From Groupie Freaks to Tumblr Geeks | 18
From Outsider to Icon
THE ENDLESS EVOLUTION OF
northeastern students on music
The Future Is Funky: A History of Afrofuturism in Music | 20
The Revival of Pop Music | 43
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Tastemakers Music Magazine 232 Curry Student Center 360 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA 02115 firstname.lastname@example.org © 2018 tastemakers music magazine all rights reserved
E-Board President Rami McCarthy Editor-in-Chief Jason Levy Art Directors Colleen Curtis McKenna Shuster Promotions Director Hannah Crotty
Staff Features Editor Christopher Miller Reviews Editors Tim DiFazio Nikolas Greenwald Interviews Editor Jonathan Vayness Photo Directors Nola Chen Rio Asch Phoenix Lauren Scornavacca Social Media Directors Emily Harris Kristie Wong
The Team Staff Writers Akosa Amenichi Stacy Andryshak Allison Bako Spencer Bateman Joseph Bondi Terence Cawley Ryan Clark Justine Cowan
Maya Dengel Rachel Ellis Isaac Feldberg Adrian Forrest Grant Foskett Quinton Hubbell Zac Kerwin Vishal Makhijani Erin Merkel Joanna Moore Emmett Neidhart Taylor Piepenbrink Jonas Polin Seth Queeney Elena Sandell Matt Schüler Amanda Sturm Christian Triunfo Alex Trzaskowski Emma Turney Jonathan Vayness Alexander Wetzel Sabrina Zhang Art & Design Alex Agahnia Jacqueline Arce Allison Bako Claudia Bracy Sarah Ceniceros Brooke Dunahugh Ryan Fleischer Jenny Kang Cammy Kuo Dan Mondschein Srilekha Nuli Bianca Rabbie Anna Smith Sara Trosky Promotions Ingrid Angulo Alexa Balint Sofia Benitez Julia Boll Roman Distefano Chyenne Dobine Emily English Fiona Gridley Spencer Haber Joey Handel
Annina Hare Elisabeth Holliday Maura Intemann Katherine Isbell Cara Jones Jenny Kang Sarah Keneipp Yun-Jae Lee Tiffany Li-Ah-Kim Morgan Mapstone Laura Masnato Isabelle Miele Patrick Milne Naqiya Motiwalla Maggie Navacruz Addy Pedro Taylor Poehlman Kylie Ponce Jane Slaughter Noah Sugden Photography Julia Aguam Catherine Argyrople Brian Bae Deema Binmahi Colleen Curtis Emily English Annina Hare Casey Martin Natalie McGowan Alex Melagrano Maggie Navracruz Phi Dieu Hang Nguyen Elice Ongko Anushka Sagar Derek Schuster McKenna Shuster Rayven Tate Lydia Tavera Tyler Blint-Welsh Brandon Yap
Meet the Staff
About Colleen Curtis Position Art Director/ Photographer Major Design Graduating Maybe next year Favorite Venue Rough Trade (NYC) Tastemaker Since Spring 2016
Rayven Tate Position Staff Writer/ Photographer Major Mechanical Engineering Graduating 2021 Favorite Venue The House of Blues/Revention Music Center (Houston) Tastemaker Since Spring 2018
McKenna Shuster Position Art Director/ Photographer Major Interaction Design Graduating 2018 Favorite Venue Mohawk (Austin) Tastemaker Since Fall 2015
Maya Dengel Position Staff Writer Major Communications & Media and Screen Studies Graduating Spring 2020 Favorite Venue First Avenue (Minneapolis) Tastemaker Since Fall 2017
Shannon & The Clams Onion The Vaccines Combat Sports Lord Huron “Ancient Names (Part II)”
“I want to name a band Suspicious Burrito. It’s intriguing, a little dirty, ultimately funny, and about food.”
“That song kinda slaps.”
Mick Jenkins or more; the frustration Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti “Baby”
(Sandy) Alex G “Kute” Khruangbin Con Todo El Mundo
“All I want to do is eat Takis and watch Rick & Morty.”
Soy Christmas “Get Upset” MGMT “When You Die” Simpson “Switch Lanes”
“I can’t believe that burrito had so much power over me.”
Boulevards, Paradise Rock Club
Photo by Hang Nguyen Phi (Digital Media)
Table of Contents Cover Story
From Outsider to Icon: The Endless Evolution of Donald Glover
Pop Is Back on Top Pop music may get more of a bad rap nowadays than it used to, but some artists out there are not only giving the genre a better name, but changing the entire pop landscape.
The Future Is Funky: A History of Afrofuturism in Music Grant Foskett dives into the movement where the worlds of hip-hop, technology, and the future intersect. Get ready to time travel.
In Defense Of
My Favorite Song
From Groupie Freaks to Tumblr Geeks: A Brief History of Fangirl Culture Fangirl culture has come a long way from Beatlemania in the ’60s.
What Makes a Boy Band? Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC may spring to mind when thinking of “boy bands,” but Rayven Tate examines how acts like New Edition, and Brockhampton have adopted the label.
DatPiff Mixtapes: A Retrospective Many modern rappers humbly began by distributing mixtapes on the streaming site Datpiff, but just how well do some of those mixtapes stack up to their highbudget, major-label efforts?
Tyler Childers, Hippie Sabotage, Gabrielle Aplin, Ella Vos.
Album Reviews Black Panther: The Soundtrack, Camp Cope, Lil Yachty, & The Neighborhood.
Laidback Brilliance: Inside the World of Chillhop Thumping dance tracks and rock n’ roll may historically get all the attention, but here’s why the soft, ambient soundscapes of the “Chillhop” movement deserve to share the spotlight.
Take a long walk through the writing, acting, rapping, and producing career of one of entertainment’s modern day renaissance men, Donald Glover.
These Artists Kiss Brass! A horn instrumental on a track can truly elevate it to new heights, but just what about brass instruments make a song pop?
Where is Hip-Hop on the Come Up? New York, LA, and Atlanta get all the attention, but there are some rap scenes on the rise in locations you may never have thought of.
Mumble Rap – Instead of defending the usual single album, this issue of Tastemakers tackles the entire maligned genre of mumble rap.
“Caring is Creepy” by the Shins – It may be hard to articulate just what makes your favorite song all that uniquely special to you, but Terence Cawley has done just that.
WTF Is Bassnectar? A Down and Dirty Discography This DJ may have been around since the ’90s, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowed down over 20 years later.
Just a Taste Of Bedbug– A quick peek at the influences and stylings of the local singer-songwriter act.
Lucy Rose Currently on tour in support of her third LP, Something’s Changing, Lucy Rose is on top of her game.
Tastemakers Presents: Charly Bliss Our dream team of Emma Turney & Maya Dengel chats with this Spring’s Tastemakers Presents headliner.
Calendar May Fri
Panda Bear Paradise Rock Club
Todd Rundgren Orpheum Theater
Power Trip Paradise Rock Club
Marian Hill Royale
The Fratellis Pradise Rock Club
Flatbush Zombies House of Blues
Boston Calling Music Festival Harvard Athletic Complex
Boston Calling Music Festival Harvard Athletic Complex
Boston Calling Music Festival Harvard Athletic Complex
Dr. Dog House of Blues
HAIM Agganis Arena
10 Dark Star Orchestra Wilbur Theater
Paradise Rock Club
17 Andrew WK Paradise Rock Club
The Kooks House of Blues
Jukebox the Ghost Royale
Primus Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
New Found Glory House of Blues
24 Post Malone Xfinity Center
Panda Bear May 4 @ Paradise Rock Club
Flatbush Zombies May 19 @ House of Blues
If you like going to concerts, even a little, Panda Bear will not disappoint. Take it from us, his trademarkÂ sprawling, psychedelic-beach-boy sound will make for a fun, memorable spring night.
Flatbush Zombies is a hip-hop group that delivers an intoxicating sound and will keep you moshing all night long. If youâ€™re at all into the East Coast rap scene, the show is a must see.
Jonathan Vayness (Psychology)
Rayven Tate (Mechanical Engineering)
Tech N9ne House of Blues
Ledisi Wilbur Theater
Kendrick Lamar with SZA & Schoolboy Q Xfinity Center
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Depeche Mode TD Garden
Thirty Seconds to Mars Xfinity Center
Jimmy Eat World House of Blues
Hayley Kiyoko Paradise Rock Club
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill SNHU Arena
Dave Matthews Band Xfinity Center
Ray Lamontagne Blue Hills Bank Pavillion
Ray Lamontagne Blue Hills Bank Pavillion
14 Steel Panther House of Blues
Sam Smith TD Garden
Styx & Joan Jett Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Spoon Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Chris Stapleton Xfinity Center
Jimmy Eat World June 11 @ House of Blues
Hayley Kiyoko June 15 @ Paradise Rock Club
Even with the emo revival prompting widespread reevaluation of the genre, Jimmy Eat World have yet to receive their due as one of the all-time great emo bands. Their last record, Integrity Blues, was secretly one of 2016’s best albums, and if you don’t believe me then you’ll just have to go see them at the House of Blues and decide for yourself. If you run into me there, don’t be afraid to tell me I was right.
The Disney Channel star turned pop idol is touring her long awaited debut album. Hayley Kiyoko, also known by fans as the “Lesbian Jesus,” will put on a pop show for members of the LGBTQ community and allies alike. So if you’re a die hard fan or you’re just curious to see what Stella from Lemonade Mouth is up to, dress in your best rainbow attire and head on down to Paradise Rock Club on June 15th. Emma Turney (Communications)
Terence Cawley (Biology)
What Makes A
“We think of a group of at least four guys singing pop songs.” The boy band craze died down for about two decades and came back stronger than ever. The ’90s and early 2000s gave rise to many of the boy bands that we always seem to think of when we hear the phrase. *NYSNC’s second single “It’s Gonna Be Me”, which was their first single to top The Billboard Hot 100, and Backstreet Boys’ iconic “I Want It That Way”, which managed to top charts in 25 different countries, are prime examples of the songs that were popular at the time. It was with songs like these that boy bands were able to have a large impact on the
charts and make the phrase almost exclusive to “pop” groups. It’s during this phase that we start to see groups that diverge from the traditional definition of the phrase “boy band,” with the introduction of groups like The Jonas Brothers. In the past, all major pop boy bands had at least four members stemming from their origins of the barbershop quartet. They also refrained from using instruments and used only their voices layered on top of tracks that were created by producers. The Jonas Brothers, who are labeled as a poprock band, had only three members and used instruments like any other band of that genre, but despite their deviation from those that came before them, they were seen as a boy band to the public. In the 2010s there were still “traditional” boy bands during the “third revival,” such as Big Time Rush and One Direction, who took over the charts, but we start to see more of a divergence from their predecessors. The chart presence of traditional boy bands was steadily declining and being replaced with groups that utilized instruments and strayed from the genre that they were formed from. This was apparent in groups like 5 Seconds of Summer, who resembled traditional bands more than boy bands. Although this was a prominent way of splitting from the norm, we can see evidence of groups starting to break away from the confines of the rules to become boy bands as early as the 1980s. Throughout the second rise of the boyband, we were introduced to groups like New Edition and Boyz II Men, both of which met all the criteria of being a boy band except for the genre of music they produced. These groups made it quite clear that being a pop band wasn’t the only option for up and coming boy bands of the time. New Edition was one of the frontrunners when it came to popularizing the term “boy band” despite being a
predominately R&B/soul group. This goes to show that the term can be quite versatile, as we see it cross over genres. New Edition opened doors for Boyz II Men and B2K, as they followed in their footsteps of producing R&B music.
“The ‘90s and early 2000s gave rise to many of the boybands that we always seem to think of when we hear the phrase.” Even now, we see groups further straying from the traditional boy band. Groups like Brockhampton, who at first glance seem like a rap collective, have dubbed themselves “the internet’s first boy band”. They have released four full length albums, their most notable being their Saturation series, which has a combination of pumping rap songs with more slow, mellow tunes. Taking a step back and looking at the evolution of boy bands it’s interesting to see how they have changed over time. They seem to be getting less traditional and straying from what those who came before them did. Boy bands began crossing genres early in the game and are capable of doing what seems like an about-face from where they started. It’ll be interesting to see where they end up. • Rayven Tate (Mechanical Engineering)
Designer: Ryan Fleischer (Marketing & Design)
The term ‘boy band’ tends to elicit thoughts of popular groups *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and One Direction. The term as we know it gained recognition sometime around the late 1980’s and it’s often associated with groups that rose to popularity in the 90’s and on. Why is that? Why is it that we instinctively think of the same handful of pop groups in tandem with the word “boy band”? If we look at the term and analyze what it means in a more “traditional” sense, we think of a group of at least four guys singing pop songs riddled with harmonies and the like. The derivation of the definition comes from the origin of boy bands: barbershop quartets, who, like we think, consisted of four men in an acapella who sang harmonies. This brings us to the current definition of a boy band being a vocal group comprised of at least four young men singing “love songs” with an audience of generally young women. However, this is considered a loose interpretation of the phrase and if we look at it from a different angle, many more groups could fall under this category. The eras of boy bands tend to come in and out of popularity. Boy bands made their first surge to the top of the charts in the 1960s and ’70s with the rise of The Jackson 5 and their securing of sixteen top-forty singles, four of which claimed the number one spot right after their debut. The Osmonds were a boy band that started out as a barbershop quartet of brothers and evolved into a full boy band when more of their siblings joined. While their career as a boy band was short lived, they also helped paved the way for future artists.
