Over a decade ago, Justin Timberlake established a strong position for himself in the entertainment industry and he’s consistently held his own on both sides of the market, from the urban audiences to conventional pop fans; but after a 6 and a half year hiatus from the music biz, a new wife, and a new life, how did his rank change?
As I’m sure you’ve seen or heard over the past few weeks, Justin is back and it’s as if he never left. While his vocals haven’t changed from their flawless condition, his brand has undergone a total transformation. From wifebeaters, oversized, mismatching blazers and slacks, & 5′oclock shadows to clean shaves, Tom Ford suits, & Louboutin oxfords, he’s created this totally new image: one that compliments his new [mature and married] persona. The 20-something year old boy that my generation grew up with has definitely grown into a refined young man; and he’s clearly moving himself into a completely different category this go around: the category of the gentleman.
From the delivery of the content in his lyrics to his performance style, and even his choreography, there’s clearly a different idea being put into play. He’s not trying to push a sex-factor. There’s no need to be extra virile or cool. And he’s telling everyone that he doesn’t need to conform to what the music industry has transformed into over the past few years. In interviews and on-camera appearances, you see that same personality that fans have grown to love, it’s just refined. That everpresent confidence and his clear comfort with himself have both grown stronger and he’s fine with being himself and showing off the new person that he’s become.
A look at Justin over the years… This will definitely refresh your memory. #transformations
One of the best things about this [rebrand] is that he’s actually simplified things. Aside from assuring that everything remains consistent, this gentlemanly theme of his doesn’t require a ton of out-of-this-world concepting or brandstorming. By bringing a touch of class into the equation, he’s sort of taking things down a notch in a backwards kind of way (stepping up his image, but keeping it simple to maintain and consistently on point), which is proving to be super effective. I suppose a lot of people my age probably don’t fully appreciate the greatness that is [the gentleman]. I’m not sure why any guy would prefer to look up to rappers with sagging pants wearing Lebrons or rockers in t-shirts and vans. Of course, that’s just my [opinion]. I’m eager to see where he takes things as he moves forward with this 20/20 project. I just need two things now: a pair of tickets to the Legends of the Summer tour and a fresh, clean suit (no tie).
Niki & The Dove have been in constant rotation in my iTunes library lately and I finally took the time to check out some of their visuals. My friend turned me on to them a few months ago and their 2012 Instinct album has been a major piece of my daily soundtrack for the past few months. The video below is for The Fox, one of my favorite tracks on the album. Check it out. Cool graphics, dope music, and one of my favorite critters falling through the sky.
If you like this video, there’s more where that came from.
Click here to check out more of their videos now.
It’s March 19th, which means that Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience is finally in stores; and, I must say, I’ve been waiting for this day for a while now. From my perspective, 2013 has been proving itself to be the real [Year of the Gentleman] and this album, from the substance of the music to the branding of the project, couldn’t have come out at a better time.
This time around, Justin Timberlake is showing everyone exactly how [valuable] of an artist he is. From the first second of Pusher Love Girl to the fading out of Blue Ocean Floor, the album brings you in and satisfies. It’s clear that we’ve been missing out over the past 6 1/2 years since his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds.
After I looked at the tracklist and the length of the album, I was surprised that it was a 10-track record that lasted 71 minutes (like the good albums from back in the day). I don’t see that very often in modern music. Most albums today seem to be 40 minutes of 12+ substance-less tracks loaded with computer-generated beats and vapid lyrics. Not with this album. After I pressed play, it all made perfect sense. You instantly realize the clear investment that he and his team put into the project.
The 20/20 Experience is loaded with lengthy tracks (the shortest song is 4:48) that are filled with real substance and art, both lyrically and musically. The longer play-times really get you invested in each track; and they don’t go downhill after the first five minutes. Just when you think it’s over, he switches up the energy of the song and gives even more.
One of the best things about the album is that you’re actually listening to quality music. You can tell there was an actual studio session with live instruments and talented musicians, not computers and sound machines. It could’ve just been my Marshall headphones that amplified the listening experience, but every track sounds was layered with a number of great elements. As if Justin’s amazing vocals weren’t already enough to keep you entertained, the editing was well-done (like during the harmonization in Don’t Hold The Wall). You could easily dissect each sound, but it all blends so perfectly together. Each track paints a beautiful picture that’s crystal clear.
