Upcoming Album: Snarky Puppy Family Dinner Volume 2

About two years ago in September, the jazz-fusion group Snarky Puppy swept up a Grammy when they delivered an incredible rendition of Lalah Hathaway’s “Something”, on their album Family Dinner Volume 1.  And now the sequel is here.  They have quite the allstar lineup, yet again.  Featuring Knower, Jacob Collier, Laura Mvula, Susana Baca, David Crosby, Salif Keita, Chris Turner, and Becca Stevens.  Here is a bit about each of them to get you up to speed.

KNOWER is a dynamic duo from Los Angeles, who rose to fame creating electronica-funk covers of pop tunes.  Through widespread acclaim on Youtube and some successful album releases, I personally cannot wait to see how the Pups incorporate this artist on the album.

David Crosby is an American guitarist and songwriter, who is very well known for being the founding member of The Byrds; Crosby, Still, and Nash; and CPR.  He’s also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.

Chris Turner is a gospel and R&B vocalist from Oakland, California.  He blends elements of jazz, funk, hip hop, and graduated from the New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

I wrote a previous blog on Jacob Collier, whom I am extremely excited to see on the Snarky Puppy album.  A 20 year old musical prodigy from the UK, Jacob Collier plays just about every instrument and has a vocal range that spans many, many octaves.

Salif Keita is royalty.  He is actually a direct descendent of the founder of the Mali Empire, and is often referred to as “The Golden Voice of Africa”.  Salif Keita is an albino vocalist from Mali that usually performs traditional African music.

Susana Baca is a very prominant Peruvian singer-songwriter, whose style can be described as “Afro-Peruvian”.  She has won two Latin Music Grammy awards, and is noted as a figurehead for the revival of Peruvian music.

Becca Stevens is an American jazz, pop, and folk singer, as well as a guitarist.  She is college bred in that she went to school for classical guitar, and then later for jazz vocals.

Laura Mvula is a British soul and singer-songwriter from Birmingham.  She has millions of views on Youtube, and has gotten a lot of radio publicity from her songs “She” and “Green Garden”.  Recently, when I was in London, I couldn’t walk into any public establishment without hearing Mvula playing through the speakers.  However, her music is extremely catchy, and her vocal prowess is very evident.  Another gem to have on the album.

Snarky Puppy all made sure we were well fed in the first Family Dinner album, and I am very excited to go back for seconds.

Welcome to the Wondaland

I’m sure by now, you have heard of the upcoming pop/R&B artist, Janelle Monae.  Tightrope, from The ArchAndroid, is a tune frequently played in the R&B scene, and her new song, Yoga, attempts to appeal to the younger audiences, whilst still retaining Janelle’s classy, upbeat style.  Yoga is also released on Janelle Monae’s new record label, Wondaland Records.  Whilst this may not seem like a huge deal at first, it must be noteworthy since she was able to land a partnership with Epic Records, which is a division of the flagship Sony Music Entertainment.  The list of artists currently under her roster are well known, but highly talented, and they all write their own music and have production backgrounds.  They are Jidenna, Roman GianArthur (who wrote all of the classical overtures on Janelle’s albums), Deep Cotton, and St. Beauty.

I hope to see this label, and its artists, do well.

However, I think what is worth special mentioning is Janelle taking a role in the business half of the industry, being comparable to Kanye West, P. Diddy, and Jay-Z.  Janelle herself has said that she idolizes particular businesswomen in the industry, such as Mellody Hobson and Queen Latifah.  I would love to see Janelle establish herself as yet another mogul in the music industry, because she is certainly talented and deserving of more attention.  Check out some of Janelle’s previous works below!

http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6472849/janelle-monae-mini-mogul-wondaland-label-epic-la-reid

Let’s Talk About Video Games

I absolutely love video games.  I’ve been playing them since I was about six years old, when I got my first Gameboy Color.  I remember playing the video game rendition of A Bug’s Life for hours on end as a child, and then getting my first Xbox as a teenager.  Then later, I got an Xbox 360 and online gaming was a huge part of my life in high school.  Even today, I am a very proud owner of an $1100 Windows PC that I built with my own hands.

The video game industry is massive. In 2014, the video game industry brought in revenues of 46.5 billion dollars.  Just revenues.  That isn’t the value of the industry, which includes marketing, advertisements, etc.  Enough people bought enough video games to earn the producers of video games 46.5 billon dollars.  (I personally have contributed to a large percentage of this, I’m sure, but that’s irrelevant.)

In the same year, the music industry brought in just 13 billion dollars from revenues of purchased music, and has been steadily declining.  Well, why is it that the video game industry is making almost four times as much money as the music industry? What can we as musicians, and consumers of music learn from video games?

First, I think the obvious answer is pirating.  For years, we were enraptured with Limewire and Frostwire which provided millions of consumers with free music for download.  It is very possible to pirate games, but they are not in so accessible a format as MP3.  Most consumers will not go through the trouble.  The dawn of online pirating spelled certain doom for the music industry.

Secondly, I believe there are some core values that the video game industry has that the music industry lacks.  The most important being communication.  Communication between producers and consumers of video games is damn near transparent.  I can google the new Call of Duty six months before it comes out and know how to beat every level and what all the weapons are.  Many companies maintain online forums, such as Reddit, where they regular communicate with their customers.  And that’s how you maintain loyalty.  So many music consumers wouldn’t even be able to fathom being in contact with the producers of their favorite songs.  Social media like Instagram and Facebook are helping to mitigate this, but only a little bit.

In music, the producers seem untouchable.  But that transparency will always add a level of humanity and tangibility that will keep gamers buying and supporting games.

Lastly, I think that there needs to be a mentality shift within the music industry.  When we regard our favorite artists and their upcoming songs and albums, we feel that this is something that we deserve.  There is a sense of entitlement. We don’t feel like we are purchasing a product from a business, we feel that we are doing the artist a favor by receiving their music.  We need a strong paradigm shift if we ever want to see music being purchased again.  Because the way it is happening, people are going to use their money for the latest Xbox One game while they listen to their favorite songs torrented for free.

http://www.statista.com/statistics/237187/global-video-games-revenue/

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/global/5937645/ifpi-music-report-2014-global-recorded-music-revenues-fall-4

The British Invasion Continues: Jacob Collier

For years, British artists have been invading and inspiring American music.  It all started with the Beatles in the 60s.  From Adele, to Jessie J, to superstar Sam Smith, British musicians have proven time and time again that we Americans love their music like none other.  In comes Jacob Collier, a prodigal multi-instrumentalist whose Youtube videos are absolutely mind-blowing.

Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

 

At only 20 years old, Jacob sings, plays piano, bass guitar, various synthesizers, electric guitar, drumset, and many many others with a musical maturity well beyond his years.  Taking heavy influences from jazz, as well as blues, funk, gospel, classical, and even hip hop, Jacob’s performance is definitely a very unique, and extremely listenable sound that he can call his own.  He’s gotten the support of huge faces in the industry such as Quincy Jones, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, just to name a few.

 

Here are a few of videos.  Hopefully you groove and “stank face” as much as I do.