DJ Perly: “When I heard my name as the USA champ, I was surprised and just overwhelmed with joy”

Salute to DJ Perly, the first female to win a DMC title. Boricuas, represent!

This year’s national champion goes by DJ Perly, and she represents Hip-Hop’s very birthplace. The Bronx, New York native outlasted dozens of other competitors at the competition hosted by D.I.T.C.’s Lord Finesse, besting runners up Dwells (also representing NYC) and Los Angeles’ Shmeeze. Upon winning, Perly could be seen proudly showing off a Puerto Rican flag, a symbol of her heritage. She was already the 2016 DMC NYC Regional Champ, also the first woman to hold that title.

As she explained to DX, it was a surreal moment, though she sensed that history would be on her side. “That night, I instantaneously felt the high energy of excitement. I knew it was going to be a really good battle. Not sure how the night would end, but it was going to be a good night.” She continued, “When I heard my name as the USA champ, I was surprised and just overwhelmed with joy. I was so overwhelmed I kinda lost feeling in my legs and dropped to the floor [laughs]. That moment truly felt magical and gratifying that hard work was paying off.”

Her achievement will fundamentally change the way little girls envision their futures behind the turntables. Rob Swift took to Facebook today (August 9) to post a message of encouragement, speaking to what Perly’s win means for Hip-Hop as a whole. “Many women have set out to win a world DMC title. Perly has gotten closer than all of them. I see cracks in the glass ceiling,” says the X-Excutioners member and celebrated DJ. That glass ceiling, Perly says, is nowhere near close to being shattered entirely. “From what I know and experienced in the past is that some people just don’t think that women can do what the guys can,” she says. “Some people just don’t want to see a woman kick ass and prove that women can do anything in this world. They’re just afraid.”

It’s a problem she says exists well beyond the confines of Hip-Hop, into all genres of music. “oSme men — not all — see women as weak and frail, but in fact, [we] are truly the strongest. Women go through a nine-month pregnancy, and give birth to the future and next generations of game changers. And think about it, child birth hurts like hell and we still kick ass. I applaud all those women who fight day in and day out to show and prove that this world is not a man’s world, and women can succeed in male-dominated fields. Women have the power and strength to move the world in a positive direction. We all have that power.”

This music production tool is the reason why all new music sounds the same…

The Click

Imagine music as a recipe. Would you be able tell whether it had been made with artificially engineered ingredients or fresh produce from the farmer’s market? Canned tomatoes might work just fine—but maybe you wouldn’t know what you had been missing until you tried the same dish with heirlooms, each beautifully misshapen with unique streaks of sunburst yellow.

Drummer Greg Ellis wants listeners to begin thinking about sound like food—as something they physically ingest that has a quantifiable impact on their wellbeing. These days, he believes most people are consuming the musical equivalent of McDonalds: processed, mass produced, and limited in flavor.

A lot of this aural blandness has to do with technology. It begins with the producer who relies on a computer rather than live instrumentalists and ends with the devices we use to consume our music, which cut out the dynamics captured in the recording studio. Ellis, a session drummer who can be heard in the background of Hollywood blockbusters such as Argo, Godzilla, and The Matrix series, is exploring this phenomena in a forthcoming documentary, The Click.

What is “the click”?

The “click” is a digital metronome that musicians listen to while recording to ensure their rhythm is exactly in time with the tempo. A simple and now nearly ubiquitous part of the recording process, it has had a profound effect on the music we listen to.

While the click was originally intended as a tool for precision and cohesion, Ellis says its perfect uniformity ushered in an expectation that the rest of musical parts should follow. Suddenly singers, instrumentalists, and drummers were expected to sound like machines. When vocalists were slightly off key, they could be auto-tuned. If a bass player wasn’t perfectly in-time with the drummer, their parts could be processed in a recording program that syncs them up. Of course, that’s if a live musician is used at all—many producers in pop, hip hop, and R&B now use samples or synthetic sounds generated by computers instead of using their human progenitors.

