Writing about World Music

Davidson College, Fall 2015

Author: luelizalde

Free Music Streamers = The Future

As we delve deeper into the 21st century, one might consider: is the era of purchasing music over?

We’ve come to the point as a generation where purchasing music has become obsolete or reserved for artist we hold close to heart. Spotify and Soundcloud were both game changing in the sense that they gave artists a chance to showcase their music for free through advertisements, or of course with monthly $10 or so premium subscription. Which is for sure a steal for someone who listens to as much music as I do. I have been an avid user of the media streaming websites for some time now and can’t remember the last time I purchased an album or simply felt the urge to. All I have to is flip a switch that would download it onto my phone and let me listen to it endlessly and once an album has run its course, simply erase and replace.

It has gotten to a point where iTunes, considerably the largest music vendor, has even added its own rendition of music streaming through Apple Music. Further showing that the shift is inevitable.

The only question I have is: How do we measure success once the switch is completely made?

I’d assume that becoming ‘Platinum’ will be near impossible and the number of listens on a track will determine popularity. The Billboard would have to adopt a new formula, and artists won’t make as much money as they used to.

Only God knows what will happen to CD’s.


Review: The Incredible True Story by Logic

Earlier this month, up and coming rapper, Logic, dropped his sophomore album: “The Incredible True Story.” The album situates the listener in the year 2093 on a space craft bound for ‘Paradise,’ a potential planet home for the near extinct human race. The LP starts with the two pilots of the space craft deciding to listen to the “album that changed it all.” To no one’s surprise, that album was non-other than the “The Incredible True Story.” Don’t worry, the tracks are mostly music with a few skits and conversation between the two pilots that simply reveals more background on what exactly happened, is happening and Logic as a person.

The album showcases the Maryland rappers talent in both writing and rapping. His lyrics carry a certain wit that I haven’t heard since Andre 3000, and his delivery is quick, clear and in a way convoluted similar to Eminem. Though I have nothing but praise for Logic, the songs on the album all tend to sound similar and on my second listen through, songs began to sound redundant. However, he manages to mix up the futuristic beats with a splash of 90’s kick and snare on the song “Young Jesus” featuring Big Lenbo. The last verse contains a trade between the two rappers that hooks the listener and further showcases Logic’s talent and his ability to jump in and take over.

I understand that the second album only presents more pressure that the first. The first one gets your name out there while the second cements it. Overall, Logic delivered. But the question remains whether he delivered to the public or not.  Rap albums like these are meant to be listened from the first track to the last, no skips. Something no one tends to have time for nowadays. The last mainstream rap album to attempt that was Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and though I instantly fell in love with it, it receives polarized reviews from the public. Hopefully, Logic doesn’t face the same fate. But then again we’ll never really know if it was “The Incredible True Story” that changed it all until we get on a spaceship in the year 2093.


Drake Issues

Fun fact: Drake, who most consider is the best (most successful) rapper in the world at this very moment, has never released a #1 single on the Billboard top 100.

A feat you’d escape ‘The Greatest Rapper in the Game’ to have. Which leads me to my claim, Drake won’t be remembered the way we remember the likes of Tupac, Biggie, and any other rapper most would consider an “All Time Great.” Artists are typically associated with a song, a masterpiece to Biggie it was “Hypnotize,” the 1997 hip hop masterpiece engraved the Brooklyn rappers name in history books, holding number 1 for 2 weeks straight.. Tupac had “How do U want it”  in 1996 which soared to the top and stayed in contention for an astounding 33 weeks. Both are constantly debated as the two greatest to ever pick up a mic (though I personally prefer biggie due to his style).

Don’t get me wrong, Drake is talented and I enjoy his music. He has put out some great songs but none will I ever point to and consider being the greatest rap song ever. He does have years ahead of him and he will put out more music, but if his singles keep sitting at number two or three, I doub’t the name Drake will be remembered when he stops releasing new music. All his studio albums have reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 list which shows consistency, which I never said he wasn’t. But even then his albums don’t hold spot light for long because they lose appeal without clinging to that one song we should’ve all come to love.

Drake, keep putting out music and maybe one day you’ll come. ‘Hotline Bling’ could reach that top spot, but if it doesn’t it would be because the adrenaline people get when they hear a ‘Drake Song’ will pass.




