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Audio: Jay Fenix – Feels Good featuring Ari Lennox

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Big shout outs go out to all my Audio Junkies; once again it’s on!

Today’s Audio Fix is some serious heat from The Hybrid Label’s Jay Fenix, a music producer with some serious chops, who’s worked with industry powerhouses like Melanie Fiona. It features the soul songstress and Washington, DC native: Ari Lennox. The title of this track — “Feels Good” — epitomizes the energy and direction of this 50s era-, Motown-inspired track. As soon as the song opens, I am immediately induced to produce the warmest grin a gangster ever had.

Ari Lennox’s voice is absolutely magic on this track; the singer sustains a silky smooth timbre that sprawls astride a powerful vocal performance awash in a rich and flawless alto. This record displays the perfect symbiotic relationship between old school foundation and modern exterior; as the tune more than succeeds in maintaining its tandem of Top 40 appeal and classic doo wop sensibility — à la Diana Ross and the Supremes — to provide a musical masterpiece that manages to come across as familiar, organic and fresh — all at the same… damn… time.

“Oh you, I couldn’t manage; cause your loving me, loving me, loving me — oh! Don’t know what’s happening to me. So good, I can not speak.”

It is no coincidence that Jay Fenix’s production has backed some of the music industry’s notable heavyweights; nor is it any accident that Ari Lennox has been tapped by MTV’s journalists as an artist to be on the lookout for. Together, the two form a dynamic duo; these guys are on fire! I’m not the one to typically make these types of assertions in a blog, but somebody needs to get Andre 3 Stacks on this remix immediately.

Amidst the vapid climate of today’s entertainment industry; between the morose attitudes that we so often offer to one another and against the continuous doses of macabre delivered to us daily under the guise of current events across our globe, a song such as this — that genuinely inspires good vibrations — is so dearly needed. Kudos.

“And it feels so good now; said, ‘it feels so good now.’ Yes, it feels so good now; said, ‘it feels so good now.’”

Do yourself the favor of letting your starving ears get these audio drugs!

You already know me. I am your pusher man, @Legasey Get with me next fix.

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Starving Artist Suggestions No. 2: The Curse of Being Gifted

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There is a behavior that some of us independent artists exhibit – I call it the “I Don’t Wanna” syndrome. I’ve been this guy before. You know this moralistic viewpoint; it’s the artist that proudly proclaims that he could make “a million” trap beats or that she could write “a thousand” pop songs, but — to put it simply — they “don’t wanna”.

Voldemort-spell-avada-kedavra-harry-potter-14771461-500-335So please, tell me again why you make music? Is music something you do strictly for stress relief – is it a cathartic means to blow off steam? Do you spend hours crafting and perfecting the music you make just so that you can later listen to the sound recordings of yourself or of your productions?

Or do you make the music with aspirations of intriguing the listener; of leaving the listener inspired, awe struck and engaged; with dancing visions in your mind’s eye of a crowd-filled room, participants engorged with the most intensive of energies – the lips of each attendee raucously spilling forth every one of your painstakingly-crafted lyrics right down to the last drop?

pigeonThe reason I ask is because, as artists, we can sometimes find ourselves pigeonholed into creating the music that we specifically value, or into producing the type of stuff that we want to hear – and there is nothing inherently wrong with that – but I must ask: if you’re focus is creating the music that you want to hear, then why do you have aspirations of releasing it for others’ consumption?

I mean, music is a gift – and I understand that your music can undoubtedly be one of your most personal and unrequited gifts to the world – but the question still begs to be answered: when you give someone that thoughtful gift – deep down from the bottom of your heart – do you give them the type of gift that YOU like; even if it isn’t the type of gift that THEY would?

bob-marley-quoteBob Marley once said, “Live for yourself and you will live in vain. Live for others, and you will live again.” That is some serious food for your thought and nourishment for your soul. See you next post!