These days, Ellis says he’s not given space to create most drumming parts. Although he’s played drums with greats including Billy Idol, Mickey Hart, and Beck, a producer who knows little about drumming will often create his part for him before he gets into the studio—and expects him to play it precisely on the click. He sometimes doesn’t even play through the entire song any more: He’s often asked to play just a couple measures, which are then repeated using a copy-paste function that prevents variation, dynamic, or embellishment.

And that could be having an effect on our enjoyment of the music: There is some scientific evidence on the value of giving listeners something they’re not expecting. “Music that’s inventive excites neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex,” says Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of This is Your Brain on Music. “It’s the job of the composer to bring us pleasure through choices we didn’t expect.”

Is technology making music more creative, or less?

Ellis says this popular method of production stifles creativity. “I’m not calling out anyone who uses the gear, I’m calling out the gear itself, which we’ve let dictate our sense of music and time,” Ellis says. “There’s a sense that when you’re faced with the real thing, it actually feels wrong to people.”

“Everyone’s used to hearing everything precisely on the click and with autotune,” agrees Petros, a producer in Los Angeles who has worked with hit-makers such as One Direction, Enrique Iglesias, and Dillon Francis. “So if a recording is not done that way, it will sound off.” However, Petros and other music producers are welcoming these new technological advances as a positive, not a negative. He says completely automating drum tracks is cheaper, easier, and more precise—and, in some ways, it allows for more creativity, not less.

With a live drummer, producers have a limited number of sounds to choose from, but with a program, they can quickly and easily experiment with dozens of different options until they find the one that sounds right. Petros says that most of his friends who are producers in the music industry don’t even know how to record a live drum set, and that a significant number of people who have songs in the Billboard Hot 100 don’t have any formal music training. But do they need to, any more?

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ singer Alex Ebert says it’s become too easy for anyone to make music with a computer and free software. Consequently, there’s been an “undeniable loss of mastery” among a significant percentage of the musicians and producers making hits now. He’s says he’s not anti-technology: Technological experimentation, after all, is what allowed for the birth of revelatory albums including The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Jimi Hendrix’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Instead, he’s against technology being used as a crutch rather than a tool for invention. “Musical successes are just being regurgitated in refinement,” he says.

Not everyone agrees. Robert Margouleff, a recording engineer most known for revolutionizing the use of the synthesizer on Stevie Wonder’s albums, has called the laptop “the folk instrument of our time.” It’s allowed for innovators like St. Vincent and Bon Iver to create new sonic experiences and entire albums by themselves, and has lowered the barrier for new artists to create masterpieces in their bedrooms.

But what about the consumers? As music becomes more mechanized, how is this trend affecting the experience for the people paying for it with their Spotify subscriptions?

How does the device we listen to music on change what we hear?

This technological wedge doesn’t stop at the act of music creation itself: Ellis believes that the way it’s packaged and then listened to only further separates us from the warm, feel-good vibrations we originally turned to music for. “There’s all kinds of losses that happen after music leaves the studio,” says USC professor of electrical engineering Chris Kyriakakis. “It’s basically all downhill from there.”

Engineers compress tunes in order to convert them to files compatible with our multitude of devices. Information is immediately lost during compression, and then even more information is lost depending on what system we then play that file through. It’s like “a palette that’s shrunk down to primary colors,” Ellis says. Listening to music through headphones that don’t perfectly fit into our ears, for example, or smartphone speakers that cut out frequencies emanating from the guitar, bass, and drums means we end up hearing an even more dumbed-down version of the sonic vibrancy the composer originally intended.

Some efforts are being made to mitigate these effects. For example, Spotify recently tweaked the volume of their entire song library in order to try and bring some of the original subtlety back that was stolen from their compression. As Bruno Romani writes on Motherboard, “When compression occurs in an exaggerated way, it makes everything louder, which ends up stealing the dynamics away from the music itself. It’s like listening to that one loud friend of yours who always yells when they’re drunk. In addition to being bothersome, it also becomes monotonous after awhile.”

Which type of music is better for us?

We may not be experiencing the full gamut of potential expression, but does mechanized music have a different effect on our brains?

