A Chat With Adam Levine’s Stylist, Matt Goldman

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Adam Levine | Instagram

 

I’ve been looking to do more work with people in the fashion world because it’s something I’m actually a big fan of. I care about clothes. So much that follow several style savants on social media for inspiration, frequently check in on sites like GQ and the NY Times’ Fashion & Style section, and have apps like Look Live to show what and who noteworthy guys are wearing.

In keeping with my “Your work should reflect your interests” mindset, I’ve been pitching more fashion ideas. And one of the first to connect was when I hit Billboard about Adam Levine’s fashion sense and speaking to his stylist Matthew Goldman.

Adam Levine’s Stylist Matt Goldman on Dressing the Maroon 5 Singer & ‘Voice’ Coach

The Maroon 5 lead’s got range. Like I say in the piece, as a judge on The Voice Adam goes from being suited and booted on one day to wearing tattered jeans and tees the next. And as a performer, his band just dropped a new single, “Don’t Wanna Know” (though there aren’t any great moments in fashion in its video). With all this visibility, it’s a good time to talk to the man finding his clothes.

Give it a read. We talked about Adam sending late-night inspo texts, how he influences people to buy what he’s rocking and how he’s grown over the years.

Logan, An Old Man Beasting One Last Time

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Still from Logan‘s trailer | c/o 20th Century Fox

 

I’m beyond geeked for this Logan movie. From this trailer, I love that it’ll really zone in on present day Wolverine. I prefer one developed character than umpteen underdeveloped heroes, which is the trap the last X-Men movie fell into by teasing us with appearances from several noteworthy faces without giving them shining moments or backstories.

That SUPER Feeling, X-Men: Apocalypse and Drake

There’s a film noir/ Mad Max feel here. From the looks of it, there won’t be any sunny days in this movie. No gloss or sheen of cheer. Hugh Jackman’s final run at Logan is weathered, old and beaten up (they even have miserable-ass Johnny Cash singing in the trailer. A perfect pairing.).

He’s gotten a haircut and the grays have come in bunches. And it will be R-rated, which means violence will reach savage levels.

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from Logan‘s UK trailer | c/o 20th Century Fox UK

 

I CAN’T WAIT! But first, a few questions:

  • Why are his hands trembling? Is he sick?
  • Whose funeral is Logan attending? “Mutants, they’re gone now,” Logan says to Professor X. Reminds me of this scene from the old animated series.
  • Why is he scarred up? Does his healing power not work? Does it work just enough to heal himself, but not get him back to 100% like it used to?
  • Who’s the little girl?
  • Who’s blank face? And does he know Schoolboy?

All answers will come on March 3, 2017 when this flick comes out.

Flowers From Soft Glas

 

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Late Bloom cover art | c/o Soft Glas

 

Here’s an opportunity to be early on someone. Soft Glas just released his Late Bloom album. And it’s gorgeous. I use that descriptor specifically because it’s too thoughtful and developed to use a lighter one.

 

Full disclosure: Joao “Soft Glas” Gonzalez is a buddy of mine. He was the photographer and second shooter for my Ro James docu-short. But trust me when I say a friend could not make me write something positive about their art just because we’re chums. If this album was wack, I would have patted him on the back via text message and said, “Looking forward to the next project!” Thankfully, Late Bloom is good!

So I’d love to be your entry point to the world of Soft Glas. Before he’s an indie darling on Pigeons and Planes or Pitchfork. Before Genius annotates all the lyrics to his work.

LATE BLOOM on  APPLE MUSIC & SPOTIFY

Below are some thoughts I had as I’ve played this album over the last couple of days. These notes also give you some insight into what I write down and pull from when I’m working on proper articles before they’re turned into cohesive stories/reviews/think pieces/hot takes/whatevers for magazines and publications.

  • The album excels with simplicity. Never sounds overdone/produced. Understated cool. If the music was a person, Bloom would be someone that makes a plain t-shirt and jeans look as cool and chic as possible.
  • Bloom is smooth. Lyrics don’t come often. The grooves do most of the talking.
  • The sounds of human nature?
  • The subtle switch-ups on “Humid”!
  • “Latency” –  Sultry. Some alt-R&B 2016 “Sexual Healing” vibe at the end.
  • “Round” – Chords are sexy. Cool how vocalist slips in halfway through the track.
  • Great baselines all over.
  • Horn play!
  • “Yosemite” – Chargaux killing it on the strings.
  • “Dealing in Hypothetical” – Madison McFerrin with the vocals. THE HORNS. THE HORNS!!!
  • “Come Down” feels like there’s a story to it. Would like to know what inspired it. What scene in his life or a movie it would/does relate to.
  • “Bloom” sounds like a good hug after a bad day.

Making Music for Power Man

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Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad | c/o Netflix

 

Like many, many people, I’m watching Luke Cage on Netflix. I could write a bit about how timely a series about a bulletproof Black hero is, but I don’t feel like stating the obvious today.

