I could list a million and one reasons, but the evidence really speaks for itself.
The annual San Diego Music Awards are back, and they’ve announced some amazing (and a few very surprising) nominees for this year’s award ceremony.
So the Oscars are this weekend. That’s happening. But there’s also a slew of shows that you cannot miss, all with some musical acts that I’m sure even the Academy would find pleasing. So without further ado, we present to you the top shows that YOU need to see this week.
Making waves in the hip hop/dance hybrid scene is LA based duo N.A.S.A., who started off with street smart beats and witty rhymes back in 2009, but are now getting people pumped on the electro dance floor. And you might have heard this song already, but didn’t know who it was.
N.A.S.A’s latest single, “Hide” has blown up, thanks in part to being featured on an ad for Sonos’s HiFi Home Entertainment System; but a lot of credit is due to Tropkillaz, who remixed the track quite beautifully. If you take a listen to their earlier music, a la 2009 album The Spirit of Apollo, the group’s vibe is more along the lines of classic 70s and 80s early hip hop and artists such as Atmosphere or Blackalicious.
But now? Now the duo is taking an electro approach, and they’re definitely doing it the right way. Never a stickler for labels, N.A.S.A.’s entire project has been an exercise in genre-bending tunes with little to no rules. Couple their flexible characteristics in collaborations with the fact that hip hop has become the world of mainstream dance music for now, and the new sound makes sense. Plus N.A.S.A. (which is an acronym for North America South America), is indie enough to make the changes in their music without casting a huge tidal wave of confusion over their current fans.
Hopefully they have a new full length release in the works, but for now, this amazing single will just have to tide us over. It’s been on my “Going Out” playlist for weeks. What do you think?
Let me introduce you to the rapper who vehemently denies that he sounds anything like Drake — and honestly he’s got a good point. KYLE has been making waves in the hip hop scene, working with producers DJ Carnage and The Cataracs, all while spitting thoughtful lines revolving around his personal life, the hip hop industry, and what he is searching for in his future. Rapper KYLE boasts a storytelling nature that lets you know exactly who he is and where he is coming from, a trend that is slowly gaining steam in the hip hop world as a whole.
KYLE’s full-length release, Beautiful Loser has gained fans in a multitude of people (including fellow rapper Childish Gambino), for his fresh approach to lyrical content and of course, for his comparison to a few other heavy hitters in the industry today. Musically, some of his melodies and vocals are a bit repetitive; however his lyrical content more than makes up for this lapse by creating unique hooks and one-liners that make the listener reevaluate the common values of your typical hip hop scenarios.
For example, what could possibly be his most popular track, “Keep It Real”, creates an almost tongue-in-cheek definition of the popular phrase that is constantly thrown around in the hip hop world. KYLE takes a literal and deeper approach to the phrase, while also giving a glimpse into his personal life, rather than candy-coating the term into a “cooler” diluted version of the truth. Just take a listen to the track by itself, then watch the video for the full effect; it’s as if the meaning of the song pops right out at you, and the surprise ending to the video is deep and alluring in a way that makes you realize you’ve been truly listening the entire time. It was not what I was expecting at all from the music video, and when I told him how surprising the video and its meaning were for me, KYLE agrees that it’s something he’s heard from his listeners.
“A lot of people say the same thing. “, he explains. “It is a real personal story and it is a little bit of acting. They hear the song and they kind of get the message, but at the same time it sounds normal to them. But then you see the video and it actually makes sense why it’s called ‘Keep it Real’.” The central theme of the song seems to float around a very important topic in the hip hop world, and as KYLE put it, “Money is not always what’s important.”
With his lyrics and musical style, KYLE offers more than the typical; in fact, he gives his listeners a glimpse into “the life” without masking his own personality and without segregating himself from the average Joe fan. A self professed “video game dude”, KYLE shakes off the online blogs who call him out as being a nerd, and instead simply accepts his guy-next-door status — if the guy-next-door also happened to be one of the most interesting young rap talents today.
He’s not out of reach, nor out of touch, and this dedication to who he truly is reflects widely in his music. He’s mastered the art of being an extraordinary talent and a typical male all at the same time.
And much like the typical 20 year-old male, his perspective on love and relationships isn’t quite humble — tracks like “Oceans” features the lyrics: “Bring it to my bedroom baby, I bet we won’t sleep at all.” And dance-themed track “Love For You” goes even further into that young love mentality as KYLE raps, “When it comes to sex do you do it the best? If not, I might move on the the next, though. Think about that before you give it a rest.” But this bravado only makes him that much more human, as he opts for relationship advice and flirtatious advances in lieu of the typical sexification of women in hip hop.
