Author: Martin Connor

  • How Jay-Z and Dr. Dre “Focus Group” Their Musical Releases

    How Jay-Z and Dr. Dre “Focus Group” Their Musical Releases

    What makes these rapper-moguls so successful? It’s the lessons they’ve been able to bring from the business world into their career as artists.

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  • Social Media Has Made Hip-Hop About Rapping Again – Not Making Songs

    Social Media Has Made Hip-Hop About Rapping Again – Not Making Songs

    Direct-to-fan social platforms allow rappers to communicate their art immediately and directly, no middlemen and no waiting. Here’s how they’re doing it.

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  • On Kanye’s ‘MP’ Format and the Future of Albums as We Know It

    On Kanye’s ‘MP’ Format and the Future of Albums as We Know It

    Kanye West released 5 albums this summer, all of them feature exactly 7 songs. What’s the deal with this new format, and what does it say about our future?

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  • “Black Panther” Turned Kendrick Lamar into a Superhero Producer

    “Black Panther” Turned Kendrick Lamar into a Superhero Producer

    + Learn the nuances of producing beats, arranging tracks, and creative sampling, drawing on the rich history and influence of hip-hop in Soundfly’s acclaimed online course, The Art of Hip-Hop Production.  Just like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar is a rapper whose succession of albums shows off a clear yet non-obvious arc of creative development — moving […]

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  • Just Because Eminem Was Freestyling, Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Musical

    Just Because Eminem Was Freestyling, Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Musical

    Tons of hip-hop artists have come out against the actions of Donald Trump in recent months, and many have even included stings in their verses. Eminem’s turn at the wheel came earlier this week in a Detroit, garage-set freestyle that aired on television during the BET Awards. And he showed, undeniably, that even when he’s winging […]

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  • The Musical and Sociopolitical Evolution of Kanye’s Use of Soul Music Samples

    The Musical and Sociopolitical Evolution of Kanye’s Use of Soul Music Samples

    + Learn the nuances of producing beats, arranging tracks, and creative sampling, drawing on the rich history and influence of hip-hop in Soundfly’s acclaimed online course, The Art of Hip-Hop Production.  Between the old-school sound of his debut album, College Dropout, in 2004 and the ultra-synthesized feel of his most recent album, 2016’s The Life Of Pablo, there […]

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  • Take These Words Home and Think ‘Em Through: The Legacy of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy

    Take These Words Home and Think ‘Em Through: The Legacy of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy

    In the years since Mobb Deep‘s 1996 hit “Shook Ones (Part II)” was released, the song has attained legendary status among hip-hop listeners due to its many unique attributes, such as its darkly timbral, sonic world full of police sirens and impossible amounts of lingering reverb, and its equally rugged linguistic play, equipped with menacing threats […]

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  • Unsung: In Praise of Rap’s Studio Musicians

    Unsung: In Praise of Rap’s Studio Musicians

    Rappers used to say, “The real backbone of hip-hop is disc jocks.” Nowadays, though, the real backbone of hip-hop is ostensibly the virtuosic studio musicians dominating the most heralded releases of the past few years. In leaving their indelible marks on records by award-winning artists like Chance The Rapper and Kendrick Lamar, instrumentalists like Nico Segal (a.k.a. Donnie Trumpet), Robert […]

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  • How Missy Elliott Works the Beat in ‘Lose Control’

    How Missy Elliott Works the Beat in ‘Lose Control’

    As someone becomes more and more familiar with rap, he or she realizes that — in a genre that encompasses the styles of everyone from riddlers like MF DOOM to philosophers like KRS-One — there’s no problem finding completely different artists to enjoy completely different styles. If you want good party music, it’s Drake. Try 50 Cent if […]

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  • How ‘Hamilton’ Put the Music Back at the Center of the Musical

    How ‘Hamilton’ Put the Music Back at the Center of the Musical

    It’s been dissected as a runaway commercial success. It’s been analyzed as an incisive commentary on current race relations. It’s even, at times, received its due as an example of complex poetry in rap. But, rather counterintuitively, relatively few trained musicians have talked about this Broadway hit as pure music in and of itself. Leaving the […]

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