Yeezus Murphy, tell ’ye how to chill

Everyone’s crazy for Kanye.

Ye’s sixth solo LP is upon us, and the sun is still setting, and the moon is still rising.

I’m not gonna discuss the record itself. I’m not even nearly started with it. I take no shame in being a huge Kanye fan, but I’m not even writing this now to take down detractors or to temper the expectations of supporters. Whether you love or hate the record, the artist, every permutation of “and/or” that applies — everyone’s mad about Yeezus!

In rap circles, from Top 40 aficionados to the biggest head you know, people are getting crucified for their convictions on what Kanye West means to the club, the streets and the currency of hip hop’s economy at large.

When you think of rock ’n’ roll, unless you are well into your 60s or have achieved levels of hipsterism not worth scratching my temple over, do you think of Elvis? I mean, really now: you think of the Stones, you think of Zep, you think of the Beatles, Jimi, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, U2, Metallica, the Chili Peppers, the Dead, fuckin’ Nickelback, Cannibal Corpse, MJ, Ozzy, Steely Dan, Scaggs, Grohl… the list goes on, on and on.

What one might consider “rock” has veered so far from shore since the moment a fuzz peddle was plugged in that it’s been home and back dozens and dozens of times over, leaving in its wake not only the canon of contemporary pop and Americanized R&B, but also 10 gazillion fruitless, nerdy arguments about what constitutes “rock.”

But if someone asks you who the King of Rock ’n’ Roll is, what’s your automatic answer?

Now calm down. I am not about to call Kanye the king of anything. My point is that musical cultures move quickly.

To bring it back to hip hop music, it often seems like the subtext to any involved debate on the merit of Kanye West as an innovator in sound and style starts out from a position of either total ignorance or complete acknowledgment that he is, for all he may represent, another taken-for-granted cog in the machinery of its culture.

But I’m as wantonly wowed as anyone by a slick magic show, precisely because I understand that the greatest magician has mastered the art of illusion. That’s what draws me in.

And I can appreciate the knowing smirk on the Mona Lisa. But the very fact that people have been just as impressed by her for centuries doesn’t change when you consider she isn’t really sitting there staring at you and has long since left the model’s chair. In fact, it is a large part of what makes her so compelling.

Neither she nor the magician cares what the hell any of us believe about them. They were here before us and will be here after us.

So what is it again that you think Yeezus means?

West’s ubiquity as a polarizing pop figure isn’t built on what people say about him today. It’s built on taking risks with what people may or may not say tomorrow, love them or hate them.


The long weekend brings with it local love at a Piknic Électronik double-header Sunday and Monday showcasing the past, present and future of Montreal beat bangin’.

Sunday’s main stage receives R.E.S.P.E.C.T., with a line-up paying homage to the legendary era of Montreal’s long-lamented Sona afterhours and the electronic revolution that helped put this city on the map in the ‘90s. Nivoc, Robert de la Gauthier and Sona icons Laflèche and Luc Raymond bring back that good old house-y, homey feeling.

The legacy continues on the Guru stage as Artbeat Montreal takes over, putting the “piu” in “pure party” as KenLo, High Klassified, Shash’U and Da-P keep it present perfect from 3 p.m.

Groove on through Monday with homegrown hero Tiga, his label Turbo Recordings, and guests Thomas Von Party, Bordello and more mixing and matching it on both stages.

Here’s what the rest of the week in Shine-y good times looks like.

Thursday – Hip Hop Karaoke is back at le Belmont for the “When They Were Freshmen” edition of the non-impromptu, fun-packed nightly. Check out this little interview with yours truly, delighted to have the tables turned as part of HHK’s media sponsor spotlight series.

Friday – Under Pressure fest founder and civic minded social activist Sterling Downey invites you to Fresh Paint Gallery’s brand new digs for a meet and greet fundraiser in support of his candidacy for city councillor for Verdun in November’s municipal elections.

But then, after, how high you gon’ get with Red and Meth at l’Olympia in what promises to be an epic evening in entertainment?

Those down for something a little more subtle ought head to to Howl! for an evening of rap soul goodness with Emrical, local funkadelians Dark Matter and Toronto soul poet Ian Kamau.

It don’t stop. Loud Lary Ajust take over the Francos at 10 p.m. at the La Presse stage, and follow with a listening party for their new EP O Mon Dieu at le Midway.

And at Underworld, Odd Future’s Syd tha Kyd flashes her golf wang at the kids.

Saturday – Back to the Francos’ la Presse stage with Dead Obies walking at 10 p.m.

Sunday – RZA screens The Man With the Iron Fists and answers questions at PHI Centre.

Incidentally, Raekwon is at le Belmont next week and Meth was just here. Ghost hasn’t been a stranger lately — and yet with Wu Tang coming to Ottawa and Quebec in July, tell me again why we can’t get the whole damn Clan here?

A sandwich ain’t a sandwich without Miracle Whip. Nonetheless, Bobby Digital has your ear from 7 p.m., with the film airing once before and again after the Q&A session.

Wednesday – Under Pressure and friends make a Fine Mess for an 11th time in a row, at Foufs from 7 p.m., with rhythms, canvases and Pabst aplenty fuelling the crowd-voted battle’s momentum.

For momentums of a slightly different vibe, hear Cyrus (aka Jarryd Torff) bring his key-laced instrumental blues-bap to life with Ruckus Fo’Tet bandmate Efa Etoroma on the kit at Les Pas Sages. A fin gets you in, and there’s word of a poutine afterparty in addition to a promise of epic-ness.

Bonne St-Jean, and rest in peace to James Gandolfini, who was reported dead as I wrote this shit.

(Prediction for Kanye’s next album title for Sopranos fans in the know? Kanye Finnerty.) ■


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