Finally, the album was very tasteful; better yet, gentlemanly. He said it all without being pointlessly inappropriate in any type of way. He created a stellar piece of work with class, unlike most other male R&B artists that are popular right now. Also, he didn’t jump on the euro-technopop bandwagon and sacrifice his sound or art for dollar signs. It’s just authentic “rhythmopop” (my made-up term for music that fuses pop and R&B into one sound). Thankfully, this album didn’t disappoint me one bit. I’m excited to have a great new addition to my music library. Oh, and of course I’m looking forward to Volume II later this year… #spoiler [presses play]
Yeah, so it’s been a minute since you’ve heard from me, but I have a valid excuse or two. Having a 9 to 6, a best friend in town visiting for the week, and an agenda filled with this and that keeps you busy. More than just busy; it’ll exhaust you at times. At this point, I’m trying to take the pace down a notch (for the sake of my physical and mental health), but it’s not so easy when you’re used to doing 100mph on the regular. The other day, I tried to “relax” by strolling around SoHo, one of my favorite areas of the city. Maybe I shouldn’t have picked a place with so much going on.
In spite of the frantic energy buzzing left and right, it was a great day. Since the sun was out and the weather was amazing, I dressed light and added a fun dose of color. I’ve been obsessed with [orange] lately and this sweater from Joe Fresh made my week.
With The Great & Powerful Oz hitting theaters today, I figured it’d be cool to share this with you guys. My friend showed me this video back in January and it sort of blew my mind. It’s called The Dark Side of Oz and is a synchronization of The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album. Back in 1994, rumors circulated that The Dark Side of the Moon was written as a soundtrack for the popular film; and fans noticed that when you play the film and the album simultaneously there are quite a few common threads. Check it out below and listen to the lyrics to see how the film correlates in tons of points.
Life in New York is amazing, but every now and then, you need to escape from all of the concrete and noise. I’m currently on a train headed to Jersey for the weekend and I already feel myself slowing down. I think [Toro y Moi] is partly to blame. He’s leaking through my headphones and his music is like the perfect remedy right about now.
26 year-old Chazwick Bundwick, commonly know as Toro y Moi, is an indie pop artist from South Carolina with an electronic/synthopop feel and a total [chillout] vibe, which happens to be my favorite type of music. His sound fits perfectly in my iTunes library. Ever since I discovered Chillout Sessions XII back in March 2011, my taste in music has completely shifted to the indie/alternative side. I feel like it has more of an artistic element to it; like there’s actually something to appreciate. Plus, the artists are so much cooler (aesthetically and musically); case in point: Toro y Moi.
It’s clear that he has a good idea of what he considers cool; and he sticks to that regardless of what others think. He seems pretty comfortable with himself, which is refreshing, and even inspiring. I’ve been listening to his latest album, Anything in Return, back to back–at work, on the train, at home, in the gym–and it gets better with each listen. Check out this video of him in the studio recording High Living and listen to his album in Spotify to get a taste of the Chillout genre and some all-in-all really good music.
Having friends that share your appreciation of the visual arts is such an awesome thing. My buddy Keith recently transferred to Parsons and he hit me up yesterday to tell me how he excited he was to be in their library. No, we’re not geeks! The Parsons Library is filled with an awesome archive of brilliant art and he just knows that I’d appreciate it. Every now and then, we challenge one another regarding our knowledge of any and everything pop culture (only because we’ve come to greatly respect each other’s opinions on the subject). He sent me the picture below and asked me, [pop] quiz-style, if I recognized the piece or anything resembling it. Although I failed the quiz miserably, I got a little art lesson.
It’s a shot of Robert Carter’s 2007 work, Ignite. According to Keith, it mirrored the opening for the All of the Lights scene in Kanye’s Runaway. Regardless of whether it actually served as a source of inspiration for Yeezy or just happens to have strikingly similar imagery, I got the urge to re-[experience] the short film while I was on my lunch break today. Needless to say, it was just as good as the first time. A good dose of creative energy never turns stale.
A couple of days ago, I came out of hibernation for a night and made my way to Williamsburg for The L Magazine‘s Entrepreneurship Issue release party (click the link; my buddy and I are the first thing you’ll see!), sponsored by Absolut Vodka. It’s always nice to find yourself immersed in a different crowd every now and then, especially when the winter weather has forced you into solitude.
