Tag Archives: Emmanuel Jackson

The Highs and Lows of Writing Lyrics

Though the above picture is somewhat skewing in it’s portrayal of current lyrics, it’s also partially right on point. Lyrics, in the early part of this millennium (in the pop music hemisphere) have officially hit an all time low for creativity and meaning.

For me, lyrics make up 80% of a song’s appeal. Anyone can write a sweet guitar lick that can be appreciated by anybody..I did it the other day my first time touching a guitar. It’s a lot harder to fit actual words with meaning into an ordered phrase that can then easily emanate throughout society. But I feel like a lot of people stopped trying!

I myself write lyrics, and I take a lot of time with them. Lyrics are the most important thing a band or artist can focus on, besides the live re-production of them. Don’t just use cliches or feel good phrases..take more than 2 minutes to think about your next line before you actually write it down. Try to create new dimensions, new thoughts, and new pictures within people’s minds when you write your lyrics. Visualize what you want to portray and sculpt it with the words. At least paint a scene with some depth to it. If you were to paint the picture of “G6” above, it’d look exactly like every other club pop hit out in the last decade…I’m getting pretty tired of that shit, how bout you?

What happened to lyrics like Imagine by John Lennon, or Changes by Tupac? The song doesn’t have to be weak or lame because the lyrics are good, or because they’re not talking about popping bottles or “making it rain.” Trust me, even though the mainstream might be pumping that shit heavily right now, that shit is wack, and it will be dead soon enough.

Another big factor that will contribute to the downfall of horrible music, most commonly heard on “the radio,” will be the downfall of major record labels. Labels, the ones with the monetary keys to the major studios – have long had their hand in deciding which music comes out, and essentially, which words get said. If a label doesn’t like a song an artist did for their album, they can deny it and demand another song be cut. Obviously you can see the trend the labels have been following over the last decade, basically only letting music through that meets the same criteria over and over again. They seem to want to reinforce a certain – party – anesthetized – ignorant to the real world – kind of mental portrayal in the songs they put out, and quite frankly, it’s got a lot of people pissed off.

I think that this will go away once we see a retreat in the major label stronghold over mass distribution and marketing, which is going on now. The web continues to push the envelope of what’s now possible, and independent artists, free of this way of thinking, will establish a new standard, using a new platform (the web), that will actually allow these artists to take things farther than the Labels and the previous model would even allow. This is happening as I speak. Power is shifting back into the artist’s hands, and with that power, will eventually come the major studios.

This all makes me think about a post I wrote a while back called The REAL Difference Between Rap and Hip Hop – The REAL difference, is really, all about the REAL.

My view of the situation:

If you’re a lyric writer, please, stay real. If you want to hear what some real lyrics sound like, check out my man Emmanuel Jackson ripping up this verse. This is why I say a lot of mainstream writers are in trouble. Lyrics that are dope and mean something will kill every time. You just can’t fck with this shit:

Written by: Dante Cullari  Founder & CEO Beat-Play, LLC

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The Realest Playlist #1 – 50 Amazing Indie Songs & Music Vids

1. Healing & EasyListening / Powerpop / Progressive

Fang Island – “Life Coach”


2. Rock / Punk

Underground Heroes – “Faceless Revolution”

Unamerican” Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vT4MxmY1UM&feature=related


3. Rock / New Wave / Electro

Me My Head – “Autumn”


4. Hip Hop / Soul
Toki Wright – “More Fiya”


5. Experimental/Rock
Minus the Bear – “My Time”


6. Trance / Psychedelic / Big Beat
Tame Impala – “Half Full Glass of Wine”


7. Electronica / Techno / Club
Blamma! Blamma! – “Carry Me Home”


8. Experimental / Progressive / Pop

A Public Betrayal – “Monster 2”


9. Pop/Other
Coma Cinema – “Only”


10. Americana / Folk / Folk Rock
Arrow in the Sky – Last Breath


11. Acoustic / Rock / Indie

Lissie – “In Sleep” (Live)


12. Other / Hip Hop / Turntablism

Ruckus Roboticus – “Here We Go”


13. Reggae/Rock

Rebelution – “Outta Control”

Studio Version: http://www.thesixtyone.com/#/s/3SJzWlFBeIU/


14. Pop

Katerina Graham – “Boom Kat”


15. Electro / Techno / Powerpop

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “Garden”


16. Alternative / Pop / Rock / Electronic

Temple Scene – “Helsinki”

Temple Scene Recording “Helsinki” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRNsqNdCPWQ


17. Indie / Psychedelic / Shoegaze

Mono Stereo – “Orange is Green”


18. Spoken Word/Other

Te V Smith – “Decline of the Diaspora”

