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070 Shake’s 'You Can’t Kill Me' Surrenders To Love & Mortality With '80s Flair
"Speaking on this matter makes my music live longer," rapper 070 Shake says of her sophomore album, which meditates on the cycle of life and death.
Long before 24-year-old Danielle Balbuena signed onto Kanye West’s GOOD Music label and Def Jam, she was culling an elusive musical identity. The artist now known as 070 Shake anchored her image in poetry that ruminated on mortality — and the mere fact of human existence.
But as she's contemplated the existential, 070 Shake has steadily ascended the stratosphere. Shake first released far-out alternative rap songs on Soundcloud before becoming an inaugural member of the 070 collective in 2016 (her moniker is an allusion to the zip code of her hometown North Bergen, New Jersey), and stepped further into the spotlight on 2018 via a feature on West's "Ghost Town." Her well-received 2020 debut, Modus Vivendi, set the stage for You Can’t Kill Me, a steep dramatization of emotional adversity and an exploration of the life cycle that so fascinated the rapper in her youth.
Throughout You Can't Kill Me's 14 tracks, 070 Shake transfixes listeners with deep-seated emotions. Shake retraces her human fragility via electropop on opening track, "Web," articulating her discombobulated feelings for a lover and how she numbs herself to let go of the people she hurts. On lead single "Skin And Bones," 070 Shake takes on synthwave while "Invited" battles heartbreaking conflicts through the thumping, repetitive steel drumming.
In a handful of cathartic and introspective tracks, Shake references life's uncertainties and her abysmal devotion for others. The techno-thrilling "History" delineates 070 Shake’s troubled romantic past, while "Wine & Spirits" is a jolted acoustic elegy that talks of pre-meditated suicide and a need for balance. In addition to the heavy themes it reckons with, Shake's sophomore effort is an ode to the sounds of the '80s and her wide-ranging tastes.
"I can open my arms wide and reach far," 070 Shake tells GRAMMY.com. "It's a limitless world in music, especially being someone that grew up on hip hop and then now, falling in love with alternative music — Beach House and Dream Pop. It made me realize that I can be all of the things that I love."
The offbeat artist is aurally infatuated by cinematic and visual narratives, embedding into her music the tantalizing drama, mystery, and suspense that would be at home in a sci-fi film or bewitching gothic painting. "Films and foreign art are a big part of my music process," Shake says. "Artists like David Lynch and Francis Bacon have inspired me a lot for this album."
070 Shake caught up with GRAMMY.com during the final leg of her North American tour, which concludes with three sold out performances in Los Angeles this week. She discussed the importance of maintaining a sense of ambiguity while battling with the modern world of social media exposure, falling in love with Kehlani during the making of You Can’t Kill Me, and working with Canadian producer, Dave Hamelin.
How does visual art invigorate your creative process?
I have always cared so much about visual art. You can see that through my album covers and music videos. I worked with an Italian painter to create the vision behind this album cover. One of the inspirations behind this album was definitely Francis Bacon. His art and personal experiences that I've had in relationships I would say help me create visual impact.
I was watching a lot of French cinema when I created You Can’t Kill Me. I got really into French culture. I think real life experiences and the physical world have inspired me a lot and how the ways visual artists perceive the world.
Are any artists of different mediums that you really follow closely?
Yes, I love David Lynch. His movie, Blue Velvet actually inspired the song "Blue Velvet" off this album. Films are a big part of my process, that's my No. 1 where I get my inspiration.
What were some of the muses behind You Can’t Kill Me?
I would say I'm very into the concept of death, I think it's fascinating to me. I'm not excited to die or anything [and] I obviously appreciate life, but I think I don’t have this fear of death. When a human doesn't fear death you kind of see it from a different perspective. It becomes more beautiful and the unknown always tends to scare us.
I'm interested in the concept that all of us have that one thing in common. Every single person on Earth is going to die. People can either perceive death as the end or the beginning.
Your music focuses on human identity, emotion and the poetry of love. How does existentialism, autonomy and perseverance inform the the development of You Can’t Kill Me?
Why not go deeper into these concepts? I think people always run away from the inevitable, so I like to go deep into those concepts, because it's something that everyone will experience.
Speaking on this matter makes my music live longer. I think worldly things only stay here for the amount of time that you live.
What was the early conversation around the turbulent, yet loving video for "Skin and Bones?"
The video was directed by Noah Lee and I really wanted to see what we both could capture together. The video relates to the different human experiences of love and just being and loving somebody on this physical plane.
I know you fell in love over the pandemic and have found unity and harmony with your artistic life partner, Kehlani. How was producing an album with them by your side?
She's such a supportive person to me and she's very, very genuine. Honestly, it is just beautiful to have that genuine relationship with somebody. Just them wanting the best for you and being inspired by you and you know, always asking questions.
I think she is motivating to me, it's almost like always having somebody on your team that continues to pick you up when you're down.
You're fairly private on social media and rarely share your life. You've spoken about going off the grid in the past; would you dream about going back to a time where an artist’s art truly and only spoke for itself?
I’m stuck in this time, so I have to go with it, and I have to play the game, but that is my ideal situation as an artist is to not have to use social media. I think the reason why I'm in this time is to challenge myself, you know?
People aren't outside as much as they used to be. Every time new technology comes out more people stay inside. To really connect with the world you need to stay outside and experience it.
Where does You Can’t Kill Me land in terms of the metamorphic cycle that tends to come with the nature of being an artist?
