Album Review: Brother Ali- All the Beauty in This Whole Life

brotherali album art

Brother Ali, a Madison, WI native based out of Minneapolis, MN recently released his sixth studio album, titled All the Beauty in This Whole Life, on Rhymesayers Entertainment. Ali once again teamed up with Ant (producer for Atmosphere), who he’s worked with almost exclusively in the past save for his previous album, Mourning in America Dreaming in Color, which was produced by Jake One.

For nearly two decades Brother Ali has been spreading messages of love, hope and acceptance contrasted at times with anger, struggle and reprisal. Ali suffers from albinism, a disorder characterized by lack of pigment in the skin, which consequently led to enduring social stigma throughout his childhood. A number of his works portray instances where he was discriminated against because of his condition followed by moments of personal triumph as he overcame his abusers and the mentality associated with defeat.

As a father, Ali often writes songs for his son, Faheem, providing him guidance or letting him know how difficult it is to be a parent who has to make tough decisions. He raps, “I can’t protect you like I want to,” a line that breathes truth to any parent, that no matter what you do to protect your children, they will at some point be subjected to the dangers of the world. In fact, sometimes, all you can do is pray.

Religious themes have become somewhat of a motif in Brother Ali’s later albums. Ali converted to Islam at the age of 15 and is now a practicing Imam. Although religious messages exist in his music, they are not bold advertisements coaxing listeners to follow Allah, rather they are a proclamation of his own spiritual journey to find peace and understanding through God.

In addition, many themes of social justice have been incorporated into his music. He raps frequently about racial inequality, slavery and the U.S. government’s trends to exploit minorities and the working class. He has been arrested in the past for occupying a house in Minneapolis to fight against its foreclosure. He was also recently trapped in Iran after giving a speech on the significance of Black Lives Matter and performing his song, “Uncle Sam Goddamn” on the Combat Jack Show.

Unbeknownst to Ali, and as luck would have it, hip hop music is illegal in Iran, and the event had been televised through all the major broadcasting networks. This led to accusations by leaders of the Nation of Islam calling him a terrorist and stating he was aligned with ISIS. Death threats and lax security at his hotel caused him to flee but his escape was halted when he found his credit cards, phone service and airplane ticket had all been voided. Brother Ali sat at the airport for three days without money or food! His song, “Uncle Usi Taught Me” explains the event in detail.

That said, All the Beauty in This Whole Life does not disappoint in its delivery of Brother Ali’s most crucial topics. “Own Light (What Hearts Are For),” the first single on the album, conveys a message of rejection for the lives we as a whole are sold in order to keep us subdued. Ali raps, “And you know they want to paint us with the same brush / Wanna entertain us ’til we fill our grave up.”

He explains that we’ve been manipulated and controlled through our desires. We’re raised to believe we need to reach certain plateaus in life or we’ve failed. Those ideals cause us to spend our lives worrying about things that for the majority will never be achievable. Ali gives praise to God for helping him overcome these unnecessary desires. He raps, “They’ve been trying to shut us down our whole life / I thank God for healing / You ain’t got to get me lit, I got my own light.”

The production on the track is a gorgeous mix of layered keys, guitars, bass and drums, classic boom bap. There are some smooth vocal parts in the background that fill out and add depth to the beat as well. Ant is known for quality beats that have a soulful, vintage feel to them. Brent Bradley of DJ Booth wrote, “The production on this album crackles with the warmth of secondhand vinyl even in digital form.” I would agree. This beat sounds like something Kanye West or Ryan Lewis (producer for Macklemore) would have produced.

In addition, the music video is visually stunning and opens doors to the imagination.

The second single off the album, “Never Learn,” is one of my personal favorites. It’s the most unique beat on the album. Lyrically it has a battle-rap quality similar to something off of Shadows on the Sun. The instrumental feels like it could be on a soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino film. Furthermore, it reminds me of production from Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet, or earlier works such as Portishead’s Dummy.

Brother Ali sings the chorus in a soulful, sorrowful tone as if he were singing “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone.

“I don’t know where to turn 
I hit my head I guess I’ll never learn
But they tell me I should let it bleed, let it sting, let it burn
Get my head firm”    

Once again, the music video is visually stunning, no doubt a lot of time, energy and resources went into these marvels.

