Review: D’Angelo’s Bleak & Messy ‘Black Messiah’



Lest you think the header is negative, consider the times we live in. “Bleak and messy” should seem apt to anyone who’s following the news with any heart at all, and it’s a powerful piece of art that can channel the Now into its medium — especially if that work, this album, is 14 years in the making. You’ve been hearing the hype; now here’s some more to consider. More importantly, open your ears to D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. And make sure you’re reading along with the lyrics when you do. I unpacked what I could, but I’m still learning as I listen further.

Radio Radio: Mary J. Blige and Mike Patton

mary j blige london sessions


Every three weeks, I pop into local NPR member station KPCC for “Tuesday Reviewsday” on Take Two. And yes, they pay me in tote bags. Last time we played some highlights from TV on the Radio and Mr. Oizo. This week it’s The London Sessions by Mary J. Blige and Geocidal from Mike Patton’s Tētēma.

Kanye Illustrated, Punk Love, and Gangsta Emoji

kanye west steve jobs illustration


Posterity Post: I wrote literally thousands of articles while on staff at SPIN and am in the process of rounding up the best for the blog. Skip or click as you wish.

Welcome to the most graphic installment in this series. Don’t worry, it’s all (most?) safe for work. These are posts involving the art of illustration, and all very close to my heart. And, yes, that is Kanye West as Steve Jobs glaring at you above. We commissioned Penelope Gazin to bring the man’s boasts to life.

On Tom Neely: My fave L.A. comics guy. His latest is The Humans, for Image.
On Isaiah Toothtaker: My fave Tucson felon/rapper/designer/tattoo artist.

The Best Music of 2014 (Amazon Edition)

jessie ware best albums songs 2014


It’s a special year-end list that makes room for Jessie Ware (above), Linkin Park, and Eric Church, and I’m happy to say I spilled positive ink on all three for Amazon’s Best of 2014 albums and songs roundup. Also held forth on such tuneful peeps as Sylvan Esso, Sam Smith, Bleachers, Little Dragon, Chromeo, the War on Drugs, Beck, Charli XCX, Alt-J, FKA Twigs, and ScHoolboy Q, to name a few. Visit Amazon to see what you missed, and why you should care.

Best couplet: “Higher than a motherfucker / Dreaming of you as my lover.”

On Eating at LAX and the Future of Coffee



Look ma, I’m a food blogger now! Been putting in a lil work over at Los Angeles Magazine grub hub “The Digest.” My most recent adventure: the fine folks over at LAX treated me and a bunch of other, ahem, tastemakers to a fine dining experience at, yes, the airport. Turns out writing about food involves binge-eating at high speeds. Also, tiny freaking cupcakes and Wayne Gretzky wine.

But before that, I hit up CoffeCon 2014 and got super-jacked on third wave brew. You’ve heard of #HotTips? Well, here are some #HotSips about the future of joe.

Me and Coolio Down by the Schoolyard

Coolio SPIN Chris Martins West Side


My final act as a SPIN staffer was to lock myself, photographer Nathaniel Wood, and a fella named Coolio in a small conference room with a laptop fulla hit songs from 1994 — the very same year that gave us “Fantastic Voyage,” of course. We played a hybridized game of “jukebox jury” and “name that tune,” and Coolio shared some wild memories about 2Pac, Nirvana, ICP, and Boyz II Men.

I learned: how slow-dancing really works (it involves a monkey!)
I caught: a case of “kneemonia,” which is apparently transmissible

Talking TV on the Radio on the Radio



I’ll say it. I’m bad at sharing. Here at least. I’m better in the real world, if the radio counts as that. Every three weeks I drop by KPCC to shed light on a couple of new albums of note. TV on the Radio’s Seeds was a no brainer for Tuesday’s session — it’s a fine release, and I’d just written a weird and lengthy SPIN cover story in its honor. I can’t bring myself to listen to these things after I do ‘em, so if you see me around, lie and say I sounded good. I also spoke about French A/V wizard Mr. Oizo (shout-out Brainfeeder) and cracked Nick Jonas jokes.

First time using this player, but if it works, I’ll start adding older KPCC bits: