Mazy Kazerooni
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Mazy Kazerooni May 19, 2013

Mazy Kazerooni Photos 2013


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Love kickin it with my lil bro Lil Twist!! 2013 is his year


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With the homies justin bieber & maejor ali at the #airbnb mansion!


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Me and lil bro Justin Bieber! #swaggy


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Epic night with the homies DJ Franzen, Justin Bieber & Mally Mall for Lil Twist’s 20th birthday! Photo by Grace Pedrotti


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Oracle Arena going crazy for @TreySongz!!


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Brainstorming about the internet with @Jaredleto & @Mattprd!


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Yesterday, I was best man while my big brother married the love of his life! Congratulations to Kaz and his beautiful bride and my new sister in law, Jodi


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Kickin it with @HarleyPlays & @DavidHeuff from @epicmealtime! Delicious business being done


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Went to our homie Darren Criss aka Blaine Anderson from #Glee’s awesome party!


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Kickin it with our bro Soulja Boy at his crib talkin about money


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Just got out of the studio with @kidinkbatgang & @deejayillwill big shit is coming to hipset.com !!


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great time hanging with Darren Criss aka Blaine Anderson from GLEE & @iamglennmiller at @tracksby HQ! – http://instagr.am/p/NCATfAjQXe/


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Lil Wayne’s Aggressive Softcore April 11, 2013

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Has Lil Wayne gone soft? Tha Carter IV, his ninth album, leaked online Friday and is rapidly threatening to turn the 28-year-old rapper from a critically beloved genius child into a cultural also-ran. Wayne may still sell a huge number of albums this week — Cash Money, Wayne’s home label, is hoping to move at least a million units, aided by the singles “How To Love” and “She Will,” both currently holding down spots in Billboard‘s Top 10. But reviews so far have run from tepid to downright dismissive, and an unfocused performance Sunday on the MTV Video Music Awards is helping feed the growing sense that something has muted the spark of this boldly creative rhymer — his recent eight-month prison term, perhaps, or enforced sober living, or even the rivalrous rise of his protégé and frequent collaborator, Drake.

Contrast the regretful sighs enveloping Weezy’s current efforts to the deafening roar that greeted Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne, released earlier this month. That album has its detractors, but even the pans have gone deep, treating this collaboration between hip-hop masters as the major artistic effort it is. Yeezy and Jay’s ruminations on wealth, power and semi-public sex have inspired a fascinating conversation about race and cultural power. From its gilt packaging to its sampling of soul greats, the album was presented and accepted as a valuable artifact.

Lil Wayne takes on serious themes on Tha Carter IV too, but his distinctively cagey rhetorical approach makes the meat easier to miss. “This the best-worst feeling, and … if I die I die a death worth living,” Weezy snarls on “Intro,” the first track on Tha Carter IV, a breath after a break in producer Willy Will’s very Kanye-esque heraldic melody line. The line’s just another throwaway in a string of aggressively offensive, sometimes silly, sometimes sexist epithets. But I think it’s important.

Throughout this selection of songs, Lil Wayne continually aims to return to that best-worst feeling: the point where and when pleasure and pain become confused; where the tension in a room is cut by a joke but then reassembles like a fog. It’s a hangover mood, an acknowledgment of a certain powerlessness.

The skittish, provisional quality of Wayne’s rhymes throughout Tha Carter IV and the subdued vocal tone he often adopts — as if he keeps slipping into a shadow — are proving disappointing to many of the critics who’ve cherished his outrageousness, but it’s reflective of the struggle to acknowledge limits that this set represents.

Some constrictions go beyond music, like the jail time he only discusses in muttered throwaway lines and the clean living he refutes in tracks like “Blunt Blowin’.” But they’re also artistic. Coming off a failed attempt to cross over into rock, fitting his abilities to a blockbuster album format his many mixtapes prove he’s always found restricting, Weezy is operating in an aggressively offhanded mode — repeating himself, lobbing outré couplets (“We in the belly of the beast and she thinkin’ ’bout abortion”) without further development, letting guests like Andre 3000 best him with bothering to reply.

Being callously casual allows Wayne to avoid really dealing with his biggest predicament: he wants to be both street and pop; to excel at guitar bluster and slow jams and hardcore rhyming; to step beyond any one role, as an artist and a person. But the world and his own preconceptions, audible in the way he keeps circling clichés about being tough, deadly and endlessly priapic, rein him in.

Fatalism is a constant element in rap, but there are different ways to play it. Bluster pushes many artists forward; others turn stoic, presenting themselves as street soldiers or Scarface-style crime bosses beyond the reach of softer emotions. Then there are the ones who kill with a smile. That’s Lil Wayne. His inventiveness made him famous, as he crafted a shape-shifting persona that was part urchin, part superhero, part alien.

Yet as unique as he seemed, Weezy always strongly connected with a long-standing legacy within both hip-hop and the larger history of African-American culture, of the trickster who triumphs not through brute strength or heroism but through unpredictability and sly intelligence.

Within rap, this might be called the softcore approach, as opposed to the steely declamations of a don like Jay-Z. The artists who follow in this line are often great storytellers or humorists, with a vocal quality that’s more elastic and connected to melody than it is heavily percussive. Often they’re pegged as funnymen or dandies, though there’s always a dagger folded into their finery.

