Females in the rap industry

By: Irene Cohen and Ellie Mulvaney

From the start of the rap scene in the early 1970’s, the genre was catered almost exclusively towards men. Even to this day, women aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts despite the skill that they bring to the table, due to the lack of representation.

These women have historically used their influence to speak out on issues that prevail as unjust in our society, and to this day, work to shed light on the unspoken voices of other women, and black people, around the country.

A recent example of the media predominantly failing to consider women as serious artists was the Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B “feud” that sparked roughly 3-4 years ago. Over and over, the two were painted as temperamental and petty, though these misconceptions majorly came to be under the false standard that there may be only one true queen of rap. A fellow female in the rap scene, Megan thee Stallion, told ‘Billboard’, “Us women have always been talented. But it was a thing where there could only be one woman at a time.”

Because of the lack of mainstream female rappers, fans and consumers put these women under the type of scrutiny many men don’t have to deal with. They are less seen for their talents than for their rumored competition and scuffles, despite how true they may be. Cardi B herself said, in an interview with ‘Complex’, in 2017, “I feel like people wouldn’t even be satisfied if me and [Nicki] was making out on a freaking photo, I feel like people just want that drama because it’s entertaining.”

Regardless of the relationship of Nicki and Cardi, they were charged by the pressure to dominate female rap, rather than encouraged together, simply because of their gender and the lack of credibility given to their craft.

Certain female rappers have voiced their thoughts on the inequalities that many of them face being black women. Queen Latifah’s song “U.N.I.T.Y.” showcases this by speaking on issues such as sexism in the rap industry’s culture, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.

However, that was not the only song in which she used her platform to speak on important issues. On her song “Ladies First”, she collaborates with rapper Monie Love to advocate for the union of women, and to not be pitted against each other. They also expressed their pride and love for being women.

Queen Latifah is far from the only female rapper to speak out on social issues. More recently, Megan Thee Stallion has spoken about the injustices black women face all around the country. Megan spoke out on SNL about how Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not bring justice in the death of Breonna Taylor.

She later on went to say in a ‘New York Times’ opinion piece that “When women choose to capitalize on our sexuality, to reclaim our own power, like I have, we are vilified and disrespected.” She says this in reference to many judging her choice of clothing claiming she’s doing it for male attention. She says much more in this article, such as how black women’s bodies are constantly being put under a lens by the public and the media. This opinion piece covers an array of issues black women face, the title of it embodies the article very well: “Why I Speak Up for Black Women.”

Women in the rap industry have had to, and continue to, face many hardships and discrimination both in their career and in their lives. Despite this, these women rise up to become successful. Their success is incredibly inspiring to so many, especially since they are able to use their platforms to spread their beliefs and advocate for the change, for equality, not only in the rap industry, but for black women everywhere.

Piano vs. guitar

By: Annika Getz

I’ve been playing guitar and piano since I was young, and I recently asked myself the question, “which is better?” I’ve heard this question be asked before, and I thought I’d give my take on the topic.

One good thing about guitar is that it takes less time to learn the basics. The chords are easy to learn, and once you have four or five of them down, there’s a lot of songs you can play.

With piano though, you have to learn more to be able to play the same number of pieces.

However, with piano, there really is just more to learn. With guitar, you learn the scales and the chords and that’s pretty much it. Piano you learn that, but then you can work on playing with two hands, and doing more advanced work. This could be seen as a pro or con depending on who you ask, so it really depends on your preference.

Now, let’s talk about the specifics with both instruments. The scales are easier to learn on piano, since it’s just going up and down. Less basic chords such as sevenths and minors are easier to remember on piano, since you change the same thing every time, no matter the chord, whereas with guitar different things change. However, I find that many of them (especially sevenths) are easier to play on guitar.

Another thing to consider is that with guitar there are several ways to play one chord, since you can use Barre chords. This also could be viewed as a pro or a con depending on who you ask.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this question, as it really depends on the players preference.

It’s my personal opinion that piano is easier, so if you’re looking for a challenge I’d suggest guitar, but beyond that, I’d say to try both and see what works best for you.

‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ album review

On February 21st, BTS dropped their 4th full album Map Of The Soul: 7. Having already sold 3.24 million copies during its first week of pre orders, Map Of The Soul: 7 was on its way to being the most sold album of the year. Within its first week after being released, it had sold 3.37 million copies; breaking the Hanteo chart history, and BTS’s last record of 2 million (for Map Of The Soul: Persona).

