Claim Your Fame

Sabrina Imbrogno // Instagram @sabrinaimbrogno

There’s a second gold rush underway, still in California… but this time people are in pursuit of platinum. Countless bright-eyed hopefuls have made their way to the West Coast with nothing but ambition and a dream. But now more than ever, you don’t need to pick up and move to an overpriced apartment in a shoddy LA neighborhood to succeed. So unpack those suitcases, settle into mom and dads for a little longer, and you could have millions coming your way. At least that’s what happened to Montero Lamar Hill, better known as Lil Nas X

Image result for old town road album

Two-time Grammy award winner, Lil Nas X, did not get to where he is today by putting it all on the line. Hill purchased an instrumental track from a music licensing website, BeatStars, for a trifling $30. This insignificant purchase would soon become the basis of his hit single, Old Town Road, a rap-country fusion which he independently recorded and released. The song first went viral on video-sharing social networking service, TikTok. Fast forward to 2020, and the single has been re-released by Columbia Records and remixed with major country music artist, Billy Ray Cyrus. 

Old Town Road is now the biggest hit in the history of popular music, having remained at number one on the charts longer than the likes of legends such as Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, etc. This feat alone proves that anyone given the right circumstances can achieve inconceivable fame without the intervention of a label or mainstream professional services.

The rapid development of technology and the rise of social media have given the music industry a run for their money, leaving major record labels scrambling to keep up. As the digital space continues to evolve, labels are forced to adapt. Back in prehistoric times, before YouTube and SoundCloud, labels held all of the control within the music industry. Now, the control lies in the hands of the artist. Experimenting artists can create uninhibited, unregulated, and uncommercialized music. Stars can literally be born overnight with the click of a reassuring button labeled “share” or “post.” 

Who said that artists have to be broke or starving? With the emergence of new platforms, you can have a 10x Platinum single and still keep your day job. This way you can skip the commercial flight to California, and book private later on for when you’re walking down the red carpet to accept your “Best New Artist” award. 

Sabrina Imbrogno is a student at the College of Charleston studying Arts Management and Marketing. Imbrogno is passionate about the music industry and purses music recreationally, she is the President of the College of Charleston Acabelles and is a classically train vocalist.

Sabrina Imbrogno is a student at the College of Charleston studying Arts Management and Marketing. Imbrogno is passionate about the music industry and purses music recreationally in her spare time- she is the President of the College of Charleston Acabelles and is a classically trained vocalist.

Grimes // Miss Anthropocene

By Kale Clark / Instagram: @dxnce4u

Grimes has made a comeback with her fifth studio album, Miss Anthropocene.  The album features eleven tracks and a deluxe version with four additional tracks (club mixes, shortened versions, etc.). Before the album release, Grimes released six singles, including We Appreciate Power, Violence, So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth, My Name is Dark, 4ÆM, and Delete Forever

With a theme of a post-apocalyptic world, this is Grimes’ most exciting release yet.  She has stated that she “wanted to make climate change fun”, which is an interesting yet effective take on bringing awareness to the issue.  Each track has its own unique sound, some being angry and make you want to bring about world destruction, and others that make you want to fall in love even though you know it’s doomed. 

Some of my favorite tracks from the album are Delete Forever and IDORU, both guaranteed to get you in your feels.  Delete Forever steers in a different direction from the rest of the album, with a folksy pop sound. Grimes released the song with a simple yet stunning music video, with stunning otherworldly visuals.  In her interview with Zane Lowe, she stated that the song was inspired by the untimely death of other artists like Lil Peep and Juice WRLD due to opioid addictions.  In Grimes’ opinion, these two artists “were best expressing issues of mental health, so to have them die specifically just feels like a weird hopelessness.”  IDORU is an upbeat, ethereal, melancholy love song, and you will probably cry to it on repeat at some point in your life (at least I have).  Grimes released a visual for the song as a way to express her appreciation for her fans, since it seemed to be a favorite. On Instagram, she stated that “technically this was a camera test that ended up being a weirdly emotional performance.” 

9/10

Listen to Miss Anthropocene on Spotify and Apple Music.

bnj

Kale is a student at College of Charleston majoring in Arts Management with a concentration in the music industry. She plans to move to LA after graduation to start her career in creative direction. Once well established, her goal is to start a nonprofit organization that creates a space for trans and non binary people to create and display their art and gain recognition in the industry.

The Strokes' "At The Door" Track Review

By Aika Ishimori // Instagram @muscovite.maika

Last month, The Strokes released a new single titled At the Door from their album The New Abnormal, set to be released in April. This 5 minute and 10 second ballad showcases Julian Casablancas’ impressive vocal control and features raw, abrasive, synthesizers that mix beautifully with the melancholy, legato vocals and somber lyrics. These elements create a sense of loneliness and loss for the listener. At the Door is definitely not the type of bop that you would turn on when your friends hand you the aux cord during a joyride, but rather one to listen to while drunkenly wallowing in your teen angst.

Those anticipating a typical Strokes song may be disappointed as the single seems to be heavily influenced by Daft Punk, Casablancas’ solo album Phrazes for the Young, and the experimental rock band The Voidz, formed by Casablancas in 2013. In addition, the lack of climax and absence of Fabrizio Moretti’s drums can be a bit of a turn-off. I waited to be “wow-ed” by a climax or some great tension or surprise, but it never came. This track is an interesting choice for a single, and if it is indicative of the new album, it seems that The Strokes are moving from traditional indie rock to experimental synth-pop.

Although the overall sound is drastically different from when The Strokes first started out, I was comforted by familiar chord progressions, rhythms, and the sounds of the guitar for about 20 seconds into the break. This was just enough for me to prepare myself for what came next.

Following the bridge, there is a non-lyrical break with strong sci-fi, post-apocalyptic vibes shaped by heavily autotuned falsetto vocals and synth arpeggios. This sort of experimentation is very atypical from what The Strokes have done in the past, and it certainly feels like At the Door belongs on a Voidz album. However, for The Strokes, this is a new, refreshing, and exciting sound that piques my interest and curiosity in regard to what stylistic choices The Strokes have made in The New Abnormal.

Lastly, what I do absolutely love about this track is the outro. It wraps up the song beautifully, with Casablancas’ melodic voice quietly mumbling “I been on a cold road/I’ll be waiting, yeah/I’ll be waiting from the other side/Waiting for time to pass,” with the synths rising with each crescendo and then slowly falling, finally fading out into a dismal, empty silence.

Aika Ishimori is a College of Charleston student majoring in Arts Management with a concentration in Music Industry and minors in Religious Studies and Geology. Aika is a classically trained violinist and in her free time, enjoys creating visual art and practicing Kendo, a traditional Japanese martial art.

Purple Drank: The New Generation of Rappers

By Peter Coopersmith // Insta: @petercoops2016

Within the past few years, many mainstream rappers have tragically died; both due to initial gang violence and drug overdoses. Mac Miller passed in 2018 after consuming cocaine and counterfeit oxycodone containing the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Lil Peep died at 21 in 2017 from an accidental fentanyl and Xanax overdose. Juice WRLD died late last year after a drug-induced seizure aboard a private jet. On New Year’s Day, Minnesota rapper Lexii Alijai was yet another victim of an accidental fentanyl overdose. 

            One problem is that these young rappers, many of them barely 20 years old, have built careers with unprecedented speed. While earlier generations of musicians might spend years in the business before being spotted, DIY rap stars (such as SoundCloud rappers) have dominated the record industry and have amounted to a massive amount of wealth and success; then struggling to adapt to sudden fame and pressures from society. “Peep went from having no manager to being managed by a very large company that deals with high-profile artists, and with that came more money and more pressure,” says his friend and collaborator Adam McIlwee. In an industry that is mercilessly dedicated to discovering the “hot new thing,” guidance and care can be nonexistent. Record labels often don’t care about these rappers. “They know that when they’re done, the next SoundCloud or Instagram rapper is behind them,” says Calvin Smiley, an expert in hip-hop and social justice at Hunter College in New York.

            McIlwee stresses that labels and management should give artists time to recover and recuperate. “If your artist is in trouble, you have to step in and say it’s time to take a step back or re-evaluate the release schedule, the touring,” he says. “So the artist can get healthy and have a long career. But that doesn’t happen much, because long careers are boring.”

The burden of safety and overall well-being should not fall just to these individuals, however, as labels and management cash in on this wave. They must take greater responsibility for artist prosperity. “You have to prioritize their health and happiness before music or fame,” says Zappala. “It’s tough being a successful artist, not knowing whether the people around you have genuine intentions.” He has clearly stated his goals for Lil Tecca. “I’m going to develop Tec into an artist who has a 10, 15-year career. When he’s 30, he’s still going to be relevant.”

Although this seems to be an issue within the hip-hop community today, there is hope in the future for new policies within management to more adequately and genuinely take care of their clients.

            Peter Coopersmith is a senior at the College of Charleston from the awesome city of Washington, D.C. majoring in Arts Management. Although Charleston has enormously impacted him both professionally and socially, after graduation he plans to move up north to Boston or New York City to pursue a career in marketing and public relations. He loves the beach, happy hours, music festivals/concerts and a solid, Southern meal.