” It’s unclear whether the LP will include the rapper’s recent single “Promise You This.”

Though he’ll have a new record to promote, Snoop Dogg will perform his iconic debut LP, 1993’s Doggystyle, at the 2017 Hard Summer Music Festival. Snoop will headline the event’s 10th anniversary edition, scheduled for August 5th and 6th, alongside Rae Sremmurd, DJ Snake, Justice, Zeds Dead, Bassnectar, Migos, Ty Dolla $ign, Skepta and Charli XCX.

In April, Snoop helped induct his late friend and collaborator Tupac Shakur into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a poignant acceptance speech. “While many remember him now as some kind of thugged-out super hero, Tupac knew he was only human,” he said. “And he represented this through his music like no one before. It’s a fact he never shied away from. He wore it like a badge of honor.”

In March, the rapper appeared on a remix of BadBadNotGood’s “Lavender” featuring a controversial mock assassination video that earned the disdain of Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.

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Hear Father John Misty's Absurd James Comey Song

Father John Misty turned Donald Trump’s stunning firing of FBI director James Comey into an impromptu folk song Tuesday night.

In the minute-long video posted on the Pure Comedy singer’s Twitter, the singer spins around what appears to be a dressing room while belting out the lyrics to his ode to this controversial moment in the Trump administration.

“James Comey was fired in the month of May / James Comey was fired from the CIA,” Misty sang, naming the wrong governmental agency (though that’s understandable when you take acid every day). “Well he had Hillary’s emails / And there was a recipe, recipe for risotto.”

The Comey song is the latest addition to Josh Tillman’s ever-growing songbook of political humor, joining his Simon & Garfunkel-inspired song “I Am a Cuck” with Tim Heidecker. A papier-mâché Bill Clinton also made an appearance in Father John Misty’s insane “Total Entertainment Forever” video

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Watch Blondie Perform Upbeat New Song 'Long Time' on 'Fallon'

Blondie performed their propulsive new single “Long Time” on Tuesday’s Tonight Show. Singer Debbie Harry commanded the stage with her swooning, subtle vibrato, as yellow lights flashed around her to the disco-tinged rhythm. 

Harry co-wrote “Long Time” with Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes. The song appears on the New Wave icons’ recently issued 11th LP, Pollinator. Last month, the band released the song’s frenetic video, in which Harry drives a taxi cab chaotically through New York City.

The John Congleton-produced album also features collaborations with Sia, Charli XCX, Laurie Anderson, Joan Jett, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, the Strokes’ Nick Valensi and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek (who co-wrote lead single “Fun”).

Blondie and Garbage will kick off their co-headlining Rage and Rapture Tour on July 5th in Saratoga, California. 

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Joel Rafael With John Trudell's Bad Dog To Perform Summer Festival Dates In Support Of John Trudell Archives Re-Release Of John Trudell's 'AKA Grafitti Man'

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Music City Food + Wine Festival Announces Expanded Programming, All-Star Line-Up and Tickets on Sale

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — GRAMMY-Award winning artists Kings of Leon, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Jonathan Waxman, Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn, and C3 Presents are pleased to announce the fifth annual Music City Food + Wine…