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Summer seems to be the music season. We can expect concerts, music festivals and album releases. How many of you listen to a song from long ago and remember that summer and what you did? Some would say, me included, that music makes your summer in many ways. Summer of 2014 is going to be no different. But what exactly can we expect of this summer in music?
Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times
Pharrell has been on a roll with the success of G I R L especially with the smash hit single, Happy. If he wasn’t a household name before that then he certainly is now. He’s considered to be the greatest producer of this generation as well as one of the best performers on this generation. He can sing, produce, rap, and even score a film. For those who don’t know much about the film industry, scoring is essentially composing, or making music, that works tonally with the nature of the film or for certain scenes or segments. Pharrell has even helped with the score/soundtrack to one of the biggest films of the year, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
He is truly the happiest man on the face of the Earth right now with the number one song in the country. Pharrell Williams has everything going for him at the moment and, let’s face it, every moment. He didn’t win the Oscar for best original song but that shouldn’t bother him because he’s one of the most popular and successful producers/singers alive right now. Since he’s on top right now, here are ten interesting facts about mega superstar Pharrell Williams.
Pharrell Williams is one of the hardest working man in the music industry today and ten years ago that statement was true. Pharrell is known for a lot of things including writing, producing, singing and rapping, as well as being the front man to the band N.E.R.D. The band released three albums so far but the one we’re looking at today released ten years ago. Fly or Die released in 2004 to rave reviews. So whether you’re a fan or not, here are five facts to know about N.E.R.D.’s Fly or Die.
There’s a lot to be said about a singer/songwriter that has been mentored by two of the most respected names in all of music in Pharrell and Wyclef, has worked with an opened for some of the most important pop music artists of the new millennium in Gym Class Heroes and T-Pain, counts Bob Marley, Lenny Kravitz and The Rolling Stones among his greatest inspirations, whose latest video is featured on VEVO with over 1 million views on YouTube, and has yet to release his debut full-length album.
That artist would be Cris Cab. And on the cusp of releasing new music in 2014 and going on tour to bring his own brand of pop and soul-tinged Reggae music to live audiences, Cris Cab took time out to talk to SoSoActive.com about the music that’s inspired his journey and what’s next for an up-and-coming Reggae star in the making.
Being born to Cuban parents in Miami, it’s clear that you’ve had a big Caribbean influence on your music. What else influenced you to move toward infusing your music with a Reggae flavor? I spent a lot of time growing up in the Bahamas because my Dad was a fisherman. I honestly discovered Reggae music on my own. It’s just the music that I grew up listening to. I really try to bring it back in everything that I do [musically].
Besides the artists listed in your biography (Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs), are there any other genres that have influenced your music and sound? Definitely! I’m influenced by Reggae, Dancehall and many different kinds of music, not just those genres. Soul, R&B, Hip Hop, but yes, definitely Dancehall, I’ve always been attracted to that kind of flavor for my music.
What has it been like working with some of the biggest names in popular music like Wyclef Jean and Pharrell Williams? What have you taken from the advice/guidance they have given you? Pharrell was definitely my first mentor in the music industry. I met him when I was about 15 years old. He really taught me the building blocks as far as making music, like writing a song, how to produce a record. He just gave me the full picture.
Wyclef definitely taught me the more advance parts of that: how to record vocals and different things like that. He really built on what Pharrell taught me. They both have been like big brothers to me. I still work with Pharrell and he definitely still teaches me so many things. They’ve both been really big blessings to me in my development as an all around artist.
You’ve already built up an amazing resume for yourself as an artist. What other artists do you want to connect with musically? I definitely want to reach out to and work with Lenny Kravitz. He’s someone else in music that I haven’t met yet, but I definitely look up to him as a musician. I respect and admire what he does. Beyond him, no one specifically right now, but I’ll definitely be spending the next few months writing music and writing songs, and not just for myself. I do plan on working with a few different people in the future though.
Many people, even music fans, view today’s music as being very disposable. As a new artist, how do you feel are you successful at making music that has longevity?
I guess for me, I’ve just always gravitated towards older music. For me, a lot of music is timeless: the way it’s written and the story behind it.
Having a great story behind the music is definitely how I try to write my music now, trying to take a more classic approach. I really look up to artists like Bob Marley for their story telling abilities, and I always want to try and tell a complete story in a way that’s easily digestible.
What do you consider to be your biggest musical accomplishment so far? So far it’s hard to really say, honestly. I’ve done lots of great things that I never dreamt I’d be doing. I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at and 2014 is going to be a great year for me. I say that not being cocky, but every year I see myself working twice as hard as the previous year. So 2014 for me is going to be a marathon.
I have lots of great music that I’ve accumulated over the last two years. It’s music that I’ve saved and it’s finally going to see the light. This project for me is the best music that I’ve done over the last 2-3 years, music that I really love and I’m excited to share with my fans.
