Thoughts on Beats Music »

Nick Heer, with a good piece at Pixel Envy:

With so many paths to enable a solid music addiction, you’d hope that these would stand out above the others. And, indeed, I’ve found these recommendations to be a cut above the rest. You do still see boneheaded recommendations (People who like Queens of the Stone Age also like old Kyuss? How very wet this water is.) but it also throws out some pretty solid recommendations. As an example, I love Autechre, so it recommended a playlist of Leftfield music (the genre, not just the artist).

In addition, there are some really great playlists to introduce you to artists, so you can get an overview of their entire career. There are playlists with an artist’s influences: Arcade Fire apparently digs Springsteen and the Rolling Stones; similarly, there are playlists with artists who were influenced by a given artist: Radiohead apparently influenced Bloc Party and The XX. The home screen will feature any of these at a time, based on listening habits. Like any good recommendation engine, it gets better as it’s used more.

I agree with Nick. At first, I was kind of “meh” on the service, but after using it for a (very small) bit I have to say I really like it. The playlists are original, diverse, and spot on. I haven’t seen anything as good in terms of discovery, and that includes my beloved Rdio. I have to hand it to the Beats Music folks. Outside of some launch-day stumbling blocks, it looks good. Interested to see where it goes.

The Wu-Tang Clan's 20 Year Plan »

Frannie Kelley at NPR:

At Loud, the group’s home base, Rifkind was happily taking a chance on a group that had been turned away from his competitors. But the RZA wasn’t one for chances. Both he and DJ Stretch Armstrong recommended Schott Free for a job at Loud. “[RZA] said, ‘Look man, you one of the only educated dudes in the Clan. We need somebody up in the office, overseeing what these guys are doing with our records!’ “

And that’s not all. Getting to No. 1 depended on each artist growing the Clan’s fanbase. The RZA explains:

“I recall telling GZA, ‘You’ll get the college crowd,’ ” because he’s the intellectual. “Raekwon and Ghost, all the gangstas” — their metaphors read like a police blotter — “Meth will get the women and children — and he didn’t want to do women and children. He didn’t know that, though. Method Man is a rough, rugged street dude, but all the girls love him.” Method Man is playful. “Myself, I was looking more like that I bring in rock ‘n’ roll,” says the RZA, whose rhyming style is the opposite of laid-back.

A fascinating account of the rise of the Wu-Tang Clan –the iconic, but often misunderstood and misrepresented pioneer hip-hop group.