Summer 2015 has proven to be quite the summer, especially for the United States. In a little over a month, our southern states have been left harrowed by tragedies that will impact this nation for years to come. Amidst rising social, emotional, and political tensions, there has been one song in particular that has emerged preeminent months after its initial release.
While on the rise to anthem status, “Alright” has served as a catalyst to rejuvenate the morale of those who have felt the disparaging outlook of minorities in this country. Although considered one of the more upbeat tracks on Kendrick’s latest body of work, “Alright” explores a slew of melancholic themes laced with moments of genuine hopefulness. This volatile mixture creates the most visceral of reactions, that are as cacophonous as they are symphonic. Somewhere within the intensity of his vocal delivery, the meticulousness of his wordplay, and between the layers of Jazz, Motown and Hip Hop there is a foundation of honesty entrenched in his work. It is this honesty that allows us to trust and respect his art. As a master storyteller, Kendrick conjures explicit imagery with every word. “Alright” mirrors the layered experience of being human, and heavily combats the notion of respectability politics.(more…)
At 14 years of age Willow Smith does a lot more than just whip her hair. In a few short years, we have watched this young lady go from simply sharing her appetite for wonder to exploring topics in a way that people rarely share. It is remarkable to watch her growth and there is no better song to highlight that growth than ”Female Energy”.
Listening to “Female Energy” makes you feel as though you’re meditating somewhere above the Milky Way. The sound is tranquil with futuristic elements, and some of Willow’s ad-libs are reminiscent of spiritual chanting. It’s one of those songs on your playlist that you just relax and vibe to. Lyrically, the song is beautiful and contains a refreshing amount of thought and depth. It explores the process of letting your own energy manifest while learning how to let go.
Gemini season is upon us, and for some strange reason this season has birthed many of today’s beloved hip-hop favorites including Andre 3000, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to name a few. Regardless of how much you may like or dislike these artists, there’s one undeniable trait that these artists have in common – the ability to be unapologetically true to themselves. This trait can occasionally have negative side effects, but little is greater than knowing who you are, your gifts and flaws, and still having the courage to share those intimate components of self with the world. “Black Rage”, a song by a hip-hop artist, actress, songstress, and Gemini, Lauryn Hill, gives us a glimpse of the importance of self-knowledge and courage on the societal level.
Twice, both a song and an example of poetic brilliance, is only 4 stanzas long (two of which are a refrain) yet carries the weight and depth of a thousand stories. The poet within me is absolutely mesmerized by the artistry of pieces that are concise and poignant, yet engorged with layers of meaning. Almost anyone can find and/or lose themselves within the words because they’re ubiquitous in nature.
Each time you listen to this song you could take a different meaning from it based upon where you are in life. Once you add the instrumentals, a simultaneously soothing and gripping arrangement of soulful and ethereal sounds, the weight of that meaning is intensified. The foundation of it is a set of rich, deep and somber tones accompanied by lighter airy tones that make you think of water and bird song. Couple the track with the creative imagery of ‘Dreams from the Woods’ by Johannes Nyholm, and the song morphs into an experience. The counterbalance of it all is enchanting, haunting and yet heavily reminiscent of life. Each listen has the potential to touch you on a deeper level.
Echo Chambers is a love letter to not just the Spoken Word, but the Performed Word. The performed word includes everything from stage performance, visual art that uses words, and music. In the case of the latter, I’m a big fan of hip-hop and the lyricism at its essence.
I am not the only one, however. Despite the direction that hip-hop culture has been headed, there remain many worthy messages within the genre. Through Echo Chambers we intend to use this platform as means to explore these themes.
Co-written by Indigo B., Echo Chamber’s newest segment will explore the themes behind different songs in hip-hop as we share thoughts on the messages.