Tag Archives: Jonwayne

The Best Beat Tapes of 2018

2018-best-of-Beat Tape-1244Since I started this column, I’ve aimed to broaden and elevate the definition of a beat tape. I wanted to ensure that any record labeled as such isn’t written off as somehow inherently lesser than an “instrumental album.” Ideally, each column has illustrated just how thin that pretentious distinction has always been. The albums I’ve selected as the best of the year accomplish this feat, and more. Some prove that the power drums and the right sample will remain undiminished forever. Others present wholly original compositions, the instrumentation looped or played in concert with the rest of the arrangement. And others, of course, operate in the middle, preserving the formal elements of the beatmaking past as they incorporate them into forward-thinking productions. In short, all of these records affirm the richness of instrumental beat music—its history, its immersiveness, and its ability to encapsulate our world while creating new ones.

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Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Albums of 2017: #60 – 41

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We’ll be revealing the full list, 20 albums at a time, this whole week.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding. These are the Best Albums on Bandcamp in 2017.

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The Best Beat Tapes on Bandcamp

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Scroll to the bottom of Bandcamp.com; click on the ‘hip-hop/rap’ tag, then on the ‘beat-tape’ tag. Wade through and see what’s there. Pretty daunting, right? The list you’re about to read is the result of painstaking research from Bandcamp Daily contributors, who took extra steps to find new producers doing amazing things with their music. This isn’t a list of the usual suspects; rather, we wanted to dig deeper to find composers who need a closer look. Without further adieu, here are some of the very best beat tapes on Bandcamp.

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A Walk Through The Avant-Garde World of ‘Art Rap’ Music

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Illustrations by Daiana Ruiz

Coined by Chicago native Open Mike Eagle in the early aughts, “art rap” was originally a reactionary phrase, one that responded directly to the subgenre of “art rock” and implied that the standard set of sonic or lyrical conventions did not apply. On another level, it was a way to distinguish his music from the music that fell under broad and nebulous labels like “hip-hop” and “underground rap,” which are sometimes embraced by rappers and listeners who believe that anything that doesn’t explicitly champion “real hip-hop” is, well, you know—the opposite.

“Having studied the history of American pop music and black music, it’s appalling where we are now,” Eagle told L.A. Weekly in 2010. “That’s why I wanted to give my music another term, something to differentiate itself from the pack. You can’t call everything ‘hip-hop.’ I was listening to rock music, and it struck me that a lot of the rock I liked was called ‘art rock.’ I started wondering why they had a genre where they can do whatever the fuck they want to do, and rappers are scorned if they don’t have enough machismo.”

Today, art rap is even a tag on this website. To sum it up (albeit reductively), art rap is avant-garde rap music that is antithetical to terrestrial radio station playlists. (That’s not always the case—records by artists like Kendrick Lamar certainly push the boundaries of rap.) More broadly, the subgenre has some identifying characteristics, including but not limited to: left field, forward-thinking production, unconventional song structures and cadences, songs written from the perspective of fictional characters, explicit and protracted engagement with social and political issues, and absurdist metaphors and similes.

From the description above, it should be clear that labeling a song/album “art rap” does not mean that it’s only that. Nor are any of those characteristics necessarily new. The list of art rap forebears is long, spanning from west coast jazz-rap progenitors Freestyle Fellowship to one-time Def Jukies like El-P, Aesop Rock, and Cannibal Ox. The list below features 12 rappers whose output—either recent or career-long—meets some of the above criteria. Most, if not all of them, have worked with at least one other rapper on the list in some capacity. This overlap was not intentional, but its existence affirms the artists’ aesthetic kinship, the reality that art rap has always been and will continue to flourish.

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A Near-Death Experience Influenced Jonwayne’s New Album

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On May 25, 2014, Jonwayne woke up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in his throat. He was drunk and couldn’t breathe. “I scrambled in the dark to reach the sink in my hotel room,” the rapper-producer wrote in a searing open letter he posted to Facebook. “I drank from the faucet and the burning subsided. I turned the lights on. My bed was covered in vomit. I sat in the nearest chair in silence, then I cried.”

Wayne has a crippling fear of flying, so much so that he couldn’t get on a plane unless he was sedated or had been drinking. He’d recently returned from a two-month stint in Europe and was slated to fly back to the continent soon after. Wayne felt like he was suffocating when he woke up that night. It could’ve been his last day alive. “What I gathered is that I was asphyxiating on my own vomit,” Wayne told journalist Max Bell in a new, self-released interview book. “And if I hadn’t woken up I would’ve died.”

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