Additionally, “Out of Here” is one of the most emotional tracks on the album. The song addresses Ali’s struggles in dealing with the suicide of both his father and grandfather. He raps that he felt to blame for their deaths and wished they had given him a chance to sit and listen. Maybe he could’ve helped them. Toward the end of the track Ali questions his own life and its importance because sadly, the men in his family have all died young. He raps, “Every man before me in my fam died by his own hands / How am I supposed to understand my own role in this plan / When nobody who grows old stands a chance?”

The beat sounds similar to “Don’t Ever F**king Question That” off of Atmosphere’s Lucy Ford EP (another great album produced by Ant), however, it has a much better dynamic range. The beat comes in as you would expect with any boom bap beat, but it soon dissipates into a single acoustic piano riff. As the track progresses, subtle guitar strums chime in between the rhythmic phrasing of Ali’s lines. The minimal nature of the track makes for the perfect canvas for Ali to paint his emotions on.

All in all, the album was well crafted. Ant is a great producer. At times he can be a bit methodical with his production (intro, verse, chorus, repeat), but it pairs well with Brother Ali’s storytelling and preacher-like delivery. The uplifting beats on the album sometimes clash with the darker lyrical themes, but it’s almost necessary to keep you from becoming depressed.What Brother Ali is saying can sound ominous, but he doesn’t want you to feel like it’s the end of the world. He wants you to keep your head up, and if you find you can’t, find God.

How did you feel about the album? Feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

Also, if you are a Brother Ali fan or would like to purchase other albums from his discography, click here.

Amazon Echo vs. Sonos Play:1- Who will be victorious?

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The popularity of music streaming continues to rise as more companies enter the market to compete and win over customers looking for easy-to-use, high-quality playback devices. There seems to be a trend in the home stereo market that’s leading buyers away from complex systems with dozens of components to sleek, simple machines that roll your tuner, receiver, and speakers all into one. Of all the choices available, the Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:1 have become two of the top contenders, but which of these devices is truly worthy of your dollar?

At a glance the Amazon Echo seems promising. It features Alexa, a voice assistant program similar to Apple’s Siri. Alexa can be commanded to stream music from your collection, give you weather updates and even help you with your math. There is a large list of commands people can use and even some “Easter eggs” to get things done or have a little fun.

Digital Music News quoted The Times, saying, “While Echo has received mixed reviews for its sound quality, its Alexa voice assistant — which allows people to quickly play music with verbal commands — has captivated the tech industry and the public.

The Echo sounds like a great investment if you have your hands dirty and need someone to scratch your nose for you, but what about its sound quality? How does the Echo compare to the Sonos Play:1 and other streaming devices?

A number of reviews state that the sound quality of the Echo is uneven (despite its 360-degree, omni-directional audio capability), and that the bass frequencies are weak at high volumes. When pushed up against a wall, it showed minimal bass improvement, a poor use of the “boundary effect.” It also lacks resolution at times, which could be due to the fact that the Echo encodes mp3s at only 256 kbps using a variable bit rate. A variable bit rate means that while complex parts of audio are playing, the overall bit rate will be higher than when less complex parts are playing, so listeners are not hearing the same quality audio at all times.    

On the contrary, the Sonos Play:1 has received rave reviews for its audio quality. Trusted Reviews writes that it, “…produces excellent, rich and meaty sound for its size. It has pretty neutral voicing, but the depth and scale of the bass the speaker is able to produce is very impressive.”

A single Sonos Play:1 can fill a room with sound almost as well as the Echo, but if you’re looking for true surround sound, Sonos gives you the option of purchasing multiple units as well as woofers and soundsbars to pair together and play as one unit. What’s more, the device allows you to stream mp3s at a constant bitrate of 320 kbps, not to mention FLAC and ALAC files at a whopping 1411 kbps. That’s over four times the bit rate of the Echo!

In addition, nerdwallet.com reports, “the Echo can play songs from Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Amazon Music Library, whereas the Sonos Play:1 can stream music from your iTunes library, pull from over 100,000 free radio stations, and work with a number of popular online music services (Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, Google Play Music, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio, to name a few).”

