I recently watched a YouTube video titled "Something weird is happening in hip-hop." I don't care enough to rewatch it to challenge my initial thoughts. All I remember was the author boasting about experimentation in music production and a comparison to the punk genre. I primarily want to explain my opinion to the clickbait-ish "Hip Hop is Dying" thumbnail message. TL/DR: many Black hip-hop/rap artists are returning to the roots - Black culture.
When I was a teenager, we were taught that a lot of random stuff was gay. You ain't hairy? Homo. You dress nice? Fruity. You talking to girls, trying to get to know them? That's gay, bruh. This short listacle is probably the most light-hearted gay culture piece I'll ever write.
I don't know as much about hip-hop music history as I believe I should. Within recent years I've actively worked to fix that. Learning about the beginning of hip-hop and rap adds context to how we got to this era where mainstream rap music is prominently Roland TR-808 drums, street life boasting, and lacking substance.
After the "Ankle Brake" instrumental I wanted to challenge myself while adding to the diversity of my discography. This urge led me to a few tracks unlike anything I'd released to that point:
My lessons learned in 2019 recap had quite a bit of geeky stuff in there. In 2020, however, I focused more on the craft. Every track on the 2-Golivelively-1 album was the result of something I'd recently learned.
The Kid3 audio metadata editor was pre-installed when I first tried Ubuntu Studio years ago. This FOSS allows Linux, Windows, and macOS users to easily edit a lot of metadata that isn't available in your average music or video player.
I've had a few local, independent artists ask me about music distribution throughout 2019. So, below I'm going to summarize my to-do list for distributing music to online music platforms - Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, etc.
First published on April 2, 2015
Creativity and originality are important abilities to possess. When I worked with underground artists during my teen years, I loved adding a bit of creativity to their otherwise normal tracks with interludes, sound effects, and other interesting dynamics. The first track I recorded for one particular artist began with an EQ resulting in an old low-quality radio sound. After a 2 second pause and delay effect, the unaltered song continued.
First published on May 10, 2015
In 2011, I competed in a Soldier of the Year competition hosted by 20th Support Command (CBRNE). I didn’t win, but I won’t rant about why I think I lost. . . okay, I lied:
First published on August 17, 2015
First published on October 22, 2018
I haven’t blogged much this year because I’ve been focusing on mixing and releasing music (and making JtSpratley.com presentable). The only music blog, out of 7 this year, was about mixing music as a teen. It doesn’t help that my ad service Project Wonderful recently shut down. But I’ve uploaded 14 tracks to SoundCloud this year! I’ve been doing more than mixing music, though. I’m learning the business side. Continuing the trend from last years’ lessons learned, Below are 7 lessons that have improved my 2018.
First published on February 18, 2019
“Hey cuz, you a blood?”
First published on March 2, 2020
Creating Unique was my biggest music project (excluding learning music distribution) until 2019. During breaks at work, I would try to write and clean up bars. If I couldn’t come up with anything, and when I was done with lyrics, I’d work on arrangement some. I’m still learning to a lot about arrangement and transitions.
First published on January 18, 2019
“What is that on the 1 Tonight Instrumental album cover?”
I was online searching for a new watch, and I came across a binary clock. Being an IT guy in an IT college at the time, I was interested. So I asked others about it. While brainstorming for the album cover, and with The 1 Tonight being released without vocals, I took the opportunity to show my IT interests and Syracuse University affiliation early in my album art gallery.
First published on June 5, 2017
Like Hustle & Flow (2005), Step Off (2011) follows a struggling black male musician with a supporting cast on a road of overcoming obstacles to create and share music filled with his passion and story. Unlike DJay in Hustle & Flow, Rippa in Step Off is a college student and music producer with his eyes set on winning a beat battle awarding production time for a major record label.
First published on March 9, 2020
I found out about the kalimba sometime last year while looking for Chillout music. I spent hours listening to kalimba solos including HIROYUKI’s TedX performance, April Yang’s YouTube tutorials, and original works like Can’t Help Falling In Love on a Kalimba by Acoustic Trench:
First published on September 11, 2017
Before the two rough mixdowns in mid-2015 (Atmospheric1 and House26) I hadn’t released any music since my mother’s Ride ‘Em album. But the recording engineer, not I, mixed those beats. I’d hoped those tracks showed my versatility and potential, though I didn’t choose them all. Instrumental 613 is still my favorite on that album. I remixed Instrumental 413 because its popular on iTunes but I didn’t like the drums and overall feel of the beat. I’ll cover the story of the others in a later blog.
First published on May 27, 2019
I released Real Man Remix to show versatility in my discography and artists I’ve worked with in the past how serious I am about my music now. Before Real Man I only had 3 instrumental house tracks. Following Real Man with Can I? (You Got My Lust) was to show contrast in style.
