You're Dead!

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You're Dead!
You're Dead!.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 6, 2014 (2014-10-06)
Genre
Length36:03
LabelWarp
ProducerFlying Lotus
Flying Lotus chronology
Ideas+drafts+loops
(2013)
You're Dead!
(2014)
Singles from You're Dead!
  1. "Never Catch Me"
    Released: September 3, 2014[1]

You're Dead! is the fifth studio album by American music producer Stephen Ellison, under the alias of Flying Lotus. It was released on October 6, 2014, by Warp Records. Ellison recorded You're Dead! in his home in Los Angeles from 2012 to 2014, using Ableton Live and other instruments and software. Like his previous albums, Cosmogramma and Until the Quiet Comes, You're Dead! features extensive contributions from Thundercat, who plays bass guitar on nearly every track and provides vocals on several. It has guest features from Angel Deradoorian, Niki Randa, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Thundercat; along with Captain Murphy, Flying Lotus' rapper alter ego.

You're Dead was promoted with one single, "Never Catch Me". It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording at the 58th ceremony. Mainly an instrumental album, You're Dead! is described as electronic, jazz fusion and hip hop. The album received widespread acclaim from critics, and peaked at number one at the US Dance/Electronic Albums and at number 19 at the US Billboard 200.

Background and recording[edit]

Ellison and Thundercat developed the concept of the album.[2] He said in an interview with Los Angeles Times:[3]

Originally conceived as a double album,[4] Ellison worked on the album soon after finishing his previous album, with the intent of creating "the fastest, hardest, most intense jazz record".[5] Like his previous album, Until the Quiet Comes, he used both Ableton Live and live instruments to make the album. His music gear included Moog Voyager, Fender Rhodes, and Wurlitzer electric pianos, as well as a Gibson guitar, a Carvin Legacy 3 all-tube 3-channel smp head, a bank of six Moogerfooger analog effects modules and two Technics SL-1200 turntables.[6] Daddy Kev, who mastered the album, said that You're Dead! had the largest dynamic range of any of Ellison's work.[6]

Music[edit]

You're Dead! is an electronic,[7] jazz,[7][8][9] jazz fusion[8] and hip hop[9] album. It is also a concept album[8] about death[10] and afterlife.[11] In an interview with Electronic Musician, Ellison said, "It's like, 'Hey, you're dead, who knows what's next, but our spirits live forever, and you lived through the good and bad sh*t,' not, 'Hey, you're dead, it's over.'"[6] The album has complex melodies, syncopated rhythms, and textured productions.[12]

"Theme", initially called "Jodorowsky", was the song that led into the concept of the album. "Cold Dead" started with an iPhone voice memo.[2] "Stirring" is a homage to Ellison's friend Nick Terry, who had then-recently died.[2] "Coronus, the Terminator" was the first song Ellison made in his new home; "Siren Song" was written for Pharrell.[2] "Eyes Above" has a beat that he created with FKA Twigs and Niki Randa.[13] "The Beyond", dedicated to "an unborn child", is inspired by Fantastic Planet.[2] According to Ellison, "Fkn Dead" was the most difficult song on the album to make, but the arrangement for "Turkey Dog Coma" was the most complex.[2][14] In "The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep", Ellison raps, under his alias Captain Murphy, about "being comfortable in a cloud where nothing ever happens", while naming OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax.[4]

Artwork[edit]

The cover art for You're Dead! was designed by Japanese manga artist Shintaro Kago on the cover and inner sleeve, with further art being utilised in the accompanying live show. Much of the drawings featured men and women being disfigured and mutilated in unrealistic, hi-tech ways with a significant amount of gore and nudity.[6]

Release[edit]

The album's title and release date were announced on July 22, 2014.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.4/10[16]
Metacritic88/100[17]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[18]
The A.V. ClubA−[19]
The Guardian5/5 stars[20]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[21]
Mojo4/5 stars[22]
NME8/10[9]
The Observer5/5 stars[11]
Pitchfork8.3/10[23]
Q4/5 stars[24]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]

You're Dead! received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 88, based on 36 reviews.[17] Andy Kellman of AllMusic stated, "Like his great aunt, and his great uncle John Coltrane, Ellison has created exceptionally progressive, stirring, and eternal art."[18] Clayton Purdom of The A.V. Club stated, "You're Dead! is his most confidently structured work yet."[19] Matthew Bennett of Clash stated, "This, his fifth album, is also an overt ode to limbo, the halfway house of consciousness and true death. And this is where all 19 tracks dwell, in between the failing light of traditional jazz and the bursts of neon emitted from his polyrhythmic, nocturnal electronica."[25] Adam Kivel of Consequence of Sound stated, "The album works best as a single, unified listen."[7] In a glowing review for The Guardian Paul MacInnes said, "There's always been a sense that Ellison was stretching for a new musical vernacular, one that would continue the lineage of free jazz (he is the great-nephew of Alice Coltrane). This album suggests he might have found it."[20] Chris Cottingham of NME stated, "You're Dead! is a madly inventive record, one that takes hip-hop and jazz as starting points, beats them both to death and then brings them back to life in an almost unrecognisable form."[9] Logan Smithson of PopMatters stated, "You're Dead! is arguably his most imposing album thus far."[8]