LAIDBACK BRILLIANCE Inside The World of Chillhop By Seth Queeney (Communications/Political Science)
“Elevator music” gets a bad rap in my opinion. For the generations that grew up in the wake of loud rock’n’roll, boundarypushing hip-hop, and pumping dance music, the soft music that plays (or played) in elevators and hotel lobbies should be the ultimate thing that we would leave behind as outmoded and insufficiently radical. But this is not the case – we are in fact in living today in a golden age of elevator music. It doesn’t call itself elevator music per-se. Rather than soundtracking the bland industrial environs of the real world, this modern “elevator music” lives on YouTube and SoundCloud. It prefers to go by “Chill hip-hop beats for gaming and relaxing” or a similar title. But this digital elevator music serves the same purpose – act as pleasant, relaxing music with some rhythm that can be experienced in the background. “Chillhop” as it’s called, is a genre that has quickly carved out a space for itself largely ignored by the music press. In the span of a few years, this low-key instrumental music has become one of Spotify’s “rising star” genres and commands a varied universe of YouTube radio stations, SoundCloud tastemakers, and aspiring bedroom producers. Where did this ascendant, relaxed music come from? And why has it taken Generation Z by storm?
Dilla and Nujabes, despite their differing approaches to instrumental hip-hop, have led to the modern rebirth on YouTube that it currently enjoys. This dual influence can be best seen in the work of popular instrumental hip-hop musician Ta-Ku, a leading light of the online scene, who released two full tribute albums to both Dilla and Nujabes. The modern sound of instrumental hip-hop favored by the YouTube-based movement happening today tends to oscillate between the sounds of these two forefathers. Producers tend to focus on hypnotic repetition, cycling the same bittersweet piano notes or harp plucks until they become a soothing ambience that hangs in the background. Hip-hop inspired drums knock with a heft that is strong but not so forceful as to be distracting. Typifying Dilla’s influence, the songs feel slightly warped around the edges, like listening to a transmission on a radio that can’t quite pick up the signal. Many of these songs even use the same musical samples, but rather than sounding derivative, this re-use can be familiar and gratifying, showing the viewer a slightly different interpretation of the same idea, filtered through the ear of a different beatmaker. Besides, the point is not to shock the listener with stunning displays of originality, but to create a sustained, relaxed mood.
Designer: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez (Graphic & Information Design)
The story of standalone background music has a rich history. It begins in the modern sense with French composer Erik Satie and his idea of “furniture music.” This terms refers to music written by Satie meant to be played in the background while concertgoers mingled and talked. This idea became linked with electronic music in the 20th century. Brian Eno, a keyboard player and electronic tinkerer, developed what he called “ambient music,” synthesized electronic tones meant to serve as musical “wallpaper” for work or quiet reflection. In the modern era, this background music has become tightly linked to the drum machines and samples of hip-hop and electronic music. The style popular today on YouTube and Spotify owes its sound to two forefathers in particular. The first is Nujabes. Born Jun Seba, Nujabes was a Japanese DJ and beatmaker whose music foregrounded samples of 1960s jazz music. His sound focused in particular on pianos, flutes and woodwinds, and used these samples to build loops that have a hypnotic grace. Although his albums were popular, Nujabes’ most enduring footprint came from his contribution to Adult Swim anime curio Samurai Champloo, a show that blended the aesthetics of feudal Japan with Nujabes’ laidback instrumental hip-hop score. Champloo’s late-night reruns, along with the blunted instrumentals favored by Adult Swim, helped inoculate an audience hungry for this kind of music. Sadly, he wouldn’t live to see his enormous influence, as he died in a traffic accident in 2010. Nujabes wasn’t the only fallen producer to influence this modern renaissance of beat-driven ambience. J Dilla, the Detroit hip-hop producer whose decades-long stylistic evolution culminated in sample-based masterpiece Donuts is another key touchpoint. Dilla’s sound focused on different elements than Nujabes – where Nujabes is smooth and melodic, Dilla’s music always had willingness to embrace an off-kilter sensibility that communicated an experimental, otherworldly quality. Sampled voices are stretched into chattering glitches, and drums beats shuffle with a drunken stagger. Like Nujabes, Dilla would pass away before his time, dying in 2007 to a rare blood disease.
“the point is not to shock the listener with stunning displays of originality” The result of all this is instrumental hip-hop music that services a widespread network of bedroom producers, video-game streamers, anxious students, and lots of others. Though it is tempting to paint this ascendant “chillhop” as part of a new movement – say the rise of streaming or the power of algorithms to influence listening, it seems more likely that this wave of relaxing music is proof that people just enjoy ambient music. From Satie to Eno to the “Chill Gaming and Study beats” of today, there is an audience for the kind ambient music that critics regularly find to be uninteresting. This audience doesn’t really go away – despite the critical backlash against trip-hop, for example, the genre stuck around into the mid 2000’s and experienced an internet-led resurgence as the chill-hop style that is popular today.
IN DEFENSE OF
• Ryan Clark (International Business)
Designer: Cammy Kuo (Landscape Architecture)
No topic in modern music is quite as divisive as mumble rap. Often sneered at by old-school hip-hop heads, mumble rap refers to a subgenre in which lyricism takes a backseat, allowing other aspects of the music like flow and beat selection to shine. Those who grew up with artists like Nas or Tupac dominating the airwaves frequently criticize mumble rap as wholly inferior to older, more lyrically-focused rap, a symptom of systematic degradation in quality across the genre. I don’t agree with this view. It seems silly to state that one stylistic iteration of music is objectively better than another. To do so is to disregard the fact that music constantly evolves, adapting to the environment in which it’s created. Today’s mumble rap artists belong to the first generation of people to grow up in a hyper-connected world, where the Internet and social media are routine aspects of life. Legendary artists like GZA, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and others grew up in a much different world. They didn’t have access to infinite channels of communication. Posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media wasn’t an option, so they had to look elsewhere to make their voices heard. This is what made their music so incredible: their albums weren’t just collections of songs, they were complex, detailed messages. Rappers of the ’80s and ’90s channeled everything they wanted to say into their music, and what they said did not go unheard. Instead, it found an audience starving for the honest, relatable information rap provided. Rappers of today face almost the exact opposite problem as their predecessors. The hard part used to be finding a way to say something, now they struggle to find something to say at all. This is not an indictment of their ability as artists, but rather a function of a changing world. Today, people are so overwhelmed with information that sources are forced to compete for scraps of attention. Modern music fans don’t need rappers to tell them about what’s going on in their neighborhood; there was already a Twitter Moment and Buzzfeed article about it five minutes after it happened. Some artists prevail over this dilemma through sheer brilliance, demanding the world’s attention with their skill and clarity of ideas. However, not everyone can be Kendrick Lamar. Instead, mumble rappers sidestep the battle for mental bandwidth altogether by producing music that demands little to none of its listeners’ attention span. Rappers like Young Thug and Future pioneered the subgenre, achieving massive success with near-unintelligible verses and hazy delivery. Newer mumble rap artists Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert push the style even farther, totally eschewing lyricism in favor of repetition and catchiness. Detractors of mumble rap deride the music as lazy and lacking substance, a total corruption of what rap should be. There is some truth to this argument; Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3” sounds absolutely nothing like “NY State of Mind.” But the reality is it shouldn’t. Those songs came out 23 years apart, expecting them to share more than a passing resemblance is nostalgic fantasy. Music inevitably evolves with the world around it, taking new forms as culture, technology, and politics continually change. Mumble rap is merely another chapter in this evolution. Besides, after drowning in tweets and breaking headlines all day, who can blame someone for just wanting to hear a 16 year-old say “Gucci gang” 53 times?
Album Reviews Black Panther: The Album
Released February 9 Label Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Genre Hip-hop/Rap Tasty Tracks “X,” “Bloody Waters,” “Paramedic”
7 6 Designer: McKenna Shuster (Interaction Design)
King T’Challa or King Killmonger? How about both? Kendrick Lamar, arguably the king of hip-hop, channels both of these powerful figures on Black Panther: The Album, the soundtrack for Marvel’s newest superhero blockbuster. While Black Panther has finally ended its reign over headlines and box offices, it broke record after record in the process. Beyond all of the accolades, which include the highest-rated superhero film of all time and the highest-grossing film of 2018, the film has been an immeasurable source of inspiration and empowerment, especially for children of color. Kendrick Lamar is a man familiar with making profound cultural impact, and the Compton-based rapper decided to curate the entire soundtrack after seeing the film. Lamar is featured on most of the tracks himself, while also masterfully weaving 20-plus featured artists into the track list. Emerging acts like English R&B/jazz talent Jorja Smith and the endlessly energetic Bay Area rap-crew SOB x RBE provide a wealth of variety, whereas stars like The Weeknd and Travis Scott give the album a more accessible, poppier side. While the soundtrack can be appreciated without any knowledge of the film, it also supplements its content, featuring narratives as both T’Challa, the film’s protagonist, and Eric Killmonger, the dynamic villain. Lamar opens up Black Panther: The Album speaking from the newly crowned King T’Challa’s perspective, his bars carrying a weight of apprehension. “King of the culture, king of the soldiers, king of the bloodshed / King of the wisdom, king of the ocean, king of the respect,” Lamar raps, simultaneously illustrating T’Challa’s nobility and expressing his own experiences as a both a cultural and musical pioneer. On “King’s Dead,” Lamar flips the script and replaces such heroic bars with pure disrespect, conveying the rage of Killmonger: “Fuck integrity,
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fuck your pedigree, fuck your feelin’s, fuck your culture / Fuck your moral, fuck your family, fuck your tribe.” Jay Rock’s infectious flow and Future’s irresistible falsetto round the track out to be one of the biggest bangers on the album. Kendrick continues his caustic persona on “X”, which boasts intense bars supplied by Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, and Saudi, a rapper involved in the African Trap Movement and one of four South Africa-based features. The scathing snare and brutal bass will undoubtedly have listeners titularly “on ten,” the “X” also being a reference to the Wakandan symbol of respect used throughout the film. The soundtrack also has its slower jams, led by “The Ways.” The track consists of a groovy beat and swoon-inducing vocals from contemporary R&B crooner Khalid and Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd. The two young voices plea for a “power girl,” an independent, empowered woman, and the product is the smoothest and catchiest cut on the album. “Bloody Waters” exists in its own subgenre, an off-kilter, unsettling track. James Blake’s haunting vocals appear alongside a
stirring hook belted out by the multi-talented Anderson .Paak, and TDE rapper Ab-Soul finishes off the job with contemplative, creative lyrics: “It’s warfare, is war fair? No.” While technically not a Kendrick Lamar album, Black Panther: The Album is clearly a product of his creativity and vision. The duality explored between T’Challah and Killmonger is more than a promotional ploy — Lamar is also expressing his own internal struggles. An impressive variety of sounds, stellar production, tasteful features, and powerful lyricism round out the project. As Lamar does so often, he creates excellent, accessible music while tying in deeper themes and hidden messages for those curious enough to explore them. Miles Kirsch (Bioengineering)
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Lil Yachty Lil Boat 2 Released March 9 Label Quality Control Music Genre Hip-hop/Rap Tasty Tracks “FWM,” “NBAYOUNGBOAT,” “BABY DADDY,” “66” People don’t like to associate Lil Yachty with innovation. However, when he dropped the original Lil Boat, through the production of Burberry Perry, the colorful rapper introduced a unique brand of trap: bubble gum. As silly as the name sounds, rap fans loved this fresh spin for its upbeat, cartoony, trap beats behind some less-than-kid-friendly lyrics. So, when Perry and Yachty had a falling out (over a Pokemon card...look it up), people didn’t know what to expect. The title Lil Boat 2 is misleading for this very reason. With fans expecting a replication of the niche that launched his cult following, Yachty took this album to unapologetically reinvent himself in a way that mirrored his label, Quality Control (which boasts the talents of Migos, Rich the Kid, etc.). He took the deliberate shift from bouncy melodies and infectious hooks to a darker vibe more reliant on lyrical prowess. This tape displays a vastly improved technical ability in rapping with Yachty spitting a much bolder, better constructed flow. This growth still doesn’t hide the most gaping difference: LB2 is just not nearly as memorable.
Generally, this is an issue that’s resolved by re-listening with sharpened focus and the goal of analysis. Unfortunately, even after a second and third listen, it was unshakeable that Yachty’s bars essentially sounded the same throughout the entire album. Let me just be clear too, creating an album that has a cohesive style while keeping the individual songs distinct is not at all easy, but it doesn’t change the fact that most of Yachty’s verses just sound like they used the same cookie cutter to make one long track. The primary theme of Lil Boat 2 is “I am wealthier than you and you’re just hating”, which is fine. Braggadocio is frequently employed in rap music and often done in an entertaining way. However, songwriting and nuanced lyricism were never Yachty’s strongest suit (see: the better part of his discography), so the ways he does describe his wealth just feel predictable and redundant. Song titles like “Self-Made” and “Whole Lotta Guap” aren’t veiled metaphors. The lyrics are the same too, with verses like “Bought a chain, coulda bought a Buggati/Mickey & B**** I ain’t rentin’, I hop in a Bentley, it ain’t got no ceilin’/Das Cap.” Despite the album’s aggregate quality, there are key tracks where Yachty really hits the mark. His best solo work is on FWM with creative verses and a flow that is distinct. We hear some of the hottest bars on the collabs with Tee Grizzley, Lil Pump, and NBA YoungBoy. Collaborations with artists like Trippie Redd bring Yachty back into his comfort zone by throwing on some needed melody and variation. These tracks save what would have been a somewhat disappointing album, making Lil Boat 2 a pretty fun ride throughout Yachty’s clumsy rebrand. Pratik Reddy (Math/Economics)
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The Neighbourhood The Neighbourhood Released March 9 Label Columbia Records Genre Indie Rock Tasty Tracks “Softcore, “Blue,” “Revenge” After a near three-year hiatus, The Neighbourhood has returned to the music scene by releasing two EPs and a self-titled album combining songs from both EPs as well as unheard tracks. With this third studio album, The Neighbourhood brings us a project that’s refreshing and new, showing off a sound we’ve never heard from them before. Right off the bat, the divergence from their usual sonic identity is evident. The song “Flowers” greets us with synths and sounds like an homage to the styles of music produced in the ‘80s. Lead singer Jesse Rutherford sings about how many fans dislike their experimentation with their music and their “new sound”. The first verse says, “Every day, you want me to make/Something I hate, all for your sake,” in which Rutherford is talking about the criticism the band received for their mixtape that they released which was a complete 180 from their first album I Love You. Despite the backlash, the band embraces the change both in their mixtape and in their new LP that makes heavy use of electro-pop. “Softcore” again dips into the 80s theme that was seen in “Flowers”. The band roams into a personally uncharted territory as Rutherford’s vocals are adorned with Auto-Tune to compliment the synth backing.
