Earbits has always been about discovering new and exciting music. There are lots of ways for you to find your next favorite artist, that next club banger, or the perfect playlist to suit your mood. Each week our music team works to expand these horizons even more, and we wanted to with you some of our faves with you every week. Take a listen, as our editors bring you yet another way to discover great music.
This week, we’ll be featuring a playlist a day from Ropeadope, one of our favorite labels and a mainstay of the Earbits catalog. Lined up for you, we’ve hand-picked a few eclectic lists, a few focused specifically on Jazz, and one each devoted to Hip-Hop and Funk of exclusively Ropeadope artists. Their output is diverse and singular: string arrangements, glitchy electronics, boogie funk lines, extended instrumental solos, Minimalist classical structure, deep neo-soul changes. The array of ideas and musical breadth is dizzying, and this kind of cross-pollination and open experimentation is what, for me, makes Ropeadope such a fantastic imprint. The first of seven lists goes live tomorrow, so keep your ears peeled!
Hip-hop is still at the forefront of popular culture. Although EDM may have surpassed the genre in terms of dominance over American youth (maybe), hip-hop’s effect on popular culture is still widespread and profound. Although it’s still undergoing transformative periods in its ever-evolving history, the genre is increasingly a subject of academic debate.
More and more colleges and universities are working hip-hop classes into the cirricullum. Bun B has lectured at Rice University in Houston. It’s impossible to predict the future of academia, of course, but hip-hop seems poised to be studied as prestigiously as, say, jazz— another inherently African-American genre of music that has evolved considerably since its inception— someday.
Ever since they burst on the scene a couple of years ago, Odd Future reenergized hip-hop with a youthful punk energy rarely seen throughout the past decade. A strong crop of young rappers has emerged since that time period, and many of them possess a similarly energetic spirit. Out of all of them, Action Bronson might just be the most punk rock.
Early on in Bronson’s early-afternoon set at Coachella, the rapper stood next to a crowd of people, grabbed a fan’s sandwich and bit into it, holding his mic to the side. The beat blared in the background as he commented on the food and grabbed blunts and cigars from audience members.
If you were a rapper who lived in or around the 510 area code in the ‘90’s, you knew what it was like to gaze at the beautiful east bay hills with a sense of hope, knowing that being fiercely lyrical and unwilling to “grow up” (a euphemism for when rappers put out boring stuff) was not an impediment to a major label deal and stardom that transcended what rapper Encore referred to as “street buzz”. As an L.A. transplant living in Oakland I only caught the tail end of this period of optimism, but such were the times and geographic setting that produced one of the Left Coast’s most enigmatic and underrated lyricists, an emcee known as Motion Man.
Drake took over the hip-hop charts, Justin Bieber took over the pop charts (and the world), and Canada’s new era of pop culture domination has begun. If you’re placing bets on the next big artist to emerge from The Great White North, it’d be a smart move to put a few Canadian dollars on Ryan Hemsworth.
Hemsworth hails from Halifax, and he’s a young beatmaker and electronic music producer. He’s prolific with both his remixes and his original songs, and he possesses a style that seems to be in high demand these days from rappers and other producers alike: chilled-out, slow-motion and spacy beats with glitchy percussion. He also loans out beats to MCs.
The “Intro” to Background Music, L.A. hip-hop duo Substance Abuse’s second album, begins with an trippy mashup of soundclips that includes quips like “Substance Abuse presents problems without presenting solutions,” “they team up with other MCs,” and “they sound like 1998.” These clips, although smashed together quickly and barely coherent,accomplish the same thing B. Rabbit did in 8 Mile’s final battle scene— they bring forth potential flaws before critics have a chance to mention them.
Forgive me for the late review of the most recent album from Nas, but being the 47 percenter I am I rarely have the funds (or impetus) to buy hip hop CDs. But since I’m always intrigued when I hear the Illmatic mc has a new release, I decided it was time to see what all the hubbub surrounding the deeply personal “Life is Good” was all about. And luckily for this long time fan of the rapper, I was not disappointed.
I love my job. Not many people can say that. Why do I love it, you ask? I do nothing but listen to Earbits all day, which provides me some serious time to peruse the up and coming music that we are constantly adding. From Metal to Jazz, and everything in between, I am ever-impressed by the catalog that our music department is building. Frankly, it’s getting ridiculous.