Nate Patrin of Pitchfork stated, "Flying Lotus has the notion that death should be the only limiting factor, and when he's put out a work that wrings beauty out of that very thing, what's the point of fearing anything?"[23] Will Hermes of Rolling Stone stated, "Ellison makes the boldest, most fully engaged fusion of the hip-hop-laptop era."[10] Franklin Jones of Slant Magazine stated, "While it may not be clear where we're headed throughout the album, Ellison maneuvers through the bedlam with such confidence that it's not just easy to get swept up in his grand vision of the Great Beyond, but to return for repeat visits."[26] Michael Blair of XXL applauded the album overall saying, "The genius of Flying Lotus, which has been invariably present throughout his preceding releases, but most especially on You’re Dead!, is that he has an incredible ability to both illustrate and extract exceptional amounts of emotion, without saying much at all."[27] Staff writer at Exclaim! Stephen Carlickm described the album as, "Excitingly new yet classically evocative, You're Dead! is contemplative but never boring, an example of genre cross-pollination that transcends novelty and, occasionally, time and space as well."[28] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in his column for Cuepoint, citing "Turkey Dog Coma" and "Ready err Not" as highlights and writing, "The problem isn't that it's less than the sum of its parts—the problem is that there is no sum, only parts".[29]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 19 on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 17,000 copies in the United States.[30] In its second week, the album dropped to number 67 on the chart, selling 5,000 copies, bringing its total album sales to 22,000 copies.[31]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks produced by Flying Lotus.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Theme"Steven Ellison1:24
2."Tesla"1:54
3."Cold Dead"
1:34
4."Fkn Dead"
  • Ellison
  • Bruner
0:40
5."Never Catch Me" (featuring Kendrick Lamar)Ellison3:54
6."Dead Man's Tetris" (featuring Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg)
2:25
7."Turkey Dog Coma"
  • Ellison
  • Bruner
3:09
8."Stirring"
0:30
9."Coronus, the Terminator"
  • Ellison
  • Niki Randa
2:40
10."Siren Song" (featuring Angel Deradoorian)2:37
11."Turtles"
  • Ellison
  • Bruner
2:06
12."Ready err Not"Ellison1:45
13."Eyes Above"Ellison1:12
14."Moment of Hesitation"
  • Ellison
  • Washington
  • Hancock
2:18
15."Descent into Madness" (featuring Thundercat)
  • Ellison
  • Bruner
1:27
16."The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep" (featuring Captain Murphy)Ellison1:50
17."Obligatory Cadence"Ellison2:56
18."Your Potential // The Beyond" (featuring Niki Randa)
  • Ellison
  • Randa
1:45
19."The Protest"Ellison1:57
Total length:36:03

Notes

Sample credits[32]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[33]

Musicians

  • Flying Lotus[a] – composer (all tracks), keyboards (tracks 1–9, 16, 19), sampling (tracks 1–3), backing vocals (tracks 1, 3–5, 17, 18), percussion (tracks 4, 15), synthesizers (track 6), vocals (tracks 6, 9, 15, 19)
  • Justin Brown – drums (track 7)
  • Ronald Bruner – drums (track 3)
  • Taylor Cannizzaro – strings (track 18)
  • Brandon Coleman – keyboards (tracks 3, 4, 7, 10, 11)
  • Gene Coye – drums (tracks 2, 4, 14)
  • Laura Darlington – flute (track 15), vocals (track 19)
  • Angel Deradoorian – composer, vocals (track 10), backing vocals (track 17)
  • Arlene Deradoorian – backing vocals (tracks 10, 17)
  • Miguel Atwood Ferguson – strings (tracks 7, 15, 19)
  • Taylor Graves – keyboards (track 19)
  • Herbie Hancock – keyboards (tracks 2, 14), composer (track 2)
  • Kimbra Johnson – vocals (track 19)
  • Kendrick Lamar – vocals (track 5)
  • Jeff Lynne – composer, guitar (track 8)
  • Ennio Morricone – composer (track 11)
  • Deantoni Parks – drums (tracks 1, 5, 9, 10, 13, 19)
  • Niki Randa – backing vocals (tracks 1, 10, 17), percussion (track 7), vocals, composer (tracks 9, 18)
  • Andres Renteria – percussion (tracks 1, 4, 7, 10, 14)
  • Brendon Small – guitar (tracks 7, 10)
  • Snoop Dogg – composer, vocals (track 6)
  • Cham Staker – composer (track 17)
  • Thundercat – bass guitar (tracks 1–13, 15–19), composer (tracks 2–4, 6, 11, 15), guitar (track 4), backing vocals (tracks 5, 7, 17), vocals (track 15)
  • Kamasi Washington – saxophone (tracks 1, 3, 7, 14), keyboards (track 1), composer (tracks 3, 14)