Neuroscientist Levitin says we don’t know if music created with live instrumentation has more healing potential than its click-y counterpart. What we do know is that whether it’s created on a click or not, a steady rhythm is more likely to put people in a trance because the neurons in our brains start firing in synchronicity with the beat. Levitin says this trance can “help you to relax or achieve some insights you wouldn’t otherwise.”

Levitin has also co-authored a study that found people who listen to music together have synchronized brain waves. He hypothesizes that, at least in the case of a concert, audience members might feel more empathy and bonding if they’re able to see the musician. This is something Ellis argues we’re sorely lacking in our lives today, opting to watch YouTube footage of a live gig on our tiny screens on the way to work instead.

Brian Eno explains the loss of humanity in modern music…

VIA

In music, as in film, we have reached a point where every element of every composition can be fully produced and automated by computers. This is a breakthrough that allows producers with little or no musical training the ability to rapidly turn out hits. It also allows talented musicians without access to expensive equipment to record their music with little more than their laptops. But the ease of digital recording technology has encouraged producers, musicians, and engineers at all levels to smooth out every rough edge and correct every mistake, even in recordings of real humans playing old-fashioned analogue instruments. After all, if you could make the drummer play in perfect time every measure, the singer hit every note on key, or the guitarist play every note perfectly, why wouldn’t you?

One answer comes in a succinct quotation from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, which Ted Mills referenced in a recent post here on Miles Davis: “Honor Your Mistakes as a Hidden Intention.” (The advice is similar to that Davis gave to Herbie Hancock, “There are no mistakes, just chances to improvise.”) In the short clip at the top, Eno elaborates in the context of digital production, saying “the temptation of the technology is to smooth everything out.”

But the net effect of correcting every perceived mistake is to “homogenize the whole song,” he says, “till every bar sounds the same… until there’s no evidence of human life at all in there.” There is a reason, after all, that even purely digital, “in the box” sequencers and drum machines have functions to “humanize” their beats—to make them correspond more to the looseness and occasional hesitancy of real human players.

This does not mean that there is no such thing as singing or playing well or badly—it means there is no such thing as perfection. Or rather, that perfection is not a worthy goal in music. The real hooks, the moments that we most connect with and return to again and again, are often happy accidents. Mills points to a whole Reddit thread devoted to mistakes left in recordings that became part of the song. And when it comes to playing perfectly in time or in tune, I think of what an atrocity would have resulted from running all of The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street through a digital audio workstation to sand down the sharp edges and “fix” the mistakes. All of its shambling, mumbling, drunken barroom charm would be completely lost. That goes also for the entire recorded output of The Band, or most of Dylan’s albums (such as my personal favorite, John Wesley Harding).

To take a somewhat more modern example, listen to “Sirena” from Australian instrumental trio Dirty Three, above. This is a band that sounds forever on the verge of collapse, and it’s absolutely beautiful to hear (or see, if you get the chance to experience them live). This recording, from their album Ocean Songs, was made in 1998, before most production went fully digital, and there are very few records that sound like it anymore. Even dance music has the potential to be much more raw and organic, instead of having singers’ voices run through so much pitch correction software that they sound like machines. (witness the obscure disco hit “Miss Broadway,” for example, or LCD Soundsystem’s career.)

There is a lot more to say about the way the albums represented above were recorded, but the overall point is that just as too much CGI has often ruined the excitement of cinema (we’re looking at you, George Lucas) —or as the digital “loudness wars” sapped much recorded music of its dynamic peaks and valleys—overzealous use of software to correct imperfections can ruin the human appeal of music, and render it sterile and disposable like so many cheap, plastic mass-produced toys. As with all of our use of advanced technology, questions about what we can do should always be followed by questions about what we’re really gaining, or losing, in the process.

Soundcloud days might be numbered…

Oh, damn

The biggest platform for sharing music, especially fire internet rap bangers, has reportedly been pushed to the edge. A new report suggests that the streaming platform Soundcloud only has enough cash to survive for 50 more days.

Soundcloud employees quoted by TechCrunch, said that SoundCloud cofounders, Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, told staff that despite laying off 40 percent of its workforce, the company only had enough money to survive until Q4—which is just 50 days from now.

Despite the leaks from the video conference, a company spokesperson told Techcrunch that the company was “fully funded into Q4” and currently in talks with investors.