These lyrics, in my opinion, make him only more relatable to a generation that already sees a thin line between lovers and friends and moments and forever. But with any creativity comes criticism, and KYLE even admits that the critique he has faced can be more brutal in the hip hop world than with any other genre.
“I think hip hop sometimes, more than any other form of music, has a real bad stigma of: ‘if you don’t do your music a certain way, it’s not real hip hop.'” He points out that his musical tastes are vast, and therefore will reflect in the style of music he creates. “I like to experiment with a lot of different genres… and I think that because of that I’m really not afraid to make any type of song.”
The weight of criticism seems to roll easily off of him, and perhaps it’s because of the current growth in hip hop as a genre. Artists are slowly stepping away from a rigid definition of rap, and stepping into new territory as acts like Macklemore and The Weeknd are helping to pave the way for a variety of different styles and subject matter. KYLE is no exception to the rule. When he further speaks on criticism, he adds, “The only criticism I think I’ve ever faced… is that sometimes they think my sound can be too alternative or too pop or too this or that.” But once again, he seems unaffected by negativity and almost vows to continue on this path on which his musical tastes have taken him. “It’s not selling out or anything, it’s like, this is the actual type of music I listen to… and I’m inevitably going to make.”
Though he’s only 20, he has a serene knowledge that can only come from experience, proving he’s already learned and grown quite a bit since his earlier days rapping under pseudonym K.I.D. KYLE admits to touching on a few serious themes in Beautiful Loser, simply because it comes with the territory of growth. “I did write a little differently. I think what happened is I’m just growing up, you know?” He’s referring to the whirlwind of an early career, which includes over a million views on his music video and a big move from his home town to downtown.
Perhaps working with a close circle of music veterans such as DJ Carnage and the Cataracs also helped to add a bit to his wisdom and growth? And the wisdom is heavily apparent, as I had to constantly remind myself that he is only 20. However, he admits his playful side will most likely always be dominant in his music.
“A lot of themes…just matured. It’s not like I switched what I wanted to talk about, it’s just I’m naturally living a different life now. But at the same time you’re always going to have ‘Sex and Super Smash Bros’. Some of that is still going to stay the same.” He’s referring to what is probably one of the most energetic and animated tracks off the album, “Sex and Super Smash Bros”, a tune that’s catchy, flirtatious and fun-loving, while sampling in the video game at just the right moments of the song.
More evidence of this fun-loving and intriguing playfulness can be seen and heard in “Bang” — the video is a clever and comical ode to a famous scene from the movie Friday.
“It’s not to make fun of it, it’s just like a shout out to that whole movie. That scene is funny. We can’t make fun of a funny scene!” He says between laughter as he explains the mentality behind the video.
Other songs on the album include even more witty commentary on his personal life — “Love For You” is smart line after smart line, and “Fruit Snacks” is a unique ode to the good life. I forgot to tell him during our interview that I had fruit snacks that day and saw it as a good omen for our talk, but I did get to ask the video gamer side of rapper KYLE what was possibly the toughest question of the interview: Favorite video game franchise.
“Favorite video game franchise? That’s really tough! I love Final Fantasy, but I think I was too little to fully understand it, but it kind of blew my mind. Obviously the Grand Theft Auto franchise is fucking legendary, but also Elder Scrolls is really tough, I’ve been playing those for awhile. But I have to give it to Elder Scrolls.”
He writes plays, he writes rhymes, he plays video games — and if his music isn’t on your mind after listening to Beautiful Loser then you may need to check your pulse.
You can check in with KYLE on his Facebook page, his Instagram and his Twitter for more updates on his ever-growing music career, and the west coast can see him on his first ever headlining tour this month. Check out his website for all the tour dates — and if you’re in San Diego, head to Porter’s Pub for an up close and personal live show this Friday.
More Hip Hop Stories:
San Diego based musician Addy G has just released a new hip hop EP, Opiate Soup, and the style and subject matter may remind you of a previously fluent time in rap’s history. His EP is occasionally a nod to 90s hip hop thoroughfare while also offering witty and modern one-liners that reference anything from cartoons to Star Wars. Though a bit unpredictable at times, his style is clear, and it does a good job of leaving a few jaws open after just one listen. Addy G is adding to his musical resume, and with a recent move to Los Angeles, he’s ready to take on even bigger hurdles on his quest to further his music career.