My artistry reflects my growth, for sure. I am just being myself and the audience is watching me grow. Not that any album is better than the other, it's just a different version of myself. You could like me at my lowest but I'm going to continue to grow and it's not going to be better or worse, it's just growth.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Pusha T Announces Daytona Tour, Drops "If You Know You Know" Video
The rapper will hit the road across the U.S. in support of his recently released, Kanye West-produced album
Pusha T has officially announced dates for his 2018 Daytona Tour. The Former Clipse rapper will hit the road for a 22-date U.S. tour in support the Kanye West-produced album launching in Denver on July 21 and wrapping up in Oakland, Calif. on Oct. 13. In addition to the tour announcement, Pusha also dropped a video for the lead-off track from Daytona, "If You Know You Know," directed by Shomi Patwary.
Daytona was released on May 25 as the first project of Kanye West's "Wyoming Sessions." Four of the album's songs have cracked the Billboard Hot 100 including "Infrared," "If You Know You Know," "The Games We Play," and "What Would Meek Do" featuring West. The album also debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
A full list of dates for the 2018 Daytona Tour, along with ticket information, can be found via LiveNation's website.
Photo: Rune Hellestad/Getty Images
Travis Scott Drops "Watch" Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West
The GRAMMY-nominated rapper returns with a new single boasting two high-profile features
Houston-born rapper Travis Scott capped off a busy week by releasing a new single on May 4, "Watch," featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West. The song's intro references Scott's forthcoming album, Astroworld, which will be his third studio album.
Earlier this week, Scott appeared on Playboi Carti's "Love Hurts," delivering a guest verse for the rapper's return from a relatively quiet year since releasing his debut mixtape last April.
Lil Uzi is coming off two GRAMMY nominations at the 60th GRAMMY Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance for his 2017 hit "Bad And Bougee."
West has a large menu of upcoming releases slated for late May and June, including his eighth studio album plus pulling production duty on new albums by Nas, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, and a collab with fellow GRAMMY-winner Kid Cudi.
Scott's summer will include several big festival appearances, starting with his May 13 performance at Miami's Rolling Loud Festival. The GRAMMY-nominated rapper will also appear at Governors Ball in New York City, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Hard Festival in Pomona, Calif., and Austin City Limits Festival in Austin, Texas. As of yet, no release date for Astroworld has been announced.
FYI/TMI: Stars Come Together For Hurricane Sandy, Justin Bieber Breaks The Law
Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney among performers for Sandy benefit; Bieber gets ticketed in L.A.
(In an effort to keep you fully informed, and fully entertained, below we present today's FYI and TMI — news you need and news that's, well, sometimes needless….)
More Stars Come Together For Hurricane Sandy
GRAMMY winners Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Kanye West, and legendary rockers Roger Waters and the Who will perform at a benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy on Dec. 12 in New York. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund to aid hurricane victims.
SoundExchange Reports 3Q Royalty Payments
Performance rights organization SoundExchange distributed $122.5 million in royalty payments during the third quarter of 2012, marking the organization's largest quarterly payout since its founding in 2000, according to Billboard.biz. SoundExchange has distributed $326.9 million in performance royalties for the year to date, bringing the organization's grand payout total to $1.2 billion since 2000.
Bieber Breaks The Law
As if Justin Bieber's recent trouble in love wasn't hard enough for the 18-year-old, the teen pop sensation has now run into some trouble with law enforcement. Bieber was ticketed by Los Angeles police on Nov. 13 after he was pulled over in his Ferrari in West Hollywood, Calif., for making an unsafe left turn. On top of that, cops found his registration was expired. Hopefully now there's one less unsafe driver on the road.
Diplo speaks at Up Close & Personal With Diplo, a program presented by The Recording Academy
Diplo On Shout-Outs From Kanye West And His Chemistry With Skrillex
GRAMMY winner also discusses recent collaboration with Beyoncé and why he wants to work with the younger generation of musicians during Up Close & Personal With Diplo event
GRAMMY-winning DJ/producer Diplo covered a variety of topics relating to his career during Up Close & Personal With Diplo, a recent program presented by The Producers & Engineers Wing and The Recording Academy Philadelphia Chapter. In a conversation moderated by music journalist Dan DeLuca, Diplo discussed emerging within the Philadelphia music scene, how he met Kanye West, his musical chemistry with Skrillex, collaborating with Beyoncé on her Lemonade album, and why he wants to nurture the next generation of musicians, among other topics.
"[Skrillex is] able to manipulate sound in a really genius way. He has a different way to hear things," said Diplo. "We were both kind of renegade in the dance music scene — we both want to do something separate from that. So we did that with the Jack Ü album."
Diplo earned the first two GRAMMYs of his career for Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü, a collaboration with Skrillex released under the moniker Jack Ü. The album netted Best Dance/Electronic Album honors for 2015 while the track "Where Are Ü Now," featuring Justin Bieber, won for Best Dance Recording. The trio performed the song on the 58th GRAMMY Awards telecast. Diplo has earned two nominations for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical for 2012 and 2015. His first career GRAMMY nod was for Record Of The Year for 2008 as the producer of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes."
Diplo founded his own record label, Mad Decent, in 2005. He is also the driving force behind Major Lazer, an electronic project comprising himself, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire. Their most recent album is 2015's Peace Is The Mission. Other artists with whom Diplo has collaborated include Beyoncé, Big Sean, Madonna, Shakira, Britney Spears, and Gwen Stefani. Diplo co-wrote the songs "Hold Up" and "All Night" for the former's 2016 studio album, Lemonade.
Diplo is currently performing select tour dates in North America, with international dates scheduled through February 2017.