Slick Rick, Eazy E, Snoop Dogg, Shock G of Digital Underground and Andre 3000 of Outkast are a few of the noted rappers in this line. Often they’re from places other than New York: the laid-back West Coast, or the South, where elegance has always been held up as an important aspect of urban masculinity. Kanye West, who’s from Chicago, has earned his top dog title partly by combining elements of this style with the more macho stance of classic “hard” rappers. In the prime that critics are now announcing as past, Wayne also went beyond the boundaries of the role, through the sheer energy of his overactive brain.

On Tha Carter IV, though, he settles into his own softness, especially as it relates to the androgyny he’s also always cultivated. (What other rapper would compare his own verbal onslaught to a woman’s water breaking,” as he does in “Blowin’ Blunts”?) Softcore rappers are always ladies’ men, which doesn’t mean they’re anywhere close to feminists. They often play with the role of the pimp and the porno stud: the man whose power is determined by his alleged ownerhip of women. Sexual prowess is a theme often threatens to overtake everything else on Tha Carter IV, as Wayne elucidates with vulgar explicitness all the ways he can not just satisfy any woman he encounters, but almost torture her with delight.

Interacting sexually with women, in fact, is the main subject of much of this relentlessly obscene album. That the bedroom is now the primary source of energy for Weezy makes perfect sense when you consider his most successful protégés: the breakthrough female rapper Nicki Minaj, who’s oddly absent from these tracks, and the heartthrob Drake, who provides a creepily seductive hook on Wayne’s currently ascendant single, “She Will.”

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The Best Ideas Of 2010: The End Of Appointment Listening September 19, 2011

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All week we’ll be talking about the best and worst ideas in music this year — click to see all the stories. Write us at if anything in the business or culture struck you as particularly effective or shockingly misguided in 2010.

If we’re entering what could charitably called commercial music’s post-retail age, what does that mean for the dissemination of music? Fans who were minted as recently as 10 years ago likely have memories of lining up outside record stores for Midnight Madness sales as Monday wore on into Tuesday, or at least making a point to hit up their local music emporium when an artist they enjoyed was releasing a new full-length.

But amplifying the fact that release dates are still important has become somewhat more difficult as the world of music news has become more diffuse and more specialized. And the culture of the leak has muddied the waters as far as when an album actually comes out — is it when a record is sent to journalists, or when it makes its way online, or when it eventually lands in the ever-dwindling number of shops that still stock music?

Which isn’t to say that the idea of the release date having a sort of importance has entirely gone by the wayside; certainly the chart triumphs of , , and this year wouldn’t have happened if fans hadn’t organized and voted with their dollars around the time of the blockbuster albums’ release. And news organizations still figure their editorial calendars around the release dates of records, because in the news cycle of music, putting out new product is one analogous to, say, the release of a new movie, or the debut of a TV show.

, who seemed to be at the forefront of smashing of existing paradigms with his shrewd use of the Internet, figured out a way to make release dates his own late this summer, when he launched G.O.O.D. Fridays. The plan: Release a song a week every Friday between August 20 (when he launched the project with a remix of “Power” that featured Swizz Beatz) and Christmas. The songs didn’t always land exactly on Fridays — Tweets with links to the brand-new tracks would often show up on Saturday morning or afternoon — but the anticipation surrounding the release of each track was not all that dissimilar to an online version of those punch-drunk Midnight Madness sales.

Kanye’s experiment brought a bunch of imitators in its wake — — but it also highlighted the importance of immediacy on the Internet. Recall ‘s In Rainbows, which was announced and then released in a timespan that seems like nothing compared to the three-months-out lead time many records receive; the 10-day window between its announcement and its release allowed the anticipatory excitement to be contained, as opposed to the seemingly endless roll-outs that other albums receive. (iTunes is complicit in this as well, slowly dribbling out songs from on-the-horizon releases in its “Countdown To” series. Sometimes getting people to choose the “Complete My Album” option on release day works, like with Taylor Swift; other times people decide to stick with the singles.) Those long lead times can often work against artists, with casual fans thinking, “Oh, that’s out?” or “Oh, that’s not out yet?” when they eventually do make the decision to buy.

In 2011, the cycle between completion and release will likely become even more compressed. Take this past Saturday and the year’s final episode of Saturday Night Live, which is still one of the most visible outlets for musicians to hawk their wares, and where performed his new single “Six Foot Seven Foot.” The “Banana Boat (Day-O)”-sampling song leaked online Tuesday, became available on iTunes Wednesday, and was performed on Last Call With Carson Daly that night; the track’s producer, Bangladesh, that he’d crafted the beat over the summer, which meant that the song was recorded after Wayne’s early-November release from prison. That a song could go from the studio to one of the country’s highest-profile places to tout music in such a short while is unprecedented, and it’s also a sign of how compressed the musical hype cycle has become.

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Intern Uprising: Music We Missed In 2011 May 19, 2011

Every year, an insurmountable pile of new music is released, and we at NPR do our best to cover it — to play music we think you’ll love. There are only so many days in a year.

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NPR Music interns Becky Sullivan, Charlie Kaplan, Clare Flynn and Kwasi Ansu recently spoke to All Things Considered host Robert Siegel and NPR Music editor Frannie Kelley about four acts NPR didn’t cover this year — and why we should have paid more attention to them. You can hear songs from each of those below, as well as more groups the NPR Music interns say did such good work this year, we’d be fools to miss them again in 2012.

Take a listen, and tell us (in the comments, or tweet @nprmusic) who else we need to keep an eye on next year.

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