The Good, The Average & The Ugly (11/4-11/11)

Every Tuesday, I review what I thought was good, average and ugly from the week in music. This week, we'll be taking a look at the debut performance from Kids See Ghosts, a long-anticipated release from Earl Sweatshirt, and a joyous announcement.

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THE GOOD


KIDS SEE GHOSTS @ "CAMP FLOG GNAW"



Usually, I wouldn't include a live performance in a Tuesday review, but this was historic.


At midnight on Sunday of this week, I sat in my bed, headphones on max, eager to see what speculated would be one of the most enthralling concerts of the year.


After a short, explosive performance from BROCKHAMPTON, the screen on my laptop went black. It was time for Camp Flog Gnaw's final show.


After a brief wait, the live stream resumed, and what appeared before my eyes was unlike anything I had seen before.


A crowd of at least sixty-thousand cheered at deafening volumes as the video screen exploded with watercolors comparable to Kids See Ghosts debut album cover. The blinding projection illuminated a giant rectangular box suspended from the metal rafters above.


Inside the box stood two men, both of which have defied their darkest days of mental illness and public criticism. Two years removed from his last scheduled live performance, Kanye West was ready to once again do what he has done so well for a decade; put on a performance that will bury itself into the mind of each and every spectator in the crowd and at home.


In a beautiful, dark, twisted way, this was Kanye and Kid Cudi's chance to shut-up each and every person that tried cancelling them in the past year.


Microphones in hand and album of the year queued up, the show started.


Over the course of 12 tracks (7 of which were from Kids See Ghosts), Kanye and Cudi delivered a deeply emotional, interpersonal performance that will be talked about for years to come.


My highlights go as follows:


1) "Feel the Love (featuring Pusha T)": The second song in the show and Kids See Ghosts intro track, Kanye's explosive ad-libs and Cudi's echoey voice caused chaos in the crowd. Overall, I think this was the best energy I saw from the audience the entire show.


2) "4th Dimension (featuring Louis Prima)": The set-lists fourth song, "4th Dimension" was the most well executed track in the entire show. Besides the fact that this record is an undeniable banger, Kanye and Cudi both nailed their respective verses while maintaining high energy.


3) "Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2) [featuring Ty Dolla $ign]": This was undoubtably my favorite moment of the show. The culmination of the madness in the crowd, the pulsating lights and Kanye and Cudi screaming "I FEEL FREEEEEE", this song is seared into my eyes as the most performable track on the entire album. The way both artists belted out the songs title in between each line really made the listener believe that Kanye and Cudi were as free as ever. Two thumbs up on this one.


4) "Ghost Town (featuring Ty Dolla $ign & 070 Shake)": Serving as the live shows final song, Kanye and Cudi captured the crowd into singing along to what many would consider one of Kanye's best singular bodies of work to date. "Ghost Town" is my favorite record of the year, and when the Kanye, Cudi and the crowd sang 070 Shake's part in perfect unison, everything was in it's right place. Even if it was only for a few minutes, the show's outro was a testament to Cudi's continued resilience against substance abuse and depression, as well as Kanye's battle with societal norms and mental health.


When the performance was all said and done, I was at a loss for words. I still am unsure of whether I want Kids See Ghosts to go on a tour. On one hand, I'd give anything to see these two live. On the other hand, think about how musical historians will look back on this live show if it stays as the only one by the duo:


A performance by Kanye West (the most polarizing musical figure of our generation), and Kid Cudi (one of the most influential, beloved artists of the past decade). A live show where both artists stand perched in a glass box, performing what many to be 2018's best album.


If that's not one for the history books, I don't know what is.


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THE AVERAGE


"Nowhere2go" - Earl Sweatshirt



This song should be in the "good" category this week.


If Kids See Ghosts didn't rip the stage on Sunday, that would be the case, but as long as I give "Nowhere2go" praise where it's due, I think I've done my job.


I toss around the word "hardship" and "struggles" a lot, but Earl Sweatshirt's past year or two truly has been nothing short of a dark time for the California lyricist.


After an elongated hiatus from the rap game, Earl returned to the airwaves this past week with "Nowhere2go", a lyrically familiar, sonically unconventional return to form for the troubled rap guru.


Pitchfork explained Earl's style perfectly on their review of "Nowhere2go" when they opened the article by saying "Earl Sweatshirt packs so much into his verses that listening to one can feel like trying to crack a cipher". If one thing is certain pertaining to Earl's style, it's that his wordplay is impossibly dense. While this much is true, deciphering his code-like verses can be an adventure in themselves; a quality that makes Earl Sweatshirt so valuable to the relatively shallow modern rap game.


Take this group of lines from "Nowhere2go" for example:


I need a city to hold down (Hold down)

You niggas gave me a coast (Yeah)

You went and gave me a cape (Cape)

But that never gave me no hope (Hope, yeah, hope, hope)


Pretty simple at first glance, right? Let's take a look at what he's saying here. Earl starts by saying that he wishes that his rap influence would lead to the undivided loyalty of a city, but after years of incredible lyricism and impressive music, he has the attention of an entire coast. His phrasing, however, suggests that he didn't want that kind of popularity and responsibility. He follows this by saying that he was given a cape; fans treat him like a superhero, attributing their mental and physical well-being to his music. Despite this, Earl still is in a dark place with no hope to show for it; he can help millions of fans through rough times, but can't seem to figure himself out - a scary thought to say the least.


So, do you believe me now? Earl Sweatshirt is back on the scene, and the only thing that can stop him at this point in his career is himself.


Pray for Earl's health. Pray for Earl's happiness. Pray for Earl's music.


This man is a gem, let's not let him slip.


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THE UGLY


NOTHING!


This week, I am proud to say that I have nothing worth shitting on. Go to the "new music" page of your preferred music streaming site and see for yourself, everything was solid.


Don't get too comfortable though, I'm sure we'll get a couple skid marks next week.



-Carter Ferryman-


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