“I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs.” – Rhye, Open
Two performances will stick with me from this weekend.
At the MojaMoja Brunch, an annual tradition for me and always one of the best days of the year, groovy and soulful sets from Kelela and Irene Diaz and Hiatus Kaiyote (I’ll come back to them) and The Boogaloo Assassins were over-shadowed by the amazing and rare live presentation from Rhye.
During the show, it was said that they are performing at Disney Concert Hall in April but I can find no confirmation of this anywhere. Assuming it’s true, I must be there.
Then, on the live show—which had to be watched on lame tape delay on CBS—Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons ran away with the marathon event.
Let the campaign for a full album collaboration of Kendrick and the Dragons a la Jay-Z and Linkin Park begin now. They did record a studio version of their version of Radioactive suggesting it’s possible.
While they didn’t win, getting to see Hot 8 Brass Band perform Saturday afternoon in front of a far too staid audience at Bardot gave me that NOLA injection that I am clamoring for this time of year. Now I’m ready for Mardi Gras and King Cakes and my first Jazz Fest this Spring.
And then there’s Hiatus Kaiyote. I’d heard the name but hadn’t listened at all to the music before this weekend. Nakamarra—their grammy nominated but losing song—is superb and their live show was inspiring.
As I tweeted:
Did the funkiest R&B album from last year come out of Melbourne? Maybe y’all. Maybe. #mojamojabrunch
— Jason Toney (@misterjt) January 25, 2014
I think so.
In 2013, I liked music from a wide variety of people of different skin tones and cultural, global backgrounds crossing genres and exploring sounds. I most liked soul sounds with 80s UK retro vibes or futuristic explorations. I liked EDM tinged hip hop production paired with female vocalists—often white. I liked gritty rap and emo rap and confection quality pop.
And I liked The Heist.
Discussions of cultural appropriation are valid and important but I just didn’t feel that in last year’s music (Miley and the VMAs are another story but I still like Bangerz). Whether popular or bubbling under, the music I heard last year and over this past weekend felt like it fit right in with the world. We can always quibble over the wins and losses at an awards show, particularly one with categories as nutty and inconsistent as The Grammys, but I liked what sold last year and what was critically acclaimed. I didn’t feel like artists were getting cheated or ignored or marginalized.
2013 was the first year in a long time when hip hop didn’t dominate music industry sales. 2013 featured a lot of black music producers setting the style and sound for big pop artists and interesting genre artists—and they weren’t hidden. Pharrell was the star of the night and the year. Mike Will Made It. Yeezy taught me.
So, I’m delighted I got to see some pretty exceptional and eye opening performances. I was introduced to new music. That a gay civil rights anthem was meant to be the signature moment of the night. That Jay Z and Beyoncé do whatever the eff they want. That Seu Jorge has his guitar.
That I live in Los Angeles.
That music is all around me.