Calling all Artists in NYC

my friend is hosting an awesome event series titled Art We All (Human) at 3:15 pm EST today (update: it will be hosted every week). Details below. Email barsandchords@gmail.com if you’d like the location

Summary Paragraph: 

Art We All (Human) is an inter-genre collective of millenial artists looking to use the power of artistic expression to activate social change and challenge the status quo. In a salon setting, artists meet to discuss and deconstruct notions of power and privilege, and then use collective energy to create fluid, conscious art.

Rules of Engagement 

  1. Open minds build movements

No bigotry, no hatred, no subversive power plays. We are all here to make something beautiful, and can only do that in a space where we all feel free.

  1. YOUR truth, not THE truth

This is space where vulnerability and honesty are inextricable from the final product. Speak your truth to the extent that you are comfortable, but please don’t take it upon yourself to make that normative.  

  1. Embrace the Awkward

We will always open our space to new voices. Embrace the awkward conversations, talk to the new guy – everyone in the space has a gift to give.

  1. The Commons

This is a project centered on the creative commons. The work we do is the product/journey of the collective, and we will always come back to the commons as a locus of self. So, be self-aware and self-interested but never self-ish. If one of us wins, we all will – this is not about a profit margin.

  1. By the people, for the people, of the people

The art will always speak to whatever moves those in the room, but the responsibility of the collective will always be to the community. 

  • Do you have any questions after this? 
  • Is it too wishy-washy?  

How it Works

 

Who Comes?  

  

a)      15 artists are invited at random, from a larger cohort of 30-45 artists

 

Every quarter, there will be a larger, open session with an open mic component

 

c)      Each session will have a theme, all participants will be advised of it before the session in an invitation email

 

d)     Each session will have a different facilitator from the group – keeps it honest/non-hierarchical (first few will be me, once we have a reliable amount of people involved I will hand it over)

 

[is this naïve? Should I retain control? Very anti-hierarchical spaces but it needs to work, every time]

 

e)      Each session will be documented in some way – photographer, visual artist, videographer, writer etc (appointed in the email)

 

What Happens?

 

Each session will last three hours, comprised of the following

 

Free thought exercise (20 minutes)

 All attendees will be asked to provide a statement around the theme (can be a line of song, small picture, actual line, line of poetry, whatever) – theme will be put up on the board and the other items will surround it (20 minutes)

 

Introductions (15 minutes)

             Name, craft of choice

 

Updates + Theme (55 minutes)

Participants update the group on current projects/projects from the last session

Space for participants to vocalize what they’re looking for in the space

Participants can talk about their feelings on the theme/issues that have come up with existing projects in a group setting

 

Studio Session (1 hour)

Break away from the group into individual/studio sessions (people can do what they want, work together in groups from the last time)

The Come-Down (30 minutes)

 Take someone’s initial thought/experience from the beginning and use it to express where you are now.

 

What then?

 

  1. Follow up email called the After Thought (circulated a few days after the meeting)
  2. Provide the dropbox link to the group (will contain whatever the documentarian has chosen to create to honor the session)
  3. Provide a dope quote/video/picture to the group
  4. Provide the contact list for everyone in attendance so attendees can follow up if needed 
  5. Allow participants to opt-in a referral (invite someone to come to the next one) 

Upcoming themes: 

  • IDentity 
  • Abstraction 
  • “Dat New New” 
  • Vintage? 
  • Love and other drugs
  • Other drugs 

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Wow…Empire Beats Madonna to Snag #1 Album on Billboard 200

Fox’s TV breakout hit Empire stole the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, beating out Madonna’s new Rebel Heart album! While this rumor had grown over the past few days, Empire wasn’t even in the discussion a week ago. 

 The Empire soundtrack was released March 10 through Columbia Records and has 130,000 equivalent album units earned through March 15, according to Nielsen Music vs. Madonna’s Rebel Heart at 121,000 in the same time frame. Empire is the first TV soundtrack to debut at No. 1 since Glee. 
 

I have to say, I am an avid spotify user and like to discover new music on the platform….over the past few weeks, I have subconsciously been finding myself bumping my head to songs from Empire, which are continuously rotating through the Hot 100 Pop and Hip Hop tracks playlist. As noted by Billboard, a lot of Empire’s listens have come through streaming. Welcome to the digital age of music. 

 Here’s a fun video of Jussie Smollett four years ago singing ‘Fatigue’….wish you had known him before the fame, huh? The guy has talent.

Sam Smith And John Legend’s ‘Lay Me Down’ Duet Is Haunting

Love this song

People's Choice

square-thumbnail Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Two artists, one great cause!

Sam Smith and John Legend have joined forces to do a duet of Smith’s enchanting single “Lay Me Down.”

