06/24/2016

Clock Theory Video Premiere: Kay Anthony – "Strawberries"

Follow Kay Anthony through his arcade and laser tag date.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Kay Anthony burst on the scene in 2012 with his debut track “Strawberries,” and he's only gotten better since. Featuring a jazz-infused sample and melodic guitar strings, the track showcases his range. Optioning for a laid-back and sensitive approach, "Strawberries" is a stark contrast to the sound we've grown accustomed to. Four years later, we're able to match visuals with the track. The video has everything from arcade games, laser tag, and Anthony's signature reflective style. He's dropping his "Strawberries" video ahead of his new album, The Man That I Am Now, scheduled for release on July 1st.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Kay Anthony – "Strawberries"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

06/12/2016

Today's Fun Hip Hop is Good, But It Needs a Deeper Message (Sometimes)

The vast majority of popular modern hip hop usually avoids serious social commentary, prioritizes simple hooks over thoughtful lyricism, and focuses almost exclusively on fun. So what will be the long-term effects of my generation's fun music?

By AMIR ALI SAID


Trap music, modern-day "R&B", and drill music are cool. I listen to it. Whether I'm at a party, out with friends, or at home alone, it gets regular spins. I enjoy the music just like most of my generation. The music sounds good, it makes us dance, and we have a good time. But that's the thing, that's all it does. When the song is over, and we're waiting for the next song, what did we actually hear? What new thing did we learn? What did we get? Most of the time we didn't get anything besides a good beat and a few clever lines. In other words, we haven't learned anything new and there was no real message besides partying and debauchery. But hey, we're just having fun right?


For me, that distinction isn't mutually exclusive. We can have fun and learn at the same time. I've grown up playing sports, running through park sprinklers, and attending parties while still learning. Life itself is a constant learning process, and music has always been a big part of that. And lest we forget, embedding a powerful message in the music is one of the most important features of African-American (Black) music. In the '60s, '70s, and '80s, fun music was played at parties and most of it still had a message. The same could be said about a lot of hip hop music of the '90s. Each generation in these eras were by and large committed to making music that was both entertaining and informative. But I don't think that a similar parallel can be drawn with my generation, as the bulk of artists in my generation are not focused on making music with a strong message.


When you consider the previous generations that came before mine, it appears that my generation is the first group to make fun music (music with very little substance or staying power) almost exclusively the primary goal. In the '60s and '70s, musicians like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Nina Simone all made music that was enjoyable. People danced and had a good time to it, and when the song was over, they also learned something. In this way, they got a better return from the music of their generations. Songs like James Browns's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud," Stevie Wonder's "Superstitions," and Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam," were mainstays in the African-American (Black) community. "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud," a dope funk song about being proud of your black heritage at a time when black lives mattered little in America, was a crowd pleaser and a commercial success. "Superstition" was another commercial success that had a message. The song largely served as a warning, discussing popular superstitions and their negative effects. "Mississippi Goddam" was a jazz tune Simone wrote in response to the Alabama church bombing in 1963. All of these songs that I mentioned here spoke to the issues of their time and still remained entertaining.


In the '80s, when hip hop began to hit a new stride, the trend of delivering a powerful message with fun music continued. In the early '80s, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five released "The Message." While commercially successful, "The Message" served as an authentic take of the struggles in the inner-city. In the mid-'80s, Run-D.M.C. sent a strong message to the world. With the debut of their album King Of Rock, they furthered their rap-rock-fusion style, demanded respect for hip hop, and crowned themselves as the kings of rock. In the late '80s, Eric B. & Rakim released their debut album, Paid In Full. Featuring Rakim's dense lyricism and Eric B's soulful production, Paid In Full not only had a message, it raised the bar of lyricism in hip hop forever.


In the '90s, fun music still had a message. In the early '90s, A Tribe Called Quest released two classic albums. In '91, they released Low End Theory, featuring Q Tip's notorious "record company people are shady" line on "Check The Rhime." And in '93, they released Midnight Marauders, featuring "Award Tour," "Electric Relaxation," and "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)." Around the same time, Public Enemy was making waves with their infamous "Fight The Power" track. By the mid/late '90s, there was no shortage of music with a message. Nas released his debut album, Illmatic in '94, Tupac put out All Eyez On Me in '96, and Gangstarr dropped Moment Of Truth in '98. Each album was as fun as it was educational.


While I understand every generation will have its own take on music, I believe certain core features should always be preserved. Everyone isn't going to be a revolutionary, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect that. But the vast majority of music makers within a given generation should at least try to make music (sometimes) with messages other than unchecked fun. And using youth as an excuse for not making music with substance is the worst kind of deflection of cultural responsibility. Stevie Wonder was just 22 years old when he released "Superstition." Run and DMC were 21 and 22 (respectively) when King of Rock released. Rakim was 19 when he rhymed on Paid In Full. A Tribe Called Quest were a group of 21 year olds when they released Low End Theory. And Nas was 20 when he released Illmatic. These were young men, just one or two years older than me, revolutionizing music.


