Music

It’s Art, Stupid: Rap Lyrics and the Law

Erik Nielson

Torrence Hatch, the Baton Rouge, La., rapper better known to fans as Lil Boosie, faced the trial of his life in May. Charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 shooting death of Terry Boyd, Boosie stood accused of paying his friend Mike "Marlo Mike" Loudon $2,800 to carry out the hit. A conviction would have put him behind bars for good. But local prosecutors had very little with which to work. With no physical evidence tying Boosie to the crime, they built their case on a prior confession from Marlo Mike -- a statement he later recanted at trial -- and, more important, Boosie's rap lyrics. 

The Influence of Woody Guthrie Continues, a Hundred Years Later

Benjamin Wright

If Guthrie were alive today, he would be turning 100 years old on July 14, 2012, and there are festivals and events across the country celebrating his achievements and contributions to America on this, his centennial year. Many activists today would like to believe that if he were still around, Guthrie would be traveling on, speaking the truth in a world filled with lies, opening peoples’ eyes to the contradictions and injustices that abound, and giving hope to the hopeless, not unlike his friend and contemporary, Pete Seeger.

The High Achievers of Royalty Storm the Music Scene

Sam Chapin

The Royalty is a hard band to pin down. At times they sound like Vampire Weekend, or else like Marilyn Monroe. They can go from channeling Beach House to the Crystals without taking a breath. They sound like a band straight out of the ‘60s or ‘70s that built a time machine and started listening to St. Vincent and Weezer (two of the band’s major influences). Royalty’s front-lady, Nicole Boudreau, recently spoke with Highbrow Magazine.

From Stage to Screen and Beyond: How Peter Link Conquered the World of Music

Alysia Stern

Peter Link is a legendary composer, dexterous lyricist, and eminent music producer and artistic director who resides in New York City.   He has worked on Broadway, in television, on films, and he has also composed for the ballet. Link has been nominated for two Tony Awards and sold millions of records. He is the CEO and director of Watchfire Music. Link recently spoke with Highbrow Magazine about his career, his passion for inspirational music, and how a young Alicia Keys once helped his son to learn to play the piano.

Music, Cuba’s Greatest Export

Jacob Simas

From charanga to son to timba, Cuba has long been a country world-renowned for its distinct musical styles and traditions. Nevertheless, people in the United States – even the most ardent music lovers -- aren’t likely to become aware of the newest Cuban artists or to hear the latest musical trends, short of paying an actual visit to the island. Greg Landau is a producer, musician and educator from the Bay Area who's traveled to Cuba more than 30 times. New America Media’s Jacob Simas sat down with Landau in his Alameda, Calif., recording studio, where they spoke about Cuban music.

Record Store Day Celebrates the Return of Vinyl Junkies

Benjamin Wright

While many indie record stores have disappeared in recent years, notably with the closing of Tower Records’ in 2006 -- just like indie book chains and video stores -- there has been an ever-growing demand for the charming antiquity, the arguably superior sound quality (even with the crackles and pops that annoy proponents of digital sound), and the artistic merit of vinyl records. 

Another Disappearing Art Form: Tejano Music Fades From Texas Airwaves

Carson Lane

An influx of Mexican immigrants in recent years has swelled Texas’ Hispanic population by a third and, in the process, changed the Lone Star State’s musical tastes, supplanting Tejano with Norteño–a regional Mexican genre with modern lyrics and a younger fan base. That demographic shift has prompted music industry impresarios to buy up radio stations to cater to the swelling ranks of Norteño fans as the Tejano fan base has dwindled. 

Facing the Music: Does Success Equal 'Selling Out'?

John McGovern

The rise of the Internet has pushed artists committed to operating apart from "the system" further into the fringes. Any artist who insists on remaining “indie” must forget that the Internet exists, and work through tight mediums. As Rob Horning of n+1 Magazine wrote in June 2011, “The total-corporate state may have arrived without our really having noticed it.” Branding becomes much easier. Thus authenticity, which the independent music scene focuses a significant amount of energy on, must find new ways to be expressed.

The Return of the Electronic Dance Music Craze

Gabriella Tutino

Avicii. Swedish House Mafia. Tiesto. These big-time names are on the tips of everyone’s tongues, as each DJ and the music they represent is becoming more prominent and more popular in today’s mainstream music. Example? Both Deadmau5 and producer-DJ David Guetta performed at this year’s Grammy Awards, and dubstep artist Skrillex won three out of the five Grammy nominations he was up for – Best Dance Album, Best Dance Recording, and Best Remix.

Hip-Hop’s Evolution: Forsaking Political and Social Awareness for Material Gain

Natalie Meade

The  hip-hop visionaries  who passed away during the 1990s were an inspiration for emcees today, but why does the mainstream music of today largely disregard the ongoing issues? If one can look past the explicit nature of the music during the ‘90s, it is evident that it was politically charged. The overt lyrics were meant to draw attention to the conditions that most inner-city Blacks could not escape, but it seems as though most artists today are afraid to sacrifice a dollar for the sake of kinship.

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