What’s up Nation,
This week we’re bumping Chief And TheDoomsdayDevice’s “Permanent Record.” It’s a sonic adventure from a hard working indie artist that I think you’ll enjoy. Pair it up with something classy like Ardbeg on the rocks and enjoy!
Now onto this weeks topic: Style…
“Describe your style” It’s one of those generic topics that comes up in interviews all the time. I always envisioned being asked to do that so many times that I would get sick of it. I wanted to be prepared with a thoughtful answer so I coached myself on how I would respond. Since I’m pretty much totally inept at garnering press coverage I’ve not really been asked to describe my style much but that didn’t stop me from endlessly pontificating on such a task. Now this is basically going to be mental masturbation for me but it is also a useful exercise for any creative person. Your style is essentially a description of how you do what you do. As soon as you unleash your creative endeavor onto the public people are going to begin to define your style. Knowing how you describe your style will help you stay ahead of the narrative and will also give you a foundation to build future projects from. I’m not advocating handcuffing yourself to any particular way of doing things. Growth and evolution are important but having a firm grip on your personal style allows you to better utilize your chosen medium and therefore cut through the noise and stand out.
All this seems very simple and obvious but you’d be surprised how many people never take a moment to ponder their personal style. I’ve been doing the D.I.Y. music thing for close to 15 years now and over the course of my adventures I’ve run into a lot of fellow artists. Some of them have gone on to create hours great music. Others I never heard a peep from ever again. The factor that separated the former from the latter was a grasp on style. Rap is an idiom that is particularly driven by style. If you consider the millions of rappers out there one common thread between all of them is that they are all essentially doing the same thing. Spoken rhythmic vocals over a beat, that’s what every rap song is. What makes the great ones great is the style with which they are executed. Compared to other genres of music, rap is incredibly easy to make. This applies more to the actual rapping not the production end which can be as complex as any form of music. Consider a rock band, even the most basic format a trio with a guitar player, a bass player, and a drummer. In order for a formula that simple to come into fruition each of the members has to procure an instrument that’s already at least a couple hundred dollars. Then they each have to gain at least some sort of basic ability to play their instrument. That’s hours and hours of practice before they can even consider trying to play a song, let alone write an original one. An aspiring rapper on the other hand can get a download a beat from the internet, write a rap to it and pay some dude $25 to record it. This is why there is so much abysmal rap music out there, there is no real filter preventing the hacks from recording their hackery for posterity. This is why style is so important in rap. I can’t count how many rappers I’ve run into who simply had no style. The tragedy is that some of these rappers actually had the technical ability to make some very interesting music but instead of taking the time and effort to look within and find a style they just rehashed the blueprint they’d heard a million times before. On the other hand I’ve know rappers with only a marginal level of pure talent who make some the most amazing music. The difference… you guessed it: STYLE!
So here’s your homework; take a moment and think about you would describe your style. Think of a concise three to five word statement that sums it all up. After you’ve come up with one that you’re happy with write a paragraph describing your “Aesthetic Style” (i.e. how you do what you do, the the techniques and influences that shape your style) and your “Conceptual Style” (i.e. what you do, the subject matter and approach that you use when creating.) Next week I’m going to break down my personal style and show you what I came up with. You can post your answers to the comments if you like.
Until then… Enjoy this: