Earl goes animated and battles goblins in his new visual for “Off Top”. For now, he’s still Earl, after tweeting about a potential name change. Stay tuned for that and don’t sleep on the I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside album, of which “Off Top” appears.
In a trio of nostalgic tweets tonight, Tyler The Creator called the end of his group with Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, and a host of others — Odd Future — “no more”.
I sense that it’s more in reference to music and the natural progression of their own careers. But hey, never say never when it comes to groups. Maybe Odd Future comes together years down the line after a flurry of Grammys from Frank Ocean and Tyler winning… a directoral Oscar?! I dunno, just spitballin’ now but who knows??
Last night, I got home late after playin‘ basketball, then watched some basketball (thanks, Inside the NBA), then realized it’s David Letterman‘s last show!
I know there’s a great portion of the country that’s been swept up in Letterman’s much-deserved farewell tour over the last 6 weeks. I don’t fall into that category, not that I’m not a fan of Dave. I enjoy his show whenever I catch a cool celebrity or musician on there but after watching his finale show last night, I realized: Wow, he’s been such a staple for late night television, has paved the way and created new templates, and has had the biggest stars in show biz, music, and entertainment next to him on the desk at one point or another. It’s simply astounding.
After Dave signed off the air, I went down the #ThanksDave wormhole to see some cool, in the moment tributes from the likes of Seth Rogen (the coolest letter by Dave here), Jessica Alba (so cute), Big Boi, and Ben Schwartz to name a few… then landed on Complex’s Top 25 Hip Hop Performances on Letterman listicle.
My nostalgic side appreciated the next 45 minutes or so as I combed through their list and YouTube to relive or watch for the first time some of my favorites. I figured you may enjoy some of my picks, with their list having even more throwback gems. It’s only right it’s #TBT too so without further ado…
Kanye West “All Falls Down” f/ Syleena Johnson, Miri Ben Ari, and (oh yeah) John Legend (Feb. 2004)
Teased in the lead photo above, it’s College Dropout Kanye West performing one of his all-time best songs “All Falls Down” with the utmost, precise delivery and bringing the song to a new level and audience on the heels of his debut album release. If the performance wasn’t a sign to come (and oh yeah, that’s JOHN LEGEND on the piano), then Kanye posing it out at the end is definitely a sign of things to come. Ha!
One of the best things about all of these videos is Letterman’s boisterous reactions to the performances as he goes to greet the artists. Never not fun.
Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Domo Genesis “Rusty” (April 2013)
The most current of the performances here and the one Complex led off with that reeled me in too. I had a moment of… was this the performance where Tyler took a selfie with Letterman? (Yup!) Still fantastic.
Lupe Fiasco “Daydreamin” f/ Jill Scott (Nov. 2006)
I remember this one vividly because in 2006 I was a college freshman still trying to make new friends at the University of Minnesota and one of my lead topics of conversation was: have you heard of this rapper Lupe Fiasco?!
Lupe on Letterman?! This felt big-time for me as a fan so you know I was tellin’ new friends and old friends back home alike to tune in or watch the video below. Plus, it was one of the first few experiences seeing a Lupe performance and it’s his presence, energy, and overall coolness like that below that contributed to me becoming the big fan I am of Lupe’s still today. Jill Scott at the end too, whoo!
OutKast “Roses” (May, 2004)
I don’t remember watching this one live and it was before the blogs so I didn’t post it either. During my run last night, I watched this “Roses” performance for the first time live and loved how they re-created the classic 50’s style music video. All the way down to “Caroline”, Fonzworth Bentley and the acted-out brawl at the end. Best part wasn’t even by Dre or Big Boi, it was Dave: “Is everyone alright over there?”
Kanye West “Love Lockdown” (Nov. 2008)
The 808s days brought Kanye back to Letterman where he performed “Love Lockdown”. I didn’t like the song too much at the time, but always loved the live performances of it. Kanye outdid himself on Letterman by really being one of the only artists to transform the stage into his own, which he’s since done on SNL, tour, wherever to go outside the box. For this one: 2 stories of tribal drummers.
Kid Cudi “Pursuit of Happiness” f/ RATATAT (Sept., 2009)
Kid Cudi’s all-out Letterman debut came just prior to the release of his first album, Man on the Moon: End of Day. A la Lupe above, this was also a big moment for me as I pushed Kid Cudi to casual fans who hadn’t yet heard of him or only knew “Day N Nite”. Reliving this one, I have an even greater appreciation for this string section, that especially shined at the end.
Michael Jordan, 23 years old, interview with Letterman (May, 1986)
I know, I know, not a performance. But in my YouTubing, I found this classic that I didn’t know existed because I wasn’t even born yet. Shortly after MJ’s 63 point game in the Boston Garden, after the Bulls were eliminated in the 1986 Playoffs, and at the genesis of Jordan’s takeover as a global icon and endorser. MJ even genuinely calls his Jordan I ugly (I think). Hah! Just a crazy throwback in the midst of all these crazy throwbacks.
Lupe Fiasco “Superstar” f/ Matthew Santos (Jan, 2008)
Lupe on Letterman again incited some of the same feelings above, this time with Matthew Santos getting the look alongside Lupe on “Superstar”. “American Terrorist” was one of my favorite tracks on Food & Liquor so to see Santos on the big stage for Lupe’s biggest hit at the time (and 1 of his 3 biggest to date) was a big deal too. Unfortunately, the Letterman greetings are cut off, but not before Lupe got in “No New World Order” at the very end.
