Archive for the ‘Below The Radar Music’ Category
Summer has flown by fast. My For Harriet internship is just about finished and my fall semester of college starts on Saturday (got an online class that starts on the weekend). To end the summer with a bang, I’m going to share Afropunk music that I’ve discovered since my other summer music spotlight. I’m also including some musicians and downloads I completely forgot to mention. As in my other music post, I will include free downloads that the musicians have made available. Also, feel free to go to Afropunk.com and sign up for their newsletter for more goodies.
1. Sophia Ramos
Genre: Soul, rock
2. Songs from the compilation album Fire in The Dark (these are my personal favorites)
“Blak Girls” by Shelley Nicole Blackbushe– an empowering funk song for black women
“On Planet Earth” by California King– a rock ballad about youth and drugs
“The Last Time We’re Here” by The Family Stand– a soulful rock song about redemption
“Fear of Numbers” by Milk Plus– a fierce rock song about the fear of people coming together
Bonus Song I found after I did a Google Search- “Shades of Blue” by The Family Stand
3. Quinn Deveaux and The Blue Beat Review
Genre: rock n’ roll, gospel, blues, jazz, soul
Notable Song: Left This Town
Free Download: Under Covers (a collection of cover songs that don’t sound like cover songs)
4. Sa’ Ra Charismata
Genre: Progressive conscious pop
Notable Song: Gold Digga
Free Download: Big Man Pharma
Free Download: Lexicon of Love EP
6. Princess Nokia
Genre: experimental, electronica
Free Download: Metallic Butterfly EP (in the article, click where it says “click here for the download”)
Other Free EPs I forgot to mention in past posts
Geechee Goddess Hardcore Warrior Soul by Tamar Kali– soulful, empowering rock
The Roxx Boxx Experience by Divinity Roxx– fun, empowering rap-rock (scroll down, click where it says “free exclusive download” and put in your email)
A couple of months ago, I did a post on my top ten Afropunk musicians. Since then, I’ve discovered more Afropunk musicians as well as black nerd core rappers. If you want to get in the know about the newest Afropunk music, go to the Afropunk website and sign up for an account. By doing this, you’ll also subscribe to a free weekly newsletter that will be emailed to you.
When it comes to black nerdcore rappers, it was something I discovered via a post on For Harriet, the blog I’m interning for. Nerdcore is basically rap music about nerdy things like video games and comics as well as other subjects. It may or may not use chiptune, the sound you hear on classic Nintendo Games.
While nerdcore is dominated by white males, there are some black ones too. I’ll get to them later on in this post. For now, let’s get the Afropunk musicians out the way. I’ll even let you know about free downloads if the musicians have any.
1. Maimouna Youssef
Genre: Rap, jazz, pop, soul, spoken word
Free Downloads: The Reintroduction of Mumu Fresh Mixtape
Genre: classical with elements of other genres
Free Downloads: The Gallerina Suites
3. Purple Ferdinand
Free Downloads: DragonFly EP (click free download and use your email or Facebook to get it)
Genre: soul with elements of hip-hop and electronica
5. The Objex
Genre: punk rock
Free Downloads: R.S.V.P. (see above link), Toxic Waste Girl
6. Cody ChestnuTT
Genre: soul, funk, blues, rock
Free Download: Landing on a Hundred (on the right, click Free Mp3 and then Free Download)
Black Nerdcore Rappers
Free Downloads: Fly Nerd EP, America (see above link)
2. Mega Ran
Free Downloads: Maya’s Song (see above link), Infinite Lives (see above link)
Afropunk has become my number one favorite music genre. Consisting of punk rock, alternative, and indie music, this genre is a part of a movement for black people to show identities not shown in the mainstream. Now, I will show you my top ten Afropunk musicians and some favorite songs by each one.
10. Shinobi Ninja
Genre: Rock, Rap, and a dash of techno
Genre: Rap, reggae, rock, electronica
8. Alice Smith
Genre: soul, jazz, blues, rock
7. Cecile Mclorin Salvant
Genre: blues, jazz
Genre: Punk rock
5. Divinity Roxx
Genre: hard rock, blues rock, pop
3. Angel Haze
Genre: Rap, spoken word, r&b, pop
2. Janelle Monae
Genre: rock, funk, pop, classical, rap, jazz, r&b
1. Kimya Dawson
Authoress Note: I’d like to thank everyone for following my blog and reading my posts. It means a lot to me! Also, I will be taking classes and doing an internship this summer so I may not post for a few months.
Rapper-singer Angel Haze managed to make waves as an indie artist and YouTube poet for a few years, recording mixtapes with her own original songs and covers. Now, with the help of a major record label, her highly anticipated debut album has been released.
One of the strongest things about the album is its lyrics. Some of them are empowering anthems reminiscent of past original songs like “Sufferings First” and her cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love”. “You gotta be the one difference in your life and turn it around” she raps in “A Tribe Called Red”. “So don’t get lost tonight, never let the ignorance cost your life” she says in the suicide prevention song “Angels and Airwaves”.
Besides empowerment, some of the songs are also confessional, introspective, and poetic. “Black Synagogue” discusses Haze’s thoughts on God, while “Black Dahlia” discusses her relationship with her mother. “April’s Fool” discusses love with beautiful spring imagery while “White Lily/White Lies” has a poignant metaphor for a young woman without self-respect.
In addition to the lyrics, the production of the album is very good. The beats are simple enough to convey a certain rhythm and tone in each song without drowning out Haze’s vocals and rapping or anyone else featured on the album.
