Tag Archives rap

SAFETY CLUB Drops Their “Shamelessly Positive” Debut Single and Video “JUICE”

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Genre-blurring rap/production duo SAFETY CLUB have developed their own “secret sauce,” bringing a new flavor to the realm of hip-hop that listener’s can’t forget. The self described “down to earth guys” strive to “approach everything with a sense of humor,” and it really is their modus operandi. This carefree attitude is the foundation of their debut single “JUICE”, an ode to “feeling yourself,” set to be released alongside an accompanying music video.

Over a pulsating trap beat, vocalist Ronnie Sinclair oozes charisma with a flow that’s as smooth as it is punchy. Producer Shan creates a perfect canvas, weaving unique textures and sounds to create a futuristic feel that’s layered with eclectic twists and turns.The duo affectionately describe the upbeat track, in SAFETY CLUB terms, as the “the perfect soundtrack for driving a Toyota Prius at barely legal speeds to your divorce court hearing”. Casually eschewing the “glass half empty” approach to life, Ronnie spits “why you talkin’ all down to me?” before seamlessly flowing into a verse touting his stance against all things pretentious. “Rap image really got no appeal to me, I just want a new crib with the potpourri”.

Loosely inspired by the opening scene of Guy Ritchie’s cult classic film Snatch, the video, directed by Shan, doubles down on SAFETY CLUB’s penchant for “taking the piss” (Australian slang for taking nothing too seriously). In a convenience store setting, we find Ronnie busting dance moves that can only be described as both absurd and mesmerizing. 

SAFETY CLUB shares that the video was “shot in approximately one hour and fifteen minutes after a series of catastrophic gear failures, finishing with a minute to spare, no time for playback and no confirmation that they actually got the shots until the next day. Once again, the classic SAFETY CLUB adage has been confirmed: perfect everything in life by practicing in your kitchen for three days in a row and nothing can stop you”.

As irreverent as their outward persona may be, SAFETY CLUB’s approach to music is anything but. Safety ClubBased in Brisbane, Australia, the duo has a unique perspective when it comes to making music. Whilst much of their inspiration comes from the cities that made hip-hop what it is, SAFETY CLUB adds their own distinctive feel by incorporating unexpected influences and genres. Those influences run the gamut from the detailed production of the Chicago hip-hop scene, to the funk-laced R&B of The Internet and Kaytranada. 

Be sure to keep an eye on this boundary pushing duo for new music very soon.

ABOUT SAFETY CLUB: 

Down to earth guys. Rap songmakers. OnlyFans content creators. SAFETY CLUB is a two piece rap/producer combo that tastes like if the internet digested Brockhampton, Amine, and Justin Timberlake and spot them out on the other side of the world. 

Cues and sensibilities from new wave Chicago hip-hop drip through producer shan’s production, while Ronnie Sinclair’s vocals tread the line somewhere between sultry R&B star, and a computer programmer, resulting in something like the horny offspring of Anderson Paak and Zack Fox. The combination of the two is a high octane blend that bangs hard across a highway of genres, but always drives safely. 

SAFETY CLUB online:

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TIKTOK | TWITTER

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Images provided by Georgia Wallace

Listen To Cody Presley’s Latest Emo Rap Single “Before You Go”

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“BEFORE YOU GO” COMES AHEAD OF SOPHOMORE EP

Twenty7 EP Available Everywhere June 10th Via Happy Place Music Group

Emerging hip-hop artist Cody Presley has released his latest single “Before You Go” on all streaming platforms today. Produced by Vaegud and HXRXKILLER, the emo rap track is the final single ahead of Cody Presley’s sophomore EP, Twenty7, set for release on June 10th of this year via indie-label Happy Place Music Group. When discussing the inspiration behind “Before You Go,” Cody Presley writes: 

“I wrote this while being in a situation of ‘its all or nothing.’ The last text message to make it through before everything comes crashing down on you. When you cherish something so much it can be extremely tough to let go of someone dear to your heart.” – Cody Presley

Growing up in Pensacola, Florida, Cody Presley used his small town hardships to his advantage; sharing his raw passion and pain through his music. Mixing elements of emo-rap, alternative, and trap – the 27 year-old’s discography of heartbreak and loss speak to the hopeless romantic in all of us. His singles “Dead Inside” and “Nosebleed” have amassed over 150k streams collectively; launching the emerging artist and producer to new heights in a fast-paced digital world. Cody Presley’s fans are drawn to his relatability in his lyricism and presence; there’s no choice but to pay attention.

In 2018, Cody released his debut EP, There’s Always Tomorrow. The album’s leading tracks, “i Think i” and “2 Good 4 U,” stem from a place of hope; focusing on Cody’s personable journey, being the voice for the forgotten and unseen. 

Cody will be releasing his latest cathartic project, Twenty7 EP via indie-label Happy Place Music Group on June 10th of this year. Stream the latest single from the sophomore EP, “Before You Go,” on Spotify.

Follow Cody Presley Online:

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
Website

Read more music articles at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Keith Abolish @abolishcollective

Neno Calvin Doing Big Things in 2020

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Signed to Power & Money Records, his visceral vulnerability defines a new style altogether.

Born and bred in the hip-hop hotbed of the Magnolia Projects, he immediately gravitated towards rap. Inspired by everyone from hometown heroes such as JuvenileSolja Slim, and LilWayne to DMX and Eve, he can vividly recall rapping in third grade during lunch. By 12-years-old, he recorded his first song and joined a local group that regularly performed around the neighborhood. 

Neno Calvin  During 2015, he quietly started uploading tracks and freestyles online. His “Tuesday Freestyle” eclipsed half-a-million total plays and caught the attention of Cash Money Records Co-Founder and hip-hop legend Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams. The icon personally signed Neno Calvin and immediately got to work.

Kicking off a creative partnership, the budding talent teamed up with Birdman on the acclaimed 2016 single “Ms. Gladys” and follow-up “Fuk Em”. He also graced the tracklistings of high-profile 2018 releases such as the Before Anythang Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and the collaborative Lost At Sea II by Birdman and Jacquees on “GWSC.” He reached a new creative and critical plateau on 2019’s Neeny Wonder. Paying homage to Stevie Wonder with his alter ego and smoky take on the Hotter Than July album artwork, his storytelling, and style flourished across the ten tracks, especially on “Never Knew”—noted by The Fader among “The 10 best new rap songs right now.

About his rise, Cash Money Records Co-Founder and Chief

Executive Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams commented, “Neno Calvinis next level. He strikes an emotional nerve that few artists do because he goes all-in. There’s nothing held back. He embodies integrity as an artist.”

“The toughest among us tend to be the most vulnerable. If you can show your true self to the world without fear, you can do anything.” Neno Calvin pulls no punches in his self-patented, “Emotional gangsta music.” Instead, the New Orleans-born and Atlanta-based rapper strike a delicate balance between magnetic melodies and hard-hitting bars. That combination powered up a string of independent projects—such as the Calvinism series, Gimme That IVI for ICvlvino, and Nenola 2—past 10 million cumulative streams across platforms. It also incited high praise with The Fader crowning him, “Best rapper in New Orleans,” in 2019.

Read more music press releases at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Neno Calvin

Rappers Are Wearing Dresses!

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“You can’t just arrogantly wear whatever the fuck you want to wear on some ‘self-expression’ bullshit,” rapper Lord Jamar said on VladTV about rappers wearing women’s clothing. “Because in order to preserve a culture there are certain guidelines and boundaries that have to be there.”

 

At New York Summer/Spring Fashion Week earlier this month, Rodarte and Marc Jacobs both showed collections filled with ethereal, grandiose gowns that gave off serious Marie Antoinette vibes. Streetwear is on its deathbed or at least nearing it; it has been so overly appropriated by luxury brands that it no longer feels genuine but like everyone is chasing after the cash cow. Marc Jacobs’ and Rodarte’s collections detailed a want to move away from the expected and mainstream and return to highfalutin luxury. Calvin Klein, Pyer Moss, and Area all also included lavish gowns although not designed to the otherworldly extent that Jacobs and the Mulleavys did. These commonalities signal a step away from the banalities of streetwear, but will culture follow?

There is a long and fruitful history of musicians crossing gender boundaries, but it isn’t until more recently that rap has begun challenging dressing norms. Prince, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury all made a lot of noise with their non-conforming styles, but they are all from the past. Currently, rap is the mainstream sound and its history with homophobia and ultra-masculinity makes it and hyper-femininity appear to be disharmonious, but that isn’t actually the case! With rappers like Jaden Smith, A$ap Rocky, Lil Uzi, and Young Thug (to name a few) blurring gender lines through fashion, genderbending is becoming more conventional with many stars purchasing designer prescription glasses that are fashionable and trendy.

 

One of the most iconic moments in this path was the dropping of Young Thug’s No, My Name is Jeffery. On the cover of his album, he wears an intricate, classical gown that looks out of a Rococo painting. It blasted across the internet with both supporters and hate (both of which imply immediate success). When asked about his decision to wear women’s clothes, Young Thug said, “It don’t matter. You could be a gangster with a dress, you could be a gangster with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.”

 

Kid Cudi, Kanye, and Andre 3000 have all also played across gender lines with skirts and kilts to much criticism. The old school hate of rappers wearing traditionally feminine garments only bolsters the fact that it will grow. Both the runway and popular music are turning to more feminine looks. For designers, the movement is just a fashion choice, but for rappers, the donning of traditional feminine garb signals a more impactful change and dissemination of gender norms.

 

 

 

 

Read more Fashion articles at Cliché Magazine
Rappers are Wearing Dress! ; Images Credits: @youngthug , @calvinklein , @rodarte and @louisvuitton on Instagram; Huffington Post

Coachella 2018: Women To Watch

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In the wake of Beyoncé’s absolutely epic, news-making Coachella performance, now is as good a time as any to uncover some more life-giving female talent to add to your playlists. Here are some women to watch, picked fresh from the Coachella 2018 lineup.

 

  1. Peggy Gou

Berlin-based South Korean DJ Peggy Gou is absolutely masterful when it comes to giving us chill tunes to vibe out to. The sounds are colorful, fun, and get those endorphins flowing. This is feel-good music in its purest form—which makes Peggy Gou’s light, refreshing house music the perfect compliment to your spring and summer playlists. No matter what time of year, though, you’ll find yourself transported to that perfect Saturday in June. Think: good drinks, great company, and too-good-to-be-true beach-day weather. Everybody’s talking about her breakout hit It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) and, while I could loop it for hours, my personal fave is definitely Han Jan.

 

 Image Credit:  XL recordings

  1. Ibeyi

Speaking of Beyoncé, you might’ve seen this duo across visuals from her Lemonade album. Ibeyi is made up of twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz. The French-Cuban sisters are heavily influenced by their Afro-Cuban roots and African ancestry. They mix in some Yoruba on many of their songs (my favorite, River, among those) and Ibeyi actually means twins in the language. Their self-titled album dropped back in 2015 and their sophomore album Ash dropped in 2017. So, if you’re just now catching on, you’ve already got a healthy supply of Ibeyi waiting to satisfy your ear. This wasn’t their first Coachella performance, either; they made an appearance in 2016 as well. Their soulful, spiritual sound is thoughtful and tells stories of womanhood, family, and love.

 

  1. Noname

I was first introduced to the rapper who goes by Noname on Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape. Since then, her album Telefone  has found a special place in my heart. Right along with her set on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert last year. She showcased herself herself as super-talented, super-intelligent, and super-humble. Her fresh lyricism takes on serious subject matter while staying creative and engaging. She pauses to talk to the crowd to break down her song choices and why she performed them the way she did; genuine in her desire to be understood and gauge the effectiveness of her delivery. If you haven’t already, I recommend heading over to YouTube and checking out that particular performance before diving into Telefone. After you’ve done that, Noname is sure to make it into your top ten.

 

Read more Music Posts at ClicheMag.com
Featured image credit: Ninja Tune

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

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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

Sky Katz Talks ‘Raven’s Home’ and Her Rap Career

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By now, we’ve all calmed down a little since the launch of That’s So Raven’s spin-off series, Raven’s Home. The show picks up years after high school with a bit more matured Raven Baxter (Raven-Symoné) living in Chicago with her two twins and best friend Chelsea Daniels (Anneliese van der Pol) plus her son. Yes, they are all in one apartment!

 

We could get into the nitty-gritty of the show but for now, we’re highlighting one of the stars of the series, Sky Katz, who portrays Tess, the super chill next door neighbor. Tess gets herself mixed up in Chelsea and Raven’s kids’ shenanigans from time to time, plus offers some helpful, though questionable, advice. Here, Katz opens up about how she got her start as an actress, her career as a rapper, and what it’s like working on the Disney set.

Cliché: How did you get your start as an actress?
Sky Katz: Once I started meeting more people in the industry who were multi-talented, I wanted to be as well. My manager got me an agent and after a few auditions, I booked Raven’s Home!

What made you want to also start a career as a rapper?
My parents grew up in Fresh Meadows, Queens surrounded by hip-hop artists and music. I was raised listening to hip-hop and because of that, rapping was something I really wanted to do. I would always perform at family events and parties with friends. Then, I sent in a tape to America’s Got Talent and that’s where it all started.

Who influences you most in your musical stylings?
My music style is always influenced by artists I respect, look up to, or listen to at the time. Artists like Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Logic, J Cole, and Lil Mama inspire me.