There will always be rappers who primarily make lyrical music and there will always be rappers who make fun music. But keep this in mind: In the '80s and '90s, lyrical rappers (so called now) were the dominant group that shaped the overall scope of hip hop. Today, lyrical rappers are the outliers, and the fun rappers dominate the market. So what will be the long-term effects of xan-poppin, lean-sipping, gun-bar ladened music? Everyday, teenagers listen to contemporary hip hop and draw inspiration from it. But today's popular hip hop is largely disposable.


At this rate, the future seems grim. If this cycle continues, what kind of music will the next generations create? What will happen to those from my generation who don't learn anything from our music other than fun? Will they be productive, critical thinkers? Or will they be non-productive and ignorant? And what about other forms of Art? What effects will today's hip hop have on artists (and their work) who primarily listen to and draw inspiration from hip hop? If hip hop, long a source of information and inspiration, becomes a watered down fun city, what will happen to those people living in at risk communities? And what will happen to pop culture as we know it?


So how do we rectify this situation? Well it won't be easy, and it won't be a quick fix. In fact, there isn't just one answer to that question. But I believe it starts with acknowledging where we've erred as a generation. Then we should try to discover, study, understand and appreciate the history of powerful music that came before us. This does not mean that my generation should look to copy what came before. It means, we should aim to build upon what came before. And this includes incorporating substance just as much as it includes making fun music.
The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

James Brown – "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud"

Eric B. & Rakim – "Paid In Full"

Nas – "Memory Lane"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said (Sa'id).

06/09/2016

Sample Flip Of The Week: Kendrick Lamar – "Celebration"

Kendrick displayed immense potential on his debut EP.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Debut projects tell you a lot about where an artist may or may not be headed in the future. On December 31st, 2009, Kendrick Lamar released his debut, self-titled EP, The Kendrick Lamar EP. Featuring production from Sounwave, Black Milk, and Jake One, with features from Black Hippy members Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock, the EP showcased Kendrick's potential. I think "Celebration" displayed all of the tangible and intangible parts of Kendrick's music that we've grown to appreciate. The passion is there and the lyricism is spot on. Rhyming over a sample-based Sounwave production, Kendrick puts together a solid three minute track. He even delivers a line, "Good Kid, Mad City," early in his first verse, which foreshadows the title of the album he goes on to release three years later. The immense potential Kendrick displays on "Celebration" lays the blueprint for all of his future work.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Kendrick Lamar – "Celebration"

Roy Ayers – "Hummin'"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

I.O.D. Releases New Sample-based Joint, "'Round Here"

Brownsville, Brooklyn native drops single ahead of The Brownsvillian mixtape release.

By AMIR ALI SAID


I.O.D. continues to make the right noise in New York. Steadily releasing music for the last few years, the Brownsville emcee has generated a wave of support in Brooklyn. Due to the quality of his music, his fanbase has increasingly grown across the city. His upcoming mixtape, The Brownsvillian will be welcomed by many. On "'Round Here," I.O.D. pays homage to Brownsville's culture, shining lights on the good and bad of the notorious community. Rhyming over a jazz-infused beat, produced by Pussy Track, I.O.D. sends a valuable message to listeners. One, although beautiful in it's own way, Brownsville is not the neighborhood to come to if you're not from there. And two, I.O.D. will wear Brownsville as a badge of honor while he ascends as an artist.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

I.O.D. – "'Round Here"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

05/30/2016

Sample Flip Of The Week: Cam'Ron Ft. Juelz Santana – "Oh Boy"

Revisiting Cam's memorable Roc-A-Fella and Diplomats collaboration.

By AMIR ALI SAID


"Oh Boy" is one of Cam'ron's strongest songs. Released on April 2nd, 2002, the song would go on to be one of his most notable songs. In 2002, "Oh Boy" was grammy-nominated and it held the number one spot on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop singles chart for five weeks straight. It also peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. "Oh Boy" was the lead single off of Cam's Come Home With Me album, (one of the two albums Cam released during his short-lived Roc-A-Fella stint). Thanks to Just Blaze's production, and his own distinctive flow, "Oh Boy" was equally popular on the streets.


