Music Is My Drug Of Choice’s 18 to Beat on #NewMusicFriday, 4/3/15
Artist Highlights | Jamie xx, Wale, Thief, Gorgon City, MGK, Σtella, London Grammar
Featuring tracks from The xx frontman’s solo breakout career as Jamie xx , hip hop legend, Wale, Greek electro-pop singer, Σtella, the catchy Thief, and many more on this week’s #NewMusicFriday.
Music Is My Drug Of Choice (MIMDOC) is kicking April off with several new concepts.
First, I want to make it easier for you to catch the latest 7/11 to Beat every week, so you can now subscribe to/ follow the single playlist “NewMusicFriday: 7/11 to Beat” on either Spotify or bop.fm; it will get updated every Friday. If you miss prior week’s tracks, they’ll be added to “7/11 to Beat — Archived,” so follow both playlists if you fancy!
Second, to make this a sustainable, weekly concept (currently run as a one-man show), I’ll be focusing my track insights on the artists I deem highlight-worthy for the week. I’ll still be sure to pack in a lot of personal insight, commentary, opinions, and relevant cultural references.
Another update is inspired by all the hype around yet another music streaming service. TIDAL is the newest player to enter the paid, subscription-based streaming arena. It aims to bring the art and human elements back to music, with emphasis on high quality sound just as how the artists intended their art to be heard. As such, it’s garnered huge support from top artists — Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye, Madonna, Coldplay, and more — that might have Spotify shaking in their boots.
But with this bit of news, it’s even more striking how the way we consume music has drastically changed in this digital era. Over the years, we’ve seen the music streaming space, alone, evolve quite a bit. Pandora was the first to kick off digital radio, which has brought on the advent of on-demand services like Spotify and TIDAL, and ultimately inspired a music aggregator, bop.fm, to address the problems of this now fragmented streaming space.
The days of vinyls, cassettes, and CDs now feel like a figment of our imagination. Moving onto “better” things — MP3s to streaming — each invention is seen as an improvement to the preceding form of music consumption. However, they haven’t always benefitted the artists with piracy and lack of monetization incentives. Soon enough, each form becomes archaic, a thing of the near or distant past.
But luckily, the appreciation for the “old school” way of owning and consuming music hasn’t been completely lost or buried away in our generation. The art of vinyl collection has experienced popularity and success amongst the music aficionado crowd. This crowd appreciates and realizes that there’s just something about the physical ownership of an artist’s work — a collector’s piece — that is so gratifying. So is the idea that this form of playback cannot be endlessly skipped from track to track. It holds the listener accountable, to stay engaged and periodically flip or change the vinyl.
Even more so, remember those little things called mixtapes that came in cassette (or CD) form? We deliberately, thoughtfully, and artfully chose songs to share these physical, music copies and moments with others. Oftentimes, there was hope in conveying a particular story, or it symbolized an expression of love, friendship or fondness. It brought on a deep feeling of nostalgia just hearing the mixtape years later — and still does just thinking about the idea.
Music Is My Drug Of Choice wants to bring that same sentiment of deliberation, thought, art and nostalgia back every Friday.
The hope is for 7/11 to Beat to represent our very own carefully, hand-picked mixtape of tracks that share a particular story filled with the imagery and emotions of the person creating it. There’s also hope to expand this one-man show down the line to bring in track or entire mixtape requests from MIMDOC readers and listeners. Although each 7/11 to Beat is created with the premise to feature the newest, most interesting, buzz-worthy tracks, don’t be surprised if there’s a bonus throwback track thrown your way every once in a while. After all, there are decades worth of musical styles to appreciate and share rather than the most trending (or hashtagging) at the moment.
Old ways of doing things or forms of art don’t have to completely be a thing of the past. Let’s bring that old school way of consuming, discovering, and sharing music back to this digital era, with the help of these scores of streaming services.
