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February 13, 2014 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, February 13, 2014- 38

MUSIC NOTE30
Ranking hip hop's
premiere ive labels
Presenting the
hottest collectives
in rap music
By JOSH FRAZIERr
DailyArts Writer"

Va entine's Day
meals made on
a budget

Rap is fixated on perfection.
The argument for "Best Rapper
Alive" is as relevant today as it
was 25 years ago. The debate can
quickly become territorial, and
even the artists themselves fre-
quently weigh in with their own
opinions. Naturally, every rap-
per is convinced that not only
are they the most gifted, but also
that everyone they work with is
the best in the business, too. As a
result, debates over rap label supe-
riority have existed since the Bad
Boy/Death Row feud of the 1990s,
as record labels compete with each
other in an ongoing arms race to
stock the most talented artists.
Skilled up-and-comers like the
Pro Era collective and the A$AP
Mob are bringing New York City
rap back to the forefront, and
Taylor Gang Entertainment and
Grand Hustle are attempting to
stay relevant as their star power
wanes, yet none of these labels
are the best in the business
today. Here are the five hottest
collections of talent in rap right
now and why:
5. Maybach Music Group
Top Artists:Rick Ross, Meek
Mill, Wale, Rockie Fresh
Album to watch for in 2014:
"Mastermind,"Rick Ross
(Mar. 4)
MMG has seen better days.
The once buzzed-about label
has a solid roster of established
veterans but has seen its rel-
evance plummet in the last sev-
eral years. Maybach Music has
moved to sign many emerging
young rappers like Rockie Fresh
and Fat Trel in an attempt to
stay relevant, but none of these
acts have yet popped on the
national scale. Rick Ross's crew
released an underwhelming
group compilation in the fall,
and both Wale and Meek Mill's
most recent ventures failed to
meet sales expectations. Look
for Mastermind, Ross's upcom-
ing sixth studio album, to
either return MMG to its chart-
topping prime or continue its
steady decline into mediocrity.
4. Save Money Collective
Top Artists: Chance the Rapper,
Vic Mensa, Joey Purp
Album to watch for in 2014: n/a
The situation surrounding
Save Money couldn't be more
different than that of Maybach
Music. 2013 was a breakout year
from the Chicago-based crew,
as they received national atten-
tion for a slew of stand-out proj-
ects. Chance the Rapper's Acid
Rap tape was released to wide-
spread critical acclaim, mak-
ing him a household name. Vic
Mensa's INNANETAPE was an

Everything's G.O.O.D.
equally strong body of work that
demonstrated the raw energy
and creativity that has become
the signature for this hip hop
collective. There are no sched-
uled upcoming releases from
the Save Money kids, but any
move from these rising talents
is definitely worth paying atten-
tion to. With Chance the Rapper
becoming a legitimate star, this
budding group of Midwestern
teenagers could make an even
bigger splash this year.
3. Young Money
Top Artists: Lil Wayne, Drake,
Nicki Mina, DJKhaled, Tyga
Album to watchfor in 2014:
"YoungMoney: Rise ofan
Empire" (Mar.11)
Li Wayne is not the rap-
per he once was. His decline is
painstakingly clear after listen-
ing to any of his recent releases,
which feature sluggish flows
and a disinterested artist. Only
a few short years ago, he was the
undisputed hottest rapper alive,
equal parts witty, vulgar and
maniacal. Fortunately for the
aging label head, the talent he has
surrounded himself with keeps
churningouthits. Drake's sublime
Nothing Was the Same was one of
the best albums of 2013, with its
off-kilter R&B, braggadocio raps
and undeniable pop smashes. The
first lady of Young Money, Nicki
Minaj, continues to blur the line
between radio hits and mesmer-
izing lyrics, and her recent remix
of Young Thug's "Danny Glover"
is evidence that when she puts her
mind to rapping, Minaj can spit
with the best of them. The label
has an upcoming compilation
album, which could help bolster
YoungMoney's credibility beyond
its big-name stars.
2. Top Dawg Entertainment
TopArtiss:Kendrick Lamar,
Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock
Album to wachfor in 2014:
"Oxymoron," Schoolboy Q
(Feb.25)
KendrickLamar isthe bestrap-
per alive. From his stellar major

n honor of Valentine's
Day - that's tomorrow
for all of you last-min-
ute folks out there - this week
we're taking a look at three
of the most
romantic res-
taurants in i
Ann Arbor
and the deli-
cious foods
they offer. If
you already
have . a res- NATE
ervation at WOOD
one of these
spots, rock
on! If not, no problem. Using
the Valentine's Day menus at
the Melting Pot, Chop House
and Gandy Dancer as inspira-
tion, I've crafted three do-it-
yourself dinner menus that you
- yes, you - can whip together
to impress your date in the com-
fort of your very own home or
apartment. (Sorry to those of
you who still live in dorms.)
The dishes aren't too terribly
complicated to prepare but
will make it look like you really
know what you're doing. And