First published on March 16, 2015
Anyone with iTunes should download podcasts – educational, recent news, reviews, comedy. Podcasts are great alternatives to music while you’re driving. However, you don’t need iTunes to listen to podcasts. If you’re going on a long drive, the FREE informational podcasts I recommend below can defeat the boredom caused by hearing the same music over and over that you’ll probably drown out while daydreaming anyway.
First published on April 27, 2020
[No More] Memory Lane was a short passion project to symbolize the temptation to look back on past mistakes – the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. It’s really just four minor chords on a piano over four bars. The supporting instruments – drums, synths, bass, kalimba – enhance an emotional vibe encouraging me to reflect more.
First published on May 4, 2020
I learned some really important music production lessons in 2018. I spent most of 2019 continuing to release extended plays (EPs) that show my versatility and blogging about them here:
First published on August 13, 2018
I remember when I started mixing music for underground vocalists (rappers and singers) as a teen. They wanted to hear their freestyles over popular instrumentals. I wanted to improve my mixing skills and network for when I started releasing beats. I used a bulky $2,000 Korg D16XD Digital Recorder DAW with a touch-screen GUI similar to the classic Korg Triton. My mom bought it and the similarities made it easy to learn – no complaints. This was before I knew anything about FOSS – just Cool Edit (now Adobe Audition) and Audacity. Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) and Pro Tools were new to me. Flying faders that moved to sync with the selected submix (tracks 1-8, 9-16, etc.) and on-screen values was the new hotness from what I saw in Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater magazines.
First published on March 16, 2020
I loved honey buns as a teen. In High School during breakfast, they were 50 cents, already warmed. Sometimes, I’d buy more than one. Honey bun was a favorite junk food, nickname, and popular gift from others for years.
First published on August 24, 2015
You want something between your studio monitors and its resting surface to improve accuracy between what’s being played and what’s being heard. MoPADs are awesome, and any Styrofoam could work just as well.
First published on September 29, 2019
Rapper and childhood friend Louis V. Lyrix once shared a post from a Virginia-based independent music artist stating you can support a musician with just a $1 purchase on iTunes. This reminded me of every time I’ve heard someone talk about supporting local businesses only to make excuses for not doing so when given the opportunity.
Remember this quote:
First published on May 15, 2017
I decided to do some guest blogging for an IT blog since I’ve already done two military-related for RallyPoint. Over the last few months I’ve done two for Syracuse University iSchool (school of information studies) InfoSpace blog. My first post explained 5 applications I think everyone should use. My second InfoSpace post – Evolving with Open Source Software at the iSchool – explains how I found ways to use open source software in six IT courses.
First published on September 29, 2019
Many people explain what they like when, where, and/or how. What about the why? When I wrote free ways to support indie musicians, I said you can always share someone’s music even if you don’t like it.
But if you do listen to an independent musician’s work and don’t like something about it, don’t simply reply “I didn’t like it.” Why? Well, I can answer your question with your question.
First published on March 11, 2020
Chill49-80 is licensed Creative Commons – attribution and Sharealike. It was originally released in 2015 on SoundCloud for others to do as they please with the finished track. I only care that I’m credited somewhere, similar to how MC Caribbean and derl8we did in their YouTube videos.
First published on February 3, 2019
While in Syracuse, NY, I was curious about the city nightlife and decided to check out clubs and bars. I came across Trexx night club and an Erika Klash poster. Why not watch a drag show on my first night out? I checked out her website (offline now) and liked her anime cosplays – especially the Sailor Moon characters.
First published on April 29, 2019
First published on November 4, 2018
One thing I didn’t consider while preparing to distribute my first track – Needed Treatment – was album art. Yeah, I know. “Duh! Really, dude ?!” Yes, really. So I jumped in GIMP to touch up this drawing I did last year hoping to make a piece of art with a lot of symbolism. During a break I read the requirements for album art – 3000 x 3000 with 300 dpi. I didn’t need Waifu2x but I did need to enlarge the orginal image.
First published on February 24, 2020
My 2015 was full of surprises. I had to adapt to a lot within a short amount of time. I was at a crossroads in life. I covered most of it in my RallyPoint post 5 Years at RallyPoint, 2015 “Make It Happen” interlude, and GI Bill Story video. Therefore, I don’t have much more to say here.
Hear My GI Bill Story, 2015, then Make It Happen in 1 video.
First published on February 27, 2017
Some resources are amazing for the simple fact that they function as a fact checker for your research and others’ advice. Here are 5 I wish I’d known about years ago.
First published on October 3, 2016
Linux Ubuntu Studio is open source, completely free, and an awesome Linux distro for anyone that works with music, graphics, and videos. Here are five quick reason to try Ubuntu Studio.
Last updated on December 12, 2017
In fulfilling my 7 tracks new years resolution I’ve learned a lot about mixing music. Here I share what I believe to be the five most important lessons of the year.