—Pitchfork is taking a well-earned end-of-summer content break, and is filling the hole with one of its jumbo, all inclusive lists. This one focuses on what the tastemaker music site considers the best albums of the decade so far.
Predictably polarizing and quite obviously wrong on many fronts — as all such lists are except those made by oneself — it nonetheless offers a rundown of a decade so awash in music that few can claim to have heard even a fraction of it. Pitchfork gallingly suggests that Real Estate's work is better than PJ Harvey's over the last four years.
—Twitter and Facebook exploded on Thursday after CNN's Don Lemon, who's been a constant presence on TV reporting on the racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo., got called out by rapper Talib Kweli during a live interview. Kweli, a smart, keen lyricist, rapper and political advocate, gave Lemon a lecture on perception and the role of the media in real time, and the result was riveting. Watch it, and then go jam Talib Kweli's classic collaboration with the artist formerly known as Mos Def, "Black Star."
—The artist known as Aphex Twin has been mostly mum since he dropped his disappointing and/or misunderstood record "Drukqs" in 2001. Thirteen years later, though, the British electronic music composer returned in grand fashion when an Aphex Twin blimp was spotted floating above London last week. Never one to shy away from weirdness, the musician born Richard D. James followed the stunt with a garbled press release that gets all of its facts, and syntax, wrong.
"Only few and far between during the new millennium," it reads," a full-length, 20001's Druikqs, James — has marked the beginning of an arc, and the final new material in 20005. A lot of the music in any way is often a lack of communication and leadership to be fallacious rumors of new material for his fannies and his enthusiasm has not diminished hope."
"Syro" will arrive through Warp Record on Sept. 23; it will feature a typically obtuse cover from longtime Warp designers Designer Republic.
—The rise of the mixtape is one of the most important musical evolutions of the past two decades, and that power has been reflected in pop culture. Over at Slate, writer Dee Lockett goes long on fictional mixtapes first by focusing on the one employed as a plot device in "Guardians of the Galaxy." She uses it as a springboard into the history of such collections in fictional settings.
Writes Lockett: "Mixtapes have popped up in movies and novels for many different purposes: They've served as a way for characters to offer advice to their children (as in 'Submarine'), to reveal new facets of themselves (as in Gregory Galloway's 'As Simple as Snow'), and to drop romantic hints for their crushes (as in the short film 'Mixtape' and, of course, 'Bring It On')."
—Taylor Swift released a new song and starred in a video wearing Mike Ditka's retired number, 89. The song is called "Shake It Off," and you only need to hear it once before it implants itself into your psyche. Some, like Earl Sweatshirt, criticized the video because he said it perpetuated black stereotypes. The video's director, Mark Romanek, defended it, and specifically answered Sweatshirt's criticism. And as all this went down, Swift's management team at Big Machine was no doubt loving every minute of it. After all, the superstar's new album comes out in late October. Get used to two months of nonstop Swift campaigning.
—Did somebody say twerking? Rapper Nicki Minaj responded with the full force of her booty in the just dropped video for her destined-to-be twerk classic "Anaconda." Over at Grantland, Molly Lambert examined the video at length: "'Anaconda' turns Nicki's butt into a literal force of nature, causing earthquakes in a jungle setting." Read the whole thing.
Want more on what Carl Wilson in his first column for Spin calls "the summer of ass"? He submits: "This summer has seemed designed to slap the complacent lite-lime-beer grins off our faces." Totally worth a read.
—When did you first realize your heroes were human, and perhaps even, God forbid, fallible? For me it was when Celine Dion sold out and went Vegas. For the writer who goes by Nova at Rookie magazine, it's the charismatic, mercurial soul singer Erykah Badu that's bringing her down. "I thought nothing could lessen my love for Badu," she writes on Tavi Gevinson's website.
"That was before this past May, when Badu performed a concert for King Mswati III of Swaziland, who has maintained dictatorial control over that country during almost three decades of torture, targeted killings, and clampdowns on free speech."