Name: Ron, aka "Ronald Grant"
Web Site: http://muzikrevyze.com
Bio: Ron Grant is a freelance journalist and blogger originally from Detroit and currently residing in Orlando. He is a contributor at HipHopDX.com, is the lead writer for Orlando-based indie music label Conscious Mind Records and runs his own independent music blog, The Music Nerdvocate. Follow him on Twitter @RonGreezy.
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Not everyone is going to be an artist, ripping and spitting the brashest, most life-altering bars. Not everyone is going to be that go-to producer banging out genre-defining beats for Hip Hop mix tapes and albums. And not everyone will have the capacity to be that all-powerful, omnipresent music mogul who’s smartphone is ringing off the hook with associates claiming to have found “the next big thing” 85 times a day.
With regard to making a career in Hip Hop and in the music industry alone, times and circumstances are constantly changing, and it’s up to anyone that claims they want a career in the industry to think and be flexible, be open, be honest and, arguably most importantly, be creative. Just like there’s more than one way to skin a cat or kill a roach, there’s more than one way to build a career in the world of Hip Hop music. Take it from someone who’s just like many of you out there and still trying to that same thing everyday. Here are a few ways that you can move differently and build that career in the Hip Hop industry that you’re pining after.
Artists like Tech N9ne, Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, El-P, Action Bronson, Chance The Rapper and many more you may have never heard of are masters at knowing themselves, their fans and honing their respective niches in Hip Hop. That same mentality can be used when building a career as something other than an artist, producer, label owner or promo person. Use what’s special about you and those around you to your advantage in creating he Hip Hop music career that you want.
KNOW THE HISTORY
Hip Hop is growing up before our very eyes, what with Jay Z constantly dropping bars about fine art, Nas fronting large orchestras and fans celebrating the 20th anniversaries of albums like Illmatic, Ready To Die and Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik. A great way to break into Hip Hop these days is to know what circumstances it grew out of and how it has evolved, instead of constantly focusing on the hot, the new and the now. Many books, articles, essays and educational videos are yet to be done on Hip Hop. Possible careers? Journalist, educator, historian, activist…the possibilities are a mile wide.
It’s a genre that was created by an American underclass, but Hip Hop is a global phenomenon that’s just now starting to gain a stronger grip in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Some of the most talented Hip Hop artists exist far outside the borders of the U.S., from Tinie Tempah in the U.K. to MC Melodee of Amsterdam. If you’re able to become a fan of or connect with a globally recognized artist, it could work wonders for your career in music.
BE A RABID RESEARCHER
By no means is it the most glamorous part of the music industry, but it is without a doubt one of the most essential. We have access to tons of information in this day and age, but who really wants to comb through all of it, especially all the research that comes along with Hip Hop? You can be that person: constantly digging, reading, writing, contemplating, deciphering and decoding to help the creative person you are in the service of take their career to the next level.
LOOK OUTSIDE OF MUSIC
The excuses of “I’m doing it for the love of the music” or “the music is what drives me” are fine. But the reality is that the Hip Hop industry has less to do with music now than it once did. For that reason, diversify! You don’t have to be a sleazy salesman about it, but take steps to look at ways you can do things that have to do with Hip Hop outside of just the music aspect. Are you good at writing? Photography? Public Speaking? Event Planning? Teaching? Accounting? Community Organizing? Use Hip Hop as your foundation, but think critically about how you can go beyond the borders that everyone else is trying to hop over.
April 19 will officially mark the 20-year anniversary of the release of Nas’ landmark debut album, Illmatic. Released on that date in 1994, Illmatic has grown to nearly folkloric proportions in the Hip Hop music world, considered by many to be the album that started the renaissance of East Coast Hip Hop in the mid 1990’s. In its 20-year existence, it has also received a laundry list of accolades from a wide range of well-respected Hip Hop and Pop music publications: The Source, Vibe, XXL, Rolling Stone, Blender, EgoTrip, Pitchfork Media, Spin, Village Voice, and MTV to name a few. Both the artist and the album have even been given the legendary treatment in 2014, with Nas performing Illmatic in its entirety while backed by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and the release of the documentary “Time Is Illmatic” at the Tribeca Film Festival. With the celebration of Illmatic’s 20th anniversary in full swing, here are a few things about the album that you may not have known before. Know your history.
