Tag Archives chance the rapper

Hip-Hop As A Shared Activity: How Collaboration Created America’s New Pop


The recent rise of the collective in hip-hop has been undeniable. BROCKHAMPTON (technically a boy band, we know,) A$AP Mob, Migos, and Odd Future are just a few of the big names from the past few years. Before that, we had the Wu-Tang Clan, Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A., Fugees, and Public Enemy. Even earlier were The Beastie Boys and Salt N Pepa. And this is only scratching the surface.*

The influence of the group in hip-hop can easily be tracked, and has been, but the pervasion of the collective is not the only reason that the genre is inherently collaborative. Nor is it the cause of hip-hop’s surge in popularity and supersession of rock as the most dominant genre of music in America, according to Nielsen’s 2017 year-end report. There’s a reason why the genre has been able to consistently innovate, come out on top, define what’s cool. And the answer lies much deeper, and much further back in history, than success on streaming platforms, like Nielsen’s findings suggest.

Photo courtesy of Dorothy/”Hip-Hop Love Blueprint”

Last year, the UK-based art and design studio Dorothy released its ‘Hip-Hop Love Blueprint,’ a blue and metallic gold screen print that links together “over 700 MCs, DJs, producers, turntablists, musicians, graffiti artists, b-boys and b-girls who […] have been pivotal to the evolution of hip-hop, from pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash to present day chart success stories Kendrick Lamar and Drake, and global superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West.” While the website description stresses the importance of certain groundbreaking artists and events, in order to truly understand the genre, it’s important to begin by paying attention to the links.

Like in any other genre, hip-hop has its stars—the people whose music shaped the future, whose legacy remains so strong that one wrong word about them could lead to physical threats. Dorothy mentioned some, but it would be pointless to go through the whole list. What distinguishes hip-hop from other popular music genres is not the artists themselves, but the way they are constantly working together in order to create the most dynamic art. When was the last time you listened to a rap album without features? Chance’s blockbuster hit Coloring Book only included two songs without features, Drake’s most recent More Life featured British grunge rappers to explore unprecedented sounds for the Toronto-born artist, 2 Chainz’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music hit hard by including some of the genre’s biggest names (Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Migos are just a few.) Besides a couple of stragglers (notably, J. Cole on his last two albums and Childish Gambino on Awaken, My Love!, among others,) the majority of hip-hop artists have essentially committed to this type of constant collaboration.

The way in which members of the hip-hop community engage with each other is analogous to scientists in a lab, or scholars in a field of research. This is the part where you have to bear with me for a second; all of these examples fall under the category of a shared activity. A shared activity, when loosely explained through Aristotle’s theories, comprises a shared and mutual commitment to a common goal, a mutual understanding of everyone’s individual role in accomplishing this goal, and a mutual agreement for everyone to perform his own individual role within the pursuit of this goal. If the common goal in question is the creation of a chart-topping album—like Flower Boy or No One Ever Really Dies, both of which heavily rely on featuresthen it’s difficult to argue against the fact that each participant checks off the items on this list.

One of the main benefits of a shared activity, especially when it comes to the creation of hip-hop, is the continuous engagement of its participants. If everyone is not only working on their own projects, but also engaging in the projects of others, then there is never a lack of interest or stimulation. Cue the features.

And, of course, the diss tracks. Although it may seem like the point of a good diss track is to stun the subject into silence, they usually—and unsurprisingly—have the opposite effect. Maybe therein lies the purpose. They incite a type of conversation in rap unlike that which exists in any other genre. No one ever truly gets the final word; more often than not, the challenge just sparks the creation of more music. This tradition of call-outs has existed since the early days of rap; the hip-hop rivalry phenomenon has given us hits from artists like The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, Drake and Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma. There were even theories that Kendrick was coming at Big Sean on DAMN. This isn’t to create a false equivalency between serious rivalries and occasional teasing, but there’s a reason why rappers seldom run out of things to say; each artist, at one point or another, becomes responsible for making sure that the conversation doesn’t end.