Below, we discussed his influences and what draws him to the often shocking, heavily drug-laden, and quick-witted subject matter of the Opiate Soup EP.
TheIndieSD: When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I attempted to rap in high school but I ended up getting made fun of because I wasn’t very popular. Some kids played my earliest material at the Homecoming game for the whole school to hear and even though a lot of people thought it was cool those fuckers still did it to make fun of me. After that experience, I decided that I would really take the time to find my niche and style and come back full force with shit that people would find tight and love.
TISD: Why does hip hop and rap appeal to you? What do you relate to the most about these genres of music?
Hip hop and rap are alluring because you have the ability to create a persona or put forth a personality that, in the real world, may not be practical. It’s almost like living a fantasy and tapping into that feeling is amazing. I love words. I love playing with words. And I play with words in a very specific way; my syntax is unique. One of the main reasons I love hip hop so much is that I get to see what other people do with words and what those words mean to them…it provides perspectives that aren’t normally available. There’s a give and take, like an interaction between the listener and artist, that’s present in hip hop, which is not as prevalent in other genres of music. Lyrics mean different things to different people, and how an individual interprets a given line or song is always interesting to observe.
TISD: Being a drummer as well, do you prefer drumming or rapping?
Damn that’s a brutal question to which I have no answer. I will say that I view rapping as “drumming with words,” in that each syllable is a note, and that’s one of the reasons I am drawn to rapping.
TISD: You’re making a big move to LA soon! Will you be taking on a part of the LA music scene?
Hell to the yes. Well, I’ll be attending law school at USC, so however much time I have to spare will be spent pursuing music.
TISD: How do you balance your music with other obligations?
It’s all about time management and what’s important to you. If you truly love something, you will find a way to make time for it. For me, hip hop is not always a passion I can spend every hour of every day on, but I make sure to keep time allotted to write and record.
TISD: Do you think image ties into an artist’s importance? What is your opinion of your own image when it comes to your music?
Image is so critical! I feel like I’m still in the early stages of developing my image so I don’t know where I’ll be by the time I drop my full length album.
TISD: What do you think makes “good” music?
I think the biggest thing is a genuine motivation to do something significant and impact people’s lives. People who do music for pussy, money or fame always end up falling short and it seriously comes through in their music.
TISD: Do you have a favorite SD venue or favorite performance so far?
The Casbah in San Diego remains to this day my favorite venue to play. I’ve been on stage there 3 times so far, and I absolutely love it.
TISD: There are a lot of drug references in your music. Do you have experience with drugs? What inspires these themes in your music? Why have you chosen the world of drugs as a central theme for the EP?
I do have experience(s) with drugs. My music is always reminiscent of what’s going on in my life, and for the past two years I’ve been having significant health problems that have required me to be on painkillers. Drugs are fine in moderation, but I think the problem comes when it becomes a lifestyle rather than recreation. Being on pain pills for as long as I have, I have felt the irresistible lure of making them a priority and having that be a part of my lifestyle and it’s really difficult when you’re on them for so long not become addicted [sic]. I think speaking about my experiences and being honest helps me deal with it in a healthy way. My mentality about drugs has always been, “if it comes from the planet, than go for it. If it’s a man made drug, stay the fuck away.” Following that vein, I’m a huge proponent of marijuana. You might see me in public with my eyes red, cheesin’ for no reason.
TISD: Your bio mentions there are a lot of 90s references in your music. Were you creating a nostalgic EP that reminds listeners of the hip hop of that era? What 90s artists influence your music the most? (Other than the obvious, which can definitely be said is Eminem — agree or disagree?)
Well, when it says “90s references,” it means references in my lyrics to big things in the 90s like Pokemon, Power Rangers or Rugrats – basically my childhood. However, you do bring up a good point about my music being stylistically a throwback. I didn’t set out to create a nostalgic EP, but I feel like in the 90s, hip hop was focused way more on the lyrics and content which is just now starting to make a resurgence today. I think the reason it feels like its from the 90s is because I set out to make music that is intelligent and lyrically focused, and that was the main quality of rap in the 90s.
I take that as a compliment that my music is like old school Eminem. I love his music, especially the Marshall Mathers LP.
TISD: How would you explain your subject matter and your songs to someone who is listening to it for the first time?
