Hip Hop

Kendrick Lamar Debuts Untitled Track on Colbert Report

Written by Valerie Reich

Last night rapper Kendrick Lamar was the musical guest on Steven Colbert'The Colbert Report. After a brief interview with the "straight out of Compton" star, Lamar continued to preform as the last musical guest to ever be featured on The Colbert Report. Lamar debuted a new and untitled jazz inspired track. Featuring a live band including a back up vocalist, Terrace Martin on saxophone and Thundercat on bass, Lamar only furthers himself from traditional hip hop in favor of a fusion sound. The new sound only distinguishes himself further as, in his own words, "a writer, not a rapper." 

Notable Lyrics from the "Untitled" track:

"Put a price on my talent / I hit the bank and withdraw"
" Put myself in a rocket ship and I shot for the stars" 

 

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Album Review: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Written by Valerie Reich

What happens when you shed a moneymaking formula, add personal anecdotes and throw in a mix of instrumental music and digitized beats? You get 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

J.Cole’s third album has sold 371,000 copies in its first week live – more than T.Swift even managed to push in her first week. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is the fastest album to sell in one week in hip-hop for 2014, received rave reviews from across the board and was named #3 on Billboard Magazine’s The 10 Best Rap Albums of 2014.

 

What makes J.Cole’s third studio album so popular? Hands down the relatability of the music itself. Throughout the 13-track album we see the rapper shed the “be hard be tough” stereotypical persona that comes along with being in the rap game. Cole raps about being young and directionless in North Carolina then moving to New York yet unable to escape the mistakes he's made. He raps about being nervous when losing his virginity, his devotion to God, insecurities with women and overall how he’s grown as a person and within that growing as a rapper. The album ends with a track called "Note to Self" in which J.Cole credits everyone who works on an album, an incredibly humble and appreciative step that most artists wouldn't even consider doing. This only serves to further build a positive image around J.Cole and contributes to the idea that he is a superstar. 

The album lacks any real club bangers, but this is a good thing. J.Cole is bringing art back to rapping. This album is a reflection of growing up is and how no matter how old he is, J.Cole is still growing. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is a map that listeners can use to trace the trajectory of J.Cole’s life. It resonates with everyone who has struggled internally or externally to get where they are today.

One of the best hip-hop albums to be dropped in 2014, Forest Hills Drive is 100% worth a listen and a download.

 

Top 5 Picks from the Album

(Single-handedly one of the hardest Top 5 Pick’s I’ve ever had to choose between)

1. Wet Dreamz
2. No Role Modelz
3. January 28th
4. Apparently (Check out the official music video here.)
5.  G.O.M.D

 

Album Facts

2014 Forest Hills Drive was released on December 9th, 2014 under Dreamville, RocNation and Columbia Records. J.Cole produced the album himself along with producer Elite and a team of in-house producers at Dreamville. The album is 13 tracks long and has a run time of 1 hour 4 minutes. 

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Remix Yo' World

Written by Valerie Reich

Imagine yourself as a music producer.

You have this great track that is selling like hotcakes, is played daily on the radio and can be heard bumpin’ at every party from New York to Los Angeles. You have this successful piece of music — but you don’t want the success to end or the cash to stop flowing. As we know music, especially singles, can lose their fame becoming “overplayed” almost as quickly as they can become celebrated.

What do you do?

Well if you’re Mike-Will-Made-It, T-Pain, Chris Brown, Kid Ink, Ty$, The Chainsmokers, Hippie Sabotage, Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris or one of the many other artists who uses digital editing as a part of their music, you simply create a remix.

What is a remix exactly? According to Merriam-Webster, a remix is “a new or different version of a recorded song that is made by changing or adding to the original recording of the song.” But the essence of a remix goes far beyond the dictionary definition. A remix evokes feeling. It’s taking a song and changing it delicately and ever so slightly to something new to create a singularly unique representation of that song. They’re different from a cover. They’re different from an acoustic version of a track. Remixes are like a fresh breath of air being brought into a track.

Take, for example, the remix of Kid Ink’s 2013 hit “Show Me” featuring Chris Brown. The song was incredibly successful — boasting tens of millions of plays on YouTube for just the official video alone as well as a near million views on the clean version. It reached number 13 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts and was critically noted by XXL Magazine as part of 12 hip-hop albums that changed history in 2014.  Yet its peak did not last long, and quickly after its release in September 2013 the numbers of plays, YouTube views and most importantly downloads dipped. Then came February 2014,  when the remix was released featuring the original duo of Kid Ink and Chris Brown, but also new verses by Trey Songz, 2 Chainz and Juicy Jay.

The release of this updated version of the track, which added other artists and more infectious club-driven EDM beats, created a resurgence in the popularity of the track. There are now 105,213, 287 views on the YouTube official music video alone because of the new buzz about the song. The remix in and of itself generated a whole new excitement and draw to the song itself.

“Show Me” isn’t the only one remix that has had this success, though. Tov Lo, an artist from the UK, found immediate success when her original track “Habits (Stay High)" was picked up by EDM powerhouse duo The Chainsmokers and then remixed into a club hit. Opposite to “Show Me,” the Chainsmoker remix of “Habits (Stay High)” gained more notoriety than the original and transferred the song from the radio to the club scene.