What I will say, however, is how much I’m enjoying Marvel’s latest streaming blockbuster from a musical standpoint. More so than its lead-in shows Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Cage showcases music as if it’s an actual character. Its blend of classical, funk, R&B and Hip-Hop are more than just precursors to specifics moments and precise fill-ins for fight or love scenes. They encourage a physical reaction. It’s rare that you’re watching a TV show or movie and it’s score grabs you to the point of forcing a head bop or foot tap. That means there’s a soul somewhere in those violin strings and bass strums.

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad on Making ‘Unapologetically Black’ Music for Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage’

I spoke to Luke Cage’s composers, Adrian Younge and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammed about scoring the show. The night before, I hit Marvel’s Luke Cage: The Live Score Concert at the Ace Hotel Theatre to watch the two lead a 40-piece orchestra with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson acting as maestro. The last (and maybe only) time I’d seen an orchestra rock was when I saw Nas perform Illmatic with one as part of Dave Chappelle’s stand-up residency at Radio City Music Hall in New York City a few years back. Without the rhymes of a legendary rapper, Luke Cage was a great night that incorporated all the aforementioned genres of music.

Check out my interview with the guys here. We talked about how they embodied Harlem through the score, being employed by Marvel, and Ali told an emotional story about how his Tribe brother Phife Dawg—may he rest in peace—inspired a song on Luke Cage’s eighth episode.

p.s. “Power Man” is an alias Luke uses in the comic world after apparently hanging out with Iron Man and other sensationally named crime-fighters. Hence the title for this here blog article.

Bruno Mars’ Pop Gold

Bruno Mars does pop music so well.


A lot of acts fail because their music’s solely made with the intention that people like. So it ends up feeling contrived, cookie-cutter, or formulaic. Where’s the flavor?

Bruno’s “24K Magic” is special  because it’s firmly rooted in something real, fun, and pure. There’s west coast funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, soul and then that pop sheen and fairy dust that’ll inevitably help make it a Hot 100 hit. A little call and response here, a cheeky, swagged out pre-hook there. Not to mention a beat breakdown and the open area for us to dance and chant.

I can’t wait for his 24K Magic album in November. This and the other newbie he’ll perform this Saturday on SNL will have to hold me over until then.

Solange and the Sounds of Blackness

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A Seat at the Table album cover | shot by Carlota Guerrero c/o Columbia Records

 

Master P’s commentary is spread throughout Solange’s A Seat at the Table album. “If you don’t understand us and understand what we’ve been through,” the entrepreneur and No Limit general proclaims at the set’s halfway mark, “then you probably wouldn’t understand what this moment is about.”

Table is Solange’s moment to happily be exclusionary, because being Black is a hard, particularly lonely experience and that’s what Table is about. As is said verbatim on its “F.U.B.U.,” “this shit is for us” and that goes for our struggles and the set’s 51 minutes. It’s basically the album’s mission statement.

On “Don’t Touch My Hair,” what some might see as a triviality becomes a loaded issue. “Don’t touch my hair/ When it’s the feelings I wear,” she both orders and explains. “Don’t touch my soul/ When it’s the rhythm I know/ Don’t touch my crown/ They say the vision I’ve found.”

Solange’s voice is lithe and nimble, but her lyrics speak loudly to familiar troubles. On “Cranes in the Sky,” she sings of trying to drink, sex and spend away the ongoing pain she’s experiencing as a Black woman. “I ran my credit card bill up/ Thought a new dress would make it better,” she explains. “I tried to work it away/ But that just made me even sadder.”

A Seat at the Table feels like Solange is huddling a bunch of like-minded, like-skinned individuals and talking to us (Hi, reader. I’m Black) specifically.  On “F.U.B.U.” she hopes her teen son will play the song loud enough to make his walls rattle because it encourages Black pride and his kind is growing up in a world where Trayvon Martin-like tragedies eerily happen too often.

Alton Sterling and The Talk

What I like so much about Table is that it’s quiet and elegant, like Mom or your homegirl is talking to you with love and care. It’s not aggressive. There’s no stirring, crowd-rowdying “Fight the Power”-esque anthem. Just conversations that galvanize a hurt and wronged “Us.”

I’ve seen some criticize Table for its lack of originality. Solange isn’t talking about anything that hasn’t been said ad nauseam. And that’s true to a point. She ain’t the first sister to talk about her hair before. Nor is she the first Black person to talk about the anxiety of driving with brown skin.

 

But each artist’s perspective is unique. I appreciate Solange’s tender, mellow soul. Shout out to Raphael Saadiq for putting his foot in a chunk of the groovy productions. Table is the answer to “Why am I angry?” and “What am I sick and tired of?” We’ve spent a lot of time reacting with screams and tears. Now it’s time to sit and talk this out.

There’s a fearlessness and a commendable level of vulnerability that comes with the ability to say, “I’m scared, just like you. It’s okay. We’ll get through it to together.” as Solange expresses through 21 tracks. Like church and a hearty Sunday dinner, Table’s comforting.

It’s no wonder that Kendrick Lamar loves Solange’s latest so much that he shared it with his Twitter followers. In 2015 his To Pimp a Butterfly spoke to the same despair Table does. Kind of like TPAB’s most popular cut, listening to Table makes me feel like “we gon’ be alright.”