Another innovation that is unique to hip-hop is the rise of the producer as an artist in and of themself. Yes, bar the DIY scene, basically every artist in every genre needs a producer. But never before have producers held such distinctive roles in the creation of music that performance legends are seeking them out for their input and style. Like Jay-Z on his album 4:44, which arguably became more regarded for the producing feats of No I.D. than the rapping itself. Or everyone and Metro Boomin, who has left a mark as big as it gets on hip-hop; known for being a mainstream hit-machine, he’s collaborated with nearly every big name from Gucci Mane and 21 Savage to Drake and DJ Khaled. His tagline—“if young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you,” created by Future in a collaboration with Uncle Murda—has infiltrated rap playlists indefinitely, and has kicked off its own cultural phenomenon. Or Mike WiLL Made-It, who was the beat-maker behind both Beyoncé’s “Formation” and Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”

Even rappers who lean towards producing their own music, like hip-hop’s biggest workaholic Kanye West, rely on the idea of collaboration in order to create. One of the key features of Kanye’s music is his prolific use of samples—often of relatively unknown artists. Sampling, which is the technique of digitally encoding music or sound and reusing it as part of a composition or recording, is just one more way in which hip-hop artists take advantage of the community-like aspects of music in order to further art. By bringing in voices or sounds that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard by listeners of mainstream rap—like the contemporary classical composer Caroline Shaw, who West collaborated with on tracks “POWER” and “Say You Will”—hip-hop artists are opening up unprecedented avenues for their music.

At this point, you may be asking why this is important. There is an innumerable amount of answers, all dependent on your own experience with hip-hop, but there’s also a common thread that is woven through all of them. Historically, as a genre, hip-hop has not been given the respect it deserves. This isn’t a revolutionary statement in any sense; it’s just a recognition of the symptomatic way we view art that we do not deem to be fine. With rap taking the lead as America’s most popular form of music, it is about time that the contributions which hip-hop and its artists have made to music are acknowledged and celebrated. It is also time that we begin viewing them as more than transient blips in culture, bolstered by teenagers, social media, and streaming services. There have been dozens of articles likening Kanye West to Beethoven or Mozart, but it is important to note that he is not the only artist engaging in intellectual art-creation. He is just one of hundreds in a community of forward-thinkers and risk-takers. Hip-hop may not be a fine art, but that is because it is something much bigger; it is alive and it is growing, and it cannot be contained with four walls and a velvet rope.

*For a more complete timeline of hip-hop, check out ThoughtCo’s “History of Hip-Hop: 1925 to Now”


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Hip-Hop As A Shared Activity: How Collaboration Created America’s New Pop: Featured image courtesy of Ashlan Grey/The FADER

The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming


As the technology landscape grows larger, the state of music changes from the physical to the digital. From being able to see the cassette or CD spin round, to now holding our entire music libraries or accessing them via Internet/Cloud-storage is definitely a sign of the times. What this means for us as the listener, the artist and those behind these platforms, varies upon each release and public perception.

As the Cassette Turns

Can you remember your first piece of music? I can. I was about five or six, and received two cassettes: Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Celine Dion & R. Kelly’s “I Am Your Angel.” That was back when record labels still released entire tapes for one promotional single, and the music quality never wavered. The art of the tangible is a real thing for some people, as being able to see, hold and interact with something gives it meaning. For music aficionados, may it be a vinyl record, tape or CD, having this and being able to find them (I was lucky to find some gems even in our local library), is highly important. With the release of the mp3 player, companies were dangling “unlimited access” in our faces. Some took the bait, finding no qualms with paying either $1.99 for a single song on iTunes, taking time and transferring their music libraries to their devices, or being the first to have the new album at the touch of their fingers. The rise of the Internet in the early 2000s caused debate among fans and artists, or artists and these new and budding music platforms. “Can I find and play that song at any time or do I have to do the work to upload it myself?” “Will I receive fair compensation for making my music available this way?”

The Catch Up Chart

Of course the shift from CDs to MP3 players meant there was less focus on physical units and more on digital streaming. The smartphone made it worse, focusing on Internet access, increased storage and touch surface area. Although CD stocks dwindled or phased out, the gap between longstanding organizations such as the RIAA and Recording Academy during the rise of streaming, narrowed. Music charting systems like Billboard created additional charts determining overall positions on the Hot 100 (Digital Songs, top weekly digital sales) and Streaming Songs (top weekly radio streamed, or viral videos or songs). Music certifications like the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) now recognize digitally streamed songs for platinum or gold certifications, and among The Record Academy, could also receive various industry nominations. Artists like Macklemore, Chance the Rapper and even PSY are examples of artists that found digital popularity and made their way into traditional radio streaming.