Keri Hilson f/ Kanye West “Knock You Down” (May, 2009)
This one I was surprised to see. For one, I forgot just how big the “Knock You Down” single was (Keri Hilson was always a guilty pleasure artist of mine, too). And secondly, Kanye West making the guest appearance (and getting a little handsy at the end.) I just dug that Kanye co-signed Keri on another level with his appearance here and the performance overall was a great one. Also great: Dave’s greeting to Kanye.
Eminem & Jay Z “Renegade” (June, 2010)
Gotta end on this. I remember it being a truly big hip hop moment. It was the talk of the blogs, the talk of friends, the talk of everyone as Eminem and Jay Z performed for the first time together before their mini-Stadium tour soon after in 2010. It was cool that they performed “Renegade” since it’s long been the conclusion that Eminem killed Jay Z on his own song (true, true) and it’s really one of Eminem’s best overall efforts in his career. Oh, and it was cool that they were performing on the freaking rooftop! That made it feel even larger to me. I could keep going, but again, Complex has even more classic performances, shouts to them.
However, I couldn’t let this get away without a few highlights from the finale. My favorite was the star-studded Top 10 Things I’ve Always Wanted to say to Dave. Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Bill Murray win it for me, but they’re all so, so good.
This is how Letterman signed off… a glorious photo montage that drives home what I said at the top about how I realized just how extraordinary a run he had. You’ll enjoy a lot of these photos, no matter who you are.
And finally, I’ll end on this… ICYMI, Norm MacDonald’s standup last Friday night was equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. He genuinely breaks down and tells Dave he loves him at the very end and I couldn’t help but feel his emotions through the moment as well. Great, great stuff. Norm easily in my top 5 of favorite comedians.
Alas, hope you enjoyed the last half hour or so with all of these videos, and many more throughout the years thanks to David Letterman. #ThanksDave!
music from when i hit the bottom and found something
Earl Sweatshirt drops this new 10 minute project, dedicated to his mother called Solace today. It stems from the verbal attacks his mom received after Odd Future fans found out she sent Earl away. That most definitely affected Earl who said to NPR, “We set up a studio at my house and I did a little project real real fast. It’s called Solace. And that, I’m just sitting — it’s more for my mom.”
Listen to the emotional project below.
Another hip hop album out today is Earl Sweatshirt’s artfully titled, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. I honestly love that title for summarizing the collective mood of Chicago in the winter. In fact, as I type this, the ground outside is covered with snow. *checks date* What!?!
Anyway, Earl announced his new album during SXSW so he only used this week to promote that it’s out. The stealth album turns out to contain 10 tracks with a few features most notably being ole tourmate and overall running buddy Vince Staples. Listen below:
When Earl Sweatshirt interviews Mike Tyson, you get a pretty fascinating convo.
This actually happened for Citizens of Humanity and the full read can be found here.
Some snippets to perhaps reel in the click…
Mike: What’s the name of your music?
Earl: The group that I was in was called Odd Future. So we was doing that. Fast forward, 2010, so I want to say that was like 2008 to 2010. Mid 2010, I got sent away. And we blew up. Like at that moment, it was like hand in hand. I got sent away, and –
Mike: Tell me what you mean by “blow up”. I know what blowing up means but how did you experience—define “blowing up”. You got signed? They played your music?
Earl: Yeah, they started… but it wasn’t even so much, that they played our music on the radio, it was –
Earl: It was like – it was almost punk rock in the way that it took off. It was just kids became, like, obsessed with it, because they –
Mike: You a crunk dancer?
Earl: One thing that my mom told me that stuck so much that I feel like relates to what you was just talking about is there being only two real primal emotions – fear and love. And like, the only thing that can combat fear is action. And there’s two actions. There’s fight and flight.
Mike: There’s nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s an illusion of fear. Fear is an illusion. If you gonna die, you gonna die anyway; it’s not something to fear, fear is not gonna help.
It’s going to be over soon. Somebody’s going to die, or somebody’s going to get sick, someone might leave. It’s not going to last forever. You know, it’s going to be over soon. You know, the thought of that never enters my mind. This is the reality of life. I watched that movie The Notebook. You ever watched that?
Earl: My last question, Mike, when you like achieve success like you have, how does that affect those around you – how do you get them to be motivated and not feel content?
Mike: It’s just strange to me how I have such a profound passion for my kids. I think about Just wanting to protect them. – You think id ever let my son fight a 14-year-old kid or something like me that has nothing, never had nothing?
Earl: Because he comes from a different place. It comes from desperation.
Mike: I look at my beautiful son, he’s so beautiful and handsome. And I think what a guy like me would do to this face. I would choke it, take a chunk of meat out of his head, bite his beautiful face. I would hurt him, and I’m just looking at him and I’m thinking your dad was one of them animals out there. I don’t expect my kids to be “fighters”; my kids never lived in a condemned building with their family. Most of them are at Ivy League schools, their mothers are good mothers, you know, they do good stuff with them. I don’t want my kids to be like me, I don’t want my daughter to date the guy like me. You know, a guy like me success is to take care of my children to take care of their life and make ‘em cushioned. I don’t want them to be around a people like me. You know, success for me would be that they never have the opportunity of being in the presence of someone like me.
Herb & Earl.
That’s a catchy duo name if they ever decide to combine for more than just this track for Red Bull Sound Select. Earl also produces this raw, lyrical output. Lil Herb was especially solid on “Knucklehead” here: