Posts Tagged ‘Jay-Z’

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan. It’s not that I don’t think he’s any good – he’s had some tracks that I dig, he can rap, he’s a great producer, but his albums were just never my style. Not to mention, his incessant tom foolery and antics very easily put me off him all together. What kind of musician tries that hard to be in the spotlight? That probably explains why I never really gave any of his music a fair chance, and why it took me nearly 6 years to attempt to listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

I hate to say it, but it’s a work of art. West wrote and produced every track (with help, of course;) managed to make his social commentary, use his vulgarities, get sinister, all the while maintaining a solid musical landscape, and keeping listeners in tune with all of it. The key thing on this album was collaboration. Stars from the hip-hop/R&B game like Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, John Legend and Pusha T all have writing credits. Swizz Beatz and RZA assisted in the production area, and most surprisingly, indie artist-producer Bon Iver also appears on the album. Talk about unstoppable.

It’s like West took the best of the best in the field, got everyone to work together, and made one of his most musical albums to date. How did I miss this? Honestly, I vaguely recall the single “Runaway” being released as a lengthy video, and I just didn’t have the time/patience for Kanye, Kanye and more Kanye. But this is album is so Kanye, in the sense that it’s not Kanye at all, therefore making it exactly Kanye – you know what I mean?

West is a great musician. He can rap, write, produce. He obviously has a specific vision when it comes to his art, and  My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the first time you can see it. Maybe it’s high time West packs up the craziness, calms down on his Tweets, and just really focuses on his craft. He has some genius inside him – imagine what he could do if he fully tapped into it.

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Everyone has different degree of reliance on music streaming. Sometimes it’s the only way to hear a new track or underground remix. Sometimes, you need a well-crafted unique playlist to go with your specific mood. Sometimes, you just want access to loads and loads of music on your phone, without having to download them by yourself. Here’s a look at some of the major music streaming services out there.

Pandora

We’ll get the most useless one out of the way first, because it’s not available outside the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. It’s a bit different than other services because it acts more like a personal radio station. You input artists you like, and it takes off playing similar styles. You can like/dislike tracks, listen to other people’s radio stations, and basically dictate what you hear. There’s both a free and paid subscription, the former forces you to deal with ads.

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Google Play/Songza

Songza was recently bought out by Google Play, so now they are on in the same. You can upload your own music library and store it in Google Play for future listen. You can also download tracks you uploaded or purchased from the Google Music Store to your phone/desktop to listen to when you have no internet connection. Plus, you get radio/playlist access for any mood you’re in. For a nice monthly fee, you get full access to the millions of songs in Google Music’s catalogue and no ads ruining your flow.

Google Play is also tied to YouTube Red (only available in the U.S.) which provides ad-free video streaming.

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Apple Music (ie the new iTunes Radio)

It’s very similar to Google Play, in the sense that it’s more of a storage facility for your existing music, but also includes access to free Beats 1 Radio station, as well as a feature called “Connect” It allows you to follow artists and see what they’re listening to and what they’re upto (kind of like a newsfeed of your favourite artists.) The paid version, has extra benefits like Siri activated requests, playlists, using Apple Music’s entire library, as well as the ability to download any music to listen to offline, and get music suggestions.

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Soundcloud

This also enables listeners free access to whatever music is offered (as long as they create an account.) Where it differs is, it allows artists to upload music they’re creating/releasing in a more intimate way with their fans. Remixes or different versions of tracks are often seen here. For uploaders, they are allowed 3 hours of free uploads, after which they require a paid subscription to keep putting their music up.

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Tidal

Rapper Jay-Z’s bright idea that he co-owns with 15 other artists, is the first artist-owned streaming service ever. It’s ONLY accessible through a paid subscription which gives you access to the music library, HD music videos, as well as articles and editorials. Not to mention guaranteed content from all its owners. Tidal also best compensates artists compared to all other music streaming services.

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Spotify

Along the same lines as Apple Music and Google Play, it’s yet another library of music available to listeners. The free version gives access to all the music, but the paid version also gets rid of the ads, allows you to skip tracks, and the ability to listen offline. It has a plethora of playlists for anything and everything. Probably one of the easiest ones to use as well.

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Superfame means raking in hundreds of millions, not just millions. It’s having your record go multi-platinum, not just platinum. Young musicians (YM) are as quickly adored, as they are forgotten. In an era of tweets, posts, texts, comments, selfies, hashtags, today’s younger generation is a distracted one. YMs are forced then, to rely on the following elements of superfame in order to stay relevant.

1. Make it Easy

Music is already accessible, but YMs make it even moreso. Subscribe to any (or all) of their pages, and you will constantly be fed, on every feed, some news about them. A click of a button, a tap of a screen, and you can download Taylor Swift’s new single that dropped 1 minute earlier. The push notification on your phone told you it was available.

2. Be Everywhere

That means when they drop an album, drop multiple versions of it over an extended period of time. A deluxe version, and acoustic version, a live tracks version, or even a mixtape. To add to that, minimize the time between consecutive albums, so fans don’t have time to forget about you.

Then, appear on any and every talk show willing to have you. Tour across every continent in the world, and hit as many cities as you can (along with doing radio interviews in each city, combined with some sort of giveaway for VIP passes.) This may seem like Marketing 101, but in today’s generation, it’s beyond overexposure.

3. Social Media, Social Media, Social Media

Use it. A lot, and all the time. YMs have to be involved in social media in order to exist at any level of superfame. They need a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account, YouTube channel, etc. Essentially, any form of narcissism so fans get to look at them. Constantly.

It’s a smart, yet creepy way to keep people in tune. To create a “personal” connection with fans, to make it harder for them to ever walk away. While they’re at it, they might as well make up hashtags that can be used across all kinds of social media platforms; after all, #yolo.

4. Change Things Up

Collaborating with another YM at the top of their game; it’s guaranteed success. You reach audiences that normally may never give you the time of day. If your partner is chosen wisely, you’ve now just opened yourself up to a brand new fan base.

Alternatively, inserting themselves in something gossip-worthy is always a good way to do. Even infamy is a form of attention. High profile date, arrest, getting caught with drugs, telling off another YM via Tweet. Anything to turn wandering eyes back onto them.

5. Diversify

Not only saturate every aspect of the music industry, but also to involve themselves in other industries. Write a book (or get their mom to write a book about what it was like living paycheque to paycheque before their kid made it big.) Make a behind-the-scenes (scripted) movie so fans feel like they know you. Star in a TV show. Start a clothing/perfume/accessories/shoe line, or become the ambassador for your hometown basketball team. That way, even if people aren’t listening to your music, they’re seeing you everywhere else.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the way these musicians approach fame now is right or wrong; it’s just excessive. Though in a way, it has to be in order to keep up with the way the society is going. There seems to be an obsession with what’s hot right now, what’s trendy, as opposed to quality music that’s able to stand the test of time. But today’s generation seems more concerned about being able to follow someone with an Instagram account.

Superfame is necessary in this day and age. YMs have to go above and beyond, have to push themselves. The problem with drawing constant attention though, is inevitably it leads to oversaturation. Inevitably, the instantly gratified generation will get bored. Will move on the next one, because it’s what they’re programmed to do.