13Dec

“A Very Chingy Christmas” Will Ruin Your Holiday


Mariah Carey. Spending money on presents for family members that they probably don’t need or want anyway. Exciting, down-to-the-wire Senate elections in Alabama and the repeal of net neutrality.

It must be Christmastime.

Today, I was enjoying my typical holiday season tradition of working all the time and waiting until the last minute to properly plan my holiday when I stumbled across the following Reddit headline:

“Chingy is alive and he went to an office Christmas party and made a song about it. And it’s amazing.”

Like anyone would be, I was happy to hear that Chingy is still alive, and I also wondered whether his 2003 debut Jackpot was underrated or if I had just convinced myself it was great because I spent $20 on the CD.

Mostly, sadly, I knew that there was absolutely no way that this song would be amazing.

Against my better judgment, and in an attempt to stop myself from humming the new Bhad Bhabie single I had pressed play on against my better judgment a few hours prior, I pressed play.

To briefly recap: the video starts off with two people discussing their upcoming office Christmas party while one of them seems to be spreading peanut butter onto a tortilla. When the peanut butter spreader is pressed on who he’s taking, he turns to ask Chingy—who is sitting in the corner, reading a magazine, and probably wondering where it all went wrong—if he would like to go with him. Chingy accepts and what can only be described as a knockoff of a Lonely Island knockoff begins.

In a year that saw a music video collab between Jake Paul and Gucci Mane and people rioting over a McDonald’s sauce packet, “A Very Chingy Christmas” might just be the lamest thing I’ve witnessed in 2017.

You can watch the video yourself, but here are a few of the highlights:

  •     Sharon made meatballs in a Crock-Pot
  •     A drone being the highlight of the gift exchange
  •     The “Right Thurr” hook used express desire for said drone
  •     ”That weird guy in the corner alone eating cashews”

All pretty standard stuff for a corporate succubus using the life force of hip-hop to conceal its lifeless misery and delusion with a disguise of cool and being hip. At least there’s free coffee.

But the most depressing part is Chingy’s involvement. His lyrics read as follows:

“Call me Chris Jingle for the office party / And you only coming if you on the list that’s naughty / Swear these 9 to 5 hours played out like Atari / Bout to make this office space a winterland safari / I’m not the one that gets you gifts you want, I’m sorry / I’m the one that gets you eggnog spiked with Bacardi / Brought some misteltoes for the guy who never kissed Lauri (Note: Chingy pronounces “misteltoes” as “miss-stilettos” and I can’t tell if that’s on purpose or not) / I don’t have no reindeer but I make cash rain so stormy (Swag it out) / We celebratin’ the holiday in / An office complex with none of our friends / Bask in the glory of florescent lightin’ / It’s an office Christmas, let the party begin”

Mind you, all of this is presented by Mizzen+Main, who I’ve now discovered are the “purveyors of performance menswear—classic style in a moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free fabric. Because clothes should feel good and look great.”

What did Chingy do to deserve this? 


13Dec

Boogie’s “Violence” Is a Reminder Why Eminem Signed Him to Shady Records


Compton rapper Boogie, the latest signee to Eminem’s Shady Records, has delivered an impressive first single for the label, with “Violence.”

Eminem has recently made a few questionable decisions with his own music, but if Boogie’s latest output is any indication, signing the 27-year-old is an unquestionable stroke of genius.

“Violence” opens with contemplative keys and luxe vocals from DMV artist Masego. The track’s lush quality, provided by producers Keyel and Amaire Johnson, is tempered with a warm crackling, acting as the perfect counterforce to Boogie’s sharp cadence. Even his flow has some measure to it, to his benefit—Boogie sounds like he’s seated beside you at the bar, nursing a drink with ice cubes clinking against the glass. Soon enough, everyone at the bar will be pulling up a chair.

With violence being an extended metaphor for toxic love, Boogie plods through the symptoms of the failing relationship. As he tackles miscommunications and the weight of his “current darkness born in [his] shady past,” Boogie’s writing escapes the trite qualities of heartache.

Boogie delivers each bar with an attractive conviction. When he hurts, we believe him, and that is what will elevate an artist from good to great: not just appearing relatable, but being believable. After hearing “Violence,” it’s hard for me to imagine that Boogie has any insecurities about his music.

If this single is any indicator of his future output, Boogie has the potential to be a breakout star in 2018.


13Dec

“I Was a Fiend on the Emails”: Hip-Hop Animator Tristan Zammit Breaks Down His Come Up


Inspired by ’90s rap music videos and Samurai Champloo, animator Tristan Zammit has reimagined everyone from Noname and Dreezy to 6LACK and Denzel Curry in his edgy and hard-line drawing style. At 21, he’s worked with some of his favorite artists and managed to make a career out of a passion that began with a Wacom tablet and fooling around with Adobe Flash.

