Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2004 - Music (Ushering in the Last Stand)

Like I said, it was the last great year for the music industry as we know it. I've talked with one industry insider this year and she pretty much told me that there is no industry. Credit the downfall to rampant downloading, Soundscan not taking album downloads into consideration, and the lack of connection that'll tie fans to a movement.

That's why I say that Usher exploding with Confessions with the last of a dying breed. It was a monster that combined the rising crunk sound, a 3-year wait between albums and a deeply personal album that involved him and TLC's Chilli (allegedly). It had all the ingredients to be a monster and it was.

1.1 million sold the first week, four No. 1 singles that spent 28 weeks at the top, the last album to sell 10 million in the US - that's why I call it the Thriller of our (this) era.

It was also the year Kanye West said hi. I'll never forget people going nuts over bootlegging it and the day it dropped, someone recited "All Falls Down" at a poetry slam and I thought it was dope without knowing who it was. College Dropout still remains one of the best albums of the decade and one of my all-time faves.

Like I said in my last post, Kanye spoke to me like no rapper had before. Some other music highlights/lowlights

- Conscious rap was supposed to be in vogue but it turned out not to be what we thought. Talib Kweli's album wasn't as solid, Mos Def's album was as inconsistent, The Roots dropped arguably their worst album.

- Kanye's ascent coincided with the last stand of the three rap heavyweights. Jay-Z was in the middle of his retirement album, Eminem dropped his worst album (which still has some gems on there), and Nelly dropped 2 albums, his last major success. I still love Suit and think it showed the direction that Nelly was gonna succeed with.

- Maroon 5 dropped with a dope sound. It's funny cause I remember my friend Vanessa going to see them in Fall 2003 at this local bar in San Diego before they blew up. Then they came out to our campus in 2005. Unbelieveable

- T.I. dropped his biggest hit of the time "Bring Em Out", setting the stage for his rise as the next biggest rapper.

- Franz Ferdinand was a breath of fresh air and dropped one of my favorite joints of the decade "Take Me Out", rock needed a kick in the balls and this song smashed anything else at the time. And then MIA dropped "Galang" and it still sounds as fresh/original now.

- Biggest comeback had to go to Green Day, who changed their sound, elevated punk rock and made the soundtrack to a crazy election year and eventually the recession "Blvd. of Broken Dreams" still sounds relevant today esp. for college graduates and 30-somethings who watch their dreams get re-evaluated.

- "Why?" was one of the best songs Jadakiss ever did. Ironically it may have been the last major hit from NY from a non G-Unit artist. Oh wait, forgot about wack Mims.

- Oh yeah, I also got into Prince a lot more closely. I bought his comeback album "Musicology" in December and I remember enjoying it all over Washington D.C. It made me discover a lot of his music. In 2005, I bought his greatest hits album and "Sign O the Times"

- Still can't believe people tripped out over Britney Spears "Toxic" - might just be the best reviewed single of her career. I actually liked "Everytime" because it was a piano ballad.

- And although I didnt discover it until 2005, one of the most beautiful albums ever dropped. Changed the notion of what I thought hip-hop could sound like. The Foreign Exchange - Connected. An album made with two guys in different countries who never met except on a message board and showed how the Internet could aid in making great music.

It was probably one of the last years we all had a shared musical experience. Everything was going to end up on I-Tunes, rampant downloading and message boards (plus the radio shifting towards a younger audience). Take it for what it's worth. Fond musical memories for me. What about you?

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