De La Soul, Bowie, Ennio Morricone, Sturgill Simpson, & "Compton" OST: Top 5 Reasons 2017 Grammys Don't Completely Suck

Posted by Billyjam, December 12, 2016 02:17pm | Post a Comment

One of five Grammy 2017's "Best New Artist" nominees Anderson .Paak (above Feb 2015: Amoeba Hollywood following the release of his album Venice)This year the neo-soul singer/producer/musician from Oxnard (FKA Breezy LoveJoy) released both the solo album Malibu (nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album) & collaborative Yes Lawd! (on LP) with Knxwledge as NxWorries.

Predictably within moments of the public announcement of the nominees for the 2017 Grammys been made last Tuesday (Dec. 6th) disgruntled music fans swarmed social media to vent their outrage over why they felt the Grammys sucked. While many positive music fans agreed with such choices as Beyoncé (nine nominations in all!) or Sia (two nominations), or the inclusion of such relative newcomers as Anderson .Paak and BJ The Chicago Kid (both friends of Amoeba), typically it was the voices of discontent who were the loudest and that dominated the discussions.  These critics were the quickest in expressing their disdain over the picks and, more importantly, the omissions or snubs from the listed nominees for the music biz's biggest annual event: the 59th Grammy Awards to take place on February 12, 2017. "I can't believe that so-and-so [insert their fave artist here] was not included once but that Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West each got eight nominations! What the F.." was a stereotypical response by those of the many unhappy music fans to the Grammys announcement. But being incredulous at the lack of new creative alternative music in a mainstream music event doesn't accomplish anything. It's like Trump whining about how "unwatchable" SNL is while still religiously tuning in each week.

To these subjective and somewhat valid complaints my response is, yeah I hear you. And I similarly wish that my personal favorite artists were included (EG: A Tribe Called Quest) and I question the fact that in 2016 there is no "hip-hop" but only "rap" categories. But be honest: for a mainstream music event the Grammys ain't all bad and doesn't completely suck. Rather than focusing on all the negatives: instead with a critical but fair view, I suggest seeking out the good amongst the 84 categories of Grammy 2017 nominees.  Following the recent Amoeba "What's In My Bag?" video clip of (deserved) Grammy nominee BJ The Chicago Kid, I've listed my top five list (could easily be a top 10 or 20) of nominees/reasons that the upcoming Grammys ain't all bad and certainly do not suck as much as many insist that they do!

What's In My Bag? with BJ The Chicago Kid, whose 2016 album In My Mind got him nominated  for "Best R&B Album." He also got nominated for "Best R&B Performance" + "Best Traditional R&B Performance"

Top 5 Reasons The 2017 Grammys Don't Completely Suck

1: De La Soul's 2016 long overdue comeback album and the Anonymous Nobody (A.O.I. LLC) (also on 2 LP vinyl) stands out among the five Best Rap Album category for many reasons. For starters the longtime Long Island trio are the least commercially known, yet are veterans compared to the other five nominees (even Jeezy). In addition to Kanye West, these other nominees are Chance The RapperDJ Khaled (for Major Key, also on LP), Drake (for VIEWS, also on LP), and ScHoolboy Q (for Blank Face LP, also on LP). Compared to these distinctly more pop leaning artists, De La Soul are off in their own league making deeply layered, intricately produced hip-hop music that will stand the test of time.  Dave, Posdnuos, and Maseo meticulously took their time (years) to craft this original (sample free) album with its carefully chosen, oft unlikely contributors/guests (from Little Dragon, and Roc Marciano to David Byrne). Long known for their unhappy relationships with record labels, they independently self-funded the 17 track, 70 minute album with a successful, ambitious 2015 Kickstarter project that thankfully would become a fully fledged 2016 public release via both CD and double-vinyl formats.

2: David Bowie and his 27th studio album Blackstar  (also on 180 gram LP) resulted in the late great, always brilliant, eclectic and prolific artist been nominated in five categories:  Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, plus Best Recording Package for Bowie's album art director Jonathan Barnbrook. Many argued that it should have been nominated for some other higher profile Grammys while some cynics suggested that the album would have been slept on had the artist not died this year. Released on his 69th birthday and just two days before the artist's sudden January 10th passing (a shocking and unsettling sad event that would set the tone for the year of 2016 for many) to me it is an amazing album that stands equally up there with other great Bowie LPs from over the decades. More atmospheric and jazzy (with Bowie on sax), and less pop than some previous works, it is a sonically / lyrically darkly engaging masterpiece by one of the greatest artists of our time. Among the many reasons it's great is that it finds Bowie reunited with longtime collaborator/producer Tony Visconti, who co-produced along with input from Tom Elmhirst, Kevin Killen and Bowie himself. Listening to it back when it came out was an almost eerie experience, one in which it seemed that Bowie must have known it would be his final recording.

