YEEZUS JUST ROSE AGAIN

Maybe you missed our good friend Kanye West perform his new single “All Day” at last week’s BRIT Awards. Maybe you’ve intentionally avoided it after finding this year’s earlier singles to have fallen flat. Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to it. I was some combination of all of these until last night, when I made the Right Choice and decided to give it a listen. AND I DARE YOU TO ASK ME HOW LONG I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO IT TODAY. [Morning-after edit: Full-length streams seem to be scarce right now! What a tease, that Kanye West… I guess maybe once the Steve McQueen-directed video drops we’ll be back in business.]

Now, I’m in Kanye’s corner all the way, but he’s had me a little on edge this year (which he started off by releasing “Only One” on his blog and iTunes). And it was a cute story and all, and there was the ooooh, ahhhh, Paul McCartney factor but… It was solid “Meh” status. I sort of rejected the notion that “FourFiveSeconds” would find its way onto the new Kanye album, as it just makes wayyyy more sense to me as a Rihanna song, but I guess if he’s going for “cookout” music? I guess I can imagine hearing that at a cookout? I was excited for a Sia collab and “Wolves” seemed like a step in at least a more sensible direction after a couple listens, but I guess I was still waiting for that ‘banger’.

FINALLY.

cover art for the pending album, titled ‘so help me god.’ click to hear ‘all day’ on kanyewest.com

Full version can be purchased on iTunes.

My first reaction was that– with a notable absence, of course– it might be what “Ni**as In Paris” would’ve sounded like if it had been on Yeezus. (And indeed, Kanye’s alluded to having channeled Jay while writing it. [Whoa, that interview’s from last July! Yeezy’s been holding out on us!]) And I guess the early reference to the proverbial “shit” being “cray” makes that an easy comparison but it’s also got the same self-aware (and almost silly, like when he refers to the AllState guy as “fake Denzel” ) bravado and a nearly as infectious a beat.

(The other song I keep finding myself reminded of is this sweet 2008 jam but maybe that’s something I should rather keep to myself…) The pop-culture references are plentiful and amusing, the hometown pride is clear, and he even finds a couple occasions on which to brag about his wifey (and the extraordinary resell value of his namesake sneakers). Ye’s back!

And let’s not overlook Allan Kingdom‘s refrain. It’s just… really nice poetry? “I took a young, sweet breath/and reached into my head/gave him what I had left/at that moment I dispersed.” Kingdom is an up-and-coming Canadian rapper who’s done work with Kid Cudi’s producer, Plain Pat.

And of course our buddy Paul McCartney pops in to show off his whistling chops there at the end. Didn’t you hear Kanye West is practically a Beatle by now?

Snowy Saturday Art Show

"countryside picnic"-dilip sheth

“countryside picnic”-dilip sheth

Some time ago Marlon and I came across the top piece of a desk laying discarded on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s stoop, ready to be picked up with the broken lamp at its side the next time the trash men came around. It was splattered with paint and indeed, Marlon identified it: “Dilip’s painting desk! You should take it!” (For as much as I love the Internet and making big to-dos of my “artistic” “endeavors,” the fact that I like to try my hand at painting every now and then seems to have gone strangely undocumented. But I do! With… varying levels of success, of course.)

I wasn’t sure if he was serious, and made the accurate point that, in any case, I didn’t have anywhere to put it. “I don’t know, Ang… Dilip’s a famous painter! [Still wasn’t sure if he was being serious.] What if he makes it big one day and you can say you’re using his old desk? There’s lots of space in our house. What if I just stored it for you?” I went along with it, and to this day it’s sitting nestled against a window in a largely unused room in his house.

In the midst of last Saturday’s snow-turning-to-sleet at the witching hour, on our way back from a leisurely lunch at nearby Impala, we decided to pop in at Dilip’s Art Show, which Mar had been talking up for a few weeks. I was certainly excited to see the type of work the former owner of my pilfered desk churned out. The weather (and our late arrival) meant that other Art Show attendees were scarce, which meant we got some good face time with Dilip himself (and all the Crunkcakes we cared to have! Dilip owns the bottom level of another of the row houses on his and Marlon’s street, which functions both as guesthouse and gallery. His current tenant is none other than the founder of the boozy cupcake brand. Also let it be known that we weren’t looking to embarrass ourselves at a wholesome neighborhood art show and we only had one-and-a-half Crunkcakes each).

"perfect love," one of abeba wossen's pieces at the show

“perfect love,” one of abeba wossen’s pieces at the show

Dilip Sheth’s pieces were on display with those of a fellow Ethiopian artist, Abeba Wossen; and Ephrem Kouakou who, hailing from the Ivory Coast, is known as the “African Picasso” (according to Dilip). While Ms. Wossen’s works were under-stated and lovely, Dilip’s and Mr. Kouakou’s were the true attention-grabbers.

It was the eyes that commanded such attention in Kouakou’s paintings. In Dilip’s, it was the clouds and the trees. “I love those red trees!” I told him. “Ah, that’s my signature.” he replied. I asked what kind they were, wondering if they were some tie to home at a preferred time of year. “Just from my mind,” he explained.

"twins" by ephrem kouakou-- mar's favorite (of EK's) from the show

“twins” by ephrem kouakou– mar’s favorite (of EK’s) from the show

the herd dilip sheth

“the herd”-dilip sheth

Another that I thought was really fantastic was a portrait he’d done of his mother. He showed us the photo that had served as its inspiration, in black-and-white, of course, and shared that he’d only learned after the fact that he’d correctly painted her dress blue (OR POSSIBLY WHITE, IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS); that the items surrounding her were all from his imagination. The ladies in the below photo seem to agree, and I feel comfortable sharing this (all images shared without any sort of permission from the artists, but they all link back to their sources so please do check everything out) because it’s the photo for the rain date of last week’s event on the “Art of Dilip Sheth” facebook page. You can also see some of Wossen’s and Kouakou’s paintings.

dilip's mom

Oh, and imagine our surprise (and how cool we felt) strolling into Sidamo, the Ethiopian coffee shop on H Street the next day and noticing those recognizable clouds. “Well have they got Sheth on display here!?!!?” we mused to ourselves. Well yes, yes they did.

And in case you missed them in any of the embedded links:

Dilip Sheth on Facebook, ArtistWebsites, and Instagram.
Ephrem Kouakou on StilLifeGallery, Tumblr, and TrueAfricanArt.
Abeba Wossen on FineArtAmerica.