Although they are experimenting with their sound, The Neighbourhood makes sure to cater to old fans. Track such as “Void” deliver the comfortable sound to which we’ve grown accustomed from the last two albums. “Sadderdaze” also taps into the dark, moody music that we saw in Wiped Out. The song “Blue” touches on the complications that Rutherford has gone through in terms of relationships which is a theme that is frequented in the band’s music, past and present. The Neighbourhood’s self-titled album is quite the return from their two-year break. The schism from their second album Wiped Out is apparent but welcomed as the band caters to those who are new to the band as well as day-one fans. Jesse Rutherford’s love for hip-hop and the influence of his personal project has seeped into this album, but for the better. It is understandable how old fans might be upset at this development, as this project is quite different from the album that gained them a lot of their recognition. However, the band shouldn’t be tied to producing different versions of “Sweater Weather” for the remainder of their career. Rayven Tate (Mechanical Engineering)
Camp Cope How to Socialise & Make Friends
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Released March 2 Label Run For Cover Genre Alternative/Indie Rock Tasty Tracks “Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” “Cartoons,” “Duck Duck Goose”
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It’s taken just over two years. The Australian trio Camp Cope has released their second studio album How to Socialise & Make Friends— a nine-track record that speaks to the pains of love and loss, and unabashedly rises to the challenge of combating sexism in the music industry. Following 2016’s full-length self-titled album, singer/guitarist Georgia “Maq” McDonald, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, and drummer Sarah Thompson have created 38 minutes of raw, vulnerable, and relatable emotions that, among its disappointingly lackluster and minimalistic delivery, could unfortunately be easily lost to new or passive listeners. It begins with January’s single, aptly titled “The Opener,” which starts the album in an unremarkable way. While the introductory riff is not particularly catchy on its own, Georgia Maq’s scathing lyrics add a bit more interest as she addresses the many double standards that the band members themselves, as well as other women, have faced in the industry, criticizing, “It’s another all-male tour preaching equality/It’s another straight cis man who knows more about this than me/It’s another man telling us we’re missing a frequency...” The title track “How to Socialise & Make Friends” takes a similar “screw-you” tone and feels like the perfect companion to a bad breakup as Georgia Maq ends up all but screaming “I can see myself living without you and being fine for the rest of my life.” “The Face of God” speaks of an encounter with sexual assault, which is an important and potent topic, but the track falls a little short on delivery with its unremarkable slower drawl and highly repetitive loose guitar strum. “Anna” comes as an easily forgettable six-minute track that is immediately followed by the album’s middle marker, “Sagan-Indiana” which, upon the first guitar strums sounds as though it could easily be a continuation of the previous song, but by the end proves itself one of the more emotionally wrought tracks through McDonald’s pained and straining vocals.
“The Omen” speaks of unrequited love and serves as one of the most relatable tracks in terms of young adulthood struggles. With McDonald’s voice standing out distinctly with its sincere yet somber narration (“I wrote you this song/but it’s probably not as good as all the other sad ones”), the recollection of the sometimes fragile and damaged relationships we find ourselves in has the impact of really resonating with listeners. While the album does pick up the pace with “Animal & Real” and “UFO Lighter,” the true gem of the album is showcased on the closing track “I’ve Got You.” Delivering the devastating line, “I’m so glad that half of me came from you/all the broken parts too,” it’s a homage to McDonald’s late father that painstakingly ties together childhood memories and reminders of him in her everyday life, while also coming to terms with his absence. The group’s heavily repetitive melodies paired with often slower tempos make the record feel as though it’s not in much of a rush to get anywhere and causes them to lack both the catchiness of similar indie rockers as well as the punch of punk rockers, leaving them in a weird genre limbo. While McDonald’s voice effectively conveys her emotional state (building to a pained yell in some tracks and all but breaking in others), the instrumental portion of the tracks lack diversity and tend to blend together. How to Socialise chooses to prioritize lyrical content and subject matter over appealing pop melodies and catchy hooks, which is certainly commendable. The group’s rather deconstructed sound may take a bit of getting used to, but they do certainly show great potential for the future. Speaking to some very real experiences and personal issues, this album has the capacity to be much more potent, but it could benefit from some diversity in sound and coherence. Taylor Piepenbrink (Music Industry)
DatPiff Mixtapes: A Retrospective
Before the onslaught of streaming platforms, there were three ways one could obtain and listen to music: buy a project outright, stream on YouTube, or download on sketchy websites. The two latter methods turned the music industry upside down, sapping revenue away from record distributors and artists. A new generation of rappers took advantage of this change of the guard by releasing mixtapes for free on the streaming and downloading website Datpiff. Here are a couple of mixtapes A-list rappers released at the start of their careers and how they stack up to their modern albums.
Joey Bada$$ has not only solidified himself as a staple of the “beast coast” rap
chance the rapper
movement, but has become renowned the world over for his unique and complex flow. His most recent project, All-Amerikkkan Badass, was lauded for its socially conscious verses, polished production, and pop sensibility. Before all this, Joey was just a high schooler in Flatbush with a YouTube video of himself freestyling. In 2006, his debut outing 1999 dropped. A love letter to ‘90s hardcore rap, Bada$$ comes off as a street-wise teen rapping about the streets on which he grew up. While modern Joey raps about broad-spanning issues like poverty and political corruption, 1999’s verses are dense with smoking euphemisms and threats of violence. The luscious studio production reminiscent of OutKast is missing from this mixtape, with beats either imitating or pulled from the late ‘90s. Featured producers include legendary sample beatmakers like MF DOOM, J Dilla, and Statik Selektah. When 1999 first dropped, it was hailed as New York’s return to its roots. The main criticism that it received was that it was too engaged in a past era, with Joey coming off as a Mobb Deep poser without his own message and voice. Over the course of his career, Bada$$ has shown he isn’t a one-trick pony, but it is almost universally agreed upon by fans that 1999 is his gold standard.
As one of the biggest acts to come out of the mixtape era, Chance The Rapper has made waves in the music scene due to collaborations with Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and James Blake. He might be most well-known for his sophomore mixtape Acid Rap, but one could argue that his debut 10 Day shows a developing Chance Bennet finding his voice. Recorded and released during a suspension from high school, 10 Day shows experimentation with a variety of styles, ranging from diss tracks to the drugged-out anthems for which is known. Without reliance on his signature ad-libs and Donnie Trumpet’s assistance (which were used heavily on Acid Rap and Coloring Book), Chance uses his layered singing and witty flow to bring in an audience. Unlike the shimmering instrumentals found on Coloring Book, 10 Day sounds inconsistent and incomplete in the mixing department. Tracks are hit or miss, with jams like “14,400 Minutes” and “Brain Cells” showing off the kind of rapper Chance soon became, while tracks like “Windows” and “F**k You Tahm Bout” sound dated and out of place in the artist’s discography. Chance’s more recent projects are known for underlying root themes: Acid Rap cites Bennet’s heavy drug usage at the time, and Coloring Book references his return to religion and family values. 10 Day has seemingly no focus, and instead relies on a method of trying everything and seeing what works. It might not be his best work, but it’s worth a listen to see the point of conception for this massively successful rapper.
young, broke & infamous
live. love. asap
Mac Miller is one of the rap scene’s most enigmatic acts, with multiple projects under at least five different aliases. His newest album, The Divine Feminine, is a lush R&B record illustrating mature themes of love and loss. Seven years prior, an eighteen-year-old Mac dropped K.I.D.S, a mixtape about skipping class, smoking weed, and making “that sweet paper.” Tracks like “Kool-Aid & Frozen Pizza” and “Senior Skip Day” show Miller as a likable and successful rapper with a lifestyle that every teenager aspires to have. The production is lighthearted and poppy due to the samples from the likes of Owl City. Throughout, Mac comes off as a brash and cocky teen rapping about owning private jets and chain-smoking blunts. In interviews, Mac explains that the overnight success that K.I.D.S gave him at such a young age led to an identity crisis in his personal life and his music. After his 2011 album Blue Slide Park, his verses take a complete 180 and focus on the effect of sustained success instead of the material possessions that it brings. While it might not be representative of who Mac Miller is now, K.I.D.S is a nostalgia trip that brings back the sunniest of summer days.
Logic has quickly become one of the most recognizable artists in the rap scene through his easily distinguishable voice and catchy production. The Maryland native is well-known for the success of his albums under Def Jam Recordings, with subject matter ranging from space epics to racial boundaries in America. His first mixtape Young, Broke & Infamous, before the Young Sinatra trilogy, featured an ambitious Logic rapping in his distinctive style over legendary beats from the likes of Drake, Nas, and Michael Jackson. Instead of showing off the musical prowess that his new albums showcase, Logic demonstrates his mastery of wordplay and delivery. His subject matter mostly consists of how skilled he is on the mic and his rough upbringing. He lacks consistency in tone, with songs talking about his Mario Kart skills in one verse and gun violence in the next. As his career progressed, he has not only learned to channel these two sides of himself into different songs, but into different projects altogether. Nonetheless, Young, Broke & Infamous features a rapper that has tons of natural talent and all the tools to become a star, but just needs to know when and how to apply them.
Released in 2011, this mixtape not only kickstarted A$AP Rocky’s career, but the entire A$AP Mob movement. At a time when it seemed the SoCal and Altanta scenes dictated the direction of rap, this mixtape brought the New York scene back into relevancy. A$AP Mob introduced the high reverb, hard-hitting beats, and drugged-out delivery that has dominated the genre for the past half-decade. Unlike the other mixtapes listed, this project could come out today and sound fresh. With verses about sipping lean, city living, and coming up in the game, Rocky comes across as a veteran to the scene knowing his audience and what is to be expected of him. His more recent releases have shown an uptick in musicality and singing, but Live. Love. ASAP is the core of Rocky’s sound, and he hasn’t strayed too far from it.
• Quinton Hubbell (Engineering)
Designer: Brooke Dunahugh (Studio Art)
Although the rappers featured in this list came up in different scenes with different sounds, there are a couple of similarities that stand out across all projects. Most of the subject matter focuses on the hedonistic lifestyle of a successful musician, even though these rappers were seldom partaking in it. All the rappers included got their start from ages 16 to 21, and had developed their delivery to a point where it sounded professional and unique. These mixtapes seem void of musical experimentation and complex themes because these artists were still finding an audience and a sound. While they might not contain your favorite songs, these projects show a youthful, optimistic side of the rappers we know and appreciate.
Designer: Sarah Trosky (Graphic Design)
From Groupie Freaks
...a brief history of fangirl culture Historically speaking, fangirls have been a major component of an artist’s success since their rise to mainstream status during 60’s Beatlemania. Yes indeed, teenage girls who plaster every aspect of their life with all things One Direction have been around since the 20th century, contributing to the success of artists. However, fangirl culture has changed since its entrance into the public eye. From the distinct hysteria of Beatlemania, fangirl culture has transformed through social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter, which make contact between idolized heartthrobs and the common fangirl seem more plausible. Nevertheless, the fangirl has gone through distinct phases traveling throughout the decade from groupie to fan fiction writer. Beatlemania is the most prominent start for the fangirl — it was an era that shocked parents of pre-teens, as well as artists, and was unlike anything the world had ever seen before. Sure, fangirls existed for artists like Frank Sinatra in the 30’s, but never to the magnitude The Beatles experienced. While women were largely sexualized through media and popular culture during the rise of The Beatles, they were still expected to be pure, wholesome young women. Beatlemania provided a thrill for teenage girls, serving as an outlet for young teenage girls to protest the sexual repressiveness that surrounded mainstream culture during the 60’s Beatlemania.
pictured with bandmates. Generally, Groupies started as women that hung outside of the stage door waiting for some kind of interaction with the band, likewise leading to negative connotations of the word Groupie. Most Groupies from the 70’s denounced their label, claiming the culture they created gave them an outlet of empowerment and pleasure. Not only was Groupie culture sexually liberating for women in this era, it also inspired the music itself with songs such as “Plaster Caster” by Kiss and “Stray Cat Blues” by The Rolling Stones. Besides The Jonas Brothers’ “Video Girl,” from 2008, there are hardly any songs inspired by fangirls. This, however, is not to say that today’s fangirl has no influence on artists. In comparison with today’s fangirls, the culture is much more complex, with self documentation and the constant need for an “individual” experience being a prominent attribute in fangirl culture. Fans turn to online platforms in search of validation from their favorite artists. Social media has made stars feel much more accessible, as the ultimate fangirl can run blogs, Instagram pages, and Twitter accounts completely dedicated to bands. Instead of physically following them around, they are able to do so via social media. Much like television’s influence on The Beatles success, many artists find their rise through YouTube, Soundcloud, or Spotify, as they provide
The Beatles were also one of the first “boybands” to surface — a trend the quickly caught on most notably in the 90’s with bands like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. With each individual member, fans could see their own personality and identity. Essentially, this made the members feel more obtainable and closer to fans, rather than individual artists like Elvis Presley who seemed more intimidating and impersonal. The Beatles essentially stopped touring as a result of the madness, as most of their shows were inaudible over the screams of thousands of teenage girls. Although the era of Beatlemania is long over, the screaming and intense fan obsessions have not ceased. Fan culture of the 70’s was largely dominated by Groupies — the ultimate fangirls. Dedicating their life to traveling with a band, many of them became fashion icons for the generation, as they were constantly
easy accessibility to fans. Even with the culmination of the ins and outs of bandmates’ lives, the fangirl today is rather detached from the artist. For high profile musicians that tend to attract intense fangirl culture, like Justin Bieber’s “Beliebers” or One Direction’s “Directioners,” it’s rare fans will ever have the possibility to do more than take a photo with the stars and then be quickly ushered out. These VIP meet-and-greets generally come with a hefty price tag, and are a defining milestone for the millennial fangirl. The modern fangirl is a stark contrast to the Groupie and Beatlemania eras, as today’s fans invests their lives into the stars through online platforms and large monetary sums (generally, their parents’). The fangirl is seen as something to profit from, as bands recognize they can charge pre-teens just about anything for a quick photo. While technology has allowed fans to feel closer to artists, one thing has persisted throughout the culture — a sense of community. In a time when most teenagers feel alone and angsty, their favorite bands are always there for them. Despite the monetary restriction for how close a fan can get to their favorite artists, the fellow fangirls in the crowd serve as an equalizer for teens, as the fangirl culture serves as a common ground where everyone can hysterically scream and let go of their insecurities that surround the navigation of teenage life.