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Starving Artist Suggestions No. 1: Please Stop Seeking The Advice Of Profits

#StarvingArtistSuggestions
The “Starving Artist Suggestions” is a blog designed to give hard-working independent musicians and independent music executives insightful, honest and frank information that will make positive differences in their careers. @Legasey

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Music Video: Ziggy Lovah – Undercover featuring D-Locz

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Salute, Audio Junkies! Alright, alright, alriiight (Kevin Hart voice) – this Video Fix is going to satisfy the guilty pleasures of all my Audio Junkies who are diehard Trapaholics. It’s all here for you: sing-song verses, mind-wiping 808 basslines and kicks – and “no love for these hoes”. This number, entitled “Undercover”, is brought to you by way of New Mexico’s Ziggy Lovah and D-Locz, with a visual produced by Palamora TV.

Palamora is one to be on the lookout for – the clever use of composition, lighting and delay effects in this piece make it a fun-to-watch music video although the entire video takes place on a singular set and uses a minimal amount of jump cutting.

The ingenious use of the movie theater floor lighting, as well as the use of theater popcorn and the theater’s internal structures as props – such as the theater screen and seating – keep the observer engaged as Ziggy’s crooning and D-Locz’ melodic raps overlay the bass-laden production by Koof.

The soundtrack here is standard fare, delivering the driving, syncopated rhythms that one would grow accustomed to expecting from today’s “trap” sound. Ziggy’s tenor-alto flits lightly across the track in the pentameter of Aaliyah’s “One In A Million”:

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“She’s been cheating on the low. Can we get down – slow it up for a minute? She said, ‘we can get it on.’ [We] might get every sexual healing.”

Excoriating the actions of any would-be knight in shining armor, D Locz’ subject matter and sing-song rhyming complements Ziggy’s balladeering well:

“I’m not her bae, I’m not her boo. I’m not her man, I’m not her dude. I’m nothing to that chick. All I do is give her d**k – nothing more, nothing less.”

Palamora’s professional use of lighting and composition – not only in this video, but also displayed in other music videos on his Palamora TV YouTube channel – show a consistency and an eye for detail that are not always so readily present in the works we see from independent filmmakers. This cinematographer is without a doubt someone to keep an eye on – pun intended.

I am your pusher man @Legasey; see you next Fix!

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Audio: BoyGenius – Pretty And Younger But Not Better Off featuring Villz

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I must admit, that with this track’s early onset of lo-fi production – a mix of droning wobbles, a dirty bass and a distorted clicking sound – I was a bit put off at what seemed to be an opening to an 8-bit-inspired, electronica song. As the throbbing bass kick and off-kilter, pitch-bent crooning began to make their way onto the track, a puzzled expression crossed my face. I stared down at the song’s Soundcloud artwork on my Android’s dimly lit screen; the artwork is what seems to be a series of green-glowing, disembodied mannequin heads. “What the hell am I about to hear?” Then Villz lets loose a falsetto riff – accompanied by a series clockwork ticks, blips, bleeps and bubbles that all conspired – to offer what I have to tell you Audio Junkies is certified audio CRACK.

“I know what you’re doing. Blood stains dripping from your nose, baby. You know you should do better.”

boygeniusVillz’ sultry alto delivers every ounce of the dark and sinister image that I mentally conjure as I imagine the more unscrupulous side of California’s entertainment industry depicted in the performer’s lyrics.

The craftily-spun lyrics send my senses into a whirling frenzy; I can almost feel the crisp waft of warm afternoon air run across my skin on a sixty-degree California afternoon, as lavish cars – and even more lavish women – drift swiftly by; I can all but envision the young, wanna-be starlet’s running mascara as she slouches into the dingy corner of the restaurant; I can practically taste the stale stench of sweat and cigarette smoke as it pervades the jam-packed dive bar. I’m spirited away, becoming a fly-on-the-wall observer as the performer narrates tales of the fly-by-night, darker aspects of Hollywood’s dueling dichotomies.

Then the song takes a turn – a trap-inspired drum rhythm usurps what was initially a driving 4/4 pattern. Villz follows suit, quickening his pentameter and inserting additional syllables against what has become a monstrous combination of trap music, R&B sensibility and eclectic production.