I wouldn’t try to. I would just let them listen to it themselves and make their own evaluation. What I think about my music should not affect what you think of it, and vice versa. Like I mentioned earlier, there is an interaction between listener and artist, and its up to the listener what they take away from my music. I wouldn’t dare sully that relationship by prefacing my music with any sort of explanation.
TISD: The track Gangster Rough contains a lot of dark imagery, including violence. How much of this is based on your own personal opinions of violence?
Being Indian, I am a huge Gandhi fan. Violence is something that’s not really in my nature, but I definitely have thoughts about acting that way. Rapping about it is a way to deal with those urges in a healthy manner, rather than actually going out and doing something harmful. At the end of the day though, a woman should never be hit by a man. Unless she doesn’t make me a sammich.
By the way, Jamie Rose did an absolutely amazing job on this track. Her voice is so fucking sexy. She is the front woman for a band called SXO, so make sure you check them out.
TISD: “Drug Abuse” is probably the biggest ode to the 90s on the album, agree or disagree?
Debatable – that song was really influenced by Eminem’s song, “Drug Ballad,” which was on the Marshall Mathers LP, from 2000. I wanted to do a song like that where people could listen to it and be like, “damn this kid is insane.” But I feel like it’s truly infectious and Jimmy did a great job on the hook we wrote. Jimmy’s hook definitely has that 90s feel to it, but I don’t think by any means that “Drug Abuse” is an ode to an entire era of music.
TISD: At the end of “Drug Abuse”, Patterson sings “And if this world is mine, then I better tell the truth. And if I ever lie, I’m guilty of abuse.” What is the story or the meaning behind that powerful line?
There are a few things happening with that line – first, the literal meaning of the lyrics has to do with the nature of an addict, where lying is prevalent and pervasive. If I’m going to accomplish things in life, I can’t be a drug addict, which means I’ll tell the truth. If I lie, then you know that I’m hiding something. In a more personal sense, this song has a lot to do with my fear of not being successful in life. I’m starting law school this month at USC, and my potential is sky high. The lyrics in the verses have to do with having fun on drugs, and the chorus is a stark contrast to show what the cost of that fun is. The song represents my personal fear of not achieving my potential due to the consumption of drugs. Like I said, I’ve been on painkillers for a long time, and I’m very scared that I will fail in law school because of drugs.
TISD: What do you want fans to take from your music as a whole?
I want to create music that is absolutely jaw dropping. I want people to laugh and groan and be impressed. I want listeners to be like, “oh FUCK” when I spit a line that hits hard. I want my lyrics to be complex and deep enough to the point where a listener won’t get everything on the first listen. The more they listen to the track, the more they’ll pick up on and the more they’ll get out of it. In my mind, that’s what creates longevity and replayability [sic] in a song. And I think that with these first four tracks, I’ve accomplished that. If someone likes them enough to keep listening, they’ll keep understanding more and more things that they may have missed before. I want my tracks to keep on giving.
Don’t have plans this weekend? Then you must not have heard about the multitude of dance and hip hop acts that will be in San Diego. Please make sure you don’t miss out on any of these great times; you don’t want to be that friend come Monday morning, do you?
Friday August 23rd: KYLE at Porter’s Pub
A fresh new talent in the hip hop world, rapper KYLE is heading off on his first headlining tour and stopping in San Diego on Friday. His quirky and playful approach to music makes his latest album, Beautiful Loser, the perfect mixture of songs to dance to. And if you’re not a good dancer, you’ll be more than entertained with his lyrics alone. Don’t believe me? Check out this interview I did with him for more proof of his awesomeness. (All Ages Show, For tickets, click here.)
Saturday, August 24th: DJ Carnage at Harrah’s Rincon Casino
The DJ who brought you the inventive and unique genre called “Festival Trap” never disappoints, and Saturday will be no exception. The fact that he’s performing at Harrah’s Adult Swim Saturdays means you can make a day of it — so bring your 21+ friends for a little gambling before dancing away at what is sure to be one of the hottest pool parties this weekend in SD. This DJ is creative and has already put his own personal stamp on the EDM world, making him an act you just don’t want to miss. (21+, For tickets, click here.)
Hip hop duo Atmosphere wowed audiences in San Diego, proving that these two are still great connoisseurs of tour, with an electric stage presence that keeps fans coming back. Their Kickin’ Up Dust Tour is still underway so make sure you catch them with Slightly Stoopid, but if you still need a little convincing, here are some live photos from Atmosphere’s performance at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.