1. Before he adopted his “Nasty Nas” persona, Nas originally used the name “Kid Wave” as his Hip Hop nickname.
2. The original album cover for Illmatic was supposed to feature Nas holding Jesus Christ in a headlock, a play on his famous line from the song “Live At the Barbeque”: “When I was 12, I went to Hell for snuffin’ Jesus…”
3. Illmatic is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, a book by Robert Dimery featuring commentaries from top U.S. and U.K. music critics and journalists.
4. Part of the video for “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”, the second single from Illmatic, was shot on the same stage as the finale scene of the 1983 Hip Hop film Wild Style.
5. Illmatic was certified platinum in 2001, seven years after its initial release and the same year Nas released his fifth solo album, Stillmatic.
Last Summer an indie artist connected with popular digital music distribution service Tunecore named Jennifer Paige of the duo Paige & Palermo (described by MTV’s “Buzzworthy” as an electronica-tinged Lady Antebellum) wrote an informative and engaging piece entitled “7 Game Changing Ways To Get Press Without A Publicist”. The point of the article was that Paige wanted to express that independent artists, for all intents and purposes, are pretty much on their own in this day and age when it comes to not only building their careers as musicians and performers, but also in terms of gaining that all important press. Paige intelligently and cunningly expressed that indie artists, whether they like it or not, NEED blogs, social media followers, radio and live show attendees to support them if they hope to succeed. Some of her ways for getting great press on shoestring budget and without an official publicist include the following:
Become newsworthy – “Do a little investigating and compile a media list for your style of music (or purchase one online).”
When the ember starts to burn, blow- “When you approach new leads, reference the most credible publications who have featured you and your work.”
Write an informative blog – “Include a link to your music or website in every blog post you create.”
The full 2013 article can be read on the Tunecore blog here: http://www.tunecore.com/blog/2013/06/7-game-changing-ways-to-get-press-without-a-publicist.html
This timely article got us here at SoSoActive.com to think of a few more ways independent artists can help themselves in getting press without the aid of a massive budget or a professional publicist. Here are six ways these artists can do just that.
1. SHAKE HANDS, KISS BABIES – Networking is still what it’s all about. After your finish a performance, go into the crowd and do some mixing and mingling.
2. VISIT MUSIC NEWS SITES TO SEE WHO AND WHAT THEY FEATURE – Between the major sites and all of the blogs that pop up so often, the resources are plentiful. Stay informed and knowledgeable about the artists and music that are featured on these sites.
3. WHEN AT FESTIVALS, SEEK OUT THE PRESS YOURSELF – The festival model isn’t going away any time soon. If you’re blessed enough to attend and perform, take some initiative and introduce yourself to press agents confidently but politely.
4. MAKE A SOLID SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN – A well thought out, professional, crisp, interesting social media presence could go a long way. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, among others, should be some of your best friends.
5. WHEN YOU HAVE SOME DOWNTIME, READ – Books, trade publications, websites, and magazines: they all have some great information on how to connect with the music media.
6. CONNECT WITH LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS – Local music is as big as it’s ever been, and local media knows this. Make it a point to build relationships with local newspapers, alternative magazines, radio stations, live venues and even on air news stations if you can.
The fact is, the D.I.Y. Spirit has permeated the music industry at all levels. So don’t sit around and wait for it: your success is out there and it needs you to grab hold of it and not let go. All the best to you!
Things just ain’t the same for the Hip Hop dis track. There was a time when Hip Hop history exposed us to some of the greatest dis songs, beefs and battles of all time. MC Shan vs. KRS One. Common vs. Ice Cube. Jay Z vs. Nas. Even Kendrick’s infamous “Control” verse from last year temporarily breathed new life into the idea of the dis track. But recent history hasn’t been so good to fans of a great battle. The latest dust up between Jay Z and Drake, starting with Drizzy’s Rolling Stone interview, then with Hova’s response on Jay Electronica’s “We Made It” and Drake’s semi-rebuttal on “Draft Day” is Grade A proof that the dis song in Hip Hop isn’t as strong, as sought after or as relevant as it once was. Here are a few reasons why.
OVERABUNDANCE OF RAP BEEF – For one thing, there are way too many rappers. And that means there are way too many rappers that are mad at each other for whatever reason. 21st Century Rap Beef seems way too watered down and weakened, which makes for weaker dis tracks.
