Okay, I’m going to assume you’re behind on your work. Way behind. Whether it’s your desire to succeed or your fear of failure driving you forward, you’re going to need some tunes to listen to while you study. Here are some recommendations from Sunspots and friends.
“One day, I just went through Spotify’s chill/study genre and copied like 20 playlists worth of music from there.
People generally agree that music has an impact on mental health and our moods, whether through numerous studies that show correlations between music, relaxation and improved mental health, or through countless Twitter memes about sad Drake songs. Some people even program music around their lives, listening to certain music in the morning to pump themselves up for the day, or calming music at night to sleep. One of the most intriguing explorations of music’s cognitive impact has been the incorporation of music into mental health treatment. Music therapy, as it’s called, is not meant to cure mental health issues on its own, but can help alleviate some of the pain involved with certain symptoms, as well as augment actual cures such as medication. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are four major components to music therapy: lyric analysis, improv music playing, active music listening and songwriting.
Sampling in hip hop and rap has been done over and over again, adding a layer of background vocals and richness to the beat. Samples come from a broad range of musical genres: DJ Khaled sampled Maria Maria by Carlos Santana for his hit song Wild Thoughts, and Drake sampled indie singer Snoh Aaelegra for his introspective number Do Not Disturb. But among all the famous rappers within the past two decades, the one that stands out as the most prolific and expert sampler of them all is Kanye West. He drew inspiration mainly from classic RnB hits of the 80s and 90s, and many of his songs, both new and old, are expertly produced with great sampling. Since Kanye actually started out in the music industry as a producer (here’s a list I found of 20 songs you didn’t know Kanye produced), he kept his talent for producing beats even when he went spinning off into his solo career.
One of my lovely friends—I don’t know what I would do without him—recently introduced me to “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” a piece from Sampha’s debut album Process. The song’s title quite literally captures the essence of it, in which the British songwriter repeatedly croons, “No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home.”
Like Sampha (“And you drop-topped the sky, oh you arrived when I was three years old”) and countless others, I began playing the piano at an early age—seven, to be exact. Even now, I can still see myself seated in front of the golden piano in the basement of my apartment, the keys neatly spread out in front of me, my fingers stumbling through each step of the C Major scale as my teacher’s hands hover above mine, the disparities in size and skill both apparent. By first grade, I had found a new teacher who would place a white eraser on the back of each hand as I struggled to read through a single line. With time and practice, my indifference began to shift into a tentative love.
With the 2018 Winter Olympics well underway, many have found inspiration to hit the gym and keep their New Year’s resolution well and alive. Here’s a playlist inspired by the music of the Olympics, whether it’s a song endorsed by athletes themselves or played during competition. Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Migos: Post-interview, Chloe Kim was asked what music she was listening to between her runs, and she responded with “Toxic” and “Paparazzi” by Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Afterwards, she included “Motorsport” by Migos ft. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B as one of her pump-up songs.
The past couple months have seen some exciting new music releases in the hip hop world. Between Drake’s new singles, Migos new album and so many more new projects coming out, there’s a lot to digest and review. In this article I want to take apart a few of the more popular releases.
Drake – “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”
Drake released two new singles, “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”, quietly one Friday night (January 20th, 2018). Despite being a complete surprise to fans and the general public, God’s Plan rocketed to the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2015, Jay-Z purchased Tidal for a cool 56 million dollars, touting it as a streaming platform “controlled by the artists”. Now, his Tidal holdings have boosted his net worth to make him the 2nd richest hip hop artist in the world, right behind Sean Combs and surpassing Dr. Dre. However, users were initially uneasy to use the service, preferring instead to use free subscription services such as Spotify (with ads), scroll through songs on Soundcloud, or illegally download music. Tidal was launched with an ideological purpose: to give artists more power in pricing their music, and with any such move it has drawn both praise and criticism. Given that the majority of music listeners are college students/millennials with little cash to spare, the validity of Tidal as a major music streaming service is dubious.
This year, Cardi B exploded onto the rap scene with “Bodak Yellow” after remaining relatively unknown, though she did have a large Instagram following and became a regular cast member on a reality TV show, Love & Hip Hop, New York, in 2015. Due to “Bodak Yellow”’s success, Cardi B became the first female rapper to, unassisted, hit Number 1 on the Billboard charts (other female rappers only reached Number 1 with features on their songs). She most recently began involving herself in social issues, arguing that she was kicked out of a hotel due to her race, and instigating social justice issues using her fame. Despite this, however, I don’t see Cardi B sustaining success for much longer. One reason why “Bodak Yellow” became popular, other than sending a powerful message for independent women of color, is that it sounds incredibly similar to Kodak Black’s “No Flockin”.