While actively seeking out new artists and music has been the main focus of this blog up to this point, I want to address the possibilities offered by passively finding new music. What I mean by passively finding new music is that new music will find its way to you without you needing to put forth any thought or effort. This idea might sound unrealizable or unlikely, but this process happens to everyone on a daily basis. Think about this, have you ever been shopping in a store that played music out loud? Have you ever walked by someone on the street that had music playing loud enough so that you could hear, or even passed by a live performer on the street? Have you ever seen a commercial with music playing in the background? We are all bombarded with new music every day apart from what we are already actively seeking out. The next step is to use this exposure to new music to our advantage. If you are out in the world and hear some music playing that sparks your interest in even the slightest way, I encourage you to investigate. The hook of a song might get stuck in your head and the easiest way to find out what that song is would be to simply Google the lyrics. This method is one easy way to turn the music we are exposed to every day into a means of passively finding new artists and music.
For this week, the featured artist is SBTRKT (pronounced subtract). SBTRKT is an entity created by Aaron Jerome, which he uses to create and distribute music. He is known for wanting to keep himself as a person as separate from the actual music as possible, even going as far as wearing a mask while he performs live. He does this as a way to create anonymity so that the listener does not associate a face with his music but rather his music serves as its own entity. SBTRKT is known for often collaborating with the vocalist Sampha who I recommend you check out as well. SBTRKT currently has two studio albums, the self-titled SBTRKT and Wonder Where We Land, along with six EPs. He has also recently been working on some new and innovative musical ideas. Specifically, on March 25, 2016 he announced and released a new project dubbed a non-album, named SAVE YOURSELF. The non-album is a collection of songs that is aimed at bringing new music to fans sooner and more often than the traditional album cycle, thus creating a more continuous process and fluid experience for the listeners. Personally, I find the idea of a non-album to be both innovative and forward looking, and I hope you give both SBTRKT and Sampha a listen!
This blog is primarily focused on discovering new artists and music. However, at the core this blog is focused on finding enjoyment and fulfillment through listening to music. This means that it is vitally important to not let yourself get so caught up in finding new music that you forget to enjoy the music that you already know and love. Sometimes it is important to go back to your roots and listen to some music you already enjoy, instead of just searching for new music 24/7. This can mean anything from stopping and taking a moment to listen to an artist you have been into lately to taking a trip down memory lane to listen to a favorite artist of yours that you may not have listened in years. If you recently discovered a new artist, you may find it more enjoyable to stay in the moment and listen to that one artist for a while rather than pressing forward to look for new artists and music. If you decide to get back to basics and revisit some old music that you have not listened to for an extended period of time, you may find that this revisit will give you some newfound perspective. Revisiting an old artist might even possibly lead to you discovering some music by them which you had not previously heard. This process creates a cycle resulting in the rediscovery of music you already know as well as new music that has been waiting right in front of you all along.
Sticking with the theme this week, for the featured artist I have decided to revisit one of my personal favorites, Atmosphere. Atmosphere is a hip-hop duo originating from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The duo was formed in 1989 and consists of rapper Sean Daley better know by the stage name Slug and DJ/producer Anthony Davis also known as Ant. Well known for their association with the Rhymesayers record label; since their formation, the group has released eight studio albums and an astounding ten EPs. Their most recent studio album release was in 2014 with Southsiders, but I highly suggest you check out parts of their entire discography both old and new.
Previously in this blog I mentioned the website Spotify as being one of the invaluable resources that I use on a daily basis to find new artists and music. Spotify is definitely a great resource, but there are many other websites that serve as excellent tools for music discovery as well. Not to mention the plethora of non-web based resources everyone has at their disposal whether they realize it or not. Along with Spotify, some other great websites and services that can be used for music discovery are YouTube, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. Platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud are all mainly used for the purposes of sharing and discovering music, while Bandcamp is primarily used as a way for artists to sell their music. While web resources are great, especially considering the convince factor of them being completely online and accessible anywhere, there are still ways to discover new artists and music offline that are much more personalized. One of your greatest resources when it comes to music discovery is your friends and family members. It might sound cliché, but no website is going to know you better than them. I believe it is important to talk about you musical interests with the people you are close to, thus opening up endless opportunities for musical sharing. Ask your friends for suggestions about new artists to investigate and if you find some new music that you think a friend would enjoy, be sure to send it their way! If a friend sends you some music it is important to always give them an honest opinion of what you thought after listening. An honest opinion is vitally important because your input will help to shape what music your friends send you in the future. Lastly, if a friend sends you some new music, always be sure to return the favor by sending them some back once you have discovered something worthy of sharing.
