Artists’ Blueprint: Tyler The Creator

The rapper/songwriter/producer and creative force isn’t the first in hip hop to expand creative boundaries for the genre.

Tyler the Creator has been one of hip hop’s defining acts this past decade, from his angsty and controversial work during his time with the collective Odd Future like Yonkers and Tamale, to a shift for a more introspective and soulful sound with See You Again and Earfquake. With his evolution as an artist, Tyler expanded his brand with ventures such as the annual Camp Flog Gnaw Festival in Los Angeles, his GOLF brand of streetwear along with a flagship store, and shows such as the sketch comedy Loiter Squad and the animated series The Jellies for Adult Swim. Despite his reputation as one of the most ambitious creative minds in the rap game, it is worth mentioning artists similar to Tyler and also cited as his inspirations.

Pharrell Williams

The songwriter/producer/singer/rapper is usually credited as Tyler’s biggest creative influence. Tyler has publicly expressed his love for Pharrell’s work, especially seen in his Facebook post commemorating the 10th anniversary of the producer’s debut album In My Mind. In this post, he praises Pharrell’s attributes such as his penchant for jazz and r&b chords and basslines influenced by the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and his love for previously uncommon subject matter such as high end fashion brands (like Hermes) and skateboarding. This interview with Mass Appeal is another example of The Neptunes’ stylistic influence on Tyler as he talks further about these topics. Tyler’s gone on to collaborate with Pharrell on songs like IFHY and tracks such as Rose Tinted Cheeks are compared to Pharrell’s sound of outer space electronic funk.

Kanye West

Like Pharrell, Kanye is another creative influence on Tyler as a multi-talented artist in hip hop and budding entrepreneur. In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Tyler mentioned his love for West’s 2018 album Ye, praising the project for its honesty in subject matter, along with crediting him in a list of artists who practice complex techniques and sounds in music like chord progressions and live instrumentation. In other interviews and public appearances, Tyler has talked about their common interests, including art, Kanye’s ability to look normal in various colors for his Yeezy fashion line as an inspiration for Tyler’s GOLF brand, and his defiance of black male stereotypes. The two artists have collaborated on songs like Smuckers off Tyler’s 2015 album Cherry Bomb and Puppet off his 2019 album Igor.

Various Neo-Soul/R&B Artists

Strictly on the musical sphere of influence, Tyler has repeatedly gushed about his love for r&b music and its sub genre neo-soul, which blends live instrumentation with hip hop influence. In the same interview with Zane Lowe, he discusses topics like Janet Jackson’s collaborations with producer duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the multi-layered and melodic song structures of Erykah Badu and D’Angelo and the euphoric feelings he got as a fan of artists like Brandy. In another interview with Funkmaster Flex of Hot 97, he credited other childhood influences such as Faith Evans, Mary J Blige, and Zhane. He gave a special shout out to Zhane’s producer Kay Gee for his blend of rough hip hop beats with pretty melodies as the basis for his own style. In an interview with comedian Jerrod Carmichael, Tyler referenced artists such as Tony Toni Tone and Stevie Wonder, especially the latter with his vocal melodies and chords. In his work, Tyler has sampled acts like the Gap Band for songs such as  911/Mr Lonely along with a feature by Badu on his 2013 track Treehome95.

The musical and stylistic footprints of these artists are still evident through Tyler and he carries their torch as a representative for hip hop’s future evolution into newer sonic boundaries and self expression, possibly inspiring a wave of newer artists as his idols did.

Written by: Kristian Gonzales

Feature Image: Fader

Peep This Joint: Top 5 Rap/RnB Albums of the Year

As the year winds down, it’s time to look back at all the outstanding albums that released this year!

Reflecting on the 2019 year’s lineup, it’s clear to see the lineup is stacked. From memorable debuts such as YBN Cordae’s The Lost Boy to disappointing releases like Chance’s The Big Day and Kanye’s Jesus is King.

Nevertheless, a wide range of artists from all sides of the rap spectrum released music this year as we’ve seen with the dynamic Atlanta duo EarthGang releasing their debut, Mirrorland to the surprising posthumous project, One Of The Best Yet by legendary rap group Gangstarr. 