Whether the company is financially stable or not, the employees who spoke to Techcrunch are clearly pissed off. “The people saved from this are jumping ship,” one employee said. “Morale is really low.” Another employee said that staff laughed during the video conference when Erich Wahlforss described the SoundCloud staff as family. “You just fired 173 people of the family! How the fuck are you going to talk about family?”

Another grimy detail revealed from the meeting was that SoundCloud knew it had to layoff a lot of staff months ago but did not properly inform its employees. It was also reported that the company even hired staffers who were laid off shortly after quitting their old jobs and moving to Berlin. One staff member, Vojta Stavik, told Techcrunch that he is taking legal action against the company. Stavik was set to start on July 17 and fired ten days before his start date. He said his contract stipulated that he was supposed to receive four weeks’ notice of dismissal. Stavik further told TechCrunch that SoundCloud had refused to pay his salary for the four-week period.

So whatever happens to SoundCloud, one can only hope that it can save itself from this ticking doomsday clock. However, it might be a good idea now to save your SoundCloud gems while you still can because who knows what will happen to all that music if the site shuts down.

“I hate the term ‘underground’ “

MeLa Machinko gives her take on the term “underground”

Yes, I know where I am. I also know where you’re reading this. But…

I never liked the term “underground.” As much as I have always been in love with “underground music,” it has always felt to me like the very thing I love about the music that tends to fall under the umbrella—the freedom and risk-taking sonically, the noncompliance to the popular rules of the day—it’s always seemed that the title “underground” sought to undermine those qualities, by boxing it in. And everyone who used it, used it that way…not just popular music lovers.

Beyond the catchall use of underground as “music that’s not generally commercial sounding and/or widely commercially released,” the term is at once used as a pejorative (see: Ebro) to mean “unappealing to the masses/unable to crossover because it’s not good enough” (which we know is horse shit)—as a badge of honor; a secret club for the smarter, cooler kids; a weapon used to shame anyone who dares like popular music. Most of that shit is wack and needs to stop.

It’s wild corny to fix your face to say that all the music that doesn’t make it past the corporate gatekeepers and onto the radio 100 times a day just isn’t as good as music that does. Plus a lot of that shit is trash.
But the so-called purist fans can hobble their favorite artist’s career by rejecting anything that to them remotely smells like they want to gain a fan beyond the hot, funky, obscure basement rap club they’re standing in. Think of any “backpack” or “conscious” (subsets of the underground) artist who collaborates with a mainstream artist and puts it out. Now recall their Twitter mentions that day. (Did you even listen to that 2 Chainz verse on De La’s album? He blacked. Haters hated anyway.)

Underground can mean how the music sounds, or how famous a rapper isn’t. It’s further complicated by the facts that A) the major deal is all but dead, so almost everyone is independent now (what that means these days is a convo for another time), and B) there are artists who do have major backing who pretend to be underground, for the authenticating narrative (and so they don’t get taxed in full by collaborators).

Soundcloud is a huge player in the underground conversation (and probably not so incidentally, “Soundcloud rapper” has also been used as an insult). Lil Yachty got his start on Soundcloud. Now he has a Target commercial. Some call him an industry plant. If XXXTentacion never changes his moody emo violent sound, but still gets chosen by Walmart ‘cause one day Drake apologizes and puts him on his Summer single, is HE still underground?

It’s exhausting.

I want the stigma gone, and I want the elitist heads to stand down.

Every rapper’s story began underground, one way or another. If the underground can mean all those things, then why can’t it mean the genesis stories of mainstream faves? Why can’t it mean the Polo Club, before they became the Migos? Kendrick is, as I type, coasting up the Billboard charts. He’s widely accepted as the most “woke” rapper of the times, still making the Blackest music. Section.80 is underground, ain’t it?

What if underground could be all the dope music that’s waiting to be brought to light, and all of the stories that come from the ones who went on to greatness?

I might could love that underground.