Not to mention, you’re able to stream your entire Murfie CD and vinyl collection via Sonos. We at Murfie have been using the Sonos app and speakers to listen to music for several years now, and we love it!

Price-wise, the two are comparable. The Amazon Echo goes for about $179 retail while the Sonos Play:1 goes for $199.

There has been some debate on whether or not the Sonos Play:1 will remain a competitor in the streaming device market in the coming years. There are a number of other companies producing similar products for a fraction of the cost (i.e. Google Home priced at $129 or Muzo’s Cobblestone priced at $60). Regardless of what the future holds, the choice for audiophiles and music aficionados should be clear. The Sonos Play:1 is hands down the better buy. It may not have all the bells and whistles the Echo has, but it does what it was designed to do, provide listeners with the highest quality audio possible.

We at Murfie will continue to support Sonos because we know the importance of audio quality. When subscribers send in their collections, Murfie ensures quality playback, with full metadata, in 320 kbps mp3, lossless FLAC, and other formats, all of which Sonos is able to deliver.

To learn more about our streaming services, see our FAQ or contact us.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album review: Slowdive releases their first album in 22 years

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Slowdive materializes once again from the nebulous vastness of space and time with an uplifting, re-envisioned, self-titled album. After releasing Pygmalion in 1995 and being dropped from Creation Records, the band’s members dissipated and reformed as several offshoots including, Mojave 3 and Monster Movie in the coming years. In 2014, the band hinted on Twitter that they were reuniting. In 2017, they signed with Dead Oceans and released their first single in 22 years.

Slowdive features drummer Simon Scott, who left the band after their 1993 album, Souvlaki, which consequently sounds reminiscent of it. Contrarily, the album differs greatly from Pygmalion in energy, texture and composition. The drums have moved to the foreground in several of the tracks and are the driving force in maintaining and supporting the movement of the swelling, ethereal guitars and vocals.

Texture-wise, Slowdive is comparable to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, but it retains chord progressions more similar to previous works as well as Beach House’s Bloom. The composition is well planned, each part of the song flowing into the next without interruption. Many of the songs have two-minute intros before the vocals start, which in the case of shoegaze is paramount because it allows the listener to be enveloped totally by the realm of each song before reaching any sort of plot.

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Slowdive via Flickr

The album begins from nothingness. The guitars fade in, each strum like a tiny bolt of lightning, and suddenly you are swept away by an anxious drum beat similar to Lush’s “Superblast!” The title of the opening track, “Slomo,” contradicts the feeling of the song; the name would have been better suited for one of the tracks off Pygmalion, where everything was slower paced.

“Slomo” takes you for a ride. It’s an attention grabber, and at the same time it feels like a testament to the reestablishment of the band. It speaks to its fans and lets them know that they’re back and all they have is love for those of you who are still here and have been waiting all this time to hear another album. Of course fans were never too far away since the members had gone on to form other bands that included Slowdive’s core members Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Christian Savill.

The second track titled, “Star Roving,” was the first single to be released off Slowdive. It has an energetic quality similar to “Slomo,” but feels deeper and thicker. Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan, called it “revisionism, not revivalism”. Slowdive at this point is able to pick and choose from a variety of styles they have experimented with in the past. That being said, “Star Roving” sounds like something off of Souvlaki, but this time around all the kinks have been ironed out.

In “Don’t Know Why,” the energy and driving force of the drums continues to whisk you away to a place outside existence. The airy vocal harmonies float elegantly over the guitar and drums, beckoning the listener to come closer. Be one with us in the emptiness of space. Follow us into the center of a star where it’s hot enough to dissolve your entire being. That’s where you’ll find love.

It’s not until “Sugar For The Pill,” the second single off Slowdive, that we get a chance to breathe. Up until now, we’ve only been taking off. We’ve finally reached the stratosphere, and now we can float for a bit. This track is definitely one of my favorites on the album. It begins with gilded, shimmering guitars followed by a pulsing, four-on-the-floor kick and rich, moving bassline, a perfect pocket designed to carry Halstead’s spectral vocal lines. He writes,

“And I rolled away
Said we never wanted much
Just a rollercoast’
Our love has never known the way
Sugar for the pill
You know it’s just the way things are
Cannot buy the sun
This jealousy will break the whole”

In other words, you can’t have everything you want in life. If you don’t let go, you will ruin what you had. Take nothing for granted. At least that is my take on the song, however, I believe Halstead may have left it open to interpretation.