The musical dream team re-recorded the British singer-songwriter’s lead single off of 2014’s In the Lonely Hour for the upcoming Comic Relief special. The updated duet will serve as the official single for Red Nose Day, a British charity in which residents wear clown noses to help raise money for Comic Relief.

Watch two breathtaking voices blend together for one extraordinary charity.

All proceeds from the re-recorded single will be donated to Comic Relief.

“Sam is such a talented artist,” Legend said in a statement. “We’ve been looking forward to working together for a while now. I’m so glad we could collaborate on such a great song and for such a great cause.”

Not only did the musical duo collaborate…

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Tyler, The Creator is Launching a Media Platform – Here’s Why I’m Skeptical

Why do record labels still make money today? In fact, why do they even exist? Technically, they are the ‘middle man’ – the man that delivers the artist’s content to the consumer. And technically, this role has become obsolete in the third wave of the tech revolution.

Think about it. The first wave of the tech revolution was PC/desktop internet (1Billion users); the second was mobile (2B); and the third is the Internet of Things, or IoT (IoT refers to the billions of robots making our lives easier…wearables, Nest thermostat, autonomous cars, precision agriculture, etc.).

Industry analysts estimate that ~30B of devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020. That’s a lot of devices, especially for a world suffering from mobile addiction, and it will ultimately change how people consume everything.

tech 2

So let’s discuss why this is this important for music. We’ve previously walked through how streaming (which was and is being facilitated by the second wave of the tech revolution – mobile), has altered the way that consumers listen to music. This has in turn altered the way artists deliver music. Artists no longer have to beg a radio station to play their track, or stand outside of a record label trying to prove their ‘dedication.’ They can simply build a fan base online, that – if it grows big enough – will ultimately get them a record deal.

Continue reading

SNL’s Music Moments

The great thing about music is that it penetrates every part of our lives. Whether you listen to music on a road trip with friends, fall in love with the soundtrack to a movie, or listen the performance of a breakthrough artist on a TV show. I thought about this after watching the Saturday Night Live 40 year anniversary show. From the very beginning, the team has included musical performances as a part of the show, speaking to how important music is in the world of entertainment. Village Voice recently ranked Saturday night Live’s Forty Essential Music Moments, Continue reading

Drake Pulls a Beyoncé and Drops a Surprise Mixtape: “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late”

Drake pulled a Beyoncé last night and dropped a surprise mixtape, but the guy tweeted it right before midnight. Who does that?(!?!) Normal people have to sleep on Thursday nights, Drake. You almost made us miss history.

It’s ok though. Despite the title, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” I think we have time to get ahead of the crowd on this one. Only ~2000 plays per song on soundcloud so far (it’s available on spotify and iTunes as well). I’m going to start working through the songs…I’ll give an update later. P.S. I’m hearing this is just a precursor to an album. Per The Verge,
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Case of the Mondays – Grammy Edition: Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney ‘FourFiveSeconds’

There’s quite a bit to say about the Grammys this year, but it’s Monday, so let’s just try to make it through the day.

This week’s Case of the Monday song is inspired by Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney’s collaborative performance at the Grammys. Whether you loved or hated Rihanna’s cake dress at the Grammys, we can at least all thank God she still has talent.

‘FourFiveSeconds’ is a creative song – bared down to the vocals, and only supported by a few guitars that strum a riff as opposed to a melody. It’s the type of song however, that if you first heard it on the radio (i.e. without visuals), you might think to yourself…”yea, it’s an ok song.” Rather, it’s Rihanna’s passion during the performance that takes it to the next level. I mean seriously, she’s moving around as if she really is about to explode, which isn’t what would be implied by the simple musical backdrop. The world loves the song, as shown by it racking up ~19 million views on YouTube in just 6 days (!). Passion does go a long way in music.

Now I’m FourFiveSeconds from wildin’
And we got three more days ’til Friday
I’m just tryna make it back home by Monday mornin’
I swear I wish somebody would tell me

By the way, it is Monday, so unfortunately, we have four days til Friday. But it’s ok, we can only move up from here.

Case of the Mondays: Songs Honoring MLK Day + Frank Ocean’s Aaliyah Tribute

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.

10 Music Artists to Watch in 2015

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: 

Kat Dahlia

“If Sia, Miley, and Rihanna had a vocal baby, Kat Dahlia’s voice would be it”

dahlia

It’s been a long road for Kat Dahlia and her fans, but after two years of anticipation, her album My Garden 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

raury

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

–Raury, “Higher”

Chet Faker

chetfaker

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

hifadility

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 the meantime, check out his four prior projects at iamhifadility.bandcamp.com and his production on the track “I Love My.”

Tink

tink

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.

Sampha

sampha

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

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).

Alina Baraz

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.

Brika

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

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.