Dean Van Nguyen

Dean Van Nguyen

Music Journalist & Cultural Critic

As seen in The Irish Times, The Guardian, Pitchfork, NME, Passion of the Weiss, The Independent, Wax Poetics etc.

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Why Mos Def's Retirement Is Potentially Terrible News For Music

Kanye West is a busy man right now. Held up in his Los Angeles labyrinth, the bohemian beat-maker and rapper has been putting the finishing touches on his long-delayed new album ‘Swish’, building up to its apparently set-in-stone February 11 release by rationing out new tracks to Soundcloud every week until the record finally drops. “Don’t ask me for anything till after I’m finish my album,” he tweeted last month in a show of dedication to completing the project. Ye’s retreated to his lair for the final push. No sleep ‘til Yeezy Season.

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Dr Dre's 'Compton' album - His new collaborators on what it's like working with a master

Duke Ellington once said, “I don't need time, I need a deadline”. The same maxim seems to have applied to Dr Dre. With no one ordering the Aftermath Entertainment CEO, Beats founder and hip-hop billionaire to turn in a record, Dre kept the streets waiting for his near-mythic third album ‘Detox’ for a decade and a half. As time went by, he sold a hell of a lot of headphones. He got big into physical fitness. He seemed to work less and less with other artists. And he fiddled about with ‘Detox’ until he just couldn’t do it anymore.

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20 Years Later, D'Angelo's 'Brown Sugar' Is Still The Most Chill Thing Ever

Michael Archer, a son of a preacher man, was barely out of his teens when he unleashed his debut album: a record of such lusty sophistication and debauchery, it sounded like it was cut in the dead of night by some bugged-out genius, not a kid who probably still sweated under the collar every time he bought booze. You can still practically hear the sound of weed smoke blowing from the speakers when you listen to the extraordinary ‘Brown Sugar’, released 20 years ago today under the man’s stage name: D’Angelo. Packed with shades of Al Green, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Prince, it was a sleeper hit that eventually made him a mega star, with an influence that has since hung heavy over everyone from Erykah Badu to Jungle.

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Chance The Rapper & Lil B: Free (Based Freestyle Mixtape)

On the surface, Chance The Rapper and Lil B seem an unlikely pairing. Chance, from Chicago, is noted for his crisp arrangements and an eclectic ear best displayed on ‘Surf’, his recent mixtape with jazz-fusion band Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment. Conversely, Lil B’s ramshackle approach has seen him record and haphazardly release thousands of songs from the basement of his Berkley home, ranging from charmingly crude (‘Ellen DeGeneres’, where he compares himself favorably to the American comedian and talk show host) to unlistenable garbage (the bizarre, cat-featuring ‘Keke The Adopted Tabby Cat’).

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How The Blade Runner Soundtrack Became A Dark, Dystopian Blueprint For Run The Jewels, Aphex Twin And More

Recent revelations that a sequel to 1982 dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner is going into production have taken everyone by surprise, and not just because the original – one of the greatest genre films ever to come out of Hollywood – is so perfectly absolute that to revisit the story would surely only lessen its legacy. Blade Runner was a famously difficult movie to make: the shoot was a nightmare, while wrangles between the studio and director Ridley Scott meant there have been more alternate versions than ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles in the 33 years since it first spooked cinema-goers with its neon-lit cyber-punk autopsy of genetic engineering, environmental devastation and the true meaning of humanity. In fact, Scott only released his definitive "final cut" of the film in 2007, so why the Alien director want to revisit a piece he’s spent a huge chunk of his life perfecting is beyond me. Particularly as his attempts to revitalise existing cinematic universes with Hannibal and Prometheus have been, to be kind to the man, questionable.