palate. Season liberally with
salt and pepper or a dash of
McCormick's Montreal Steak
Grill Seasoning. Broil to your
liking; I suggest medium rare.
Baked Potato - These can
literally be made in the micro-
wave by poking a few holes in
a rinsed spud and clicking the
"baked potato" button. Add
butter, sour cream, chives and
freshly cracked black pepper
before plating.
Steamed Broccoli - This
one's a no-brainer. With a gloss
of butter to finish, the green of
the broccoli really pops on the
plate of otherwise brown meat
and starch.
Cheesecake - If you have
a springform pan and are up
to the challenge, try making
your own! Otherwise, there's
no shame in buying a plain
cheesecake at the store and
adding chocolate syrup, fresh
strawberries or blueberries, hot
fudge, caramel or whatever you
like on top.
The Gandy Dancer

DEF JAM
label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city,
to his jaw-dropping "Control"
verse, it's clear that there is sim-
ply no one right now better at the
physical delivery of spitting vers-
es. Surrounded by a stacked ros-
ter of West Coast stars, the Black
Hippy Crew is clearly one of the
best in the business. Recent sign-
ees Isaiah Rashad and SZA are
new additions to a label already
featuring a superb lyricist in Ab-
Soul, a gritty street rapper in Jay
Rock and Kendrick's second-in-
command, Schoolboy Q, whose
upcoming album, Oxymoron, is
one of six projects the label plans
to release this year. TDE is com-
mercially and critically success-
ful, but it narrowly misses out on
the top ranking due to a banner
year from one of the most polar-
izing figures in music.
1. G.O.O.D. Music
Top Artists:Kanye West, Pusha T,
BigSean, John Legend
Album to watch for in 2014: n/a
It's hard to deny the influence
that Kanye West has on pop cul-
ture. The divisive artist is praised
by some as a visionary musical
genius, yet seen as a delusional
egoist by others. While both opin-
ions are valid, West is a consum-
mate entertainer working at an
all-time creative high. And the
artists signed to G.O.O.D. Music
are some of the most exciting fig-
ures in all of music. West execu-
tive produced Pusha T's excellent
My Name is My Name and John
Legend's soulful Love in the
Future, while Big Sean is a radio
mainstay. West's most recent solo
album, Yeezus is a tour de force
that is one of the most gripping
rap records ever made. The sellout
tour accompanying the album
demonstrated how engaging
Kanye West can truly be. The
opening act for West? Kendrick
Lamar. Despite Lamar's impres-
sive lyricism and technical abil-
ities, West's cult of personality
makes him an indisputable star.
The impact G.O.O.D. Music has
on the rap landscape makes
them the hottest (and best) label
in rap today.

opaque, flipping once.
Fresh Asparagus - I pre-
fer the thinner stalks because
they're not as fibrous, but take
whatever you can get this time
of year. Roast them in the oven,
saut6 them in butter or steam
them until tender. Like the
broccoli mentioned before, their
green color will really brighten
the plate. (Plus, they're a natural
aphrodisiac. You're welcome.)
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream -
Keep it simple with a scoop or
two of Haagen-Dazs: smooth,
rich, creamy, vanilla bean-fleck-
ed heaven.
The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot is a chain,
yes, but a fun and romantic meal
nonetheless. If you're thinking
about going there, be sure to
check out the special Valentine's
Day menu on their website.
Cheese Fondue - Like all
fondues, there are a number of
variations to choose from. One
of my favorites is made with
Gruyere and hard apple cider
(addition of brandy optional).
Sausage, sautaed whole mush-
rooms and - of course - a
baguette are all perfect accou-
trements.
Garlic Shrimp and Chicken
Breast - An easy surf 'n' turf
to prepare, chicken breast and
deveined shrimp both pair well
with a sauce of garlic, butter
and white wine. Beware, how-
ever, as both of these proteins
are easy to overcook; pay close
attention while sauteing.
Chocolate Fondue - Dark
chocolate is my preference,
but milk or white are also fine
options depending on you and
your significant other's tastes.
Fresh fruit, pretzel rods and
cubes of pound cake make fan-
tastic dippers.
And to the singles out there
(myself included), feel free to
make all of this and then imme-
diately eat every morsel. Best
part of being single, right?!
Wood is single and likes
food! To hit him up, e-mail
nisaacw@umich.edu.