Right Here, Right Now

We’ve gone from sharing sites like Limewire and Napster to iTunes. Tried out and fought over recommendation-streaming like Pandora, but now with so many user-curated services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Music, the ball is in a listener’s court. If the general public didn’t seem to lean toward the digital world with curiosity, perhaps places like FYE, the Virgin Mobile store or Borders wouldn’t be so dead.

Maybe. But because issues of copyright will always be the question in the music world, artists continue to push for more control over having their catalogue available on these services and fighting for fair compensation. Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, the state of music today, just means some are greedy and don’t care about the backstage battles. So long as the music is available, it can be said we will be around to listen, ready to take test how unlimited our access really is. But what if simply having our music streaming this way, isn’t enough?

Perhaps in the future, an audio-implant device? Too much? Maybe.


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The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming. Featured Image provided by Flickr CC License.

Artists We Wish Would Collab


Have you ever sat down and wondered “What if?” while listening to your favorite artists back to back? As if the universe could hear you and these artists would feel compelled to come together, making your music library greater than it already is? Well, in some cases, some of our favorite artists have worked together, have thrown the idea out there, or have even crossed paths. Here are a few pairings of artists we wish would collab.

Adam Lambert X Demi Lovato

Both Lambert and Lovato made their strong voices visible on known networks; Lambert blowing viewers away on FOX’s American Idol, and Lovato intriguing preteens everywhere on Disney Channel’s miniseries As The Bell Rings. Although Lambert didn’t win AI, he continued to smash with his debut album, his later well-received albums, and touring with Queen. Lovato rose through the Mouse ranks with Camp Rock, her own tv show, and two hit albums. Things seemed a bit rocky for both (whether it be performance reviews or personal struggles), but Lambert & Lovato are dynamic singers who have certainly grown from the simple brash vocals and established vocalists. It would be very interesting to hear both harmonize and provide a soothing ballad or dance pop for the masses.

Agnes Obel X Julie Byrne

Both Nobel and Byrne are singer-songwriters with an affinity for atmospheric melodies. Obel takes a more classical approach with her inclusion of various strings, building upon her poignant piano plays, wistful voice and state of mind. Byrne takes a more folk approach with her poetic lyrics, unique vocals and gentle guitar. Obel’s first album Philharmonics was highly successful, broadening her appeal as three of its songs featured on American dramas (Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge). Her second album, Aventine, featured the single “Dorian”, bringing more attention (and Spotify streams). Her recent release, Citizens of Glass, showcases the artist trying different types of instruments and audio techniques. Byrne came to my attention during the release of her sophomore album Not Even Happiness, featuring folk with matured arrangements, contemplative lyrics, and critical acclaim. Its single, “Follow My Voice,” is the best example of her unique take within the genre. Because both artists are consistent and compelling in sound, it would be very interesting to hear an entire universe as both singers worked together.

Childish Gambino X Chance the Rapper

Both rap, sing and have created a notable sound for themselves and among their fanbase. Childish Gambino emerged as an outlet, producing various rap and hip-hop releases (firstly mixtapes) for internet music followers (and fans interested in Donald Glover) and those seeking refuge from the norm. The styles of Gambino emerged into various explorations of R&B, funk and electronica. The album Because The Internet was an interactive release, complete with a script, short film (Clapping for the Wrong Reasons) and continued noted features. Chance the Rapper grew viral with longtime listeners in his hometown of Chicago, with his first mixtape 10 Day, and subsequently with well-received Acid Rap. His style consists of layered and groove-laden instrumentals and sounds out of various samples or arrangements by Chance himself, who not only raps, but sings and plays the piano as well. The two artists actually crossed soundscapes during the release of Gambino mixtape Royalty for “They Don’t Like Me.” The introspective and confident lyrics, paired with both rappers playing off each other and the warped version of Dem Franchize Boyz’ “I Think They like Me” for support. Short and sweet, both artists came on the radar of their budding fan bases, and would return for another collaboration on Gambino’s Because The Internet for “The Worst Guys.” The only issue, is that Chance only features on the chorus! Another fair return (and lyric distribution) is surely due!

