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’08 WAS GREAT!: Lil’ Wayne, Artist of the Year?

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Let me begin by saying that I like Lil’ Wayne. I’ve met Lil’ Wayne, and, yes, he’s a very friendly guy. He’s got a magnetic personality, and his demeanor alone could sell a few thousand albums. That being said, it still zaps my mind (much like that vein tattoo on Lil’ Wayne’s forehead) that he became music’s most praised star in 2008. And we’re not just talking about Dwayne Carter getting fist pounds from fellow hip-hoppers. He was loved by the pop set, mainstream music lovers, and even–no lie–the indie elite. (A certain Chicago emcee/producer is secretly wiping his brow and readjusting his Pee-Wee Herman suit jacket).

(left: Somehow, someway, Lil’ Wayne conquered the world in 2008.)

To be honest, when Lil’ Wayne’s brand new album, Tha Carter III, was released earlier this year I didn’t pay much attention to it. I gave the album a quick listen, wasn’t blown out of the box, and continued to listen to all the other music I had to listen to. I was actually a bit disappointed, cause I wanted to love Lil’ Wayne’s new album. For someone who’s not into hip-hop as much as I used to be, it’s fun to latch on to a current hip-hop star, cause it makes you feel, well, current.

While I was dismissing Tha Carter III, America was doing just the opposite. In a CD industry on life support, the album sold 400,000 copies in its opening day (which even drew a surprised response from 50 Cent). The disc went on to become one of the top selling albums of 2008 and even landed on several critics’ year-end, best-of lists. SPIN named Lil’ Wayne “Rock Star of the Year” and Pitchfork Media, the bastion of all things indie, named Tha Carter III their #11 album of 2008 (beating out efforts from music blog darlings Lykke Li, Santogold, and even–Kanye West).

Lil’ Wayne was everywhere in 2008. He was nominated for eight Grammy Awards (more than any other artist this year), he got ample face time on MTV’s VMA show (even sharing the stage with Kid Rock), performed live on SNL, was appearing on other aritsts’ tracks in the same fervor as Akon, inspired Michael Phelps to swim to eight gold medal victories (getting name-dropped on a nightly basis at the Olympic Games), and even during my Christmas shopping I couldn’t avoid Lil Wayne, as I was given a free Tha Carter III velvet black-light poster in my Virgin Megastore shopping bag.

In the midst of Lil Wayne madness I decided to revisit Tha Carter III. I gave it a couple more listens, and–still–nothing.

I was blind to its genius.

What was the rest of the world seeing that I couldn’t see? The production didn’t seem out of the ordinary (lots of rolling drum fills, some vocoder, and dirty-south-ready synth loops), the lyrics, many times, dipped into familiar hip-hop territory, with rhymes about getting your dick sucked and getting shot, and Tha Carter III may also be the first album in history to get nominated for Grammy’s Album Of The Year Award, despite possessing a track titled “Pussy Monster.”

I understand why Lil’ Wayne has dominated the world of hip-hop in 2008, but it’s still a mystery how he won over serious music critics. His guitar playing skills are almost insulting (though I do see a smidgen of punk rock in thought process), his 24-year old voice sometimes sounds like an ailing old man, and his biggest hit of the year was one he did with T-Pain (and doing a track with T-Pain is about as original as a tabloid magazine putting Britney Spears on the front cover).

Maybe it’s his tight jeans and tattoos?

Maybe it’s his don’t-give-a-fuck-do-it-yourself attitude?

Maybe I have to listen to the album again?

Maybe I still won’t get it after I do…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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