Earlier this week,a friend of mine put me up on this Lo-fi Hip Hop playlist on Spotify. I thought it was a'ight, but I kept finding weird similarities in all the songs to the point that it was like there was a meme, and I just found out about the joke.
Basically, all the songs sound like ideas for songs that weren't quite finished, and then somebody found out about the genre called Lo-Fi and just put their unfinished beats out with Distortion and wobbly effects or whatever. Another thing that I noticed is that there's a lot of anime elements to these videos on YouTube. A lot of songs have looped anime clips that are about 5 seconds long, or just a looped anime gif. I'm cool with that part, as it has nothing to do with the recording. But the part that makes me laugh is when it's clearly a sample taken from an anime movie. A lot of the samples are that really cheesy jazz music that you hear on 80's and 90's anime movies, taken during one of the peaceful scenes when the character goes back home for a day or something like that.
But for my mind, it's not good enough to just have a rudimentary, drive-by understanding of a genre. All of the modern Lo-Fi beats that I've listened to in the last few days are simplistic MPC style drum beats over Funk bass lines and Jazzy chord progressions, usually a sample from a old jazz song that's been looped and distorted. That seems to be the paint-by-numbers formula for most of these playlists. This takes me back to the days of emo, when I was trying to find out exactly what "Emo" meant. To this day, it's more of an aesthetic than anything with real meaning. It was never explained to me, but rather revealed as a bunch of pretentious and cynical hipsters making esoteric references to one another and pretending that everything is an offensive joke, to the point of Campiness (in the original use of the word).
So I did what any other person would do when they discover a new idea. I created a ignorant Meme and took to Facebook to see what kind of response is I would get. And boy did that work.
After the few brief conversations I had with friends, I realized that I was going to have to do some research myself. Thankfully, I didn't have to do a whole lot of research. I read about four or five articles talking about Lo-Fi , mostly articles that transitioned into promotion of their favorite Lo-Fi artists. I also read the Wikipedia page and all of the examples that it gave. I walked away from that bit of research with a better understanding of what I think we're dealing with.
The Lo-Fi craze seems to be split in three different directions. It's most current iteration is the Lo-Fi hip hop which is a combination of artificially Lo-Fi recordings mixed with jazz and chilled hip hop beats. The other iteration is ambient or chill music with similar qualities. Neither of these iterations are what have interested me the most. Although, I must confess I do enjoy some of the chill hip hop beats, but that doesn't necessarily make them Lo-Fi.
The thing about Lo-Fi is that it's a philosophy, and a mentality that you bring to production. It's the rebel opinion that you don't need to have the best of the best when it comes to equipment and gear. It's the rebel mentality that says you're going to do this project come hell or high water. It doesn't matter if you fully understand how to use your recording gear, any more than it matters whether or not it's thunderstorming or there's a dog outside barking. You're just going to use what you have, and you're going to roll with the punches.
Lo-Fi recordings are generally done on low budget equipment, or unorthodox equipment that isn't necessarily intended for professional audio recordings. You might get some sounds on a handheld tape recorder and hold it up to your microphone, hiss and all. Your mics might pick up the squeak on your chair or from the floorboards. You might get you breathing. You may accidentally hit the mic stand. It might be raining outside. You might have someone running around upstairs chasing after a toddler. These are all things that could show up in your recording.
In my opinion, Lo-Fi is the punk rock equivalent to high-quality recording. And I think that's a good thing. The only thing that makes a Lo-Fi recording good is the musicianship and the composition that goes into the recording. Everything else is flawed and full of imperfections. Imagine if you recorded a whole song using nothing but the First Take. This is the mentality were talking about when we get into Lo-Fi territory.
It's understanding of Lo-Fi gives me a big relief because I've done things like this in the past, especially on my first album. When I first started recording music my first album was terribly recorded with a microphone that I found Under the Staircase at my grandmother's house while I was cleaning her basement. I use that microphone for the entire album, and there is all kind of hissing and pops and clicks and background noise and a bunch of other crap. But what was important to me was that I get these ideas out of my head and on to the recording.
Now that I understand this as a Lo-Fi mentality, I'm much more proud of my earlier works and I may actually post it on Choon or something like that. Lo-Fi isn't perfect, and it shouldn't sound clean. So, the next time you hear me making fun of chill hip hop beats for claiming to be Lo-Fi, maybe you'll have a better understanding of what I'm teasing.
All the same, you can check out the Lo-Fi playlist I made while exploring all this. It aight...
If you listen this week, you'll have noticed that I went on something of a tirade at the beginning of the show. Not my usual form, but there's really something in the air that needs to be addressed and I believe it's up to us, the artists, to address it.