The album continues to breathe and expand until it ultimately reaches the final track of the album, “Falling Ashes,” another one of my favorites because it encompasses the totality of Slowdive’s creativity. The track is eight minutes, but its length is hardly noticeable. The track develops continuously keeping the listener curious and eager for what comes next. “Falling Ashes” has the most complex texture of all of the songs on the album. There are pieces of guitar noise and plucked notes which loop in the background as a sort of counterpoint to the main piano riff. Bitcrushed pads phase in and out like an electron cloud around an excited atom. The vocals are solemn yet sultry, similar to Ride’s “Ride The Wind.” The chorus, a single line, “Thinking about love,” is repeated over and over, summing up the theme of the entire album. Eventually, the instruments fade away and Slowdive ends how it began.

What were your thoughts on the album? Feel free to leave a comment below. If you are a fan of Slowdive and would like to purchase albums for your collection, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evolve your listening experience with Murfie!

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Imagine a time before the invention of the CD burner, back when tapes were still more popular than CDs because they were more durable and our only means of copying and cataloging music.

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I remember fearing the inevitable destruction of my CDs, a consequence made real by overplaying them or neglecting to put them back into their cases afterwards. I certainly didn’t want to pay for the albums again (though that would have been the only option since there was no internet), so I often transferred them from CD to tape.

There were moments when my CDs even fell by the wayside and all I had were tapes of albums I had recorded or mixes of the lot. After all, cassette Walkmans were still more efficient than CD Walkmans back then because CD skip protection was still in its infancy, and I liked to jog while listening to music so the choice was obvious.

When CD burners entered the scene, CD Walkman technology had improved enough that you could pretty much play a CD without skips so long as you didn’t jostle the player too much. People were already ripping CDs to their computers and storing them on hard drives at this time, but it wasn’t until awhile later that actual burning capability became a household item. Consequently, we might have just skipped burning CDs altogether and just moved immediately to file sharing and streaming if it wasn’t for the lack of technology and our learned behavior of collecting physical media.

Binders full of plain discs with hand-scribbled titles gradually replaced the authentic, colorful and provocative ones. The originals were either sold or sat on shelves or in boxes in storage. Eventually, all I had to look forward to was what was on the CD when I played it. I could no longer hear with my eyes. It’s no wonder many of us lost interest in physical media.

music-1163286_1920Today, with the advent of streaming services, ownership of music has declined. We no longer flip through tiny booklets filled with pictures, art, lyrics and production credits while we enjoy our favorite albums. Certainly, we might look at the CDs front cover as a 2″ x 2″ thumbnail through the glare of our cellphone screen, but for the most part the haptic aesthetic of albums is gone.

Additionally, we pay for monthly subscriptions to listen to our favorite tunes, but in the end we’ve sacrificed ownership. If we lose our account or stop paying, our collection disappears. Not to mention, the music we can listen to is limited because subscription services do not have everything. The collections are incomplete.

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Contrary to the latest trend, physical media still exists and will continue to exist in many forms because there is a human need to experience the world with all of our senses. An artist performing a show personalizes it by offering physical media to their fans at a merch booth. A rare box set sells because it was uniquely crafted in remembrance of a great musician. A new generation of audiophiles realizes we got it right the first time with vinyl records and begins rummaging local thrift shops for sonic delights. Not to mention, a vast majority of consumers’ shelves, attics, basements and storage continue to brim with cassettes, CDs and vinyl records.

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Subsequently, a solution that ensures consumers retain the value and ownership rights of the albums they’ve paid for must be brought into being. We need to preserve the option of the aesthetic experience of an album if a listener so chooses and alternatively provide an efficient and safe way in which to catalog and store it. Finally, we need to ensure that when music is streamed, it can be done so at the highest bit rate possible per listening device for the ultimate listening experience.

So what is the solution you might ask? Murfie.