THE FANGIRL IS SEEN AS SOMETHING TO PROFIT FROM, AS BANDS RECOGNIZE THEY CAN CHARGE PRE-TEENS JUST ABOUT
• Maya Dengel (Communication/Media and Screen Studies)
ANYTHING FOR A QUICK PHOTO.
TH E F U T U R E IS FU NK Y: A History of Afrofuturism in Music
infused avant-garde jazz, which he would continue into the 1960s, gradually straying further from traditional jazz sounds. Sun Ra was essentially alone in his Afrofuturism efforts until another legend of a different genre, inspired by Sun Ra’s music and message, took up the torch. George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic carried the ideals into the 1970s, first noticeable on the spacey title track of Funkadelic’s 1971 album Maggot Brain. His magnum opus of the era, however, was Parliament’s 1975 album Mothership Connection. Clinton said of the album, “We had put black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in, like the White House. I figured another place you wouldn’t think black people would be was in outer space.” The album did exactly that, charting on Billboard, and even inspiring countless samples from hip-hop producers such as Dr. Dre. In the early 1980s, hip-hop began to emerge as the newest genre to embody Afrofuturism. Early efforts like Warp 9’s “Light Years Away” and Newcleus’ 1985 single “Space is the Place,” the title of which was taken from Sun Ra’s film of the same name, continued to expand upon the idea of intersecting black culture with technology, with a heavier focus on lyricism than the jazz and funk of the past. It wasn’t until 1996, though, that Afrofuturism in hip-hop would break into the mainstream
Designer: Claudia Bracy (Graphic Design)
Afrofuturism has risen from the depths of historic black oppression to be a genretranscending label for the kind of music that embodies a forward-thinking perspective on African-American culture and its intersection with technology. Originally coined in the essay “Black to the Future” by writer Mark Dery, “Afrofuturism” has retrospectively been attributed to much of the music that informs today’s most interesting and creative R&B and hip-hop artists. The limitless creative opportunities that science fiction and the concept of future provide have enabled countless artists to inspire and evolve an esoteric concept of the ‘50s and ‘60s into the nationwide phenomenon that just recently filled thousands of theatres with the release of Marvel’s Black Panther. The history of Afrofuturism in music is rich and varied, spanning genres and decades, but always with one main goal: to promote peace, freedom, and success for the future of the black community. The emergence of Afrofuturism in music is almost entirely due to jazz legend Sun Ra. After claiming he was transported to Saturn and commanded to preach peace through his music, Sun Ra began his highly prolific output of Afrofuturism’s first musical endeavors. With such albums as Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth, Super-Sonic Jazz, and The Nubians of Plutonia, all recorded in the 1950s, Sun Ra certifiably created his own genre of space-
with OutKast’s ATLiens, a double-platinum chart-topping album from already certified hip-hop superstars André 3000 and Big Boi. ATLiens features a signature space-infused production style clearly drawn from early Afrofuturism efforts. It also continues with the alien associations first declared by Sun Ra and opened the door for many other Afrofuturist artists to pop up around the turn of the century. The turn of the century had everyone feeling like the future was now, and that was especially true for Deltron 3030 on their 2000 self-titled album. Featuring rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, who many know as the voice of Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood,” Deltron 3030 was the natural progression of the Afrofuturist science fiction concept album. Building upon Parliament’s concept of the black man in space, Deltron goes a step further, creating a story of space-travelling superhero MC Deltron Zero, who fights against the corporate commercialization and cultural appropriation of black music. In every way ahead of its time, Deltron 3030 holds its place in history as the first real science fiction rap concept album and would go on to inspire everything from rap legend MF DOOM’s King Geedorah alias to experimental hip-hop group clipping’s Splendor & Misery and modern pop-rap giant Logic’s The Incredible True Story.
Afrofuturism also made its way into one more genre in the 2000s: R&B. Huge artists like Beyoncé and Rihanna have taken up the cause of Afrofuturism, but unlike past artists, their support comes more in their aesthetic choices than their musical ones. Beyoncé, for example, famously emerged from a metal android casing straight out of the genre-pioneering science fiction film Metropolis in her performance of “Get Bodied” at the 2007 BET awards. Other R&B artists like Solange, Erykah Badu, and perhaps most clearly Janelle Monáe have also explored Afrofuturist themes in their appearance and music. Janelle Monáe’s 2010 album The ArchAndroid is perhaps the greatest example of Afrofuturism in modern R&B. Clearly incorporating science fiction themes, The ArchAndroid is the culmination of over fifty years of Afrofuturist ideas. On tracks like “Locked Inside,” the influence of George Clinton comes through on the groovy funk-inspired guitars. “Tightrope” goes even further in its clear OutKast influence, with a feature from Big Boi himself. Overall thematically, The ArchAndroid is the culmination of Afrofuturism’s most important ideas. Personifying herself as a messianic time-travelling android, Monáe is as much a superhero as Deltron Zero, promoting the principles of peace, freedom, and love that Sun Ra espoused, and taking inspiration from Metropolis in her dress and story, just like Beyoncé.
The ArchAndroid marks the start of a golden age of Afrofuturism, and given today’s social climate, the genre’s inherent optimism seems to be needed now more than ever. Thankfully, the tradition of Afrofuturism is stronger today than ever before. Countless artists including the likes of Flying Lotus, FKA Twigs, Shabazz Palaces, Kamasi Washington, and Thundercat all continue to evolve the stylings and message in their own ways. This has always been the way of Afrofuturism: it evolves through genres and time periods, always choosing to imagine a better future through protest of regressive and repressive social forces and celebration of black excellence. Music’s undeniable power as a means of social change has given Afrofuturism the voice it needs to reach the masses, and with its adoption by major artists and cultural phenomenon like Black Panther, the world now knows of, if not by name, a movement that has inspired countless young black artists.
• Grant Foskett (Computer Science)
A conversation with Interview Editor’s Note: Below is an abridged version of our full interview with Lucy Rose. Check out the complete transcript at tastemakersmag.com. Tastemakers (TMM): You released your first official album in 2012... what led you to embark on this journey of creating music? Was it always something you’ve been passionate about like as a child or was it something that you picked up and developed later on? Lucy Rose (LR): Yeah I see what you mean. I think music has definitely — it sounds over the top — but I believe it has always been a part of my soul; of who I am. It’s always been a big part of that — it’s been something built in me whether it’s listening to music and obsessing over bands and lyrics, and it’s all such an important part of growing up and then also playing music. The feeling of — if I sit down and play the piano as a kid, the piano kind of vibrates my whole being, and it just kind of does something to me that nothing else does. But at the same time, when I was a kid, I wasn’t one of those kids that could just sit at the piano and just be amazing. Or you know singing even — I had an okay voice but it wasn’t like, one of those seven year olds of X-Factor that sounds like Mariah Carey and you’re like,”F**k.” It wasn’t a raw talent, it was a big part of me and I think the passion was there, that I worked really hard and I think that my voice has been improving. I think you can hear a difference between albums one, two and three, developing and changing, and I think that’s just from practicing and learning. It’s just the passion was there, but also I guess the drive to practice made me good enough because I don’t think I was naturally good enough when I was a kid. So I think it’s the passion that did it.
TMM: Your third album that you just released, what was the meaning behind it? What drove you to release this album and how does it differ from your previous two albums?
LR: The inspiration came from this trip around Latin America, I don’t know if you’ve seen the little short documentary about it. It’s called “Something’s Changing” on YouTube and all that stuff and I think after the second record, I’ve been lost in a way of the meaning of music and what it all meant and there’s so much aim in building, you know? Like getting new fans and building your career and all this stuff. I was a bit lost with it all and I was getting tweets from people in Mexico and Brazil and Argentina saying “I wish you would come play a gig here but I know it’ll never happen” and I wasn’t really quite ready to start my third record and working out what the next thing was to do so I kind of just got on a plane and went and met all these fans and lived with them and the whole of the inspiration of this new record was them. Their stories, their connection to music, learning about them, and learning about myself a lot — it’s like anyone would say, the biggest adventure of your life is when things go wrong, or it’s hard or tough or exciting and you’re in new places, and it teaches you a lot about yourself. I felt like I was just floating in life, just feeling good but I wasn’t feeling as many things as I wanted to feel and like this whole trip was just the most emotional rollercoaster of my life. I think it was the perfect inspiration for me to put those emotions — they were quite strong emotions — into songs, and that’s where the third record came from.
I think it was the perfect inspiration for me to put those emotions – they were quite strong emotions – into songs and that’s where the third record came from.”
TMM: Do you think that’s something you’d want to do again? Just go off and live day by day?
TMM: So this tour that you’re about to start, you know the US leg of the tour, is there anything that you’re looking forward to, specifically?
LR: Well, I’m doing lots of the things. I want to help out other artists; I’ve started managing a band called Chartreuse with my husband, which is amazing. So I just want to help artists in different divisions. I felt like I didn’t fit the mold that much as an artist and no one wanted to sign me for all those reasons and I think there is room, that people do want different types of music and I just want to help musicians that I believe in to get their music out there. I want to do the South America thing and get more people there. I’ve started working on my next record and writing songs for that and I guess just more touring; I’ve been offered another tour at the end of this year so like another three or four months on the road, and it’s just like a real privilege again to get to support great people and do my own tour. So it’s just more of the same thing and doing it with the best attitude I can have, because I can still work on my attitude for when things are hard and I’m missing home and stuff. So it’s just important for me to remember to stay positive whenever I can and remember how lucky I am. So I guess going forward I can try to work on myself as well. • Rayven Tate (Mechanical Engineering)
Designer: Maria Gabriela Jorge (Communications & Media and Screen Studies)
LR: Definitely. Well, even with this US tour, we’re staying with a lot of friends or people we’ve never met or stayed with on the last tour. So staying with people has now become quite a big part of my life — trusting people and them trusting me — and having this human connection with people, so yeah, that’s still a big part, taking a big leap out like that tour and put it into this one. And then I guess I’ve started thinking over the last few days about how I’m trying to start a project of getting more artists to Latin America, because with the same basis of this trip, bands touring there who are really quite big everywhere and want to take a tour everywhere, they’ll certainly be like “let’s go to Latin America and do that too” but I want up-and-coming bands, you know, 500 capacity venues, who make going to Latin America — I think artists, we often tour the same places and I think the fans you feel less important in certain countries, like no one will come to my country. I want those people to know that they are important, that they are important to the artist, but it’s just really difficult to go over there. I want to build something where it’s not difficult to find six venues in six countries that we keep playing on the same tour and it works with different musicians and start something there. So I’m hoping this is just the beginning of something.
TMM: Definitely. What do you have planned for the future?
LR: I’m looking forward to seeing those people again. I met a lot of people that we stayed with last time — we were strangers when we knocked on their door and now we’re going back again as mates, friends. So there’s a lot of people I’m excited to see. It’s going to be my first headline tour here in like years. I don’t know, I think like 2013 or 2014 was the last time I was here. Four years ago was the last time I headlined my own show here so I’m just excited to see who’s there, who’s turning up for the gig. For me, it’s really important that I, after every single show, I’ll go out to merch and meet everybody. Someone sent me a tweet a few weeks ago and asked me “How can I find a VIP ticket because my daughter really wants to meet you?” and I’m like, “What the hell is a VIP ticket? I don’t know what that is.” To which she says, “Like a meet and greet ticket.” And I was like, “No no, literally I’ll go and sell my own merch after the show, and you all can come and say hello.” And for me that’s really important to have that connection because I could go on stage and play my hardest, give it my all, and if I don’t believe it—and I know it sounds like an ego thing, but I really need that interaction with fans to know what they think. Sometimes you’ll put yourself in a room backstage and like think “Well do you think they liked it?” — I mean they all clapped in the right places. You know they seemed to, but I’m such a worrier and my confidence is pretty low so I just have to go and talk to people and find out their connection to my music, and that just gives everything meaning, like so much meaning, and it just makes everything worthwhile. So that’s just such an important part of the tour for me.
