Some people go against the norm because they have a desire to express themselves. Music is one of a thousand ways a person can express themself. No one ever thinks of the future in terms of music and there have been all kinds of efforts to capture a sense of the future. I found it interesting, but it also made me think about where music comes from and what it might sound like in the future. One aspect of “new” music that I’ve found recently is in Kanye West’s album Yeezus.
Kanye West is a popular Hip Hop Artist and Producer so you would expect his album to have a distinct Hip Hop feel to it but it is not the case with his recent offering. This album has a lot of “foreign” influences as far as hip hop is concerned. With this being his sixth solo album, Kanye has in a way attempted to introduce a new edge to his music. One obvious influence in this particular album is electronic dance music. Generally, mixing house and electro with Hip Hop would result in a disaster… Of course, this will depend on how talented the particular producer is. I like what Kanye has done with this album, introducing ‘New Rules’ to the game as he calls it. He has defied a lot of stereotypes in terms of how a hip hop song should sound like and what constitutes a number one hit single. It’s no surprise that the album has drawn mixed reactions.
With that said, I still think the quality of music out in the world today is the best it has been in a long time. Bastille, One Republic, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Deep Xcape all have great albums out however none of them has gone against the acceptable formats of music production in their respective genres of music. This then brings makes me wonder:
Is there a place for Kanye West’s ‘futuristic sound’ in the present or has the self proclaimed musical genius lost it?
While researching this topic, I came across an influential Italian record producer, song writer and performer Giovanni Giorgio Moroder who has worked with a lot of legendary artists including the likes of Daft Punk on their recent album. Giorgio, as he is popularly known, was always ‘going against the norms in the 70s trying to “create a sound of the future”. Giorgio also believed that once you free your mind about what concept music is, you can do anything.
I agree with Giorgio on this one. Music can be defined in a number of ways, it all depends on what the particular artist constitutes as music. How it will be received by the public on the other hand, I think depends on who you are. I say this because listening to Yeezus; I realized that the type of sound Kanye is “experimenting” with currently is the exact same sound local artists such as Dirty Paraffin, OkMalumKoolKat and Spoek Mathambo have been producing throughout the years. Dirty Paraffin is a South African duo; their music is a mash-up of Kwaito, Maskandi and has a digital sound influence in it. They however describe themselves as the following: Dirty Paraffin is a shambeez visual/performance art outfit out to pomp positive vibes with this new smanje manje Kwaito Primus Stove. This shambeez visual, performance outfit is pure juice zifozonke ‘best for all perpose’.
Spoek Mathambo on the other hand is placed his smart, dirty vocals on top of electro-rap bangers. Spoek Mathambo sees himself as a part of a new wave of energy in Africa, which is intent on nurturing a sense of progressiveness while maintaining a pride in culture. His music, in my opinion, reflects what Kanye West is trying to do with his recent album, the fusion of electro beats with dirty lyrics (narcissistic in Kanye’s regard). Spoek Mathambo defines his music as Afro-futuristic.
Going against the norm, as I call it, proved fruitful for Spoek Mathambo abroad as he was offered collaboration deals with international artists. The international market was more receptive to his futuristic sound, more than what South Africans were. A small amount of people did of course enjoy and embrace his sound. Why is it then when Kanye West makes the same kind of music, an overwhelming majority of South African people describe it as “creative/artistic/ahead of it’s time”?
Does it have to do with a lack of confidence in our own musicians? I mean, what Kanye has done is nothing new musically. Local acts tried it and got no air play. This so called sound of the future, has been around…