Murfie will take your collection of vinyl, cassettes and CDs, digitize them and make them available for streaming in a variety of popular formats, such as FLAC and mp3, complete with metadata for your preferred devices. When you send us your collection, it is ripped to your personal account for you and you alone. We believe that ownership matters, and so we provide you with exclusive access to your albums as well as give you the option of selling or trading your albums in our marketplace. The marketplace is also useful for filling the holes in your collection. In addition, we provide you the option of storing your albums indefinitely in our secure warehouse to free you of the burden of storing them yourself.

What makes Murfie unique from other streaming services is that if at any time you want to cancel your account or get your music back, you are able to do so. We don’t want you to lose the music you have spent countless hours collecting. We also don’t want you to pay for albums you have already bought over and over. We encourage you to enjoy your physical media the way it was intended, but we understand that advances in technology have led us to more simplistic ways of consuming media. And that is why we are here, to help you evolve and make the decision of what to do with your physical media effortless and pain free.

Send us your collection today, click here for an instant quote. If you have any questions feel free to contact us or check our FAQ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Podcast Interview: Josh Rip talks about his upcoming album Trinity and more

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Josh Mallett (aka RIP), has been making music for the past 17 years. In that time he has aspired to become a well known local DJ, producer and filmmaker. His passion for music and video production can easily be measured by the amount of energy and focus he puts into every project. He is canny in his decision making when it comes to producing big sounding records with cinema quality music videos on a limited budget. Of course, he would tell you that his friends and family are the real reason he has achieved what he has. Not only because they (and God) inspire him to make the music he does, but also because they often play significant roles in his songs and videos.

We sat down with Josh and spoke to him about his upcoming album, Trinity, set to be released on May 19th, 2017. It’s coincidentally the third album in a series of releases which have spanned from 2010 until now, the previous albums titled, Fashionably Late and Sellout.

In addition, we talk a bit about the music industry and get the scoop on his coming of age story, a testament to the evolution of a striving artist who started from the ground up.

Josh Rip, originally based out of Northern Chicago, has now been a Madison-based artist for a number of years. Since his arrival he has managed to win five Madison Hip Hop Awards, an achievement very few can say they have accomplished. His last two albums were huge successes in the Madison hip hop community, and no doubt the third will be as well.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. 

J: So we are chilling in the studio with Josh Rip. 

R: What’s going on?

J: It’s going pretty good. How are you?

R: Excellent man!

J: So, when and where did you start making music?

R: Man, this is throwing it back. This is going to date me, but I started making music in the 90’s in my bedroom. I had started DJing at 14 years old back home in Waukegan, Illinois.

J: What type of music gear did you start with?

S: Meow?

Sammie, Josh’s cat just jumped up on Josh’s lap. 

R: Welcome, cat, Sammie. *chuckles*

J: That is a really cool cat. Is she a tortoiseshell?

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Sammie

R: I’m not really sure.

J: She looks like a tortoiseshell. They have a lot of personality.

R: She loves attention, that’s for sure!

*We laugh*

J: So, anyway. Back to the question. What type of music gear did you start with?

R: I started with a Radio Shack mixer, turntable, cassette player and CD player. I would record music on my computer before digital work stations like FL Studio were popular. This was back when Cool Edit Pro existed, which is now Adobe Audition. I would record instrumentals through my analog mixer into a program called N-Track Studio. That was when I got my first taste of really being able to record stuff digitally. I was 14 then and couldn’t afford to go to a recording studio… and then I got into producing with FL Studio right around 2001-2002. It was called Fruity Loops at the time.

J: What gear do you use today?

R: I have a home studio in my basement. I have a TASCAM 8-track digital audio workstation and a MIDI controller. I use a lot of software. I have a couple racks and a compressor for my vocals. It’s pretty much all software though. I use Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Audition, After Effects and Premier. And I still rock FL Studio.

J: So I see you have a platinum record on your wall. What is that for? 

R: It’s a certification for Twista’s Kamikaze album. Back in the early 2000’s I created a website for Twista which later became his official website. I had been making my own websites on sites like Angelfire since the late 90’s and started my own official website rip-records.com in March of 2000. Being from Chicago, Twista was one of my major influences but he didn’t have a fan page back then, so I built one for fun and that hobby kind of turned into something. The website was going strong with hundreds of thousands of views per month during the time when Twista was in between labels. The site helped his career by showing Atlantic Records that he had a huge core following, and because of that, they gave me a platinum plaque.

