Category Archives: Commentary

[EDM Origins House & Alternative:] Kaskade – Steppin’ Out // Kosheen – Same Ground Again


Kaskade is probably one of the most popular and sought-after American producers of electronic and house music. Chances are, if you watch TV, play video games or went to the movies you’ve heard one of his songs. His music is featured in many different forms of media, much akin to fellow EDM producers and DJs, like BT and Paul Oakenfold.

Our feature is one of Kaskade’s signature songs from the early 2000s, the completely chilled-out, smooth house single “Steppin’ Out

Kaskade is largely known for growing the house music scene in his hometown of Chicago in the early 2000s. Though Kaskade has varied in musical styles during his growth, as a whole, his music can be said to be fulfilling for the soul, or music to put you at ease. Much of his house music includes sultry female vocals alongside soft, harmonic melodies that become instantly recognizable, simply from their uniqueness. Take the song that introduced many, including myself to Kaskade, his absolutely astonishing remix of David Morales & Tamra Keenan’s “Here I Am” featured in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada.


Next up was a random song that my iPod shuffled to today. An EDM/progressive-house tune I bought and downloaded back when I was a senior in high school (2007). This one comes from Alternative Electronic band Kosheen, one of their bigger breakout singles, “Same Ground Again“. In fact, their whole 2007 EP, Damage is chock-full of good alternative-sounding electro music that still holds up today. Check it out above and see more from Kosheen at the links below:

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[Throwback] [Classic Wiz] Wiz Khalifa – Hopes and Dreams


Clearing out favorite bookmarks is about a tedious task as trying to clean up your e-mail (especially when your inbox basically permanently says 1000+ new messages), but sometimes you stumble across gems you forgot you favorited 2 years ago.

Re-stumbling across a review of one of my long-time favorite rappers (at least when we was underground) Wiz Khalifa‘s third studio album, first major-label EP Rolling Papers, which released to mixed reviews in 2011. While technically more than competent, the content and lyrics of the album were a departure from Wiz’s original style he expressed in his earlier mixtapes, like Kush & OJ, the legendary P.O.T.C. tapes or even B.A.R. (Burn After Rolling).

My initial reaction to the Spin review of the album was that the author was over-hyping this musical “fail” and stuck on the ability of a big budget to make a rapper’s album sound polished and “professional.” However, when he had brought up longtime favorites that really weren’t too bad, in fact Wiz had some sleeper hits on there as well, a few I agree with the author such as with “Rooftops” featuring Curren$y, “The Race,” one of the top tracks of the album, or Roll Up (the most mainstream but catchiest single by far. There were a few other songs I give 5 stars in my iTunes here: “Top Floor” with an addictive very-experimental beat, “Hopes and Dreams,” my personal favorite of the album, and “wake Up” all do more than enough justice to Wiz’s earlier works.

The remaining tracks, while not necessarily terrible, were not anything great either. I completely disagree with the SPIN article’s author opinion of “Fly Solo,” that song. was. just. terrible. Which is why today’s highlight will highlight “Hopes and Dreams” from Pittsburgh’s own. “Star of the Show” with fellow Taylor Gang label-mate Chevy Woods is also a standout, with that “chill” vibe Wiz is known for.

[Special Thanks:] iLLUMiNOUS music breaks top hit count from 2014!


Thank you to all those viewing, reading, sharing and supporting my blog, iLLUMiNOUS Music. Over a span of just 4 months, I have already broken my record of total number of hits for 2014.

Going further into 2015, I hope to continue to highlight and bring good music to those that are willing to listen, willing to experiment with things that are different and are willing to broaden their horizons. If there is anything anyone would like to see more of, do not hesitate to let me know!!

Thank you all,

-Darris

[Throwback REAL Hip-Hop:] Curren$y & Alchemist – Smoke Break // [Throwback REAL Hip-Hop:] The Roots – Criminal (feat. Saigon & Truck North)


Smoke Break – Curren$y & Alchemist

You can never go wrong with Curren$y, arguably one of the best indie/underground rappers out there. I was first introduced to the Hot $pitta, formally through Wiz Khalifa in their smash-hit, critically acclaimed mixtape How Fly. However I first heard of Curren$y in the mid 2000s when he rapped alongside Remy Ma and Young Money frontrunner Lil’ Wayne on the popular single, “Where Da Cash At.”

“Smoke Break” comes from another highly praised Curren$y mixtape, Covert Coup, which was produced by famed hip-hop producer The Alchemist.

Notable lyrics:
The style done got switched up

Cause the last one got bit up,
Yeah lil homie y’all can get down,
but I bet y’all can’t keep up!

