Who Da One:  

On the heels of racial epithet scandals and puke-inducing tour schedules, Barbadian pop-hip-hop hybrid Rihanna is under fire for distastefully co-opting renowned Norwegian fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø in her latest video for “You Da One,” Billboard reports. New art is never immaculately conceived, of course, but the leopard light trick here on the critic table doesn’t a) give cred to its originator, nor b) really do anything new to it. They’re pretty identical, aside from the use of color in Sundsbø’s photo. Also, this is the third time Rihanna’s been chastised for poaching styles. David LaChappele called her out over a clip for “S&M,” of which the photographer received an “undisclosed sum” from earlier this year. While Phillip Paulus shot a pending lawsuit her way over a scene in the same video. Why Melina Matsoukas, the director behind both of these videos is dodging the heat? Does it even matter? Both camps have yet to comment.

What Dost Thou Label: 

As the speed of music culture continues to diffuse labels from the centrifuge of talent and origin they once were, imprints like Sub Pop are forced to reinvent their influence on-the-fly. NPR‘s got a great reflection on how Seattle’s foremost disseminators of grunge (Nirvana, Soundgarden) embraced rap and dance hybrids in 2011, and are poised to do the same in 2012 with releases by outré hip-hop signees THEESatisfaction and Spoek Mathambo, among others. Andrew Matson sat down with head Sub Pop A&R rep Tony Kiewel, the dude responsible for signing new bands, to get the scoop. Some fine waxing on why labels even matter anymore await.

Big Label Rock Is Dead:

The New York Times is reporting a veil-lifting expose on Big Rock America, illuminating this past year’s Billboard chart-toppers and their inability to create new art. i.e. Sublime With Rome who “shamelessly apes” early 90s ska set Sublime. Critic Jon Caramanica states, “2011 may well be remembered as the most numbing year for mainstream rock music in history,” going on to label the sector of rock not dead, rather “zombified.” A little bit of shooting fish in a barrel there, bud. But his skewering of band that were supposed to pull credible weight like the Black Keys El Camino is comically sound: “[They’ve] committed themselves to undistinguished garage-soul and have cruelly outlast their onetime peers The White Stripes,” dubbing El Camino “one long airless, swingless jam, a flat boogie primer for foreigners and marketers.”

Calling All Scribes:

American Songwriter, now in its 27th year of honoring amateur lyricists a good six times a year, is putting a call out for March/April 2012 entries. Not that you, dear aspiring songwriter, needs to be validated in such a way. But should you seek out an old-fashioned accreditation of your skills, the AS folks are teasing a few prizes like a Gibson sJ-200 True Vintage guitar and a possible Q&A with the editorial team, among other deal-sweetners. Go win, so we can write about you, as well.


Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, a.k.a. the “L” in TLC, pled guilty to arson in the aftermath of her boyfriend’s home burning to the ground on this day in 1994. Years later she was killed in a car accident. Engraved on her casket were the tail-end of her brat-rap in “Waterfalls” – “Dreams are hopeless aspirations/In hopes of coming true/Believe in yourself/The rest is up to me an you.” Cue it at 3:45: