Warm Peppers, Vaccine Skepticism, and Disappointing Duos

Rhett Uleman shares his thoughts on the comeback of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young’s dispute with Spotify, and the latest lackluster collabs in hip-hop.


Photo courtesy of Britannica

Rhett Uleman, Reporter

The Return of RHCP

The legendary Los Angeles genre-blending band The Red Hot Chili Peppers have returned with their first new song in six years. The song also features the reunion of arguably the band’s most cherished member, guitarist John Frusciante. Frusciante became beloved for his breezy melodic playing on some of the bands most classic records including, but not limited to, albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californiacation. He departed from the group in 2009 to pursue a solo career. In his absence, the band would release I’m With You and The Getaway, two of the group’s most critically panned projects. However, in 2019, Frusciante announced that we would be re-joining the RHCP lineup. Fast forward to February 3rd, 2021, the band finally announced the product of their reunion with Frusciante, their newest album entitled Unlimited Love. The album is scheduled to release on April 1st, but the Peppers have already dropped the first single, called Black Summer. The song isn’t as psychedelic or off-the-wall as their iconic material from the 2000s and it isn’t as funky or groove-heavy as their classic music from the 90s, but it still feels as timeless as anything the Peppers have ever done. The song still features the same lyrical style from lead singer Anthony Kiedis that fans have come to love, (“sailing on a censorship”) and Frusciante makes his involvement known with an exciting solo towards the end. Overall, the track is a decent lead-in to an album I am anticipating very much.  

Neil Young vs Spotify

On January 24th, the notorious Canadian-American singer and songwriter wrote a letter to his label executives urging them to remove his music from the spotify streaming service. Rolling Stone reported that Neil specifically called out Joe Rogan, the American comedian and podcast host, for supposingly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. In 2020, Spotify made a deal with Rogan to be the exclusive distributor of his podcast, paying Rogan a sum of over one hundred million dollars for the rights. Many Musicians, Neil Young included, were displeased with this Rogan deal. They argued that this money Spotify was offering to Rogan was all stolen from actual artists. As is commonly known, Spotify pays the artists on their platform a shockingly low amount per stream, while most of the money is kept by the service. For reasons such as this, Neil Young has been butting heads with Spotify for many years now. This letter seems to proclaim that Joe Rogan platforming vaccine skeptics like Dr Robert Malone and Peter McCullough was the last straw for Neil. Neil’s manager has spoken about how strongly he opposes any skepticism of the vaccine on several occasions. It is noteworthy to point out that Neil Young is a childhood Polio survivor, who received a life-saving vaccine during a developmental period of his life. Spotify has responded to Young by removing all of his music from the platform. No action has yet been taken against Joe Rogan. Since the removal of his catalog, Young has released another statement, this time directly addressing Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek. “To the workers of Spotify, I say Daniel Ek is your problem, not Joe Rogan. Ek pulls the strings. Get out of the place before it eats up your soul”. His boycott of the platform has inspired a movement of Spotify account cancellations across social media. It is yet to be seen if Spotify or its CEO Daniel Ek will make any large response moves.

Underwhelming Hip-Hop Releases

The beginning of February was lucky enough to receive not just one, not just two, but three very disappointing singles from popular artist collaborations. The first pairing is Lil Baby and Nicki Minaj. The song is called Do we Have a Problem? The instrumental on this song is just awful repetitive garbage that sounds like you could find it by searching “Lil Baby type beats” on YouTube. The way the beat sounds like it was made for Baby is ironic because he truly puts in the bare minimum on the track. His verse consists of a very short awkward flow that seems very beneath the artist that many claim to be the strongest feature artist out right now. The second duo that came out with a song recently is 21 Savage and King Von called Don’t Play That. You would think a song featuring the deceased Von would be more ambitious. The beat on this song does nothing unique or creative, in fact it’s probably more repetitive than the Do we Have a Problem? beat. Lyrics are extremely generic from both rappers. The only thing that stood out lyrically was the way that Von continues to throw shots at his enemies even from the grave. “She asking me what is Tooka? Just know that we smoke him a lot”. The final project is a combination of underground and mainstream with $NOT and A$AP Rocky. This song has a beat that is repetitive, but it does actually carry an exciting energy to it. You can just imagine how easily this beat could inspire an insane mosh pit of teenagers at a live event. However, both rappers phone-in their verses in an extremely obvious way. Besides some uses of language so profane that it’s uncommon even in rap music, neither of the artists have any memorable lyrics. I was very disappointed with how much Rocky in particular seemed to be just letting the beat carry him. His lyrics can even fall into eye-rolling territory every now and then. “Invite your widow to my tent”, what? With these three releases it is clearly spelled out for us that an interesting collaboration does not always guarantee a good song. These songs all had lots of good qualities going for them that were squandered in execution. Truly a shame.

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