that's
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Kno
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File
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all that matters anyway, Another one of those restau-
rants that you'd probably rather
drag your parents to so that they
The Chop House have to pay, the Gandy Dancer
is an Ann Arbor classic known
wn for its exorbitant for its magnificent seafood. If I
, people continue to flock were going to the Gandy Dancer
e Chop House en masse tomorrow, I might opt for scal-
Valentine's Day because lops, lobster bisque or a couple
anky, sexy and subdued - of crab cakes. But since these
e food is simply amazing. items are a little more time
you're not willing to fork and labor intensive to prepare,
he money for the menu the Atlantic salmon is a better
(upwards of $150 per choice for an in-home meal. It's
), make it yourself! practically fool-proof.
Wedge - One of the Classic Caesar - Romaine,
alads known to man and a parmesan, croutons and dress-
in steakhouses across the ing: That's it. Caesar dressing
, the Wedge is, fortunate- is very easy to make in either a
us, as satisfying as it is food processor or with a good
o make. It's truly nothing whisk and strong forearm, so if
than a quarter of a head you have the time, go for it. The
berg lettuce topped with flavor you'll achieve is really
y blue cheese dressing unparalleled to anything you
con bits. (You MUST use can buy in a bottle.
aeon.) Cherry tomatoes Sauteed Atlantic Salmon -
so be halved and added Buy a couple of firm, pink fillets
of salmon on ice - fresh, not fro-
t Mignon - A succulent zen. Coat with Old Bay Season-
beef that will satisfy any ing and saut6 in olive oil until

WERE YOU UNPOPULAR
(READ: A SECRETLY INCREDIBLE
PERSON) IN HIGH SCHOOL?
THEN YOU'LL FIT RIGHT IN AT DAILY ARTS!
Email jplyn@umich.edu
to request an application.

SINGLE REVIEW

MUSIC VIDEO REVIEW

So it turns out they can
funk-out across the sea in
Japan, too. Osaka-based pro-
ducer Seiho
has been
honing his
frenzied Double Bed
synth-and-
sample- Seiho
rich sound Perfect Touch
since 2010,
and his
diligence is paying off. He's
already a force toube reckoned
with throughout Japan's club
scene and is finally beginning
to attract attention in the
states.
This past Tuesday, Seiho
announced a partnership with
Brooklyn-based producer
Obey City for a 4-track EP and
tour. One of those tracks is
also his latest single, "Double
Beds."
The single is a conglomera-
tion of synth licks and sound
effects, threaded together

over a sample that gives off a
Kimbra vibe. How Seiho plays
with the sample - chopping
it every which way, distorting
it to almost comical levels -
sounds like akid having too
much fun with his computer.
The eclectic mix of effects and
timbres used make you won-
der how the tune still sounds
so polished; in just four min-
utes, we get lasers, chirping*
birds, classical guitars, rev-
ving car engines, trumpets

PERFECT TOUCH
and what almost sounds like
the Nintendo 64 startup sound.
Despite this, we are still not
overwhelmed by the end - in
fact, we want more because it
was all just too iuch fun.
On his Soundcloud profile, he
may not look a day over 20, but
Seiho's all pink, paisley dress-
shirt and 'what-the-fuck-are-
you-staring-at' scowl says it
all: keep staring,'cause Seiho
is here to stay.
-YARDAINAMRON

Though the video for Phan-
togram's latest single, "Fall
In Love," is shot in black and
white, it is
anything A
but mini-
malist. The Fall In Love
song will
appear Phantogram
on the Republic
electro-pop
duo's sec-
ond album, Voices, scheduled
for release next week. The
accompanyingvisuals feature
a trippy, illusion-filled canvas,
with quick jump cutsabetween
frames that highlight the pul-
sating beat.
Sarah Barthel's enticing
vocals draw the listener in,
and fans of the band's previous
releases will enjoy the continu-
ity of sound from last year's
eponymous EP. The production
work on "Fall In Love" is bass-
heavy at times, and melodic at
others. It is easy toenvision this

song athome in heavy rotation
at a pop radio station, in the
same vein as Zedd's "Stay the
Night." Its potential crossover
appeal to mainstream audienc-
es takes nothing away from the
duo's complex songwriting,
which combines electric gui-
tar and synthesizer to create a
layered soundscape.
The psychedelic video adds
to Phantogram's aesthetic,'

.; . 4
,.
: : '
't
. '
a

REPUBLIC
properly disorienting and
mesmerizing the listener. The
striking monochromatic visu-
als complement the catchy
lyrics and stellar production.
This earworm of a songcould
make Phantogram a larger
household name in 2014,
because once the beat gets
stuck in your head, good luck
getting it out.
-JOSH FRAZIER

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