Baby Raptors, House of Blues
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca (Industrial Engineering)
In Tall Buildings, Cafe 939
Photo by Emily English (Communications)
Fleece, The Sinclair
Photo by Natalie McGowan (Behavioral Neuroscience)
Miguel, House of Blues
Photo by Alex Melagrano (Computer Science)
Jordan Rakei, The Sinclair
Photo by Anushka Sagar (Undeclared)
Ashe, Brighton Music Hall
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca (Industrial Engineering)
MGMT, The Orpheum
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca (Industrial Engineering)
Samba Viva, House of Blues
Photo by Catherine Argyrople (Media and Screen Studies)
Show Reviews Tyler Childers February 23 @ Sinclair
Tyler Childers is an anomaly. With the overarching genre of country continuing to pop-ify over the past decades, artists who resemble country legends such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson are far and few between. Tyler Childers is a new country artist that defies the genre’s pop-ification and is highly respected amongst country purists. His debut album, Purgatory, produced by country’s “legacy-saving” producer Sturgill Simpson, was arguably one of the best albums of 2017 and heralded by traditional country activist group “Saving Country Music” as their 2017 album of the year. Using the momentum from the critical acclaim of Purgatory, Childers has embarked on the largest tour of his career. He stopped off at The Sinclair on February 23rd with fellow thoroughbred country singer Kelsey Waldon opening for him. Childers took the stage slightly after ten with his acoustic guitar and four band members holding down the drums, bass, pedal steel guitar, and violin. He announced to the crowd “We’ll get through this together,” before jumping into his first song, the intro track from Purgatory, “I Swear (To God)”. Over the plentiful hour-and-forty-five-
minute set, guitar and violin solos wowed the crowd on nearly every track. Almost every song off Purgatory was performed, with crowd favorites being “Universal Sound” and “Feathered Indians.” Childers’ down to earth, no nonsense attitude makes him a very relatable performer and results in an instant charm that makes even those who’ve never heard his music before immediately enjoy it. After a string of three straight songs to open the show, Childers paused to tell a story. He described being drunk with friends in a Toyota Prius at three in the morning in a Waffle House parking lot. A truck parked next to them despite many other spots being open. Childers thought this was strange, so to show the truck driver how unnecessarily close to them he parked, Childers reached out of his Prius and touched the truck. Childers and his friends then drove away but the truck driver ran after them. In an effort to evade the truck driver they began speeding down the road, but unfortunately a cop saw them and gave them a speeding ticket. Once they began driving again, they realized the Prius had a flat tire. Childers elaborated that this happening is what led to him writing the song he was about to perform, “Going Home,” an
unreleased song. Throughout the story the crowd roared with laughter, and by prefacing it with the story, it gave far more meaning to the piece since nearly all of the audience had never heard it before. Childers continued playing many unreleased songs throughout the set and to the pleasure of the audience, connecting them to more vivid and often hilarious tales. Childers even described the inspiration behind the song “Whitehouse Road” off of Purgatory, giving it new meaning when the audience learned that he wrote it when he was a delivery driver working at a local Sears. I couldn’t help but think that this is what country music is supposed to be. Great storytelling accompanied by a blend of rock, blues, and folk that brings a warmth to any room. As “pop country” continues to dominate the charts with focus group written lyrics and soulless R&B-EDM production, Childers is refreshing in that the roots of country music are alive and well in him. He’s a reminder that true country music will never die, you may just have to look beyond the charts to find it. Sean Stewart (Entrepreneurship and Political Science)
Gabrielle Aplin February 24 @ The Middle East
The last thing I expected from the Gabrielle Aplin show was to discover even more new music. As a new listener of Aplin I didn’t have any real expectations for her show, which left me pleasantly surprised with the collaborative feat she managed to curate while also showcasing her own talents. With assistance from one of her openers on a couple songs and several celebrated covers, Aplin made the nightclub feel like a hang out amongst old friends.
The show started off with opener, John Splithoff, an American singer-songwriter. To write off Splithoff as just an opener however would be a huge mistake. Throughout his set I found myself (literally) jaw dropped at his vocals. With a blend of old school soul and new school pop, Splithoff’s performance felt like a throwback to early Justin Timberlake. Round two of openers consisted of the Irish folk group Hudson Taylor, made up of brothers Alfie and Harry. Again, I found
myself loving the opener. Their music was the ideal feel-good vibe which matched perfectly with they’re giddy stage presence. After an enjoyable opening, Gabrielle Aplin finally arrived on stage. With no band and only a guitar and piano, Aplin’s stage presence was impressive to say the least. In between songs she joked around about her nervousness of being in Boston for her first time and laughed about how excited she was since she has three Boston terriers. She
played music from all over her musical career, including several songs from her first album. The stripped version of “Panic Chord” was a highlight of the evening, as the entire crowd sang along with her. A high point of the night was when Aplin brought the Hudson brothers back out to assist her in a couple of songs. They first did a magical version of Aplin’s “Coming Home” from her newest album Light Up the Dark, with harmonies that made you feel like you were in a dream. The three artists then chose to perform a cover of the Crosby, Stills, &
Nash song “Helplessly Hoping,” completely unplugged. Aplin asked the audience to stay silent so we could hear how their voices blended without the use of microphones. The three of them were able to turn the venue into an intimate acoustic session that made you all feel like you were hanging out with friends. Toward the end of her set, Aplin played the emotionally moving track, “Stay” off her 2017 EP Avalon. “Stay” is my personal favorite song by Aplin and it did not disappoint live. You could physically feel the emotion behind the song through her heart-wrenching vocals on the chorus. This song proved (as did the rest of the evening) that Aplin sounds just as amazing live as she does on her records.
All-in-all, the show was genuinely surprising. I think it was my first concert experience where I wasn’t looking at the time during the opener, waiting for the headliner. All three acts of the night were impossibly intriguing and the collaboration among them felt authentic. Emma Turney (Communications)
Hippie Sabotage March 9 @ House of Blues Hippie Sabotage represent something far too rare in today’s music industry: family. No, they aren’t the musical equivalent of Dominic Toretto’s one liners; they’re two brothers who channeled their passion for music into one of the most eclectic EDM acts in the industry. From just listening to their latest album, Drifter, influences of hip-hop, pop, and folk are evident in nearly every track. Despite the diversity of Hippie Sabotage, there is one imperative constant among them: beat drops. This is what makes the idea of seeing them live so exciting. It’s why I could already feel the energy of the crowd before the doors opened at the House of Blues for their Boston leg of The Path of Righteousness Tour. The concert took place on the day of one of the most aggressive Nor’Easter storms to hit Boston in recent memory, yet it seemed that most of the nearly sold-out crowd was able to make it on time. The two openers were talented young pop singer, Olivia Noelle, and EDM music producer, Melvv. Olivia wowed the crowd with an acoustic cover of OutKast’s hit, “Hey Ya”. Melvv featured some impressive mixing in his set, yet the crowd seemed rather indifferent towards it. Each act mentioned the weather outside at least two times, impressed that there was such a large audience considering the circumstances. Hippie Sabotage took the stage just after ten, tossing t-shirts and leading chants to ignite the crowd, although it wasn’t until Jeff, the “good-looking brother”, brought out the electric guitar for “Devil Eyes” that the crowd became fully energized.
About two crowd surfs into the performance, Hippie Sabotage welcomed signer Daisy Guttenberg on stage to sing “Chasing the Wild.” Her performance was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night, as she brought a ton of energy to the stage with her. Following a few more beat drops and many more t-shirts thrown, Jeff paused the music for the first time to make a short “inspirational” speech to the audience with the message of not letting anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Fittingly, this led into the duo’s most introspective song, “Your Soul.” The video boards flashed old family video in sync with the beat, reminding the audience what makes Hippie Sabotage so unique. Nearly a hundred t-shirt tosses later they played their remix of Tove Lo’s “Habits,” the reason most of the audience knew who Hippie Sabotage was. Unsurprisingly, the crowd reacted as if they’d been waiting for it all night. The brothers seemed far less engaged performing this song than others, coming across as if playing it was simply checking off a box to please the audience. This wasn’t necessarily surprising. After all, it may be slightly frustrating to have your most popular song be a remix of someone else’s when you have over one hundred thirty released songs. The time of the track was passed by throwing even more t-shirts out, making me wonder if the whole crowd had already caught one at this point besides me. The last minutes of the show featured an 808-heavy new hip-hop mix, including
Smokepurpp’s “Audi” and Kodak Black’s “Codeine Dreaming.” This was a refreshing switch-up from the rest of the concert, keeping the crowd engaged through the entirety of the show. To close, Kevin thanked the crowd for braving the storm to come to the concert for about the tenth time and then instructed the audience to split in half, leaving an open space in the middle. “Peyote” began to play, and Kevin yelled for the crowd to run “hard and fast” at each other, forming a mosh pit. Kevin wasn’t pleased with the result so they started “Peyote” from the top and gave the crowd a second chance. It resulted in one of the largest mosh pits I’ve ever seen at a concert. It was a perfect end to a dynamic and memorable performance from one of the most endearing sibling duos in music. I will say that I was very disappointed to never have caught a t-shirt. Sean Stewart (Entrepreneurship/Political Science)
Ella Vos March 10 @ The Middle East Sonia
Ella Vos was truly mesmerizing on Saturday at the Middle East nightclub. Every song carried the same lively vibe and every person was dancing along to the catchy beats throughout her one hour-long set. The combination of her quirky dance moves, sweet sounding voice, and indie-electronic-pop style made the night captivating and unforgettable. In 2016, Ella Vos released her first single “White Noise” on SoundCloud and Spotify. Within a few months, the single started to gain acclaim through online sharing. After a little over a year, Ella Vos released her first studio album Words I’ve Never Said, which featured her soft yet powerful style. Currently touring for this album, Ella Vos has attracted nationwide attention and has established herself as a rising star. Her soft sound is juxtaposed by the more powerful lyrical narratives she features, discussing political issues such as reproductive rights and post-partum depression. Raw emotion can be heard in every note, and each song is captivating and releases a flood of feelings in everyone who hears it. Every lyric, melody, and beat creates an intimate connection and turns each song into a confession of feelings normally kept hidden, or in other words, words she has never said.
If there was any doubt that her new album was meant to empower, the audience on Saturday dispelled it. As Ella Vos sang, the audience screamed the lyrics with her, and some members even teared up when she got to their favorite song. During songs, Vos often reached out into the crowd and held hands with someone in the audience, locking eyes with them and singing the words together. Besides a few strange interludes where a recording of her voice played as she took a water break, the performance truly touched the hearts of every person in the audience. Her humility truly shows her gratitude towards her fans, and, unlike many other pop artists, makes her extremely personable. Halfway through her set, she debuted two new songs titled “Rose Parade” and “Apple Trees.” Both songs had the same soft and sweet sound and were accompanied by an acoustic guitar. In addition, she performed a cover of Bon Iver’s “Days Are Numbered” and an acoustic and soulful rendition of Britney Spear’s “Toxic.” Her choice of covers showed her range and abilities as a vocalist and musician, with her voice being reminiscent of a For Emma, Forever Ago Bon Iver. Her last song was her debut single “White Noise.” As she performed, the audience
cheered and screamed along with the music despite the bleak lyrics. The words perfectly capture the pain of depression and being unable to express oneself because of the stigma of mental illness. However, the catchy tune and seemingly uplifting electronic beat made the song a hit on Saturday as every person at least bobbed their heads to the beat. Although Ella Vos is currently not a common name in pop music, she definitely will be in the near future. Her soft style combined with her hard-hitting lyrics will undoubtedly make her a nationwide indie-pop sensation. Sabrina Zhang (Political Science & International Affairs)
Designer: McKenna Shuster (Interaction Design) Spring 2018
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These Artists Kiss
Chicago The band describes themselves as a “rock and roll band with horns,” setting themselves far apart from other rock bands of their time. The song “Free” features horns as the main component. It is jazzy yet still distinctly rock and roll, allowing the horns to push them to the forefront of people’s attention. Their most popular song on Spotify, “If You Leave Me Now,” has a gentle underlying horn throughout the song. Without it, the song would feel bare. The horns replace what would normally be a heavy guitar line in many songs of the same genre. They couldn’t be adequately replaced with any instrument while maintaining the song’s core feeling as they evoke a softer vibe than a grating guitar or sharp piano. The band likely would not have been as successful without their brass component. Yet, the horn section seemed to struggle for attention on stage in the 1980’s despite being the obvious stars.
Cake Cake found their signature sound in their first album through Vince DiFiore and his trumpet. Well into their most recent works, the trumpet remains the trademark sound of their music. Very few artists succeed in consistently including a brass member in their music. The trumpet brings an upbeat and funky sound to some songs while bringing a subtle yet catchy tune to others. From the most popular songs in their first studio album including “Jolene” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle,” all the way up to their most recent hits in 2011, the trumpet remains an integral part of their act. It’s impossible to listen to “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” without having the trumpet solo stuck in your head for at least three days afterwards. Their style has changed significantly since their debut in 1994, but they found that the trumpet worked, and they stuck with it for twenty years.