1) Jesus Music
I get a lot of music submissions from different types of bands and musicians, and a lot them get tossed because they're not actually Christian songs. Now, personally I don't have any problem with positive music, or inspirational music. I think that stuff is great. I actually make music like that myself. But the sole purpose for this particular podcast is to Showcase amazing Christian music. And there are so many people who spend their time making amazing other kinds of music.
Why does it get rejected?
It's really disappointing to me when I spend a bunch of time getting to know someone, and learning how amazing their Ministry is, only to find out that they don't even mention Christ in their music. It's even more disappointing when the music is anti-biblical in theme, but is more on the self-help Guru side of things. I feel that there's so much noise in competition that we need to be pointing people directly the Christ so that we can help his kingdom grow. So while I understand why we all make different kinds of music, I tried to prioritize the music that is strictly Christian themed.
It doesn't mean that it needs to be hymns and praise songs all the time. Although I do love that stuff. But we need more music talking about real life, but from a Christian perspective. Even if you're talking about your Christian struggles, it's much more real than anything that the self-love crowd is doing.
2) Support and Engagement
I'm all about giving everyone a fair chance. But it's true that even I look for musicians with a high engagement. it gives me much more confidence that these are musicians who will share out posts when podcast like mine give them some love. It's funny that metal bands are the most active supporters of our program right now. When you show a metal band love or give them a review or something like that, they are publicly gracious and are sure to let all their fans know. To be quite honest, our pages with the most engagement and the highest traffic are those of metal bands on our website, because they're the most active supporters of their own work.
I find that to be surprising and I think we can all learn from metal bands in this respect. I try to make it a point to share out links and posts on my other social networks whenever I'm tagged in something by a publication. Not only is it a good way to say thank you to the publication, but it's also a great way to let your fans know that their support of you matters and is making an impact. Let your friends know that they are a part of something by sharing your successes with them.
I'm no only looking to see if You are popular, and have lots of support. I'm also looking to see how well you support others.
3) ID3 Tagging
Something that studio musicians are a lot better at than live musicians, is tagging and ID3 tags. A lot of times I just forget about songs all together because it's not tagged, or it comes off of a CD as track 1 or track 2 and has never been tagged. Sometimes it may just say the name of the song something like "Song_Name_MASTER" and I often can't even remember who the name of the artist is so instead of embarrassing myself on the program I just won't play that song.
The artists who take the time to tag their music not only have their song name and artist name, but they also have a picture that helps me to recognize them when I'm trying to quickly search through my computer for the next song. This is really helpful to me, and I'm sure it's helpful to other DJs.
4) Replay Value
For most of us, music is a communal experience. It's something that brings us together. It's even something that we share with strangers. That's because music brings us to an emotional place, and moves us spiritually. At the same time, there was a lot of really good music that is brilliant lyrically, or is novel because it was a good idea that no one ever thought of, but unfortunately these songs don't have much replay value. A clever song, a good sounding song, a personal song isn't always a song that people will want to listen to as a group.
I do try to make a point to continue to replay songs throughout the weeks, but I honestly find myself gravitating toward songs that have more Community appeal. It's a difficult task to take into consideration when you choosing which single you're want to promote, and to be honest it's not even something that I've mastered myself. But I think it's a conversation we need to be having as a community.
5) Quality and Production
The final thing that helps me to prioritize music is the quality and the production value. There are quite a few songs that I like that I don't play on the show because they're just not professional recordings. At the same time, there are songs that I've mixed and mastered myself that don't meet these requirements so I don't play them on the show. I'm not trying to be bias on the program, but I do look to production quality.
If you're having a hard time, it may be something that you need to consider outsourcing. You can always submit a song to The Snack Bar Sounds Christian Music Showcase, Mondays at 8pm (on facebook live), and get a solid Christian producer to listen to your music and give helpful feedback. Often these other review sites just tell you that they don't like something for arbitrary reasons, but Mike Mills isn't like that at all. He always gives deep thoughtful advice and sometimes the hard truth.
Honest reviews and good advice are invaluable resources that help us to build a strong catalog and an even stronger community. There's no value in trying to do it by yourself when there are people who can help you who also seek to help you serve Christ in the best way.
BONUS - Genre
I wasn't going to put this one but I decided to go ahead. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people think that I just want to play all of the coolest trendiest music, when really I'm always looking for Niche, eclectic, and obscure music to share with people as well. My podcast is an exploration of today's Christian music, and I want people to know what's out there. I play contemporary Christian, hymns, traditional music, instrumentals, country, pop, hip-hop, electronic, metal, rock, dubstep, and a bunch of other stuff I probably don't even know how to identify. If it glorifies Christ, and fits the criteria above, I'm eager to play it.
