Monday, January 21, 2013

                                  Why Hip-hop IS Electronic Dance Music.

What has been the catalyst for the viral like spread of Electronic music? Why has our collective culture around the planet in terms of popular music, come to represent certain rhythms,  melodies, and the use of the Chromatic scale and time signatures, such as the 4/4 time signature which aren't necessarily native to every nation but adopted universally? A simple answer is Hip-hop. Hip-hop is not a genre of music. Hip-hop is not just "Rap". Hip-hop is not a style of clothing, Hip-hop is not necessarily "Pop". Hip- hop is a "culture".The etymology of the modern word "culture" has a classical originIn English the word “culture”is based on a term used by cicero in his Tuscalan Disputations,where he wrote of a cultivation of the soul or “cultura animi” thereby using an agricultural metaphor to describe the development of a philosophical soul, which was understood teleologically as the one natural highest possible ideal for human development. Human beings create. On this planet we use the means available namely the four elements of Earth, Air ,Water and Fire to create and record our culture and ways of life.


Hip -hop is the most modern of cultures.It encompasses many styles of music, dance martial arts, and visual art. These are the elements. The Graffiti artist which creates through marking surfaces with aerosol paints and using one dimensional  mediums to create multiple dimensions through illusion and perception.This element of Graffiti is the Earth Element of Hip-hop.As stated by "The Black Dot" in the book Hip-Hop Decoded, it will be the longest lasting and enduring element of Hip-hop, as it was in the great Pyramids in Khemet, or Egypt. We have understood these great cultures by The codes and markings they left through their writings on the walls of their great structures. Graffiti is The modern day variant of this element of all cultures of writing and recording information,which transcends time through the transmission of information.

 I can already hear you saying,ok ok, that sounds really deep Tap, but what  the hell are you talking about? what I am talking about is Human beings and our use of the four elements of  Earth, Air, Water, and Fire to create elements of our cultures and record and transmit our way of life. Cultures are recognized by their writing systems, language, music and ceremony. In Hip-hop culture, we have the Graffiti artist, which represents Earth element, The Emcee(Rapper) which represents the Fire element,The B-boy, (dancer) represents the Water element which interprets all elements through movement of the human body (which is composed of over seventy percent water), This element is reactionary and changes based on the type of "Air" it comes in contact with. The Air Element  in Hip- hop is represented by the DJ which creates sound(sound waves) that has movement and is the catalyst for reactions and interpretation via all of the other elements. The sound generated by the DJ (utilizing the element of Air) energizes and invigorates all of the other elements to interpret it's energy. This is scientifically evident in Cymatiks , the study of visible sound and vibration. Sound waves trigger reactions in all  particles at a molecular level and transmit instructions that rearrange how these particles organize themselves. Different Sound waves trigger different arrangements, for example in Sand or Water that in turn create different patterns. This is "Sacred Geometry". I have included examples of this in the video below.

 In Hip-hop the DJ  takes sound and interprets and manipulates sound via the interface of the turntable the DJ has driven the development of Electronic Music in General. The great masters Such as DJ Kool Herc and DJ Grandmaster Flash and DJ Red Alert, took the Technics 1200 Turntables and developed a new method for interpreting sound and sound waves, Through "Turntableism" by manipulating soundbites and breaks and creating new sounds, through looping and scratching and weaving periodic silence into these actions by timing their drops.This completely new method of manipulating sound drove the development of Hip-hop culture's art and elements to never before seen heights. The dancers twisted and contorted their bodies in interpretations of Sacred Geometry on the Dance floor. The Graffiti artist molded new dimensions on walls creating 3-D art through one dimensional surfaces creating "Wild-style" "Flava-style " "Softy" or "bubble- styles" "shadow-style" "Chinese-styles" and many others. The emcee or Rapper evolved from  simple braggadocious rhyme styles to fast paced metaphorical storytelling and social commentary creating worlds and narratives through the word and thereby creating new realities and modes of thought.



