Album Review: Dear Evan Hansen

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

You’d initially think the answer is yes, but what if I asked you to search for a deeper meaning? What if the tree represented a person? Does it matter whether it makes a sound or not if no one’s there to hear it?

That’s the premise of the new Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. With music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, it tells the story of Evan Hansen, a high school senior with social anxiety disorder who gets himself involved in a tragedy that he has no right to be part of. When his classmate, Connor Murphy, kills himself, Evan lies to Connor’s family about having been his friend. His lie leads him to develop a close relationship with the Murphys (especially their daughter, Zoe, who he has a crush on), achieve popularity, and feel loved and self-confident for the first time in his life… until everything comes crashing down before him, forcing him to fix the mess he’s made.

Poster for Dear Evan Hansen, which was just nominated for 9 Tony awards, including Best Musical.

Poster for Dear Evan Hansen, which was just nominated for 9 Tony awards, including Best Musical.

The songs are remarkable. The orchestra consists of guitar, strings, drums, and piano, giving the soundtrack a contemporary feel. The heartwarming ballad “If I Could Tell Her” seems like it is just that, but it’s actually pretty manipulative–Evan essentially uses Connor’s death to admit his feelings for Zoe. He tells her all the things he loves about her, but claims that Connor was the one who said them. Still, it’s a sweet song, and it gives us insight on both who Zoe is as a person and just how infatuated Evan is with her. The Act 1 finale “You Will Be Found” is a soaring anthem for anyone who has ever felt alone or unloved. It tells us that there is always a way to find light if you are stuck in darkness. All you need to do is ask for help, and someone will hear you and reach out. Then there’s “Good for You,” in which Evan finally gets admonished for everything that has happened, primarily by his mother, Heidi. Heidi lashes out at Evan for rejecting her to spend time with the Murphys. As a single mother, she has worked so hard to support herself and her son, and she deserves more than for him to make her feel like she’s not good enough. Meanwhile, Evan starts to realize that his lie has spiraled out of control, and he wonders frantically how he can fix the situation, fearing there is no solution. Other great songs include “For Forever,” in which Evan tells a false account of a day he and Connor spent together; “Requiem,” in which we see each of the Murphys individually react to Connor’s death; “Only Us,” a love song between Evan and Zoe; and “Words Fail,” in which Evan finally confesses the truth.

But the true standout of the album is “Waving Through a Window,” which takes place at the beginning of the show. In it, Evan reflects on how he’s spent his life watching from the background, always observing and never experiencing. He never speaks up lest he get noticed and judged by others. But now, he starts to realize that because he never gets noticed, very few people know he even exists. Evan broke his arm by falling out of a tree before the events of the show (hence its logo of an arm in a cast), but what we don’t know yet is that the fall was actually a suicide attempt. The fact that no one want to sign his cast only worsens his loneliness. “When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around, do you ever really crash or even make a sound?” he sings, and repeats, until he escalates to, “Did I even make a sound? It’s like I never made a sound, will I ever make a sound?” To question whether you matter to people is one of the most depressing things one can experience, and this is a question that has been circling around in Evan’s mind for months at least. It’s heartbreaking and honest, but also hopeful. The musical truly understands what it’s like inside the minds of people who feel lost and unseen, and so it reaches out to them and reminds them that they are not alone and that they matter.

The amazing thing about the show’s soundtrack is how much you can empathize with the characters. What Evan does is definitely wrong, but he isn’t portrayed as a completely bad person; rather, he’s shown as a teen who longs for understanding and connection and who finds himself in a situation he feels he can’t get out of. He still isn’t excused from what he’s done, but one can understand why he does it: he doesn’t want Connor’s family to know how isolated their son was, and he’s never gotten this kind of attention and affection from anyone before. Ben Platt, who plays Evan, perfectly captures the character’s inner turmoil and yearning for being heard. His performance feels authentic; oftentimes it seems like he’s not playing Evan, but he’s being Evan. And Rachel Bay Jones, who plays his mother, has incredible range. She displays so much strength in her performance that it’s a pity she’s not in more songs. The entire cast is superbly talented; though it only consists of eight people, everyone fits their role perfectly and together they make a great ensemble.