How would you describe Tess for our readers who haven’t watched Raven’s Home yet?
Tess adds a little spunk to the show. She’s crazy, but also chill. No matter how much she messes around with her friends, she loves them and will always be there for them.

Once I started meeting more people in the industry who were multi-talented, I wanted to be as well.

Assuming you’ve already watched That’s So Raven, what has been your favorite catchphrase from the show?
I think “Oh, Snap!” will always be my favorite catchphrase from That’s So Raven. I just love the way it sounds and the way Raven says it!

What do you do to get into character? Does Tess have any influences on your personal life?
To get into character, I rap all my lines before the scene. It helps me bring that “New York” spice to life. Tess makes me appreciate my mom because her mom is crazy, and mine is normal (compared to hers). [Laughs]
What is the atmosphere like on set?
Set is so much fun and energetic! We are all like a family and joke around so much, but we also stay serious when it’s time to work.
What has been your favorite scene to film so far?
My favorite scene to film so far was when we had a dance party on the rooftop deck. It’s my favorite because it shows our relationship as a cast and how well we bond.
What have you learned so far working alongside Raven and Anneliese?
Working alongside Raven and Anneliese, I’ve learned to always put myself into my character and add inflection within my lines.
If you could do a crossover episode with any Disney show, which show would you choose and why?
If I could do a crossover with any Disney show, it would be Wizards of Waverly Place because I love that show and the whole cast. I’m also a HUGE fangirl of Selena Gomez!

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Sky Katz Talks ‘Raven’s Home’ and Her Rap Career: Photographed by Bobby Quillard

Why We Still Need SoundCloud

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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.

Read more Music Articles on ClicheMag.com.

Why We Still Need SoundCloud: Featured image courtesy of SoundCloud

Female Rappers on the Rise

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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.

 

CARDI B
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.  

NONAME
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.

YOUNG M.A.
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.

KAMAIYAH
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

Brockhampton’s Album ‘Saturation II’ is Their Declaration

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Their second release of the summer and part two of their trilogy, Saturation II, is L.A. rap group Brockhampton’s follow-up to their overnight sensation Saturation. The 16-person self-proclaimed hip-hop boy band (they reject the use of the word ‘collective’ and all comparisons to Odd Future) has been making waves in the rap scene ever since they packed up their lives and moved to L.A. together to pursue their dreams of being musicians. Made up of misfits, the members of Brockhampton met each other through KanyeToThe.com, a forum dedicated to fans of the rapper. Feeding off the momentum of a successful first release, Brockhampton isn’t wasting any time. If Saturation was their debut, then Saturation II is their declaration; they are here to stay, and they aren’t following any rules.

 

From the first few measures of opening track “GUMMY,” it’s made clear that Brockhampton isn’t the type of group that is going to fly under the radar. The use of orchestral strings sets up the track in an almost fantastical way—that is, until the de-facto group leader Kevin Abstract’s voice chimes in and effectively cuts it off. His clever opening verse is simultaneously a celebration of the group and a critique of himself. Although this track (and, frankly, the whole album) jumps from theme to theme, one concept remains consistent throughout: The group comes first. This idea is seen in Abstract’s first verse (“Keep my heart with my dogs”), Dom McLennon’s (“Don’t go no friends in the game, it’s me and my brothers alone”), Matt Champion’s (“Me and all my boys jet, swervin’ like a donut”).

The focus of this album is not one overarching theme; Brockhampton is not here to give you any answers about the meaning of life.

The reason why this album tackles so many different ideas is because each member has a distinct style and background. Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, JOBA, and Ameer Vann all met in high school in The Woodlands in Texas; Bearface is from Belfast, Ireland; Dom McLennon, from Hartford, Connecticut. This doesn’t even cover half the group. The rest of the team (producers, photographers, engineers, web developers), who also hail from all over, influence the sound, style, and brand of Brockhampton just as much as the artists. Abstract delegates himself to the catchy, often poppy M.I.A.-inspired hooks and verses about his sexuality. He jokes that he’s “Making out with Zayn in a lawn chair” in “JELLO” and calls out his critics in “JUNKY” with the lines “Why you always rap about being gay? / ‘Cause not enough n***** rap about being gay!” Vann is known for his confessional, aggressive verses about his past life, which usually focuses on drugs, like in the opening lines of “SWAMP”: “My daddy taught me how to sell dope / turn grams into elbows.” Merlyn is a vocal shapeshifter, JOBA can hit any high note, Bearface adds unexpected ballads to break up the album.