In March, it debuted three songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (with “onat number 4, “My Timeat number 84, and “filter” at number 87). This marks BTS’s sixth week on top in the Artist 100 as a duo/group. This means that this is one of the most successful albums during their seven years together as a group.

During an interview for WBLI, RM explained what Map Of The Soul: 7 meant for them. “It’s like a big diary book for BTS so I’m how we went through all the ups and downs, rise and falls and yeah just we like to summarize it like it’s made into a small book that we called 7.” To go deeper into that, they have created an album to represent their seven years together as idols and the trials they went through while being in the eyes of the public and finding themselves without losing themselves forever. Not only did this album succeed in telling the beautiful journey of BTS, but it also teaches the youth that you don’t have to lose yourself completely just so you can fit in with what’s around you.

In the album there are twenty songs, fifteen new songs, and five olds songs from Map Of The Soul: Persona.

My top two would be “Shadowand My Time.” “Shadowis Suga’s solo song where he tells us about how when Yoongi was younger he dreamed of being at the top of the music industry. When he finally gets there, as Suga, he realized how lonely he had become. He talks about how Yoongi wants to run away from his anxiety (Suga) of losing all he’s earned. At the end of the song he concludes with Suga telling him that they are one and that will never change.

“My Time,on the other, hand is Jungkook’s solo song on the album. This song relates to where he first joined BTS. He was a fifteen-year-old boy sent to entertainment companies to support his family. In the song, he sings about not being able to call people or hang out, or doing normal things due to him being an idol. Because of this he wishes he could do all these things and now he is.

I would give this album a 9/10 personally. I think this isn’t the best album that they have put out. But this is a great example of the duality music BTS puts out to show known fans.

Suicideboys: ‘Stop Staring at the Shadows’

Stop Staring at the Shadows was a Valentine’s Day release album from the New Orleans duo Suicideboys (often written as $uicideboy$) which consists of Ruby da Cherry and Scrim. This is their second album, but they have released many mixtapes and EPs. They have a EP saga which so far has 20 parts. Although this is only their second album, it is their 45th released project. The album was officially announced on December 19th, 2019 and had two singles.

The album has 12 tracks, and honestly that was not enough for me because I loved this album. It’s energetic, it’s loud, and the production is phenomenal. The album opens with “All Dogs Go To Heaven” which has a beat that sounds like it’s sampling a video game, and every track after keeps up with its excitement. No track feels out of place, and every part of it works. Each track feels unique while also fitting in very well with the rest of the album.

The album got pretty good reviews, and their fans were pretty satisfied with the release. Suicideboys are known for controversy and darker lyrics with a nightmarish feel, and this album definitely delivers. “MEGA ZEPH,” which the track title is based off of a rundown roller coaster in Six Flags New Orleans, feels like horror and then ends with screaming lyrics about the devil and drugs into the mic.

It’s an album that goes hard, and isn’t afraid to do what it wants to do. I would recommend this album if you like energetic, darker, music. I think it’s safe to say this is a step in the right direction for Suicideboys, and I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

Nova Miller

At only 18 years old, Nova Miller has already debuted a new single and a wonderfully made music video. 

She was born in July of the year 2001, in Stockholm, Sweden. She is a very talented singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She has her very own blog and newsletter. She went on tour in 2019 to Los Angeles, California and Sweden. At only thirteen years old she was thought to be the next big thing in pop. 

Her personal theme and the vibe in the music video is very retro fancy. I love the general feel of the song and the video. I’d like to point out the mixture of retro and pop that really makes her song unique. The song is called “Do It To Myself” and it’s about toxic relationships. The lyrics describe a flaw that she has in a relationship.

The contrast and significant amounts of wardrobe changes really brings the story together. I really love the ‘70s and ‘80s trend she has. The song is easy to relate to; it’s about being insecure in relationships and avoiding opening up so you don’t get hurt.

I feel that the lyrics are a bit standard in today’s music industry and you can’t find the unique part in the lyrics. The song itself, without considering the lyrics, is very catchy and fun to listen to. 

I love her description of the song and her music because it really makes you lean in. She says “‘Do It To Myself’ is not what you think it is. At first it’s a guitar-driven retro bop but it’s really about the worst form of going crazy, driving yourself crazy! My favorite part of the song is the ‘California Dreaming’ reference like the layered vintage vocals that take you all the way to summer and back.’”