Photos by Nicholas Wong.
Click photos to launch full-screen.
There are a slew of events this week hoping to catch the attention of San Diego locals and tourist alike; however, none have the same esteem as this Saturday’s tour stop with Slightly Stoopid and Atmosphere. Here, we got the chance to talk with Atmosphere about their music, how they view the industry as a whole, and what we can expect from the always adept and insightful indie hip hop group.
The answers may surprise you, if you’re not a behind-the-scenes kind of person and haven’t already learned personal details about the group. DJ/producer Ant (Anthony Davis) has been described as a melody aficionado, who keeps the music true to Atmosphere’s style without letting the act become stale or redundant. The other half of this duo, rapper Slug (Sean Daley), according to Billboard.com has “polarized the indie rap underground”; words that create really big shoes to walk in.
But the group fits those shoes and struts in them, and they do it with a “swagger” that is nothing like what you expect from the pop/rap machines evolving today; instead, their music breeds curiosity, character, and lyrical intrigue from their fans, making Atmosphere at many times a great hip hop storyteller.
Surprisingly, Slug offers a little humor and possibly a tinge of sarcasm in his responses, showing either a playful side, or maybe a slightly exasperated view of the music industry. Perhaps the contents of their currently untitled 2013 release will offer the whole story, since in my opinion, his rhymes speaks much louder than his words. And in the hip hop world, that can definitely be a good thing.
But, all that being said, if you are curious to read those words, take a tiny peak inside the mind of Atmosphere with the full interview below.
TheIndieSD: How is the tour going with Slightly Stoopid? Any favorite cities so far?
So far it’s been absolutely great. Slightly Stoopid are great dudes, and they have an amazing crew. I don’t really do the favorite city thing. But for the sake of your piece, let’s say that San Diego is the greatest city in the galaxy.
TISD: Atmosphere has been known as a heavily touring act. Do you prefer being on the road or being in the studio?
I have a healthy love for both the studio and the road. If I had to choose one, I’d choose the studio. I like watching the birth of songs.
TISD: What can your fans expect from your tour experience this year that may be different than previous tours?
TISD: There are a lot of bigger venues on the Kickin Up Dust Tour. With these big venues, do you get moments to meet and connect with a few fans?
Not as much as I am accustomed to. But yes, there are moments of personal connection. Once I discover how to be in multiple places at once, I’ll be better equipped to meet as many people as possible.
TISD: Tell me about the mood behind your latest single, “Bob Seger”. (Which is my latest favorite thing, by the way.)
This song’s mood = Moon buzz.
TISD: You’ve explored many different phases of writing styles throughout all of Atmosphere’s releases. Can fans expect to hear previous themes and moods on the new album?
I’m not a fan of expectations. So I’m not really sure how to answer this. I suppose you could expect some sarcasm. Maybe a little bit of wrestling with insecurities. A touch of preachiness.
TISD: What goes through your mind when you’re writing?
TISD: In the past, you’ve mentioned reservations on expressing your opinions in your lyrics. Do you still feel that way? Do you write as a way to release or share your emotions?
I don’t remember ever mentioning that, but I fully believe you. I mostly write for fun. To make Anthony and myself laugh and react.
TISD: “Mainstream” rap has changed drastically, but groups and artists such as Atmosphere are still creating music independently with deep hip hop roots. In your opinion, has hip hop changed or is it the same, just not as “commercial” anymore?
In my faulty opinion, it’s the same as it ever was. As long as older people are scared of rap, rap is doing fine.
TISD: If there was one thing you could change about the music industry, what would it be?
I don’t care enough about the music industry to try to change it. We will do what we love regardless of what this industry does. However, with that said, speaking solely for myself, if I could change something, I would make it mandatory for everyone to stop wearing cologne and perfume.
TISD: What genres does Atmosphere pull inspiration from? What artists or songs can be found on your personal playlists?
Willie Nelson and Tom Waits.
TISD: On your Facebook, you updated with “No rapper needs to write about the struggles of being a rapper.” Interesting and profound quote! Is there any story behind this line?
No story. Rappers who rap to other rappers about how hard it is to be a rapper should stop rapping.
Straight to the point. Check out Atmosphere live this Saturday at the Sleep Train Amphitheater, and also hear their latest single, “Bob Seger” (which is also available on iTunes) below. Let me know what you think in the comments!