Keep in mind that I’m a southern boy (Texas-bred) at the end of the day and the freezing conditions up here require a little adjusting to. Thankfully, the wind and snow took a night off and the temperature felt amazing. At this point, I’m getting a little bored from staying in the warmth of my apartment night after night, so I’ll be sure to show my face around the city in the near future (especially since Spring is right around the corner)!
Once again, NYFW has passed and the hype is slowly subsiding throughout the city. I didn’t get to do much this season, but what I did get involved with was an experience to remember. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a model, but I do get offered jobs every now and then. This time around, I participated in my first presentation and it was pretty cool. Presentations are different than a typical show in the sense that the models stand on display, mannequin-style, rather than just walk up and down the runway. Check out a few shots from the event below.
To get a better idea of how presentations work, check out this throwback post from my 2011 Fashion Week internship: No Walking Allowed!
Tim B. & Jean Roger (seen below) are the minds behind OverDose On Fame and their first collection is set to drop in April. Between concepting and building the collection and then running around the NYC area to get things in order for the show, I’m glad everything came together for them perfectly.
Some people got chocolate for Valentine’s Day, others got roses. I got a double dose of new music videos from two of my favorite artists. Justin Timberlake‘s official video for Suit & Tie dropped and it’s flawless from start to finish. He’s totally become my “gentlemanly inspiration” for the year of 2013. Check it out above. Next, Lana Del Rey dropped the new video for her latest single, Burning Desire. No, there’s not another one of the epic tales that I’m used to seeing in her visuals, but she turned up the [product placement] game a few notches and partnered with Jaguar, featuring their fire-starting 2014 F-TYPE model.
Let’s take it back to the Super Bowl for a second. We’re in the first quarter, commercials come on, and millions of viewers see Budweiser‘s TV spot for their latest brand extension, Budweiser Black Crown. In it, a group of young, attractive partygoers laugh and smile as they drink from the new dark, sleek Black Crown bottles. It looks like they’re having a really good time. Some people were probably excited for the new launch, while others might have been thinking, “Another Budweiser?” For me, I looked at it from a branding perspective.
Behind The Scenes of Budweiser Black Crown
[click to see the TV spot here]
I’d recently read that the overextension of brands can be fatal for many companies, so as I watched the spot, I wondered how Budweiser would fare through all of this. I tried to get a good sense of who they were targeting and what they were trying to say. With a powerful primary brand and a number of prior extensions under their umbrella, like Budweiser Select and Select 55, as well as the Bud Light and Bud Ice products, you’d think they had enough, but it looks like things are a little different this time: they’re pushing the [lifestyle] button with Black Crown.
Bud Select is about superior brewing and Select 55 is about calories, but it looks like B.C. is positioning itself inside of a culture that’s all about youth, fun, beauty, and belonging. Some of the words, or brand elements, that come to my mind include [cool, young, exclusive, attractive, sleek, refined]. In the ad, the narrator openly suggests that they used feedback from their target audience to put the brand together perfectly: it’s for the cool crowd, by the cool crowd. I think it’s safe to say that I like what Black Crown is offering. I’ve never been the biggest beer fan, but I do want to get my hands on a bottle. It feels like a match.
If it weren’t for my complete inability to take care of a good pair of shoes for very long, I would be a total [sneakerhead]. With so many different styles, colors, brands, and effects to choose from, who wouldn’t want to be?! My boy, Matt, recently turned me on to United Nude, an international brand which creates tons of edgy footwear by incorporating unique architecture and detailing into each design. The other day, we ventured into NoHo to check out their shop and make a couple of special purchases.
These are UN’s [Men's Hi Top Patent Leather Sneakers]. They’re equipped with patent leather detailing (duh), gold hardware, velcro’d straps and a supermasculine and [cool] visual that I couldn’t resist. The only thing I don’t like about them is that I can’t wear them everyday!
I’ve never really been in love with the aesthetic that most designer shoe brands or fashion houses incorporate into their footwear; they usually do too much for me or just come off looking lame (in my opinion), so I don’t shop in the high-priced shoe arena often. And for obvious reasons, with a retail price of $379, I’m hesitant to jump on just any pair of luxury sneakers, but I couldn’t help but make these mine. I’d consider this a purchase well made.