Her vocal range is remarkable, she effortlessly sings deep and slow notes, whilst being able to hit a perfect whistle note. She demonstrates her singing abilities on many social media accounts such as TikTok and Instagram. She also includes a few tips and tricks to help with your singing which I think is nice. 

She has her new single and she says there’s more on the way.

Lil Wayne: ‘Funeral’

Lil Wayne’s album Funeral came out January 31st after it was first announced in 2016. If you flip the cover upside down it cleverly also spells Lil Wayne. The album is a continuation of his 2010 album Rebirth. Funeral is Lil Wayne’s fifth album to go number one on the charts. It has many featured artists including names such as Adam Levine, 2 Chainz, and XXXTentacion.

“I Do It” was the only single released from the album. Funeral has 24 tracks and the album as a whole takes an hour and sixteen minutes to listen through. Plus, with ten features it’s no wonder why the album feels bloated.

It starts off strong with its title track which starts off somber and slow, but starts to pick up speed near the end. The four tracks after it are well crafted and sound like classic Lil Wayne.

However, track six, “Stop Playin With Me,” marks the beginning of a very poor middle. The tracks all have similar beats, and while they each have some good quality to them, they don’t feel unique.

The Adam Levine feature is poor, and it feels like the other artists featured on the album are not fully utilized or just don’t seem to fit on the song or album. 

I personally had a hard time getting through the middle slog because the songs didn’t offer much for me to grab onto. I was writing my passing thoughts on the songs while I was listening and, while the first few tracks I had a good amount of notes for, I really couldn’t find anything memorable in most of the songs after.

The album does have a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant ,who died in a helicopter crash just five days before the release of Funeral. In the song, Lil Wayne and Jay Rock rap about achieving king status in the game just like Kobe with basketball. It ends with 24 seconds of silence. 

Funeral was given mixed reviews. Some critics felt it was too long and unoriginal while others thought it was decent, but certainly not the best. It’s something that fans of Lil Wayne will enjoy, but not an album that will catch your attention if you’re not already familiar with him. 

It seems like the album doesn’t really know what it’s doing. It throws everything out there, but only a few songs are strong enough to stick. It’s a good album, just not cohesive enough, and it offers very little.

Would I recommend this album? Well, yes, if you’re a Lil Wayne fan or big into rap, but if you’re just looking for something to casually bop to or an intro to Wayne’s music then this album probably isn’t the direction to go. It certainly doesn’t live up to his older classics.

Lauv

As a 25-year-old singer and songwriter, Ari Leff has really made a name for himself. Professionally known as Lauv, Ari is a singer and guitarist. On March 6th, 2020 he will be debuting his album how i’m feeling. His fans are buzzing about his new album; all the songs are very fun but also have a deeper meaning which is interesting to listen to. 

He already has 3 million views on YouTube with his new, romance packed song “Tattoos Together” which was released on January 16th, 2020.

His music videos are usually bright and very catchy. Once interviewed about his new song he says, “This is one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done cause I’ve recently done a few heavier, more existential videos, but “Tattoos” is just straight fun the whole time….and I got to prove to the world once again that I can’t dance.” 

In 2017, he had his first hit song “I Like Me Better” and continues to make more electronic pop based music. He says that “I Like Me Better” was the fastest song he has ever written and he says it may just be one of his most popular. His career has been lifting ever since. 

With his collaboration with popular K-Pop group, BTS, and with Billie Eillish, Khalid and more, his fans are excited to see what comes next.

His songs have been played in popular TV series and movies such as Grey’s Anatomy, 13 Reasons Why, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. So when you listen to his songs you may recognize his extremely talented voice.

He is touring through many different countries for almost the entire year and will be stopping in Minneapolis on July 28th, 2020. He is going to travel the world, sharing his songs and his upbeat energy. 

Grammys 2020

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles, California in the Staples Center on Sunday, January 26th. The Grammy Awards, a show where musicians from all different genres from Country to Rap, get recognition for the work that they released within the last year.

Just 10 days before the award show was about to take place, there was a removal of a pivotal member of the Recording Academy, chief Deborah Dugan after strong allegations of misconduct at the nonprofit. The Grammy Awards took place on a rather somber and heartbreaking Sunday as hours before the awards show began, NBA and Los Angeles Laker legend, Kobe Bryant and 8 others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.

