Monthly Archives: July 2013

Nile Rodgers: Musical Innovator and Cultural Icon

I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago and I heard a song from Daft Punk’s latest album, Random Access Memories. The track was called “Get Lucky” and features vocals from Pharell and Nile Rodgers on guitar. When the D.J. came back on he told the listeners what they had heard, and he said that was Daft Punk featuring Pharell, but forgot about the guess spot by Nile Rodgers. This angered me because Nile Rodgers is one of my favorite musicians of all time, as well as one of my favorite producers of all time. Not only is Rodgers one of the best guitar players for what he plays, but for what he doesn’t, he picks just the right notes to make the song sound amazing. He also defined the sound of pop music in the 80’s. He is the man who made this hits. You may not know his name, but you definitely know one of his songs.

Rodgers is a New York native and got his start playing studio sessions with other musicians. He eventually left the studio and started playing shows with the house band of the Apollo Theater where he played with such notable acts as   Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, and Parliament Funkadelic.

Nile Rodgers and Bernard EdwardsAt age 18 Rodgers met Bernard Edwards who would become his main collaborator. In 1973 New York City had a big hit with “I’m Doing Fine Now,” Edwards would get a job as the band leader and asked Rodgers to be the group’s guitarist. They would become known as The Big Apple Band, and were billed as New York City and The Big Apple Band. Rodgers and Edwards had found their own groove and formed the band, Chic which would inspire Rodgers to write “Everybody Dance” and many more hits including, “Freak out” and “Good Times.” “Good Times” was a huge hit and important to the hip-hop world as Edward’s bass line was sampled in the first multiple-platinum Hip-Hop single “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang.

In the 80’s the disco fell out of favor, as the “Disco Sucks” trend became the mindset of the music listening public. Chic had been grouped in with this, even though they weren’t disco. To add to this, the music business was going through a huge change. But there was a bright light for the two collaborators, as Diana Ross had committed to working with Rodgers and Edwards on her album, Diana. Rodgers and Edwards wrote and produced the album, and it would go on to 6 million copies. Rodgers and Edwards would go on to work hard on another Chic album, but the band dissolved. Rodgers and Edwards eventually would cut their ties due to drugs.

Rodgers would go on to release a solo album which received a less than favorable response from the public, but did garner a very good opinion from famous art rocker, David Bowie. Bowie would meet Rodgers and invite him to his house in Switzerland where they worked on what would be the track, “Lets Dance.” It would go on to be David Bowie’s biggest selling album. Let’s Dance had several hit singles including “China Girl”, “Modern Love” and the title track, “Let’s Dance.” The album also was a stepping stone for the young, Stevie Ray Vaughn. The album gave Rodgers the production credibility he needed and he continued work with some of the best artists of the day. Rodgers produced the single “Original Sin” by INXS, and would go on to work Duran Duran worked extensively with Rodgers after he remixed their largest selling hit single, “The Reflex.”

One of the crowning achievements was when Rodgers decided to take a risk with a young artist who went by the name, Madonna. With Madonna, Rodgers struck gold upon the release of her album, Like a Virgin; which featured the hits, “Material Girl” and the album’s title track, “Like a Virgin.” The album would go on to sell 21 million copies world-wide. This would give Rodgers the credibility.

During the 80’s, Rodger’s resume would grow significantly working on albums with Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood, and records for Cyndi Lauper, and a couple of soundtracks with Genesis madman Peter Gabriel.

In 1992 Chic got back together, and went back on the road, and that’s when drugs and alcohol caught up with him, but nile rodgersit wouldn’t be till 1994 that he’d enter rehab. In 1996 Chic and Rodgers came to Japan to play a show to celebrate Rodger’s career, and after the show Edwards would be found dead in his Hotel room. He had died from pneumonia. Shoot forward 17 years Rodgers is immersed in many projects including touring with a new Chic line-up, and playing his vast discography and letting artists sample bits of his vast catalogue. Rodgers also survived a really aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Rodgers is one of the best musicians of all time. It is truly criminal how many people don’t know who he is, as he is a legend of epic proportions. Not only has he produced some of the greatest artists of all time, but he single-handedly shaped the sound of 80’s pop music and influenced numerous musicians in various genres.  We need to recognize Rodgers for the influence he has had on our culture.

-B. Harlow

Nile Rodgers

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Avenged Sevenfold’s New Track “Hail To The King”

Avenged Sevenfold are one of the biggest Metal bands of this generation, and have been since their 2005 album City of Evil where the band moved away from their Metalcore roots and moved to a more pure sound reminiscent of a Guns n’ Roses and Metallica hybrid. The band will be releasing their sixth album Hail to The King in August. Hail to the King will be the first album with new drummer Arin Ilejay who joined the band as a touring drummer in 2011 before becoming an official member in 2013.

Well now you can add another  couple bands that this band has taken influence from, and they are AC/DC and Iron Maiden. The intro to this song this sounds like AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck.” But this new track sounds like Maiden throughout the guitars yet has an Avenged Sevenfold feel due to the vocals provided by M. Shadows. who sounds excellent. This track moves at a steady clip, but could have been brought up several BPM. The guitar playing by Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengance is excellent. Lyrically M. Shadows is on par with many other metal vocalists and lyricists and this song has a very mature feel to it.

I can’t wait to see if this album will be good, or if it will be sub-par. The last album was spectacular, but 2007’s self titled was a pure flop.

-B. Harlow

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Jay-Z’s New Album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

This summer has been an exciting for all of the hip hop world, but the album we all know would set the bar for summer releases, hit last week.  That album is Jay-Z’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released via a Samsung app, a move that Jay-Z thought would re-write the rules in this new age of high-tech music. But one thing is the consistency of Jay-Z’s work. This album has some high points and some low points, but overall is a great listening experience.

One of the best parts of the album is the first track, “Holy Grail,” which is a mid-tempo track featuring Justin Timberlake who provides an awesome performance with the bravado needed to push the track. “Piccasso Baby” is the second track on the album, and this track is strange because I liked the live instrumentation, but could not stand what sounded like a dental drill. “Tom Ford” is a highlight on the album, as it definitely has a catchy beat.

“Crown” is one of the best hip-hop tracks that has been released in recent years, especially because it brings back something that has been missing in hip-hop, a good dis that effects more than just hip-hop culture. Not since the Ludacris Bill O’Rielly fued have I heard a dis so good then the one Jay-Z put on Scott Boras the infamous sports agent when he states, “Scott Boras, you over baby.” Obviously this is in reference to the next big project that Jay-Z has been working on, Roc-Nation Sports. The next track you should listen to is “Heaven” which is the best track on the album.

Magna Carta Holy Grail is a great album, I suggest you find a stream and check it out!

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