Jamie xx, more famously known as the English producer and artist from the London-based group, The xx, is now pursuing a solo career with his first debut album, In Colour. In an interview with Mix Mag, he expressed the motivations behind his solo decision and that it wasn’t completely free of any hesitation or nerves. He explained how his new album embodies the work that is completely his own, work that may never have come to agreement with The xx or come to fruition while the band was busy touring. It’s a product of his thoughts and desires of what he wanted his music to be. And as far as being nervous, it wasn’t that he lacked confidence in the work he produced, but more concerns about whether he’d be taken seriously with a indie or pop background aiming to make dance music.
One of the personal favorites is the album art. It’s depicted as a revival to give new, renewed life and color to the otherwise, chill, mellow perceived persona of The xx. And that chorus. Simply mesmerizing.
2/ The White Shoes – Wale
GQ described Wale’s “The White Shoes” as “equal parts uplifting and Seinfeld.” Jerry Seinfeld’s cameo introduces Wale’s depiction of white shoes and what they symbolize to the black community. Allowing them to claim a status that seemingly silences the poverty, drugs and crime, it ironically comes with a hefty price tag, only made possible after engaging criminal activity just to acquire them. Perpetuating this irony, even after claiming this highly coveted pair of sneakers, they only hold the rights to power and status so “as long as them sneakers white” and are oftentimes buried in them the same. It goes to show that the community is only able to temporarily escape or rise above the struggles but is still conflicted with the issues they hope to escape.
Addressing the history and hypocrisy of the black community and tensions still flaring up today in To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar passes on the baton to Wale to continue producing thought-provoking lyrics in the rest of The Album About Nothing.
Thief’s recent single, “Crazy” (to be covered below), spurred an interest into some of their older work. In this 2013 single, Thief incorporates such a repetitive, upbeat sprinkle of shimmering synths and sounds in “Closer” that’s catchy and infectious and “robs from all the right sources” (The Guardian). Even the fun, colorfully animated music video alludes to The Guardian‘s fitting description.
This incredible English garage duo, consisting of two North London producers, first caught my eye with their single, “Go All Night” featuring the talented Jennifer Hudson. Soon after discovering yet ANOTHER UK-based producer, MNEK, I stumbled upon his collaboration “Ready for Your Love” to make for another dance-inducing, upbeat and uplifing tune for Gorgon City. Those who have caught their live show surely haven’t been disappointed.
Machine Gun Kelly, or MGK, touches upon a slew of social issues in this moving single from poverty, bullying, to the recent actions of cruelty and discrimination by the police coming to light. Victoria Monet’s beautiful, pop vocals contrast MGK’s rap about his frustration with the perpetuating violence and unrest caused by pointing blame between the parties involved. He hopes to wake up one morning with his own “I had a dream” moment where love, peace and positivity serve as the guiding forces to eradicate the pain and suffering brought on by these issues.
This track inclusion was a inspired upon sharing a conversation with my brother, Paresh, about London Grammar’s strong, powerful, and sometimes moody sound reminding him of Dido. Having seen them perform at Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel at SXSW 2014, I can attest to the lead singer, Hannah Reid, sounding just as magnificent live. In the midst of seeking out a track to feature, I found German DJ and producer, Tensnake’s take on one of my favorites, “Hey Now,” that reminds me of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” Tensnake’s remix possesses the same mellow, mystical sound of the original but transforms it into a more danceable house track.
Yet another Seinfeld intro — Jerry: “Oh so there’s still hope?” // George: “I don’t want hope. Hope is killing me. My dream is to become hopeless. When you’re hopeless, you don’t care, and when you don’t care, that indifference, it makes you attractive.”
Although this deep conversation between the two likely doesn’t extend beyond relationship woes, it creates a great precursor to the lyrics offered up by Wale. Wale extends his pessimistic view beyond “White Shoes” of the hopelessness felt by the black community to gain power or prosperity due to external forces and the inherent racial discrimination and inequality.
However, on the other hand, he also juxtaposes that understanding by the hypocrisy of his own people killing or rioting without a purpose, perpetuating the hopelessness within their own community.
Australian band, Thief, is back with the same stylistically catchy, electro-pop sound featured in “Closer” — synths and all. This time he also slows it down, adding a little guitar into the mix.
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