Life Under the Scope – Curren$y

“Life Under the Scope” was also one of Curren$y’s early hit songs back when he was very much still Unsigned Hype. Many think Young Spitta has stayed true to his roots, while fellow rapper he came up with, Wiz Khalifa, has largely abandoned them (Blacc Hollywood does capture some of Wiz’s early spirit, but not enough). I, like many others, are still holding out for a How Fly 2.

Criminal – The Roots, Truck North & Saigon [REAL HIP-HOP]

Our next throwback is another real hip-hop jam, this one a collab between The Roots, Truck North & Saigon. “Criminal” has a very interesting beat, lyrics and feeling to it that makes me reminisce to the beginning of Fall or cold, wintry days.

Notable lyrics:
Monday, they predict the storm,
Tuesday, they predict the bang
Wednesday they cover the crash,
And I can see it’s all about cash

They got the nerve to hunt down my ass,
and treat me like a criminal…

[Funny Stuff/Memes] Oh Don’t Do It! Oh my god… BDotOMGMovement Vine


Oh Don’t Do it, OMG Dance Vine (original and compilation vines below:)

If you don’t know already and have been living under a rock, one of the newest Vine crazes is the “Oh Don’t Do it” / “Hoe Don’t Do It” OMG movement. I decided to do my own take on the song and dance, captioning my video with some funny comments. All jokes aside, the song has already hit viral/meme status and compilation videos on YouTube (like the one posted after the jump) are nearing 500,000+ to 1 million views.

The original video features a questionable black man getting ready to dance and asking his friend, the camera man if he is ready. His friend replies “BRUH just go for it right now, HERRY (hurry) UP!” A hip-hop/snap style instrumental plays in the background. Next the lyrics of the song say the now legendary “Oh/Hoe Don’t Do it! YAHH! Oh my god…” as the man from before proceeds to dance to the song. [NOTE: The original creator of this vine/song lyrics/movement is credited as to BDotAnthony5 or B.A. Brandon Armstrong, rapper, basketball player and fellow Chamblee High alum.

The video has become a meme of its own on Vine and several other social media platforms. There are several compilations featuring the song, many with a person or something about to happen, then at the “YAAAHH!! OMG!” the person usually does something disagreeable, gets smacked, a FAIL ensues, or just a general statement where you would see something and say “Oh my gawd,” and then probably shake your head in disapproval. The very hilarious trend is catching on, and has a song of it’s own and remixes.

UPDATE 5/18/15: I discovered the origin of this song and why it’s so damn funny! It was originally a song by unsigned hype rap group The Krew titled “Krew-Libs” a track they made simply for fun with random ad-libs to a beat.

[The Glass Half-Full/Positivity]: A Media Analysis of “Gas Pedal” by Sage the Gemini SOAPBOX Post


So, I wrote this paper (see below) for my media and popular culture class last week that apparently was really good. I decided to analyze a song I’m very familiar with, “Gas Pedal” (the original and SALVA remix are on my tablet now) by Sage the Gemini. I kind of took an idea and ran with it and was unsure if my paper was any good at all, in fact I thought it was terrible. My professor graded it and thought it was excellent and wanted me to post it as an example. This completely turned my day around, as I was not expecting that kind of feedback.

Surprise, surprise.

Sometimes you can think that what you do doesn’t matter, isn’t good enough, or is not up to par. We get so caught up in things that we do wrong, we don’t always notice what it is we do right. In this aspect we all need to be glass “half-full” people and not “half-empty.” There is some truth to “willing” something into existence.

This scenario is common in college students; normal ones, and especially those with depression or other mood disorders. The classic example is the girl who freaks out about a math/chemistry/english test thinking she failed and she’s no good and then she gets an A.

all-night cram session.
How I usually feel when I study.

When we let doubt and criticism get the best of us, we don’t do things at all. How can you be good or bad at something if you never try, and how can you improve? I am guilty of this myself in other aspects of life, though I’m working on changing that. Our perfectionist society demands a lot and reminds me of a good article I read called “F*** Perfectionism” that basically said if we all were perfect the world would suck and be boring.

Another great example is the new SuperBowl commercial from Coke where the soda spilling on an Internet mainframe caused people viewing negative comments about themselves to see them positively and smile. The commercial was a bit random but it’s underlying message is powerful. Be happy, be positive, be confident, turn your negatives into positives, always.


