Posts by jeffwbaird
Posted by jeffwbaird on October 15, 2014
After ending her run on The Voice in the show’s third season, semi-finalist and now 19-year-old singer/songwriter Melanie Martinez said that her primary objective was to express who she was and touch people’s hearts. Just a year later, she’s set to reach many more; her Dollhouse EP from earlier this year was critically-acclaimed, its lead single garnered over eight million views, and now her second single, “Carousel”, has both been listed as one of Spotify’s most viral tracks and was recently featured in the promos for American Horror Story: Freak Show. As of this afternoon, “Carousel” has gotten a visual treatment as well, and for an artist who cares as deeply about her aesthetic and brand as Melanie does, you know this is a must watch. The song was written and produced with the help of the NYC-based duo Kinetics & One Love—who have been her closest collaborators while recording her new album—and features the same kind of stirring, hip-hop-inspired production and breathy, commanding vocals that we’ve come to expect from Melanie of late. Do yourself a favor and check this video out now, and keep yourself updated with the links below.
Posted by jeffwbaird on October 15, 2014
I’ve said this before, but King Deco is an incredibly special talent. Too rarely do I come across a pop songstress who has all the vocal power and polish of a radio heavyweight, yet with a thoughtful aesthetic and resonant lyrics. Building off the success of her last EP, Tigris, Deco released a lyric video for “Ocean”, my favorite song from the project. It’s a heartfelt and thoughtful song that addresses her choice to leave her family in Jordan, where she was raised: “Am I really wrong now?/My family condemns me/But it’s empty in that city of sand.” As a writer, aided by the assistance of NYC writing/production team Kinetics & One Love, she has that essential skill of turning her personal stories into something accessible for others, and extremely poignant. The song was produced by Cobra Starship guitarist Ryland Blackinton and One Love, and is equally mesmeric and cinematically produced as anything we’ve seen come from her camp thus far. Take the time today to watch this compelling new visual from one of pop music’s brightest newcomers.
Posted by jeffwbaird on August 14, 2014
Newcomer emcee Aaron Omar drops off his new EP War Stories & Love Letters. This 9 track EP showcases his taste for storytelling and emotionally-driven lyrics. It’s a solid release, and is earn to get him some deserved attention.
Posted by jeffwbaird on August 11, 2014
It’s been almost two years since Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released The Heist to a small group of core fans, and saw their lives transform alongside the newfound stardom. Last December, in the midst of a small touring break, Macklemore penned these two verses for his good friend and collaborator, Fences—whose latest project, Lesser Oceans, comes out October 14th. It’s the writing we’ve gotten from Macklemore since he became a household name, and it serves as an intimate and introspective view into the challenges he’s faced grappling with fame.
Between hip-hop culture’s reactions to Macklemore’s Grammy victories and Drake’s call-out at the ESPY Awards, Mack’s received quite a bit of disdain for the popularity of “Thrift Shop”. In a recent Reddit AMA, he said that he went through a great period of fear when he thought that was all the world would ever know him for. Here he addresses this by saying, “He makes mistakes, tells stories to his paintbrush/And when the world finally sees his art/He wishes that he never would have made it.”
The video is at-once symbolic of this dilemma, as he’s seen climbing a sky-high diving board filled with his Rolling Stone covers, given the choice to make the plunge or back away. Regardless of your thoughts on the artist, this is a powerful and engaging look into the past two years through Macklemore’s eyes, and the latest narrative about the difficulty adjusting to fame.
Posted by jeffwbaird on July 23, 2014
In the not-too-distant past, the production that a rapper could obtain while still positioning themselves as independent artists wasn’t all that important. It was trendy — largely because of Lil Wayne’s Dedication series — for artists to recycle industry beats, and thus they didn’t necessarily need high-quality original production to fuel a career. That tendency has shifted, though, and most successful startups in this market have at least one reliable instrumentalist whose work helps them define their sound. Few, if any, are as gifted and as significant in shaping their overall sound as One Love—best-known as the production half of Kinetics & One Love.
Since K&1L’s critically acclaimed You Are Not Alone released in 2012, One Love has produced for a number of Atlantic Records’ talents, including Neon Hitch and—most recently—Melanie Martinez. Today he’s released his first official remix, to Melanie Martinez’s new single, “Dollhouse”—a song he originally produced as well. While the primary version has accrued over two million views on YouTube already, One Love has utilized the strengths of Melanie’s vocals and reconstructed the darker-themed beat into a summer smash. The increased BPM, coruscating synths, and added melodic qualities of the production entirely change the listening experience, while retaining the meaning of its original. Check out the track below, and follow One Love using the links below.
Posted by jeffwbaird on May 2, 2014
It’s been a year-and-a-half since we last heard from Kinetics & One Love, who have been steadily building a reputation as one of the most talented and promising duos in the genre on any scale. Always conceptual in their artistry, 2012’s terrific album You Are Not Alone solidified elements of their philosophical identity and developed an iconic sense of self, one that many artists are unable to conjure throughout the span of a career. Now, after a brief hiatus writing and producing for other artists (Neon Hitch, Melanie Martinez), they’ve returned with an even deeper and more fully-developed vision and aesthetic, continuing their streak of new music releases where a sense of progression is invoked. It’s expected at this point, and in a genre where progression isn’t commonplace and often first albums are a rapper’s most heralded, it bears a lot of weight that this group simply can’t make new music without “development” being a part of the dialogue.
“Time Machine” features the powerful vocals of Neon Hitch, and ups-the-ante for up-and-comers with its video by Hourglass Films, setting the bar for depth and quality at a level that may have never been surpassed before by independent artists. The track features Kinetics as innovative and visionary as he’s ever been on the mic, invoking the sentiments of Nikola Tesla, using the second verse to detail elements of his poignant death, from the hotel room to the “do not disturb” sign on the door that he left prior to his passing. One Love, too, shows his maturity as a producer here, not just inviting the listener to enter this world, but keeping them there. While his production here isn’t as much in the forefront as it has been on songs like “Vecina Del Mar” and “You Could Save Us All”, he’s become so adept at using the intricacies of his production to complement his vocalists, and its often the subtleties of his work that are the most resonant.
Posted by jeffwbaird on April 28, 2014
One of the great teases in our society of late is the ease with which many assume they’ll attain rap stardom. With the growing diversity of emcees’ backgrounds, and, more importantly, the lowering bar of the skill necessary to receive that long-coveted record deal, we’ve entered a time when many think it’s totally plausible they’ll make it big with their rhymes. And that scares me. I’m all for artistic expression, but when an artist is after fame and not necessarily making music for expression’s sake or as a result of their love for the craft, it’s clear. And because the former happens to be the vast majority of what makes up my inbox, here’s a chance for you to learn what the alternative sounds like.
B.Love (one-third of the FNT favorite Suns of Society), is a Cali-based rapper/songwriter/producer with a tremendous amount of versatility, and a desire to keep his sound authentic and unaffected by the industry’s love to keep artist’s boxed in and conformed to a specific sound. On his latest mixtape, Who Says?, B.Love produced the entire thing (with the help of some close friends and colleagues, including Benny Blanco and One Love) and tried to keep the record hard to describe and as broad in sound as possible. The result is a project that—while less unified by consistency in sound—is certainly consistent in terms of its experimentation and the fact that every track sounds like it was made exactly how B.Love intended. It’s a reminder that music is a passion for all of us, first and foremost, and whether or not you come out at the other end as marketable and easily packaged as would be ideal for making that shot at the big time shouldn’t be why you’re doing it. If you’re making records like this, then I have no reason to be scared at all. You can find Who Says? in full for free right here, or support the movement and make the financial gesture here.