Much like the song, Cam'ron's "Oh Boy" video is well-known for it's timelessness. Along with Juelz Santana, members of Roc-A-Fella and The Diplomats, the video features many memorable moments. From the beginning of the video when Dame Dash is poured a bowl of cereal by two women, to the female passenger who curiously finds something while Cam is driving. There's cameo appearances from La La Anthony, radio personality Angie Martinez, and former 106&Park host Free. And there's plenty of women and sports cars in between. The "Oh Boy" video is a fun snapshot of Hip Hop culture in the early 2000s.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Cam'Ron Ft. Juelz Santana – "Oh Boy"

Rose Royce – "I'm Going Down"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

05/28/2016

Imani Jaye Croons Over Sample Flip on "Everything (All Day)"

The Understudy produced track shines light on promising singer.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Imani Jaye is a singer from The Bronx. She's also a DJ, but after listening to her music, I think her singing career may soon become priority number one. Two songs into her Soundcloud profile, I could hear the potential. She sings about a broken heart on her first song, "Cry," over an interpolated version of The Weeknd's "Tell Your Friends." She sings about love on "Everything (All Day)," and after listening to that, I knew she had something special. Her style is distinct and her voice is soothingly beautiful. Produced by The Understudy, "Everything (All Day)," is the kind of song you build a fan base around. I suspect that base will grow rapidly.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Imani Jaye – "Everything (All Day)"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

05/24/2016

Kay Anthony: The Next Voice of the Millennial Generation

Brooklyn rapper Kay Anthony goes deep on his climb up the ranks, his influences, the energy leading his music, the state of New York rap, and much more.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Photo Credit: Jacky Eye Que


Kay Anthony burst on the scene in 2012 with his debut track “Strawberries,” and he hasn’t looked back since. A tough-as-nails rapper with an affection for sampling, Kay makes music with a message, but he’s never over-preachy. In this very candid interview, Kay opens up about everything from his music process to his assessment of younger millennials to many of the challenges that have gotten him to where he is today.


Clock Theory: To see you make it to SXSW was impressive. That made me happy for you.
Kay Anthony: Thank you man.


Clock Theory: What was that like?
Kay Anthony: It was dope. The experience was dope, the whole going to another state off of music is wavy, it’s a whole different feeling, man. The energy is real there, it made me feel like I’m on top of the world. The only thing was that the sound could’ve been better.


Clock Theory: You performed by yourself? Or you had people there with you?
Kay Anthony: Nah, it was me and Yadi.


Clock Theory: Tell me about the Kay Anthony before the music. Who were you?
Kay Anthony: Before the music? Before the music I was into photography, and fashion. As you know, niggas used to be in Soho. Me and my bro Tre used to really be on fashion a lot, being in the crib trying to create different clothes and all types of crazy shit, but that was just like what we was on. We were just some creative kids.


Clock Theory: What first got you into music?
Kay Anthony: It’s a lot of things that got me into music. It’s too many steps to say but, I would say, I was playing around one day, in my son Dre’s crib. We were in the crib one day just playing around and I did this fucking Lil Wayne impression. I was rapping and he was like, "Nah, yo, you deadass got to take this serious. Like you really about to start rapping." After that, I really started writing and shit. All of my friends that I grew up with, everybody that I chill with now, and the people that I grew up with, they’re definitely the main reasons why I make music.


Clock Theory: What’s your earliest music memory?
Kay Anthony: My earliest music memory would be my aunt playing Buju Banton and Lauryn Hill throughout the crib, man. That’s why those are my two favorite–like those are my idols right there. And the fact that I even got to meet Lauryn Hill, and we did a track together is fucking surreal.


Clock Theory: Wait, hold on. You said you met Lauryn Hill?
Kay Anthony: Yeah.


Clock Theory: When was this?
Kay Anthony: About a year ago while I was working on Vice$ and Vanity.


Clock Theory: That’s dope. Where was this at?
Kay Anthony: She had came through to the studio and she just was–she heard about me through her daughter, and she came through and she just gave me a lot of advice, "I really like what you doing, you got to be a voice of this generation, it’s not a lot of people out here, as you can see music is losing its spirituality and you got to keep that alive. You’re one of the young ones that people are going to follow eventually."


Clock Theory: And so you would say that Lauryn Hill is like Top 3 of your influences?
Kay Anthony: Definitely.


Clock Theory: Who would be the other two?
Kay Anthony: It would have to be Jay-Z and BIG (Biggie.)


Clock Theory: Jay-Z for what reason?
Kay Anthony: Jay-Z as a mogul, businessman. I admire his business mindset and I try to follow that. That’s why I do a lot of independent things on my own. Like I don’t like being behind a company and people trying to have me do what they want me to do. I like controlling everything my way and doing everything my way.


Clock Theory: I understand. How did BIG influence you?
Kay Anthony: BIG? his flows and his music. He definitely inspired me. I remember just rhyming BIG’s–it was this part in the song when he was like, "Tongue stroke, third stroke, tongue all down your throat." And off of that, like I just was rhyming that shit everyday, even if I ain’t hear the song.