The end of the MP3…

MP3’s going the way of vinyl, cd’s and tapes
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The developer of the MP3, which revolutionized the way people listen to music, announced Monday it has terminated the file format’s licensing program after more than two decades.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German research body that licensed MP3 patents to software developers, said in a statement that though the technology remains popular among consumers, “there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today.” Indeed, the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), MP3’s successor, is already considered the default audio format for YouTube, iTunes, and other music-streaming services.

The format became popular mostly because it could compress vast amounts of data without a commensurate deterioration in quality. In practical terms, it meant many songs—sometimes thousands—could be saved on a single device.

Though MP3 will join the list of older formats such as CDs, cassette tapes, and vinyl, it’s unlikely to enjoy the resurgence of its predecessors. As Gizmodo’s Rhett Jones writes, “The audio quality is trash by modern standards and some research has even suggested that its compression reinforces perceived negative emotional characteristics in musical instruments to the detriment of positive emotional characteristics.”

Still, the impact of MP3s on the digital music landscape won’t soon be forgotten. The format ushered the music industry into the digital age, fueling millions or billions of portable audio downloads and setting the foundation for an era that brought the iPod and all the other modern forms of music listening that have come since.

Chem Trail Rap forever…

The latest Unkut post has Robbie analyzing various rappers’conspiracy theories…

Chem Trail Rap, also known as Tinfoil Hat Rap, Eff The Illuminati Rap or Flat Earther Rap, has been permanent fixture of hip-hop ever since it became passe to talk about the actual real problems that Public Enemy, Paris, X-Clan, and Brand Nubian addressed in their music. In an attempt to somehow be more ‘underground’ and edgy, it was deemed old hat to be hung-up on the subjects of institutional racism and the War on Drugs when there was wild-eyed conspiracy theories about government sanctioned UFOs to be plundered by every weed head with a copy of Milton William Cooper’s Behold A Pale Horse in their rucksack.

This trend was amplified once the internet provided new avenues for crackpot theories to be distributed, allowing them to reach a far wider audience than the photocopied leaflets and newsletters previously distributed through militia bookstores, incense shops, and gun conventions. The likes of Non-Phixion, Immortal Technique, and Jedi Mind Tricks nurtured a loyal audience of folks convinced that AIDS was made in a lab in order to kill off particular sections of the population, 9/11 was carried out under the instructions of George W. Bush, and JFK was shot to prevent him from revealing the secrets of aliens living amongst us.

As I’ve previously noted, B.O.B. is a strident Flat Earther, going as far as penning a song on the subject and engaging in heated debates on social media. According to Salon, B.O.B. has now moved on to Holocaust denial in an attempt to become this generation’s Professor Griff. I was also saddened to discover that D.I.T.C. stalwart A.G. also subscribes to the idea that we’re living on a flat disc covered by a giant dome and that space travel is a lie, which further strengthens my resolve that it’s a terrible idea to ever read the Facebook status of any rapper you have even the least bit of appreciation for.

There’s also a burgeoning field of hip-hop conspiracies to contend with, such as Jay Z being a major Illuminati power player, Tupac living on a tropical island, and Three 6 Mafia being active worshippers of Satan. Which begs the question – are rap fans more susceptible to conspiracy theories than other music fans? The short answer is no. Bizarre ideas and accusations of cover-ups have been going on since Paul McCartney was apparently ‘replaced’ by an imposter after ‘dying’ in 1966.

The format of rapping just happens to lend itself to more intricate ‘exposes’, as a rap song will typically contain far more information than any rock or heavy metal tune could ever squeeze into four and a half minutes. Add to that the potential to make yourself seem particularly clever and well-informed by revealing the ‘tricknology’ that permeates our every waking moment, and you have the ideal breeding ground for mentalist music. Take ol’ mate Prodigy from Mobb Deep, who in the latter half of his career has dedicated a significant portion of his rapping to teaching the ‘sheeple’ about the dangers of the various secret societies controlling us all. On 2008’s appropriately titled ‘Illuminati,’ Prodigy raps: “Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body, Secret Society trying to keep their eye on me/But I’mma stay incogni in places they can’t find me/Make my moves strategically.” Might I suggest that naming a song after the organisation from which you’re trying to keep a low profile isn’t exactly the best way to fly beneath their radar… unless it’s all part of an elaborate plan to bait them into publicly exposing themselves in a cunning game of cat and mouse?