“Over the course of [2012], I basically flirted with Flash enough that come summer 2012, I was able to release my first cartoon on my YouTube channel,” Tristan tells me over the phone.

His tone is somewhat measured, but excitement peeks through his words as he thinks about his back catalog. His first video, “Making Mad,” was a parody of the popular series Breaking Bad. Though not a music video, this first portfolio piece gave Tristan’s soon-to-be burgeoning career two legs to stand on.

For Tristan, there was never a transition into music videos; he was always drawn to the medium. “I just think they’re a really powerful art form,” he explains. “I always loved watching the Busta Rhymes music videos as a kid, way before I was into making videos myself.”

Thus began his deep dive into SoundCloud artists. The goal was simple: find an artist with a clear aesthetic, animate them, and walk away with another portfolio piece and business relationship.

First up was Quiet Luke, a New York artist shrouded in mystery. Tristan spent six months in 2014 working for free and animating Luke’s song, “Otherworld.” The result is a video steeped in the absurd and guided by the same strings Quiet Luke glides over.

Despite the overwhelming sense of accomplishment, Tristan attests that his success following the video was far from overnight. “I released [“Otherworld”] on my YouTube channel, and it got a small amount of views relative to what I do now, but I think it was a really important video,” he reconciles. “It set a precedent for my videos in the future and what I wanted to do.”

Tristan admits initially feeling a sense of defeat following the video’s release, having poured his time, energy and money into the video, with not much longterm benefit, but he knows that the video’s performance is what ultimately drove him to work even harder. “I basically went around, trying to hit up rappers and other artists on their [laughs] Facebook pages, because I didn’t really know any other way to contact them.”

Traditionally, creatives have found this approach to be unsuccessful, but eventually, Tristan received some replies. One of his first paid gigs came from a cold call to Joey Bada$$’ manager. While the video may not be out yet, achieving a paid job for an artist he deeply respects was a major milestone.

“Then it started snowballing,” he says. “I met Denzel Curry through Joey at a show in Philly. I did some visuals with him, and I kept reaching out to people. I was a fiend on the emails. A lot of them don’t work out, but for the one-percent that do, that’s how you make a living.”

Before that first paid job, Tristan had to work for free, however, he understands that most of his creative counterparts aren’t earning a lot of money themselves. “You just have to have respect for yourself,” Tristan says, “but also have an understanding of the position of the client you’re contacting.”

While working for free would not make sense for someone in his position, with bills to pay and a life to lead, Tristan believes a balance must be struck between paying your dues and being able to survive.

“You should, at some point, probably be working for free or at least developing your own projects on your own time that you can show people,” he reasons. “Otherwise, you don’t really have a way to prove yourself. Probably the best investment of time I ever made was in my MF DOOM video, which was also an unhired video.”

Now with accolades and notoriety in tow, Tristan faces the task of not pricing himself out of the industry. “If I find that someone may not be able to find a compromise with my price, or I’m not able to compromise, I usually try not to push it,” he explains. Yet, his work, as with most creatives, is time and labor intensive. He’s aware that there may be people who will never see the value of his work, monetarily or otherwise, but doesn’t let that deter him.

At this stage, why should it? Tristan has seemingly worked with and animated for damn near everybody: Lil Yachty, Tory Lanez, Method Man and more. Keeping it democratic, he tells me that he’s a big fan of everybody he’s worked with, but says Denzel Curry stands out the most because of his longtime fandom of the Floridian rapper.

Tristan’s most-recent release is for Dreezy’s “Spar,” featuring 6LACK and Kodak Black, which he says follows the same process he employed for his work on theMIND’s “Animated Ambition.”

“There were two male figures and one female, so there was a similar approach,” he explains. “I made [“Animated Ambition”] in a very short period of time, and when I do that, I sometimes will enlist the help of other animators. I enlisted the help of my one friend Jaime Rodriguez, who is a brilliant animator. Also, the animator and background artist Rodrigo Silveira.”

If it were up to Tristan, and if time weren’t a factor, he would craft complicated posse cut videos all the time. More than anything, though, Tristan just wants to make a name for himself in the industry. To that end, he tells me the one piece of advice he wishes he hadn’t initially ignored: “Study before you throw yourself into an art form.”

In addition to studying, he also stresses the importance of honesty and self-awareness as two keys to long-term success. “You don’t have to feel destroyed by the comments or criticisms of other people,” he says with an optimistic tone.

“I always try to be unafraid to make mistakes, and I think that’s why I’ve survived as long as I have.”