Toni Braxton “You’re Makin’ Me High”

Here’s a slinky hit from my teenage years, with a video that felt uncomfortable, sexy, and powerful. I was 14 when it appeared on MTV, unable to appreciate what was happening. It was unshakable anyway.

Check out Toni Braxton’s 1996 single, You’re Makin’ Me High.

I loved the trippy, futuristic imagery right away: the meat of the video is framed by shots of Toni clad in a white vinyl catsuit, fooling around on a neon podium in some giant speaker-festooned egg. It’s pretty normal, as far as peak-weirdness mainstream 90s music videos go. The story kicks off when Toni gets an email, saying “Yo Toni! Tonight’s the night > The game is at your place this time! Call us>>” and her friends show up in a mirrored elevator.

This scene is what always stuck in my head: we’re seeing a group of confident, gorgeous black women in control, coolly judging a series of peacocking men as they appear in the elevator doorway. Some of the guys throw cash around, some show off six pack abs, and others pose and blow kisses. It’s bulging with sexy imagery, but the catsuit was a red herring; the women aren’t on display here. Instead, the men are completely objectified by Braxton and friends, played by Erika Alexander, Vivica A. Fox, and Tisha Campbell-Martin. They’re standing around, hoping to be chosen, each conforming to a cliched vision of what men should be. It probably made my 14 year old brain recoil in confusion, but the whole scenario never left my mind.

Seeing it now, it’s a simple satirical role reversal, a commentary on gender politics that I was only hazily aware of, if at all, at the time. To me, it was something primal, vital, and new. I was decoding one of the ways the world works, and I didn’t even know it. I was learning something that I wasn’t ready to put into words. I was experiencing feminism at a time when it seemed to be a punchline on sitcoms and AM radio.


What about the song itself? It’s a perfect funky earworm of a pop tune, regardless of the video. Braxton was known for her deep vocal fireworks, and the hooky bassline comes courtesy of Babyface’s clean, percussive production.

As a kid, I pretended that I didn’t like glossy R&B like this. It wasn’t cool in my insular, suburban Michigan crowd, at least not for insecure white boys. But I secretly loved it, singing loudly when it came on the radio in my car. Because of my mindset, I wasn’t able to openly and honestly enjoy songs like this. It’s kind of a revelation to revisit songs like this from my adolescence from a new perspective, appreciating it on whole new levels. Oftentimes I feel like culture has matured along with me,

I just decided that this has to be on my New Years Eve party playlist. If you’re coming, you’re going to hear this soon.

Miley Cyrus + The Flaming Lips Actually Made An Album

So it turns out that all the BFF-ing Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne did with Miley Cyrus over the past year was actually in service of art. It’s called Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz.

I just woke up and have nothing more to say about this, other than: it sounds like Miley Cyrus backed by The Flaming Lips. Or rather, it sounds like a particularly fizzy Flaming Lips album with Cyrus on vocals. I’m only a few tracks in and it’s… not bad at all. Enjoy?

They don’t allow embedding, so you’ll have to go here:

Several tracks in, I’m calling it now: this is sounding pretty much like the Heady Fwends compilation, but it will be widely loathed by “true fans” of the Lips because of Cyrus’ involvement.

To me? I’m something of a Lips fan, owning every one of their albums going back to 1983, and I welcome this just as any other they’ve done. It’s not that far off from their post-Yoshimi sound; it’s just a far weirder album than you’d ever expect from such a gigantic pop star.


Also, while you listen the page swirls an unending stream of candy-colored liquid imagery over Miley’s face! (You can minimize the page and keep the music running)

Here’s what I’m liking about this project: I think of the fact that, however small, there’s a percentage of her huge fanbase that are going to follow Cyrus down this rabbit hole and discover some fucked up psychedelic music, really opening their minds to something new. That’s always a good thing.

UPDATE 9:49am:

There’s a video for the first song on the album. It’s a bracing electro jam with a vocodered-to-shreds Miley leading the charge with lyrics like:

yeah I smoke pot / yeah I love beats
I don’t give a fuck / I ain’t no hippie

The video pretty much consists of a lot of sticky stuff, glitter, candy, and an extreme close up of Miley’s mouth. Take from that what you will.

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

On a weekend in August of 2015, I discovered Maggot Brain. I may have been 44 years late, but I’m just now realizing the depth and power that Funkadelic were capable of.

