Lennon v. McCartney Solo Careers & Opinions on Vince Staples & Makaya McCraven

paul and john

This week, Jim and Greg discuss the post-Beatles careers of John Lennon and Paul McCartney... The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Plus, they review a stripped down new release from rapper Vince Staples and a hip-hop infused jazz album from drummer Makaya McCraven.

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Lennon & McCartney Solo Careers

This week, Jim and Greg reevaluate the post-Beatles careers of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. According to Greg, it is "wrong headed" to simply label John as "the rocker" and Paul as the melodic one. The conversation is particularly timely because of the recent release of a fresh box set of Lennon's 1971 classic recording Imagine, as well as the recent release of McCartney's latest album, Egypt Station.

Rather than setting this up as a clash of the titans, Jim and Greg shine a light on lesser known corners of Lennon and McCartney's respective catalogs. Jim noted the value of "digging into a catalog that we think we know" to uncover "new nuggets of revelation." In that digging they uncover the good, and the bad...

The Good

  • John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, "Gimme Some Truth"
  • Paul McCartney, "Every Night"
  • John Lennon, "#9 Dream"
  • Paul McCartney and Wings, "Beware My Love"

The Bad

  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono, "Cambridge 1969"
  • Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, "Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey"
  • John Lennon, "Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)"
  • Paul McCartney, "Temporary Secretary"

FM! Vince Staples


Earlier this month, rapper Vince Staples suprise dropped his third album, FM! On this record, he combines catchy summer beats with devastating lyrics about violence, drugs and problems in his hometown of Long Beach, California. Jim thinks FM! is Staples's best work yet. Noting that the album is a tight 22 minutes, he believes his balance of cutting lyrics and party grooves puts him on par with the likes of Kendrick Lamar. Greg thinks Staples artfully blends the west coast, g-funk style with lyrics about the cycle of violence and suffering in black communities to great effect. He believes that Staples has brought something different to the table with each record, and thinks FM! is the perfect balance of introspection and celebration.

Universal Beings Makaya McCraven

Universal Beings

Makaya McCraven is a young, Chicago-based jazz drummer who also deconstructs his own live improvisational recordings to make hip hop reworks. Makaya's latest album, titled Universal Beings, features young jazz luminaries like bassist Junius Paul, horn player Shabaka Hutchings, jazz harpist Brandee Younger, and cellist Tomeka Reid. Also featured on guitar is Jeff Parker, who is probably best known as a member of Chicago post-rock group Tortoise; but Parker is a staple on the jazz underground scene, as well.

Makaya took the products of recording sessions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London and electronically condensed, looped, and reworked them for the tracks on the final album. Jim and Greg compare Makaya's process to Teo Macero's post-production edits of Miles Davis sessions during Miles' electric period on albums like On The Corner. Greg notes that the album has the crossover appeal of work by other young jazz artists like Thundercat, Robert Glasper, and Kamasi Washington. They both agree that Universal Beings is a great introduction to a new international underground jazz scene. Jim adds that Universal Beings "is a brilliant... and, yet easy to listen to... seductive album".


This week, Jim is taking the X track "The Have Nots" to the desert island jukebox. He decided to revisit the punk rock band X after a friend mentioned he recently saw them in concert again for the first time in many years. So Jim listened to the group during a long drive across the midwest, and was digging their album Under the Big Black Sun in particular. The song "The Have Nots" is a track about working class people just trying to get through the day, and sometimes we're all just trying to get through the day.

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