Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Weeknd

'I Can't Feel My Face' hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart last week.  He's just announced an arena tour of North America for the fall. He's playing a club show TONIGHT in his hometown of Toronto.  He just dropped a killer video for 'Tell Your Friends'.  His new album 'Beauty Behind The Madness' comes out this Friday. AND he's performing at The MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday.  The Weeknd is the KING of the World right now.

OH YEAH - Tom Cruise also lip synced to his song on Fallon calling it the song of the summer.

I first heard about The Weeknd around the online release of 'House of Balloons' in 2011.  I was part of the grand jury for that year's Polaris Music Prize to which this album had been shortlisted.  It never won the prize but local music journalist Anupa Mistry was there to champion the album and made many of the jury, myself included, take notice.  

The process of Polaris' grand jury calls for members to listen to the albums in their entirety while preparing to vote.  I chose to listen to the 10 albums while running in the early morning hours before going to work.  I remember this one vividly as it was on a rainy morning and I was running through the woods near my home at Davisville and Mount Pleasant in Toronto.  Haunting, beautiful, shocking and just god damn cool at the same time.  This album is still fire today.

For the next 3 years we tried various times to get The Weeknd to perform on The Much Music Video Awards to no avail.  The timing never worked out and or he wasn't ready.  Well this year he was more than ready and performed a medley of both 'Earned It' into 'The Hills' - Watch it here.  

When preparing for the release of 'Kiss Land' in 2013 Abel and his management came into the office to meet my team.  They wanted to say hello and show us the latest video for 'Belong To The World'.  Abel was super shy and very humble.  He told us how crazy the last year had been for a kid that grew up in Toronto being courted by everyone.  Everyone from P. Diddy to Jimmy Iovine.  He also told us that until then he'd never been outside of Ontario let alone on an airplane.  His team took him to Japan and it blew his mind.  I'm certain that a mere 2 years later it would take a lot more than a visit to Tokyo to blow his mind.  This man headlined Coachella this year and has fast become friends with the likes of Kanye West and admired by all for his talents.

Able won 4 MMVAs this year for his videos and artistry.  He's likely to win a few Moonmen this weekend and I'd hope a Grammy or 2 come February of 2016.  

I'm lucky enough to be going to TONIGHT's show and can't wait.  This is the exciting stuff in the music business watching artists become Superstars right before your eyes.

Here's my Spotify playlist entitled The Weeknd GH

Thanks for reading/listening.


Monday, August 24, 2015


Andrew Patton and I at soundcheck for Up In Smoke 2000.
In 2000 I went to the 'Up In Smoke' tour at the Molson Amp in Toronto.  It still stands as the greatest live show I've ever seen.  The production.  The vibe.  The attitude and of course the music.  The show ended with a semi N.W.A. reunion featuring Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Snoop standing in for Easy-E.  This is the actual opening from that night -watch it now.

I worked at Universal at the time and had the pleasure of watching Dr. Dre soundcheck that afternoon.  He walked all the way back to the lawns with his platinum plated microphone to test levels. A master of sound who was meticulous with it for every single show.

That was just the opening! Eminem, Warren G and Devin The Dude opened the night before these legends event hit on stage.  Holy shit did that ever set the tone for an incredible night.

Like many I went to see the movie 'Straight Outta Compton' this past weekend and LOVED IT.  I was a mere twelve years old when both 'Straight Outta Compton' and 'Easy-Duz-It' came out.  These albums were dangerous and scary as fuck - but my friends and I were hooked.  We all knew the words to these songs inside out.  I can still rap (I won't) every single lyric to Easy-E's 'Radio' or 'We Want Easy'.

For me the next few years would be all Brit Pop and Hip Hop aka Rap music.  It was a backdrop while I skated the mean streets of Pickering.  Truth be told they were the furthest thing from mean - but skateboarding in strip mall parking lots with a ghetto blaster playing albums like these and then Dr. Dre's 'The Chronic' and Ice Cube's 'Predator' made it feel that way.

Found this in my parents basement :)
The movie probably wasn't even close to being in my top 10 favourite movies of all time - but I was still perfect.  Perfect because it invoked great memories of my youth coupled with important memories of historic times that my generation grew up in.  It's actually sad to see that racism is still as rampant as it was at that crazy time in 1991.  I'm pretty sure that if you were to turn on CNN right now that it won't look too different from the news stories at that time.

I love Dre's music and production but for me it was all about Ice Cube and Easy-E.  The movie solidified Ice Cube as the main rapper.  He was the writer and lyricist that made this all come together.  His career may be very different today - but this guy was a real gangsta.  A true G.

Here's a Spotify playlist featuring some of my all time favourite songs related to Compton entitled - Straight Outta Compton Tunes

Thanks for reading.