My one complaint about the soundtrack is that there’s a lot of information that it leaves out. If someone listens to the musical but can’t afford Broadway tickets, there’s a lot that they will miss out on. Nowhere in the album does it mention that Evan tried to kill himself, and it leaves out several other important plot points as well. While the soundtrack is 57 minutes in total, the full show lasts two and a half hours, so we miss out on more than half of the show’s content, which is unfortunate. But the content that we do get to listen to via the album is quite memorable and there’s no doubt it’ll get stuck in your head.

Dear Evan Hansen is a perfect starting point for people who are interested in listening to Broadway soundtracks but don’t know where to start. It doesn’t have as many songs as most other musicals, the music is catchy, and it’s incredibly relatable. If you’ve ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in, this is a great musical for you.

Rating: 9/10

Album Review: “The Black”, by Asking Alexandria

 

Metalcore band Asking Alexandria recently released their highly anticipated fourth full-length album, The Black. It’s their first album with new vocalist Denis Shaforostov (AKA, Denis Stoff), who replaced Danny Worsnop when Worsnop departed in January 2015. On May 26, 2015, Stoff was officially announced as the lead vocalist.

maxresdefault-1

When asked if he had considered anyone else for the role, lead guitarist Ben Bruce stated “it has to be Denis.”  He then went on topraise Stoff’s vocal range, which is much better than Worsnop’s. Stoff also had been a fan of the band and so was familiar with the earlier material. However, when Stoff himself was asked about how he would distinguish himself from Worsnop, he said that he wouldn’t make any comparisons, since they are two completely different people.

Asking Alexandria opens up their album with a pure banger, “Let it Sleep”. The song kicks off with some distorted guitars and when the whole song kicks in, it pummels its listeners with fast guitars, double kick drums, and screamed vocals. Some other highlights of this album are the heavy songs, which is what the band is mainly known for. Some of those songs are ‘The Lost Souls”, “Undivided”, and really cool and unique songs like, “The Black.”

The band also recorded some major throwback songs, which happen to be my personal favorites, such as “Circled By The Wolves” and “Just A Slave To Rock ‘n Roll.” While a great album in all, there two “eh” moments. Some of the lyrics were kind of cheesy and overdone. Although the songs show off Stoff’s vocal range (which is immense and really beautiful), the song “Send Me Home” was just so over done. It comes off as an attempt at an anthem or a radio-friendly song, but doesn’t quite work. They definitely pulled off the other softer songs like, “Here I Am”, and “We’ll Be OK.” Overall, this album is a definite 9.5/10.

Click below for links to the album stream, the band’s website, and their label’s site and channel:
Asking Alexandria website
Asking Alexandria official twitter
Asking Alexandria Facebook page
Spotify
Sumerian Records
Sumerian Records You Tube channel

Artist Spotlight: Being As An Ocean

Being As An Ocean playing live.

‘Being As An Ocean’ playing live.

Being As An Ocean is a post-hardcore/melodic hardcore band from Alpine, California. The band was formed in 2011 and is currently still active and making new music under the record company, Equal Vision. They were originally formed when Tyler Ross, Ralph Sica, Joel Quartuccio, and Shad Hamawe left their previous band, Vanguard, because they were looking for a different sound. The demo versions of two songs, “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget”, and “Humble Servant, Am I” that appeared on their debut album, “Dear G-d”, were streamed as two singles on the band’s myspace page on January 4, 2011.Originally, they had their guitarist write the entire album as soon as they formed. Later, it was fully tracked in an old hotel called, “The Palms”, and was then later sent to Brian Hood to be mixed and mastered. “Dear G-d” received overwhelmingly positive reviews. After its release, they toured over 20 countries including Canada, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The lyrical content of this album in particular is arguably very Christian. While many critics assert that the band is a Christian band, the band has said several times that they’re just Christians who love to make music. In 2013, Shad Hamawe and Jacob Prest left the band due to personal reasons, and their desires to step away from the intense touring schedule. The members who still remained started to record some material and also held auditions to recruit new members. The band recruited Connor Dennis, the former drummer of the hardcore punk band, Sleep Patterns, and Michael McGough, guitarist of the band of post hardcore band, The Elijah.