Clock Theory: And then Lauryn Hill, how did she influence you?
Kay Anthony: Lauryn Hill, man, she’s just a great woman, period. Like, I think a lot of women should look up to her. Even though she had her times where she seemed like she was weak, I feel like when she was in her prime and she was really doing her thing, she just was an influence to a lot of people. Not only women, but men, too. She set examples for a lot of people. And her reason for leaving the industry, I understand it, like, she just didn’t want to feel like she wasn’t connected to herself anymore (because she’s constantly doing music and stuff). That is a crazy lifestyle to live constantly 24/7.


Clock Theory: You mean to be a musician?
Kay Anthony: Yeah, definitely.


Clock Theory: Do you sometimes feel like that?
Kay Anthony: Not really. I think it’s cause I’ve been through so much already, like I appreciate it.


Clock Theory: Things like what?
Kay Anthony: Different lessons. Like, before I even started having doors opening for me, I think I’ve learned lot of lessons that I think I can apply to this music stuff. So I won’t ever have to, you know, feel like I’m out of it, like I’m losing it.


Clock Theory: You’re talking life lessons?
Kay Anthony: Definitely. It taught me a lot.


Clock Theory: What were some of those things?
Kay Anthony: A lot. Struggle, period. Like, struggle was the number one influence of even really putting my–like when I write music, I make sure that I include my struggle. I don’t leave that out. That’s a pivotal point in my life. Man...I’ve lived in a shelter before. I know what it feels like to actually be homeless, as a young teenager, as a young man. I know what that feels like. I know what it feels like not to have food in your crib for like a week type-shit growing up. Like, I have six little sisters and one older brother, and he didn’t really live with us, he was on his college stuff. He was trying to get it right so he could do it for the family type-shit.


Clock Theory: When were you in the shelter?
Kay Anthony: This was like sixth grade, in junior high school, man. My house had burned down, it had caught on fire and we had to move out, and we lived in a shelter in Brownsville for like a year.


Clock Theory: So where were you living at originally? Before your crib burned down.
Kay Anthony: We were living on Church Avenue. Which was crazy. I had came home after school and I was told, like "Yo we can’t even live here no more." We had to stay in a hotel for like two days. Mind you, this is probably like the week before Christmas type-shit, or the week of Christmas. It was like all fucked up. And like, my Mom had to like still give us gifts while we were staying in this fucking hotel. It was just crazy, but experiences like that, I think it makes me the person who I am now. It built character in me.


Clock Theory: Word. I understand. So when you sit down to make a song, how does a song come about for you?
Kay Anthony: Yo, my writing process is weird. I’ll usually just be like, "Yo, I’m 'bout to write. Like, I feel it today." But I’ll just sit down and write. And some of my best songs really come from–It’ll just be random as hell like, I’ll just get a hook in my head and I’ll just keep repeating it. Then I’ll be like, "Wow, what can I write for this?" I remember sitting down writing the song "Forgive Me," off of ‘Vice$ and Vanity,’ I was in my son Chad crib and I just kept saying "Father can you forgive me for my sins?" And I kept repeating that, kept repeating that, and then I was just like, "Yo, I’m 'bout to write." I ended up writing that whole song. Like, "Yo, this is going to be a wavy song, watch." And then I heard the beat after that and I was like I definitely have to make this into a song.


Clock Theory: So you wrote "Forgive Me" in what, like one hour?
Kay Anthony: Yeah.


Clock Theory: How often do you write songs without the beat?
Kay Anthony: A lot. I usually never write with a beat.


Clock Theory: Who would you say that you make music for? You make music for yourself first? Or do you make music for your listeners?
Kay Anthony: I make music for myself. It’s therapeutic. Like, anything I’m going through, any stress I’m going through, I make sure I write it down and make it a life lesson for others to learn off of.


Clock Theory: And what are you trying to get across with your music?
Kay Anthony: To inspire the youth to do better, man. I feel like as a generation we all need to come together and do something better. Especially all of my niggas in the hood. I write music for people that’s in low, poverty-stricken neighborhoods and things of that nature. Because it’s inspiring to them, you know, it gives them hope. When they see me doing, like all my niggas, when they see me in the projects, they still see me in the projects, but after that, they see me doing something much bigger and they be like, "Yo, my mans just hit Vibe magazine, damn I could do this too. I could do something positive. I could do something different." And it inspires them, instead of just being in the hood wanting to shoot each other down, gun each other down, and do all of the shit that’s destroying our community already. And I feel like my music brings other people together, or it gives people hope, like, "Damn, this nigga got a story to tell. That’s wassup, I want to be more in tune with this now."


Clock Theory: Word. That reminds me. You know, we both grew up in Brooklyn, like you say, you used to live on Church, and I’m sure you know what it’s like to walk in the grimey 90z (Flatbush) at night–
Kay Anthony: Exactly.