Live version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmOaf_a_CUo


19. Hip Hop

Dot – RIDIC Verse


20. Electronica / Funk / Electro

Kraak & Smaak – “Squeeze me”


21. Rock

TAB – “She Said No (I Love You)”


22. Punk Rock
The Futureheads – “I Can Do That”


23. Folk/Acoustic
Dave Peyton – “Waiting For You(part 2)”


24. Rock/Pop Rock

Shout Out Louds – “Fall Hard”

interview World Cafe XPN: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127929142


25. Alternative/Rock

ARTEFACTO – “Desespero”


26. Acousmatic / Tape music / Pop

Neon Indian – “Ephemeral Artery”

Live @SXSW: http://vimeo.com/10582992


27. Pop / Acoustic / Rock

Holiday Parade – “Never Enough”


28. Acoustic / Indie / Pop

Kina Grannis – “Strong Enough”

Valentine “ (Official Music Video): http://www.youtube.com/user/kinagrannis#p/c/EE19FA17759D07CD


29. Pop / Soul / Latin

Ria – “Change” Live


30. Indie / Pop / Rock

Zac Clark – “Amelia”


31. House

MOWGLI – CARAIBI EP minimix

Live: http://www.youtube.com/user/DEADFISHTV#p/a/u/2/YIb8HE4e534


32. Hip Hop

Emmanuel Jackson – Rippin it


33. Pop

of Montreal – Coquet Coquette


34. Rock

Johnny Ash – “Conspiring Along the Way”



35. Healing and Easy Listening
Band of Horses – “Compliments”

36. Rock
The Suburban Sound – “The Best Day of Your Life”
Studio Version: http://www.myspace.com/thesuburbansound

Acoustic Version:


37. Noise Pop

Sleigh Bells – “Tell ‘Em”


38. Pop/Rock

Strike Four – “A Shot In the Dark”

http://www.thesixtyone.com/#/s/kglFSiKg7BT/


39. Lyrical / Minimalist

Washed Out – “Belong”


40. Rock / Indie / Experimental

Repeater – “Missing”


41. Ambient/Electronic/Visual

Juseung Stephen Lee – “Music Video”


42. Metal/Experimental/Alternative

Rememberance of Pain – “Free From Redemption”


43. Rock / Alternative / Funk

Fat City Reprise – “Cowgirl”


44. Pyschedelic / Ambient / Gospel

Speck Mountain – “Angela”


45. Pop / Soul / New Wave

The XX – “Night Time” Live


46. Synthrock / New Wave / Alternative

The Birthday Massacre – “To Die For”


47. Club / Thrash / Pop

Hooray For Earth – “Form”


48. Synth / Dance/ Electro

synthosaurus – “Futuredance” (Live)


49. Comedy / Hip Hop / Beatbox

Reggie Watts – “Fuck Shit Stack”


50. Post punk / Latin / Folk

Guitars As Guns – “Gag (Guitars aren’t Guns)”

http://guitarsasguns.bandcamp.com/


Old School Extra:

Hip Hop / Old School / Experimental

Jungle Brothers – “Brain”

Official Music Video (Edited version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAJDaprlVvk&feature=related

The REAL Difference between Rap and Hip Hop

Whenever I go to a music store or website, I always see Hip hop and Rap in the same section, and many times the terms are used interchangeably.

When you bring up this subject to people, there are many different responses. Most of the time people equate Hip hop to being the older of the two, as the real foundation for the genre.  People also say that Hip hop has more of a Jazzy, upbeat feel. Rap, according to most people, is anything made after 1994. Most of what came before is considered Old School Hip Hop.

Some people say Hip hop is Dead. “Rapper” Nas claimed this a while back. I disagree..and I also don’t consider Nas a “Rapper,” though he is commonly referred to as one.

I’m an independent artist myself. I actually happen to be a lyricist that mostly writes hip hop lyrics, but I also do some electronic music and R&B. I would never classify myself as a rapper though, simply because of the bad associations that the word has. I’m talking about the subject matter that is in the songs I classify as rap.

The REAL difference between the two categories is lyrical content. Rap, I classify, as being a genre that focuses on particular concepts over and over again. The subject matter never really changes very much. It is almost like Rap is a mass produced form of music, and the artistic dynamic to the music is often lost.

However Hip hop on the other hand, which is still very much alive (overshadowed, but alive), has a greater value to the listener. It offers poetic and often insightful lyrics that give you a second reason to want to listen again. Take a look at one of my favorite Hip hop lyricists, Emmanuel Jackson in the video below. He’s unknown right now, but look out for him in the next couple years. Hip hop will be making a huge comeback. His style is also the closest to my own that I have ever seen and I have tremendous respect for his art.