The power of the remix works both ways. A remix can make an original track explode and can even create a whole cult following. A remix can make or break a DJ or engineer’s career, incite cash flow and keep a beloved song from becoming mundane and overplayed.

Now that we’ve taught you a little bit about what a remix is and why it is so important, we don’t want to leave you high and dry without any music to enjoy. So here it goes with a list of 10 cross-genre remixes, presented here for your enjoyment. 

TOP 10 REMIXES YOU GOTTA' HEAR

1.     “Shot Clock” by AER (Avicii Remix)

2.     “Since U Been Gone” by Kelley Clarkson (Dance Vault Mixes by Jason Nevins Rock da Club Edit)

3.     “Left Alone” by FLUME ft. Chet Faker (Ta-Ku Remix)

4.     “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (DJ Fresh Direct Remix)

5.     “Party and Bullshit” by Biggie Smalls and Miley Cyrus (check Remix made by)

6.     “Starry Eyed” by Ellie Goulding (Jakwob Remix)

7.     “Goodness Gracious” by Ellie Goulding (The Chainsmokers Remix)

8.     “Loyal” by Chris Brown (West Coast Remix)

9.     “Stay High” by Tov Lo (Hippie Sabotage Remix)

10.  “No New Friends” by DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne (SFTB Remix)

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RL Grime Releases "Scylla" in Anticipation of His New Album, Void

RL Grime is arguably one of the biggest forces in all of trap music and his latest single, ‘Scylla’ off his upcoming album Void  (out November 14) only confirms that. Never straying far from the basics of the genre, Henry Steinway stays true to his bass heavy sound that has skyrocketed the 23 year-old producer to trap god status. After already releasing two songs off the album, ‘Core’ and ‘Reminder’ his latest release, ‘Scylla’ is yet another cue that Void is going to be out of this world.

‘Scylla’ is a futuristic, bass heavy tune that is sure to become a festival staple. The tune starts off slow, building with playful keys then leading into a steady drum pattern.  Sticking to RL Grime’s signature style, the drop builds up then releases you into a bass frenzy that will make you want to dance until dawn. Take a listen for yourself and don’t forget to pre-order Void on iTunes.

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Kendrick Lamar - "i"

In late September, Kendrick Lamar released the first single likely to appear on his upcoming album. The track, titled ‘i’has sparked quite a bit of attention among his fans, considering it’s the first clue as to what his next album might sound like and what fans it might resonate with. His last album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, became an instant classic, as it was a true depiction of an all-too-common tainted youth in the famous Southern California city of Compton. The album as a whole told Kendrick’s story, each song artistically crafted to perfection.

It’s no surprise that his latest single sounds independent of his last album, taking into account the fact that he’s now in a very different place in his life: a multimillionaire. Yet, the song doesn’t give off the egotistical vibe that rappers often lean towards after making it big. Instead, Kendrick is trying to stay away from the idea that money makes you a better person. ‘i’ attempts at sending the obvious and simple message that loving yourself is the key to living life. It’s refreshing to see that someone as influential as Lamar isn’t focusing on the materialistic lifestyle he could be living. In fact, at a net worth of over $10 million, Kendrick recently bought his first house at a relatively modest price of about $500,000.

Although ‘i’ doesn’t have the dark edge of tracks off of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick’s head seems to be in the right place. My prediction is that his upcoming album, scheduled to come out in late 2014, will sound more like his debut albumSection 80. Whatever it may sound like, I trust that it’ll be another genuine work of art. 

Jon Bellion

Media always displays the negative, and rarely does an artist break through and illuminate our screens and ears with positivity and strength. Jon Bellion has made his way through the white noise and brought back meaning to what music is really supposed to be: inspirational.

Bellion, a 23 year-old, free spirit signed with Visionary Music Group in 2012. Bellion’s music blends together pop, soul, rap, and hip-hop; the ultimate combination in creating a new language in music. The Beautiful Mind Tour, showcasing his third album, The Definition, stopped at the small town venue, The Local 506, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The 506 is found in a small, older building across the street from the record store, CD Alley, in the heart of Chapel Hill, on Franklin Street. The 506 has a maximum capacity of 250 people, making for an intimate show scene. The drum could be felt inside your heart with the upbeat turn in the middle of “Simple and Sweet”, and if you looked closely, you could see the sweat drops rolling down his face as he finished the concert with his spoken word.

An artist who can rap fluid words into the harmony of the keys on a keyboard fulfills a definition of magic. “New York Soul” was written and produced by Bellion. The lyrics speak to the split between being away from family and loved ones, yet chasing your dreams and passions. As he performed this song during the concert, the voice of any individual who has ever said, ‘I miss you’ was heard.

“Jim Morrison” tied together a compilation of artists that have inspired or motivated Bellion’s work. The impact of societal problems and global concerns are on the forefront of Bellion’s art. Although, his presentation style is beyond close to any other artist in the limelight today. He makes internal struggles have external awareness, he turns worldly battles into personal fights, and most of all, he gives justification to our emotions. Bellion makes feeling human feel comfortable. 

 

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