J: That’s awesome! So what projects are you currently working on?

R: My current project is called, Trinity. It’s my third studio album, hence the name, but there are other reasons for that too. It’s a new direction, a new phase in my life. Sellout was released 5 years ago and in that time I grew a lot. I matured and came to a point where my new music was leaning on my faith. I wouldn’t put the album in a box calling it Christian hip hop though. I think it’s got its own lane.

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Trinity image from whoisrip.com

J: How is this new project different from previous records you’ve made?

R: Like I said, this album is more faith based. It deals with my struggles and addictions, issues with my family. I wouldn’t say it has a darker vibe to it but it’s more vulnerable. On my last two albums I took a more commercial approach. They were feel good albums. I geared them toward radio play. This new album is me, the real me. This is who I am and you can’t use it against me. I put all my faults out there for the world, to let people know I am still accepted by God despite my flaws. That is the message I am trying to convey on the album.

J: What makes this project stand out from the other records you have made?

R: What makes this album special to me personally is I feel God really had his hand on this album, especially lyrically. There were some lyrics where I thought wow, this is something I never could have come up with on my own.  Everyone has their own beliefs. I believe our talents were given to us by God.

J: What artists did you work with on your latest project?

R: The artists I worked with on this album were artists I have worked with on previous projects. My guy Billy, aka Sincere, I worked with him on my last album. He is a real talented dude. My homie, ANT da Hopeboy, he blessed me with some vocals. He and I actually won collaboration of the year in 2013 at the Madison Hip Hop Awards. A new vocalist I featured on this album was Katie Scullen. I actually had recorded something with her for my last album but the song didn’t make the cut. I love her voice. She has a distinct soulful voice. She has a passion. Even when we shot the video for the single she came out and got her feet dirty out in the swampy grass. She is an artist in every form.

J: Who are your musical influences?

R: Early on, early 90’s I listened to a lot of Chicago rap, artists like Twista, Crucial Conflict and Do or Die, but also Warren G and Dr. Dre. And then I got out of that phase and I started becoming influenced by everything. I became more influenced by pop culture and even country music.

J: How do you connect with your fan base?

R: Through social media and live shows mostly. I get a lot of response on Facebook. I also love to perform live. My CD release party will be held at Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub, Wednesday May 17th, 2017. I will also be performing May 27th, 2017 at Brat Fest. I love my supporters though. I don’t even like the word fan because that just sounds like we are on two different levels. One of my favorite lyrics is that “I was given a platform but never a pedestal.” I don’t like being put on that level where people feel like they can’t reach out to me.

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J: I totally agree. So how do you feel about the music industry? 

R: Bittersweet. We are in a different era from when I started making music. I feel like the industry is over-saturated. Anybody can record music or film a video and put it on YouTube and consider themselves an artist, which is great, but it’s also a double-edged sword. It’s harder to get music on blogs. It’s harder to get noticed. At the same time there are a lot of self made musicians who are making it without a record label. Back in the day you needed a record label to help get your music out. Today, if you can get an organic following of supporters you might not need a record label because you have so many supporters and so much muscle already behind you.

J: Do you feel the digital age has helped or hurt artists sell albums? 

R: I feel like the digital age has helped and hurt. I read somewhere that they are really starting to crack down on piracy, which I feel is a good thing. It seems like people are starting to accept paying for music online. At first they didn’t want to, but now it seems people are coming around… I believe digital is the future though. I knew that back before mp3’s were even popular. I was already streaming music from my website in the late 90’s. It’s a good thing. It gives people a platform to promote their music and get recognized across the world. Traditionally, I wouldn’t have been able to get my music out to people from other countries very easily.

J: Would you be upset if people pirated your music?

R: My music has been pirated. Fashionably Late, I think I’ve seen it on the Pirate Bay. I wouldn’t be upset. I see it like people want my music and they will get it by any means necessary. I appreciate it. At the end of the day, people who are going to buy music will buy it, and people who are going to pirate it will pirate it. There is no stopping it, but I prefer people purchase my music since it helps me continue doing what I am doing.