With these two new band members, they released their second album, “How We Both Wondrously Perish”.  Lyrically, musically, and vocally, this album surpasses the last one. They recorded the album in Atlanta, Georgia at “Glow in the Dark Studios” and it was released on May 6, 2014. McGough was the biggest addition to BAAO in all the best ways from his playing to his singing. Quartuccio’s vocal delivery on this album drastically improved, but over all, he is very well known for his passionate, yelled vocals and the spoken word poetry usually infused with the band’s music. Shortly after it’s release, the band stated they were working on a new album to be released later in 2015. They released the main single, ‘Little Richie” and soon after they released their self- titled album.

On this album, the lyrics rip through listeners’ hearts: ‘We still defile and abuse the innocent/Like items to be sold or owned/Slavery and prostitution is no place for a nine year old”(Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes The Air, “Mediocre Shakespeare”, 2014) and “A loving marriage from the outside, but oh,/ how ferociously he’d hit her/Richie stood by the bleach white bedside/Ma held his face in her hands while he cried”(Little Richie, “Being As An Ocean”, 2015). Overall, this is possibly the best and most authentic band in the music scene today. Check them out; you won’t regret it one bit.

Here are some links to their social media outlets and music outlets:
http://www.facebook.com/BeingAsAnOcean
http://www.twitter.com/beingasanocean
https://www.instagram.com/beingasanocean/
https://myspace.com/beingasanocean/music/songs
https://invoguerecords.bandcamp.com/album/being-as-an-ocean
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/being-as-an-ocean/id492982354
Merch:
http://merchnow.com/catalogs/being-as-an-ocean
http://www.impericon.com/en/being-as-an-ocean.html
http://www.merchconnectioninc.com/collections/being-as-an-ocean

Kpop Background

imageKpop (Korean pop) is a music genre associated with South Korea. It’s basically pop music in Korean, and less lazy. There is almost always a specific and original dance routine to each song (not including ballads), which fans learn. The songs can range from cute, sexy, angsty, etc./ or be a combination of all. Kpop is not to be confused with non- pop music. Kpop isn’t the only genre of music in Korea, it’s just the one that’s most well known amongst Korean music.

The Korean music industry is ruled by the Korean government. They approve all official idols. The top three most well known agencies are JYP, YG, and SM. They tend to have eccentric personalities. Korean people tend to look on the companies as well, because they tend to be quite comedic, rich, and eccentric men. And they sometimes get involved with each group’s reality show. These companies also have their hands in a lot of other industries as well; food, sports, modeling, management (for celebrities), etc.

JYP
They hold the contracts to some of the biggest Kpop stars in the industry. For example, JYP owns 2pm (boyband), Miss A (girl band), Wonder Girls (girl band), Got7 (boyband) and a lot of others. More than that he holds artists that are in hip hop, R&B, Electronic, Dance, and Rock as well. Run by Park Jin-Young. The company is named after his initials. (In Korea and in a lot of other Asian countries the last/ family name is first. But he chose to put it first name to last.)

YG
Again named after the company owner’s initials, Yang Goon. Has artists in all the same genres, but started its company roots with hip hop. His personality is somewhat shown when his group BIG BANG (boyband), in an interview where they do impressions of him and talk about his behaviors. They mention his new want for attention. He now makes public appearances on TV, when previously he had refused to be shown on camera for the past couple of years.

SM
Founder, Lee Soo Man, (again with the initials thing.) He owns a large amount of the biggest Kpop girl groups. Girl’s Generation, f(X), Red Velvet, and BoA. And boy bands; Shinee and EXO. Some of these groups have around for roughly a decade and still look perfectly youthful, and execute dance routine with experience and grace. Girls Generation didn’t even go through a too terrible 2000’s faze, like most other artists.