Due to that heartbreaking loss, hundreds of people started gathering around the Staples Center, where Kobe Bryant played for 20 years, before the Grammys started. The Grammy administration started telling people to leave the area before the award show but no one budged. Conversations started about even canceling the award show because it was “disrespectful” to host an award show at an arena that many called an arena Kobe Bryant built.

The show started off with a performance from Pop-Rap artist, Lizzo. Before her performance she stated that her performance was dedicated to Kobe, “Tonight is for Kobe!” she yelled at the start. After Lizzo’s performance, the host, Alicia Keys, who has won 15 Grammys in the past, started the show off immediately acknowledging Kobe Bryant. Boyz II Men and Alicia Keys sang to honor Kobe Bryant, and the 8 others lost in the helicopter crash. Throughout the night, Kobe Bryant was always brought up.

Many artists performed throughout the night from many genres including Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Ariana Grande.

The big winner of the night was 18-year-old pop singer, Billie Eilish. She won five of the six awards she was nominated for, including winning all four of the big categories: Album, Song, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. She became the first artist to sweep these awards since Christopher Cross in 1981. At 18, she is also the youngest person to win Album of the Year.

At the end of the show, DJ Khaled, YG, and Roddy Ricch all came out to perform for a tribute to the late Los Angeles rapper, Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed this past March at his clothing store. Nipsey Hussle, who was nominated for his first studio album, Victory Lap attended the Grammys in 2019 but never won a Grammy. This year however, he posthumously won 2 Grammys for his song “Racks In the Middle.”

The Grammys had the lowest ratings ever in their 62 years of the shows airing but, many iconic things occurred. 

2019 upcoming rap news

by. Brandon Raine

2019 music has mostly been about rap music like big stars like NBA Youngboy, Lil Baby and Megan Thee Stallion, but I’m going to give you an update from other local and big rappers along in the USA on their way to the top of the rap game.

Minnesota rappers El Lordoo and El Robbo have been dropping hits back to back bringing St. Paul on notice by dropping songs like “Alexander Wang” and “Trenches” which has over 2k views on YouTube in the last couple of months.

Staying in the midwest, Chicago best Lil 40 keeps applying pressure to the rap game by getting features from famous rapper Lil Herb which he averages over 20k views per song that he drops.

Autotune is becoming very popular, and a new wave, for all the hip hop artists. It changes your pitch or how you sing in the studio, and this addition has made songs more likeable towards different audiences.

We can soon expect artist G Herbo to drop his highly anticipated album in the weeks to come; hints that it might be coming out because G Herbo released a single last week which he kind of was using his old flow that made him popular.

Rod Wave has been blowing up since he dropped his album Ghetto Gospel on all platforms, with Pitchfork ranking his album 8 out of 10, and music listeners saying his album is very relatable and relaxing.

Also, female artist Asian da Brat just dropped a new album called Fight Night which includes a verse from Nle Choopa, Yella Beezy and Yung Bleu.

While NBA Youngboy is the most streamed artist right now in the USA other rappers like Da Baby and Rod Wave seem to be closing the gap.

The collab of NBA Young Boy and Juice Wrld Bandit was the most streamed rap song this past week.

More rappers should be dropping off new albums and songs next week for you rap fans.

 

Layton Greene

Layton Greene was born in Missouri, on December 4, 1998. She became an overnight star in late 2017, when she made a video of herself singing Kodak Black’s “Roll in Peace”; it went viral with millions of views.

After the video went viral, she went into the studio with producer G-Styles and recorded an extended version of the song.

After that, she jumped into the top 15 of Billboard’s Hot R&B songs chart, and record labels started to take an interest in her.

“I always felt I was destined for this,’’ she said. “I try to find the light in every situation. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was going to be a professional singer. I knew I would be famous one day. I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I just knew it would.’’

She then introduced her new album two months ago Tell Your Story so the world could get to know her. The album is also about the struggles she has faced in life. She hopes that the new album also inspires others to tell their stories, and let others get to know them.

The 7th  song, “I Love You” has around a 5 million views on YouTube. It’s about a former flame and their toxic relationship.

Her love for music has attracted fans all over the world. Her voice is great and it fits the overall theme of the song “I Love You,” and the lyrics are enjoyable. Her lyrics are worth listening to again and again.

Overall, I would give Greene’s song a 9/10.