The Hip-hop DJ has driven the development of every other style of  electronic music and culture after it. Today we haves so many subsets of electronic music, all labeled as Electronic Dance Music from House Music, to Acid House, Techno, Industrial, Garage, Dubstep, Pop, K-Pop, bla blah blaaa etc etc.
In reality all of these styles of music are all subsets of Hip-hop. They are all descended from Hip-hop. before Hip-hop you had Rhythm and Blues, Funk and Soul, Jazz, Rock & Roll, Reggae, Salsa, Samba, Merengue and a million others. Hip-hop effectively took all of these styles of music and combined them through the skill and power of the DJ. Blending Sets into voyages through breaks of multiple genres manipulating the sound of these different kinds of music through speeding up or slowing RPM (Rotations per minute) and scratching. This in turn lead to combining and creating new styles of music by combining all the aforementioned styles of music into new danceable styles of music. The Proof is in the Pudding. What popular style of music today doesn't combine influences from the styles of music I  mentioned ? What Electronic style of music doesn't combine pre programmed or automated triggers and sounds or filters that were originated by the DJ? What style of Electronic Dance Music  can say that it has no rappers rhyming over the rhythms? What DJ or Vj or composer  (or whatever label you want to put on it today) In Electronic Dance music in general does not stand behind Turntables( Tangible or Digital) and spin, scratch, drop, breakdown and control the crowd through the turn table interface? 

Pick any genre or sub genre of electronic music and go to a  live concert, or just look at the videos and listen to the music. You will find that in any genre the DJ does the same thing that he originally started in Hip-hop. The Rappers still rap. The dancers still dance and in general combine Hip-hop and B-Boy movements in to their dance interpretations. Visual artists still create at many of these shows with Graffiti and marking walls  with stickers or paint and markers or posters. like I said it's Hip-hop. That has been the ultimate power of Hip-hop, its influence of Electronic music. it's not a black thing or a white thing or a yellow thing.All ethnicity's and cultures on the planet have embraced it and adopted it, and allowed it to influence them and create from this influence.

 The biggest song of Twenty twelve and the first video on Youtube to ever reach a Billion Views is PSY's "Gangnam Style" released in the summer of 2012. It features the artist and composer PSY Rapping in Korean about  rampant materialism in The "Gangnam" section of  Seoul, South Korea. He said His goal was to look uncool in the video, while doing His funny Hip-hop style horse dance all through out the video. The song while it may appear like a glorification of materialism is actually an ironic commentary on  materialism, sort of like a joke about it. The electronic dance style music is composed of the 4/4 time signature enabling the listener to dance to it, with stutter edits and drum hits reminiscent of a DJ behind the turntable. This song and most of these electronic dance songs are in essence Glittery Hip-hop.

In conclusion Hip-hop has become the most powerful cultural influence on this planet. it has directly driven the development of all electronic music genres and popular music in general. In essence Electronic Dance Music is Hip-hop. The largest Influence over all the cultures of modern times have been influenced by the culture of the have-nots the poor from the slums of the forgotten parts ( The Bronx) of the Biggest Metropolis in the World, New York City. Hip-hop has become the Biggest, cultural Phenomenon of modern Times, it has created fortunes,been manipulated, exploited, raped and put on a pedestal and chopped down. It's elements stolen and the culture bastardized, it has been killed and resurrected. Hip-hop is not one sound,or style, it is the combination and re interpretation of all styles of self expression of mankind and this is perpetual in nature it will never stop. If you can look at it and see Hip-hop in it then it is Hip-hop, and thats why it will never die.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

            Is Signing  To A Record Label Worth It Anymore?

Happy 2013 EDM fans!!!  The last 60 days of 2012 had been an incredible whirlwind of activity for me. The completion, mastering and design aspects of my original Electro Hip-Hop Album "Escape Velocity" had all but completely taken over my existence. The conceptualization, creation and execution of my plan to create a new sound within the electronic genres encompassing, Hip-Hop, Dubstep, Dance, Grime Trance and House was a long fought battle that has taken approximately the last two years. In the span of that time I had to do so much research, planning, and education while simultaneously completing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Recording Arts at Full Sail University, that I learned about and assumed the role of an independent record label. My overall goal used to be to be signed to a major record label. I had realized that I had already done most of the things that a label would do for me independently.