If having a good time isn’t really your speed, Sufjan Stevens is always there for you. His subtle use of the muted trumpet throughout his 2005 album Illinois stirs your emotions and brings you back to those sad nights in high school. More recently on his 2017 release Planetarium he uses an entire chorus of brass, including trombones and horns across many of his astrologically named songs. The album is evocative of Gustav Holst’s The Planets suite, especially in small interludes during the longer songs. The power of the trombone and the silky smooth sound of the horns pack a punch that is felt deep in your gut; a warmth that previously only romantic composers have managed to tap into.
the most powerful and exciting moments are constructed from brass Bear’s Den
Designer: Anna Smith (English & Graphic Design)
If you haven’t experienced the climactic moment of Handel’s Largo from Xerxes, you probably haven’t tapped into your full emotional range. The one thing that makes the moment so moving? French Horn. In fact, if you listened to nearly any classical piece, you would find that the most powerful and exciting moments are constructed from brass. But where did that emotional powerhouse of an instrument section go in modern music? Encountering any songs with brass elements is undeniably fantastic for the listener. A lot of people don’t truly appreciate what brass brings to the picture in music. Where would “Uptown Funk” be without the trumpet breakdown? Would Macklemore even be known were it not for the compelling trombone in “Thrift Shop?” Lucky for us all, there are still bands and artists that consistently use brass instruments.
Bear’s Den has an entirely unique approach to the horn. They have been compared to Mumford and Sons by listeners, but Mumford and Sons don’t use the flugle horn on their hits. Listening to Bear’s Den evokes a warm feeling inside, and as the horn part begins, that feeling immediately swells. Their folksy songs often come to a climax with a solo from the horn, piercing through the hazy guitar with an uplifting melody. The use of horns on their albums has been described by the band as an accident, saying that their decisions are based on what “the song wants.” Clearly, the songs are making some very good decisions. • Addy Pedro (Political Science)
Designer: Jenny Kang (Business/Interactive Media) and Colleen Curtis (Design)
From Outsider to Icon
The Endless Evolution of Donald Glover
Troy Barnes. mcDJ. Earn Marks. Childish Gambino. The man behind all of these characters and monikers is Donald Glover, and it’s near impossible to avoid his influence these days. Born and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia just outside of Atlanta, the young Glover was characterized by constant isolation and disapproval from his peers, attributed to his black skin and “white” interests. Now, Glover is an industry icon. His success spans across music, comedy, and film; his artistry is truly boundless.
The beginning of Glover’s career can be traced back to 2005, when he released his first mixtape as a disc jockey under the name mcDJ. Glover released over one hundred tracks across several mixtapes and EPs as mcDJ, mostly consisting of experimental, electro-infused funky beats with some occasional subpar “rapping” — tacky oneliners that would make Lil Wayne cringe. Glover was an RA at New York University at the time, which is where he met fellow members of Derrick Comedy, forming one of the original
YouTube sketch comedy groups. His raunchy writing and exaggerated expressions were noticed by Tina Fey, and in 2006 he was invited to write for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, starring Fey herself, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and other comedic geniuses. Never one to be pigeonholed, Glover was far from satisfied with this taste of success. In 2008, mcDJ was replaced by Childish Gambino, a name he got from an online WuTang name generator. His debut Sick Boi is more significant symbolically than sonically
— the vocals are nasally and high-pitched, the lyrics are corny, and the beats are unpolished and jarring. A glimmer of hope can be seen in Glover’s clever word play and obscure references, which are expanded upon on Poindexter, Glover’s second mixtape released a year later. While still a mediocre project, Poindexter is more cohesive and features stronger production. More than anything, these mixtapes are a testament to Glover’s creative passion and determination. A month after the August 2009 culminating release of Derrick Comedy’s feature-length film, Mystery Team, Glover was cast in the new NBC sitcom Community. On the new series, created by Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick and Morty, Glover played
Never one to be pigeonholed, Glover was far from satisfied with this taste of success. Troy Barnes, a former high school star quarterback with a hidden childish side. This exposure, paired with a 2010 set on Comedy Central Presents, caused a tweet from Glover with the hashtag “donald4spiderman” to rapidly evolve into an inspiring movement to cast him as the first black Spiderman. Although no audition came, even with the support of Marvel creator Stan Lee, Glover later voiced Miles Morales in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man series and had a cameo in the 2017 movie Spider-Man: Homecoming. 2010 was a major step forward for Glover’s popularity in entertainment, but his musical progression was perhaps just as notable. Glover dropped three mixtapes in 2010: I AM JUST A RAPPER, I AM JUST A RAPPER 2, and Culdesac. The two IAJAR tapes featured Glover spitting over a variety of indie song instrumentals, including tracks by Grizzy Bear, Sleigh Bells, and Animal Collective. The mixing and production is lackluster, and the lyrics primarily consist of cheesy punchlines, but Glover’s confidence and creativity shine through. It’s on Culdesac, however, when Childish Gambino no longer seems like a mere side hustle for a rising comic actor, but instead an entirely separate identity. Done with hiding behind distracting production and a faux-aggressive delivery, Glover’s introspective and honest bars show that he’s serious about rapping. His singing, softer and smoother, foreshadows his unbelievable growth as a vocalist.
Glover followed up Culdesac with EP (yes, an EP titled EP) in early 2011, showing major improvements in his production and songwriting. His first hit “Freaks and Geeks” delivers raw, witty, rapid-fire bars with no time for a hook, and the music video has accrued over 25 million views. With Glover’s continued brilliance on Community and a burgeoning music career, the demand was high for the limitless talent. The same year, he hosted the mtvU Woodie Awards at South by Southwest, toured 23 cities as a rapper and comic, performed stand-up and a Gambino set at Bonnaroo Music Festival, starred in Weirdo, a Comedy Central stand-up special, and released his debut studio album, Camp. Gambino’s music may have turned a few heads up to this point, but Camp put Childish Gambino on the map. Camp tells the story of Glover’s isolating childhood, troubled mind, and evolving lifestyle. Themes of Glover being too white and too black at the same time surface frequently, aching to be the voice of an underrepresented generation of nerdy, outcasted black kids. The flow, production, and vocals all take significant leaps from his earlier mixtapes, especially on the hit “Bonfire,” but his questionable claims of making “real hip-hop” and inconsistency in his sincerity led to mixed reviews. Notably, Pitchfork gave the album a 1.6 out of 10, ripping Glover apart for his lack of self-awareness and “cartoonish flow.” The hip-hop community was a far way from embracing Gambino. Glover responded to critics with Royalty in the summer of 2012. At 18 tracks and an hour in length, it was his longest project to date, but it’s the length of the feature list that turned heads. Schoolboy Q, RZA, Ghostface Killah, Beck, Danny Brown, and Chance the Rapper all make appearances, not to mention an intro by NBA star Blake Griffin and an outro verse from none other than Tina Fey. But Royalty is much more than just a flex. Gone is the confusing mix of humor and depression that took away from his earlier projects. Instead, Glover comes out firing on all cylinders with polished and controlled flows, punching deliveries, melodic hooks, and inspiring themes of black excellence. Royalty never received much mainstream attention, but hip-hop heads and Glover stans were starting to align — Childish Gambino could no longer be brushed off as just another attempt of an actor turned rapper. Avoiding complacency at all costs, Glover left Community in 2013 five episodes into the fifth and penultimate season, citing his need to explore his full potential and have creative freedom over future endeavors.
Progressing his music career wasn’t his sole aspiration; just a month after he announced he was leaving Community, Glover shared news that he would be producing, writing, and starring in Atlanta, the dramatic comedy about an up-and-coming rapper (not played by Glover) in the city’s bustling rap scene. Before 2013 had ended, Glover further validated his Community departure with the release of his sophomore album Because The Internet. His most comprehensive project yet, the album was released with a corresponding 72-page screenplay, continuing his narrative from Camp. Sprinkling in pop culture references alongside deep, self-questioning lyrics, BTI is impossible to put in a box — exactly as Glover intended. The project’s boundless scope, abundant digital themes, and experimental nature are clear products of the internet, a statement that could also be applied to Glover’s career. An unhinged, explorative, authentic portrayal of Glover’s personal struggles and successes condensed into an hour of music, BTI is the culmination of his previously episodic and isolated strengths as an artist. Following a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album and a top spot on the US Rap charts, Glover went quiet for the rest of the year, wiping all of his social media accounts with no explanation. He did, however, surprise fans with STN MTN / Kauai, a conceptual mixtape/EP combination. STN MTN is full of bangers and heavy production, paying homage to the Atlanta emcees that came before him with samples of Ludacris, OutKast, and other southern rap icons. Kauai, on the other hand, is full of pop-infused
Childish Gambino could no longer be brushed off as just another attempt of an actor turned rapper. beats and dreamy melodies. Perfect for a day at the beach, Kauai marks a definitive pivot in the sound of Gambino. The project was even released with just “Gambino” listed as the artist — no more “Childish.” The joint project flew under the radar other than the gold certified single “Sober,” but started rumors of Glover ditching the Childish Gambino persona and pivoting musically.
Fans of Glover’s music would have to wait until the end of 2016 to confirm these rumors, but fans of Glover’s acting were satisfied in the meantime. Glover starred in three films in 2015: The Lazarus Effect, Magic Mike XXL, and The Martian. None of these roles were groundbreaking, but further verified Glover’s multi-industry success and high demand. In September of 2016, the long-awaited debut of Atlanta aired to widespread acclaim. Atlanta is simultaneously hilarious and heavy, an effortless blend of dry humor, absurd yet authentic characters, and biting commentary on American society. Fueled by Glover’s anecdotes, the series artfully
BTI is the culmination of Glover’s previously episodic and isolated strengths as a musician.
conveys the southern black experience, exposing pervasive, subtle racism, and the fraudulent rap music industry. With just ten episodes, Atlanta won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, the latter of which Glover is the first African-American to win. To cap off an already incredible year, Glover released his third and most recent studio album “Awaken, My Love!” in December of 2016. As some predicted, the old Childish Gambino was nowhere to be found, replaced with a soulful R&B performer and a sound straight from the ‘70s. The entire album is a bold display of psychedelic instrumentals and funky vocals, and single “Redbone” is Glover’s biggest hit to date, reaching number 12 on the US charts and winning the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B performance. AML also received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album. Glover has yet to tour the album, but did perform it at his PHAROS festival in Joshua Tree, California, creating a spiritual and intimate mini-universe in a massive dome in the middle of the desert.
Just when Glover appeared to find his home in hip-hop, he packed up and left without a word. This has been Glover’s formula from day one: as soon as he gets comfortable, he drops everything and is on to the next venture, forever confounding critics and fans alike. Signs are pointing toward Glover releasing his final Gambino album
As soon as he gets comfortable, he drops everything and is on to the next. this year, meaning his recently announced arena tour could be his last. Glover is a fan of endings, and while diehard fans like myself hate to say goodbye, his limitless innovation makes it impossible to stay sad. • Miles Kirsch (Bioengineering)
MY FAVORITE SONG
CARING IS CREEPY THE SHINS
Welcome to our new feature, My Favorite Song! It’s exactly what it sounds like: one of our writers going in-depth on a song they love. We hope the feature introduces you to some new favorite songs of your own, or helps you hear an old favorite from a new perspective.
like the Garden State soundtrack (which I still love, by the way) play in gently nudging young listeners to explore more left-of-center sounds. If anything, the uncoolness of Garden State is exactly what made it so effective; I probably would have discovered indie rock eventually anyway, but probably not so young, and definitely not in my dad’s basement. Most of that 2013 essay still feels pretty spot-on, yet even in the past five years I feel like I’ve come to understand “Caring is Creepy” better. Revisiting it for this feature, I was struck by the song’s deceptive forcefulness. My original description makes it sound like a goddamn Beach House song, all gentle drones and sweetly murmured vocals. Yet listen to Jesse Sandoval’s drumming — he’s constantly pushing the song forward, never letting the band settle into a predictable rhythm. Those keyboards aren’t soothing — they’re psychedelic and disorienting, especially on the bridge, where they sound like they’re trying to actively derail the song. Then there’s that menacing, chugging guitar line that comes in on the final chorus, carrying the song to its conclusion on a wave of bad vibes. This was always James Mercer’s secret weapon: using his gift for melody to make even the darkest, most complex songs sound like pleasant indiepop trifles. While my enthusiasm for countless other songs has waxed and waned, I’ve never stopped loving “Caring is Creepy.” The Shins opened with it both times I’ve seen them live, and both times I remember being so overcome with joy that I thought I might jump out of my skin. I never could make heads or tails of the lyrics at the time (though to be honest, I probably enjoyed the mystery too much to try very hard), but listening to them now, they seem to depict a noble struggle against depression and the unpredictability of existence. No matter how difficult things get, I strive to always draw strength and comfort from James Mercer’s mighty rallying cry: “Hold your glass up, hold it in/ Never betray the way you’ve always known it is.”