J: In what formats do you release your music?

R: I typically release my music in two formats, on CD and digitally (iTunes, Spotify etc.). When I released Fashionably Late in 2010, I thought that would be the last CD I ever pressed up, but the funny thing is I’m still pressing up CD’s. I like to have a hard copy.

J: Do you feel physical media is still relevant?

R: Physical media is still important. You get things with it you don’t get with digital media. Interacting with fans and giving them something personal that they can take with them is important. I remember buying Vanilla Ice’s To The Extreme on cassette which had a booklet of pictures and all the lyrics, and for some reason I really liked that. Being an aspiring rapper, I wanted to get to know the artist. When you search for lyrics online they are often wrong. So having something official from the artist is a good thing, credits, who produced what tracks, I love that. It’s an art form in and of itself.

J: How do you feel about streaming services like Spotify?

R: It’s the future. It’s what people are using to listen to music. Trinity has been distributed on Spotify as well as my last two albums. I am open to having my album on all platforms, whether they pay full price on iTunes or stream through services like Spotify where I get pennies on the dollar per stream, if that, or whether people pirate it, as long as my music is getting out there that’s all that matters to me honestly. This latest album especially is not about the money. This album is about evangelizing and ministry. God has blessed me with the things he has and so the money I make is a blessing from God from Him. He will take care of me.

J: How do you finance the production of your album and your videos then?

R: I pour a lot of my own personal money into my music, income I make DJing and producing videos for other people on the side. My music career is not funding itself. But even if I made a million dollars I would put 60% of that back into the music. It’s a never ending investment. You have to invest in yourself. I feel that is why people have taken me seriously for this long because I am constantly investing in myself. I cut a lot of costs by producing my own videos, recording my own music. I am a very frugal guy not just in my music career but in my personal life. I cut out middlemen and get the best prices I can on resources. But it still gets expensive. You have to pay for help, for visual effects, sub contractors etc. There are a lot of talented people out there but they are not going anywhere because they don’t invest in themselves.

J: Your music videos look amazing by the way. What gear do you use to make them? 

R: I shot on a Canon T2i for a couple of years which was a DSLR. Then I upgraded to a Panasonic GH4 which was a DSLM. It was mirrorless, so it wasn’t a DSLR, but it was a camera. And then I just recently upgraded to a film camera, the Black Magic Ursa Mini 4.6k which was a big step for me, but it was something I needed to get to take things to the next level.

J: When and where can we purchase your next album?

R: Trinity will be available on my website, whoisrip.com. You will be able to order the CD from there. The CD is great. It has a booklet with all of the lyrics to the songs as well as a bunch of pictures. It will also be available at all digital retailers.

J: Anything else you want the readers to know?

R: I want to thank everyone for reading. I want to thank Murfie for interviewing me. I want to thank everyone who helped out with my album. My homie, Memory, lent me some dope production. He is a great guitarist and producer. I recommend him to everyone. DJ Pain 1 lent some percussive production on the album. Katie Scullen, ANT and my homie Sincere, you guys are awesome. I appreciate all the supporters who are still rocking with me with this new album, new sound and new direction. I love you guys.

Listen to the full RIP interview on Audiomack: 

Check out more of Rip’s latest music videos from his upcoming album Trinity

Music by RIP

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Pre-review: Feist drops latest album ‘Pleasure’ tomorrow!

feist pleasure

It has been six years since Feist released her album, Metals, the followup to her critically acclaimed album, The Reminder. Tomorrow she will grace the world once again with her latest album, Pleasure!

It has been a long time coming, and after listening to Metals on repeat for the last two weeks, I can say I am thoroughly excited to hear what musical direction she takes next. Metals was indeed a step in a more personal direction from The Reminder. The album was criticized as having lacked singles that stood up to hits such as “1234” and “My Moon My Man”. Slant Magazine stated that the album had no “real spark to it”. Additionally, Lindsay Zoladz of Pitchfork Media stated, “it feels like such a refreshing and slyly badass statement of artistic integrity” but still that “it doesn’t reach The Reminder‘s heights.”

