Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
–Martin Luther King Jr., “Loving Your Enemies Speech”, Nov. 7, 1957
In honor of MLK Day 2015, today’s Case of the Mondays post features four songs that were written and performed in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Some of these were written to advocate for establishing MLK Day as a national holiday, and provide yet another example of how music continues to influence and create our history.
Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday, 1981
Stevie Wonder was very involved in the fight for making MLK Day as a national holiday. “Happy Birthday” was a popular song he used to garner support for his campaign. The song was released in 1981, and Reagan signed the holiday into existence in 1983.
Public Enemy – By the Time I Get to Arizona, 1991
This song was written by Public Enemy’s Chuck D as a direct reply to Arizona officials, including John McCain and Fife Symington, for rejecting the federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
Nina Simone – Why? (The King of Love is Dead), 1968
Recorded on April 7, 1968, live three days after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and performed at the Westbury Music Fair. Nina Simone dedicated her performance to King’s memory.
U2 – Pride in the Name of Love
“Early morning, April 4/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/Free at last, they took your life/They could not take your pride.” – U2
And I would be remiss if I did not send a Happy belated birthday to Aaliyah, who would have turned 36 this year. Frank Ocean posted an incredible cover of her song “At Your Best” (originally by the Isley Brother’s) on Saturday. Check it out on his tumblr.
Happy 2015 everyone! New year, new beginnings means…
we will all try to lose weight for a few days before giving up.
BUT it also means new music. If you’re like me, you’re tired of playing the same songs on Spotify to cure your “sickness.” And you’re hoping for something fresh, because seriously, you don’t really want to be like Kanye. SO hip-hop junkies, music fest addicts, anti-Grammy category advocates, people who appreciate realness, and really just love to hear everything before the world does (*takes deep breath*) will ALL love this list of top 10 artists to watch in 2015:
“If Sia, Miley, and Rihanna had a vocal baby, Kat Dahlia’s voice would be it”
It’s been a long road for Kat Dahlia and her fans, but after two years of anticipation, her album MyGarden will finally be released on January 13, 2015. A pseudocyst found on her vocal cord was the reason Dahlia was forced to take a musical hiatus, cancelling her first US headlining tour, a series of club dates in key cities on the East Coast, and delaying the spring 2014 release of her album. Since then however, she’s fully recovered, and notably, has penned every song on the album (including one in Spanish) with the exception of “Crazy”. If you want to hop on the bandwagon before everyone else, check out her music videos “Gangsta” (below) and “Crazy.” And take a listen to her album which was just released to be streamed on NPR yesterday (you’re welcome).
Raury is an 18-year old Atlanta native whose music has been compared with the likes of Andre 3000, Bon Iver and Kid Cudi. He dropped his debut project Indigo Child at the end of August, and has already impressed Kanye West. Similar to an artist like Lorde, his sound doesn’t exactly fit into a genre. And quite frankly, that’s what makes him interesting. While some of his lyrics still encompass the marks of a teenager with room to grow, 2015 could be a year he breaks out into the mainstream.
I’ve been waiting, I’ve been sitting thinking ’bout this situation / Like I’m MLK, I’m speaking out against the segregation
I can make it through the gate and open it for all my brethren / I don’t mean to ruffle feathers, n*ggas talkin’, b*tches hatin’
Contemplatin’ every single move you make and study you / Ready boo, n*ggas go through Earth and Hell and Heaven for a story based on Raury / Far important tryin’ to force me to a category
Chet Faker is one of those artists that makes you wonder if the Grammy’s should get rid of music categories altogether. He’s a 22 year old Australian that hails from a set of parents who had different tastes in music, which ultimately shaped his own. “My mum was listening to a lot of Motown…” he describes in one interview, “I think that’s where I got my love for a good hook, a good soul hook…and then my dad would listen to the chilled out Ibiza CDs; all that super down tempo female vocal kind of stuff.” While his real name is Nick Murphy, Chet says his stage name is an ode to Chet Baker and the mood of music he used to play. So who knows what we’re dealing with here…a Motown-EDM infused genre? Either way, it’s fascinating, and his “No Diggity” cover truly speaks to the changing times. He’s popular in Australia, but let’s see if he gains some traction in the US in 2015.