3: The various artists album, released in early January 2016, Straight Outta Compton / Music From The Motion Picture, was nominated within the 2017 Grammys' Music For Visual Media Field groupings under the Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media category. As such it appears alongside such other worthy nominees in the category of various artists soundtrack collections as Suicide Squad, Vinyl: The Essentials Season 1, Amy (Amy WInehouse movie also on LP), and Miles Ahead from the Miles Davis  movie. Straight Outta Compton / Music From The Motion Picture is an excellent compilation on many levels. It's the must-have companion piece to hit 2015 N.W.A bio-pic (released on both DVD and Blu Ray in 2016) and it's the perfect introduction album for those just now catching up on the highly influential pioneering West Coast gangsta rappers containing all the key songs you need from the early years of the genre. As well as N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police," "Straight Outtta Compton," "Gangsta Gangsta," "Express Yourself," and "Dopeman" (the remix) and Eazy-E's "We Want Eazy" and "The Boyz N The Hood," it's also got Dre/Snoop's "Nuthin' But A G Thang" and (star emcee of the group) Ice Cube's post N.W.A classics "The Nigga U Love To Hate" and ultimate diss anthem "No Vaseline." The icing on the cake is that this 17 song collection also includes some of the funk/soul classics that inspired main producer Dr. Dre and fueled, via sampling, the sound of a genre including Parliament ("Flashlight"), Funkadelic ("Not Just Knee Deep"), Roy Ayers Ubiquity ("Everybody Loves The Sunshine"), and Steve Arrington's Hall Of Fame ("Weak At The Knees"). Compilations do not get better than this!

4: Sturgill Simpson's April 2016 release A Sailor's Guide To Earth (also avail on LP) garnered the envelope pushing country music artist not one but two very worthy 2017 Grammys nominations:  Album Of The Year and Best Country Album. While many focused on Beyoncé's controversial forays into country music in 2016 and the fact that, despite nine cross-category Grammy nominations, that her killer country track off Lemonade, "Daddy Lessons" featuring fellow Texans The Dixie Chicks, was suspiciously rejected by the Recording Academy country music committee of the Grammys organization, the leading country music innovator of 2016 was Sturgill Simpson. As accurately described by Amoeba reviewers upon its April release, this "country rule-breaker" crafted a truly unique album that "defies genre trappings while still honoring the roots of hard country" that manages to effortlessly embrace such other styles as rock, swing, soul, and lush orchestration. No wonder so many narrow minded music fans, expecting a repeat of the artist's more traditional country sounding last album, 2014's Meta Modern Sounds In Country Music (also on LP), quickly rejected the new adventurous direction taken by  the artist. Hopefully those initially turned off will give this album, that needs repeated listens to fully savor anyways, a second chance. As that Amoeba review wrote in part, "Simpson’s throaty and bare voice delivers genuine romanticisms (“I’ve been told you measure a man by how much he loves”) before moving into an unexpected soul strut — and that’s just the first song. Tracks like the gorgeous “Breakers Roar” follow suit, and Simpson can even turn Nirvana’s “In Bloom” into a country daydream. Meanwhile, tracks like “Keep It Between the Lines” are pretty honky tonkin’, showing Simpson hasn’t abandoned the sound that earned him favorable comparisons to Waylon Jennings"

5: Ennio Morricone's soundtrackThe Hateful Eight OST  (also in 2LP and in Deluxe LP versions) for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight earned a nomination in Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. Meanwhile the OST standout track "L'Ultima Diligenza Di Red RockL Verisione Integrale" earned Ennio Morricone as composer a nomination under Best Instrumental Composition. For Quentin Tarantino's popular late 2015 film The Hateful Eight, the director managed to convince the 87 year old legendary composer, “spaghetti Western” soundtrack pioneer Ennio Morricone to do something he had not done in three decades: work on a Western film soundtrack. This the Italian composer did by supplying the original score for the Trantino film with its trademark over the top violence. Note that the OST also features select other artists including The White Stripes, Roy Orbison, and David Hesse, plus some dialogue audio clips from the actual film. But for the majority of the 28 track OST collection, it is the prolific soundtrack legend whose distinctive Western soundtrack style, as noted by J-Poet for Amoeba, is defined by mixing surf guitar, classical, pop, rock, electronic, avant-garde, and Italian music and sprinkling it with samples of birdcalls, gunshots, footsteps, animal noises, and whistling. More stripped down, simple, and direct, yet powerful, is Morricone's recent Tarantino score. However it should be noted (and has been many times already) that The Hateful Eight OST is also somewhat of a recycled/remix project even if the casual listener cannot tell. It is one in which Morricone chopped up and re-edited / remixed portions of unused parts of previous recordings of his: most notably from the film score to John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing. The end result is a masterpiece deserving of its Grammy nominations.

Relevant Tags

The Hateful Eight Ost (1), Bj The Chicago Kid (2), Beyonce (33), Sturgill Simpson (7), The Thing (5), David Bowie (85), De La Soul (28), Straight Outta Compton Ost (1), Suicide Squad Ost (1), Amy Ost (1), Amy Winehouse (13), John Carpenter (19), Sia (6), Anderson. Paak (1), Ennio Morricone (18)