Can you talk more about the project that you’re currently working on? Yeah of course. I have songs on there with Wyclef and Pharrell of course. I have music on the album that was produced by myself and my production partner, B.J. McGinnis. And I’m also working a lot with Dallas Austin on this project.
Can you talk more about your upcoming tour and any artists that you will be touring with? Most definitely. The tour I have coming up is with the band Rebelution, and it’s going to be a great tour with lots of Reggae music, and it’s also a fusion of a bunch of different kinds of music, not just Reggae. I’ll be playing some new music from my upcoming album. It’s really going to be a great time for me to do that and see how my fans react to my music.
Ultimately, what affect do you want your music to have on your fans, as well as on potential fans? My main message that I’ve always carried first and foremost is positivity. If my music can just inspire people to feel better about themselves and the situation that they’re going through, that’s my main goal. I want people to feel good and feel hopeful. I just want to create music that’s inspiring.
Fans can look for Cris Cab on tour with Rebelution on the Winter Greens Tour coming up in early 2014. They can also find Cris Cab on Twitter by searching @CrisCab. His latest single, “Liar Liar”, is currently featured on VEVO and guest stars Pharrell.
Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is a feel good record that will have everyone around you dancing. It evokes musical styles of the 1970s disco era and is hella charming. I’m not just talking about the song Blurred Lines but the actual album released this past Tuesday. I always compared Robin Thicke to Michael Bublé, a more soulful version at that. A great crooner whose image you can’t quite pinpoint. With this album, he comes off as the bad boy version of Bublé and it works as a whole.
What I didn’t know going in was that Thicke had so many albums under his belt. I was aware of The Evolution of Robin Thicke because of Lost Without U, which was a pretty big hit. Then he sort of just fell of the map for me. I was aware that he was still making music but not releasing three albums since 2006. Blurred Lines is Thicke’s fifth official studio album and his shortest with eleven tracks. While he writes most of the songs on the album, he receives some help from fellow writers Pharrell, Timbaland, and even from his father, actor Alan Thicke.
YouTube, the video-sharing website that steadily became a culture phenomenon, is one of the greatest tools for discovering new music and artists. Here are 10 YouTube channels that every music lover should subscribe to.
1. The Needle Drop
Anthony Fantano is the Internet’s self-proclaimed busiest music nerd. His YouTube account is dedicated to music reviews and he doesn’t hold back.
2. Jay Z’s Life + Times
This YouTube account is Jay Z’s digital portal to exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into Jay Z’s life. This is where Jay Z posted his Barclay’s documentary that quickly became a viral hit.
3. i am OTHER
i am OTHER was created by artist, Pharrell Williams as a way to celebrate the “others”. The account celebrates innovators, thinkers, and any one who is willing to stand up and be different.
Pitchfork is all about the independent music. If you’re a true music lover, you should already have Pitchfork bookmarked.
5. NPR Music
NPR Music offers everything from live concerts and field recordings, to artists practicing and documentaries. Some artists even release their albums for free on NPR’s website.
6. KEXP Radio
KEXP radio in Seattle comes with the tagline “where the music matters”. They offer a wide variety of music and often play undiscovered talent on their broadcast. On their YouTube, you’ll find hours of live performances.
7. Hot 97 TV
Hot 97 has thousands of videos ranging from interviews with the hottest names in hip hop and R&B to live performances.
8. Sway’s Universe
An original member of MTV’s news team, Sway has now moved on to hosting his own interviews via his YouTube. You’ll find tons of celebrity interviews that you won’t get anywhere else.
9. Tim Westwood TV
Tim Westwood is well-known in the UK as a radio and television presenter. He’s inspired Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters and become a staple in the English hip-hop and grime culture. His YouTube channel is a mix between old school footage and modern interviews.
10. Bread Over Bed
Bread Over Bed is the perfect way for a music lover to keep up to date on new information and releases within the hip-hop/rap world. Between exclusive interviews and video releases, Bread Over Bed is an essential subscription.
Jimi Hendrix is the greatest rock guitarist of all time.
OK now that is out-of-the-way–and NOT up for discussion–Happy 70th to Jimi Hendrix.
One day while watching PBS, ZZ Top was the featured band and performed their regular hits like “Waiting on the Bus,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and the others. This new sound was so foreign to me but I loved it It wasn’t long until I discovered this dirty sound was blues-rock. Now, at the time, I didn’t listen to rock at all. Funny enough, the only taste of rock I’d experienced was Lenny Kravitz, specifically his song “Lady.” I would dance around the game room singing this. The other taste of rock, which I quickly rejected, was N.E.R.D’s Fly or Die. I was (am) a huge Pharrell fan and some how I found out about his side project and the cover fascinated me, along with that cool red dog.