Gallant X FKA twigs

Gallant came to my ears with his ethereal cover of Foo Fighter’s “Learn to Fly,” but already had folks buzzing with his “Weight in Gold.” Showing impressive range, relatable lyrics and easy-going feel, Gallant toured with Sufjan Stevens, collaborated with Jhené Aiko for “Skipping Stones,” and impressed with Seal for Coachella ‘16. Gallant’s musical style ranges from electronic, alternative rock & R&B influences, with his vocals showing clarity, richness & emotion. FKA twigs is another artist transfixing audiences with her delicate vocals and stand-out production. She grew out of her background dance work for other artists, and continued on with music, generating interest with her style and her single, “Water Me.” Her appeal lies within her voice, experimental video and production style, merging electronic, pop, hip-hop and even industrial influences. A signature song for Gallant lies in Ologys “Jupiter,” and for Twigs, perhaps LP1s “Pendulum.” Both artists represent the unconventional becoming conventional. And hearing both voices (and falsettos!) with a unique production would certainly break sound-waves.


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Artists We Wish Would Collab. Featured Image Credits to Filip Van Lerberge, mercen27, Dominque Dinh, Alexander Kellner, Julio Enriquez, EWatson92

Why We Still Need SoundCloud


When SoundCloud was founded in 2007, it was not necessarily the first streaming service of its kind. Before, there was YouTube and Napster, but what made SoundCloud different was its devotion to creativity. In its initial form, not only was streaming completely free, but also entirely user-friendly. Laissez-faire copyright laws made it easy for unsigned artists (specifically DJs) to post original remixes of popular tracks, which allowed listeners to fall for the romantic notion that maybe music can be free. Now, after a decade, the Berlin-based streaming service has taken quite a few blows—a few of which have steered it away from this original idea of free creativity. However, a closer look at its original values shows why we still need SoundCloud. 


At its best, Soundcloud was an avenue for musical discovery. Made up of mostly lesser-known artists, the service allowed users to scratch beneath the surface of popular music. Artists were allowed to make music without the burden of conventionality weighing on their shoulders while they recorded tracks.

SoundCloud was not about making money or recording instant hits. It was about self-expression within a community of like-minded individuals—a huge deal in the music world, considering major labels and record producers were busy cultivating a harsh climate of cutthroat deals, limited contracts, and perfectionism. This is what made SoundCloud as a platform so liberating: It freed artists from this pressure cooker of artificiality.

This isn’t to say, however, that SoundCloud artists were fated for a life outside the realm of the mainstream. Take SoundCloud’s poster child Chance the Rapper. In 2011, after having his musical aspirations mocked by peers and teachers, he spent a 10-day school suspension recording his first ever mixtape, 10 Day.

In his own words, he chose SoundCloud because it was the only platform that allowed him to upload his work without asking for a subscription payment. As a result, free, accessible music became his purpose (he doesn’t make songs for free, he makes them for freedom). Later came Acid Rap and Coloring Book, two mixtapes that have received wide commercial success despite the fact that he remains unsigned. At the young age of 24, Chance remains one of the most conventionally successful rappers of his time, regardless of the fact all his albums are available for free download.

Chance isn’t the only rapper to find fame through free streaming. More recent overnight sensations include Ugly God, who just dropped his debut album following the instant success of SoundCloud hit “Water,” Post Malone, Lil Pump, and Smokepurpp, among others. It would be nearly impossible to list all the rappers who have benefitted from this free platform because, when it comes to SoundCloud, fame isn’t the only indicator of success. There’s something to be said about a song you recorded in your bedroom being labeled art, even if it’s just by one person.

The community aspect of the service fosters a positivity that is missing from the critical “real” world. In this way, SoundCloud operates as a sort of escape from the unforgiving industry. It is a microcosm of the larger industry—one without all the “X out of 10” album reviews, Hot 100 charts, or sale numbers.

Rap isn’t the only genre to flourish under SoundCloud’s guiding hand, either. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the SoundCloud platform was its freedom from copyright infringement laws, which allowed DJs to elevate electronic music to new heights. Unlike YouTube (a competitor with SoundCloud for best free streaming service), SoundCloud allowed DJs to post remixes of pre-existing tracks without fear of their content being removed.

For instance, look at Kygo, whose remix of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” received over 50 million plays on SoundCloud. This was his jumping-off point, and it resulted in his release of “Firestone” on the streaming service, which led to critical and commercial acclaim. His personal success snowballed after this, as did the legitimization of house and electronic music as an artform. In 2016, he became the first house music producer to perform at an Olympics closing ceremony.