Designer: Dan Mondshein (Interaction Design)
First semester, freshman year: the first assignment in Music as a Social Expression is to write a one-page paper about our favorite song. Never before or since have I approached a college essay with such enthusiasm; all I ever wanted to do was talk about the music I love, and here I was getting to do it for a grade! I immediately knew what song I wanted to write about. It’s still my favorite song, and I can’t imagine another song ever replacing it. Here’s what I wrote about “Caring is Creepy” by The Shins at the time (edited slightly for brevity): Very rarely can one point to a single moment in which some crucial component of their personality first came into being, but I know that the moment I fell in love with music was the moment I first heard this song. My dad would always play the Garden State soundtrack, on which ‘Caring is Creepy’ appears, in the basement when he worked, and so I heard that album many times over the course of my childhood… When I first heard that song, descending the basement stairs at the impressionable age of 12, it sounded like some strange yet lovely dream manifested in sound. It started with some barely audible whistling, followed by the swell of an organ whose soft tones felt like a warm embrace. Gentle, clean electric guitar chords and subtle, quiet percussion complemented the organ’s ethereal mood. Meanwhile, the singer used a pure, high voice which could only be described as beautiful, at times so quiet that I couldn’t clearly make out what he was saying. What most firmly caught my ear on first listen, however, were the lyrics, whose intelligent, esoteric vocabulary and sensitive insight would lead me to pore over each line in an attempt to understand what exactly all those stunning words meant. It was the power of Shins frontman James Mercer’s lyrical originality and musical genius that led me to listen to every Shins song, buy every Shins album, and never give up my pursuit for new music that might awake in me the same feelings as I felt that first time listening to ‘Caring is Creepy.’ At the time, Garden State was my favorite movie, but I would soon grow embarrassed by how Zach Braff had rendered my personal epiphany a cliché. Yet in retrospect, I can appreciate the role albums
Terence Cawley (Biology) 37
If you are a rap fan, you know the significance a location has to artists. Since the genre’s inception, hip-hop/rap music has mainly developed within the gravity of select major cities. Places like New York, Los Angeles, and the more recent Atlanta historically had the economic and demographic characteristics that allow rap culture to flourish. These unfortunately are areas with lasting poverty that facilitate stories of struggle. These cities have also fostered such unique styles that a rapper’s region is easily identifiable in their music. However, as the use of social media and platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify exploded, artists could better gain exposure with a location’s initial influence playing a much smaller part. The internet has allowed this because it lowers the barrier to entry and allows for an accessible medium, catalyzing the growth of new hip-hop scenes. Below, I’ve provided a brief introduction to these recently popping regions and some starting tracks to begin your own exploration.
The dark horse of the up-and-coming regions, the DC-MarylandVirginia area has largely flown under the radar while developing a very distinct style. Whereas most of the newest scenes and waves of rap drew influence from trap music, the DMV fostered a style centered around more minimalist beats and consciously crafted lyricism. The DC region in particular developed distinct instrumentals that blend the classic funk known as “Go-go” with crisp hip-hop beats. The region already produced its first perennial star in Logic, but here are a few talents reaching the cusp of massive success.
If you are looking for the artist that best exemplifies homage to DC’s past with talent catered to the present, Goldlink is your find. Check out his quality lyricism, unique beats, and incredible flow on songs like “Rough Soul,” “Kokomoe Freestyle,” and “Fall in Love.”
With a more minimalist style, Wale has a calming flow and isn’t afraid to explore the range of his voice. In fact, he so effectively uses his unique sound that his tracks create a bouncy R&B vibe. You can start binging Wale by listening to “My Pyt,” “Running Back,” and “Heaven on Earth.”
The Miami/South Florida region has more recently produced a few major talents such as DJ Khaled and Rick Ross. However, it has historically laid low as a fairly minor scene. That is until the world was graced with Soundcloud and, consequently, Soundcloud rappers. Despite the platform’s nationwide use, it seems that it particularly stuck in Florida. This has made the region one of the most prolific in the nation, essentially spawning a unique brand of trap. The South Florida style heavily reflects on influences from Soundcloud with a style that has a grainier production value and more amateur feel but still maintains more traditional trap instrumentals and themes. Here are some artists to explore:
You may already know the teenager responsible for the wildly popular “Gucci Gang.” Pump seems to have found a niche within trap centered around high energy (although fairly repetitive) lyricism and fast paced beats. Making some excellent workout music, some songs to check out include “Iced Out ft. 2Chainz,” “Flex like Oou,” and “Back (ft. Lil Yachty).”
With a somewhat refreshing breath of quality lyricism, Ski Mask follows the path of Lil Wayne, developing his style around irreverent/clever lyrics and a distinct high-tempo flow. My personal favorite “Soundcloud rapper,” some key tracks to check out are “Babywipe,” “Catch Me Outside,” and “Life is Short.”
Curry is unique among the newer wave of South Florida rap because he’s not necessarily a Soundcloud rapper. This means that his style is not derivative of Soundcloud’s trap, with an aggressive energy backed by a killer flow and creative lyrics. Tracks that really embody his vibe are “Gook,” “Skywalker,” and “Knotty Head.”
If you are looking for someone super catchy with unorthodox rhythms and sounds, Killy is your guy. Songs like “Kilamanjaro,” “Distance,” and “Stolen Identity” blend trap themes with a melancholy Toronto polish, legitimizing Killy as a unique talent.
Stylistically resembling Drake with his slower pace and reliance on vocal range, Lanez is more versatile with his excellent production skills and natural instinct for churning out bangers. After listening to songs like “To Dream,” “B.I.D,” and “Say It,” you will find yourself enamored with the talents of the rising star.
Designer: Jacqueline Arce (Experience Design)
Perhaps the most developed of all the rising locations, the Toronto rap scene is on track to join the likes of Chicago and Atlanta in terms of influence and proliferation. The growth of the city’s rap culture was most catalyzed by the rise of Drake, who not only maintains an enviable level of success but supports other talents. The influence of Drake has not only helped draw attention towards other Toronto rappers but also shaped the city’s own unique style. Many other budding rappers from the 6ix seem to draw degrees of inspiration from Drizzy, emulating his R&B vibes and liberal use of synth/trap beats. Beyond Drake, here are some other rising Toronto talents:
• Pratik Reddy (Math & Economics)
NEW MUSIC, HOT TOPIC, AND THE INCREDIBLES: AN INTERVIEW WITH TASTEMAKERS PRESENTS HEADLINERS CHARLY BLISS
An interview with
CHARLY BLISS Editorâ€™s Note: Below is an abridged version of our full interview with Lucy Rose. Check out the complete transcript at tastemakersmag.com.
Designer: Jackie Arce (Experience Design)
TMM: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before? EVA: Usually what I say is that we’re Poppy-Rock music. We tried to make our album something you could drive around to with your windows down. TMM: What kind of music did you listen to growing up and do you think it has had an influence on the type of music you create? EVA: It definitely has. Sam and I are siblings so a lot of whatever he was listening to was what I thought was cool. We listened to a lot of Weezer which I think was kind of unifying the band when we were trying to figure out our sound. When we first started out as a band, I feel like our musical tastes were all over the place and it was the one band we could agree on at the time. Now I feel like our musical tastes have morphed from spending so much time together. SPENCER: Green Day — we all had a pretty solid Green Day phase growing up for sure. Everyone goes through their growing pains of music tastes so there are definitely some embarrassing ones.
it’s important to talk about it and talk about therapy and joke about therapy because it’s so not a big deal. Everyone should do it. For me, it’s helped me so much to not only talk about it and sing about it but also laugh about it. It felt like such a bigger deal to me until I started talking about it in these songs. TMM: Yeah, that’s something I found really interesting about this album. It’s deep stuff but I’m still laughing somehow. EVA: Exactly! I think part of that is because growing up with older brothers I felt so two ways about everything that’s going on. On one hand I was crying and listening to Panic! At the Disco like “NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME!” and then I’m also the youngest in my family and have three brothers. They were also joking around and made me laugh about this stuff. TMM: Also, speaking about Guppy, we heard you recorded it twice. What made you realize that you wanted a completely different sound?
TMM: Speaking of embarrassing music, what were some of your guilty pleasures?
SPENCER: I think the first time we recorded it, it was very grungy and noisy and there wasn’t enough room for that fun that was so important to us and that we wanted to shine through. We wanted to make a record that was more representative of us as a band. I feel like it was a really good decision.
EVA: Panic! At the Disco. For so long it was just a pop band and something that wasn’t cool. I was into them during the guy-liner, skinny jeans, top hat phase.
SAM: We also had written a bunch of new songs and we kinda realized like hey these songs might actually be better. We accidently out wrote ourselves.
SAM: It’s funny because when I heard her listening to that in 7th grade I was like I’ve gotta come in and save the day here. But I was secretly like….these songs are actually really good.
TMM: So Eva and Spencer, you both met outside a Tokyo Police Club show through Dan. How did it feel to come full circle and open for them?
SPENCER: It’s all circled back. Like the stuff that used to be embarrassing is now cool.
SPENCER: Holy shit it was THE coolest.
EVA: Seriously though!
EVA: I felt like it was cool for all of us. Obviously we’ve looked up to them for years and years. That was the first concert my mom let me go to alone in New York City so I would never forget that feeling of being so excited. I think for them it’s crazy any time anything comes out of your music. We were just talking the other day about people on YouTube being like “I’m a Charly Bliss fan!” and then being like “I’m a Charly Bliss fan too! Where do you live?”
TMM: We were both really into My Chemical Romance.
SPENCER: It’s the coolest.
SPENCER: My Chem was THE band in 7th grade. I saw the video for “Helena” and I was like I found my band. This is my calling. I definitely went to Hot Topic after that so I could look more like the lead singer.
EVA: It’s just bizarre and amazing and it was so cool for all of us.
EVA: Especially all that old emo music that people gave us so much shit for but like...Fall Out Boy is amazing. SPENCER: Yeah like From Under The Cork Tree — all hits!
EVA: I feel like I wasn’t thinking about it much when we were writing it but I feel like songwriting for me, and especially the lyrical side of it is very cathartic. I feel like I wouldn’t really know what else to write about other than that. That part came naturally. I didn’t really realize it until we listened to it back and I was like wow this is really poppy and the lyrics are so...dark. I’ll never forget when I first started getting anxiety when I was 12 or 13 and it’s so embarrassing at that age and I feel like
TMM: What kind of music do you guys listen to while you’re touring? You mentioned that you all kind of have the same taste now. SPENCER: There are two major schools of what gets listened to on a Charly Bliss tour. There’s the stuff that’s like genuinely great music that’s inspiring and we love. The second school are also those things but really bad as well. But in a good way. So Celine Dion gets played every now and again, maybe Flo Rida.
Designer: Allison Bako (Animation)
TMM: You’re very open about your mental health on Guppy. How do you approach writing such deep lyrical content with light, pop undertones?
SPENCER: Touring with them in general was also incredible. They put on one of the best live shows.
EVA: We listen to a lot of Drake Bell. Drake Bell is like the biggest one. Miranda Cosgrove we listen to sometimes.
SPENCER: Um I may be contractually obligated. For some reason though I do have a strange emotional connection to the character. We sound alike, it’s crazy.
SPENCER: Just the whole cast of Drake and Josh. TMM: What band would you guys want to be on tour with next?
EVA: It’s funny though because the last time I watched The Incredibles was in high school and I knew you were Dash then. But when I watched it then I was like it doesn’t sound at all like Spencer.
EVA: I feel like we would’ve said Bleachers. Interview
TMM (TO SPENCER): Did you tell them about it when you first met? SPENCER/SAM: Superorganism. EVA: It was really on the down low. SPENCER: Everything about them is so cool. SPENCER: This is new to be talking about it. EVA: Yeah Superorganism, we’re crazy about them. It’s so fun when you get to discover a band in such a pure way. Usually you read tons of press about a band before you actually listen to them. But we were on tour with Wolf Parade a couple of months ago and we were just in the car and it came on SIRIUS XM. We were all like huh and then it kept going and we were like huh they’re good. Then it got to the bridge and we were all like wow. DAN: We listen to the same radio station every day and they kind of like loop their playlist over and over.
SAM: You introduced yourself to me as Dash when I first met you! TMM: Exposed! SPENCER: Yeah I was like “hi I’m Dash nice to meet you.” But yeah I used to be really shy about it and not want to talk about it. But it’s been cool, like when I did an interview I was really on the fence about it. Our manager was like we really want you to do it and I was like well ok. But through doing that I was like maybe this can be a nice thing instead of this crazy thing.
TMM: What could fans expect to hear from you guys next? EVA: Can we say it? SPENCER: Yeah.
EVA: I get why you didn’t want to talk about it. People could immediately just be like “how much money did you make?” SPENCER: Also just being known for like anything you did when you were ten is just so weird.
EVA: We’re recording really soon and we’re really excited. TMM (TO SPENCER): Do you even remember that much of it? SPENCER: I would say maybe a little more, I don’t know. SAM: More mature.
SPENCER: I definitely do. But I remember it as a fond memory and nothing more. It’s very much in the past.
EVA: I would say we pushed ourselves really hard. The number one goal we had was to not write the same record. And at first coming out of Guppy the first couple of songs we were writing definitely sounded a lot like Guppy. We we’re like no, we definitely wanted to push ourselves and discover some new territory.
TMM: Well now the second one is coming out.
TMM: So Spencer we know that you were Dash in The Incredibles. But the rest of you, who would you be from The Incredibles.
SAM: I want to instigate this. If you’re reading this right now….
SPENCER: Yeah I’m going to have to pay this new kid a visit. EVA: Yeah let’s start some beef.
EVA: He’s probably like eleven. SPENCER: Oh I love that question. That’s great. EVA: Well obviously I’d be Violet. She had the cool hair. I loved her hair!
TMM: Well thank you guys for doing this. We’re really excited to see you perform tonight. EVA: Yeah thank you it was great!
SPENCER (TO DAN): Oh you’d definitely be Edna.
EVA: Definitely Edna.
• Emma Turney (Communication Studies)
SPENCER: Dan is hard Edna.
• Maya Dengel (Communication & Media and Screen Studies)
SAM: Maybe I’d be Elastagirl. TMM (TO SPENCER): Would you re-pick someone that’s not Dash?
Designer: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez (Graphic Design)
IS BACK ON TOP
The Revival of Pop Music
Feature What’s up with indie culture’s hate for pop music? In the ‘80s people worshipped pop acts like Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Prince. But now pop artists are merely ridiculed for creating music that is too “mainstream,” whatever that even means anymore. In reality, we are currently in an era of pop music revival, with acts from all over the world taking a new spin on classic pop styles. The most exciting part about pop music, especially currently, is that the lyrical and production styles greatly vary across the entire genre. It makes pop more of a feeling and less of this strict box of guidelines for artists to follow. From more traditional styles like ‘80s inspired Carly Rae Jepsen to the experimental styles of Charli XCX, pop music has an ability to transcend generations as the artists’ ideas and feelings evolve.