Clock Theory: Or to walk in the flossy (Canarsie) at night, you know what I’m saying, right after a party, say it's like 2 in the morning, we both know what that feels like. That angst that we have to face as a young black man–
Kay Anthony: Facts!


Clock Theory: That anything can pop off at any second–
Kay Anthony: At any second!


Clock Theory: All of those feelings. Does that make it into your music?
Kay Anthony: Definitely. Like I had a line in my song where I was like, "I became a man without a father figure because where I’m from the youngest niggas father figures, they older brothers don’t see 21, but in 19 years they done seen over 20 guns–"


Clock Theory: "20 guns."
Kay Anthony: Yeah. Like, it’s just shit like that, that really happens in New York. It be the young niggas raising young niggas, like how are you becoming a man? It’s no men out here teaching other young men to become men. It’s impossible. Everybody is still so young-minded. Even I still have the problems of being young-minded with certain situations too sometimes, and I’m 20 now, about to be 21. I feel like there’s no actual father figures out here trying to help us grow. And we just learning from our friends out here. If your friend out here fucking up, you gonna want to fuck up too. It’s just what it is. And that’s crazy to me. So that’s why I feel like, I definitely have to be a voice. Like, the day I meet Kendrick Lamar, I’m going to tell him like, "Yo, no funny shit, man, you truly raised me with your music." As a person, I feel like sometimes you can really be a father figure through your music to certain young men. I feel like that’s what hip hop has always been about. And that’s why people gravitate towards it, especially young black men.


Clock Theory: Another thing I noticed in your music is a lot of discussion of religion. Tell me about what faith means to you.
Kay Anthony: Faith is everything. You’re believing in something you necessarily can’t see or you don’t actually know exists, but you have this feeling inside of you and this voice inside of you telling you like, "Yo, this is what it is. You have to keep going, like, your faith is here, this is what you need to do." I feel filled with purpose when I make music. And it’s not coming out of nowhere, I’m really in tune with spirituality and stuff, so I feel like it’s coming from a higher source telling me this is what I need to do. And it’s no coincidence that certain doors are opening so I can have my voice heard on higher plateaus and stuff. I feel like there is a God. It may not be the one in the Bible or any other God that people explain, but there is a higher power out there. And there is a reason why certain things happen in this world and certain people are set where they’re set. And that’s how I feel, like, faith is everything to me, man.


Clock Theory: Do you think it’s important to have that strong connection with whatever you believe in, in order to be a successful human being?
Kay Anthony: Of course, 100 percent. You want to be a pure human being and have pure hearted intentions, you need to have faith, you need to have that belief. Nobody can take that power from you, except for you. And you really need to have that belief in you, man. That’s all it is like, I see people all the time saying they want to give up. I even have times like that, but it’s all about having faith. It’s no coincidence why certain shit is happening for you and certain doors are opening, man.


Clock Theory: I understand. So, talk to me about some of the challenges you faced while producing Vice$ & Vanity.
Kay Anthony: Shit...Everything, yo. (Laughs). That whole project was a life lesson right there too. Yo, I didn’t have video promotion until about the last three months before I was about to drop the project, because I was so low on funds trying to fund for the studio sessions and things of that nature. I had live instrumentation because I wanted to go all out on the fucking album. I just wanted to make–When people hear it Fifteen, Twenty years from now, they’ll be like, "Damn, this shit stood the test of time. This is it. You can listen to it Ten years from now and it’ll still relate to somebody that didn’t even grow up in this era." And that’s what I wanted to do, so I had to go all out. I made sure I went all out with this project because I knew it was going to talk to somebody. And the fact that I’ve been getting so much fucking positive reviews from it, from everybody, I knew like–I just had that faith in me that it was going to be something good. But I went through everything man. From not having money to even record the session and my engineer, Myles, he really just had that belief in me. He was just like, "Yo, I hear it. This shit is beautiful. I’ll play the live instruments on your shit. Just pay me piece by piece when you get it." And things of that nature. If it wasn’t for people like him, I don’t think that project would’ve came out. I don’t think people would’ve appreciated it if I didn’t go all out.


Clock Theory: I understand. Going back to one thing you said, "I wanted to make a project that stood the test of time–"
Kay Anthony: Yeah.


Clock Theory: What do you think of our generation, do you think our generation makes disposable music?
Kay Anthony: I definitely think a lot of people’s music won’t stand the test of time. Of course not.


Clock Theory: Why do you think that is?
Kay Anthony: I feel like people are doing it for an image and a façade these days and not really out here doing it for–It’s all about getting money, murder and fucking bitches. That’s the main basis of most of these rappers out here, and nobody’s out here trying to speak to anybody. And that’s everyone’s motives these days, “I’m gonna get me a nice chain, a couple bad bitches, and this is life.” But nobody is actually talking about the real issues that’s going on out here. To each its own though. I fucks with that music. However, I just feel the whole hip hop community has to do better as a whole, so we can uplift one another.