“She just wants to sleep on Hollywood Hills. She can’t imagine how good it all feels. She just want to be famous; an A-list. Everyone already knows what her name is – in Hollywood.”

The harmony selections and vocal performance are impeccable. The editing and vocal processing are often subtle and then at opportune times, become in-your-face and unabashed, providing the perfect offset for the torrid, dark and melodious production. “Pretty And Younger But Not Better Off” is a DOPE record. The production from the duo of Aaron Harmon and Jordan Reyes, who form the production team called BoyGenius, is second to none. An expertly-balanced menagerie of patches and samples serve as a spot-on backdrop for Villz’ vocal sound – as Villz provides the listener an astute combination of contemporary appeal and substantive lyrics that us Audio Junkies so often find lacking.

I could continue to laud over how much I like this song, but at this point, I’ve already done too much talking (typing?); let your anxious ears feast on these audio drugs and get your fix – until next time…

As always, I’m your pusher @Legasey!

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Audio: Josh Arthur – Psalm 151

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What’s great, Audio Junkies?

Today’s Audio Fix comes courtesy of The Arven Group’s Josh Arthur, with “Psalm 151”; a gritty, tongue-in-cheek testimony-slash-apppeal to the man above for clemency from the daily trials and tribulations of existence.

Preceded by hip-hop producer Penacho’s airy pads and theremin-inspired lead synth, Arthur wastes no time – foregoing any introductions and diving immediately into a fervent plea to “the man upstairs”.

Over rapid-fire hi-hats, a darting snare and seering kick drum, the artist’s vocal stylings toggle between a weary and restless appeal for leniency to a manic and aggressive petition for power, as Arthur makes the obfuscatory sermon that is to be expected from a hymn bearing the title “Psalm 151”:

“You know the best version of me; can I have that? Oh please, oh please – can I be what you want me to be? Can I dream what you want me to dream? Can I see what you want me to see?”

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 12.23.07 PMWithout use of profanity or much reference to violence or criminality, Josh Arthur’s almost stream of consciousness poetry is at times hard to decipher – is this is a plea for redemption or a request for favor amongst the other contestants on the battlefield? This duality delivers a soliloquy that on one hand resembles a church-pew testimony and on another is eerily reminiscent of every street hustler’s late night prayer for reprieve from the everyday struggle:

 

“I’m ‘bout that life, I’m ’bout that life, Lord – if it means I can be like you.”

“I don’t wanna do this no mo’. Living this life in slo mo; coming up short like Romo – thought I’d wanna bounce like pogos.”

This track should definitely keep you Audio Junkies wired until the next fix:
As always… I’m your friendly neighborhood pusher @Legasey – see you next Audio Fix!

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Starving Artist Suggestions No.1: Please Stop Seeking The Advice of Profits

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Dear Starving Artist,

Please stop listening to the digital distribution sites and musicians’ blogs that try to convince you that it makes sense to “keep all of your rights” or “keep more of your percentage” of revenue. It is a marketing ploy.

Because while you are not only keeping more of your “percentage of revenue”, you’re also keeping more of the percentage of the tasks and burdens that are inherent to the process of growing a business – and undervaluing or underestimating the time and monetary costs of these types of burdens is an action that can stifle your business and your career in a long-term and/or terminal way.

You’ll never see a McDonald’s franchise owner working the register so that she can “keep more of her percentage” of profits. Keeping 100% of ten sales is not a better proposition than keeping 10% of a hundred sales. “Going it alone” is a surefire way to stagnate your progress. Money will come and money will go. Now is not the time to concentrate on your profits; now is the time to concentrate on growing your business. You can pay a team’s salary, but you can’t buy teamwork.images-1

#StarvingArtistSuggestions
The “Starving Artist Suggestions” is a blog designed to give hard-working independent musicians and independent music executives insightful, honest and frank information that will make positive differences in their careers. @Legasey