ZZ Top introduced me to rock but it was Jimi Hendrix who made me fall in love with the genre. Interestingly enough, Billy Gibbons, lead player for ZZ Top, was taught by Hendrix how to play guitar at the age of 17.
Hendrix was just amazing. My former band members can testify how crazy I was for this man. Mitch Mitchell, drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was also my favorite drummer and there was not mistaken on his influence after hearing me play. In particular, Mitchell’s fills, modeled after Elvin Jones (drummer for John Coltrane Quartet), were unheard of over a rock record at that time. Sure you had Cream with Ginger Baker but Hendrix’s psychedelic guitar and Mitchell’s explosiveness was simply unmatched. Here’s a great video demonstrating the fills, the latter obviously played with a more “rocky” texture, but exact same triplet fills: Jones at 2:37-3:36 and Mitchell at 1:11; such fills can be heard on nearly every Experience track.
The Experience only released 3 albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland (yup, same studio Badu, Al Green, John Mayer and countless other artist record in) before splitting and forming Gyspy Sun and Rainbows (sometimes called Band of Gyspsys), with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums/vocals. Gyspy Sun and Rainbows was an all-black funk-rock trio formed with Cox, former Vietnam War buddy, and Miles, who was already a pretty-well established vocalist and even led on many tracks, allowing Hendrix to sit back and play rhythm; Mitchell would sometimes play drums. They only recorded a live album titled Live at Fillmore East and didn’t perform enough shows. Band of Gyspsys had the most obvious influence on Funkadelic and Sly Stone, causing Ed Hazel, lead guitarist for Funkadelic, to be nicknamed “Hendrix’s step kid.”
Hendrix’s influence spanned from John Mayer to Eric Clapton to Hillel Slovak (original RHCP guitarist) to Prince. He will forever be missed and I hope one day he appears, admitting to faking his death.
Here are 10 Hendrix songs, performances and covers that demand a listen, in no particular order:
1: John Mayer Trio: Wait Until Tomorrow
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Castles Made of Sand
3. Band of Gypsys: Burning Desire
4. Band of Gyspsys: Who Knows
5. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Catfish Blues (Muddy Waters cover)
6. Jimi Hendrix: Isabella/Machine Gun
7. Stevie Ray Vaughn: Manic Depression
8. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Red House
9. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Killin Floor (Howlin’ Wolf cover)
10. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Wind Cries Mary
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
We all know that the idea, concept, and product known as “social networking” is pretty much here to stay.
Maybe not in it’s current form, because things change constantly. But with more people joining Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin; as well as upstarts like Pinterest and Instagram who beginning to steal some of the spotlight- social media is the new way to communicate.
However, social networking and music is a curious case.
There are tons of independent artists that have benefitted from any and every social network available. Even with everything that the music industry continues to go through financially, major artists and labels are finally starting to “get it” and use these social tools to their advantage.
The bottom line? Music has become a more a socially centered experience.
So it should come as no surprise, that major music artists of all kinds have started to invest in creating their own social communities and networks.
The biggest and most successful example thus far has been none other than 50 Cent, who created Thisis50.com with the intention of having his own social network to rival the likes of Facebook.
Fast forward to 2012 and Thisis50.com has become a full-fledged Hip Hop media website – complete with interview videos, an online store, and major corporation advertisements including Verizon Wireless.
We might be able to say the same thing about GlobalGrind.com, which has also morphed from a social-network centered site into a Hip Hop music and Entertainment industry news forum.
Now, more artists are beginning to take notice, throwing their hat into the social game – most likely with the hopes of either duplicating or surpassing the success of former sites.
It was recently reported on MTV.com , that Lady Gaga has a “Little Monsters” social network in the works. And if any musician would be primed for success with their very own social network, it would be Gaga – having been declared the unofficial queen of social media with nearly 25 million followers on Twitter.
Not to be outdone, artist/super producer Pharrell Williams recently launched I Am Other, a venture that was first billed as a social networking site but has now grown into a “cultural movement” in the word of it’s creator. A video of Pharrell describing what I Am Other will entail is available on YouTube for viewing.
And, there’s also Jay-Z’s lifeandtimes.com, a social site said to be dedicated to style, sports, technology, music and a few other seemingly non-related topics.
In the past decade, music has become something that people don’t merely consume and purchase. And truthfully, smart artists are beginning to take advantage of these digital innovations to create their own web based communities.
We can’t truly say whether all of these ventures will turn into successes right off the back, because there have been more than a few examples of artist and celebrity-branded networking sites that have fallen flat. But, artists like 50, Gaga and Pharrell have done well so far to at least try tapping into the new direction that music continues to go, instead of staying stuck in an old music model and formula.