Progression is fickle in the musical environment. It’s both the most important method of measuring improvement, but at the same time, utterly meaningless unless it’s the right type of improvement. Over the past couple of decades, rapid advancements in technology have completely changed the way that we communicate with each other. In 2007, a majority of high school children owned flip phones, ten years later we have fully functioning computers capable of replacing our home desktops. In short, with the rapidly changing world, the path to stardom rapidly changes every single day. What may have worked for artists like Nas, Jay-Z, even Young Thug, may not necessarily work for artists in 2017. It’s important to realize that every artist begins at a different starting point on the road to glory. Take this in stride and create the right type of progress to push yourself in the correct direction.
This type of progress is what I wish to push in this essay that I’m writing today. While I love popular music as much as the next, I spend a majority of my listening time on Soundcloud. In addition to this, I am fortunate to call a number of excellent musicians my friends. Furthermore, I listen to around 75% of music links that I find online. Lastly, I read and listen to a lot of musicians interviews about coming up out of sheer curiosity. The point of explaining these points is that while I’m not directly affiliated with the music making experience, I know quite a bit about what it takes to “make it.” My ear for music constantly changes, allowing me to adapt to what’s hot at the moment as well as what will be hot next. As I sit on the sidelines watching artists’ stories unfold, I’ve come up with two factors that influence the rate of progression. For 2018 and beyond, I’d like to discuss these parameters so that all of the amazing hip hop artists I know are able to sprint to the finish line, regardless of where they started in the race to success. Quick Disclaimer: everything that I’m going to talk about is my own personal view. I’m well aware that these rules may not apply to everyone.
Create a spectacle.
In order to be anyone of importance in the world, you must be a spectacle. Act like an anomaly to attract an audience. Let’s face it; the days of getting noticed for sheer lyricism are long gone. It’s still possible in rare cases, like J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar (two artists who worked extremely hard to get in the positions that they are today) but don’t bank on it. That’s why so many artists go unfulfilled in their quest. Give the listener something to remember you by. What would you want your fans to say about you when they describe you? Bring the spectacle to your music. I’m not saying to have just one sound, but add similar characteristics so that we know can follow the growth in your music. Without remembrance, artists come and go quickly. Future’s trademark shtick of warbling charismatically originated on his Pluto album. It also consisted of songs such as Same Damn Time that featured traditional rapping styles. After seeing that his experimental sound garnered better reception, he would go on to use it heavily. This was the creation of the shtick.
Be confident in your shit. seriously.
One of the biggest killers of could-be great music comes from the artist: portraying their uncertainty on the track. Trust me, if you think you sound nervous you do. Even if it takes more than one hundred takes of making the song, keep going. Once you finish, begin experimenting with different cadences and pitches. Have a circle of friends who will give you an honest opinion. Make sure that you are confident in your work. Tee Grizzley’s “First Day Out” oozes with confidence that makes itself evident from the first line. How did it manage to amass tens of millions of views over the course of a few weeks? People gravitated to the song. The confidence Tee Grizzley conveyed captured the listener’s interest. That and the beat is ridiculously beautiful. When your confident in your work, it shows.
Apply these two rules and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Russ Is Right, Exploiting Drug Addiction For Money Is Wack
Russ has made it clear for over a year now that he’s not for the glamorization of drugs for money. He recently got into a Twitter scuffle with Fat Nick, a known user of lean and narcotics, with the two debating about his fascination with drugs and how the latter makes money off of it. Nick frequently posts his drugs and merchandise that contains drugs online and sees nothing wrong with it. Russ however disagrees. And, after seeing both viewpoints, I daresay I agree with Russ. Glamorizing drugs is wack, point blank.
Rap music was founded in tough times. The best hip-hop to come out of the genre’s Golden Era focused on the hardships that people faced during daily life. Coping with these hardships came natural. Drug use isn’t new. However, the way that drug users are fetishizing these drugs is. Lean, Xanax, and Mollies have become as popular as the music itself. With rappers posting their drugs on social media and dedicating so much of their creative energies to showcasing their fascination with drugs, many kids try them out because the artists they look up to love it.
Nothing good comes out of this besides addiction and death. Xanax pills look fun until you’re trying your best to kick the habit while the withdrawal symptoms kick your ass. Let Mac Miller’s story inform you about the dangers of overdosing. Lil Tracy had a heart attack because of his drug usage. There’s nothing good to come out of using these drugs. Yet, new age rap stars align their aesthetics with drugs because its in and it sells.
This exploitation is no joke and needs to be talked about. Starting a conversation about it will enable the proper action to happen and, hopefully, the way that drugs are exploited for money can be addressed.
Why Ella Mai’s “Trip” Is Better Than “Boo’d Up”
Everyone thought that “Boo’d Up” was the one. Ella Mai’s viral summer single became the talk of the season, a meme due to its widespread popularity across many age, racial, and gender groups. Many thought that Mai lucked up into the DJ Mustard-produced single, attributing much of the song’s success to the producer. But little did they know, “Trip” would come behind it and show that Mai is much more than a one hit wonder.
“Trip” released on August 3 and has been somewhat of a slow burn for the public. It’s a lot darker and moodier than “Boo’d Up”‘s ceiling-less mood. There’s a lingering piano that acts as the song’s lifeblood. When Mai comes in with her surprisingly deep voice, she offsets the equilibrium and swings things in her favor. As it goes on it become a catchy earworm that far outpaces the ceiling of “Boo’d Up”
With all of this said, her debut album, expected to arrive this fall, will be interesting to take in. Has she exhausted all creative avenues in her brilliant two first singles? Or will she continue pushing the culture? “Boo’d Up,” was one thing. “Trip” is another altogether, showcasing that she has a lot still left up her sleeve.
Listen to “Trip” below.
Bay Area Music That You May Have Missed This Week
Here’s our weekly collection of music out of the Bay Area that you may have missed this week. This week’s collection is one of our favorites, with a majority of the tunes being bombastic, lively jams to bolster the energy coursing through your veins. Tune in below: