Review : Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days
ConsequenceofsoundWhat’s in an album title? Is the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds really the equivalent of a bizarre noise fest of primitive experimentation? Is Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. the absolute story of life as a working man in America? In any case, an album’s title informs the listener of what to expect, even in the most minimalist of senses. In the case of Brooklyn MC Theophilus London and his debut album, Timez Are Weird These Days, things may not be that weird, but London is skilled at capturing a particular sensibility that could leave him labeled as odd by some and revolutionary by others. The absolute truth, though, is that like our mothers undoubtedly told each of us at some point, being different is a very good thing.
In “All Around the World”, a rollicking, church revival-style ditty, London outlines that he’s “back to making music like it’s 1964,” resurrecting a style and a particular joie de vivre that is almost unheard of in modern hip-hop. And better than anything else, London lives up to that mythos as a ladies’ man/jet-setter whose playground is as much Brooklyn as it is Monaco. A particularly telling sign of that behavior is the way he treats his female guests (not the kind that sleep over, mind you). In “Love Is Real”, while the track is an electro-clash head-nodder and Holly Miranda’s vocals are pure New Wave, the connection between the two hearkens back to a time when female vocalists weren’t fodder for the male’s sexual appetite. Instead, the two work together in an indirect way to make a warm, sensual track. “Why Even Try”, featuring Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara, accomplishes the same feat, this time using ethereal traces of Quin’s vocals during London’s verses to mirror his rare moment of self-doubt before the two meld their voices in sweet harmony during the chorus....full text
NytimesJUST over a week ago the rapper and singer Theophilus London took the stage at the Brooklyn Museum in a custom-made navy jacket with gold buttons lining the sleeves — “Buttons is so swag,” he had tweeted earlier — and loads of gold jewelry (he favors what he calls “old lady jewelry”), as well as a signature cap and sunglasses. This was his warm-up outfit, for the sound check; for the show he donned a sequined sweater and hat.
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The cover of Mr. London's new album was modeled after a 1982 record by Leon Ware, above.
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R. Stevie Moore, a specialist in lo-fi recordings.
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Favorites of the rapper-singer Theophilus London, top, include, clockwise from top right, the film “Into the Void” (with Paz de la Huerta).
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Favorites of the rapper-singer Theophilus London include Morrissey (second from left) of the Smiths.
Long before his debut full-length album, “Timez Are Weird These Days,” to be released on July 19 by Warner Brothers, he had sponsorship deals with Cole Haan, Bushmills and other companies eager to capitalize on his culture-hopping style. Mr. London, 23, a Trinidad native who grew up in Brooklyn, has drawn attention since his first mixtape and is already selling out shows and working with in-demand producers like Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio.
In his dressing room before the museum gig he spoke with Melena Ryzik about the distractions of recording his album in Stockholm (“There’s a lot of pretty people there,” he said. “We call it the currency rate, the currency rate of girls. A 5 in Stockholm is like a 9 in New York. That’s a high currency.”), his inspirations and his Jay-Z-level ambitions. Here are excerpts from their conversation.
Q. Your cover is a copy of Leon Ware’s 1982 self-titled album. How did that happen?
A. I’ve been a huge fan of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” album for the last two years, and was, like, digging deep into it, trying to find all the stories, how it was created, who made it, and this amazing guy Leon Ware wrote [much of] the whole album. This guy was a genius — the way he does the drums, he even produced Michael Jackson’s single “I Wanna Be Where You Are.” [Mr. Ware is credited as a co-writer, with Hal Davis as producer.]...full text
AbsolutepunkWith a name like Theophilus London, it's hard not to be good at whatever you set your mind to. It's elegant and dramatic to the point of easy recollection, equal parts simple and complex. But when your chosen profession is producing some of the most stylish music in the history of the music industry, that's when your success rate raises exponentially. Each and every release in London's discography is literally drenched in synth pastel magnificence, a descriptor that makes about as much sense as how catchy he still manages to be, and his wide range of influences combine to create a smooth transition for even the most nostalgic sensibilities.
His latest release, the debut full-length Timez Are Weird These Days, continues this trend in an almost unbelievable fashion. Older cuts from his recent EP release Lover's Holiday are mixed with brand new hits to form a relentless assault on the listener's mind, ricocheting from song to song with tenacious energy. The three returning tracks act as anchors in the album's vigorous pace, providing a familiar face with a bit of touch up to keep things fresh. What made each track special on Lover's Holiday is highlighted and expanded upon, from the eager romanticism of “Wine and Chocolates” to the dispirited wariness of “Why Even Try.” Even the straightforward “Girls Girls $” has had its sound amplified and remastered, providing a brilliant assortment of production styles among borderline banal lyricism.
Fortunately, Timez Are Weird These Days and its brand new tracks completely blow away the enormously high standards set by their predecessors. “Last Name London” opens with a beat that's nearly impossible not to dance to, a dilemma that's compounded with the equally catchy chorus. For new listeners, “Last Name London” is the perfect introduction to the sound London brings to the table. The opener flows wonderfully into “Love is Real,” a track that mixes a haunting chorus with a generous amount of bass and synth. Indie musician Holly Miranda, the latest in a long line of female features, provides her services to both main and backing vocals in a light back and forth with London. Dense and mysterious, “Love is Real” is an aloof argument for the title's statement, both full of emotion and somehow unconvinced with the evidence presented....full text
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