Production

  • Flying Lotus – producer
  • Daddy Kev – mastering
  • Derek "MixedByAli" Ali – vocal mixing for Kendrick Lamar (track 5)
  • Rich Costey – mixing (track 14)
  • Martin Cooke – assistant engineer (track 14)
  • Nicolas Fournier – assistant engineer (track 14)
  • Mario Borgatta – mixing assistant (track 14)

Design

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[34] 48
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[35] 68
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[36] 29
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[37] 76
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[38] 55
French Albums (SNEP)[39] 157
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[40] 77
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[41] 35
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[42] 50
UK Albums (OCC)[43] 24
US Billboard 200[44] 19
US Top Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[45] 1

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flying Lotus is credited not only as Flying Lotus, but also as Steven Ellison, his birth name, and Captain Murphy, an alias he uses for rapping. These credits put all of Ellison's credits in one, despite the various credited names.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (September 3, 2014). "Flying Lotus – "Never Catch Me" (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)". Stereogum. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Flying Lotus Provides A Track-By-Track Breakdown Of 'You're Dead!'". Okayplayer. Archived from the original on June 3, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Roberts, Randall (October 3, 2014). "Flying Lotus goes deep on 'You're Dead!'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Beta, Andy (October 1, 2014). "Cover Story: Flying Lotus Confronts Death". The Fader (94). Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  5. ^ "Flying Lotus Says New LP 'You're Dead!' Will 'Mess Up the Game'". Rolling Stone. August 14, 2014. Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Ware, Tony (November 24, 2014). "Flying Lotus Records 'You're Dead'". Electronic Musician. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Kivel, Adam (October 8, 2014). "Flying Lotus – You're Dead!". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Smithson, Logan (October 6, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead!". PopMatters. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Cottingham, Chris (October 6, 2014). "Flying Lotus – 'You're Dead!'". NME. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  10. ^ a b c Hermes, Will (October 21, 2014). "You're Dead!". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Leanse, Theo (October 5, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead! review – concept album jazzes up the afterlife". The Observer. Archived from the original on October 5, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  12. ^ Watkins, Paul. "At the Edge of New Meanings: A Critical Review of Flying Lotus's You're Dead!". Critical Studies in Improvisation. ISSN 1712-0624. Archived from the original on November 1, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Flying Lotus' 'You're Dead!' features FKA Twigs and Earl Sweatshirt collaborations". DIY. October 8, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
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  17. ^ a b "Reviews for You're Dead! by Flying Lotus". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "You're Dead! – Flying Lotus". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Purdom, Clayton (October 7, 2014). "Flying Lotus aims for the heavens on You're Dead!". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  20. ^ a b MacInnes, Paul (October 3, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead review – a brilliant, wide-eyed dream of an album". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  21. ^ Carroll, Jim (October 3, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on October 3, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  22. ^ Cowan, Andy (October 8, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead!". Mojo. Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  23. ^ a b Patrin, Nate (October 6, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead!". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  24. ^ "Flying Lotus: You're Dead!". Q (341): 110. December 2014.
  25. ^ Bennett, Matthew (October 2, 2014). "Flying Lotus – You're Dead!". Clash. Archived from the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  26. ^ Jones, Franklin (October 4, 2014). "Flying Lotus: You're Dead!". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  27. ^ Blair, Michael (October 13, 2014). "Flying Lotus Showcases His Sonic Palette on 'You're Dead!'". XXL. Archived from the original on December 9, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  28. ^ Carlick, Stephen (October 14, 2014). "Flying Lotus - You're Dead!". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  29. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 2015). "Expert Witness". Cuepoint. Archived from the original on September 14, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  30. ^ Tardio, Andres (October 15, 2014). "Hip Hop Album Sales: Keyshia Cole, Childish Gambino, Tinashe, Flying Lotus". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  31. ^ Tardio, Andres (October 11, 2014). "Hip Hop Album Sales: Game, Hoodie Allen, Chris Brown". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
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  38. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Flying Lotus – You're Dead!" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
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  41. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Flying Lotus – You're Dead!". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  42. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Flying Lotus – You're Dead!". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  43. ^ "Flying Lotus | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  44. ^ "Flying Lotus Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  45. ^ "Flying Lotus Chart History (Top Dance/Electronic Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 29, 2016.