I hope this post cleared this issue up for a lot of people. Rap is a mainstream pop genre that goes through fads faster than an elementary school, and Hip Hop is a fundamentally pure art form who’s roots are so deep that it will never really die. In fact, I think Rap may be in danger pretty soon, especially with people like Emmanuel Jackson emerging, who happens to feel the exact same way as me on the subject. The REAL difference is all about the REAL.

UPDATE:

It’s been a while since I wrote this so I felt I’d update it. Plus there was a good comment today from cola that brings up a good point:

“sorry, after reading this i still don’t feel educated about what hip hop is vs. rap. it sounds subjective. if you think it’s good, it’s hip hop. if you think it’s commercial and shallow, it’s rap. i need a meatier and more objective answer. thanks, though.”

That’s just the thing about hip hop though. It’s about the lyrical content.

Hip Hop is all about heart. Heart is the essence of Hip Hop. Listen to the name..Hip Hop..it sounds like a heart beat. Then listen to the name rap..it sounds like….crap.

But this is where the subjectiveness is really made apparent. Somebody might be spitting about some nickel bags and some spinners, and some people might not feel it because they can’t relate. Then it’s not Hip Hop to that person. To other people, that same verse might strike them differently, paint a different picture for them, and so to them it might be Hip Hop. It’s really about making a connection from one person’s heart to another person’s. That’s Hip Hop, and if that’s the MC’s aim, usually the music will reflect that as well.

Take this song for example. This is my good friend Dot the One, with The World is not Enough, off his new mixtape Aviators and Bombers. The whole concept for the mixtape is emphasizing how people are so concerned with the shallower things in life, like a pair of sunglasses. To someone who doesn’t know that this is Dot’s intent, it might sound like he’s glorifying this stuff to the extreme, and that might be whack to some people, but if you know what he’s really trying to do, which is inherent in his flow if you listen carefully, then you feel it, and to me it’s pure Hip Hop.

I like to equate it to visual art. Some guy that just throws a bunch of paint splatters on a canvas, with no real technique, and calls it art might actually end up touching some people, and to them, that is art. But I feel like it all comes down to the motive of the “artist.” Are they just trying to make as much money as they can while putting in the least amount of effort possible, or is there actually a deeper method to their madness. I think that’s the definitions of trash and art, respectively.

Unless you really know what the person’s motives are, you may come out with a different definition, which is where the subjectivity of art comes in, since usually people don’t know the motives of an artist when they encounter a work. Art is intrinsically subjective because it has to be a personal thing to be considered art..it has to touch someone..not everyone, but someone. But, on the more objective side, there is, in actuality, 1 true motive behind the work, and that’s where subjectivity doesn’t really matter anymore. It either is, or it isn’t, worthy of the title of Art, based on real motive.

I think that Hip Hop is a similar title to that of Art. To me, and many other people who put a lot of time and effort into their rhymes, if the motives are to touch people in a particular way, for the purpose of communicating something somewhat important, or meaningful, from one person to another person, that’s worthy of the title of Hip Hop. If they’re just rapping about some hypocritical garbage to get attention and to get money, it can’t be hip hop..that’s rap. I would almost consider Tyler the Creator in this category, because he just says shit to create a reaction..but then again he puts a lot of effort into creating those visuals in your head, and I don’t really know him or his motives behind his work so I couldn’t really tell you for sure, only what I think about it, and that’ll be different for each person.

I find though, like almost everything in life, that’s it’s not always just black and white, but instead it’s more of a spectrum, with a million different possible points of variation in between. Hip Hop, and Rap are the two complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but in the end, if it gets through, for some people, the spectrum can seem to bend and even come full circle, and definitions can change..subjectivity = art.

I’m sticking to my belief that Hip Hop is all about heart, because that’s how it’s made me feel, and if it doesn’t have that, it’s not Hip Hop as far as I’m concerned. A lot of respected and proven hip hoppers agree with me. Notice how the title of the song is Phony Rappers, and Qtip makes a reference to the real as MC’s, not rappers. He obviously thinks there’s a difference too. I’m of course partial to Hip Hop..some people are partial to Rap, and that’s great. Then again, it also depends a lot on mood too. Once again, the real difference between Rap and Hip Hop has to be about the real – real motives, real feeling, real love, real hate, real heart, whatever the flavor. That’s the difference.

“Cause once you add the hip to the hop kid, it equals out to love”

– Phife Dawg

Written by: Dante Carmelo Cullari (aka ILL principe) Founder and CEO Beat-Play, LLC

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Amazing Lyricist!

Check out this vid from MWL Artist Emmanuel Jackson.

His lyrics are poetry and his delivery is incredible.

You’re looking at a great right here..and he is

independent and unknown! Check out more artists at

http://MusicWithoutLabels.com