LACK OF CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE – Time was, the Hip Hop dis song was an event, from “The Bridge Is Over” to “Hit ‘Em Up”. Now they’re almost afterthoughts. Remember Common’s “Sweet” and Drake’s response verse on French Montana’s “Stay Schemin’”? Having a hard time with those, aren’t you?
TOO MANY SUBLIMINAL/INDIRECT SHOTS – Drake, on both “Stay Schemin’” and “Draft Day”, always seems careful not to mention artists by name. There use to be more in your face, take no prisoners disses in Hip Hop. Not to say that there aren’t the direct disses out there anymore, but there’s still too much “under the cover of darkness” dissing.
THE “BEEF” BUSINESS MODEL – Remember those “Beef” DVDs from the early 2000s? They did a good job of making Hip Hop beef into a promotional tool for artists, almost to the level of mix tapes. Sadly, they also contributed to decreased attention for Hip Hop dis tracks from fans and less need for emcees to actually make them.
SHORT ATTENTION SPANS – Right there in line with the current state of music being disposable. With the rapid fire speed in which music is released to fans, there’s less and less time to savor, decipher and ponder the sting of a dis track like there use to be.
HYPERSENSITIVITY – Just about anyone or anything can get got these days when it comes to Hip Hop. Just look at Wale. From major music publications to fans at WWE events, no one is seems safe from his wrath. A dis track against another rapper might be the furthest thing from his mind.
WHAT WAS ONCE OFF LIMITS NO LONGER IS – Some might argue that this has actually always been the case and there’s never been honor amongst thieves, but any subject is up for grabs now: family, crew, and baby mama drama included. Nothing is off the table.
DISPOSABILITY – Let’s be honest: We as Hip Hop fans have become extremely spoiled. We listen to digital music and then toss it in our MacBook’s trash bin once we’re done. With the music being as disposable as it is, our interest in a good old-fashioned Hip Hop battle has waned.
RAPPER RANTS – Social media platforms require a little less creativity and cleverness in terms of disses, so if you can’t rant about a rival rapper on Twitter, there’s less of a point in creating a punishing dis song.
THE SUCCESS OF BATTLE RAP LEAGUES – When fans can go and see some of the most talented battle rappers in the world go at each other in almost prize fight-level events through leagues like Grind Time Now and UW, why wait for a new dis track from your favorite rapper to drop?
You’re just going to have to deal with it: as a Hip Hop artist, it’s imperative that you have at least somewhat of a respectable social media presence if you’re going to succeed in the music business. Whether Tweeting, Retweeting and Favoriting on Twitter, Liking and Sharing on Facebook, Blogging on Blogger, Tumblr or WordPress, Stumbling on Stumbleupon, Posting and Recording on YouTube, Instagram or Vine, Pinning on Pinterest, or doing everything at the same damn time, Hip Hop is a social networking sport nowadays. And you can bet top dollar that your favorite rappers favorite rapper has built a strong following to help them sell units, get shows and connect with the people. You can literally be your own online street team…if you know what you’re doing. So here are a few tips for every aspiring Hip Hop artist out there that’s still not on the bandwagon of social media (and why wouldn’t you be?) Break out those laptops, smartphones and tablets…it’s time for your rap career to get social!
BUILD YOUR LOCAL FANBASE
If you don’t have the ear of your local Hip Hop fans, you’re already losing. Twitter and Facebook alone allow you to find people in your local area that might be feeling your flows. Use these tools to your advantage.
INTERACT POSITIVELY YET HONESTLY WITH FANS
Twitter allows you to connect with fans right where you stand (or sit). But even the biggest Hip Hop artist can get caught up in unnecessary beef with a regular person and screw up their whole PR game. That being said, be cordial, thank people for following, humble yourself, and always seek the high ground, especially on the good ole’ Twitter machine.
Don’t create a Twitter, Instagram or YouTube account and then let it fester, or make it hard for fans to find you or your music. Find a fine line between the mysterious and the annoying. You are your own marketing company, so make yourself available.
USE PHOTOS AND VIDEO TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
It can’t just be about text. People love visuals, especially when it comes to Hip Hop music. Record yourself at concerts and festivals, post photos of your album artwork and make yourself a visual feast for the eyes AND good for the ears.
GIVE KUDOS TO MORE ESTABLISHED ARTISTS
Lots of established Hip Hop artists are extremely active on Twitter and Instagram. Give them props for a new album or mixtape or praise them if you’ve been a long time fan.
