Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beats Hit While Emcees Slip



As a kid I never paid too much attention to lyrics. There was always music playing in my home growing up and if it sounded pleasant that was enough for me. I heard the vocals as another instrument. Even when I could make out the words I was still too young to understand exactly what some of these artists were talking about. Try explaining to a 5 year old what "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" means.
When I began to understand the meanings behind the lyrics the songs began to speak to me. Words were no longer voices in the background they had become meanings, stories connecting all those who listened. For me understanding the atittude and language of a song made me a part of it. Whether political, humorous, loving, or just down right dirty, music had a message!
I take a song for what it is. Just like watching a horror flick  I go into it knowing that the blood is fake. But there's nothing like a first time experience. After that too much of the same thing can get old. That's why there are such things as classics. Some songs from the 70's are still being played because the message is still relevance to contemporary life. Time continues to produce more and more music so every year it gets harder to be original. A lot of the basics have alrea
dy been created and driven off of the cliff. Music has had it's share of shark jumping.
In paticular I point the finger at rap(hip hop). It takes pages upon pages of lyrics to fill a 3 verse track. Most rappers will run out of things to say before their first album. Others don't even care and just keep running in circles( there's a new rap fan born everyday). Eventually the lack of creativity reaches a listeners limits. What's the average life-span of a rap(hip hop) fan anyways? 3, 4 years???
Unlike the lyrics beats have remained a little ahead of the game. Maybe it's the disconnect that noise and sound has in comparison to the text. Whatever the case hip hop beats are still bangin' as loud as ever. The ratio may be 1 in 20 but I think the rappers are more like 1 in 50!
Some like music for the message and others for the sound. I appreciate dope lyrics as much as the next but these days I'm just a sound sop.
Peace & Vinyl!

Imperial

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Saturday Nights" A DJ's Biggest Threat

It goes without saying that the best(known) dj's get the best time slot which is Saturday Night. Competition in the world of djing is fierce so to make a name for yourself in this climate is no small feat. I recently read a blog about a well established dj/producer that retired from playing at clubs due to the amount of dj's lining up behind him to play. Dj's have become a dime a dozen.
I would say through personal experience that more than half of the dj's who are lucky enough to get gigs have a solid contact(regardless of talent). You may wonder how this is possible when many of the legends share the same stage and time slot as these other "my friend is the owner of the club" dj's. Are these run-of-the-mill jukeboxes as talented as the more accomplished and experienced?
The answer is NO!
There are dj's out there playing the curcuits who deservingly so are bad-ass dj's. But how big of a roll does that really play? Having a record out or being associated with a popular artist(s) does make it easier for the promoters to draw in a crowd. Not to mention that more experienced dj's are professionals who know the game making it easier to do business. But once the night is secured with a successful turn out and he or she is standing behind the decks, how big is the expectation? In my opinion very little.
With or without the dj on the flyer there still is Saturday Night. There is a crowd, a nice audio system, pleasant atmoshere, full bar, and an extra day from work making it easy for the party people to unwind. Drinks are flowing, couples are hooking up, and the dancefloor is packed. With all these distractions the music just has to be on!
Not many are clockin' the mixes or trying to figure out if the effects they are hearing are coming from the record or hands of the dj working the mixboard. Who cares? I care! But I'm not the typical party-goer.
I'm not trying to discredit the talents and thought it takes to craft a great dj set because it is appreciated. The problem is that it's appreciated as a bonus instead of a requirement. The party goes on with or without it. Simular to the selling of music. Paying a fee for music used to be a requirement but has now become an option. So for all of those Saturday Night Dj's who think you're rocking the party, don't flatter yourself!
Peace & Vinyl.

Imperial

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Worst Music Fan

For the most part music is my thing. It's been with me my whole life. As a kid I remember hearing the family stereo in the living room blasting, Santana, The Stones, Zepplin, The Doobies, and all that. A few years later it was more like Rick James, Prince, S.O.S Band, Gap Band, and so on. But when I started developing my own taste in music it was more like KISS, AC/DC, Sabbath, and Devo. I might of stuck around for the wave of harder rock music but then Hip Hop came to California and blew me away.
As a youth I was inspired by these early impressions of music, such that I took to putting posters on my walls. I was playing air guitar and memorizing the words to entire albums. And if there was any chance to catch a performance on T.V. my eyes were glued. (pre mtv geveration) After going to my first concert the experience was complete.

I've since thought about why those artistd intrested me back then and came to the conclusion that they  all had a some kind of raw element in their music. My search for that certain vibe continues. It could pop up at anytime, so whenever it presents itself I tune in.

It might inspire me to see a show where everyone knows the words but me. I might buy a shirt of a band that has a song that I like  but couldn't tell you the name of one album. I've bought records from styles of music that I can't stand just to get one song. Ever heard of the term freak of nature?
I still put up a few album covers on the wall just to represent my collection and maybe a poster in a frame, but my days of trying to get an autograph or a spot near the front stage are over.
I'm still a big fan of music, you just wouldn't know it.
Peace & Vinyl!