So if you think you're not cool enough for the show, you're probably right. But that doesn't mean I won't play your music. I'm not looking for the coolest stuff. I'm looking to uplift my community, and help make the world a better place with music that they may not have heard before. So if you know somebody who only has a cell phone and an acoustic guitar, if they can write a good song I'll give them a shot. If you know a church group that recorded their own music, have them send it in and we'll see what they got. Again I do have to scrutinize, but that doesn't mean I'm brutal with how I select music.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I hope that we can start a conversation based on the things that I've written above. I'd love to hear more of your music, even if you sent stuff before.
I was gonna just do 1 video about this whole kabobble and move on, but it just keeps getting wierder.
ARTICLE: Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders: Article Based on Facebook post by John Cooper of Skillet.
God's Voice - One Voice
Waxpanel - Believe
Hope's Anchor - Don't Have to See
Vezzel - Above
The Legend of XERO ft Average Joe Ministries & KJ-52 - 'til The Lights Go
J-Dun - I Just Want You
Verse Mills ft Russell Sickler & DJ One-9 - Livin on the Edge
Elohin - Back to the Boombap
Average Joe Ministries ft Deonte Hall - NEJW
Waxpanel - Dying Inside
Execution 22 - Turning Red
Hope's Anchor - Seek
Assay - Where is No Further?
Before you can even worry about so before you can even worry about making it. The first thing you need to do is get good at what you're trying to do. That means a lot of different things but fundamentally, it all goes back to how much you can practice, how well you can execute, willingness to improvise, and how well you recover from your mistakes. So let's break those down.
After reading the link and the information that was presented there, I've come to the conclusion that it was actually the Baby Boomers who began the decline of morality in this country. Putting aside, the way they got their name, It was the Baby Boomers who traded in family values for two-parent incomes, began heavily using credit cards as a means of financing their lifestyle, and coined the term retirement to mean easy living in paradise and on golf coarses. They were also the generation who have really pushed feminism on this country, along with making divorce publicly acceptable, and other alternative lifestyles (as we call it today). They were able to do it so much because they inherited the benefits of their previous generation (who were the last generation to be considered hard-working and traditional), while hoping to turn the country toward Communism, Subjectivity, and various ties to French Philosophy, leaving very little to nothing to be inherited by Generation X.
However, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be the fact that because Generation X had such a hard time growing up, and continue to have a hard time, they have taken greater steps to raise younger siblings and children who would not further the mistakes that we in our previous generation made in life. Thus, the Millennials and Generation Z will have many more benefits in their lifetime.
"The whole world seems to make sense now", I thought, but then I heard Steve Bannon on the Candace Owens Show. (Timestamp 25:27)
If you've listened to his argument closely, you'll recognize similarities and some of the things that I've been saying in this post, which I started writing about a year ago, maybe a bit longer. It's also strange, and it makes so much sense when you start to put these pieces together, and see how the culture War has shifted over time. These New Age, hedonistic, subjectively existential fractures of French philosophy that have infiltrated our culture have been riding on the backs (or rather in the minds) of the boomer generation all this time. We've watched it spread as they matured and gain power in this country. Every major movement in the last 50 years or more has been because of them and the way that they think, and until they are pushed into the background of the culture, they will continue to lead the charge in culture.
Honestly, there's a framing to the story as if the Millennials are the ones that are generating all of the nonsense that you see in the news today, but most of them are so dumb, that it's hard to imagine Millennials being "thought leaders" in our society right now. Most Millennials are just regurgitating what was fed to them by their authorities, and he don't have the grit to rebell against the authority who has kept them down their entire lives, like the gen-xers did. Gen-X had no tolerance for the crap that the Boomers have put American society through, and it seems to me that many of them either want to be left alone (even at the chagrin of their offspring) or they have knee-jerked in the opposite direction and helicopter-parented their children into Oblivion.
I know it's a crazy theory and it's a lot to take it is a lot to take in, but it all makes since as you study the culture, it's the differences in the generational personalities that helped it to make the most sense. It makes sense to me.
So, I've been building up a fan page on this new Facebook alternative platform called Minds.com
After taking a few weeks to understand how it works, I now have over 100 followers within a month. I was never able to do this with facebook or twitter, but on Minds, I am meeting new people everyday. I am wanting my friends to cross over and help me build a circle there, but its hard to get folks to use new technology or new websites.
old foogies I guess....
anyway drop by and say hi when your ready for something new. Mention you found out about this through Tentmaker, and I'll send you a free gift too. ~X
3 INTERVIEWS AS THE FIRST EPISODE
MY REVIEW OF REF MUSIC 208 ON YOUTUBE - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvtXkVUH7ZcwDctRaseyKLHz7rPf5xKIF
ON SPOTIFY - https://open.spotify.com/artist/117dGUdRf8n94OZrg3Ncsa
REP ON SPOTIFY - https://open.spotify.com/artist/4zA0En6xbsbchAO4Ibrs5d
JOHNNY DIAZ - https://jonnydiaz.com
Xeroforhire - Christian Musician, Producer, and Podcaster for Tentmaker Music