There’s also a growing section of Fake Deep Rap for fans who want to appear ‘woke’ but prefer something a little less rabid than alien abductions and Freemason plots. This particular community can often be found enjoying the tranquil sounds of J. Cole, Joey Badass, and Lupe Fiasco, where vague spirituality meets even vaguer messages about being the best ‘you’ that you can be, all wrapped up in the warm embrace of smug self-satisfaction because you’re so much more sophisticated and evolved than those lowly Mumble Rap fans who just want to get wasted all the time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my underground bunker to boil the mind controlling drugs out of my tap water and complete my manifesto exposing how ‘the gay’ control the rap industry, as Fat Joe warned us all about years ago.

SummerStage 2017…

SummerStage is back so i picked out a few upcoming events for the 2017 summer i think my readers would be interested in…

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic / Main Source / DJ Marley Marl hosted by Roxanne Shante
June 11 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm | Free @ Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Grand Central Pkwy., Whitestone Exwy. bet. 111 St. & College Point Blvd., Park Drive E.
Queens, NY



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Digable Planets
June 21 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Coffey Park Verona St. bet. Richard St. and Dwight St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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Just Blaze in association with Meanred
June 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Coffey Park Verona St. bet. Richard St. and Dwight St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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KRS-One / DJ Chuck Chillout
June 25 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Coffey Park Verona St. bet. Richard St. and Dwight St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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GrandWizzard Theodore
June 29 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Betsy Head Park Dumont Ave. & Strauss St.,
Brooklyn, NY

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DJ Premier and Friends in association with Lyricist Lounge 25th Anniversary Series
July 2 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Betsy Head Park Dumont Ave. & Strauss St.,
Brooklyn, NY


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Slick Rick The Ruler / GrandWizzard Theodore
July 7 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Springfield Park 184th St. & 146th Terrace
Queens, NY 11413 United States

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Judy Torres / Cynthia
July 13 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Queensbridge Park Queensboro Bridge, 41 Rd., 40 Ave. bet. The East River, Vernon Blvd., and 21 St.
Queens, NY


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Mr. Cheeks / Large Professor
July 14 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Queensbridge Park Queensboro Bridge, 41 Rd., 40 Ave. bet. The East River, Vernon Blvd., and 21 St.
Queens, NY

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The Legendary Ladies of SKYY
July 15 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Queensbridge Park Queensboro Bridge, 41 Rd., 40 Ave. bet. The East River, Vernon Blvd., and 21 St.
Queens, NY

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Capone-N-Noreaga in association with Lyricist Lounge 25th Anniversary Series
July 16 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Queensbridge Park Queensboro Bridge, 41 Rd., 40 Ave. bet. The East River, Vernon Blvd., and 21 St.
Queens, NY

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TKA
July 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Corporal Thompson Park Broadway btwn Markham Rd. & Wayne St.
Staten Island, NY United States

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Lisette Melendez
July 20 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Corporal Thompson Park Broadway btwn Markham Rd. & Wayne St.
Staten Island, NY United States

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GZA in association with Lyricist Lounge 25th Anniversary Series
July 23 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Corporal Thompson Park Broadway btwn Markham Rd. & Wayne St.
Staten Island, NY United States

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Rock Steady Crew 40th Anniversary featuring MC Lyte
July 30 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ SummerStage, Central Park Rumsey Playfield
New York, NY


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Lisa Lisa
July 30 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ St. Mary’s Park St Mary’s St bet. St Ann’s Av and Jackson Av
Bronx, NY

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Ultimate Break and Beats Anniversary / BreakBeat Lou / SPECIAL ED / Camp Lo / hosted by Lord Finesse
August 2 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Crotona Park Crotona Park North to South, Fulton Av to Southern Blvd and Crotona Park East
Bronx, NY



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Stevie B / Ted Smooth
August 4 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Crotona Park Crotona Park North to South, Fulton Av to Southern Blvd and Crotona Park East
Bronx, NY


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Kid Capri’s Block Party Live
August 5 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Crotona Park Crotona Park North to South, Fulton Av to Southern Blvd and Crotona Park East
Bronx, NY

