Posts by jeffwbaird
Posted by jeffwbaird on November 20, 2014
Julian Stephen is a name to get familiar with. This Queens emcee drops off his latest single, “Sophisticated Thoughts”, showcasing his charisma and wordplay as he raps throughout the three-minute track. The video has a distinctly old-school feel, and in many ways Julian’s rapping and demeanor follows suit, with the kind of dynamism that characterized work from that period. The upbeat production comes courtesy of Chicago’s brandUn DeShay, who’s quickly gaining attention due to his recent work with Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, Danny Brown, and Casey Veggies.
Posted by jeffwbaird on November 9, 2014
It is really hard to make smart pop music. The charts will always be predominantly filled by recent successors within familiar tropes: body braggadocio (“All About That Bass”, “Anaconda”); hater-denouncement (“Shake It Off”); dehumanization of women (“Animals”); relationship turbulence (“Stay With Me”) — I could go on; but when I hear a song that is smart, that contains a semblance of wisdom — I know that it’s something special.
“Bodies”, the first single from Lyric’s upcoming project, Garden of Even, was produced by Jonathan Buscema and is every bit as memorable and upbeat as those aforementioned. It feels and sounds like a traditional pop song, and yet it reads like the work of an established, eloquent songwriting talent, leaving the listener (as I believe all great art does) mentally engaged and aware throughout the existential track.
This is only our first taste of Lyric Lincoln — a budding NYC singer, songwriter, and model — but with a first release like this, she’s definitely got my attention.
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.