Sometimes proper management is questioned, but that’s up to everyone’s own opinion.

The Effect of Location on Hip-Hop

Diversity within the genre of hip-hop is a luxury not often appreciated. Similar to other music genres, different subsets have distinguished themselves, but rap is the only to have sounds exclusive to location. Different cities adapt their respective preferences, whether it be rhyme delivery, use of inflection, utilized tone, or even subject matter. Although every city has its exceptions, most tend to follow the mold created by the surrounding environment. Just as distance between areas allow the development of different cultures and behaviors, rap has its own separate corners each directly influenced by local issues and lifestyles.

Houston: Houston is widely known for its heavy utilization of the boom-bap sound. Known for the drunken quality of its rhythms, producers often use slower drum kits never going past the quarter note level. One may ask, how did this slurred and trippy audiology establish itself in Houston? One direct cause may be the glorification of lean. Lean is a concoction ideally made up of prescribed cough syrup (promethazine codeine) and vodka or sprite. The effects include feelings of euphoria along with motor-skill impairment and lethargy to the point of feeling dissociated with one’s physical body. Houston rappers wanted to channel this same euphoria into their music, creating the slow boom-bap sound that Houston has come to embody. This is seen in work such as Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” as well as in the discographies of artists like Paul Wall, Pimp C, Mr. Mike, Baby Bash, and Kirko Bangz.

Eric B and Rakim of New York

Eric B and Rakim of New York

New York: New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, has one of the genre’s richest histories. It is undeniably difficult to draw parallels between groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Pro Era. However, it would be a crime to ignore the fact that the city of New York itself is central to what New York rappers talk about. Hip-Hop in the Big Apple is territorial. Pro Era went so far as to create the Beast Coast movement. New York artists are constantly shouting out their respective blocks, boroughs, or neighborhoods. Any rapper from the South Bronx will make it known that’s his hood. The same goes for Jamaica, Harlem, Flatbush, and so on. This characteristic can be attributed to the fact that anyone raised within New York City lives and breathes alongside the city itself. The city is its own being, and why wouldn’t one mention a childhood friend?

California-
Compton: Compton is the site of hip-hop’s mainstream revolution, headed by the N.W.A., who made the most of their opportunities with their raw honesty in the 90’s. Ever since, Compton has sought to speak on the issues plaguing its citizens as accurately as possible. Whether it be political injustices or the issue of growing gang violence, Compton artists put it all out on their tracks. This sense of social and political awareness is unique to the MAAD City, and even today’s artists from the area have sought to uphold the example set by N.W.A. With artists like Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, The Game, and Vince Staples all verbally bleeding out on their instrumentals, it is safe to say Compton hip-hop is in good hands.

Bay Area: Bay Area rap has only recently grown in popularity, seeing how most Bay Area artists are underground, or still on the come up. This particular region has developed a culture very different from the traditional urban scene, making use of a more breathy tone and allowing the instrumentals to be the central point of attention. These more ‘withdrawn’ vocals are a result of the welcoming and pristine appearance of suburban environments. Bay Area artists try to implement these misconceptions into their works. This being said, artists like Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Sage the Gemini, IAmSu!, and the HBK Gang are all at the forefront of the Bay Area’s rise, speaking to the flaws of suburbia and the more subtle self-destruction enacted within this perceived paradise.

Chicago: It would not be far from the truth if one said that Chi-town is married to the glorification of violence. Chicago is referred to as “Chiraq” by its own residents. If that doesn’t speak for itself, it would help to bear witness to the content put out by Chicago’s artists. Chief Keef, Lil Durk, BJ the Chicago Kid, Fredo Santana and countless others constantly give voice to a central theme of firearms. Hip-hop has always been known to encourage pride and ego. Chicago rappers pride themselves in their aggressive natures, as that is the means to validation in the environment. It doesn’t help that access to guns is always an inviting opportunity, seeing how even children in their pre-teens walk around strapped. However, it should be noted that many other artists have made an active effort to go against the mold set by the city. These include Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Lupe Fiasco, and Common.