I’ve been on a funk kick, spurred on by the incredible new Dam-Funk album, and stumbled up on the evocative cover of Maggot Brain, with a woman’s head planted in the dirt, face frozen mid-scream.


It’s deeply unnerving, an iconic image that immediately sears into the memory. It fits the music completely.

Listen yourself:

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Dam-Funk’s Triumphant Return

Dam-Funk has finally returned, and he’s taken funk right out of the atmosphere and into the deep reaches of space.

I can’t handle how consistently great the new triple-LP, 90 minute album is. Invite The Light is already one of my favorite pieces of music in years. I just keep repeating it, trying to grasp how it’s possible that one artist combined so many things I love about music into a singular sound. It’s overwhelming in the best way possible.

I want to write more about this once the album arrives next week, but I just had to shout my excitement right now, and hopefully tip some people off to the full album stream going on at NPR right now.

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CFCF – You Hear Colours [incredible video]

“This seems really poppy/upbeat for you. Of course I’m always imagining you listening to weird post breakbeat Croatian footwork jazz with Russian metal and Japanese house influences”

The above works were spoken to me by a friend as I shared this fantastic video for an old CFCF track.

While the artist has evolved into something far more weirdly specific and perfect for my tastes (see his last album and Night Bus mixes, which have obviously influenced my own mixtapes), this is the song that started it all. I was immediately hooked and never looked back.


I don’t really have anything else to say. Ed said it best. Enjoy!

Kendrick Lamar – i [music video!!]

And so it begins. Kendrick Lamar consumed months of my listening life, two years ago. Now he’s about to drop his follow up to one of the greatest albums of the past decade, good kid, m.A.A.d. City. The first single is called i.

[This post has been updated to include the striking music video for i]

The intro music is apparently a preview of some Flying Lotus beats on the upcoming album!

After hearing his collaboration with Flying Lotus on Never Catch Me, I was primed for more material. It’s been two years since his last album released, but only one year since the CD left constant rotation in my car. I probably listened to that album more than any other released in the past 5 years, in any genre. It’s not just a hip-hop landmark; it’s a colossus of popular music in general. Suffice it to say that my expectations are flying high.

“We got a young brother that stands for something! We got a young brother that believes in all of us! Brother Kendrick Lamar. He’s not a rapper, he’s a writer!”

An announcer opens the song with these words, before the inimitable guitar line of “That Lady” by the Isley Brothers leaps into action. Kendrick comes in with another fresh vocal inflection and the tune is off and running. Bouncy, bright, funky, psychedelic, energetic: it’s a bold proclamation that the young master is back in top form. I dig it. The song obliterated my fear of a sophomore slump in exactly 4:20.

Don’t take my word for it. You should already be listening.


The upcoming album is “soon” and has yet to be titled, so that’s all the information I’ve got today!

Flying Lotus – Coronus, The Terminator

Just now, Flying Lotus dropped a second preview track for next month’s long anticipated album, You’re Dead! The song is titled Coronus, The Terminator, and you can listen right here:

After first single, Never Catch Me (featuring Kendrick Lamar) burst out of his studio, Flying Lotus’ longtime fans were both reassured of his musical wizardry and shaken by the first appearance of a full-on rap verse in his music. I’m smitten with the sound, a sort of hyperactive take on late 70’s psychedelic jazz marching to a stuttered hip-hop beat. Lamar’s vocals were suitably drenched in the alien atmosphere, the requisite Thundercat bass fireworks popped just right, and the ending shot off into that fuzzy space where Cosmogramma left off.

This time, a low slung beat eases us into a pool of languid falsetto funk vocals, splashing in phosphorescence. Thundercat’s presence is far more subtle here, dancing lightly around the wood-clap percussion. A traditionally “Flylo” shuffle beat materializes, driving an ascension toward the same astral plane he occupied on Mmhmm nearly 4 years ago. It’s a hermetic, relaxed little slice of space age spiritualism that works as a perfect foil to the frantic Never Catch Me.


This preview pair might give us a nice hint toward the full breadth and scope of You’re Dead! but I’m prepared for bigger surprises, come October 7. Check out the Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! page at and make sure to watch the dizzying video preview below, featuring visuals from one of my current favorite Japanese artists, Shintaro Kago. Warning: sorta NSFW. (Second warning: may induce seizures)

You watched it right? This is the beginning of an autumn full of brilliant music.