Despite a few comments insisting Metals needed something more, the album overall got scores ranging from C to B pluses from various other sources and was considered a success. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 selling 38,000 copies its first week, whereas The Reminder debuted at No. 16 and sold only 31,000 copies. Granted the albums were released at two different periods in Feist’s musical career,  it feels good knowing the artists you love are succeeding in their craft regardless of criticism.

I would agree that Metals really had no “true” singles to speak of, but in my opinion, it didn’t need them. The album is a book rather than a collection of news clippings. The tracks flow into one another like the turning of pages. The print is faded in some places and bold in others. Beyond the words there are fingerprints, smudges and coffee stains, the cohesive bits holding what you hear together, in other words the silence. With Metals, you have to listen more carefully to the subtle nuances than on The Reminder. Feist has refined her art, and so it takes an even more refined palette to taste the notes this time around.

The opening track to Metals titled, “The Bad In Each Other”, is no doubt one of my favorite tracks on the album. The guitar lick and subtle percussion at the beginning of the track carries you off almost instantly. The weight of the swelling horns and strings makes you feel like you’re floating down a “neon river” of thick molasses right up until the chorus.

“When a good man and a good woman / Can’t find the good in each other / Then a good man and a good woman / Will bring out the worst in the other / The bad in each other”.

Feist’s delivery of the chorus, although solemn, has a lightness that contrasts well with the verses. If you have the refined palette I mentioned earlier, at this point you can almost taste that first single. Still, the inflection of her words leaves something to be desired. It’s generally an artistic choice of hers to swing her words in ways a pop singer wouldn’t, but if the audience can’t sing it, the song might suffer at the hand of critical sources.

So what is to be expected from Feist after her last project? Will she take the criticism of news sources to heart and strive for an album more reminiscent of The Reminder? I believe it to be unlikely. I believe she will continue to make the music she wishes to make and will stray away from making pop records.

Unfortunately, my opinion is slightly biased due to the fact she released two tracks on Soundcloud, both of which I recently listened to. The tracks are titled, “Pleasure” (after the name of the album) and “Century” featuring Jarvis Cocker. Both of the tracks at first glance sound fairly similar to something you would hear on Metals. They both have an acoustic room feel paired with a distorted or clipping effect on the vocals, however, I am not sure if this is intentional in each of the songs or to keep pirates at bay. Either way, tomorrow is right around the corner. I hope all you Feist fans are excited.

What are your thoughts about the article? Are you a Feist fan? What are your favorite tracks from her last several albums?

If you want to hear more from Feist, click here.

 

 

 

 

April 25th Centennial of Ella Fitzgerald

ella-fitzgerald

Today marks the centennial of American jazz singer, Miss Ella Jane Fitzgerald. She was born on April 25th, 1917 and passed away June 15th, 1996 due to complications from diabetes.

Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during an amateur night at the Apollo theater in Harlem. She was often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz” and “Lady Ella”. Her first big hit, “A Tisket, A Tasket” was released in 1938, which was written by both Ella and Chick Webb. She had a remarkable talent for singing and was most noted for her pure tone, improvisational ability and scat singing.

Norman Granz, a famous jazz impresario, worked with Ella during her career and built up the record label Verve Records based partially on her vocal talents. It was with Verve that Ella wrote many of her best works including her interpretation of The Great American Songbook.

Ella also appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows. She worked with a number of other Jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. One notable album, Porgy and Bess, was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special award that honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance”. It was considered to be among the most successful jazz vocal versions and would be released to coincide with the movie version.

After a long and successful career, which included 13 Grammy nominations and countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, Ella Fitzgerald would play her final concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.

In addition to her many achievements, Ella assigned all of her royalties to the Charitable Foundation that bears her name. So every time you purchase a new recording of Ella’s, the royalty is donated in order to continue her charitable legacy. The centennial begins April 25th, 2017 and will conclude April 25th, 2018.

To commemorate Ella’s 100th birthday, the Smithsonian Museum opened “First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100.”, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has created a similar tribute. In addition, much of her body of work will see re-releases all year long.

Looking for albums from Ella Fitzgerald’s discography? Check out our shop!