With so many different personas working together on one project, it’s not surprising that critics of the album have called it unfocused. It’s certainly true that this album does not flow in one clear direction—it’s a zigzagging frenzy of anger, surprise, relief, regret. The only clear path it does follow is that of human emotion, especially during young adulthood. So, what more does it need? The focus of this album is not one overarching theme; Brockhampton is not here to give you any answers about the meaning of life. They’re just a group of outcasts who found their peace with each other, and they’re here to tell you their story. The track “QUEER” allows the members to explore what makes them weird; Champion opens it up with “Skinny boy, skinny boy, where your muscles at?” Wood mentions being Ghanian; “CHICK” gives them the opportunity to declare their mission to stay true to themselves and remember their origins, unlike other, popular rappers who let money make them selfish. The list goes on.

It would take pages and pages to go through each verse in this 16-track manifesto of an album, and spelling it all out would take half the fun out of listening. Despite the sometimes harsh, rough-around-the-edges feeling of this work, what really sits at the root of this album is fun. What did you expect? Brockhampton is a bunch of guys who are currently having the time of their lives, and they want to let the world (and especially all of their doubters) know that. Saturation II has allowed them to solidify their reputation as hip-hop bad boys with a knack for invention and has made their fans (and foes) even more eager for their next release.

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Brockhampton’s Album ‘Saturation II’ is Their Declaration: Featured image courtesy of Question Everything, Inc

Indie Artists You Should Know

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Here at Cliché, we love to highlight new musicians that provide enjoyable content on the most accessible platforms. I owe many of my nights scouring for more material to add to my current music library to platforms like Bandcamp or even Pandora in its early days, recommending new artists and new sounds to my ears. Think of this as an ongoing mixtape series, from a person who wants the absolute best for you: good music and a great, growing collection. Read on for some indie artists you should know about.

 

©Oddisee/Facebook


Oddisee
His stage name, a play on words, references extensive journey or travel, from the Homer work “The Odyssey” and Odysseus’ decade-long post-war trek. This artist seems to do the same within his own lyrics in “Things.” The track brings memories of a car with suede or leather seats on a bright sunny day cruising through the neighborhood. How often do so many of us fall into the trap, believing that no one understands what we’re going through during our trek in this life? The rapper speaks of the common habit, but in the end, we’re going through the same ‘things.’ (So I’m holding onto pressure like it’s all mine/That ain’t sweat, it’s just the way I keep the floor shined/Everybody queued up in the long grind/Thinking that we next in the short line) The beat and pacing may be a bit off for us all, but sometimes the lyrics, the show, or presentation, may read the same.
Intro Track: “Things”
New Listen: “Like Really”

Now Playing: ‘Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight’

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Don’t let the title fool you. This is not an R&B album by Brian McKnight. Instead, it’s a look into the mind of one of hip-hop’s leading new artists: Travis Scott. His sophomore album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, is Scott’s take on letting your creativity flow and just being able to create without constraints. Travis Scott is pretty lucky to do so himself. He’s signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music as a producer and T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records as an artist. He’s produced and written songs with everyone from Rihanna to Jay-Z, but it is through his own music that he shines most.

 
Travis Scott stays true to his sound on this album using autotune for raspy melodies and his immaculate production of beats to bring Birds in the Trap Sing Mcknight to life. Never one to turn down a feature, Birds hosts a slew of great collaborations. “Pick Up The Phone,” featuring rappers Young Thug and Quavo, is a trap love song of sorts about a girl who won’t give in and return any of the guy’s advances. Another stand-out feature from the album is “Goosebumps,” which features Kendrick Lamar. In a recent radio interview with New York’s Hot 97, Scott couldn’t believe he was on Lamar’s radar. He talks about meeting him at the MTV VMAs in which Kendrick Lamar told him he finds his music “really inspirational.” Travis Scott holds his own with all the features on his album and seems to bring out the best in everyone he collaborates with giving them room to shine in his world.

Other must-listen tracks from the album  include “Way Back” which features Swizz Beatz and Scott’s idol Kid Cudi, “First Take” featuring Bryson Tiller and a collab with The Weeknd called “Wonderful” which finds the duo feeling joyful about life. Birds is a pleasant departure from the dark and angsty sounds of his previous mixtapes and debut album Rodeo.
Although Scott isn’t the most lyrical rapper in the industry, he is authentically himself, which makes for great music. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 music charts, which proves he is definitely on his way to becoming a mainstay in the industry. Each song on the album builds momentum off of the others, which makes for an amazing listening experience from beginning to end. Next up, Travis Scott is set to executive produce the G.O.O.D Music compilation album Cruel Winter, which he says will be “for the youth.”
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