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Jadakiss
August 6 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Crotona Park Crotona Park North to South, Fulton Av to Southern Blvd and Crotona Park East
Bronx, NY

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Funkbox in the Park: Tony Touch / Danny Krivit / Jellybean Benitez / D-Train / honoring Evelyn Santos
August 13 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Free @ East River Park Amphitheater
New York, NY 10002 United States

“Modern fans are superficial, ignorant of rap’s legacy and rarely care what’s being said as long as it ‘feels’ right and looks the part – hence Lil’ Yachty”

Why some of today’s relatively unremarkable rappers attract so many loyal fans

In recent years, I’ve often found myself perplexed at the fact that many, perfectly competent but otherwise unremarkable, rappers have managed to amass sizeable followings of passionate fans. Where previously this kind of loyalty was reserved for artists of exceptional ability or undeniable charisma, now a modicum of talent and an affable personality seem to suffice. A real head scratcher, it would seem, until earlier this week while I was chatting with an esteemed associate who’s had first-hand experience in several areas of the music industry. He reasoned that the current generation of rap fans hold artists to a different standard than he and I did, and that these often ‘second rate’ rappers made their fans feel more connected and ‘closer’ to them because of this ordinariness.

This might be described as the ‘performing in the bedroom mirror with a hairbrush’ effect, where the audience feel a strong connection and almost believe that they too could one day be up on the stage themselves if they develop their ‘personal brand’ enough. This is an interesting shift from the attitudes of yesteryear, where rappers often had a certain public aloofness as they struggled to keep up with the neighbourhood hustlers who set the style trends and almost always had bigger gold chains and flyer gear. There was also the issue of accessibility to consider – you needed some serious cash for studio time to hone your craft once you moved beyond the pause-tape demo, and even once you had proper music in the can there was a very limited set of gate-keepers between you and your (potentially) adoring public.

Now that Joe Macbook can record, mix, and master his own music, shoot a video for it and then go and spam the shit out of unsuspecting Twitter users, it’s an easier dream to sell. Now if the rapper they admire embodies many of the qualities the fan considers important to them (dressing well, smoking weed, pushing vague Fake Deep positivity) without appearing too technically advanced or skilled, then it’s feasible that the fan might one day be able to perform alongside them as a peer. This, in turn, breeds a particular strain of loyalty which leads the fans to buy branded handkerchiefs (may not have actually been done yet but it’s only a matter of time) and valiantly defending them in the Great YouTube Comment Section Wars.

My friend also noted that as a result of music and arts programs being effectively abandoned by the public school system, the subsequent generation lacks many of the skills required for critical artistic thinking, which produces a wave of artistic types who find it easier to mimic, replicate and recycle older, better ideas with no shame and a disturbing lack of self-awareness. He continued by pointing out that there’s also a trend to ‘deify’ artists of the past in an attempt by teenagers to create or validate their own self-identity without actually understanding them or their music. Thus Tupac and Biggie become their James Dean and Marilyn Monroe – cultish idols to be worshipped but rarely understood.

Likewise, issues which plagued rappers for years such as artistic credibility and street-level respect have been rendered virtually null and void, as a powerful meme can destroy your career quicker than a dozen shoot-outs out the front of Hot 97 ever could have. The only people who are concerned about rap ghostwriters are angry Facebook dudes who were denied entry into the Conservative Rap Coalition for being older, angrier, and 85% more bitter than I could ever aspire to be, even if I lived to a hunned.

Rap fans have evolved from being that kid wanting to dress like their favourite rapper and wear a t-shirt with their logo to now aspiring to carry their weed, be their Social Media Manager, and feature them on their new mixtape. Modern fans are superficial, ignorant of rap’s legacy and rarely care what’s being said as long as it ‘feels’ right and looks the part – hence Lil’ Yachty. The same thing can be said of any pop music fan since recorded music became commercially available, so this speaks more to rap becoming assimilated into pop culture than anything else. Pop music is essentially about feeling sorry for yourself, love songs, and jumping around like an idiot, so that’s what the public face of rap has morphed into as well.