I have learned that established labels with a foothold in specific genres are still thriving in this difficult market because of the hard work of the artists which they have decided to contract and get behind. In today's highly connected, musically over saturated information age paradigm the labels role has become more refined in terms of promotion for more established artists and artists with their own followings who have created their own movements, the larger labels serve more as support for and streamlining distribution methods for  these artists. The days when a completely unknown artist with talent is taken in and developed by a label that tells them how to dress, eat and sing is gone. Gone are the days when artist get incredibly large advances for  productions and expect to sell 10-20 times platinum album sales.
Today major labels look for artists who are already independently active, profitable, and established within  their genres and music scenes, by scouring for talent via Youtube, Beatport, Twitter Facebook Datpiff.com, and an almost infinite number of other sites.

Electronic music artists like Zedd, the 22 year old composer and Dj from Germany,who many consider to be Skrillex' protege is an example of this trend. Zedd came to prominence and has been signed to Interscope all primarily from winning two remix competitions on Beatport.com and being known through those means. Most of these young trendsetters are doing their own composition, mixing, recording; only relying on the labels for mastering and album artwork, and promotion services.

For the first time the artists are really in the drivers seat. In 2011 Universal records paid $750,000.00 dollars to release the single "Levels" the hit single by Swedish DJ Producer Avicii without the traditional multiple album obligations of a traditional contract. Many of the major labels are opting for the 360 record deal contract where they manage and take the lions share of merchandising, album and endorsement deals revenue, but with electronic music artists it is not unheard of to have the promotion power of the label behind them without having to give up their endorsement, and merchandising income.

My many hours and immersion in to educating my self about this phenomenon has lead me to this conclusion. It is not worth trying to court major labels unless the labels come to you based on proving yourself independently through genre specific, competition, achievement, independent sales, and a consistently growing fan base. This way you as an artist write your own paycheck. Between the months of late  November to December of 2012 I have strived to continue to build my fan base through YouTube and Reverb nation to build anticipation for my release of "EscapeVelocity"  distributed Through CdBaby.

In December I went from being ranked #265 on The Hip-Hop charts for reverbnation.com in Providence Rhode Island to being Ranked Number 1 on The Electronic Dance Music/Hip-Hop charts in Providence Rhode Island. My YouTube subscriptions on Tapia's Electronic Hip-Hop channel have gone from 100 to over 1000 by focusing on genre specific promotion and creating promotional campaigns through Facebook and ReverbNation on sites all over the internet. In building this buzz I have been featured on sites like hiphopfrathouse.com in an article entitled "Music is Science and Tapia is the Professor."

The point is that as independent artists we want to build value into our brands. When we achieve so much on our own merits we own our names, track records, achievements and credibility. When major labels come knocking on our doors we get the best deals possible if we choose to use their promotion power and turn it into a mutually beneficial situation, as opposed to being at the whim and behest of a powerful conglomerate. In the information age we don't have to wait for someone else to do everything for us we can build our  own catalogs with ISRC codes, UPC Codes, and we can mold our own sounds and Brand ourselves and finance our projects and become profitable on our own.  You will also make more money on your own projects if you do this correctly.We are expected to do these things if we are to be taken seriously.

In conclusion, I think it is only worth signing to a label when you have become worth enough to where you would lose out on markets you couldn't serve, supply or promote to on your own, with your own hard work and knowledge. If that sounds foreign or unattractive or difficult then maybe artists should reconsider what they are doing this for and what are the ultimate goals associated with their careers. Any other mediocre activities, or pursuits are simply a hobby.

Read More about Zedd in the New York Times Here

Dubstep.com Tips on Getting signed to an EDM record label.