Hearing Modernity: Egypt, Islam, and the Pious Ear and Parallels to the Philippines

In his essay Hearing Modernity: Egypt, Islam, and the Pious Ear, reputable anthropologist Charles Hirschkind discusses topics and reasons why cultures were forced to modernize; whether those reason be social or political. He uses examples such as sermons, how though some Muslims in Egypt practice the old, recitation method, a lot have modernized their way of teaching, others have changed in order to represent more modern and vocal means of talking and listening.

Regarding the actual act of talking and listening, Hirschkind brings up an interesting point about how in these spaces the responsibility to interpret and learn the message the speaker is trying to send across, and some sort of divine intervention, not a wise choice of words. Similarly with music, he argues that “If the listener brought to the act the proper intentions, goals and ethical attitude, then he or she would benefit from the audition” (135). Just adding to the point that the responsibility it on the listener.

According to Hirschkind, “state planning documents from the 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as in some the preaching manuals published at the time, sermons were often assimilated to the category of ‘mass media…’” (138). I find it ironic, but a symbiotic sense, how though mass publishing a preaching manual in a way dilutes the original meaning, but is more efficient in spreading the word. That irony only emphasizes the importance the listener has, if one does not connect with the word, then that divine intervention I hard previously discussed is not present.

While reading the essay, I spotted many parallels to Philippine society. Though the modernization of the Philippines started before the 50’s and 60’s, the transition is still on going. In regards to means of preaching the Catholic Church spent over a billion dollars to construct an arena that would serve, as the largest Mass venue. In order to have masses filled with over 100,000 people and last hours on end. A project that was, of course, ruled controversial. The religious modernization likely sparked some anger from traditionalist, exactly like the Philippines.  Similarly, to the way preaching manuals are distributed, flyers of the gospel and readings in the mass are dropped of to the doors of subscribers. It doesn’t show someone how to teach but prepares readers to better understand the mass they are likely to attend later that afternoon.

Why OPM(Original Pinoy Music) will always stay OPM

Growing up in the Philippines, I was exposed to all sorts of music. Songs from the west predominantly, but songs from Southeast Asia always trickled out of the vibrations of the car stereo. I never really paid much attention, however; until 2 or so years ago where I began to notice those Filipino songs that were continuously being subtly played in the car were assimilations-either translated covers or had elements that were so familiar- of those songs I had been actively listening to.

Now, I have the utmost love for my country and once out of college will do my best to eventually contribute to its success. But the Filipino music biz needs an overhaul. Filipino artists need to rediscover their sound and stop trying to fulfil the American Dream. Yes, we have successfully made it out the gates several times with artist such as: Bruno Mars, Charice, Enrique Iglesisas, Apl. de Ap. but how many of those people would you recognise as Filipino? Maybe Apl as he had a deal with the Black Eyed Peas to release at least one Tagalog track on two of their most famous albums (Elefunk and Monkey Business) but ever since none of these artist have stepped up and claimed that heritage.

Back to back home: There are some solid bands that I enjoy listening to such as Bamboo, Sandwich, Parokya ni Edgar but none of them will reach international success for many reasons. The first being their sound isn’t authentic, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. They’re simply rock bands that speak another language… I may like it because I am able to interpret their message and lyrics, I don’t see it catering to the rest of the world.

To finish up Filipino music is worth the listen if you have the time and patience to try to understand, but if you don’t then don’t bother. The bands that do get a shot on the radio hardly sound different, they sing about the same things as your American bands, which turns heads because Filipinos don’t know what it means to be American. The only way to improve our music is too look at ourselves and sing about what we stand for.

I know it’s 10 minutes long but if you appreciate classic rock, aspects of modern rock and/or guitar genius in general this is a video you guys should definitely check out. I decided to post it because I am an avid listener of this kind of music and can respect any guitarist who could make some sort of medley out of so many historic guitar riffs. You would probably recognise most of these riffs and maybe remember a parent blaring one of these songs. This will only help you further realise how good music was and how good its gotten. Overall good job by the Chicago Music Exchange, they have other cool videos if you decide to look em up on youtube.com