SHARE, DON’T SPAM
Social media is filled with so-called rappers spamming the crap out of fellow artists and fans. Don’t be that guy or girl. Again, find a balance. Be generous, but not overbearing with your music
DO SOMETHING SURPRISING
You have to think outside of the box. The truth is, Hip Hop has become flooded with way too many thinking they can be artists as it is. If you want to get noticed, step outside of your comfort zone and do something you wouldn’t think to do, and that your potential fans wouldn’t think you’d do. Hip Hop needs a challenge, anyway.
TAKE A STAND/HAVE AN OPINION
If you feel a certain way about something, good or bad, it doesn’t mean you’re being a suck up or a hater. Don’t be afraid to have your own educated opinion on the state of the industry, the music, or anything else. Again, Hip Hop needs to be challenged!
USE THE NEWORKS THAT YOU LIKE THE MOST
If you’re not feeling a specific social network, don’t use it! Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to. Besides, you want to have fun with what you’re doing. Pick the networks that are best and most engaging for you and ride them like a stallion.
It’s not enough to just have good music. It’s called social “networking” for a reason. Talk to people and develop interests in what they have to say or feel. Participate in online discussions. Don’t confine yourself to one train of thought or one idea, either. It’s people that will get you far in this business.
The lines between what is considered to be mainstream and underground Hip Hop are as fuzzy as ever. Hell, even 50 Cent himself is considered the world’s most famous unsigned artist at this point. The popularity of indie Hip Hop has reached a fever pitch, with emcees no one would have thought to listen to just a decade ago now staking major claims on your favorite Hip Hop music and news websites, popping up all over YouTube and VEVO, and dominating conversations of whose the hottest. These 10 artists are ones that can be included in some of those conversations. Some are wily veterans, some are newer to the game. Some you may know, some you probably don’t…yet. But just give them time. They’re names will probably be on your lips soon enough.
CLEAR SOUL FORCES
NITTY SCOTT MC
FARRAH BOULE BURNS
The argument has been made for years now that Hip Hop, both as an art form and as a product, has become extremely disposable. Success is based on the new, the hot, and the right damn now. Digital albums are downloaded, listened to maybe two or three times, and then dragged to the proverbial computer trash bin, never to be heard again. So when it was announced by legendary Hip Hop group Wu-Tang Clan that they would be creating and selling only one copy of its forthcoming album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, it’s painfully obvious that more than a few Hip Hop fans, both old and new, were left scratching their heads, or were probably dismissive of the idea.
But digging deeper into the story, the Clan’s intentions become clearer. “We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” says RZA, legendary producer and the mastermind behind the original concept of the Wu-Tang Clan. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music… The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years… yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”
So it’s a matter of making music that is something to be valued again. Inspired by Jay Z’s Samsung campaign and Nipsey Hu$$le’s Crenshaw mix tape campaign, the Clan is looking to continue it’s legacy of going against the grain of the modern music sales and distribution model. Here are a few reasons why it could breathe new life into Hip Hop.
IT MAKES FOR GREAT CONVERATION ABOUT WHAT HIP HOP CAN BE
The idea of what Hip Hop is continues to evolve as time passes. With this new venture, Wu-Tang is contributing to the conversation in more ways than one: Hip Hop as art, Hip Hop as a valuable commodity, and Hip Hop as an idea that stands the test of time.
IT EDUCATES NEWER GENERATIONS ON THE CONCEPT OF ART
Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” video is a great modern example of Hip Hop as art, and Wu Tang is taking that idea a step further. Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will reportedly be housed in an engraved silver-and-nickel box that’s handcrafted by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, whose works have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders. If that’s not art and commerce, than what is?
IT ADHERES TO THE TRADITION OF WHAT HIP HOP IS
Ever since it was created as an art form based on the ideals of community, solidarity, peace, unity and fun back in the day, Hip Hop has held a tradition of challenging establishment ideals. Wu-Tang has always been the epitome of these ideals, and this new album project and all that’s gone into really is just an extension of those same ideals.
IT SIMULTANEOUSLY GOES AGAINST THE CURRENT STATUS QUO
Wu-Tang Clan is by no means a bunch of new jacks. They’ve seen 20 years worth of ups and downs in the music industry. And the current ideals of giving music way for free and albums being disposable seem not to jive very well with them. True, it’s the way of the music world, but these men know their worth and are putting the proper price on it. Can’t really do much else but respect that.