HiFadility is an artist that you must watch out for in 2015. He’s a classically trained jazz pianist whose projects blend the genres of electronic and hip hop that oftentimes, will paint a landscape in your head that you can’t describe to someone else. Unsurprisingly, his accolades are countless, from winning Boston’s Next Hot Music Producer Competition in March 2014, to displaying his avant garde jazz and hip hop sound at the Museum of African American history in 2014 for a standing ovation. What makes him especially exciting this year however, is the new project he is set to release in March titled “The Queens”. I’ll let the music speak for itself rather than go into details about the meaning here, but trust, it will be worth listening to.
In about a week Tink will celebrate her 20th birthday, and the Chicago-hailed singer/rapper/songwriter will have a lot to toast about. She recently released her second mixtape, Winter’s Diary 2 and has a Timbaland-produced album on the way. In fact, Timbaland compares Tink to Lauryn Hill, and while that remains to be seen she does seem like the real deal. In an interview last year, the artist voiced her opinion on hip-hop: “People expect us, female rappers, to just talk about bullshit [or] sex. People stereotype female rappers a whole lot. They expect us to talk a certain way, to look a certain way [and] dress a certain way. And I’m not with that. When you listen to my songs you hear messages and real stories.” Keep it real Tink, we’re watching.
This one seems a bit ironic to write since many blogs featured Sampha as an artist to watch in 2014. While his popularity has risen from his feature on Drake’s songs (“Too Much” and “The Motion”), along with SBTRKT’s songs “Temporary View” and “Wonder Where We Land,” it seems the world is still waiting for him to make it big. His last EP titled Dual was released in 2013, and it’ll be interesting to see what he has to offer this year – will he become the breakout artist we’re hoping for, or choose to stay on the sidelines and feature on other songs? Only time will tell.
P. Reign is another Drake-derivative (admit it, it’s a thing), with many new fans hopping on his bandwagon after hearing the song “DnF,” which features Drake & Future. The Canadian-born artist is due to turn 29 in January, but has a long road ahead of him if he can continue the momentum. He dropped a much anticipated EP in September of this year, and so far fans seem to love him. Doesn’t hurt that his second most popular song “Realest in the City” features up-and-coming artist PARTYNEXTDOOR (yes, another Drake-derivative).
Let’s go way underground for a second, and step into the world of Alina Baraz, a 21 year old Cleveland native. Baraz dropped out of college and re-located to LA to pursue her career in music (why not go all out right?). Aspiring artists should take note: Baraz was discovered by Danish producer Galimatias via SoundCloud after creating the song titled “Drift” over one of his productions. Since then, they’ve released Make You Feel and are expected to release an EP Urban Flora this fall. Her music reminds me of a dream-like sequence, a Michelangelo painting, or as her EP cover suggests – a work of art.
Raw, soulful, truth. Just a few words that will come to mind when you take a listen Brika’s beautiful voice and powerful lyricism. She’s been featured on this site before for her song ‘Options,’ but she deserves another go around here after the release of her EP Voice Memos in December 2014 (remember those things you used to leave on your iPhone…or maybe still do?). Point blank, much like Sam Smith, Brika could sing “blah blah blah” and it would still sound relatable.
Zhu was one of the fastest emerging artists of 2014, but with his debut album set to hit next year, we think he deserves a spot in 2015’s rising stars. His marketing campaign has been genius, to be frank. He prefers anonymity, and while his identity is now known, he continues to perform in the shadows and let his music speak for itself. In just one year Zhu has had a hit single in 10 territories, a US deal with Columbia Records and a booking at HARD Day of the Dead directly preceding Deadmau5. With the soaring popularity of live music shows, especially in the summertime, Zhu is in the perfect spot to sell some records.
Hope you’ve found some hidden gems in this list. If you want to follow what I’m listening to, check me out on soundcloud.