The featured artist this week is brother duo Hippie Sabotage. Hailing from Sacramento, California, these two brothers started to make music around the mid-2000s. The duo currently has five full-length albums to their credit with all of them being released in 2014. I could only suggest one; I would without a doubt suggest that you listen to their release entitled, The Sunny Album (Deluxe Edition).
Once you find a new artist that you really enjoy, the next step is to continue exploring that specific artist. If you hear one song that you really like, chances are you will probably like most of their music. Personally, once I find and hear a new song that I love, I will check out more music by that artist to see if I enjoy them as a whole. The method that I tend to use is selecting and listening to one album from top to bottom. If I find the artist’s album to be enjoyable, I will then move on to their next album, EP, or mixtape until I have listened to their entire discography. I believe that the method of listening to an artist’s entire album start to finish is really important because that is how they intended their album to be listened to and enjoyed. Every song on an album has been carefully thought out and selected for a reason, so it only makes sense for you, the listener, to enjoy the album in full. Now, for artists that I have a deep interest in, I will investigate them further and research outside information about them. I like to read or watch videos about my favorite artists to learn more about their life and story, thus creating a stronger connection between the music and me. Once you become invested in a certain artist, you can go beyond the act of just surface listening and instead begin to form a deep emotional connection with the music. Once you have listened to an artist’s complete discography and done some external research on them, then you can truly call yourself an expert on that specific artist. You can repeat this method over and over again to continually explore artists that are new to you, slowly building up your musical knowledge and expertise.
For this week, the featured artist is Scott Mescudi, better know by his stage name, Kid Cudi. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kid Cudi is best know for being a rapper/singer, songwriter, and producer. He has two Grammy award wins to his name along with four other Grammy nominations. The method I outlined in the above blog post is exactly how I came to be so fond of Kid Cudi and his music. I originally started by only listening to a few of his songs, but I gradually came to listen to his entire discography. Many of his lyrics struck a chord with me as well, so I began to investigate and learn more about his life’s story. Kid Cudi definitely has his own unique style, but he is also not one to shy away from constant experimentation and innovation. He currently has five solo studio albums with his latest release being in December of 2015, along with one mixtape and a vast array of singles. I would highly recommend his albums Man On The Moon: The End Of Day(2009) and Indicud(2013) as great starting places, and then continuing on to the rest of his music from there. Kid Cudi is known for making concept albums, meaning that his albums are meant to tell a story when listened from beginning to end.
If you are interested in finding new artists and music but you do not know where to start, then generally a good way to start is by selecting a genre. You can begin by either selecting a genre that you already love or a new one you have yet to explore. Selecting a specific genre gives you a broad spectrum of places to go, creating opportunities and access to an endless amount of new artists and music. With your selected genre in mind, simply start listening to artists associated with that specific style. One way you can begin the discovery process is by listening to the more established artists who have become synonymies with a particular genre to see if you have any sort of interest. However, some people may find it more appealing to begin their journey into a new genre with the more obscure or developing artists. This method of taking a broad approach to music discovery can be effective for many people, and it is oftentimes less intimidating as well. This is because once you have found a genre that piques your interest it becomes indefinitely easier to zero in on specific artists within that genre, as opposed to blindly looking for new artists with no regard to a musical style that is of interest to you. Once you have perfected this technique it is vastly important to begin expanding your musical view by exploring new genres in order to discover even more new artists and music.
In the theme of genres, this week’s featured artist represents the revival of West Coast hip-hop and rap. A native of Long Beach, California, Vince Staples is a developing artist who has been rapidly gaining recognition within recent years. At only twenty-one years old, Vince Staples released his debut album titled Summertime ’06 in June of 2015. However, Vince Staples had been hard at work since long before the release of his debut album with an EP, four mixtapes, and plenty of features in other artist’s songs to his name. Whether you consider yourself a fan of rap or not, I cannot recommend Vince Staples highly enough.