Remember in high school when the kind of music you listened to defined who you were as a person? It influenced the way you dressed, who you hung out with, what you did on the weekends. That was probably a little drastic. Music shouldn’t control you as much as you should control your music. You should take pride in your playlist! It’s no different than a wardrobe you spent years building or a house you’ve meticulously decorated. There are very few things in life as inexpensive as music that can generate such an emotional reaction. When I heard Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” for the first time, I literally got goosebumps. You wait 90 minutes into a movie to get to the part where it gives you goosebumps, and the popcorn was $9. Are you getting excited about music again yet?
We’ll keep this our little secret. I’ll do all the dirty work for you. You know the basics, like Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Rihanna. Based on those artists you already love, I will find you new, exciting music that gives you back those goosebumps. Every installment, I’ll feature a few artists you may not have heard yet, that share some similar characteristics or styles to ones you do know. Then you can impress your friends with your shiny new playlist at your next party and take all the credit — I don’t mind. This is Rare Cuts.
Well Done: Kanye West
After lifting the ban on liking the Kardashian/West clan the other day, I figured why not give Kanye the Rare Cuts treatment as well? Arguably the most influential artist of the past decade, West has been evolving his sound ever since his legendary debut “The College Dropout.” After breaking onto the scene as a producer for Jay-Z and Talib Kweli, he has gone on to sell millions of records while never staying stagnant stylistically (five times fast, go!). He’s constantly changing what’s widely accepted in hip-hop, even going as far as introducing metal-influenced sounds into his most recent album “Yeezus.” The hard-rock vibe paired with Rick Rubin’s minimalistic approach to putting the album together made it one of the most polarizing releases in years, generating adoring fans and vitriolic detractors. Luckily for Kanye, that’s right where he likes to be. Praise Yeezus.
Medium Well: Chance The Rapper
Kanye’s hometown of Chicago has been dominating the rap scene for the past couple of years, but one of its brightest stars doesn’t come from the trap or drill subgenres. Chance The Rapper has amassed a loyal fanbase through bouncy, funk-style hip-hop that incorporates his witty wordplay and unique delivery. On the back of his critically acclaimed “Acid Rap” project last year, he’s been constantly touring and growing his following. Currently, he’s hard at work on his upcoming debut album “The Social Experiment,” which is due sometime in 2015.
Medium Rare: Travi$ Scott
If Kanye West is the most influential artist to the rest of the music world, Travi$ Scott is probably the most influential to Kanye West. The Houston rapper has revolutionized the trap genre and transcended what was previously thought to be the ceiling for that type of music. A highly skilled producer, he’s helped Kanye on his past few projects and is said to be very involved with ‘Ye’s very secretive upcoming album. His most recent solo release, this summer’s “Days Before Rodeo,” was a tour-de-force of sonic exploration, using influences from genres all over the map creating a truly unique sound.
Raw: Joey Fatts
One of the most promising young dual threats in the game, Joey Fatts is one of the leaders of Cutthroat Records along with Vince Staples and A$ton Matthews. The Long Beach, Calif., native has only been producing and rapping for a short few years, but has still built up quite an impressive resume. He’s worked with the likes of legendary producer 9th Wonder as well as recent work for Curren$y and Freddie Gibbs. Fatts’ most notable work with A$AP Rocky in addition to his “Chipper Jones” series put him on the map, and he plans on staying there. His music intertwines West Coast funk with gritty New York-style storytelling for a whip-friendly sound that’s sure to get you hooked. Look out for his highly anticipated “Ill Street Blues” project to drop in 2015.