Atlanta artist Raury performing

Atlanta artist, Raury, performing.

Atlanta: Atlanta could be considered hip-hop’s “lab” or testing ground. Especially as of recent, Atlanta has been testing the boundaries of the genres. Fortunately, this has not hurt the success of the city’s artists. Artists like Future, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan have patented the ‘rap mumble’, which entails low and rapid vocals that could be difficult to understand. Other artists and groups like Migos have made use of the machine-gun flow. This style has rappers spitting at a set rhythm with very few breaks in the flow. And then there are those who implement southern soul into the genre, creating a smooth and effortless vibe. Big K.R.I.T. and Raury are great examples of this subset within genres. Taking all this into consideration, Atlanta is easily rap’s most diverse city, and collaborations between its artists are consistently revolutionary.

Hip-hop, as a collective, cannot be denied its diversity. Progression and additions to the genre are guaranteed and will continue to satisfy the cravings of hungry listeners.

Album Review: Bring Me The Horizon’s, “Sempiternal”

BMTH_SempiternalBring Me The Horizon is a band from Sheffield, UK.  The band has five members: lead vocalist Oliver Sykes, lead guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Matt Nicholls, and keyboardist Jordan Fish.  Bring Me The Horizon is known for originally being categorized in the genre known as Deathcore. Deathcore has either been upgraded (or downgraded, depending on who you ask) to a mixed genre that is known as Electronic Metalcore. As their sound has evolved, they have found success with each new release, causing each album to be better than the last. They are a band that has one of the most dedicated fan bases to date. Sempiternal was released in 2013,  and followed three previous studio albums and an EP.  On each album, Oliver Sykes’ technique continues to improve and the band’s execution and lyrics show growth and maturity.

Though it isn’t their most recent album ( That’s the Spirit was released in 2015), Sempiternal serves as Bring Me The Horizon’s all-around most diverse record, with softer to heavier songs. This album is the first with Sykes singing. The opening track ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ is arguably their most experimental track they’ve done over the span of their career. Sykes’ vocals were almost Linkin Park-esque, sounding like he was both singing and screaming at the same time, which is of what most of the album consists. His voice soars through the chorus with intensity and passion. To add to it all, the glitchy vocals throughout that whole song adds another layer, as do the harmonies and the many electronic parts.

There are more experimental songs similar to this song such as ‘Sleepwalking’. In it, crazy, clean, and screamed vocals combine with melodic electronic elements and little breaks of soft singing, showcasing Sykes’ maturing vocals. There are also songs to please their fans of their previous albums.

The album features some memorable but really provocative, anti-religion lyrics in this such as, “And when you die, the only kingdom you’ll see is two foot wide and six foot deep.”  These lyrics are screamed on a track called “The House Of Wolves,” a song that has a very memorable breakdown after that line is delivered. Some other parts in a track called “Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake” seem to mock and really question the hypocrisy of Christianity in lines like, “I’m burning down every bridge we make/ I’ll watch you choke on the hearts you break/I’m bleeding out every word you said/Go to hell for heaven’s sake.” 

These lines mock God and Jesus and the lies the Bible imposes on us as well as the sheer hypocrisy of thinking they (God/Jesus) are above mistakes. It was put very bluntly and quite sarcastically in the song (one of my personal favorites) “Crooked Young” when he screeches the lyrics, “Believe in the one/ Hallelujah, well I’m saved/
Just a dozen steps and 28 days/It’s a miracle, I’ll be born again/As the Lord as my Shepherd I will find a way,”which makes a stark contrast to the lyrics at the end of this song when he screams,“Hallelujah/ I say it’s a miracle, thank you Jesus/ Hallelujah, I say/ — your faith, — your faith.”

Overall, Bring Me The Horizon has really outdone themselves with this album. It’s diverse, it’s heavy, and it’s all over the place. Sempiternal is their best and most mature album to date in all aspects. I’d give this album a solid 10/10.