It is no secret that this is a very idyllic look at a corporation that has strayed very far from its roots. Since its creation, SoundCloud’s intentions have become much foggier. The corporation has negotiated deals with major labels and artists, allowing at least a portion of contributors to make money on advertisements (a move that betrays the idea of “all music is created equal” in its entirety).

In 2016, they introduced SoundCloud Go, a paid subscription service. Ironically, all of this failed them financially. They had almost gone under this year, but their saving grace was emergency funding. But just because the company is safe financially does not mean that everything that made it great is. It’s quite the opposite; SoundCloud does not only need a bailout, they need to return to the values that made them great. Otherwise, free music is doomed, and they’re going down with it.

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Why We Still Need SoundCloud: Featured image courtesy of SoundCloud

Female Rappers on the Rise


In a genre defined by hypermasculinity, profanity, and the sexualization of female bodies, it’s not surprising that there has never been a historically high concentration of women in rap. When it came to hip-hop, women were always tied to the role of “featured” artist, or contributing harmonies and hooks, but rarely verses. However, things are finally changing in the rap world and we have many genre-defying female artists to thank for that. We rounded up a list of the most up-and-coming female rappers on the rise that you should not be sleeping on this year.


If you haven’t heard Cardi B’s breakout single “Bodak Yellow,” then you must be living under a rock. The overarching message of the song is obvious from the first few lines: Cardi B thinks she’s better than you, and she wants to be the one to tell you. The song takes cues from classic rap culture surrounding money, glory, and celebrity. It also subverts the classic rap narrative because Cardi is a woman—the antithesis of the tough, black male rapper stereotype. She’s effortlessly breaking boundaries, and she’s doing it in a way you can dance to.  

Starting out as a slam poet in Chicago, Fatima Warner (Noname) broke out onto the rap scene when she was featured by Chance the Rapper on the Acid Rap mixtape. Since then, she and Chance have collaborated a few more times (Surf, Coloring Book), but she was also busy recording her own debut album, Telefone. An uncompromised look at the experience of growing up a black woman in Chicago, this album is a triumph. Not only does she experiment with unconventional jazz-influenced beats, but she also uses her background in spoken word to craft extremely smart and personal verses.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Young M.A. (also known as Katorah Marrero) has rap running through her veins. Beginning to rap as early as age 9, the 25-year-old has accomplished a lot in her short life thus far; she’s released more than a few viral tracks (“Brooklyn Chiraq,” “Body Bag”) and two mixtapes (Sleepwalkin’, Herstory,) and the latter two received critical acclaim. Her single “OOOUUU” has over 100 million streams on Spotify alone, and it was featured on basically every party playlist in the country for a few months. Her songs aren’t just mindless bangers, either; she also uses her music as an outlet to discuss social issues and her identity as a black lesbian woman.

Called “Oakland’s Best New Rapper” by MTV, Kamaiyah is definitely one to watch. Her debut album A Good Night in the Ghetto is a cross-section of everything she represents as a rapper: confidence, clarity, and charisma. Her verses are sharp, but they’re also fun. Heavy bass lines and catchy hooks make the tracks perfect for parties without compromising who she is. She’s not a singer, she’s a rapper—and she’s not afraid to say it. If you’re still unconvinced that she’s the next big thing, just remember she also shared a feature with Drake on the YG track “Why You Always Hatin’” in 2016.

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Female Rappers on the Rise: Featured image courtesy of CardiB/Faceboook

How Musicians Are Helping The World


In an industry often characterized by excess, luxury, and entertainment, it can be easy to lose sight of the positivity musicians bring into the world. Musicians not only use their art to share a message, but also their voices outside of music to promote unity and philanthropy among their fans. Many go above and beyond to become role models for their fans, so we’ve rounded up a list of performers who have made notable strides toward making a difference to show how musicians are saving the world.



Rihanna, one of the most influential pop singers of all time and a fashion icon, is also a devoted supporter of education. This year, she was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year due to her creation of the Clara Lionel Foundation Global Scholarship Program, a nonprofit that helps students from Caribbean countries attend universities in the U.S. She has also been a constant supporter of the Global Citizen Project, which helps provide education to children from developing countries.