With not only the year but the decade coming to a close, I felt that it was right to go over what I personally think are the top releases this year for rap and R&B. It was a hard decision to whittle down my favorites to only five, but these are the albums I felt deserve some noise:

YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy

Cover from: Stereogum

This album is a phenomenal debut for the young, up-and-coming rapper hailing from Maryland. He initially blew up through a remix of J-Cole’s “1985” that circulated the web and moved its way to the charts. From then on, things have only been going up for the young rapper as shown with his song “RNP,” featuring Anderson .Paak being produced and co-written by J-Cole himself just a year later. The lyrics and production in this project are nothing but top-tier so this definitely deserves to be in the top five of the year.

Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

Cover from: Twitter

Many wondered what direction Tyler would take for his album after the release of Flower Boy, which received both widespread critical and public acclaim. What resulted was the release of IGOR, which Tyler proudly proclaims is all self-written, produced and arranged. The rave reviews of Flower Boy led Tyler to tap into his creativity to create a unique album that sonically differs from his past discography. Exploring the journey of a love triangle, Tyler paints the emotional struggles experienced throughout the album. If you ask me, this project would be the number one release of the year.

Summer Walker – Over It

Cover from: Hypebae

Another stellar debut project that dropped this year was Over It by R&B singer Summer Walker. Dropping in October, this album proved to be a hit as it broke records by becoming the most-streamed album by an R&B female artist ever during its first week. After getting her song, “Girls Need Love” remixed by Drake, her popularity instantly skyrocketed. Her sultry vocals paired with the slow-groove production made this album a top contender for best R&B album of the year. 

Anderson .Paak – Ventura

Cover from: Consequence of Sound

Anderson .Paak came through this year with the release of his album, Ventura. This album came out just a year after the release of his fourth album Oxnard, which received some criticism for his rap-centric approach. It didn’t seem to bother him though as he came out strong this year with Ventura just 5 months after Oxnard’s release. Returning back to the soulful roots with this album, Paak recovered gracefully with this “return to form” album.

Gangstarr – One Of The Best Yet

Cover from: HipHopDx

One Of The Best Yet marks the end of the 16 year hiatus of legendary rap duo Gangstarr, which consists of rapper Guru and producer DJ Premier. The death of Guru back in 2006 resulted in DJ Premier losing access to all of his old verses until recently through legal action. Fortunately, once DJ Premier recovered his partner’s forgotten and unreleased material, he was able to make magic and produce beats that ultimately culminated into the album. One of my favorite aspects of this album was the fact that Guru’s verses have a timeless element since they are very relevant in today’s rap climate. Overall, this is a classic sounding album reminiscent of the 90s that sounds like a treat for backpackers. If you’re a fan of hard-hitting lyrics, this is the top release of the year for that category. 

With so many hard-hitting releases this year, there’s a lot of content to listen to in order to keep up. Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas or suggestions on what projects to catch up on. Peep these joints out!

Written by: Johann Oribello

A Romantic Playlist to Keep You Going

Everyone’s got that one romantic song that reminds them of an individual, memory, or deep sentiment buried within their heart.

Instead of offering my opinion for this topic, I decided to ask my various followers on Instagram to include their romantic song of choice, as well as their reason for enjoying it so much.

I’ve combined the song choices into a playlist for romantics out there who are search of more music options. For the purposes of this playlist, I decided to only share the first names of those who participated in this survey.

Route Around” by Rebelution

  • “It encompasses the longing and need of being with your partner, even if it’s at long distance,” – Kathy

I Will” by The Beatles

  • “My mom used to sing it to me when I was little. It always made me feel loved and safe,” – Isabel

Love is Alive (feat. Elohim)” by Louis the Child

  • “This is the song I made out with my boyfriend to at LED USA,” – Megan

See You Again (feat. Kali Uchis)” by Tyler, the Creator

  • “The vibes in this song make me remember sitting in my car and hearing it with the right person. Plus the lyrics, ‘I can only see your face when I close my eyes’ are enough,” – Anonymous

Eden Echo” by Kamelot

  • “A good song that really makes you feel,” – Andrea

Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede

  • “Besides the fact that it’s in the movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, my wife loves the song as much as I do,” – Mario

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Lauryn Hill/Frankie Valli

  • “This is the kind of song you publicly embarrass your significant other with,” – Christian