Clock Theory: I understand. You think music with dense lyricism is underappreciated and largely marginalized in our generation?
Kay Anthony: Hell Yeah. They don’t appreciate lyrics no more. That’s why it’s so surprising to me that my album did what it did because I didn’t think anybody would give a fuck about that shit. I expected to hear things like, “This just another nigga rapping about some deep shit, fuck that. We got heat out here.” But people actually appreciated it, whether you were a trapper or a person who studies lyricism, people were genuinely really appreciating it. Which is dope as fuck.


Clock Theory: So, you told me what makes you upset about music today, what makes you happy about music today?
Kay Anthony: What makes me happy? People like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, the whole Dreamville team, TDE, people even from New York like, Jimi Tents, Radamiz, I.O.D, Yadi, I feel like they’re actually trying to push the culture too. I feel like New York in about a year or so, we’re going to be on top of the game. Niggas out here is really putting in that work so people can really appreciate this music. Like, after a while, it’s not gonna be no more just the south running shit. People are gonna have to get back to listening to lyrics again because that’s what we’re doing. I feel like it’s three good projects that recently dropped months apart. First it was Jimi, he dropped 5 O’CS (5 O’Clock Shadow), then I dropped Vice$ and Vanity, then Radamiz just dropped Writeous. And it’s going to keep on going, we gonna keep staying on top of that. I feel like that’s what it’s about, like we keep on pushing the culture. And it’s a lot of big sources picking us up. Radamiz is on USA Today, I hit Vibe Magazine, Jimi is all over the place, Pitchfork, Complex, everywhere. These people are starting to appreciate it. And they’re going to continue to see that we’re pushing that margin. Like, we have to get this out here. We no longer want to be under the rug.


Clock Theory: I understand. For you, what do you feel more at home with when you make music, sample-based beats or non-sample based beats?
Kay Anthony: I love samples, man. Samples always hit home. I grew up listening to Kanye, a man that was sampling everything in the early 2000s. That shit, that’s the feel I wanted to go with Vice$ and Vanity too, early Kanye production. I tried to get close to that, songs like “Lord Father,” which had an early Kanye vibe, not in the sense of lyrics or anything, but just the sampling on it. Sampling is dope to me. I don’t really fuck with too much of the 808’s and Hi-hats and shit like that. That’s cool. Like, I can rap on it, but I feel like I fucks with samples more.


Clock Theory: So, you’d say that your sound is rooted in sample-based beats?
Kay Anthony: Definitely.


Clock Theory: For me, when it came to listening to music when I was growing up, I listened to a lot of music from the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, the ‘80s, like James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, the Ojay’s, or Teena Marie. Did you have access to that in your home?
Kay Anthony: Yeah. My moms is definitely a pivotal point in my music too. She played a lot of oldies, like early ‘60s shit, ‘70s music. I appreciate that music so much. When she plays that–I rather listen to that than hip hop all day. I appreciate that music so much because it’s what I grew up on. My aunt was really deep-rooted into hip hop and stuff. After the ‘90s and early 2000s, I think she was like I’m done with Rap. She likes people like Kendrick Lamar and shit but like besides that, she doesn't really appreciate a lot of these rappers.


Clock Theory: Do you think it’s important to know music history in order to succeed as an artist?
Kay Anthony: Of course, so you can know what you doing.


Clock Theory: When it’s all said and done, what do you want to be known for pioneering?
Kay Anthony: Just being a voice of this generation, man. Not really pioneering anything. I want to bring something innovative, a new sound to the music and stuff but, I really just want to be a voice for this generation. Like, somebody people can look up to like, “Yo, he’s a good example of a man.”


Clock Theory: Since you’ve been making music for the last few years now, when did you realize that you were built for this? When did it hit you?
Kay Anthony: Vice$ and Vanity. That’s because, every other project I did, which was like three projects before this, I knew I could rap, but besides that I didn’t really think I had it. But when I started working on Vice$ and Vanity, I was like, “Yo, where did I get all of this shit from? Like yo this is crazy to me.” Like, working on that project I was like, “What the fuck, I don’t even know how I’m doing this shit right now.”


Clock Theory: That had to be a good feeling.
Kay Anthony: Definitely. And then I was just like, “Yo, now I can fuck with this. I can get in the studio with any big name rapper and I can be put up to the test. I’m ready for it man.”


Clock Theory: You ready to go bar for bar with anybody?
Kay Anthony: Anybody! I’m ready. I got that fire burning inside me. I’m ready.