 

The Many Flavors of Zac Brown Band

imageOn April 28th, Zac Brown Band came out with their new album called Jekyll and Hyde. The name of the album has to do with the book called a Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

In the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually the same person. One is a sane doctor and the other is a crazy man and the album is set up the same way. There are many different types of songs like Castaway, which is an island-type song about drinking and having fun. Then, there is Young and Wild which is an nostalgia song where Zac sings about when he was younger and the things he used to do. Lastly, there is the song Homegrown which is a country song about a small town that feels like he was born there and he wants to die there.

The album is very good gift for someone If you don’t know their taste in music. And if you are trying to get into country music, you should start with buying this album because it has many different sounds and styles.

Check out the lyrics video below for Homegrown, the first single off the album.

The Early Man Woke Up

Sweaty came to kill and he’s still hungry. I’m obviously talking about Earl Sweatshirt, probably one of the world’s most underrated lyricists.

sweatshirt in a sweatshirt

sweatshirt in a sweatshirt

beautiful.

beautiful.

Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, professionally known as rapper Earl Sweatshirt, is arguably one of the most interesting cases to ever reach hip-hop’s doorstep. Earl was first recognized at the age of 15, under the name Sly Tendencies, by upcoming artist, producer, and director Tyler the Creator. At this point Tyler’s empire was still at its foundation stages, but eventually his hip-hop collective Odd Future made its name known. OF gained recognition for their music that tended to flirt with every boundary, putting out depressive tracks, to angry and almost violent audiography.

Earl released his debut album “Earl” at the age of sixteen under the Odd Future label. Although listeners weren’t as numerous as they are now, the audience was shocked by the talent of the young Earl. He boasted an unrivaled vocabulary and a flow that had the ability to draw any ear. His messages had a bipolarity to them that was owned and first put together by Odd Future themselves. Earl spit mercilessly, going between suicidal thoughts to bitter break ups to violent urges that he wrote almost in competition with Tyler.

However, just as quickly as Earl made his claim to power, he suddenly disappeared. Odd Future started up chants screaming “Free Earl,” while fans were scratching their heads trying to figure out the whereabouts of the Early Man. Thebe finally appeared in Samoa in an academy for troubled youth. Apparently, his mother had shipped him off due to Earl’s questionable behavior that continues to remain quite vague. Although Earl was able to get his act together in this two-year hiatus, he missed Odd Future’s rise to the forefront, headlined by Tyler’s “Goblin.”

Earl made his return as abruptly as his departure. At the age of eighteen, he had fans waiting in eager anticipation for new work, along with learning to adjust to OF’s newly found fame. Thebe hit the studio and in August of 2013, “Doris” was released. The album demonstrated Earl’s thoughtfulness and displayed a newly found maturity that hadn’t been present in “Earl.” The new album also removed the violent urges, although it continued the pattern of bipolarity. Listeners bounce between the self-hatred outlined in tracks like “Chum” to the resentful and bitter sound of tracks like “Molasses” and “Burgundy.”

Thebe’s success and popularity skyrocketed, though the mastermind himself was not happy. Earl started popping painkillers and increased his cannabis consumption to keep him kind of happy. He started a downward spiral, that eventually led to Earl being bedridden for three weeks because of medical exhaustion. Following this collapse, Earl went quiet for a while. He continued to tour and make appearances on the Odd Future show “Loiter Squad,” but remained lowkey until late March of 2015, with the release of “I Don’t Like S***, I Don’t Go Outside.” The title, though being explicit, was so accurate it was funny, according to Thebe. The album finds a way to get to an even darker and depressing level that leaves listeners quiet and in an almost meditative state. Barely hitting a full 30 minutes, Earl’s talent is undoubtedly continuing to grow and mature. One might worry about him due to ideas expressed in “Grief,” but Earl is just figuring himself out, and admits that this is his “most honest release.” Earl also released a ten-minute compilation named “Solace,” allegedly dedicated to the turbulent relationship with his mother. “Solace” leaves listeners in a state of appreciative euphoria, so beware.

Earl’s genius is still waiting to be explored, as he isn’t even close to his peak yet. Watch out for Sweaty.