©Courtesy of Chance the Rapper/Facebook


There’s a reason Chance has his city doing front flips. The young rapper has made it his personal agenda to help his hometown of Chicago in every way possible. Earlier this year, he made good on a promise to meet with Gov. Bruce Rauner to discuss public education. When the meeting itself did not result in any significant change, Chance took it a step further and donated $1 million to Chicago public schools. His nonprofit SocialWorks also continues to donate tens of thousands of dollars to individual schools.

©Courtesy of Nicki Minaj/Facebook


With more than 21 million Twitter followers, Nicki Minaj has the potential to break the Internet on a whim. Recently, she chose to do so by promising to pay off the college debts of various followers who tweeted their student loan and tuition statements, along with their grade point averages, at her. After replying to a slew of fans, she finished off the night by pledging to do another round in the near future. The timeframe is unclear, but what is clear is that over a dozen students were able to further their education thanks to her help.

©Courtesy of Lady Gaga/Facebook


For Lady Gaga, “Born This Way,” a song about being yourself, turned into an entire foundation devoted to creating positive online and offline communities for disenfranchised youth. Moved by a fan’s suicide due to bullying, Gaga formed the Born This Way Foundation and has since been using her resources to battle childhood depression and anxiety. The Born This Way Foundation, formed in 2012, funds research on youth mental health, as well as peer support and preventative initiatives.

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How Musicians Are Helping The World: Featured image courtesy of Rihanna/Faceboook

5 Artists You Must Check Out at Lollapalooza


The annual music festival Lollapalooza is back in Chicago August 3-6 at Grant Park and with its stellar line-up, it’s bound to be an event to remember. If you’re headed to the show, you have some awesome performances to look forward to. Luckily, we’ve made things easy for you and chosen five must-see artists you simply can’t miss.


  1. Chance the Rapper

You know him, you love him, and now you’ll get to see him as the headliner at Lollapalooza. After his most recent album, Coloring Book, was released in 2016, you couldn’t scroll through Twitter without seeing something about Chance the Rapper. He is known to put on an awesome show for his fans that leave them wanting more. So if you’re lucky enough to be at Lollapalooza, be sure to check out Chance the Rapper for an unforgettable set.

  1. Blink 182

Throw it back a few decades and rock out to the godfathers of punk rock. Blink 182 has been touring since the ’90s—so there’s no way they won’t put on a wicked performance. You’ve heard their songs on the radio for years, and now you’ll be able to see them on a live stage. So go blast Enema of the State or the band’s self-titled album to get a glimpse of what you’ll hear at Lollapalooza.

  1. The Killers

You’ve screamed “Mr. Brightside” at the top of your lungs plenty of times, so why not do it with The Killers at Lollapalooza, too? The band played a pivotal role in alternative rock and has since shaped the music we hear today. With so many great tunes, including “When You Were Young” and “Somebody Told Me,” The Killers’ set is bound to be a rockin’ good time.  

  1. Lil Uzi Vert

If you’re looking for a high-energy performer, Lil Uzi Vert is someone to see at Lollapalooza. Some of his top hits include “XO TOUR Llif3” and “Money Longer,” which he is bound to perform at the festival. And if you’re not familiar with the rap scene, Lil Uzi Vert is a great artist to help you ease into the genre, thanks to his solid mix of rap and singing.

  1. Jon Bellion

As a more up-and-coming artist at Lollapalooza, Jon Bellion is a notable performer to check out. You’re probably familiar with his chart-topper “All Time Low” (you know, the one everyone was jamming out to this past year). So, if you’re looking for an underrated artist to listen to—and fall in love with—at Lollapalooza this year, Jon Bellion is the man to check out.

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5 Artists You Must Check Out at Lollapalooza: Photographed by Petra Collins

5 Artists You Must Check Out at Firefly


Making a decision sometimes is like trying to parallel park outside of a packed event. You know it has to be done, and it can be done, but the journey involves changing directions and focus, just for a few minutes. When there’s a large lineup of artists at one huge four-day long festival and your budget is questionable, you need a guide or a map of who and what to go to in order to make the most of it. Delaware is a budding state, and for some, it’s forgotten, unless passing through for some sales-tax free shopping or Firefly 2017. This year, the home-grown festival continues to boast big names, so here are 5 artists you must check out at Firefly, before hitting road back home.