With the exception of the tracks “Battle Cry”and “Black Synagogue”, Haze sings and raps on every track that has vocals. “Battle Cry” features vocals by Sia and “Black Synagogue” features vocals by Wynter Gordon. In addition, the track “Planes Fly” brings Haze’s sweet vocals center-stage and allows Haze to accompany herself with rapping.
Also, a couple of songs allow Haze to speak for a few moments without a beat and bring out the YouTube poet. Finally, the R&B, rap, gospel, and pop influence on certain tracks demonstrates the diverse musical interests previously shown on Haze’s 30 Gold covers and freestyles.
The only flaws on the album are the inclusion of lines from Haze’s interviews at the beginning of certain songs and the track “Echelon (It’s My Way)” . Sometimes, the interview lines are unnecessary. Haze should let the music tell its story on its own instead of trying to explain it a little beforehand.
With “Echelon (It’s My Way)”, it seems out-of-place with the rest of the album. It is a personal celebratory anthem similar to the album’s first track “Sing About Me”, except it is more boastful. The track may be a good way to energize the crowd when performing live, but on the album it is just generic.
Overall, Dirty Gold is a great debut album that showcases Haze’s talent as a singer, rapper, and lyricist. Rap and pop fans alike will enjoy it.
Authoress Note: This post and some past music posts will be in a new category called Under The Radar Music.
Anybody remember a young vocalist named Allison Iraheta? If you watched American Idol in 2009, you may remember her elimination performance of “Cry Baby” or her duet of “Slow Ride” with fellow Idol contestant Adam Lambert.
Earlier this year, she announced that she would be fronting her own band called Halo Circus. Although their debut album will not be released until 2014, they have already released “Gone” as a single and have been performing at various venues all year.
Based on several live performances I’ve seen via YouTube, the band has a blues rock vibe to them. Allison’s voice and the fact that she is fronting band is reminiscent of Janis Joplin. Her performances of songs such as “Stand Up” and “Guns in Your Hands” bring out the best of her voice.
Another remarkable thing about Halo Circus is that thanks to Allison Iraheta, they are bilingual. A couple of the songs I’ve seen live or heard have been sung in both English and Spanish. For instance, the song “Gone” and its Spanish counterpart “Yo Me Voy”. This is great because she will have a diverse fan base and hopefully inspire other Spanish-speaking girls.
Hopefully, the album will not disappoint and we will get at least one more single released before it comes out. I’m personally hoping that Iraheta does another duet with Adam Lambert too.
Warning: Some of the songs on this blog post contain explicit content
Recently, it was announced that Dirty Gold, the debut album of upcoming rapper and singer Angel Haze, will be released in a month and a half.
When I first read this, I was thinking that the album would be out by Christmas. To my dismay, when I looked up the official release date, it was in January.
Luckily, Angel Haze has been releasing a series of freestyles and covers on Soundcloud in a project called “30 Gold”. There will be thirty tracks total. Most of the songs are free to download from the site.
Based on the covers as well as some of Angel Haze’s mixtapes, here is what I expect from Dirty Gold:
- Confessional and empowering raps (or ballads) similar to Haze’s cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love” and Haze’s original song “Smiles N Hearts”
- R & B songs similar to Haze’s cover of Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life”. On her cover, Haze sings and raps.
- Acoustic songs similar to Haze’s cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and Haze’s most recent cover of One Republic’s “Counting Stars”
- Upbeat dance tracks similar to Haze’s cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again”
As you can hear, Angel Haze is a diverse musician. According to a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Haze summed up Dirty Gold as “Dealing with the tough stuff to get better and be worth something.” Here’s hoping Dirty Gold is worth the value of Angel Haze’s talent.
The Electric Lady is Monáe’s follow-up to 2010’s The Arch Android. It is the fourth and fifth chapters of the futuristic sci-fi saga Metropolis. Guest on the album include Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel, Solange, and Esperanza Spalding. While this album has a more urban sound than the previous installment, it still manages to showcase Monáe’s skill as a vocalist, lyricist, and producer.
The most notable thing about the album is its sound. While it is still eclectic somewhat, it is mostly soul, funk, jazz, and R& B. While it may polarize fans of her idiosyncratic sound, it will also gain Monáe fans. A notable track with a Motown girl-group throwback sound is “Dance Apocalyptic”.
In addition to Monáe’s sound being centered, her lyrics are more focused on one thing: love. Tracks such as “Q.U.E.E.N.” “Electric Lady”, and “Ghetto Woman” focus on empowering women with self-love, while songs such as “PrimeTime”, and “Dorothy Danridge Eyes” focus on love for someone else. Other songs such as “Victory” and “What an Experience” focus on loving life overall.
While the thoughts on different aspects of love are interesting, a disappointing factor is the lack of the original concept in the lyrics. Unlike on the previous album, there is barely any mention of Monáe’s alter-ego Cindy Merryweather and her lover Sir Greendown. If Monáe was going for a more plain approach, then fine. However, those who are following the saga of Metropolis may feel a bit confused.
Finally, Monáe’s vocals are much richer on this album than her previous one. Maybe it is because she is doing genres best suited for her voice, but Monáe is reminiscent of Diana Ross and Erykah Badu. Some of best songs vocally are “Givin Em What They Love” and “Look Into My Eyes”.
This album is great for contemporary urban music fans. If you couldn’t get into Janelle Monáe before, then feel free to give her another chance.