Clock Theory: I hear you. So, what do you have coming next?
Kay Anthony: A lot of big things in the work, man. I’m going to say this–I got an e-mail last week from some people over at Dreamville with J Cole and them, and they sent a lot of love–there’s something big coming. I don’t want to say too much on it but you know, shoutout to J Cole and the whole Dreamville team, man. They’re definitely some dope people.


Clock Theory: Sounds good. Do you have any projects coming soon?
Kay Anthony: Yeah, I have an EP coming out in June called, The Man That I Am Now. I dedicated this project to all of my best friends that I grew up with and shit. They’re all on the album cover. I made sure I dedicated it to the homies who actually helped me get this far.


Clock Theory: I understand. Do you have any shows coming up?
Kay Anthony: Yeah, I have a show with Kodak Black and Lil Uzi in July. And I have a couple of other shows in June, I might also go on tour in Toronto in June, after I drop my project.


Clock Theory: Alright. Where can we get Vice$ and Vanity and the new EP that’s going to drop?
Kay Anthony: It’s all going to be on Apple Music. Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify, but mainly, Apple Music.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Kay Anthony – 'Vice$ and Vanity'

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said (Sa'id).

Hubbs Drops "May Day" Ahead of 20sixteen LP Release

Pittsburgh emcee flows over M16's smooth sample-based beat.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Pittsburgh has a knack for unearthing talent. Hubbs is the latest emcee to catch my attention. "May Day" is the first release off his upcoming collaborative LP, 20sixteen, with renowned hip hop producer M16. M16 is the producer behind Young Jeezy hit, "I Do," and Playaz Circle's "Duffle Bag Boy" track. We can expect to hear the LP this summer, but thankfully "May Day" dropped last month on Taylor Gang DJ Motor Mane's Motor Muzik project. Produced by M16, "May Day" is a smooth sample-based beat with a laid back feel befitting of Hubbs' rhyme flow. If "May Day" is any indicator, I expect 20sixteen to do well this summer.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Hubbs – "May Day"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

05/22/2016

Sample Flip Of The Week: The Game – "Wouldn't Get Far"

Although controversial for its lyrics, The Game's "Wouldn't Get Far" features a post College Dropout Kanye West and great production.

By AMIR ALI SAID


On January 18th, 2005, The Game released his debut album The Documentary. His album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 (in a time where CD sales were still king). By March 2005, his album was certified platinum two times, as it sold over five million copies worldwide. The success was warranted. With tracks like "How We Do," "Dreams," and "Hate It Or Love It," The Documentary was full of hits. Featuring sample-based production and a distinct west-coast style, The Game had arrived in a big way. After practically taking over 2005, many wondered what he had next.


In 2006, he released his second album Doctor's Advocate. Although this was another number one album, he moved less units, and the absence of Dr. Dre as executive producer could be felt and heard. However, Doctor's Advocate still produced hits of it's own like, "It's Okay (One Blood)," "Lets Ride," and "Wouldn't Get Far." As the third single off Doctor's Advocate, "Wouldn't Get Far" was the last song released as part of the album rollout. Produced by, and featuring a verse from Kanye West, the track has heavy sample-based production. The song was well-received (depending on who you spoke to), but the eventual music video had a life of it's own.


"Wouldn't Get Far" was marred in controversy because of the lyrical content. At the time of the song's release, there were high-profile video vixens, models, and actresses that generated attention in the hip hop community. On "Wouldn't Get Far," The Game criticized and mentioned these women with negative connotations. His critiques mainly surrounded around how these women obtained notoriety and success in the industry. But whether you agree or disagree with the song's message, one thing is undeniable: the song is good and the production is top notch.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

The Game Ft. Kanye West – "Wouldn't Get Far"

Creative Source – "I'd Find You Anywhere"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said.
"The definitive guide to the art of sampling and copyright law."

05/10/2016

Make Your Name Ring in Your Hood First; How Desiigner Used a Brooklyn High School to Drive "Panda"

Here's the real reason why Desiigner and "Panda" blew up.

By AMIR ALI SAID


Photo Credit: Alex Welsh


Many people know Desiigner as the 19 year-old hitmaker who made "Panda." Most stories about Desiigner begin with his collaboration on Kanye's The Life Of Pablo album, and end with his eventual signing to G.O.O.D. Music. If you'd been following the success of "Panda" since it's release, you would know that it's currently the #1 song in the country. What many don't know however, is where it all really started. The Desiigner and "Panda" story started in East New York, Brooklyn at Thomas Jefferson High School.