Day 1


Giving you a side of alternative that can be anthemic, rhythmic, or suited for shared expression after a long day of life, O.A.R. continues providing material suited for a big stage. Lyrics like “You go round and around it, you go over and under, I go through” bring a vivid reality of singing along your frustrations in a world of people facing the same.
Starter: “Shattered (Turn the Car Around)
Song to Shout Out: “I Go Through

5 Artists You Should Check Out At Gov Ball


Governors Ball is fast approaching and everyone is getting hyped! This festival in Randall’s Island Park is going to be one of the biggest yet. Artists from all over are getting ready to perform at this music festival and everyone is eager to listen. The three day festival has some great talent performing. Here are 5 artists you should check out at Gov Ball!

Chance the Rapper
The first performance of the entire festival is Chance the Rapper and he is bound to start the show with a bang. This is one of the seven music festivals Chance will be performing at this summer. He’ll hopefully be performing some of his old music to hype up the crowd. Chance is known for putting on a good show so we expect nothing less!

With her new album coming out this summer, Lorde is a very hot topic. Lorde is the second performer on the first day which will get the crowds going for the rest of the festival. With her mesmerizing and different sound, Lorde will surely put on a great show.

Tove Lo
After releasing her hit EP in 2014, Tove Lo is touring and stopping in NYC on June 2nd for Gov Ball. Tove Lo always brings her emotions into her songs which will make for a great performance that will definitely get the fans feeling good and dancing.

Another great performer at Gov Ball is Flume. Flume will join Chance the Rapper and Lorde in performing on the first day, starting the festival out right. Flume’s EDM/electronic type music is bound to hype up the crowd and get everyone on their feet. Skin, Flume’s latest album, was a huge hit and will hopefully be performed with a lot of energy.

Cage the Elephant
Switching gears a bit, another exciting performance will be Cage the Elephant. After their 2015 album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, this American rock band is now touring America and coming to NYC on June 4th to kick off the last day of the festival. Their notorious rock shows will definitely revive the audience and get them going. Cage the Elephant will be a great start to the final day of Govs Ball.

Governors Ball 2017 is packed with awesome performers that will definitely make for a great festival. The crowd will be energized and hyped up for the entire festival with this kind of lineup so we hope everyone is excited to check it out!
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5 Artists You Should Check Out At Gov Ball: Photo Courtesy of Chance the Rapper/Facebook

5 Independent Artists to Watch


The days before the creation of the CD became huge, and the internet became accessible to everyone (in theory), being an independent artist was nothing to scoff at. It still isn’t, if you think about it. One of the many purposes of any record label, are to produce, distribute, and protect the musician’s work to an audience. Being signed to a label, again, in theory, ensures that the artist has the major tenants handled, while it is their job to produce sellable content. Even the last sentence is too ‘business’ but it’s the reality for many labels, no matter how many music lovers are staffed. For aspiring artists wanting their work available and noticed in time, being signed can become a nightmare. One of the major reasons artists stay away from major labels (independent) or remain unsigned (free agent), are to keep control of their work and productivity. Famous unsigned artists include notable rock names like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead.