Imperial

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where's The Cover Art?

Browsing through so called "Hip Hop" albums, I can't help but notice the lack of cover art. All I see is a different rapper with a variation of the same clothes, car, jewlery, and girl in the back. We've seen this image play out over the last couple of decades and yet it seems to have become a permanent staple. (Needless to say  this lack of art is also reflected in the music).






Metal and Punk albums seem to be more in-tune to the importance of visual art. Just go into any record shop and visit these sections. In a glance, the rap section could be summerized by bling, tatoos, and wife beaters. A look into the metal and punk sections may have themes, though equally disturbing, presented in some form of  visual art.




Downloads have threatened the album cover.  It's true that a thumbnail is offered with most digital releases. This gives recording artists an opportunity to let listener in on the album's concept. But how many fans actually take the listening experience that far? Probably those who still buy cd's and records. (Try putting a low resolution JPEG file on your wall!)
Indie labels that haven't taken advantage of the expression cover art provides don't get it. Without a major breathing down your neck the possibilities are endless. So save your personal images for Facebook and put your music before yourself by giving it an illustration.
Peace & Vinyl

Imperial

Friday, January 7, 2011

Beat Pirates

Since the landmark case of De La Soul vs. The Turtles hip hop producers and labels have been forced to take responsibility for clearing samples. Advocates argue that sampling is an artform that takes only bits & peices of music to put together a completely different sound. However this point is hard to defend when such artists as P Diddy have completely ignored this technique and resorted to stringing together 4 and 8 bar loops as a way of producing a track. In this regard the method of sampling could easily be perceived as out right theivery.
So in post modern times sampling has become regulated. No more would major labels consider releasing anything without proper sample clearance. This new precedence pushed a lot of producers to cut down on samples and incorporate more keyboard plug-ins and live studio musicians. A radical departure from the collage of breaks that once defined the intensity of the street sound. For some, hip hop music was losing it's atittude.
In the current age of the internet all regulations on music seem to have vanished. The concerns of uncleared samples have fallen by the waist side. More worried about a shrinking market which chooses to share files instead of paying for legal downloads, the industry's focus has shifted. However, for artists and indie labels, a level playing field has been created to compete in what is left of a dying market.
This has taken a lot of pressure off of the technique of sampling. A resurgence of beats have come out in the last decade with no regard to copyright law. However liberating this may be, it does not protect producers who sample from being prosecuted. Taking large chunks of somone else's music without permission and selling it is still a crime. For this reason pop music's biggest producers and labels continue to pay copyright fees while indie labels and artists hide in the underground pockets of the internet.
As a beat maker and hip hop producer I support the law. Those producers who have gotten over on using a loop and credited for being innovators should pay the source of there samples. Most people who are ignorent to sampling and don't recognize the song being used will never judge an artist or producer this way. But those who are hip to the game will automatically catch it and question the creativity of the track. The threat of copyright has to be a part of the mix, it keeps the producer from being lazy. There are plenty of programs out there to munipulate and disect samples in a variety of different ways. Sampling is a tool to create sounds. Paying for samples is a cop out. If your methods and beats are tight it shouldn't be an issue. I compare it to graffiti. With risk comes passion and that's what art is all about.
Peace & vinyl!

Imperial.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blogging or File Sharing?

I'm new in the world of blogging so I'm playing catch up. Upon my search for people who share the same atittude and tastes in music I realized that a lot of folks don't even drop an opinion. They simply put up the album cover, playlist, and a download link. Where's the blogging in that?
I see the whole illegal file sharing thing as something that comes with the territory. By no means am I going to criticize a monster like that, but if you're going to do it on a blog then give it a shout! I'm sure some of these artists that come across their music might actually appreciate it.
On the other hand I've read some real cool blogs that include complete reveiws and extra added info that reveals how deep the bloggers crates are. Some have the respect to limit sound samples to 30 seconds and post disclaimers for artists that don't want their music exploited, not to mention links to where the music can be purchased.
Selling music is now based on the honor system. Purchases have turned into donations. The music is out there for the taking and it's for free, so step up and post what's on your minds because that's free too!
Peace & Vynil!

Imperial

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Random Rap Heavyweight

Thanks to all of the vinyl heads that have made Asphalt Poetry's 1993 EP "Harmagedion" one of the most talked about records at the auctions. For years this record was lost in obscurity. The flurry of indie labels in the early 90's produced a wave of underground that saw both the best and worst of hip hop music. After the Golden Age leveled, the dust spread through a waste land of forgotten vinyl and settled in used record shops and swap meets across the world.

Now that the distraction of media and industry politics was no longer an issue the record hunt was open to find the jems that were burried. For some it would be as easy as copping a classic for a buck off an ignorant flea market vendor, while others might have emptied their pockets for a record that would end a 10 year search. Whatever the case the price of any collectable is only worth as much as a collector will pay. So for all of those who pushed this record to sales of  3 and, in at least one case, 4 digit figures, I salute you.   Peace & Vinyl! 

Imperial