Desiigner was a student at Thomas Jefferson High School (or Jeff as it's commonly called in the East, my old neighbourhood.) While attending Jeff, Desiigner was steadily making music. In the Fall and Winter of last year, he had two songs, "Zombie Walk" and "Panda" ("Zombie Walk" was actually his first official debut track). But it's "Panda" that would take Desiigner to #1. The success of "Panda" started inside the Men's basketball gym at Jeff. Desiigner was friends with members of the basketball team and he parlayed that into "Panda" being the official team warm-up song. To understand the significance of that achievement, you have to know how important Jeff is to Brooklyn.


Jeff is one of the most notorious schools in Brooklyn. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York, Jeff is known for it's rough edge, underwhelming graduation rates, and it's storied Boy's Basketball and Football teams. The two teams play in New York's Public Schools Athletic League (known as PSAL), the premier sports league for all Public School sports. Going to a Basketball game at Jeff is a big deal. It's an event. This year, they won their first city PSAL championship since 1954 when they destroyed Brooklyn powerhouse Abraham Lincoln High School (known as Lincoln.) And like every other Jeff Home game, Desiigner's "Panda" song played during warm-ups.


The "Panda" track that played at games would turn out to be the unfinished version. But that didn't matter, the song was a hot topic anyway. Thanks to the internet and word of mouth, "Panda" was frequently discussed. Then, it leaked. The song began floating around Brooklyn via MP3 files, E-mails, and IMessage. If you were fortunate enough to get "Panda" on your phone, it usually came with a caveat, "Don't share this," or at the very least, "Don't tell anyone I sent this to you." Thankfully, I had "Panda" on my phone before it released. Now while I'm sure no one revealed their sources, the song was certainly shared over and over again.



Photo Credit: Amir Ali Said


The exclusivity and virality of "Panda" continued to grow. On December 15th, when Desiigner finally released the song on Soundcloud, it popped instantly. Even though a fair amount of people heard the song already (if you went to Jeff games, or you knew someone with the file), there were still a number of people who hadn't actually heard the song. And even people with the MP3 file graduated to listening to the official Soundcloud link. For most people, it ended there. For Desiigner, he was just getting started. Two months later, in February, he was on The Life Of Pablo, and shortly after he had a deal with G.O.O.D. music. Now, it's the #1 song in the country. That's the full story.


I'm confident that if another Brooklyn rapper went the "Panda" route it would work. The formula is simple. Desiigner didn't release an official track for "Panda" for months. He finessed the song into the hands of his school's basketball team and allowed the hype to build around it. He didn't get trigger happy when the song started to generate attention in Brooklyn, he let the hype surrounding the exclusivity of the track build, and waited until it was the right time to release an official version.


He also utilized what was at his disposal, i.e. his High School. In Brooklyn, if you're trying to make your name ring, there's a few public schools you better know: Lincoln, Boys & Girls High School (known as Boys & Girls), Edward R. Murrow High School (Murrow), Erasmus Hall High School (E-Hall), Benjamin Banneker Academy (Banneker), Bedford Academy High School (Bedford), and Jeff. These are some of the most well-known Brooklyn schools that have produced Rappers and professional Basketball players in the past. If your name is known at any of these schools, you're well on your way to some type of notoriety in Brooklyn.


Using a Brooklyn high school isn't the only way to generate buzz, but it's a good place to start. You can also follow Desiigner's "Panda" blueprint in your neighbourhoods. Whether you live in Brooklyn hoods like East New York, Bedstuy, Brownsville, Canarsie, or Flatbush, you have a shot. With the proper strategy, anyone can do what Desiigner did. But the fundamental lesson to remember is this. Although there are some exceptions to every rule, if you can't make your name ring on your street, you won't ring on your corner. If you can't make your name ring on your corner, you won't ring in your hood. And if you can't ring in your hood, you won't be ringing in your city.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Desiigner – "Panda"

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The Art of Sampling by Amir Said (Sa'id).

Dedicated to exploring the art of sampling in all of its glory.

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  • Top 5 Myths About Sampling and Copyright Law


    "Sampling is piracy."
    WRONG! Piracy describes the wholesale, verbatim copying and distribution of copyrighted works. That is not sampling; that's something entirely different.
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    "You can legally sample and use any recording up to 1, 2, 3, or 4 seconds."
    WRONG! Under existing copyright law, there is no clear, predetermined length (amount in seconds) that is “legally” permissible to sample.
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    "If you use samples on a free mixtape, it’s perfectly O.K."
    WRONG! A free mixtape does NOT permit you to use samples from copyrighted recordings without the permission of the copyright holders.
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    "Sampling is easy; there’s nothing to it. Anyone can do it well."
    WRONG! Sampling is an art form that requires technical skill, imagination, and artistic understanding.
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    "Sampling involves the use of pre-recorded songs only."
    WRONG! While the art of sampling is most commonly understood to include the use of pre-recorded songs (traditionally from vinyl records), source material for sampling includes any recorded sound or sound that can be recorded.
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