Soundcloud: The End of an Era

image

Soundcloud used to be a place where independent music creators could harmlessly share their music without any financial gain.  But now, it is in favor of boosting revenue and helping those with record labels.

With its new agreements with Warner and zefr, Soundcloud is basically trying to push the independent artists out.

Soundcloud has had an agreement with Warner for a while and the whole objective with Warner was to gain revenue for Soundcloud and protect Warner’s artists on Soundcloud.

In order to do that, they called in zefr to totally eradicate the independents from Soundcloud by removing anything with even a little bit of copyright infringement.

This means no sampling or remixes from songs releasing on any major record labels by independents.

Not to mention warner could not reimburse their one year contract Soundcloud and leave it with nothing but the independents who decided to stay, possibly even begging for them back.

I, for one, would be happy and excited to move my music elsewhere.  The layout of SoundCloud sucks anyway regardless of what’s going on with these deals.

We all just have to move somewhere else.

The question is where we are going.

Kendrick Lamar: The M.A.A.D. City’s good Kid

This article is a meditation on the artist known as Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, formally known as Kendrick Lamar, is a West Coast rapper that lived his earlier years in Compton. He gained national attention once he called out every living rapper on the West Coast and claimed to be the king of New York with his verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” Ever since, Lamar has only exhibited growth. Kendrick has never hesitated to challenge and call out practices and habits that seem to collapse on themselves. He pours out the bitter reality of self-medication through alcohol in his track “Swimming Pools” off of “good kid M.A.A.D. City” saying, “All I have in life is my new appetite for failure/And I got Hunger Pains that Grow Insane/Tell me Do That Sound Familiar?/If it do then you’re like me, making excuses that your relief/Is in the bottom of a bottle and the greenest indo leaf.”
Lamar also released “i” late 2014, a track dedicated to self-love and embracing one’s self regardless of flaw. However, knowing Kendrick’s background makes the single even more powerful.

King Kendrick

King Kendrick

He battled depression for years haunted by the scars left behind from his life in Compton, including the murder of his best friend’s younger brother, for which Lamar continues to feel responsible.
“To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kendrick’s latest studio album that had a surprise release, illuminates his poetic prowess. He almost abandons the mold that has attached itself to modern hip-hop.

Finna stay killing

Finna stay killing

With almost no other features, Kendrick focuses on his personal storytelling and craft. The album also pushes the limits of the rap genre, as production flirts with funk, jazz, and smooth melodies. Lamar has a tendency to stand out, as no topic that crosses his mind is filtered from his music. As he has in earlier albums, he continues to express his frustration with religion in tracks like, “How Much A Dollar Cost”, as well as the pain he carries on his shoulders, feeling like a failure, and the self-hatred he has wrestled within a tracks like, “u.” “U” stands in stark contrast to “i” as Kendrick breaks down every single barrier and spits so raw you need to stop whatever you’re doing and take a deep breath whenever it starts playing.
The whole concept of the album is highlighting how society tends to only love the individual for the talent within. The caterpillar is forgotten and hated, but the potential that is the butterfly is apparently the only aspect of a person that is worth loving. However, Kendrick, marred by the streets has decided to pimp the butterfly to fit what he wants, hence “To Pimp a Butterfly.” The whole message is an allegory telling the story of what Lamar feels plagues individuals from the ghetto: only loved for the talent they have the potential to harness, the ugliness they come out of is often ignored.
Lamar has made it known that he embodies a certain bitterness that Compton instilled within him. In Compton, the survival rate is extremely low, with a high school graduation rate of 57% along with a 14 out of 100 on the crime safety index. And if the hood doesn’t kill the individual physically, you can trust that the streets have already killed them on the inside spiritually.
Kendrick Lamar has evolved since his emergence, breaking down barriers with every new track. He refuses to be held back by any filter or stereotype. When one listens to any other hip-hop artist, the mind is limited to the same repetitive ideas that are just expressed in different ways. However, Kendrick will have you studying history, opening the dictionary, and leave you speechless from the hard-hitting messages he drives through your head with his lyrical hammer..