IT’S VINTAGE RZA AND WU-TANG IDEOLOGY
If you’ve ever read The Wu-Tang Manual by RZA, then this project shouldn’t surprise you. He spent years developing the concept of the group, sometimes walking the streets for hours talking to himself for the purpose of creating the group. Judging from all of the success the Clan has had over the years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the same thing were done with this new project.
How’s it going, bruh? Hoping all is well your way these days. Let me start this letter out simply by giving you the congratulations and props that you truly deserve. There’s no denying that when it comes to media and pop culture in the 21st century, you are very much a leader. I’m sure by now you’ve heard both lots of praise and ridicule for your brilliant creation known as The Boondocks. With a single comic strip that evolved into an animated series that thus far has lasted for three seasons, yet has remained in the collective consciousness of both fans and detractors for much longer, you’ve helped to sway and effect the conversation on what it is to be black in America in your own unique way. And you should be commended for that every chance a person gets to do so.
Sure, we know that when it comes down to it, this is satire. This is comedy and probably shouldn’t be taken so seriously. This is a piece of media that’s intended to be consumed for entertainment purposes. However, The Boondocks is a show that has arguably gained a cult following comparable to some of the most popular cable television shows in the past 10-plus years (read: The Wire, The Sopranos, etc.)
And it has done so because you, the show creator, your staff of writers, the voice talent in Regina King, John Witherspoon, Cedric Yarbrough and many others truthfully aren’t afraid to take it there. Whether it was episodes featuring the calling out of R. Kelly or the frustration of a resurrected Martin Luther King, Jr. to the point of him saying “will you ignorant n*ggas PLEASE shut the hell up???” (I paraphrase, of course.), or some of the most memorable characters like Uncle Ruckus, A Pimp Named Slickback, Rev. Rallo Goodlove, Thugnificent, and many more. No matter what it is, from its origins as a comic strip in 1999 to the shows debut in 2005, we as fans have been thoroughly blessed to be entertained, educated, challenged, maddened, and moved to think more because of your creation. And if no one has said it yet (even though I’m sure you’ve run into hundreds of people that already have, or at least I hope so), I would like to take this time to simply say…Thank You.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the current state of things. As you are well aware, ever since the last episode of The Boondocks aired nearly four years ago, there’s been mass speculation, a ton of rumors and a boatload of hearsay as to whether there would be another season. So when we fans were greeted with the news only a few short months ago that the show would be returning for Season 4, we were ecstatic. We were jumping for joy. Not to take it too far or get melodramatic on you, but there were many of us that fell into a state of both euphoria and nirvana. It was that deep. I even wrote an article about for this very site concerning some topics that some fans would probably like to see spun in the magnificently satirical way that only The Boondocks can. The return of the epic adventures of Huey, Riley, Granddad, Uncle Ruckus and the whole gang? Honestly, how can we resist?
But in the last few days, much of our delight and excitement has given way to dismay and reservations when we found out that you, as the original creator and architect, were not involved in the production of Season 4 at all. A confirmation on both you and Adult Swim’s parts have also made this fact quite clear, much to the chagrin of fans of the show the world over.
Let me just be real with you for a moment, Aaron. Because of my curiosity, my vested interest and my time invested into the first three seasons of YOUR creation, I will be tuning in for at least the first episode. In all honesty, I want to see what direction the show takes in Season 4. However, due to what we as fans have been made privy to in terms of you and Adult Swim not being able to come to agreement in terms of producing the show, it seems many of us have been polarized and split. There are those, like me, who even with many reservations and “what ifs”, will still what to see what it done with The Boondocks. And there are others that have already noted that they will not be tuning in this season mainly due to the fact that you were not involved with the show, which I must respect.
However, my hope, in the near future, is two fold. First, I’m hopeful that The Boondocks will go on. But secondly, and even more important and greater than that, I’m hopeful that YOU will be involved and at the helm again soon. As great and as envelope-pushing a show as The Boondocks is, my personal belief is that it’s still YOUR show. And maybe it’s for selfish reason, but with this thing that you’ve created from scratch, you and the writers that probably left with you (yup…I’m not that naïve) need to be at the helm. Without both you and them, many of us may very well enjoy this new season thoroughly, but it still just won’t be the same.
Thanks so much for your time, Aaron. All the best to you and yours!