But what is an independent artist in 2017? ‘Independent’ in today’s music scene, is an artist without a major recording contract, and or, remains largely in control of their music with a lesser known, and funded (indie) label.
Here are five independent artists to watch, keeping it between the music and making their way to our ears.
Chance the Rapper (unsigned)
Intro Track: “Juice”
During a YouTube music crawl, eventually the site finds picks that are not only trending, but fits your music tastes. I don’t recall the song I was listening to, but something told me to click a particular thumbnail. Hearing Chance’s dynamic voice open in the style of old-bluesy bar music and segue into a boast of someone hitting mainstream … safe to say it’s addicting.
New Listen: “Blessings” feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Anderson Paak, BJ the Chicago Kid & Raury
Hannah Diamond (PC Music)
Intro Track: “Paradise” feat. Charli XCX
The second track on Charli’s Vroom Vroom EP, the future pop pumps through, as Diamond joins XCX in this mash by producer and label mate Sophie. Together they sing to a robotic yet joyous electronic boom about a special person. Her innocent and child-like voice is a great mesh to Charli’s bold and mature take on this track.
New Listen: “Make Believe”
Julie Byrne (Ba Da Bing! Records)
Intro Track: “Vertical Ray”
A soft longing for something beyond her window, this is a song showcasing Byrne’s poetic ability. Short yet long in emotion and relaxation, she sings about her life and ways about the land around her. Byrne’s voice is a great addition to any playlist for some hushed time alone.
New Listen: “Follow my Voice”
Dawn Richard (Our Dawn Entertainment)
Intro Track: “Tide: The Paradox Effect”Danity Kane fans were heartbroken to hear once again, the group disbanded. Unfortunately it wasn’t too amicable, but those interested in Richard, awaited her next move. After giving a co-ed Total, and EDM sound with Diddy-Dirty Money, a group with P. Diddy and singer Kalenna Harper, Richard remained under the radar until news of solo work. Showcasing her vocals, careful production and a pretty cool visual, Dawn attracted attention for current DK fans on her side, and intrigue with her commanding and ethereal sound.
New Listen: “Renegade”
Moonchild (Tru-Thoughts Records)
Intro Track: “Winter Breeze”
This track is a mix between the soft-keys of early 2000s neo-soul (think Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild or Ms. Badu) and a feel of Corinne Bailey Rae in vocals. The group makes sure to be on Bandcamp and reach out during a Pandora shuffle. Very relaxing and a track to sip something warm to. With a DJ Jazzy Jeff remix (an upgrade of a 2015 release) on Spotify, and sign-offs from noted legends, they’re on the quiet rise.
New Listen: “The Truth” (DJ Jazzy Jeff & James Poyer Remix)
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5 Independent Artists to Watch. Photos courtesy of: Dawn Richard (@DawnRichard), Chance the Rapper (@chancetherapper), Hannah Diamond (@Hannadiamond_), Ba Da Bing! Records, and Tru-Thoughts Records

Chance the Rapper Exceeds Expectations with ‘Coloring Book’ Mixtape


The highly anticipated Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper dropped May 12 and proves to be a masterpiece that intertwines both smooth, imaginative hip-hop verses and soulful, heart-wrenching gospel sermons. In various interviews, Chance the Rapper has made many references about his religious background and how it has influenced and guided the independent rapper’s music ventures for his latest mixtape. Fans had a taste of Chance’s experimentation with blending hip-hop and gospel on his memorable verses on Kanye West’s latest album The Life of Pablo. On Kanye’s track “Ultralight Beam,” Chance steals the spotlight with his religious allusions as he croons along with a gospel choir and organ in the background. Teaming with Kirk Franklin, Chance delivers his own sermon in his third mixtape as the Chicago native masters a new sub-genre of hip-hop. 

Jumping right into the music with “All We Got,” listeners are introduced to the mixtape with Chance welcoming his fans as he familiarly chimes along with Kanye West. “No Problem” is heartfelt and cheerful with a gospel choir harmonizing in the background. The recent duo Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, who earlier this year released ColleGrove, join Chance, each delivering bars–a powerful trio with credentials and influence in the rap game. In “Summer Friends”, Chance reminisces the simplicity of his childhood, the quick friends he made in the summer as he reiterated with regret, “summer friends don’t stick around,” and the adventures that speak for the artists’ nostalgia for the idleness of summer in his childhood.
Even the title of the mixtape Coloring Book reflects a childlike yearning he has reflected in his music. The following three tracks “D.R.A.M. Sings Special,” “How Great,” and “Finish Line/ Drown” teleport us to Sunday morning at church. Humming along and introducing the harmony of a gospel choir, the songs are powerful and the church-gospel element interwoven throughout the mixtape is inviting rather than daunting. Chance shares a outlook in his personal life as he reveals how important and necessary religion and family is to him and his music.
In each of his 14 tracks, Chance welcomes us to a personal slice of his life and his internal and external struggles. In “Blessings,” Chance reveals his struggles with his, music, life, and family, yet he is hopeful because he is aware that God is blessing him and has a plan for him. “Same Drugs” is emotional as he mentions a nameless woman who has changed, repeating, “When did you change?” Chance is also frustrated because he misses the girl he once knew who did the “same drugs” as him. Pausing from his earlier religious references, Chance turns up the volume with the club-banger “Mixtapes” as he jams along with Young Thug and Lil Yatchy. A very uplifting and hopeful song, “Angels” has a fun beat as Chance refers to the angels watching over him and his family.

After his three-year lull, there were a lot of expectations for Chance to produce a mixtape that could top the success of Acid Rap. Coloring Book is a dedication to Chance’s faith, a mixtape that reveals his maturity through his soulful music that echoes with hope, benediction, and revival.
Read More at Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com
Photo provided by Scoremore Shows and independent.co.uk