Media Representation Study 1

                The media plays an important role in society, specifically the music industry which surrounds us in everyday life, advertisements, TV programs, concerts and many more activities. Music can tell us how to think, feel and even behave through its messages and meanings. This analysis will consist of the popular Hip-Hop song “Gas Pedal featuring Iamsu” by the artist Sage the Gemini. The themes and motifs of the video will be analyzed in the Frame Setting theory of mass communication. (Music video at: http://youtu.be/X8LUd51IuiA)

Sage the Gemini’s rap single “Gas Pedal,” achieved mainstream success after its release in early 2013. Not only is the song popular (with +55 million views on Youtube) it has also spurred an Internet “meme” of its own with people doing the “Gas Pedal” dance. Dominant stereotypical themes of rap music appear present such as when the rappers command a female to “slow down, then wiggle like [she’s] trying to make [her] a** fall off” then “speed up, gas pedal” in the lyrics.

The power of the male over the female is reinforced in the music video with many women appearing with their faces obscured by red hoods. The women all wear short skirts and dresses, while the rappers are dressed quite formally in suits. These “faceless” women stand around Sage the Gemini as he appears to sit on a throne. His “subjects” stand silently at attention unless “commanded” to dance as one woman does near the end of the song.

The ideas that rappers are cool, have a lot of power and influence and can make people (especially women) do what they want are very present. Despite the simplistic, mildly raunchy lyrics, the rappers appear in formal dress, possibly to make their message a bit more acceptable. One of the rappers appears on a throne in the music video, with women surrounding him, framing him more as a king, than for example a pimp or “player.”

Furthering their power over the listener to dance in a certain way is the popular meme of the “Gas Pedal” dance. The meme consists of people, mostly female but some male, dancing suggestively to the song, usually in the style of twerking. While in other environments twerking would seem inappropriate, when “Gas Pedal” is playing it becomes completely acceptable. (See:  Gas Pedal Vine Dance FULL http://youtu.be/JvAf2HJcjRA)

The rappers framing of themselves as cool, the notion of women as objects or symbols, and the acceptability of the “dance” are strong and largely successful. The popularity of the song has even led to it being re-appropriated into an educational song. A popular YouTube video made by a middle school science teacher parodies “Gas Pedal” with his students rapping, dancing and striking cool poses while rapping about metal. (See: “That’s Metal” http://youtu.be/BlBKsbCLY24 ).

The changing of the lyrics makes an otherwise inappropriate song OK for a group of mostly Caucasian teenagers to cover. Reflecting the ideas that cursing in rap is fine or OK, one of the students (though censored by silence) raps “They [metals] conduct electricity too, light it on fire. That sh– burn blue!” In all these cases the rappers have used framing of their media to their advantage.

Written by and solely owned by Darris Pope except for licensed material such as songs and pictures used under fair use for critique and study. Use without permission is prohibited.

Happy MLK Day!


Happy MLK Day!

Georgia State University professor’s comment on progress made; what MLK would say today

Professor’s Response to the Progress Made as a Nation

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! My school put out a very interesting article on MLK Day with responses from several Georgia State University Professors sounding off about the progress we’ve made, and how MLK would feel about this day if he were here. I believe it started with the second professor referencing that infamous or highly hilarious (depending on your viewpoint) episode of “The Boondocks” (and also highly controversial) where MLK was actually in a coma and re-awakens in the late 2000s only to find he can’t vote, is criticized for his nonviolent approaches (in a post 9/11 MUST GET AL-QAIDA) world, and has to deal with some ‘less-than-savory” black people.

I actually didn’t have much problem with the episode when it aired, though I was younger then (ehh maybe a freshman or sophomore in college as opposed to a 5-year senior) but I thought only the ending where King cursed and uses racial epithets was slightly over the line. This episode while controversial, was not banned on US television airwaves (only an episode about Tyler Perry and BET studios were banned in this season of ‘The Boondocks’).

While we still have far to go, we can at least admit some change has happened. Everyone likes to point to what’s still wrong with America, but how ’bout we look at what’s still right? How ’bout we smile at all the little kids who have multi-racial friends, the little white boy who is best friends with a black kid, the now white teenager who dates a teenage black girl (some don’t even like this!!) the white person who has grown up in an urban environment, knows all the rap songs and more slang than I do. The reverse side, the black kid or family who has grown up in the country and embraces every part of it just as much as their white counterparts.

Though we still have changes to make, these scenarios happen more and more everyday. And not necessarily even because people want to, but because of moves, economics or other reasons they have to, and these days we have more people going along with it, then stirring conflict because of this integration. Take a moment and think about something you are grateful for that may or may not have been possible without the work of Dr. King.

Cheers,

Darris Pope