Valentine” by Atlas

  • “It reminds me of something I’d write or do for someone I love,” – Jovince

Eight Days a Week” by The Beatles

  • “Because it brings me absolute joy and comfort knowing I’ve been through a lot,” – Johnny

Sunrise” from In The Heights Broadway

  • “Both the score and Broadway musical are great. Lin Manuel Miranda is an amazing composer who created such a great song,” – Kevin

Birthday Sex” by Jeremih

  • “I think you know why,” – Anonymous

I Do (Cherish You)” by 98 Degrees

  • “It really gives me that romantic vibe,” – Jem

Trouble I’m In” by Twinbed

  • “Honestly, just listen to it and you’ll see,” – Marla

Junk of the Heart” by The Kooks

  • While Vicente didn’t respond much about it, this entails that this song choice doesn’t need an explanation as to why this fits so perfectly as a love song.

Little Bit” by Lykke Li

  • “You should definitely listen to it, it’s my favorite song right now,” – Claire

If I Could Tell Her” from the Dear Evan Hansen Broadway Cast

  • “I can relate to it personally. When I have a crush on someone, I always notice the little things. But I have trouble being the one to confess. Plus, the way he translates that into this song is how I feel,” – Kevin

Baby (feat. Marina & Luis Fonsi)” by Clean Bandit

  • “The story in the lyrics is really a twist, but it does make you think of someone no matter who is listening to it,” Anonymous

Thank you to those who have shared their favorite songs with me so that I could share this with others. I’m certain that there is a hopeless romantic out there who can agree that these song choices are excellent.

If these songs don’t make you remember a specific memory or individual, then I’m certain there is a song out there for you that you haven’t discovered yet.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Ryan Beatty at the House of Blues San Diego

On Monday, March 18, Ryan Beatty performed an intimate yet memorable concert at the House of Blues that turned out to be something completely unexpected.

Many remember Beatty as this formulaic teen heartthrob with the Justin Bieber-esque side-swept hair who made multiple appearances on Radio Disney. Today, that person no longer exists. In his place is an open and authentic artist who has perfected an album that embodies his tumultuous journey in life and music.

Boy in Jeans experiments with synthetic sounds, jazzy basslines, and RnB expressions, a style similar to that of Frank Oceanand a total change to his former clean-cut radio releases. Due to the limited selection of songs, Ryan played through his album in order and respectively opened with “Haircut.” This track, a mellow tune that represents Ryan’s acceptance of his sexuality, sets an ambient and relaxed mood for the remainder of the show. Simply adorned in red shorts and a black crewneck, Ryan’s vibrant stage presence compensated for his casual appearance as he made the spotlight his own. The crowd was practically breaking through the barriers, soaking in every word he sang.

Songs such as “Cupid” and “Bruise” are simple compositions that are, nonetheless, stunning to witness live. “Cupid,” for one, highlighted Ryan’s soulful voice while accompanied by a delicate piano. His ability to belt out riffs with ease and create minuscule inflections during a live performance is a sign of vocal maturity and indisputable talent. “Bruise” is another fan favorite and tells the familiar story of a gay boy who is in a secret relationship with his “superstar,” in-the-closet man. As his audience screamed out the lyrics “Pony boy ride on, ride on, ride on me / In my dreams, in my f*cking dreams,” Ryan was having the time of his life, and repeatedly thanked his fans for their unconditional support.

The show continued with sanguine performances of “Camo” and “Money” driven by earwormy falsettos and headnod worthy beats. To match the quirky lyricism and funky instrumentation, Ryan was, according to him, “moving onstage like a crazy person” but that just made the experience even more enjoyable. “Powerslide,” however, was my favorite performance of the night because Ryan and the crowd were simply lost in the music; so lost, in fact, that he played it twice with unwavering energy.

Unfortunately, every show must come to an end, and the end was bittersweet. The audience was serenaded with the emotional tunes “Pink Floyd” and “Flash” that describe the struggle of discovering one’s identity and how hard it is to say goodbye.

Before the concert, I had no idea what to expect of Ryan Beatty. I had listened to the album and genuinely enjoyed his releases, but never would I expected to be blown away by this former teen-pop act. His past works with BROCKHAMPTON on their track “Bleach” as well as with Tyler, the Creator should have been an indication that this kid is all grown up. I look forward to his future projects and hope to see this grossly underrated artist gain more recognition as an up-and-coming star.

Written by: Rica Perez