One of my personal favorite pop records to come from 2017 came from Swedish musician Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, commonly known as, Tove Lo. You surely remember her daring 2014 single “Habits (Stay High)” that spawned an odd music video of Nilsson drunkenly stumbling around while a camera followed, filming her face close up. Since then Nilsson has released two dark pop records, both dubbing her as the “saddest girl in Sweden.” The sex-positive singer has taken a unique route in pop music with her second and third albums, Lady Wood and BLUE LIPS, respectively. Coming out in late 2017, BLUE LIPS (Subtitled Lady Wood Phase II) is dark synth-pop with shocking lyrics (as seen on songs like “disco tits” and “bitches”), making Nilsson seem like a pop second incarnation of the feminist rock band, Bikini Kill. Similar to how Bikini Kill showed their hatred for mainstream femininity, Nilsson does the
We are currently in an era of pop music revival.
same, as she is known to flash the crowd at her shows. BLUE LIPS closes the door on what Nilsson has called the Lady Wood era, so it will be interesting to see what that means for her style of pop as well. Finnish musician, ALMA rose to fame when she finished 5th on Finnish Idols. At only 22 years old her voice is a powerhouse, built to fill arenas. In 2016 she released her first EP appropriately titled Dye My Hair, to go along with her signature electric green locks. ALMA’s take on pop is interesting due to the heavy EDM influences that contrast her soulful voice. They’re two things that you usually don’t see together, but Dye My Hair proved ALMA as a force to be reckoned with. When the new year rang in, she took to Instagram to promise fans that she would be working hard this year to create “the best pop album of 2018.” In 2012 the entire country collectively groaned as “Call Me Maybe” played once an hour on every top 40 radio station. I’ll admit I was one of those people; that song got quite annoying. But you would be seriously missing out to write off Carly Rae Jepsen as a one hit wonder. Her 2015 album, E·MO·TION proved Jepsen to be the pop heroine of this decade. The album included explicit 80’s influences throughout, and feels as if you’re listening to a young Madonna, a nod to the 80’s that Taylor
Can we stop all this pop shaming?
heavy use of real life sound effects like the opening of a can and the waves of an ocean, which pop up in almost every song. The visual experience is taken to the next level if you listen to the album on Spotify, where the band has uploaded “tumblr-esque” images of purposefully badly photoshopped cats, shellfish, and many other odd things that align with their DIY feel. Without ever hearing of Superorganism before this debut, the album is by far my favorite music to come from 2018 so far. Their attention to detail is endearing and exciting for the future of indie pop music. No matter what style of pop music you like, they all converge in the highly experimental 2017 mixtape, Pop 2 from British musician Charli XCX. Pop 2 feels like a time warp that gives you a peek into the future of music. With strangely explicit lyrical and production choices surrounding robotics, especially on the Dorian Electra and Mykki Blanco featured track “Femmebot,” this mixtape shows what can happen when 14 pop artists have creative freedom with a project. Pop 2 proves not to be about Charli
XCX at all, but really a celebration of pop music and all the interesting nuances that can exist in a genre that is wide open for personal interpretation. With one of the most underrated musical projects of the past year, Charli XCX is the future of pop music and it’s unapologetically unique. So I get it, a lot of people don’t like Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, honestly myself included. But just because they’re the ones playing on the radio doesn’t mean they are creating the best pop music. Pop styles consist of so many varieties that can appeal to almost anyone who is willing to give it a chance. The problem now is that so many people think that pop music is just what we hear on the radio. Although the term pop developed from “popular music” it has evolved from that title and is now a genre in its own right. All I ask is can we stop all this pop shaming?
Designer: Colleen Curtis (Design)
Swift’s 1989 could only dream of reaching. Not only is Jepsen personally creating some of the most noteworthy current pop music, she also is collaborating with other prominent pop musicians such as Troye Sivan and Charli XCX. Completely contrasting with Jepsen’s style of pop, rising star Bishop Briggs creates dark pop that sometimes leans on rock. The British musician rose to fame after an A&R representative discovered her in 2015 at a small bar in Los Angeles. Since then she has released a string of singles and a self-titled EP, and is currently preparing to release her first full length project in the Spring of 2018. Her style is very different than other pop musicians, as she describes herself as “trapsoul.” The influences from rock, pop, and hiphop are also very evident in her EP, and after the release of her most recent single, “White Flag,” it seems as if her debut album will take the same route. Forming just last year, pop collective Superorganism promises a new take on indie pop. The eight-member band, headed by lead singer Orono Noguchi, released their self-titled debut album on March 2nd of this year. The album creates visuals through their
• Emma Turney (Communications)
Etcetera Designer: Allison Bako (Animation)
If Lorin Ashton looks like a metal head, it’s because he began his music career in a metal band. His long black hair and dark T-shirts betray his roots, and the influence is also obvious in the grimy sounds that make up his music. Still, he draws inspiration from every genre that he can, from R&B, to indie-pop to rock- he’s used samples from them all. His music dramatically changes tempo, switching from 180 beats per minute to halftime in the blink of an eye. Since his first warehouse rave in 1995, Ashton showed a blatant disregard for the rules. After becoming enamored with the electronic music community and its friendly people, Ashton left metal and began his genre bending bass project, which he christened Bassnectar.
Now, his fans aren’t metal heads, they’re Bass Heads. They flock to see him play in huge arenas, where he looks perfectly at home standing behind two MacBooks emblazoned with his distinctive symbol, live-mixing tunes with beats so low that they shake the ground- homeowners near his shows have been known to mistake his concert for an earthquake. He uses his incredible production and visuals to create a one-of-a-kind experience at every show. With so much of the focus on the live events, Ashton has no problem releasing music sporadically- dropping new material without warning and at a stunning rate. Since 2001, when he released his first album, he’s released 10 full length albums, 8 EPs, 27 singles, 18 mixtapes, and countless remixes. These songs are scattered across the internet- barely a fraction of it can be found on Spotify. SoundCloud is better, but there’s still plenty of unreleased songs or remixes that can only be obtained through a vast network of his fans. This intimidating ocean of music offers no clear entry points for someone who just wants to dip a toe in. But that’s why I’m here. So let’s take a dive into some of Bassnectar’s most iconic albums.
Designer: Bianca Rabbie (Architecture)
• Helen Snow (Journalism & Media and Screen Studies)
Bassnectar’s bass heavy, head-banging tracks are by far the most beloved by his listeners. That is why, if there’s a quintessential Bassnectar album, it might be Cozza Frenzy. It came out early enough into his career that it’s often considered a ‘classic,’ and it features the fast dance tracks that make Bassnectar’s fans go wild. Many of its tracks have rapid rap vocals layered on top of the beats, and the lyrics would be familiar to any fan. Most notable is “Teleport Massive,” which features the lyrics “Move with the hip sha-shake that chassis/Clean, elegant but still get nasty” and, of course, “Cozza Frenzy,” which exclaims that they’re going to “cause a frenzy.” The lyrics are playful and the beats are fast, making this album fun for listening and easy for dancing. Like a lot of Nectar’s music, Cozza Frenzy is packed with drum samples that sound like they’ve been ripped off the Roland TR-808, the legendary drum machine that was sold from 1980 to 1983. The 808 is so central to Bassnectar’s sound that it has become something of a symbol for him, and many fans make stickers and t-shirts with 808 emblazoned on them. Bassnectar’s love of the machine can be found in the song title “The 808 Track” on his 2010 album WildStyle, and another named “Don’t Hate The 808,” which appears on his album Noise vs. Beauty.
Divergent Spectrum Etcetera
Divergent Spectrum is another fan favorite. It pulls samples from wildly different places. It includes a remix of the Latin-rock-inspired song “Immigraniada” from punk band Gogol Bordello, as well as a remix of the popular song “Lights” from Ellie Goulding. As scattered as its inspirations might be, the album itself has little variation. It’s incredibly grimy beats and eclectic drum samples never fail to appear on a track. The tempo also stays remarkably consistent — the downtempo songs that Bassnectar so often includes are nowhere to be found. Bassnectar usually defies labels, which is why it’s remarkable that this album does not. It’s dubstep and glitch-hop. With a twist, of course — Bassnectar leaves his mark on every
song. After just a few moments of listening to the album, it’s immediately clear who produced it.
VAVA VOOM 2012
Around the time that Vava Voom was released, Bassnectar told reporters that he was sick of working alone, and he meant it. Vava Voom is packed full of collaborations, starting with its title track, which was created with Lupe Fiasco. The album comes out of the gate swinging, with Fiasco laying down a confident verse over a strong beat. It switches gears almost immediately — the next song, “Empathy,” keeps a dance beat but layers it over ethereal sounds. Then it switches it up again. Vava Voom has more ideas packed into it than most artists come up with in their entire career. “Ping Pong” uses the sound of an actual ping pong ball before diving into a filthy beat. “Butterfly” is an indescribably beautiful, slow song on which Mimi Page’s angelic voice drifts in an out. “What” is easily identified by any Bass head for its piercing melody. In fact, each track has elements that are incredibly unique and creative. The album can’t be fully experienced without listening to it from front to back, because each track contributes something entirely unique. For what it’s worth, this album is my personal favorite. The creativity and diversity takes it to another level, and each track also stands alone magnificently. It’s a true testament to what Bassnectar can do.
Noise Vs. Beauty No Bassnectar album has been more polarizing than Noise vs. Beauty. The album is packed with synth-y melodies and dreamy vocals, and many of the songs lack the edge for which Bassnectar is known. Its song “You and Me” has an influence that is decidedly pop — there could be nothing more effective at attracting the hatred of Bassnectar’s hardcore fans. But that’s the beauty of Bassnectar- he’s not afraid to try something new, and he definitely doesn’t care what you think about it. Noise vs. Beauty takes its title very literally. The elated and soothing sounds are often suddenly abandoned for deep grimy bass and rap verses. Sometimes the sounds compete, but more often they provide relief, switching out in a delicate balancing act that only Bassnectar could achieve. This album is the epitome of Bassnectar’s philosophy of ‘omnitempo maximalizm.’ This is Nectar’s term for something that spans every tempo and incorporates as many elements as possible. The music goes really far in one direction… so far that it begins to sound abrasive — then swings all the way to the other end of the spectrum. Hypnotic downtempo songs cut between the neck-breaking dance tracks that he’s known for.
The release of Unlimited gave fans a more refined, almost more mature sound. Like all Nectar albums, it’s a mix of ethereal sounds and dirtier rhythms, but everything is a bit toned down. The production value was higher and the album was certainly more cohesive than his previous work, and featured significantly more down tempo songs. “Paracosm” and “Reaching Out” are both very unique, providing glitch sounds and drum samples over drifting melodies. The album also provides plenty of dance beats. “Mind Tricks” stands out with a unique beat and catchy (read “repetitive”) lyrics. It repeats “The mind tricks the body tricks the mind tricks the body tricks the mind tricks the body tricks the body tricks the mind.” But the song doesn’t get old, its fluctuating rhythms keep it fresh. The ephemeral, amorphous bass sound that is prevalent throughout this album is a natural transition for Nectar, as he begins to play with softer melodies. The whole album might lack some of the wild energy that makes Bassnectar special, but the beautiful tracks make you feel like you’re floating away.
JUST A TAST E O F
Where are you from?
What’s your favorite live performance
I’m from New York! About an hour out of the city. I go to
you’ve been a part of?
school at Northeastern University (in Boston), which is where
Playing with Elvis Depressedly at the RFC
I started really putting out music.
office was a real dream come true for me.
How would you describe your sound?
Where can people find your music?
Kinda like the Foo Fighters but without Dave Grohl or
drums or electric guitars or other band members and in a completely different genre and without a studio. Essentially, we both make music. I dunno though, I think people tend to associate me with “bedroom lofi” stuff. But not the trendy ones with the cool chorus pedal guitar tones or anything. What other musicians are you into at the moment? This indie rock band Frog from Queens, NY is amazing, and I’ve been listening to them for a loooong time now. I listen to a lot of Brave Little Abacus too. I think I’m perpetually growing out of and into different bad Midwest Emo phases, despite wanting nothing more than to leave it in the past. Lots of Elvis Depressedly and Julia Brown as well. The new American
Spotify and youtube too maybe? idk. Google “bedbug music” or “bedbug boston band” it’ll show up. If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose? I’d do instrumentals for a spoken word album of a reading of Dialectical and Historical Materialism with it’s author, Ioseb Jughashvili. Short of that, I’m extremely bad at collaboration, I need too much artistic control.
Pleasure Club is phenomenal. Also, JK about the ditching emo thing, emo rules (sometimes lol).
Bedbug Photo courtesy of Tastemakers alum Ben Stas
Designer: McKenna Shuster (Interaction Design)
LOCAL PHOTO Timeflies, House of Blues Photo by Lauren Scornavacca (Industrial Engineering)
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST We’ve compiled all the songs from page 10’s Laidback Brilliance: Inside the World of Chillhop and added a few more of our own for an ambient Chillpop playlist. Find the playlist at: http://sptfy.com/Evy
1. “Feather” — Nujabes 2. “Swagger” — J Dilla 3. “Midnight In A Perfect World” — DJ Shadow 4. “Ghostwriter” — RJD2 5. “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough To Build Fires” — Emancipator
6. “Respawn” — DJ Ezzascul 7. “Elevated” — Jinsang 8. “Hopeful” — Ta-Ku 9. “April Showers” — ProleteR 10. “Star Eyes” — Flume 11. “The Donut Of The Heart” — J Dilla
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