Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Legacy of Amy Winehouse

On Saturday 23rd July 2011, the newest member was inducted into the hallowed halls of the legendary 27 club.
As is the norm these days, most people found out via facebook, twitter or text, that Amy Winehouse had been found dead in her Camden flat.

In the hours and days since, many have commented that Amy Winehouse's death was 'sad news', certainly it was, we have lost a real talent at an unbelievably young age, yet no-one seems to have been shocked by it.
Her problems with drink and drugs were played out across tabloids, paparazzi were there to capture every intoxicated stumble, and increasingly worrying liveshows saw crowds bearing witness to mumbled lyrics, erratic behaviour and a performer in need of serious help.
And sadly it will be these memories and the everlasting lineage of youtube videos that will continue to define her for years to come, creating yet another rock'n'roll legend whose mythology will be as closely intertwined with drugs and tragedy as it is with their musical back catalogue.
It is a shame that with only two albums to here name, Amy Winehouse doesn't leave more music behind, yet it is easy to forget now that these two collections have helped to shape today's musical landscape dramatically.
As always, posthumous sales have rocketed and her past hits are played out as some mourn her passing and others celebrate her life.  
But I'm sure that behind the scenes, the pressure will now be on to polish any demos and unfinished recordings that were being lined up for album number 3.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a new Amy Winehouse album rush-released before Christmas, but it is questionable whether her personal demons will have served her well until the end or eventually tainted her natural talent.
If the loss of Micheal Jackson to my generation was comparable to Elvis, then it is possible that Amy Winehouse will now be immortalised as the 21st century's Kurt Cobain; leaving behind a small, yet significant musical body, complete with the the cautionary tale of the dangers of drug-addiction and the tragic trappings of fame.

Amy Winehouse - Stronger Than Me 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Busta Rhymes @ the Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas

4th of July weekend and i'm on The Strip with my girlfriend, as the whole of Las Vegas is buzzing with a party atmosphere, all the pretty people are out in force in a destination already renowned for it's hedonistic reputation.

And of course there was no shortage of place to be or be seen, the only problem was picking one popstar's party over another.

Rihanna was performing at Mandalay Bay before 'hosting' an after-party back at our hotel's exclusive club, also 'hosting' further down the strip was B.O.B and Wyclef Jean would be putting in an appearance at another of Vegas' many nightspots.

But i'd already been tempted by the name daubed large across the Hard Rock Cafe's neon guitar frontage, one whole floor of gift shop and musical-related merch, the next floor the ubiquitous rock themed restaurant, and tonight, Busta Rhymes would be hitting the stage of the restaurant's intimate top floor venue.

The steep $60 price tag for tickets seemed somewhat justified after making enquiries, sincere staff said that it would be 'a proper performance' as opposed to a money-grabbing club appearance, with a full support and 11.30pm headline slot promised we handed over our foreign currency and looked forward to the night ahead.

As expected, DJs threw down some crowd-shaking hip-hop bangers and a jubilant vibe was in the air by the time a local live-rap band took to the stage, whipping up a tangible excitement in the room and putting in a respectable performance to boot.

What followed should have been the highlight of an already amazing holiday, but as the filler DJ set drew out longer and longer, the mood in the room dramatically changed.

it was later still when another DJ took over and a compère's promises that Busta Rhymes was 'in the building' and that he would be onstage 'in around fifteen minutes' were swiftly proved as dishonest as time dragged on and the previous DJ switched back again.

As the time stretched on with no indication of a headliner forthcoming anytime soon, DJs and compère were both booed and scuffles in the crowd broke out as impatience and growing unease spread throughout the building, a number of people even walked out in disgust as DJs resorted to playing the very same tracks they had already played earlier in the evening, proving them to be fatally under-prepared for the job they were there to do.

When Busta Rhymes did eventually take to the stage infront of an agitated and diminished crowd, the performance was far too brief and wholly unsatisfactory to have warranted such a high price tag, rapping over a distorted backing track that hadn't even had the vocals removed for the opening salvo, before moving onto two of his own tracks.

His talent is genuinely not in question, a quick run through of a couple of old hits was hardly 'crowd-pleasing' but were proof of his exceptional skill and inimitable style.

Then we got two guest verses from other artist's tracks and then it was over.

it really was far too little, far too late.

For an artist of Busta Rhymes' calibre, with an impressive back catalogue spanning fifteen years, to simply saunter up and essentially grab the money and run is a disgusting example of hip-hop stars trading on their own success by putting in as little effort possible, whilst still receiving a handsome reward.

This practise should not be tolerated any longer, it is disrespectful to the very fans that have put them in such lofty positions and graced them with lavish lifestyles, but in this culture of celebrity worship i fear that worse is yet to come, and that paying good money is simply not enough to make us worthy of Busta Rhyme's precious time.

Busta Rhymes - Look At Me Now (BreakBomb dubstep mix)