With Hip Hop having dominated the mainstream music lexicon for so long, it’s only natural that the genre would subsequently dominate the biggest and most popular music festival in the country, SXSW. For the last few years some of the biggest names in Hip Hop have converged on Austin, TX and truly taken the city and the festival itself by storm. Artists like Lil Wayne, Raekwon the Chef, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Mob, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Snoop Dogg and tons more have made SXSW a Hip Hop affair. 2014 seemed to be no different. Here some of the top moments from SXSW 2014 that happened while you may have been sleeping:
THE RETURN OF THE THRONE
We’re still not entirely sure whether Jay Z and Kanye West will be releasing Watch The Throne 2 any time soon, but an appearance at SXSW is a pretty good indication. And the fact that it was a Samsung-sponsored showcase may mean that there could be yet another surprise album release in the near future.
SNOOP DOGG BRINGS OUT WIZ KHALIFA
The only thing these two needs to do now is release an album together. But until then, Snoop and Wiz treated the Austin crowd to their hit song “Young, Wild And Free” and announced that they’ll be releasing part two of their indie movie. Once could say their making a strong case for the Hip Hop’s new version of Cheech and Chong (watch out, Meth and Red!)
50 CENT DEBUTS A NEW SINGLE
Ever since he severed ties with Interscope and declared that he’s going out on his own, Fif has breathed at least a little bit of new life into his otherwise stagnant music career. Always the consummate businessman, he took the opportunity at SXSW to debut his new single “Hold On”, dropping next week, and is more than likely building on his popular appearance at the festival from last year by hawking his headphone brand.
THE G.O.O.D. MUSIC SHOWCASE
Yeezy’s army was in full force at this year’s SXSW. Big Sean, Travis Scott, Pusha T and CyHi The Prince, Teyana Taylor and more, on the heels of an impressive 2013 for the crew/label and the release of CyHi’s Black Hystori Project mixtape, made their presence felt at a closed show down in Austin. Unfortunately the crowd apparently waited in vain for an appearance from the Louis Vuitton Don himself. B’ah well.
KENDRICK LAMAR, SCHOOLBOY Q AND ISAIAH RASHAD
In front of a sold out crowd, these Top Dawg Entertainment representatives helped to bring the iTunes festival to U.S. Soil for the first time. Attendees should consider themselves pretty blessed to see some of the biggest up and coming names in Hip Hop, with Schoolboy and Rashad having dropped Oxymoron and Cilvia Demo earlier this year, respectively, and K. Dot probably not far behind with sophomore effort.
So here we are again: another few months/years has passed and there’s been yet another sighting of the elusive, reclusive Jay Electronica at this year’s SXSW down in good ole’ Austin. I guess by now we have to get used to the fact (if we haven’t already, and who among us hasn’t) that Jay Elec pretty much makes and releases music on his own terms, by his own clock, and abiding by his own rules. And not in the whole “Hashtag New Rules” sense that his boss Jay Z continues to harp on. Or by dropping a surprise album using the power and influence of a rabid, almost disturbingly dedicated fan base of a Beyonce. Or by continuing to bend, shift, shape and challenge the rules of what Hip Hop can be per the influence of a Kanye West. Although in a certain sense, Jay Electronica seems to use elements from ALL of those examples to make his music remain kinda relevant.
The latest song released by surprise by the New Orleans emcee, in conjunction with a few sightings of him this past week in Texas, is “Better In Tune w/The Infinite”. Not one for simple, easily digestible songs where the actual meaning and purpose can be identified right from the jump, Jay instead uses a piano heavy, world-weary piece of classical music-influenced production to lay some of his emotional cards out on the table.
We don’t get much of a sense of what he’s been doing or if he’s been working on an actual album, but in reality, we’re probably not supposed to. “Better In Tune…” seems like it’s just Electronica getting some things off his chest through self expression and emotional lyricism. Truthfully, if you listen closely enough, it’s a song that’s very subtle and somber, but also psychologically mind-blowing. Couple all of these elements with the raspy, longing voice of LaTonya Givens and you’ve got an easy musical recipe for some serious food for thought.
In the end, there’s once again no indication of whether a full-fledged project from Jay is on the way that fans have been longing for. And per usual, those fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath. We should all just be satisfied that Mr. Electronica has been gracious enough to share this beautiful and haunting piece of Hip Hop with us.